Where in the World Geo-Challenge — April 2018

View the form at Google Forms >

Where in the World March 2018 Answers

How Well Did You Do?

Name the body of water – Gulf of Aqaba

Gulf of Aqaba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the country – Brunei

Brunei

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the capital city – Dublin

Dublin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the desert – Gran Desierto de Altar or Sonoran Desert

Gran Desierto de Altar or Sonoran Desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name the mountain – Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc

The Winner of March’s Geo-Challenge Is …

Of those who answered all five correctly, Anthony James of Harris Corporation was the first name pulled from the hat. Anthony will be receiving a complimentary copy of Global Mapper. Congrats!

Blue Marble Finally Introduces the Long-Awaited Coffee Bar

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.

Global Mapper's Coffee Bar
Blue Marble finally introduces the long-awaited Coffee Bar, a coffee-making toolbar, into their software.

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.

Blue Marble Monthly GIS Newsletter – March 2018

Satellite Imagery

Product News, User Stories, Events, and a Chance to Win a Copy of Global Mapper Every Month

A lot has happened at Blue Marble since our last missive just a month ago. Those of you who keep up with the latest company happenings are probably aware of the latest update to Global Mapper. The availability of version 19.1, which was officially announced shortly after February’s newsletter, includes several significant new and updated features. This month we formally introduce this version by offering you an opportunity to download a free trial, and by inviting you to view a webinar showcasing the capabilities of this release.

Also this month, we announce our plans for our 25th anniversary Blue Marble User Conferences; we chat with our partners at 4DMapper about the innovative work they are doing with the Global Mapper SDK for data processing and management in the cloud. We also discuss the various licensing options that are available for Global Mapper, and we challenge your geographic proficiency in the Where in the World Geo-Challenge.

Global Mapper 19.1 is Now Available

Product News | Global Mapper 19.1 Hits the Virtual Shelves

When version 19 of Global Mapper was introduced in September of last year, the two major functional enhancements were the introduction of the tabular Attribute Editor and the launch of the Pixels-to-Point™ tool for photogrammetric point cloud creation within the LiDAR Module. The recent release of version 19.1 offers an insight into Blue Marble’s unremitting development process, with significant new functionality having been added to these two components. The Attribute Editor now boasts a powerful multivariate querying tool and the Pixels-to-Points tool offers the option to create a 3D Mesh. If you are already using version 19, this upgrade is complimentary. For everyone else, a free evaluation is available.

 

4DMapper Uses the Global Mapper SDK

Partner Spotlight | 4DMapper, a Cloud-Based Geospatial Platform

The Global Mapper Software Development Kit (SDK) provides an opportunity for developers to incorporate much of the data processing functionality of Global Mapper into a third party platform. This establishes the technical foundation for some innovative products and services, exemplified by 4DMapper, an Australian geospatial technology company that provides an enterprise cloud platform for managing, visualizing, and collaborating on geospatial data. Blue Marble recently teamed up with 4DMapper to produce a video illustrating common workflows in Global Mapper and how they can now be performed in the cloud. We also chatted with them about why they chose the Global Mapper SDK.

 

Global Mapper Licenses

Projections | What Global Mapper License is Right for You?

These days, it seems you need a license for everything. Want to own a dog? You need a license. Driving somewhere? You need a license for that as well. Want to buy and sell real estate? Yep, another license. Maybe you should just stay home and watch TV. In many countries, you even need a license for that. In each of these situations, a license provides the means to ensure legitimacy and protection against misuse. The same is true with Global Mapper licenses. The revenue from your license purchase ensures that a small company like Blue Marble can continue to develop the software upon which you depend. Thankfully, there are numerous licensing options available to meet the needs of every individual, company, or organization.

 

3D Path Profile Lines in Global Mapper

Did You Know? | Creating 3D Lines from the Path Profile Tool

Most Global Mapper users are probably familiar with the Path Profile tool and its ability to create a cross-sectional view of the terrain or, if you have the LiDAR Module, of a 3D point cloud. What you might not know, however, is that you can now create series of custom-spaced profile views perpendicular to a defined path and that you can export these profiles as 3D line features. Viewed in the 3D Viewer, these lines offer a unique perspective of the terrain.

