Geo-Challenge — January 2020

View the form at Google Forms >

Where in the World Geo-Challenge — December 2019 Answers

How Well Did You Do?

Name the capital city – Abuja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the country – Kuwait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the body of water – Gulf of Taranto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the Archipelago – Galapagos Islands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the U.S. State – Kansas

 

Starting 2020 in the giving spirit

2019 has been a year of giving for us at Blue Marble Geographics. For each of our employees, we gave $100 to an organization of their choice throughout the year.

Blue Marble donated to:

Dana Farber Institute

MDA – Muscular Dystrophy Association

Mid Coast Humane Society

Project Sparrow

Aid for Kids

Hardy Girls Healthy Women

Southern Poverty Law Center

Tunnel to Towers Foundation: Building for America’s Bravest 

ACLU Maine

KVCAP

Hope-JG Foundation

ASPCA

Delta Prime Robotics

Equality Maine

The Alzheimer’s Association

Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education

Sunlight Foundation

Mutts and Mittens Manor

Preble Street Shelter

OXFAM

Augusta Food Bank

Support the Soupman

Freeport Community Center

Nature Conservancy 

Hubbard Free Library

Riding to The Top

Ronald McDonald House

Waterville Humane Society

Chelsea E | Projections
The central-Maine-based Delta Prime Robotics team

Sponsoring youth who are pursuing science and technology education

To start 2020 in the same spirit, we decided to give our entire $4,000-worth of donation money to our favorite local cause — the Delta Prime Robotics team. We have supported the central-Maine-based team for the past three years, with our Director of Product Management Sam Knight and Chief Technology Officer Victor Minor volunteering as mentors and coaches. Earlier in 2019, we hired a former Delta Prime Robotics team member as our first summer intern, and we have hosted team demonstrations and “robot visits” at our headquarters.

Delta Prime Robotics became the 4473rd team registered under FIRST Robotics — a not-for-profit public charity founded in 1989 that provides accessible, innovative programs for motivating young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. While Delta Prime Robotics was registered in Farmingdale for students in RSU2 — schools in Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth, and Richmond — it is also open to Maine students outside of the school district.

Supporting Maine youth who have a passion for science and technology is a cause that is dear to our hearts, especially since we are one of the few software companies in our state. We hope that you choose to donate to a charity or organization you care about this holiday season or consider donating to your local FIRST Robotics team.

Get the most cutting edge and affordable GIS tools by renewing your Global Mapper license

Point cloud gridded into a terrain surface in Global Mapper
A point cloud of a landfill gridded into a terrain surface in Global Mapper.

At Blue Marble Geographics, we pride ourselves on providing cutting edge technology that is ahead of the geospatial-industry curve. We are constantly improving our tools and we release multiple new versions of our GIS software Global Mapper® every year. This means that users who don’t upgrade their Global Mapper license regularly are missing out on the latest features.

Here is what users who haven’t renewed their license since 2017 are missing:

Editing 3D geospatial data

We believe that viewing and editing 3D data should be a standard functionality in today’s GIS software. Since 2017, we have made several enhancements in this area, adding new 3D editing options and tools that don’t require the purchase of a software extension.

Here are some of the improvements introduced in versions 20 and 21 of Global Mapper:

  • Ability to replace the texture of 3D meshes
  • Create textured 3D models from terrain and draped imagery
  • Create point clouds from meshes or 3D models
Point cloud in Global Mapper
A point cloud generated from a 3D mesh of a landfill.

Visualizing 3D and 2D geospatial data

Version 21 also introduced new options that help users view data, such as a tool for creating 3D lines using the fly- and walk-mode paths in the 3D viewer. After recording these paths, users can create fly-through videos of their 3D work more easily.

Recording fly or walk mode in Global Mapper
Global Mapper v21 comes with a tool for creating 3D lines using the fly- and walk-mode paths in the 3D viewer.

Another new tool that aids with the visualization of data is the Animation toolbar, which allows users to display layers in a timed sequence and is designed for visualizing change over time.

Both of these features were highlighted in our recent blog entry “Top 5 new features of Global Mapper v21”.

Faster and smoother performance for 3D data

Version 21 of Global Mapper has significant speed improvements for loading and working with workspaces, Global Mapper Package (GMP) files, and vector data with attributes. Load time and smoothness for displaying large datasets or vector formats, such as shapefiles, has also improved dramatically over the past couple of years. This especially applies to files with large numbers of attributes. In some cases, a hundredfold increase in speed has been observed.

Path Profile tool in Global Mapper
Users have the options to display a legend in the Path Profile tool in version 20.1 of Global Mapper.

Efficiency and organizational improvements in Global Mapper

Both versions 20 and 21 arrived with improvements to managing and organizing data more easily. Label creation and editing, for instance, improved dramatically, allowing for labels to be moved, rotated, formatted, and deleted individually.

