Geomatics

March 2007 » PROGRESSIVE ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
Spatial data—whether acquired in the field, from the air, or from space—is an integral component of many civil engineering projects.

Spatial data—whether acquired in the field, from the air, or from space—is an integral component of many civil engineering projects. Evolving geomatics technologies and products, therefore, increasingly emphasize integration of spatial data collection and analysis directly into the design process. In response to a request from CE News, companies provided the following updates about their geomatics products.

3Dconnexion, a Logitech company, introduced SpaceExplorer, a 3-D navigation device that features navigation control, a convenient key console, and ergonomic design. The SpaceExplorer provides responsive control of 3-D objects and environments without the repeated steps required to navigate with a keyboard and mouse. SpaceExplorer comes with 3DxSoftware that offers new support for Autodesk Design Reviewer, Autodesk DWF Viewer, Google Earth, and Google SketchUp software. The navigation device uses six optical sensors to communicate multiple threads of navigation data continuously to 3-D applications. Users command six-degrees of freedom with the controller cap to manipulate 3-D objects and navigate 3-D environments. Its ergonomic design allows use by either hand and features 15 pre-configured function keys. A Windows Vista-compatible version of the device’s software driver is now available.
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Airborne 1 Corporation—a provider of advanced LiDAR services, rentals, and software worldwide—offers private training on LiDAR data production and related software applications that is designed to assist clients in becoming more independent so they can process their own data. Training takes from one to three days and teaches students the fundamentals of LiDAR data processing, from GPS and IMU processing to laser point output, classification, and QA/QC. Software applications introduced to students include REALM, POSPac, Grafnav, TerraScan, TerraMatch, and others.
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DM Solutions Group launched DMSG Premiere, a commercial support service dedicated to open-source web mapping technologies such as MapServer, MapGuide Open Source, and related technologies. According to the company, it supports the specific needs of application developers who may be unfamiliar with how to use web mapping technology effectively by providing background and reference information, technical insights, and advice. Support is delivered at various levels, beginning with base support that offers information, notifications updates, and security alerts, to the highest level, which offers web-based and toll-free phone support.
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Eagle Point’s RT-3010S SMI Flex GPS receiver, with 64 MB of internal memory and a spread-spectrum radio, is suited as a pole-mounted RTK rover or a tripod-mounted RTK base station for centimeter-level accuracy. All SMI Flex GPS receivers use NavCom’s NCT-2100D GPS engine, which incorporates patented interference suppression and multi-path mitigation. RT-3010S features include "all-in-view" tracking on 26 channels, L1 and L2 full-wavelength carrier phase tracking, time to first fix for cold-start satellite acquisition of less than 60 seconds, and satellite reacquisition times of less than 1 second. According to the company, two removable, rechargeable batteries provide more than 14 hours of RTK performance. The waterproof housing is designed to survive a 2-meter pole drop and temporary immersion in water. An optional TruBlu module provides Bluetooth wireless communication as far as 100 meters between SMI Flex GPS receivers and SMI Bluetooth-enabled controllers.
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ESRI announced the availability of ArcGIS 9.2 with new visualization and analysis tools that allow users to create, play back, and export time-based animations and graphs of how processes evolve. High-precision coordinate storage and greater flexibility in distributing enterprise GIS data expand the use of large GIS systems across dispersed offices and regions. Users can create and share complete or partial database copies; synchronize and reconcile edits and changes; and create archives of transaction histories, allowing for improved collaboration and data sharing between departments, organizations, and field staff. According to ESRI, expanded interoperability with spatial data makes it easier to integrate disparate data from a variety of sources. ArcGIS supports open data standards, including Open Geospatial Consortium GML Simple Features data, the ISO 19139 metadata standard, and DXF and KML, and provides enhanced support for reading, exporting, and working with CAD drawings from AutoCAD and MicroStation.
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FARO Technologies, Inc., released version 4.0 of its 3-D laser scanning software family: FARO Scene, FARO Scout, FARO Scout LT, and FARO Record. The software packages are used for viewing, administrating, calibrating, filtering, and managing large, 3-D point clouds collected with the FARO Laser Scanner LS. Version 4.0 features include intrinsic use of an inclination sensor for faster registration, constraint-plane fit for high-accuracy plane positioning, easier export of slices, export of objects in DXF format, intelligent contrast adjustment to improve point-cloud visualization, and automatic filtering. The FARO Laser Scanner LS captures 120,000 points per second in a 360-degree path with up to 3-mm accuracy, according to the company.