 

What's New in Global Mapper 19.1

Webinars | What’s New in Global Mapper 19.1

If you missed the recent live What’s New in Global Mapper 19.1 webinar, fear not! A recording of this hour-long presentation is now available. 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-Points tool
  • And much more

 

Where in the World Geo-Challenge

Where in the World Geo-Challenge

Judging by some of the responses that we received for February’s Geo-Challenge, the five locations were somewhat obscure. Congratulations to those of you who successfully identified all five, especially Galešnjak, sometimes referred to as Lover’s Island, in the Adriatic Sea. This month’s winner is Allan Mathewson. Allan will shortly be receiving a complimentary copy of Global Mapper. Click here to see how well you did.

For March, five slightly less challenging locations await your perusal, with another copy of Global Mapper up for grabs.

 

See complete terms and conditions here.

Satellite Image of New Orleans

Training | Global Mapper Workshop at AAG

As we mentioned last month, the Global Mapper training calendar for 2018 has been announced. These classes are already starting to fill up so be sure to register if you want to attend or if you would like to become a Certified Global Mapper User.

This month we have another educational opportunity to announce. In conjunction with the American Association of Geographers (AAG) conference in New Orleans, Blue Marble will be conducting a free workshop covering an introduction to Global Mapper as well as LiDAR processing and terrain analysis. This workshop is scheduled for April 13th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Registration is required and space is limited. Click below for more information and to register.

 

Photo of the Portland Blue Marble User Conference

Events | Blue Marble User Conference 2018

Blue Marble will be hosting two user conference meetings in 2018 on opposite sides of the U.S. Henceforth referred to as BMUC West and BMUC East, these day-long events will be held in Los Angeles, California on June 8th and Portland, Maine on September 21st, respectively. Over the years, BMUC has proven to be one of the highlights of our calendar offering a forum for direct interaction with our customers. Further details will be announced in the coming weeks but in the meantime, you can reserve your slot today.

 

Upcoming Events

Visit with Blue Marble at the following events:

GeoSmart Asia ’18 & Locate ’18
Adelaide, Australia | April 9 – 11

 

American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA | April 10 – 14

 

Commercial UAV Expo Europe
Amsterdam | April 10 – 12

 

GEOINT Symposium
Tampa, FL | April 22 – 25

 

Maine Municipal Association
Augusta, ME | April 27

 

AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2018
Denver, CO | April 30 – May 3

 

What’s New in Global Mapper 19.1

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

Reseller Spotlight: Laurent Martin from EngeSat

EngeSat

 

Laurent Martin of EngeSat

Blue Marble’s worldwide customer footprint could not have been achieved if it weren’t for the hard work of our network of business partners and software resellers. These dedicated individuals and companies provide a local presence in areas of the world that would otherwise have been out of reach. For their part, these partners have been able to establish successful businesses, both reselling and providing services on behalf of Blue Marble. This is certainly the case for EngeSat, a Blue Marble partner based in Brazil. For the latest in our Reseller Spotlight series, we recently chatted with EngeSat’s Director, Laurent Martin.

Tell us a little bit about EngeSat.

EngeSat was established in Curitiba, capital of the state of Paraná, southern Brazil. We began our business as a satellite image reseller in July 1997, nearly 21 years ago. At that time, the best commercially available imagery had a spatial resolution of 10 meters. That is still our core activity, but we now also sell software, develop some thematic applications, and offer data processing according to client specifications.

Chelsea E | Projections
EngeSat was established in Curitiba, capital of the state of Paraná, in 1997.

What are your target markets?

Our goal is to serve any potential user from all economic sectors: private, public, academic, and non-profit, whether they be in the geoprocessing industry or not. The common thread is their need to manipulate geographic information and to have direct access to data (satellite imagery, DEMs, etc.), tools (software, training), and to be able to apply this technology in their day-to-day activities. Of course, we have many long time well-established geoprocessing, consultancy, and engineering companies among our clients. Every day, new clients discover how easy it is to use Global Mapper for their projects and do geoprocessing on their own instead of depending on an external labor force.

