Global Mapper Tutorials: Generating Contours

In this short video tutorial, we explore Global Mapper’s contour creation capability and we discuss the various option and settings that can applied during the process. Use the links below to jump ahead to a specific section:

  • – Contour Generation Options (0 – 7:39)
  • – Smoothing Selected Contour Lines (7:409:28)
  • – Removing Polygons by Line Length (9:2911:27)
  • – Contour Labels and Index Contours (11:2814:06)
  • – Defining Zoom Level Ranges (14:0719:05)
  • – Generating Elevation Polygons with the Create Contours Tool (19:0622:15)

If you have questions about this topic or or about any other Global Mapper feature or function, email geohelp@bluemarblegeo.com If you are new to Global Mapper, you can download a free trial version at globalmapper.com/download

Top Five New Features in Geographic Calculator SP1

 

Chelsea E | Projections
New dropdown to easily access recently used files in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

 

In early June, we introduced the first service pack update of Geographic Calculator 2019. The new features and functions in this version of Blue Marble’s coordinate conversion software are designed to improve its user-friendliness, accessibility, and efficiency. Although some changes seem slight, such as easier access to recently opened files, they have a big impact on user’s productivity in the software.

Here is a list of the top five new features of Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1:

1. Support for Open Document Spreadsheet (ODS) format

Opening an ODS file in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

In Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1, we added support for the open-source table format Open Document Spreadsheets (ODS) to make Geographic Calculator more accessible to OpenOffice users.

2. Support for batch processing of Area Calculation jobs

Batch processing Area Calculation jobs in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

Before the 2019 service pack, users had to process Area Calculation jobs one by one. In Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1, we’ve added batch support for performing mass calculations for multiple area files.

3. Support for the new Equal Earth projection

The new Equal Earth projection in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

In 2018, Bojan Savic, Bernhard Jenny, and Tom Patterson invented the Equal Earth projection that is inspired by the Robinson projection but retains the relative size of areas. We’ve added this new projection to the long list of projections available in Geographic Calculator.

4. Bulk Export to WKT for coordinate systems

 

Chelsea E | Projections
Bulk exporting coordinate systems together in one WKT file in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1.

 

Users can now bulk export multiple coordinate systems (or coordinate transformations) together in one WKT file in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1. This supports interoperability of data across platforms where coordinate systems may or may not be standardized. You can now manage your coordinate systems in Geographic Calculator, and then quickly export them to standardize the options in your other mapping packages for display and analysis.

5. Updates to the Project Manager

 

Project Manager in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1
The new Project Manage in Geographic Calculator 2019 SP1 now shows the status of jobs.

 

The Project Manager in this service pack version has been updated to be the one-stop-shop for users to process and see the status of jobs in one location. In previous versions of Geographic Calculator, process status was located at the bottom of the interface, taking up screen space.

Over the past 26 years, Geographic Calculator has become an industry leader for accurate coordinate reference system and datum management. This most recent version of the software streamlines user accessibility with new batch and bulk export options, and the additional support for universal and open-source formats.

 

Where in the World May 2019 Answers

How Well Did You Do?

May’s Geo-Challenge included a test of who had been paying attention to the news. The country we asked you to identify was North Macedonia, which until earlier this year, was referred to as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Congratulations to randomly selected Global Mapper winner, Frank O. Nitsche from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Frank was one of the many who provided the correct name and who also correctly recognized the four additional locations. Scroll down for the answers and click here to see how well you do in June’s challenge.

Name the capital city – Oslo

Oslo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the country – North Macedonia

North Macedonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the island – Baffin Island

Baffin Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the river – Murray River

Murry River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the lake – Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge — June 2019

View the form at Google Forms >

Blue Marble Monthly – May 2019

 

 

NEWS  |  Global Mapper Mobile Available through IGAPP

The Innovative GEOINT Application Provider Program (IGAPP) offers an efficient way for the US Intelligence Community and Department of Defense personnel to access the latest mobile technology. Recently, an enhanced version of Global Mapper Mobile for both Android and iOS devices was added to the list of applications available on the IGAPP store.

 

 

PROJECTIONS  |  Got a Drone? Now What?

It seems that every where you turn, someone is doing something interesting with a drone. Arguably one of the most significant technological innovations of the last decade, drones or UAVs have the potential to play an important role in the broad field of mapping and spatial data management. In a recent blog post, Blue Marble’s Outreach and Training Manager David McKittrick explored some of the ways in which Global Mapper’s functionality has evolved to meet the needs of this burgeoning technology.

 

BLUE GOT MAIL | Removing the Collar from a Raster Map

This month, we reach deep into the technical support mailbag and pull out a letter from a customer who asks how to remove the collar from their raster topographic map in Global Mapper. Once again, Billy Noble is on hand to show us how this is done.

 

DID YOU KNOW  |  3DEP Data Available in Global Mapper

Here in the US, we are fortunate to have open and free access to a wide variety of spatial datasets. One such data service, which is now available in the Online Data list in Global Mapper v.20 and newer, is the USGS-managed 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) data. This LiDAR-based DEM is derived from multiple sources with horizontal resolutions up to 1-meter. Click below to see some simple images of this data.

