Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ERDAS ECW JPEG2000 SDK v4.1 and v4.2 (another GDAL Update)

With the recent release of the ERDAS 2011 software portfolio, the ERDAS ECW JPEG2000 SDK team has been able to focus with Frank Warmerdam on the latest ECW SDK GDAL work. I have recently spoken with Frank on the subject. The joint goal is to update to the latest ECW SDK and expand GDALs capabilities in using the ECW SDK, and allowing use of some ECW SDK tools not available to GDAL customers heretofore. I will post more details, when the work is almost complete to discuss all that is now included in GDALs support of the ECW SDK.

But I will say this, if you plan to access the ECW SDK via GDAL, you will be happy. Also, you may want to consider contracting to Frank to help with your implementation. ERDAS is working closely with him, and Frank can help you put rock-solid ECW and JPEG2000 support (using the ECW SDK) in your products.

Do remember, you must get a product license to use the ECW SDK with GDAL. Here is the product page:

See info on the latest ERDAS ECW/JP2 SDK.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Expanding Lidar Value in Local Governments

I often hear local governments who are flying Lidar to establish the terrain component of their aerial ortho projects. These local governments request a copy of the ‘raw’ Lidar data. What does ‘raw’ mean?

Typically, what the local government really wants is not the ‘raw’ Lidar data, but all Lidar returns further down the processing line. Commercial tools to process ‘raw’ Lidar imagery are not easy to use, nor are they currently cost effective. ERDAS, the inventor of commercial remote sensing, has historically been the company to introduce cost-effective remote sensing tools into the market-place. (I see Lidar as a remote sensing tool that heretofore has been used most successfully by photogrammetrists.)

It is understandable that local governments want more than detailed terrain model from their Lidar collection. Heretofore, Lidar collections have centered on elevation, but there is much more value available in Lidar data than only an elevation model. It is my belief, to use Lidar only as an elevation source, is like using imagery only as a backdrop to a GIS vector dataset; valuable, but very wasteful of the tax payer’s money.

Local governments need more value from their Lidar collections than just elevation, but that value is not easily captured in the ‘raw’ data. What Lidar data do local governments need to request? They need Lidar data that has been bore-sighted. Bore-sighting removes the small imprecision found in the GPS and IMU. These errors can be quite significant errors at a flying height of 5,000 feet (1500m).

After bore-sighting, the data are edited to define ground points and other features. This is a needed step to prepare the point cloud for terrain purposes. Yet, the Editing process can introduce very valuable information. Here is where vendor can classify the points into categories. The philosophy that points should be flagged with a classification, rather than be deleted from the dataset, emerged during the development of the LAS data format standard.
Of the several classification categories that can be defined in a LAS file, the categories local governments may wish to take advantage are: Ground; Low Vegetation; Medium Vegetation; High Vegetation; Building; and Water.

It is my opinion; the local government should obtain the intermediate product at this stage. All returns, bore-sighted and classified, no points added or removed. And, a full QA/QC report. If it were me, I’d ask for the intensity information as well.

The final need, the LAS tiles should each have fully defined horizontal and vertical coordinate systems (as ASPRS suggests). So many times local governments accept LAS tiles that only have the horizontal datum defined. Without knowing the vertical datum, you do not really know the height. Also, putting the vertical datum inside the LAS file rather than on a yellow sticky note on the DVD is far more appropriate. (And what happens when the yellow sticky note looses its sticky?)

Local governments ask, what can I use to work with my Lidar data? I said earlier, “Commercial tools to process ‘raw’ Lidar imagery are not easy to use, nor are they currently cost effective. ERDAS, the inventor of commercial remote sensing, has historically been the company to introduce cost-effective remote sensing tools into the market-place.” Now, ERDAS is presenting tools to convert your Lidar data to raster for further processing.

But why raster?