What geographic area does EngeSat cover?

We basically serve Latin America — Mexico to Argentina, and some other Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries around the world.

I understand that you are a native French speaker. How challenging is it to work in Spanish and Portuguese?

I am a dual French and Brazilian citizen so Portuguese is not a problem. I began speaking Spanish in 1986 on a trip to Mexico, and my Spanish is getting better every day because I use it constantly and I love this language. However, I will confess that I rely also on a partner in Mexico, Ignacio, to proof read and edit text I write in Spanish for marketing, technical circulars, and publications. For everyday activities, I work in Portuguese, Spanish, English, and French.

Why were you originally interested in reselling Global Mapper?

My first contact with Global Mapper was in 2007, through a Brazilian business partner. We began using Global Mapper to help in preparing technical and commercial proposals for satellite imagery for our clients. We started offering Global Mapper to our clients as well but just as a data delivery tool.  By 2010, the sales volume had increased and we needed a strategy to meet the demand. At that time, we placed orders for Global Mapper directly through the online electronic commerce system. Now we work directly with Blue Marble to manage the ordering process. In recent years, because of my personal interest in developing efficient solutions, we realized we could do much more than what we were doing with Global Mapper and also with the LiDAR Module when it was added, so it has become an increasingly important part of our business.

Chelsea E | Projections
EngeSat’s Laurent Martin says that he loves everything about Global Mapper and often tells his clients “Global Mapper will do everything you need, except serving you a cup of coffee”.

What is your favorite feature of Global Mapper?

I love it all. It is intuitive, straight forward, powerful, and solid. I love Global Mapper because I am able to do everything I want to do in terms of data processing in our projects. I often say to my clients, “Global Mapper will do everything you need, except serving you a cup of coffee”. But who knows, maybe Mike Childs is already working on that feature. Among so much functionality, the challenge is sometimes finding the right tool in the extensive menus and remembering how to find it again when needed. But as I use Global Mapper every day and I attended an official Global Mapper training class, it seems very straightforward.

You have translated Global Mapper into both Spanish and Portuguese versions. What effect has this had on your business?

The translation to Spanish has been available since version 17. Thanks to my partner Ignacio in Mexico who keeps updating new versions. The Portuguese version is a work in progress since I began working on it last year. It is about half way done and I want to complete the Portuguese version in the next few months.

The Spanish version is very much appreciated among Spanish speaking countries and it is definitely an excellent marketing asset, as it helps Spanish speaking users to fully explore the technical potential of the software. Thanks to the Global Mapper Sales Team who redirect inquiries from Latin America, sales have increased significantly and many clients even ask to migrate from a recently purchased English version to the Spanish version.

I would recommend to other Blue Marble partners around the world that they develop a version in their native language in order to get full access to their local market and create additional value for their business. Initially, it represents a significant quantity of work and time but it will provide immediate and permanent benefits.

Other than reselling Blue Marble software, what other services do you provide?

We provide training in Portuguese and Spanish. We offer application development and turnkey projects as well using satellite imagery, drone data, data processing and interpretation. We maintain a Portuguese language web page focusing on Global Mapper and a YouTube channel called Global Mapper Class South America, which helps keep the user community and customers informed of the last developments.

To complement Global Mapper, we offer satellite imagery from major satellite imagery providers worldwide. Selling software is a profitable and fast growing part of our business and we will keep investing in that direction as it still offers great potential.

How has your partnership with Blue Marble benefited your business?

Blue Marble is the best company I have worked with for supporting partners in a commercial network. We talk every month about commercial and technical issues, not to mention the day to day support from the sales team. My questions are usually answered in just a few hours, sometime in minutes. In this context, business is made very easy because the communication is ongoing, information reaches me quickly, and orders are fulfilled on the same day or the day after. Being responsive is undoubtedly a great advantage and it helps us win the full satisfaction of our clients. Blue Marble provides many commercial leads within our region, and I am able to take care of those immediately. To say it in a few words, the level of commercial confidence and technical collaboration is very high, which has a direct benefit for sales.

