Geospatial technology is changing. Now geographic information system (GIS) software is ingesting, organizing and visualizing data from a rapidly growing assortment of remote sensing platforms and sensors; 2D is transitioning to 3D; and still images are giving way to video.
“The map of the future isn’t a map,” predicted Lawrie Jordan, now Esri’s director of imagery, 20 years ago to a skeptical audience. “It’s a photorealistic, intelligent 3D image that I can fly through and analyze, and hopefully one day it’ll be right beside me as a wearable appliance.”
Now the geospatial industry is getting close to realizing that vision.
“Virtually every one of the foundation layers on which GIS is built and relies … comes exclusively from remote sensing and imagery,” explains Jordan. “Imagery really is the foundation upon which GIS is built.”
Conversely, he points out, combining multiple types of data yields unique views that can’t be obtained from any one of them individually. “Frequently, we’re seeing users combine multiple types of data to get a new view.”
According to David Glenn, product line director for GIS at Hexagon Geospatial, his customers need some remote sensing capability when they’re primarily performing GIS activities and some GIS capability when their primary work involves remote sensing.