In this 3-minute video, we follow the steps for conducting a view shed analysis in Global Mapper that allows us to see the visual impact of a project like a wind or solar farm. The tool highlights the clear line of sight of a project by using elevation data, the project’s location, height, and radius.
The development of a wind energy project, big or small, is a complex process that considers several factors. From measuring the actual wind resources in an area to researching potential zoning and ordinance conflicts, it’s not a project that’s easily simplified. But in the beginning stages of planning, whether you’re considering bringing wind energy to your own property or to a larger community, creating a rough visualization of a wind project can be relatively easy.
In this blog entry, we explain the online resources and tools available through Global Mapper that can help estimate resources and terrain modifications, and create a visualization of the preliminary plans of a wind project. We’ll do this by simulating a simplified planning process for a wind farm to arrive at a 3D visualization.
Importing & Analyzing Online Data in Global Mapper
In the planning of an actual wind project, we would want to know the annual average wind energy potential of our property, any legal limitations, and so much more information before even beginning plans for development. But for this simple simulation, our purpose is to introduce how relevant data can be accessed, analyzed, and visualized in Global Mapper.
One online source that we are using is the National Renewable Energy Lab, which is a federally owned and contractor-operated facility that provides data and maps for energy-focused purposes. The data set we are downloading shows the wind energy potential of areas across the state of Maine on a relative scale ranging from values of 0 to 7, with 7 representing the greatest potential.
Running a Simple Query to Target Specific Attribute Values
If we determine the required value for our wind farm plans, we can build a query that targets those specific areas that match our requirement. For instance, if we wanted to find areas that are greater than or equal to the value of 6, we can run a simple query to find those areas within this data set. We can also use the Info tool to explore the wind energy potential of properties within an area.
Applying Color to Visualize Patterns in Data
Another way we can visualize the distribution and range of values in this data set is by applying a color scheme. As we can see, this visualization makes it easy to target those areas of maximum wind potential. If we wanted, we can add a legend to our map to further illustrate what values the colors actually represent. But in this instance, we are interested in visualizing which areas have the highest potential.
We can bring in some additional data to add more context, such as county outlines and town boundaries within the state. If we were looking to develop wind energy in a particular geographic location, for instance in a particular town, we have the background data that shows those boundaries. We can also pull in road data to see the road access to areas being considered for development.
For our simulation, we are choosing an area based on this very quick visualization of the NREL data we imported into Global Mapper.
Accessing Free Terrain and Land Cover Data Through Global Mapper’s Online Data Service
With our area of interest chose, we can find more relevant data through Global Mapper’s free online data service. For our simulation, we are choosing to use a specific area of a 10-meter National Elevation Data (NED) data set that we streamed into the application and exported to a local Global Mapper grid file.
We streamed the data through the online data service, which has a wide range of data options categorized geographically as well as by data type and theme. In this instance, we are interested in terrain data to give us visual context and also a functional base for some of the modification processes we will run later.
We are also interested in land cover data, which will help us visualize the roughness of the terrain. We can find a raster representation of our area under the land cover section in the online data options.
Generating a Roughness Grid from Land Cover Data
Areas with less friction, or surface roughness, are better suited for wind energy production. From our land cover data, we can generate a grid to visualize areas where roughness could reduce energy potential.
To create this roughness grid, we can open locally saved land cover data that we had previously exported from the online data service. Either by right clicking the land cover layer or from our analysis menu, Global Mapper gives us the option to generate a roughness grid and to choose a shader with which to render the grid. For this visualization, we prepared a custom shader beforehand that illustrates the range of roughness through the gradients of a single color – lighter tints representing less roughness, darker shades representing greater roughness.
This visualization allows us to see open areas such as fields or bodies of water that may provide ideal conditions for a wind farm.
Finding Ridge Lines & Isolating a Single Ridge
Another ideal location for a wind farm is on a ridge. We can find a ridge line or high point within the focus area by using the Find Ridge Lines tool, which is a function that works similarly to a watershed analysis, but in reverse. Instead of looking for areas where drainage would accumulate, the tool finds the highest points on our terrain.
After choosing specific parameters, such as the width threshold of the lines, we can see a variety of ridge lines appear in the area visible on our screen. These lines are actually segmented, so in order to isolate a ridge we want, we can combine the segments of that ridge into a single line by selecting the desired segments and using the Combine Features tool.