  • Raster conversion of the point cloud can shrink LAS file to a IMG file ¼ the file size of the LAS (you only store x & y values once in the raster UL corner). But that is not the main reason, as I suggest keeping the LAS files in backup for the day when point processing engines are cost effective.
  • The files being converted into raster allows a visual QA/QC of the data.
  • Open Lidar collections up to the ERDAS community in a very cost effective manner (no additional costs). Once the data are in raster, the Spatial Modeler, Model Maker, Classification, Expert Classification, and Objective are available to the customer to process the data.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Latest ERDAS Field Guides on-line

ERDAS has published the December 2010 ERDAS Field Guides in both HTML Verison and PDF Version on their website. I keep the links up-to-date in the Informative Links section on this blog.

Monday, December 20, 2010

ERDAS 2011 Software - Available Now!

The following was just released to the press....

Norcross, GA — ERDAS proudly announces the official release of ERDAS 2011 Software, including ERDAS IMAGINE, LPS, ERDAS APOLLO, ERDAS Extensions for ArcGIS 10 and other leading desktop and server products.

Portfolio-wide changes for the ERDAS 2011 Software Release include the ability to localize ERDAS products for a global audience, integrated support for Bing™ Maps base imagery and map data, distributed processing throughout the desktop offerings, and a new product, ERDAS Engine. ERDAS Engine is a simple, cost-effective solution that boosts processing power for ERDAS IMAGINE and LPS, leveraging existing hardware resources for increased production needs or situations requiring faster production output.

“ERDAS already offers customers the most powerful, comprehensive geospatial software tools in the industry. This release revolutionizes the way our customers utilize our applications, truly integrating them into their overall workflow.” said Joel Campbell, President, ERDAS.

ERDAS IMAGINE is the world’s leading geospatial desktop authoring platform, incorporating image processing and analysis, remote sensing and GIS. ERDAS IMAGINE 2011 features upgraded and streamlined imagery analysis workflows, the ability to geolink to Google Earth, and export to Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, or JPEG with a single click. ERDAS IMAGINE 2011 also introduces Hyperspherical Color Space (HCS) pan sharpening, developed specifically for DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 data.

LPS is a powerful, workflow-oriented photogrammetry system for production mapping. A key theme for the LPS 2011 release is distributed processing, which enables users to leverage multi-core CPUs and multiple networked servers to accelerate project completion. In addition, LPS 2011 enables ortho generation for a specific area of imagery defined by a shape file or AOI.

ERDAS Extensions for ArcGIS 10 is a production suite of stereo visualization tools that seamlessly integrate into the ArcGIS® 10 environment. Stereo visualization enables users to view imagery in 3D, facilitating interpretation of topological features, enabling more spatially accurate feature collection than digitizing features from an orthorectified image.

ERDAS APOLLO is the market leading geospatial solution for managing and serving imagery, consistently delivering virtually any digital object in an enterprise, faster, using less hardware than server-based products. ERDAS APOLLO 2011 introduces clustering, enabling multiple servers to work in concert to fulfill data searches and requests, increasing the number of supportable users. ERDAS APOLLO 2011 can also catalog and serve LIDAR and point cloud files (LAS).

Campbell continued, “By integrating other popular geospatial tools, boosting the processing capability of the software, and streamlining workflows, we’re enabling users to accomplish more, faster, easier, and more accurately and economically than was previously possible, or can be done with any other competitive offering.”

All products are now available for download on the ERDAS website. For a more detailed list of What’s New in ERDAS 2011, a webinar showcasing new features, and full product descriptions, technical specifications for each product in the ERDAS portfolio, please visit

To request more information about ERDAS or its products and services, please call +1 770 776 3400, toll free +1 877 GO ERDAS.

Refer to What's New in ERDAS 2011 Software Release, a document with more details.

To be directed to the ERDAS IMAGINE download page, chick here:

Finally, a much higher-speed download mechanism has been implemented on a global basis. This will help customers from all corners of the globe to more rapidly download 2011 and get started with the new tools and enhancements right-a-way.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Workflows and Integration Characterize ERDAS 2011 Release

Below is a link to a November 29, 2010 GISCafe GISWeekly article on the rapidly approaching ERDAS 2011 product release.