Here are some of the improvements that helped with efficiency and organization:

  • Improved feature label creation and management
  • Improved layer management with target layer selection now available in all vector feature creation dialog boxes
  • Improved layer template creation for form-based data collection
  • Show a line legend on the Path Profile

Global Mapper’s data format and feature support

Global Mapper is known for its support of more than 300 formats — a list that grows continually. For example, support was added for OpenFlight, HEC-RAS raster and vector formats in the release of version 20.1.

Caption:Support for S-52 symbology for S-57 charts was introduced in Global Mapper v20.1.

S-52 symbology in Global Mapper v20.1
Support for S-52 symbology for S-57 charts was introduced in Global Mapper v20.1.

Feature support has also been expanded in the past 2 years, ranging from chart symbology to touchscreen support. Here are some new features that are included in the latest version of Global Mapper:

  • Support for S-52 symbology for S-57 charts
  • Support for downloading vector features from Esri RESTful data sources
  • Support for batch converting between 3D model formats (i.e. Blender, Collada DAE, OBJ, Sketchup, etc.)

Expanded options for multi-band imagery

Many users have requested more options for working with multi-band imagery. Here are a couple we have added over the past couple of years:

Touchscreen support:

  • Full touchscreen gesture support, including 2D and 3D map navigation
  • Access right-click context menus from a touchscreen
  • Expanded support for Windows Tablet and touchscreen computers

Get the Global Mapper tech support you need

Every Global Mapper purchase comes with 12 months of Maintenance & Support. By renewing a license or moving to the latest version, users have uninterrupted access to the excellent support provided by Blue Marble Geographics’ applications specialists.

Upgrade or purchase a new Global Mapper license for the newest features and support

Users who renew their Global Mapper licenses annually get the latest and greatest technology, and maintain their access to Blue Marble’s unparalleled support.

Renew your Global Mapper license today to take advantage of all of the latest features.

Renew your license

Where in the World Geo-Challenge — December 2019

View the form at Google Forms >

Top 5 new features of Blue Marble’s advanced point cloud processing, photogrammetry, and drone mapping software the LiDAR Module®

Over the past few years, Blue Marble Geographics®’ advanced point cloud processing tool has developed into a professional photogrammetry and drone-mapping software. The latest version of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module comes with several enhancements, many of which are to the Pixels-to-Points tool for generating point clouds and 3D meshes from drone-captured images.

Here are the top 5 new features of Blue Marble’s Global Mapper LiDAR Module:


With the new point cloud classification for pole-like objects, users can define the characteristics of the poles they would like to see classified. In the above example, the threshold for the pole classification includes the flag on these flag poles.

1. Automatic point cloud classification of pole-like objects

Manually classifying point cloud data can be time-consuming and tedious. This is why the Global Mapper LiDAR Module comes with automatic point cloud classification tools for points representing ground, buildings, vegetation, noise, powerlines, and most recently added poles.

The new pole classification tool identifies and classifies points of pole-like objects, such as signs, lamp-posts, utility poles, basketball hoops, and other cylindrical features.

With this tool, users can define the characteristics of the poles they would like to see classified. For example, they can define the minimum height and number of points per pole. They can also define a “pole-like” threshold, allowing for either rigid or relaxed definitions of a pole. For instance, a simple post would typically have a pole-like threshold of 90 – 100%, whereas some straight trees may have a pole-like threshold of 35 – 40%.


Users can either automatically mask images by selecting by color, or by manually drawing a selection in the Pixels-to-Points tool of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module v21.

2. Photo masking in the photogrammetric tool Pixels-to-Points for eliminating unwanted backgrounds or data from images

Not all image-data is ideal or necessary in photogrammetrically generated point clouds. This is why an option for photo masking was introduced to the Pixels-to-Points tool in version 21 of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module. Masking allows users to cut out unwanted areas from images, such as swaths of data that tend to not reconstruct well in a point cloud, like sky or water. It also allows users to crop their data down to focus on specific interest areas, which also shortens the point cloud generation process.


Ground-coverage area polygons in the Global Mapper LiDAR Module
The latest version of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module’s Pixels-to-Point tool displays the ground extent of each input photo to help users visualize the overlap of adjacent selected images.

3. Ground coverage polygons for showing the approximate ground coverage of drone-captured photos

Photogrammetrically generated point clouds can require hundreds of drone-captured images. To make it easier to manage and visualize the ground-coverage area of each photo, the latest version of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module’s Pixels-to-Points tool displays the ground extent of each input photo. Displaying these coverage-area polygons can also help users visualize the overlap of adjacent selected images.