Plotting Points Along a Ridge to Represent Wind Turbines
With our new ridge line selected, we can generate point features to represent our wind turbines along the ridge by using the Create New Points from Selected Lines tool. We can specify that we want ten vertices to represent ten wind turbines evenly spaced along the ridge, and discard vertices that may have already been part of our original ridge line. Once these parameters are set up, we can see that the ten vertices have been generated that represent the wind turbines in our simulation.
We can then edit these inherently generic point features and choose a Feature. For this simulation, we prepared a custom feature type called Wind Turbine which has a 3D visual representation of a wind turbine assigned to it. This 3D model is actually pre-configured in Global Mapper. We can also edit the attributes of these, but for this simulation, we are only assigning our customized feature type.
Once these points have been edited, we can view them in the 3D Viewer and see the 30-meter height attribute of the 3D models we prepared in advance, and the even spacing between each model along our ridgeline.
Creating Buffers Around Wind Turbine Locations
After we have placed our wind turbines, we can then generate a buffer around each point in preparation for creating flattened areas, or site pads, in the terrain. With our points selected, we can click the Buffer tool in our toolbar. In this simulation, we are choosing to have buffer areas with a 10-meter radius around each of our wind turbines. Once the buffer areas are defined and generated, we see the concentric ring that represents the physical area that will be flattened around each point in the terrain-modification process.
Generating an Elevation Grid from LiDAR Data
In order to generate a more accurate terrain model for our simulation, we can import pre-cropped LiDAR data that was originally streamed from the U.S. Geological Survey through Global Mapper’s online data service. This higher quality elevation data allows us to create more precise modifications and visualization than the lower-resolution terrain data we had originally imported.
To create an elevation grid from this LiDAR point cloud, we can simply click the Elevation Grid button with our LiDAR data layer selected. In this simulation, we are choosing to grid only ground points. Once the new grid has been generated, we can open the Elevation Options to feather, or blend, the edges of our higher quality grid into the lower-resolution terrain data.
Calculating Cut and Fill Values & Creating Pad Sites
With our buffers selected, we can use the Flatten Site Plan tool to flatten those buffer areas of the LiDAR-based elevation grid. The tool calculates the volume of material that must be shifted in order to achieve a flattened site – giving a cut volume and a fill volume. Not only does Global Mapper give these helpful calculations, it also modifies the elevation grid so we can visualize what the cut and fill alterations would look like.
Viewing the Visual Impact of a Project with the View Shed Tool
With one of our wind turbine points selected, we can click the View Shed tool to see the extent at which our wind turbine is visible in the distance. We can base our analysis on the height of our selected wind turbine and on the height of an average person — 2 meters or so. Global Mapper calculates the areas at which our wind turbine will be visible to an average person, and displays these areas in red. This analysis allows us to see the visual impact of our wind farm in the area of development.
Creating a Fly-through of a Wind Energy Project
After setting up our wind turbines and modifying our terrain surface, we can create a 3D fly-through to further visualize the project. We can do this by drawing a line for our flight path using the Digitizer tool. With this line selected, we can set up the specifications of our fly through by using the Create Fly-through tool.
Once we’ve established the height, bank angle, and duration of our flight, we can preview it in the 3D Viewer. If we’re happy with this fly-through, we can also save it from the 3D Viewer. If we aren’t happy with it, we can go back and edit the flight or segments of the flight line again.
Creating a fly-through is a great way to present a project, particularly one like a wind energy project that may need to be proposed to government officials or multiple stakeholders.
Global Mapper: A Robust Tool for Any Development Project
While this simulation involves some behind-the-scenes preparation, such as the creation of a custom point feature type and the cropping of LiDAR data, it’s still a prime example of how simple data visualization and terrain modification can be in Global Mapper. It can be easy, not only in the context of a potential wind energy project, but for any development plan that requires quick access to terrain data and robust digitizing tools.
Each user of Global Mapper has their own story about how they began using the application. Some hear about the program through word-of-mouth, others may get a job where Global Mapper is used, and some may have seen Blue Marble Geographics at local trade shows. For me, and many other young GIS professionals, exposure to Global Mapper came at a critical time in our careers — while we were learning the core GIS concepts in college.