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GlobeXplorer’s AirPhotoUSA offers a comprehensive collection of 1-foot-resolution aerial photography. According to the company, the new offerings will be the highest resolution, off-the-shelf, seamless imagery commercially available on a nationwide basis. AirPhotoUSA has more than several hundred thousand square miles in acquisition at a 1-foot resolution. Premium imagery will be available on DVD in AirPhoto USA’s Photomapper product, as well as online through GlobeXplorer’s web services for mappers (ImageConnect), consumers/real estate (ImageAtlas), and application developers (ImageBuilder).
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Magellan Navigation, Inc., introduced ProMark3, an all-in-one GPS survey solution that the company says offers both centimeter accuracy in post-processing and GIS capabilities in a single, rugged package. A large color touch screen allows users to complete all survey settings without clicking through multiple screens. A full, alphanumeric keypad, USB port, SD-card, and Bluetooth capability enhance expandability and functionality. The ProMark3 receiver comes bundled with GNSS Solutions, which includes components such as loop closures, automatic repeat, observation analysis, automatic control analysis, and least-squares adjustments. A GNSS Solutions wizard guides users through planning, processing, quality control, reporting, and data exporting. Importing raster or vector map formats allows surveyors to open background projects and combine them with land survey projects.
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Merrick & Company, a full-service engineering firm, offers Merrick Advanced Remote Sensing (MARS) software for processing, analyzing, and managing terrain data. Designed to handle massive LiDAR datasets, MARS includes a modular tool suite to manage field collection, data analysis, quality assurance, production, and client deliverable workflows. Features include data import/export, data navigation and visualization, control point reporting, automated and manual data classification tools, 3-D coordinate transformation, and data generation functions such as profile line, contours, grids, and breaklines. Additionally, Merrick recently made available, as a free download, MARS FreeView, a viewing application for LiDAR, high-resolution imagery, and GIS datasets.
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MWH Soft introduced InfoWater UDF (unidirectional flushing), an ArcGIS-centric pipe cleaning and maintenance solution for water distribution systems to help restore hydraulic capacity and improve water quality. According to the company, InfoWater UDF helps water utilities develop effective unidirectional flushing sequences for each flushing zone by quickly identifying which fire hydrants and water main valves should be manipulated for proper cleaning while avoiding excessive pressure drops and maintaining the desired level of hydraulic performance in the distribution system. The program also computes minimum flushing time, total flushing volume and pipe length, flushing velocity of every pipe in the sequence, and available flow at the minimum residual pressure.
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OmniSTAR BV’s OmniSTAR 8200HP L-band-capable GPS receiver features a waterproof, shock-resistant, and dustproof casing; a front-panel LCD screen; four operating buttons; and field-upgradable software. The LCD screen and operating buttons eliminate the need for a computer or PDA to adjust receiver settings. According to the company, the 8200HP system using OmniSTAR’s HP+ commercial DGNSS services provides real-time decimeter accuracy correction data worldwide. Its high precision over large areas without local infrastructure setup makes it a good tool, OmniSTAR says, for applications requiring high mobility, such as surveying roadways, pipelines, and powerlines.
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Optech, Inc.’s ALTM Gemini LiDAR airborne scanner provides scanning rates as great as 100 Hz with a 167-kHz laser pulse repetition frequency. According to the company, faster scan frequencies provide optimal distribution of laser points, heightened accuracy, and a significant improvement in overall system performance. Additionally, surveyors can reduce the time spent in the air acquiring data, or acquire more data in the same time. ALTM Gemini features include the capability to measure multiple pulses/returns, digital camera integration, and DASHMap software for LiDAR data processing.
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Through a recent partnership, Pacific Data Resources (PDR), a geospatial data solutions company, is making GlobeXplorer’s commercial collection of satellite images and aerial photography available within the PDR suite of AM/FM/GIS applications. Using GlobeXplorer’s ImageConnect IMS for AutoCAD, PDR can integrate CAD and GIS data with continually updated imagery and archived maps for customers using Autodesk Map 2007, Autodesk Civil 3D, and Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise.
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PBS&J’s Flood Map Desktop (FMD) is a software extension for ArcGIS 9 offered in the public domain to help all mapping partners supporting completion of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Map Modernization projects. FMD tools enable users to create FEMA DFIRM paper maps and Standard DFRIM databases that are compliant with FEMA guidelines. FMD sits on the user’s desktop and does not require an Internet connection. Users can manage their own data with no rigid workflow. According to PBS&J, the workflow process and tools are intuitive; the program includes an HTML and context-sensitive help system.