Importing external files for high-accuracy positioning of orthoimages and point clouds
The latest version of the LiDAR Module allows users who have high-accuracy positioning in their orthoimages and point clouds to overwrite the initial geotag information that comes with their drone-captured images.

4. Additional support for importing accurate GPS information from external text files

In the latest version of the LiDAR Module, users can update the image-capture location — EXIF information — from a text file. This allows users who have high-accuracy positioning in their orthoimages and point clouds — such as PPK — the ability to overwrite the initial geotag information that comes with their drone-captured images. This is a valuable feature for surveyors who need highly accurate photogrammetric point clouds or meshes.


Displaying drone-captured images that contain common ground control points
When a single image is selected, the Pixels-to-Points tool automatically suggests and highlights all image file names that may contain common ground control points.

5. Identification of images that contain selected ground control points based on their location

Another improvement to the Pixels-to-Points tool is the ability to see images that contain the same ground control points. When a single image is selected, the tool automatically suggests and highlights all image file names that may contain common ground control points. This makes selecting images based on location much easier and faster.


Accessible photogrammetry and point cloud processing software

Most of the improvements to the latest release of the Global Mapper LiDAR Module are to the photogrammetric point cloud generation tool Pixels-to-Points. This functionality allows GIS professionals easier access to point cloud data as drones and cameras become more affordable.

To try the Pixels-to-Points tool and the other powerful tools that come with the Global Mapper LiDAR Module, request a free two-week trial after downloading Global Mapper® here.

What is an SDK? Using the Global Mapper SDK in third-party software and extensions

“SDK” stands for Software Development Kit. It’s an installable package of software development tools that enables programmers and engineers to create applications and extensions. In other words, software developers use SDKs like car mechanics use car parts. Mechanics don’t reinvent the brakes, axle, or transmission when they build a car. They buy the parts and put the car together.

When software developers want to add a certain functionality to their application, they don’t necessarily need to build everything from scratch. Instead, they might be able to use an SDK that offers the functionality they need. To make development easier and faster, SDKs are often packaged with other programs for translating code, testing, and debugging.

Blue Marble Geographics® offers SDKs that include the functionality of most of its GIS and geodetics applications to assist developers with their projects. In this blog entry, we’ll take a look at two user-case examples involving the Global Mapper® SDK: one in which the kit was used within the third-party software WindSim; and another in which a custom Global Mapper extension was created for BGC Engineering’s cloud-based platform.

But first, a little information on Global Mapper

Global Mapper is Blue Marble’s all-in-one geographic information system (GIS) software. It is designed for analyzing geographic information, making maps, visualizing 3D and point cloud data, generating and editing digital terrain models, and managing other geographic information. It’s used in a broad range of industries — ranging from military and defense to natural resources management — for countless purposes.

With every release of Blue Marble desktop software, there is an update to the accompanying SDK. The latest releases of the Global Mapper SDK and LiDAR Module® SDK, for example, incorporate several enhancements from the recent version 21 releases. A major addition to the LiDAR Module SDK is the ability to leverage the LiDAR Module’s photogrammetric tool — Pixels-to-Points® — for generating point clouds from drone or UAV images.

So, as you can imagine, the Blue Marble SDKs allow for infinite possibilities.


3D model of the wind conditions of an area
This illustration displays the wind speed over an area of turbines. The red colored wind turbines produce the highest amount of energy. The yellow and white turbines produce only half of that energy.

WindSim: Extracting elevation and vegetation data with the Global Mapper SDK

WindSim is a wind energy software that uses computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to optimize the placement of wind turbines for maximum energy production and profitability. The application provides a fast and easy way to simulate and assess the local wind conditions of prospective sites for wind-energy development.

3D model for calculating wind conditions
To determine local wind conditions, WindSim uses CFD and 3D numerical models that have been discretized into millions of cells. Behind these 3D models is the elevation and vegetation data that has been extracted using the Global Mapper SDK.

Topography plays an important role in determining the position of a turbine. A difference of only a few hundred meters in positioning can have a significant impact on a turbine’s energy production. In order to calculate local wind or “flow” conditions for any given location, WindSim needed the ability to extract global terrain and vegetation data. This functionality was added to WindSim with the Global Mapper SDK.

“Within the wind energy sector, knowledge about the local wind conditions are particularly valuable,” said Dr. Arne R. Gravdahl, CTO and Founder of WindSim. “The success of WindSim Express relies on the easy extraction of terrain data globally.”

Learn more about WindSim at windsim.com.


BGC Engineering: Creating an extension for Global Mapper to export maps

BGC Engineering Inc. (BGC) is an international consulting firm that developed the mixed-reality software system The Ada Platform™ (Ada) for the holographic visualization of applied earth science engineering data.