One point made, "ERDAS Engine is a solution that boosts processing power for ERDAS IMAGINE and LPS, leveraging existing hardware resources for increased production needs or situations requiring faster workflow throughput."

Article by Susan Smith, Managing Editor of GISCafe, based on an interview with Joel Campbell

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

US Census Bureau Utilizes ERDAS APOLLO

The press release below was just distributed to the press. The performance and efficiency of the ECW SDK implementation in ERDAS APOLLO Essentials IWS is really nice. The image serving is so efficient (APOLLO can do a lot with a very little), the US Census Bureau is considering scaling the image serving hardware down (number of cores) to a lower cost solution to save taxpayers money on hardware.

Norcross, GA, USA – For the 2010 census, the US Census Bureau used ERDAS’ server-based technologies for timely updating of their integrated national mapping and address system.

In 2007, the Census Bureau began implementing ERDAS ADE to provide a real-time, interactive web editing solution based on the Oracle Spatial 10g/11g topology model. The project, named Geographic ADE-based Topological Real-time Editing System (GATRES), provides tools for selecting and updating features and housing units, creating links to other features.

ERDAS ADE allows multiple users to simultaneously view and edit the same feature in Oracle’s Topology Data Model. With ERDAS ADE, the Census Bureau has a visual tool for managing primitive attributes and tracking spatial and non-spatial features and metadata. Users work with address ranges linked to the spatial data in the Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geocoding and Referencing (MAF/TIGER) System.

Later, the US Census Bureau enhanced the system, adding ERDAS APOLLO to manage and rapidly serve the organization’s massive amounts of imagery. This massive data repository included one meter (or better) imagery for the majority of the counties in the United States, for multiple years. ERDAS APOLLO consistently delivers more data, quicker, using less hardware than other image serving products. An interoperable Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) based solution, ERDAS APOLLO also easily delivers feature data, terrain and virtually any digital object in an enterprise.

ERDAS APOLLO also provides imagery backdrops to the vector data in GATRES. In addition, ERDAS APOLLO works as a plug-in with the organization’s other geospatial desktop products. With ERDAS APOLLO, users can quickly search the catalog and serve files using the Enhanced Compression Wavelet Protocol (ECWP), as well as JPEG2000, an ISO-certified compressed image format. ECWP allows streaming of ECW files, enabling rapid delivery of terabyte-sized images over the internet using inexpensive server technology.

With ERDAS’ technology, the solution was able to scale over many remote US Census sites, providing multiple users the ability to dynamically edit and update Oracle Spatial information. In addition, this enterprise system was able to efficiently distribute processes, enabling the US Census Bureau to save hardware costs. ERDAS APOLLO regularly handled several hundred users and the CPU usage rarely exceeded approximately 30% once ERDAS APOLLO was optimized for the Census production environment. While the workload has now decreased, ERDAS APOLLO continues to handle 100-150 users simultaneously.

“The US Census Bureau provides comprehensive and high quality data about the nation’s people and economy,” said Kurt Schwoppe, Vice President, Services, ERDAS. “For the 2010 census, we were able to leverage our imagery expertise, providing a comprehensive solution that could not only handle the Bureau’s massive amount of geospatial data, but also enable users to quickly update and deliver this information in a variety of environments.”

The US Census Bureau continues to use both ERDAS IMAGINE and ERDAS ER Mapper. For more information about ERDAS or its products and services, please call +1 770 776 3400, toll free +1 877 GO ERDAS, or visit

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Joel Campbell Interview at GEOINT 2010

I was not able to attend GEOINT this year as it fell on my anniversary. Sorry, geospatial community, I'd rather be with my wife. :) Anyway, Sanjay gives a good interview with Joel at GEOINT 2010.