Workflows Build Student’s Confidence in GIS Concepts
My exposure came through the academic labs that Blue Marble Geographics provided to my university. They are free to Universities in the United States and Canada. These labs cover workflows that range from an introduction to the principles of GIS to working with different types of data including LiDAR. While many GIS terms can sound intimidating to a new user, the academic labs are a great way to introduce both Global Mapper and basic GIS concepts in the classroom. As a student, these labs allowed me to get comfortable with the tools and processes in the application by following step-by-step guidelines supplemented with images. There wasn’t a workflow in the six sections that I couldn’t complete, which was certainly a confidence booster to a student taking an “Intro to GIS” course.
I still remember many of the workflows that were covered in the labs. The Georeferencing tool and Heat Map analysis are particular standouts for me. They were not only easy to understand but educational. I was able to learn and apply the concepts of raster processing and rectification in real time. Due to the user-friendly interface of Global Mapper, I could focus on learning GIS concepts instead of spending my time struggling to navigate within the application.
Another important aspect of these academic labs that may be overlooked is the opportunity to take what was covered in each section and apply them to other situations. At the end of each academic lab there is a Final Exercise which takes the important concepts, and then gives students basic instructions and data to complete a similar task using different data. For example, in section 1 the final exercise has students take a shapefile of hospital points, along with Maine town polygons and asks to show the distribution of hospitals within each town in Maine. After completing the exercise, I felt confident taking that data and using the GIS concepts I learned throughout the first exercise and produce a final product representing that distribution.
Blue Marble’s Academic Labs Are Constantly Evolving
Now, as an employee of Blue Marble Geographics I have been working on updating these academic labs for version 19, and incorporating the new features and enhancements that are present in this version. The most significant updates involve all of the querying workflows to reflect the new multivariate attribute querying tool. As a student, I found this process difficult, as you couldn’t build compound queries without running two separate searches. This process is now streamlined so you can search for two separate values or attributes at the same time (Lab 1 Section 5). We have added two new labs to enhance our curriculum. These include using the raster calculator for NDVI calculations, and basic LiDAR processing such as classification and feature extraction. With the expanding functionality of Global Mapper and increase in LiDAR use in the GIS industry, we felt that these two workflows should be available in academic labs.
Our academic labs are constantly evolving with every version of Global Mapper. Many of the updates made to our software were initiated by student feedback. The students from the University of Maine, including myself, have been compiling comments about what they like in the application and what they would like to see changed. These comments have changed throughout the years, as many students using Global Mapper before Version 18 mainly noted that the look and feel was too ‘retro’, and that an updated user interface would be beneficial to Global Mapper. I remember saying the same thing, but when Version 18 was released with a modern and inviting interface, I knew that students would appreciate the change. Now, when updating the academic labs to match Version 19, I consider many of the students’ comments and provide more explanation as to why certain steps are needed. Students also had great suggestions about future tools that should be added to Global Mapper, or changes that would benefit the application which I brought to our Developers to consider. We strive to have a large portion of our Development user-driven, which also includes students.
Our academic labs are a great way for students to learn GIS concepts while exploring an easy-to-use GIS application. These labs helped me begin my career in the GIS industry and can do the same for you or your students. If you have any questions regarding the academic lab license program or the academic labs, please email email@example.com.
Note: Hear Janet talk about and demonstrate the Academic Labs in a recent webcast here.
Janet Leese is an Applications Specialist at Blue Marble Geographics. She provides technical support and works on updating academic labs and other self training materials. Prior to joining Blue Marble in 2016, Leese earned her B.S in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Maine.
Since the introduction of the free Global Mapper academic licensing program in early 2017, countless U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities have adopted Global Mapper as their go-to GIS software for classroom and lab instruction. In this brief presentation, we explore the various aspects of the Global Mapper Academic Program including the updated free curriculum materials and student scholarship program.
Are you an engineer? Did you study linear algebra in college? Perhaps you have an advanced mathematics degree? If so, you might not find this blog helpful. If you’re like many folks in the GIS industry today who did not take a heavy math load in college and are not working as a surveyor or engineer, then this blog hopefully will help you to understand one of the fundamental principles of mapping. Geodesy is that area in GIS that is a bit of a dirty secret in that many people try to avoid it or don’t understand it. Technically it’s the branch of mathematics and science focused on accurately measuring and understanding the size and shape of the earth, its orientation in space, and its gravity field. It is a $100,000 word that even sounds intimidating, but break it down and it will hopefully make sense. It’s the underpinning of all mapping but it can be the most difficult to understand and the most intimidating to the unindoctrinated. I am here to help with my top ten list of geodetic fundamentals, explained in an easy to understand and hopefully easy to remember approach. So let’s dive in to the deep end, shall we?