Viewing 3D holograms in the HoloLens
By viewing 3D holograms in the HoloLens, both technical and non-technical stakeholders can see, interact with, and collaborate on complex applied earth science data.

Ada is cutting edge technology that uses the Global Mapper SDK in a button extension for exporting files from the Global Mapper desktop software. The extension prepares the data for use in Ada’s cloud-based platform. Users can simply drag and drop these files into the tool to quickly share tabletop maps as 3D holograms.

“[The SDK] allows users to access unprecedented viewing capabilities that add considerable value to the high-quality GIS data that Global Mapper provides,” said Keith Lay, Digital Marketing Manager at BGC Engineering Inc. “By viewing this data on the HoloLens, both technical and non-technical stakeholders can view, interact with, and collaborate on complex applied earth science data as never before.”

Dragging and dropping files into The Ada Platform
After GIS files have been packaged and exported using a custom button by BGC Engineering, they can be dragged and dropped into The Ada Platform to share maps as 3D holograms.

Learn more about BGC Engineering’s mixed-reality software system The Ada Platform here: adaplatform.io

SDK updates with each Blue Marble software release

As Blue Marble Geographics’ products grow more sophisticated with every release, so do the possibilities for its development customers who are working on geospatial technology.

To learn more about the GIS and geodetics SDKs that Blue Marble Geographics offers, visit bluemarblegeo.com.

Top 5 New Features of Global Mapper v21

The release of version 21 of the affordable and easy GIS software Global Mapper came with several enhancements, but here are the top 5 features of Global Mapper v21:


A screenshot of a Global Mapper map that has been published in MangoMap
Multi-layered maps can be published to an online MangoMap account directly from Global Mapper v21.

1. Bring Global Mapper online with the MangoMap Extension

In order to provide a simple and efficient way to share web maps directly from Global Mapper v21, Blue Marble Geographics partnered with MangoMap — an online mapping service.

Users who set up a MangoMap account within Global Mapper have the ability to create a Global Mapper Map Portal; share multi-layered GIS content with customers; and publish spatial data to share projects with their coworkers. MangoMap web maps include legends and querying tools, providing a dynamic way of viewing shared geospatial information.

Here is a sample of a Global Mapper map published to a MangoMap site.

In Global Mapper v21, users can try MangoMap for free by creating an account. Learn more here.


A screenshot of the new layer animation functionality in Global Mapper
The new layer animation toolbar in Global Mapper v21 automatically displays layers in a sequential flow, illustrating change over time.

2. Layer animation tools for automatically displaying  a sequence

The new layer Animation toolbar in Global Mapper v21 helps with spatio-temporal data analysis by automatically displaying layers in a sequential flow, illustrating change over time. Depending on the nature of the data, users can control the speed and duration of the playback of their data layers by using the keyframing buttons.


A screenshot of labels being edited in Global Mapper v21
Improved label formatting in Global Mapper makes producing high-quality maps easier and faster. The screenshot above shows the repositioning of  individual labels in a label layer.

3. Improved feature label creation and management

Professionals working in cartography say that the format and layout of a well-designed map always needs some level of human input. This is why the ability to manually create and edit labels was dramatically improved in Global Mapper v21. Vector labels can now be assigned to their own layers, which makes formatting, moving, rotating, and deleting individual labels much easier.


A screenshot of local peaks and depressions in terrain in Global Mapper v21
The option to find local peaks and depressions is a new feature in the contour tool in Global Mapper v21.

4. A tool for identifying local peaks and depressions in a terrain layer

Also new in Global Mapper v21 is an option for finding local peaks and depressions using the contour tool. This option generates point features that represent high and low points in terrain data, which is ideal for some hydrology analysis such as flood containment monitoring, and for planning engineering projects such as radio transmitter placement.


A screenshot of a fly-through path created by recording the fly-mode in Global Mapper
Global Mapper users can now “draw” a fly-through path by recording their movements in fly-mode and walk-mode in the 3D Viewer.

5. The ability to record a fly-through path using the fly-mode and walk-mode in the 3D Viewer

Since version 16, Global Mapper has been able to record fly-through videos, which involved drawing a fly-through path using the Digitizer tool. In version 21, users can now “draw” a fly-through path by recording their movements in fly-mode and walk-mode in the 3D Viewer.

Since the fly-through feature in Global Mapper is an easy way to create videos of 3D data and terrain, it’s commonly used for real estate and property management, planning drone or UAV flight paths or simply creating a compelling presentation of your GIS data to stakeholders

There’s much more to Global Mapper

Global Mapper comes with many more data-creating, editing, rendering, and analysis tools, ranging from digital terrain model generation to viewshed analysis. A two-week free trial of this all-in-one and affordable GIS software can be downloaded here.