How do you see your business growing with Global Mapper? New markets?

As new versions of Global Mapper are being released with new functionality, such as the recently launched Pixels-to-Points tool in the v.19 Lidar Module, the market expands to new areas. Many of our clients in the energy and urban planning fields are now using Global Mapper, and agriculture and environmental management are strong business sectors.

We offer Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module as an affordable and complete solution to a large variety of users, from independent consultants to large corporations. As geoprocessing is becoming more and more widespread and used in many different sectors, Global Mapper will continue to be a must have tool.

For more information on EngeSat, visit www.engesat.com.br

Pixels-to-Points™: Easy Point Cloud Generation from Drone Images

Point cloud generated from 192 drone images using the Pixels-to-Points tool
A point cloud generated by EngeSat’s Laurent Martin using the new Pixels-to-Points™ tool in version 19 of the LiDAR Module. The LiDAR Module tool analyzed 192 high resolution drone images to create this high-density point cloud.

When we have a new product release like the version 19 of the LiDAR Module that comes with the Pixels-to-Points™ tool, it’s always exciting to see that feature in action for the first time outside of the Blue Marble office. Our South and Central American reseller Laurent Martin from EngeSat was quick to try the new Pixels-to-Points tool for himself using drone data collected by his peer Fabricio Pondian.

The new Pixels-to-Points tool uses the principles of photogrammetry, generating high-density point clouds from overlapping images. It’s a functionality that makes the LiDAR Module a must-have addition to the already powerful Global Mapper, especially for UAV experts.

Below, screenshots captured by Laurent illustrate the simple step-by-step process of creating a point cloud using the Pixels-to-Points tool and some basic point cloud editing using other LiDAR Module tools.

1. Loading drone images into the LiDAR Module

The collection of images loaded into the LiDAR Module must contain information that can be overlapped. The Pixels-to-Points tool analyzes the relationship between recognizable objects in adjacent images to determine the three-dimensional coordinates of the corresponding surface. In this particular example of the Pixels-to-Points process, 192 images are used.
The flight path of the UAV and the locations of each photo can be viewed over a raster image of the project site.

2. Calculating the point cloud from loaded images

192 high-resolution images are selected in this particular example. The tool will give an estimated time of completion, which depends on the size of the images and number of images.
The Calculating Cloud/Mesh dialogue displays statistics of the images as they are analyzed and stitched together by the Pixels-to-Points tool.
An alert window pops up when the process is complete.

3. Viewing the generated point cloud

A new layer of the generated point cloud is now in the control center.
A close up of the final processing result with the orthoimage.
A close up of the final result with the new point cloud generated from the 192 images.
A 3D view of the resulting point cloud.
A view of the point cloud colorized by elevation
A cross-sectional view of the point cloud using the Path Profile tool

4. Classifying the point cloud

Points can be reclassified automatically or manually using LiDAR Module tools. Here, the point cloud is reclassified as mostly ground points.

5. Creating an elevation grid and contours from the point cloud

With the point cloud layer selected, a digital terrain model can be generated by clicking the Create Elevation Grid button.
A cross-sectional view of the digital terrain model using the Path Profile tool
Contours can be generated from the digital terrain model by simply clicking the Create Contours button.

A quick and easy process

In just a few steps, Laurent was able to create a high-density point cloud from 192 images, reclassify the points, and create a Digital Terrain Model. It’s a prime example of how easy version 19 of the LiDAR Module and the new Pixels-to-Points tool are to use. Check out EngeSat’s full article on the release of LiDAR Module.

The Foils and Follies of Drone Data Collection

Drone collects imageryChelsea E | Projections
A drone flies over the Blue Marble Geographics headquarters in Hallowell, Maine collecting imagery to be used in software testing.