Number 1: It’s Coordinate “Reference” System not Coordinate System
This is an important point, no pun intended, to remember. The Coordinate Reference System (CRS) is a reference model that packages up everything we need to communicate locations, sizes, and shapes. It is a toolkit that gives us a language to accurately enumerate positions on the earth. Some of the tools in the CRS toolbox are Ellipsoid, Datum, Map Projection, Units, and Origin. A CRS is defined by these concepts, which allows us to talk geodesy. Just remember that we are using a math model to reference the earth. Blue Marble has a tag line: Mind the Gap Between World and Map. That is what we are talking about. Unfortunately there is not a good acronym for these terms. EDPUO does not have a good ring to it. I’ve tried switching them around, nothing works. But you usually need them all to make a CRS.
Number 2: Transform not Convert
When I first started working at Blue Marble, we used to use the phrase “coordinate conversion”. Over the years, we have moved away from that phrase simply because it implies a process that is exact and easily reversible when that is not always the case. When we change coordinate reference systems we are actually transforming the data. We are moving all of the points to a new system and, if we were to reverse that process, we are actually transforming the data again and on some small level those points will not be exactly where they were before. The concept here is that there is much more going on behind the scenes.
Number 3: Three types of Coordinate Reference Systems
There are three main types of CRS that we work with ̶ the Geographic, the Projected, and the Geocentric. Geographic coordinate systems can be thought of as a globe, a whole-earth model. The units are angular like degrees as opposed to feet and are focused on rotation around an axis. This type of system gets us close to the shape of the planet without a lot of distortion. But it is not practical for talking about directions, distances and relative locations. That is why we have the projected systems. Think of the projected systems as taking the round globe and projecting it on to a flat plane. These behave like planar Cartesian systems that allow us to map x and y on a grid in linear units like feet, meters or miles. The third type of system is called geocentric or earth centered/earth fixed (ECEF). This is a model that is based on an origin that is at the center of the planet (the geocenter) as opposed to the surface. Many of these are gravity-based and they were used for GPS satellite technology.
Number 4: The Types of Datum Transformations
Datum Transformations are probably the most difficult concepts for people to understand. Actually, it’s the concept of a datum itself that trips people up. I like to think of the datum as a tie-down point. It is the point that ties a specific location on the globe to your mapping surface. So, if the datum is where we begin a mapping process, envision moving from that point in one direction. We will call that X. Then we turn to a perpendicular direction that we will call Y. If we introduce a change in height, that is Z. So now we take all three position changes (change in X, change in Y, change in Z) and we move them together to arrive at a different reference surface. In order to mathematically move X, Y, and Z together, we use a datum transformation. A simple, linear, three-parameter transformation tries to leave our point in one place and swap out the surface they are on by lining up a new model under it. The simplicity of the shift has tradeoffs in terms of accuracy. If we add more complexity we add more parameters like rotations and scale and we can move into seven, ten, and even 14 parameter shifts. This process is very complex, mathematically speaking, and not easily summed up in a brief blog. But the point (once again, no pun intended) is that we have to transform our data in a precise and accurate manner and this process starts with the datum from which we are transforming.
Number 5: Geoids – Getting Vertical
So many concepts, so little time. OK, so the term geoid literally means Earth model. In today’s geodetic world (seriously, not a pun) we consider geoids in conjunction with vertical datums. Vertical datums add a new dimension to horizontal datums. Think of a horizontal datum as mainly dealing with the x and y, based on an ellipsoid. With a vertical datum we introduce a z value for height. With a vertical datum we introduce ‘up’ and ‘down’. The vertical datums allow us to map mountains, valleys, changes in the terrain, by giving us a good zero height from which we start measuring. Mean Sea Level comes into play when we talk about geoids as well. Geoids are typically models approximating where sea level is supposed to be to create an even more accurate reference for height measurement. They of course have a whole bag of assumptions and challenges to bring to the table as the ocean is an ever moving target. It’s important to remember that when talking about sea level, there are multiple models of it and they aren’t all the same!
Number 6: Not just Where but When is your data?
