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.

 

Blue Marble Monthly – April 2019

 

 

NEWS  |  2019-2020 Scholarship Announced

We are pleased to offer another $500 award this year to a student who explores the full depth of functionality available in Blue Marble technology and expands their proficiency in the field of GIS in a research project or lab report.

 

 

APRIL FOOLS  |  A Global Mapper Dating Plugin

In case you missed the announcement, we introduced a new plug-in for Global Mapper on April 1st. Promising to match you with a compatible geo-partner, GeoMeet proved to be an instant hit. But is it real? You decide.

 

GEOTALKS | Did You Miss GeoTalks 2019

By every measure, the inaugural GeoTalks online geo-conference was a resounding success. If you were unable to attend the live event, recordings of each of the presentations are now available.

 

DID YOU KNOW  |  Detecting Change in Global Mapper

Nestled within Global Mapper’s Analysis toolbar is a powerful but frequently overlooked tool for analyzing overlapping surface layers. The Combine/Compare Terrain layers function includes numerous mathematical options, including averaging the elevation values between the layers, keeping the max or min values, and perhaps most useful, subtracting the overlapping elevation values. The result of this process is a third elevation layer which models the difference between the two original layers.

 

 

BLUE GOT MAIL  |  Determining Coordinates of LiDAR Points

In this month’s Blue Got Mail, a Global Mapper user wants to know how to determine the X and Y coordinates of a selected LiDAR point. Blue Marble Application Specialist, Billy Noble demonstrates how easy this is.

 

In honor of National Volunteer week, we introduce a Blue Marble staff member who goes above and beyond by donating time and effort to worthy causes. Our first Volunteer Spotlight recognizes Operations Manager Danielle Caron, who spends some of her spare time as a Den Leader for a local Boy Scout Troop.

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge

Time to hone your geographic skills in another round of the Where in the World Geo-Challenge. Before introducing the five locations for April, a tip of the hat to March’s randomly drawn winner, Dwain Kelm, P.E. from C.T. Brannon Corp. in Tyler, TX. Dwain will be receiving a copy of Global Mapper after recognizing all five locations. How well did you do?

Click here for the correct answers and click below to enter April’s challenge.

 

See complete terms and conditions here.

EVENTS  |  GeoBusiness in London

For those of you planning to attend GeoBusiness in London on May 21 and 22, be sure to stop by the Blue Marble’s booth P5 or join us for a free workshop on ‘Generating a 3D Point Cloud and DTM from UAV Collected Images’ in Room E at 10:15 on the 22nd.

 

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Operations Manager Danielle Caron

In a world that is packed full of things, places, and events it can be hard to make time to give back to your community. For the last two years, Blue Marble has given employees the opportunity to donate their time to Good Shepherd food bank a few times a year during the work day, making it easier to give back to the local community in a meaningful way.

Blue Marble’s Operations Manager Danielle Caron volunteers her time as a den leader for a local Boys Scout group.

However, Blue Marble has some employees who make the time to volunteer outside of work, and this month’s newsletter has a new feature: Volunteer Spotlight. This month we are highlighting the achievements of Danielle Caron.

Danielle Caron has been part of the Blue Marble team for the last 11 years and is the Operations Manager for the company. If you are visiting the BMG headquarters, you are likely to see her touching base with employees and making sure everything is running smoothly. Outside of work, Danielle has been a Den Leader with a local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America for the last four years. This was not a role she originally saw herself taking on, but when her son was not interested in playing sports the Boy Scouts offered an excellent alternative for him and for her.

Danielle transitioned into the role of Den Leader shortly after her son joined. Over the last four years, she has worked with her Scouts to learn basic household repair, create a grocery budget, as well as going camping and learning to build a fire.

In Scouting, boys and girls start with their best right now selves and grow into their very best future selves. It’s fun, hands-on learning and achievement that puts kids in the middle of the action and prepares them for today – and for life – Boy Scouts of America.

Being a den leader offers Danielle new challenges year after year. “I didn’t volunteer because it was easy. I wanted to really help and it was challenging to dive into a well known long-time established organization like this with 14 ten-year- old boys. Oh, of course the opportunity to enrich children’s lives and see my son grow blah blah blah.” She says with a laugh.

Danielle Caron stands to the left with her Boys Scout group.

If you are interested in supporting the Boy Scouts look out for the famous Popcorn fundraiser that is held every year. Or you can donate through the link below:
https://donations.scouting.org/#/national/

Danielle is quick to point out that with official approval, “The best donation is your time. Cub scouts are always looking for people to teach new skills, lead adventures, be a den leader, charter a troop at your office or support a scout directly. Get involved with the kids. At any level every chance you get. They are our future employees, family members, leaders and inventors. It can be a lot of fun.”

Register to Watch GeoTalks 2019

Here’s a little taste of the presentations from this year’s GeoTalks — the online geo-conference that was recorded live on March 21, 2019.

Register online to access the recorded presentations: http://bit.ly/geotalks-2019-videos

There were presentations from:
Anthony Beach, BSP Engineers, Inc
Using UAS Technology in Combination with Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module

Michael Frings, MFBI Technologies
Optimal Positioning of Advertising Poles in Topographically Challenging Environments

Dan Martin, The National Geodetic Registry
Preparing for Change: New Coordinates Coming in 2022

Daniel Fagerman, LiDARUSA
Scanning the Past: A Look at the Ancient Mayan Pyramid at Uxmal

Where in the World Geo-Challenge – April 2019

View the form at Google Forms >