Over the past few months, the Blue Marble team has taken on the challenge of collecting drone imagery of our property for testing exciting new features coming soon to Global Mapper. As we began to step into the fairly new commercial UAV field, we realized that there are few assumptions we can make. First of all, there is a learning curve that comes with simply flying a drone to take pictures or collect imagery. There are also a number of legal hurdles, safety concerns, and practical challenges to consider. We needed guidance as we began this initiative, from which we learned a few important lessons.

Drone Flight Concerns and Considerations

Though it appears to be a relatively simple technical challenge, flying a drone has legal and safety considerations that were readily apparent to us but may not be common knowledge. Our first concern was that the Blue Marble headquarters are only about a mile and half, as the crow (or should I say UAV) flies, from the Augusta State Airport. Small planes fly overhead frequently and quite low at times. We were not sure if our building was located near banned airspace. Our second concern was that our property abuts the Hall-Dale elementary school playground. A location that is full of children three or four times a day during business hours. What if we crashed in the school yard while children were at recess? What a PR nightmare.

These concerns about the airport and school property were enough to stall us from simply buying or building a drone, and prompted us to seek guidance. Fortunately for us, the University of Maine at Augusta offers an unmanned aerial vehicle training course taught by certified pilots. A quick call to one of the faculty members for more information resulted in the gentlemen visiting our offices to conduct some test flights and to share a bit of their knowledge with us. We learned a great deal even from our first test.

Programming drone flight pathChelsea E | Projections
Certified UAV pilot Dan Leclair uses his laptop to set up a flight path for a drone to fly over the Blue Marble Geographics headquarters in Hallowell, Maine.

Setting Up the Drone for Flight

Certified pilots Dan Leclair and Greg Gilda joined us at our office on a beautiful, clear and wind-free day in early October. They confirmed that we could fly over our property with some stipulations, despite our location near a commercial airport. As a precaution, the gentlemen brought with them a hand-held radio to monitor pilot communication in the area as we set up our flight path. They also reassured us that there was little chance of the drone flying off of our property during school recess, since the drone would be programmed and flown on autopilot. Dan and Greg shared a litany of information about how the drones now have homing devices, automatically avoid collisions with structures, and fly on a pre-programmed flight pattern. If, for some reason, it did fly over school property, we could manually fly it back. We also learned that the drone must stay within our view to remain in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation, which was no problem. We weren’t flying a large area anyway.

As we chose and programmed the drone flight path with a laptop, the pilots focused on a very common issue for us GIS folks — proper elevation above ground. Since we are located in the descent path of planes landing at the airport, we needed to keep the drone relatively low to avoid any potential, and of course unwanted, collisions with an aircraft. We decided that we would fly at 100 feet above ground on a path that was 1,793 feet long and would take about 3 minutes.

Drone cameraChelsea E | Projections
We also set up the drone camera for the light conditions, and programmed it to capture an image every two seconds during the flight.

The software the pilots used had some short comings in that the user had to manually select points for the back-and-forth flight path we wanted. As a software guy, this seemed tedious. I would rather draw a quick polygon or box around my area of interest and have that converted to a flight pattern. Perhaps that could be a new feature for Global Mapper Mobile in the future? In this case, our area of interest was our building, so it did not take long to manually designate the flight pattern by selecting waypoints for the drone to fly back and forth. We also set up the drone camera for the light conditions, and programmed it to capture an image every two seconds during the flight. One practical lesson we learned was that a good staging area for the laptop is preferable on a sunny day. We used the back of an SUV for the shade, so we could see the laptop screen and comfortably program the software.

After a bit of work we were ready to fly.

Rotors are attached to droneChelsea E | Projections
Certified UAV pilot Greg Gilda puts the rotors on the drone before it’s sent on a flight path over the Blue Marble headquarters.

Flying the Drone and Collecting Data

We set the drone on a circular landing pad made of nylon near the back of our property. Greg attached the rotor blades, very carefully I might add. The blades attach rather easily to the quad copter by snapping into place. Dan explained that this step was done before turning the drone on, saying something to the effect of “you don’t want to lose a finger”.