By this stage, I’ve either confused you even more than you were at the start, or perhapsbe you are beginning to understand some of these concepts a little more so that you have a deeper appreciation of where your data is. Well, I’m sorry but for modern mapping it is no longer just about where, but it is also about when. When is your data? Coordinate reference systems can now also carry a value of when the system was measured; a time stamp if you will. Also known as an epoch. Think of the areas of the earth’s surface that are relatively active (moving) due to tectonic activity. The island of Japan is a great example. After a major earth quake in Japan, the entire island can actually move or change its location. There are now time-dependent transformations available, such as HTDP, to address this challenge. Another way to think of this concept is our friend WGS84 ̶ World Geodetic System 1984. The first iteration of this GPS-measured system was way back in 1984. For our millennial friends, that is ancient history. For today’s mapping, if we are concerned with modern measurement, the original WGS 84 is not going to get it done. It’s been realized (revised) six times over the years; we now use WGS84 (G1762), which was realized 1762 weeks (33 years!) after the original and is now several meters away from positions on surface-based models from that time.
Number 7: Process Assumptions – aka Garbage in Garbage out!
So now you have some of the basic concepts in your list checked off. Now you should be able to look at your mapping data, review these issues and know that, if they are all accounted for, you are all set. Your data is accurate. It is where it is supposed to be and you can move on to more cartographic pursuits such as contour generation and buffering. No, sorry it is not that easy. We cannot assume that the process used to create the data we are working with was executed properly. A common problem in modern mapping is we load in secondary data to our map. Many GIS tools will automatically place that data over the base data. If it appears to line up, we assume it is correct. When we bring in our data, if that data was corrupted by a poor transformation process or mis-labeled geodetically when it comes through that process it will still be bad. We may never know. That is why we always have to be on alert for geodetically corrupted data or processes where assumptions are made.
Number 8: The challenge of that last Meter
Today’s GIS and Survey work often encompasses data in the centimeter level of precision or resolution. Data products like high-resolution LiDAR data with multiple points collected per square meter are common place. Working at high-precision levels requires a great deal of care and persistence. The work is far from complete when the data is collected. There are assumptions to question, data manipulations to understand, and limitations to acknowledge. All of the concepts in our top ten come into play.
Number 9: Metadata, metadata, metadata
One way to help battle garbage in/garbage out is the often overlooked, admittedly boring process of metadata. Metadata is data about the data. It is a key to understanding the CRS involved in our map. Information like coordinate reference system, projections, sources, and assumptions are all important forms of metadata. Mapping folks have been talking about metadata for as long as I can remember. Yet it is still often overlooked. We took delivery of a large, high-resolution, and extremely expensive-to-collect LiDAR data set not too long ago and when we attempted to transform the data we realized there was absolutely no coordinate metadata information. Because it was terrestrial LiDAR and intended to be quite accurate, it used a local CRS, but there was no metadata in the files. An easy fix would have been a text file in the folder directory but that was nowhere to be found either. And this data was collected by a licensed land surveyor. Unacceptable! We all have to do better than that.
Number 10: Education on the Science/ Training on the Software
Let’s remember, whether it’s geography, surveying, geology, physics, ecology, or any number of other disciplines, collectively we are talking about science. One cannot simply become an expert on all facets of applied GIS. One can learn the tools involved but the science of mapping itself is the responsibility of the GIS professional and that science is founded on positioning. Additionally, there are any number of software tools that can be used to create maps. All of those software titles address our top ten list and the question of whether or not they do a good job is up to the GIS professional. We said earlier, garbage in means garbage out. We must all work to stay current on the various tools we use for mapping, and thus by extension geodesy, so that we can understand how those tools address our top ten issues. If we are diligent, we can provide accurate mapping. If we are not, the follies and foils of inaccurate data rest on our shoulders.
Patrick Cunningham is the President of Blue Marble Geographics. He has two decades of experience in software development, marketing, sales, consulting, and project management. Under his leadership, Blue Marble has become the world leader in coordinate conversion software (the Geographic Calculator) and low cost GIS software with the 2011 acquisition of Global Mapper. Cunningham is Chair of the Maine GIS Users Group, a state appointed member of the Maine Geolibrary Board, a member of the NEURISA board, a GISP and holds a masters in sociology from the University of New Hampshire.