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Riegl USA recently updated its LMS-Z390 laser scanner and Riscan Pro software. According to the company, the LMS-Z390 provides accurate 3-D measurements with a range of up to 300 meters at laser class 1, repeatability of up to 2 millimeters, and a measurement rate up to 12,000 points per second. It features a field view as great as 80 degrees by 360 degrees, TCP/IP data interface for wireless data transmission, and 12-28 VDC power. It can be operated by any standard PC or notebook and is fully portable. Riegl upgraded the scanner to include compatibility with all GPS systems for easy geo-referencing, faster and more accurate scan-to-scan registration for field confirmation of control, built-in inclination capability for faster registration, post-processing tools using the synergy between LiDAR scanning and photogrammetry, high-speed scan registration using automated tools, and a capability for vehicle mounting.
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Safe Software, Inc.’s Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) is an integrated collection of spatial extract, transform, and load (ETL) tools to enhance data-sharing capabilities between applications. FME enables users to combine data from multiple sources into a single translation, to extend the lifetimes of legacy systems through interoperability, and to exchange data between CAD-based systems and GIS-based systems. It comprises four major components: a translation engine (FME Universal Translator), a graphical authoring environment (FME Workbench), a data inspection tool (FME Viewer), and application extenders that integrate directly into a variety of spatial applications.
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Tripod Data Systems’ (TDS) Recon data collector and Layout Pro software allow users to input blueprint dimensions and build a digital replica of a construction layout plan that can be used to guide field layout. The TDS Recon runs Microsoft Windows Mobile software for pocket PCs and features a color display and rugged construction that, according to the company, can survive multiple drops of up to 4 feet and temporary submergence in water. Layout Pro is designed specifically for the requirements of in-the-field construction layout. The TDS system provides a common interface for many layout instruments and also can be used to conduct basic site surveys for creating as-built records.
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Topcon Positioning Systems, Inc., says its new GR-3 system is the world’s first, all-inclusive RTK GNSS satellite receiver for all existing and planned satellite constellations. Topcon’s G3 chip can capture signals from all three satellite-positioning systems—GPS, GLONASS, and the planned European Unions’ Galileo system. GR-3 has 72 universal channels that can track as many as 36 satellites simultaneously. Additional features include a rugged, magnesium I-beam chassis and housing that Topcon says can withstand a 2-meter drop onto concrete; a 2-watt, 915-MHz spread-spectrum radio; optional internal GSM/GPRS SIM card modem for cellular connectivity; dual, hot-swappable battery packs that provide more than 12 hours of operation; and a dual-function design enabling each GR-3 unit to be a base or rover.
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The Trimble R6 GPS System is an all-in-one, compact unit that features a multi-channel, multi-frequency GPS receiver, antenna, data-link radio, and battery. Optional augmentation enables GLONASS signals to be used for enhanced positioning. The system’s communication options include an internal, 450-MHz radio for use as a cable-free base station; and an internal, GSM/GPRS option for Internet connectivity and use as a rover in a Trimble Virtual Reference Station network. The Trimble R6 GPS System can be used with Trimble TSC2 handheld or Trimble CU attachable Windows-based controllers. Compatible Trimble field software packages include Trimble Survey Controller, Trimble Survey Manager, and TDS Survey Pro with Trimble Systems Extension. Additionally, Trimble’s Business Center Software enables surveyors to access Trimble R-Track satellite-receiving technology on their desktop to import GNSS field data for processing and to export files to design software.
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Geological Survey collaborated to produce NHDPlus—A Geospatial Surface Water Framework. NHDPlus is a suite of application-ready geospatial products that build upon and extend the capabilities of the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) by integrating the NHD with the National Elevation Dataset and the National Watershed Boundary Dataset. The NHD contains geospatial information for surface water features, such as rivers and lakes, which can be used to make maps, link other water-related information to the NHD network, and perform up/downstream queries and analyses. NHDPlus includes an enhanced NHD stream network with improved names, value-added attributes (such as stream order), incremental drainage areas with landscape characteristics, and flow volume and velocity estimates for pollutant dilution modeling.
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Zoller + Fröhlich’s (Z+F) Imager 5006 laser scanner has a lightweight and compact design that features an internal hard drive for data storage and three operating modes: direct operation using an integrated six-button keyboard and four-line display, wireless (Bluetooth) operation with a PDA, and network linked (Ethernet) operation using a notebook PC. A changeable battery pack provides 1-1/2 hours of operation; an external battery pack can provide four hours of operation. Users can connect a single-lens reflex camera directly to the scanner.
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