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge

Once in a while, we include potential catch in the monthly Geo-Challenge; a location that could be easily misconstrued. Alas, not many of you were fooled into thinking that the desert in April’s challenge was Gobi Desert. Click here to find out the correct answer and to see how well you did with the four other locations. The first name pulled from the hat and winner of a copy of Global Mapper for April was Hugo Ahlenius from Nordpil. Ready for another challenge? Click below to see if you can recognize the latest five locations.

 

See complete terms and conditions here.

EVENTS  |  GeoBusiness and GEOINT

Over the next few weeks, we will be setting up shop at two of the more important conferences in the Blue Marble calendar. GeoBusiness in London on May 21 and 22 and the GEOINT Symposium in San Antonio, Texas from June 2 to 4. If you plan to attend either of these events, be sure to stop by the Blue Marble booth.

 

Click here for more information on our scheduled training classes, or visit the Blue Marble Events page for more information on upcoming events.

Blue Got Mail – Removing the Collar from Raster Topographic Maps in Global Mapper

This month, we reach deep into the technical support mailbag and pull out a letter from a customer who asks how to remove the collar from their raster topographic map in Global Mapper. Once again, Billy Noble is on hand to show us how this is done.

Where in the World Geo-Challenge — May 2019

View the form at Google Forms >

Where in the World April 2019 Answers

How Well Did You Do?

Name the body of water – Sea of Marmara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the country – Nigeria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the mountain range – Southern Alps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the capitol city – Buenos Aires

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the desert – Taklamakan Desert

 

USGS 3DEP Data Now Available in Global Mapper

New streaming service provides high-resolution elevation data for the United States

The 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) is a USGS-initiated effort to collect and process LiDAR data and to make it publicly available, along with its derived products. The 3DEP elevation data (DEM) as well as several supplementary raster layers are now available free of charge and without use restriction to users of Global Mapper version 20.0 and higher. The 3DEP service is comprised of data from many different sources with horizontal resolutions up to 1 meter.

As an illustration of the quality of the data, the following screenshots compare the 3DEP data on the left with the 10-meter National Elevation Dataset (NED) of the same coverage area.

Bradbury Mountain State Park, Maine
Near Lake Arthur, Louisiana
Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming. Rendered with a Customer Shader
Fort George, Castine, Maine
Point Loma, San Diego, California. Rendered with the Slope Shader
Acadia National Park, Maine
Zion National Park, Utah

If you are currently using version 20.0 of Global Mapper or newer, you will automatically have access to the 3DEP data within the Online Data Sources list. Navigate to the Terrain Data section and choose USGS 3DEP Elevation.

For more information on the current status of the 3DEP and plans for future acquisition, visit www.usgs.gov/core-science-systems/ngp/3dep

Got a Drone? Now What? — Using Global Mapper with Your UAV

Let’s start with a question. How many of you currently own a Segway? Unless you moonlight as a mall cop or run an urban tour company, you probably decided not to jump on that gyroscopically-controlled bandwagon. If the hype that surrounded the release of this ‘revolutionary technology’ was to be believed, we would long since have abandoned our cars, redesigned our cities, and be living much more fulfilling lives. Alas, the reality has fallen a little short.

The emergence and proliferation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Drones, on the other hand, while not accompanied by a cacophony of hyped-up fanfare, promises to have a much more profound impact on our lives. If current speculation is to be believed, within a few short years, the skies overhead will be swarming with delivery drones, traffic monitoring drones, and even people-moving drones.

For those of us in the mapping industry, this eye-in-the-sky technology effectively addresses one of the perennial challenges that we face: where do we get data, and more specifically, where do we get current data? Traditionally, we have depended on often inadequate and outdated public geospatial data archives or expensive commercial sources. With the advent of readily accessible UAV technology, on-demand data is within anyone’s reach.

The rapid growth of UAV ownership has resulted in an interesting dilemma for some would-be pilots. Having purchased the hardware and collected some data, many are often unclear as to what exactly they can do with it? Over the last couple of years, I have attended several UAV-focused tradeshows and a question that I am often asked is, ‘What can I do with Global Mapper?’ The answer: many things.

Initial Flight Planning

Among the freely available online data services in Global Mapper are high-resolution aerial imagery, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), aviation charts, and topographic maps.

Before hitting the launch button, it is a good idea to virtually reconnoiter the project area. What possible obstructions are in the vicinity, what are the terrain characteristics, are there any nearby buildings or other facilities that might have overflight restrictions, what is the coverage area? These questions and more can be answered by loading the relevant data into Global Mapper and conducting some rudimentary pre-flight analysis. Among the freely available online data services are high-resolution aerial imagery, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), aviation charts, and topographic maps. Global Mapper’s drawing tools can be used to delineate the extent of the project site to determine coverage area and to draft an initial flight plan to optimize the data capture process. All of this data can be transferred to an iOS or Android device running Global Mapper Mobile to allow field checking of the flight plan parameters.

Geotagged Image Viewing

Images can be loaded into Global Mapper as picture points creating a geographic photo album. Derived from the coordinate values embedded in the image files, the location at which each photo was taken is represented by a camera icon in the map view.