Blue Marble Geographics (bluemarblegeo.com) is pleased to announce the immediate availability of an interim update to Global Mapper. This release introduces a major new component to the software’s interface, which has been designed to ensure that the user’s attention is focused on the task at hand. With a simple click of a button, users can now order a freshly brewed cup of coffee from within Global Mapper’s toolbar.
Blue Marble’s GIS software is used by hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers throughout the world who need affordable, user-friendly, yet powerful GIS solutions. Users come from a wide range of industries including software, oil and gas, mining, civil engineering, surveying, and technology companies, as well as government departments and academic institutions.
The addition of the so-called “Coffee Bar” is yet another example of the rapid, user-focused development philosophy that has defined Global Mapper over its 25-year history. Virtually every new feature or function that has been introduced can be attributed to direct input from a customer or user. In the case of the Coffee Bar, the inspiration came from Laurent Martin, a Blue Marble partner and reseller based in Brazil, a country noted for is coffee production. In a recent blog post, Martin noted that, “Global Mapper will do everything you need, except serving you a cup of coffee”.
Global Mapper developers realized that this was a major deficiency that needed to be addressed and quickly set about engineering a solution. The culmination of their work is a new six-button toolbar that offers a range of coffee options including regular, cappuccino, and espresso. After clicking the appropriate button, a status bar will appear indicating the progress of the brewing process and within minutes, a fresh cup of coffee will be delivered right to your desk or workstation. To see the Coffee Bar in action, click here.
The underlying technology that has been developed for the Coffee Bar can easily be adapted for other beverages and a Tea Bar is currently in the early stages of development. A Bar Bar is also being planned, which will serve alcoholic drinks, subject to local licensing laws. Plans are in place to integrate this component into the Global Mapper SDK, which will allow software engineers to add their own beverage options.
“Because Global Mapper is able to efficiently perform complex data processing tasks with minimal user input, the mind of the typical Global Mapper user has a tendency to wonder.” stated Blue Marble’s President, Patrick Cunningham. “The new Global Mapper Coffee Bar ensures that a caffeine-charged pick-me-up is just a click away to re-charge and re-focus our users.”
While the Coffee Bar is currently available in the desktop release of the software, a scaled-down version has been planned for Global Mapper Mobile for both iOS and Android devices. This will serve up your favorite hot beverages in a convenient to-go cup. Warning, beverages may be hot, serious injury or pain could result.
The Global Mapper SDK has empowered countless software developers to create a wide array of powerful and innovative geospatial applications and none more so that Australia-based 4DMapper. Recently, Blue Marble teamed up with 4DMapper to produce a video illustrating common workflows in Global Mapper and how they can now be performed in 4DMapper’s cloud-based platform. We also chatted with COO, Paul Douriaguine about the company why they chose the Global Mapper SDK.
What is the story of 4DMapper? What products or services do you offer?
4DMapper is a cloud-based geospatial platform for enterprise, enabling customers’ 3D maps and models with workflow tools for asset inspection, virtual surveying, photogrammetry, and geospatial analytics. It lets you manage, visualize, process, share and collaborate on your geospatial data… all this with just a web browser!
From its early days, 4DMapper’s mission has been to make geospatial data readily accessible to professionals and non-technical decision makers alike. By doing so, we are helping our customers unlock the value of their geospatial data for their enterprises.
4DMapper Pty Ltd is an Australian technology company formed in early 2014 by highly experienced geospatial professionals Rob Klau and Adam Chabok. At the time geospatial data was processed on desktops, required expensive hardware, highly specialist skills to interpret, and was very slow and unwieldy to move around (typical delivery was via hard drive in the mail). The duo recognized a void in effective delivery of geospatial data to people who need it. Joined by a group of elite software engineers (ex-Google lead techs) they’ve developed a platform for streaming these massive files without the need for expensive software or hardware. The First version of 4DMapper was released in July 2015.
Can you explain the name? What are the four Ds?
4DMapper is a set of tools and workflows to accurately map our physical world and bring it into the powerful world of virtual surveying and 3D asset inspection, geospatial analytics, artificial intelligence, and big data.
As for the “D”s – the first three “D”s are the dimensions of our physical world, accurately represented via absolute geospatial coordinates. The fourth “D” is to capture the change or variability of the world, being as it changes over time (e.g. repeat inspection of a mining site or building rooftops), change of a particular attribute of real-life objects (e.g. corrosion or fault detection on cell towers) or some other variability of metadata about the real-life object (e.g. pattern recognition in mineral exploration, NDVI analysis in agriculture, geospatial analytics in mapping and surveying applications)
Why do you think it is important to be able to manage geospatial data on the cloud?