Once the UAV was ready to fly we all stepped back. Dan launched it into the air with the touch of a button or two, and the drone began its pre-programmed flight path. For those experienced pilots, you might notice that we did not discuss ground control. More on that in a later blog entry, I suppose, but these early tests were not including that. The flight went seamlessly and Dan only took over manual control as he brought the drone in for a landing — a personal preference of his.

Everything seemed to progress well but we quickly learned that the drone ended up capturing only video (see below) and not still photography. A few more attempts later, we sadly learned that we would not be able to collect still imagery that day. Apparently there was some incompatibility with the flight planning software and the drone. Not to fear, they agreed to return another day after a software update to collect the imagery. So perhaps the most important lesson of the day was that, despite the best laid plans of mice and men, things do not always go as planned with drone data collection. If you’re interested in learning some more about the foils and follies of drone data collection visit this handy resource:  http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/

We’ll have more to share with you on this process and, of course, what we are doing with the data soon.

 


Patrick Cunningham


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.

What is BMUC? | An Embodiment of Blue Marble Values

Sam Knight speaks at BMUCChelsea E | Projections
Blue Marble Geographics’ Product Manager Sam Knight presents the latest features in Geographic Calculator 2017 to Blue Marble User Conference attendees in South Portland, Maine.

In my first couple of weeks as graphic designer at Blue Marble Geographics in 2016, I heard my coworkers use an unfamiliar term in our marketing meetings. They said things like: “do we have bee-muck speakers yet?”; or “when is the bee-muck e-mail going out?”; or “the bee-muck numbers are looking good so far.”

What the heck is a “bee-muck”?!

BMUC Amsterdam
Blue Marble Geographics took the BMUC experience to Amsterdam in spring of 2017.

I figured it was one of dozens of conferences that Blue Marble attends each year, like AUVSI or InterGeo, and not a term used to describe mud on a yellow and black insect pollinator. “Bee-muck” is actually how the Blue Marble team pronounces the acronym BMUC for Blue Marble User Conference, and BMUC is not just another event the company attends. It’s a series of conferences organized by Blue Marble in cities around North America (and sometimes the world) to show appreciation for the users of Blue Marble software. The one-day conferences offer users a chance to chat face-to-face with Blue Marble team members, to hear success stories from GIS peers, and to share a meal with everyone. I admit, I was skeptical when I heard the “share a meal” part. But when Blue Marble hosted a BMUC in Maine, I had the opportunity to take part in the rich experience the conferences actually have to offer.

Product News that Fosters a Collaborative Culture

At every BMUC, Blue Marble software specialists give talks on the latest product news. During the presentations at the Maine conference, I noticed one phrase that prefaced most of the announcements about new software developments — “We received requests for this feature.”

Patrick Cunningham speaks at BMUCChelsea E | Projections
Blue Marble Geographics President Patrick Cunningham welcomes attendees to the Blue Marble User Conference in Maine.

Global Mapper and Geographic Calculator have evolved into the cutting edge software they are today because of user feedback. Whether a user emails, calls, sends a Facebook message, or speaks to a staff member at a BMUC or other conference, the team at Blue Marble hears and considers what that user has to say. A couple of examples of user-requested features that were highlighted at the Maine BMUC were Global Mapper’s advanced attribute editor, which allows for streamlined editing of data assigned to map features; and the real-time hillshading feature, which allows for dynamic positioning of a light source by clicking and dragging a sun icon.

When asked about what new features of Global Mapper v19 came from user requests, Product Manager Sam Knight began listing them off:

  • The new attribute editor function
  • Playing multiple videos attached to a feature
  • The dynamic hillshading control
  • All the new raster band math formulae, which include Normalized Difference Snow Index (NDSI) and Advanced Vegetation Index (AVI)
  • Drag and drop docking for the 3D viewer and path profile
  • Exporting/importing flythrough paths

After giving this handful of examples, he stopped himself and said, “Actually, literally every significant new feature is a user request.”