One of the most basic functions of a UAV is taking photographs and as we will discuss below, with sufficient overlap, these images can be processed into a 3D representation of the local area. Before proceeding with this more advanced functionality, the images themselves can be loaded into Global Mapper as picture points creating a geographic photo album. Derived from the coordinate values embedded in the image files, the location at which each photo was taken is represented by a camera icon in the map view. Using Global Mapper’s Feature Info tool, each photo is displayed using the computer’s default image viewer. Viewed in the 3D Viewer, the camera icons will appear above the terrain or ground providing a precise representation of the drone’s altitude when each image was captured.

3D Reconstruction

The functionality of the Pixels-to-Points tool transforms simple drone-collected image files into a dataset that can be used for countless 3D analysis procedures.

Incorporated into the optional LiDAR Module, beginning with the version 19 release of Global Mapper, the Pixels-to-Points tool is used to analyze an array of overlapping images to create a 3D representation of the environment. This powerful component identifies recurring patterns of pixels within multiple photographs and employs the basic principles of photogrammetry to determine the three-dimensional structure of the corresponding surfaces. While the underlying technology is extremely complex, as is typical in Global Mapper, the user’s experience is very straightforward. Simply load the images, apply the necessary settings for the camera system, add ground control points if available, click the Run button, and wait while it creates a high-density point cloud and, if required, a 3D model or mesh. The functionality of the Pixels-to-Points tool transforms simple drone-collected image files into a dataset that can be used for countless 3D analysis procedures.

Orthoimage Creation

A byproduct of the aforementioned point cloud generation process is the option to create an orthoimage. Defined as a raster layer in which each pixel’s coordinates are geographically correct, the orthoimage is generated by gridding the RGB values in the point cloud. Given its inherent accuracy, this 2D imagery layer can be used for precise measurements or as a base layer for digitizing or drawing operations.

DTM creation and Terrain Analysis

Global Mapper can generate a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) from point cloud data.

As mentioned previously, the Pixels-to-Points-generated point cloud represents the raw material for numerous analysis procedures in Global Mapper. As with any unprocessed dataset, some QA, cleanup, and processing will be required before embarking on any meaningful workflow. Fortunately, the software offers a plethora of editing and filtering options, including noise point removal, spatial cropping, ground point identification, and automatic reclassification. After isolating the points representing bare earth, the gridding tool is employed to create a Digital Terrain Model (DTM), a 3D raster layer that depicts the ground surface. In turn, this terrain layer can be used to create custom contour lines, to calculate volume, to delineate a watershed, to conduct line-of-site analysis, and, if overlaid on a previously created DTM, to identify and measure change over time.

Video Playback

Aside from capturing still images, most UAVs are equipped with the necessary hardware to record video. Beyond simple recreational use, this functionality is useful for building or asset inspection, strategic reconnaissance, forestry inspection, and in countless other situations where a remote perspective is needed. Global Mapper includes an embedded video player that will play this recording while displaying the corresponding position of the UAV in the map window. The determination of position is derived from the per-vertex time stamp recorded in the track file recorded during the flight. After loading this file as a line feature, and associating it with the corresponding video file, the playback is initiated from the Digitizer’s right-click menu.

LiDAR Processing

The Global Mapper LiDAR Module offers a set of tools for identifying, reclassifying, and extracting these features as vector objects.

Not too long ago, it was generally accepted that, due of the size and weight of the required equipment, LiDAR collection could only be carried out using a manned aircraft. This simple fact contributed to the high cost and logistical challenges of the LiDAR collection process. Today, miniaturization of the LiDAR apparatus has reached the point where it is within the payload capacity of many larger drones. Given the limited range of the aircraft, drone-collected LiDAR is only viable for small, localized projects however it does allow frequent re-flying of a project site and is thus ideally suited for change detection. Global Mapper, along with the accompanying LiDAR Module, offers a wide range of tools for processing LiDAR data. As previously mentioned, points can be filtered and edited before creating a surface model for terrain analysis. Compared to photogrammetrically created point cloud data, LiDAR provides a more complete three-dimensional representation of non-ground features such as buildings, powerlines, and trees. The LiDAR Module offers a set of tools for identifying, reclassifying, and extracting these features as vector objects.

Fundamentally, UAVs and maps have much in common. Both are intended to provide a remote, detached perspective of an area of interest and allow us to see spatial distribution and patterns in our data that would not otherwise be detectable. It is understandable, therefore, that one of the primary functions of a drone is to provide data that can be used for creating maps and other spatial datasets. Global Mapper is ideally suited for this type of workflow and it provides an extensive list of tools that can be used by drone operators.


A thirty-year veteran in the field of GIS and mapping, and a lifelong geographer, David McKittrick is currently Outreach and Training Manager at Blue Marble Geographics. A graduate of the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, McKittrick’s experience encompasses many aspects of the geospatial industry, including cartographic production, data management, marketing and sales, as well as software training and implementation services. McKittrick has designed and delivered hundreds of GIS training classes, seminars, and presentations and has authored dozens of articles and papers for numerous business and trade publications.