There are many reasons for cloud’s growing popularity. The three most important ones in our view are:
- The Cloud empowers – elastic computing and infinitely scalable data storage removes the need for expensive software and hardware driving significant savings for the businesses
- The Cloud connects – it’s ability to facilitate business transactions creates numerous win-win opportunities and drives growth for geospatial providers and their customers
- The Cloud enables – it makes data readily available to people who need it when they need it, thus unlocking the value of geospatial data and insights for enterprises
When did you first become aware of Global Mapper?
Like many other geospatial professionals we have grown with Global Mapper, first came across it at university when doing surveying / photogrammetry / remote sensing degrees many years ago, have been using it ever since.
Why did you choose the Global Mapper SDK to provide 3D data manipulation tools to your users?
Global Mapper provides a set of powerful tools, and it has been a de-facto industry standard and a tool of choice for many professionals for decades. When we looked at the options – the choice was obvious.
Your website talks about how 4DMapper was conceived in response to the lack of affordable and effective ways to deliver geospatial data to people who need it. What are some of the challenges you faced in the GIS industry leading up to the first release of 4DMapper in 2015? And what challenges are you facing today?
4DMapper was conceived to tackle a major problem of efficient delivery of large geospatial data to people who needed it. When the first version of 4DMapper was developed and released in 2015, we quickly came to the realization that it was some years ahead of its time and the market wasn’t quite ready for it. The cloud offering was immature slowing its adoption by conservative industries such as mining, building and construction, insurance, and government. At that point in time, most of the serious geospatial software was still available on desktops only, cloud processing was a novel idea with no major vendors offering cloud-based photogrammetry or analytics services. 4DMapper’s team has worked with some of the major vendors assisting them with the development of their cloud offerings.
The world of geospatial has moved on since those days. Cloud is becoming well accepted not only for data storage but for processing alike. However, a new challenge has emerged in that the advancements in geospatial data acquisition technologies seem to be outpacing data management and processing capabilities creating a so-called data deluge. Now the penny has dropped, and the fast-growing demand for information is driving the increased requirement for keeping geospatial data management tools simple and intuitive. Luckily, 4DMapper’s approach to working with geospatial data was exactly that – usability has been a primary concern to keep the tools simple and intuitive yet sophisticated and powerful. These days there is a proliferation of point solutions, multiple unconnected tools, highlighting a need for an enterprise-grade geospatial platform.
What Global Mapper SDK functionality do you think is, or will be, most useful or popular among your users?
The whole suite… that’s the nature of Global Mapper, it’s not just one tool – it’s a professionals’ toolbox. 4DMapper would like to make most Global Mapper functionality available on our platform. So far we only released a small subset of Global Mapper tools as a pilot. We are looking for feedback on what you would like to see prioritized for the upcoming releases.
Can you share an interesting or surprising project that you’ve seen your platform used for?
We don’t get to see the data our customers host on 4DMapper. Our customer data always belongs to them, we recognize the importance of data ownership and take data security and privacy very seriously. Unless our customer’s share their projects with us, we don’t have visibility of them.
Having said that, one of our recent projects that went viral when the customer shared it on social media was a beautiful 3D model of a Fire Department training center. The mesh model was created using Bentley Context Capture, a data format natively supported by 4DMapper (we also support Agisoft, Autodesk, and soon Pix4D models). When posted on LinkedIn the project instantly gained a lot of eyeballs for its accuracy, elegancy, and a visual appeal.
We have many other interesting projects that have been shared with us by the customers from all walks of life – large mining sites, agriculture farms, rooftop inspections, powerlines, bridges, offshore oil and gas platforms, critical infrastructure, and large scale high-accuracy 3D models of major cities. 4DMapper is a scalable enterprise platform for managing a wide variety of geospatial data.
How do you see the integration of the Global Mapper SDK into your online platform impacting your future business development?
Integrating Global Mapper SDK is a major step toward realizing our vision of building an ecosystem that would connect geospatial professionals and facilitate business transactions. Only launched as a pilot, Global Mapper tools already generating interest from our existing customers. We can only imagine what it will be like when more Global Mapper tools are made available on 4DMapper.
What do you think the future of geospatial data processing and delivery looks like?