The point I’m trying to make is that the product news shared at BMUCs not only keeps users in the loop, but it also fosters the collaborative culture that makes Blue Marble software great. It lets users know that they have a hand in improving these already powerful tools.

Alex Gray speaks at BMUCChelsea E | Projections
GIS Specialist Alex Gray of GEI Consultants Inc. presents on a hydrology analysis for which he used Global Mapper to create digital terrain models.

Peer-to-Peer Learning in the GIS Community

There are at least two guest speakers at every BMUC, who share their real-life experiences using Blue Marble products. These professionals come from a variety of GIS backgrounds — from oil and gas to filmmaking; from city planning to conservation. While members of the Blue Marble team bring their software expertise to the BMUC agenda, the stories from others in the GIS community add valuable outside perspectives.

Thea Youngs speaks at BMUCChelsea E | Projections
GIS Specialist Thea Youngs presents on how she uses Global Mapper for LiDAR processing in city projects for Portland, Maine.

At the Maine BMUC, attendees heard from GIS Specialist Thea Youngs, who uses Global Mapper for Portland city projects. She explained how the software fits in her workflow, and how fast it is to view and select an area of interest from a large point cloud. “Global Mapper helps with making LiDAR data play better with drafting software.” She also commended Global Mapper for its extensive list of supported file formats, since her work sometimes deals with older and less common formats.

Attendees also heard from GIS Specialist Alex Gray of GEI Consultants Inc., whose presentation focused on a hydrology analysis for which he created digital terrain models from a combination of LiDAR and sonar data in Global Mapper.

While both speakers use Global Mapper and the LiDAR Module for their powerful point cloud processing functionality, both work with very different workflows and could provide unique ideas on how to use the software. The presentations, as well as the variety of occupations in the BMUC audience, exemplified how versatile Global Mapper is and how BMUCs are a great place to share tips on how to use the software.

Let’s Call it Lunch, not “Networking”

It’s probably safe to say that the word “lunch” elicits a positive reaction from more people than the word “networking”. I mean, who can’t bond over a good sandwich?

BMUC lunchChelsea E | Projections
Attendees line up for lunch at the Maine Blue Marble User Conference.

During lunch at the Maine BMUC, attendees had the opportunity to share their own stories, ask more questions, discuss projects with their peers, and to make connections in their local GIS community. I was able to hear from attendees about what developments they’d like to see from Blue Marble in the near future, like the ability to create point clouds from drone imagery, which is actually something that Blue Marble is currently testing.

Other than providing lunch, Blue Marble also offers opportunities to win prizes such as T-shirts and a license of the latest version of Global Mapper. At the Maine BMUC, this opportunity came in the form of a “Name That Country” game, in which attendees had to identify countries from a series of slides.

An Affordable and Rich GIS Experience

After the conference, two thoughts struck me as I drank a beer with my co-workers and BMUC attendees who were able to join us for happy hour. My first thought: How cool is it that this small company can serve customers all over the world and still have intimate events like BMUCs? Second: BMUCs truly embody the user-focused mission of Blue Marble.

They are an affordable opportunity (only $25 to register) to gain insights from company experts and other GIS professionals; to meet new people in the GIS community; to win a copy of the latest version of Global Mapper; to have an opinion about a Blue Marble software and to have it heard; and did I mention lunch?

As I write this entry, the Blue Marble team is planning its BMUC 2018 schedule. Drop us a line at bmuc@bluemarblegeo.com if you’d like to see this experience come to your neck of the woods, and keep an eye on the BMUC page to find out where we will be next.

There’s an abundance of knowledge to be shared in the GIS and Blue Marble community, and BMUC is a tap on the barrel. Cheers!


Chelsea Ellis


Chelsea Ellis is a graphic designer and social media manager at Blue Marble Geographics. Her responsibilities range from creating the new button graphics for the redesigned interface of Global Mapper 18 to editing promotional videos; from designing print marketing material to scheduling social media posts. Prior to joining the Blue Marble team, Ellis worked in page layout and graphic design at Maine newspapers, and as a freelance designer and photographer.