Geospatial is again a rapidly evolving industry. We don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, but there are some trends we are seeing that are likely to continue and accelerate:
- 3D is rapidly becoming a new norm, so is cloud-based delivery and collaboration
- majority of geospatial data will be stored on the cloud, data processing will undoubtedly follow suit and move to the cloud too
- simplicity and usability will be a major requirement as geospatial data gets higher adoption and becomes more relied on by non-technical decision makers
Blue Marble and 4DMapper Collaborate
Recently 4DMapper and Blue Marble Geographics collaborated on an online webcast. A recording of this presentation is available here.
For more information on 4DMapper or to sign up for a free trial, visit http://4DMapper.com
Here’s a recording of this hour-long presentation on What’s New in Global Mapper 19.1.
Among the capabilities that were showcased in this presentation are:
- The redesigned and consolidated Attribute Editor which now includes the attribute joining and calculating tools
- Multivariate or compound querying incorporating user-defined expressions and functions
- Expanded drag-and-drop window docking
- A new option to create 3D line features from one or more path profile views
- Enhanced 3D Viewer navigation
- The ability to create a 3D mesh, complete with photo-realistic textures in the LiDAR Module’s Pixels-to-Point tool
- And much more
In the two years that I have worked at Blue Marble Geographics, the question I have been asked most often is, “Can I move my Global Mapper license to another computer?” Since this is such a popular question, I would like to walk through the license removal process and explain our guidelines around moving your license.
So to start with, the answer is yes, Global Mapper licenses can be moved* by following the instructions below.
Verifying the Global Mapper License Removal
To initiate the Global Mapper License Removal process, open Global Mapper on the machine you wish to remove the license from, click the Help menu, and select Release/Remove License. Once the removal is complete your license file will be replaced with a removal code. The Release function will also copy this code to your computer’s clipboard. Please send a text copy of this code to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the computer is offline or the removal confirmation does not automatically complete for some reason, the removal code will be contained in your hidden files, in a folder named ‘GlobalMapper.lic_removed.’ In most computers, the file can be found in the following folder location: C:\ProgramData\GlobalMapper\GlobalMapper19.
Finding a Hidden Removal Code
If you can’t find this folder, you may have your hidden files… well, hidden. But no worries, you can unhide them by following the instructions below.
Click the Start button and type Hidden Files in the search bar.
Select “show hidden files, folders, and drives”, and click OK.
Once this has been done, you will be able to locate the Program Data folder on your C: drive, and you can send us a copy of your GlobalMapper.lic_removed file. We will then verify the removal of your license and you will be able to move your license to your new computer.
Important Things to Keep in Mind When Moving Your License
What version do you have? Is it a legacy version or is it covered under under the Maintenance and Support agreement?
Blue Marble no longer supports legacy versions of Global Mapper. This means that if you are using version 17 or older, we will not provide licensing assistance or distribute the installation files. If you no longer have the installation files, are unable to run the removal tool, or are not able to provide us with a removal code, we encourage you to upgrade to the current version, as we are no longer able to provide support for your legacy version.
What kind of machine is the license moving to? A desktop, laptop, or a tablet?
Global Mapper and Geographic Calculator need to be licensed to a computer with a stable Ethernet port. If you are not sure if you have a stable port, please contact Authorize@bluemarblegeo.com for assistance.
How many times have I moved my license?
When you are getting ready to move your license, think about what type of license you own. What version is it? Is it node-locked or floating? These are important questions because the node-locked license is limited to three relocations.
Would now be a good time to move to the latest release?
Yes! We always recommnend that customers upgrade to the current release. If you would like to try v19 before you buy it, we would be happy to provide a two-week, fully functional evaluation license. To request an evaluation license today, please contact email@example.com .
Different Licenses, Different Range in Mobility
I know what you are thinking, what about the * at the beginning of this post? That * means that different license types are less mobile than others. For example, the single user node locked license can only be moved two times a year, while a single user floating license can be moved an unlimited number of times if the removal procedure is followed.
For more information on Blue Marble’s licensing solutions please check out this blog.
If you have any questions about moving your license please contact Authorize@bluemarblegeo.com or call +1 (207) 622- 4622 ext. 1144.
Rachael Landry is one of Blue Marble’s license gurus on the official Sales Support team. She is one of the people you are most likely to work with when you call or email our office, and she is always ready to answer your questions.
Please send all your fan mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.