Geospatial Trends in Government

May 2011 | Volume 3 | Number 5


For Warfighters, GEOPDF provides "GIS For The Novice"

Dr. Joseph Fontanella, Army Geospatial Officer, talks about some of the new geospatial capabilties and tools now available.

Find out more about the Army Geospatial Center at www.agc.army.mil.



A key part of the Army approach is to empower commanders, PMs and soldiers by leveraging the cloud to deliver geospatial intelligence.

A large part of what Dr. Fontanella does is seeking to learn from warfighters just exactly what they need.

"We try to get an understanding from soldiers that have deployed what they really need, and what requirements they have. One that that we piloted and NGA has now taken off with is something called GEOPDF."


"It’s kind of GIS for the novice," explained Dr. Fontanella in Part 3 of this OTFL interview.

Most anybody can operate Adobe acrobat noted Dr. Fontanella.

"What we’ve done is we’ve taken topographic line maps and created maps in the GEOPDF format for 198 countries as well as all the USGS maps of the United States, so about 230,000 maps to date."


"We’ve been doing this for 5 years and the cool thing about this is it gives all warfighters and those tasked with the ability to support them, to be able to see the data by using just the Adobe Acrobat reader, and you can move around with this thing, and do a lot of things you can’t do with a paper map."
 
And so we really are pretty proud of this. We’ve put hundreds of thousands of these in in-house files that we’ve now gotten handed and just anyone can open up an Adobe Acrobat reader.


Dr. Joseph F. Fontanella is the Director of the U.S. Army Geospatial Center (AGC) and is also chartered as the Army's Geospatial Information Officer (GIO).

In the third part of this three-part OTFL interview, Dr. Fontanella talks about the tools developed by the AGC that are now being deployed with OTFL Editor Jeff Erlichman:

 

Our ultimate goal is to serve Soldiers as well as our strategic partners and others who rely on our ability to deliver timely, accurate and actionable Geospatial information and services,” Dr. Fontanella told On The FrontLines in a recent interview.

 

Dr. Joseph F. Fontanella was recently appointed to the Senior Executive Service to serve as the Director of the U.S. Army Geospatial Center (AGC) and is also chartered as the Army's Geospatial Information Officer (GIO).

 

“Our ultimate goal is to serve Soldiers as well as our strategic partners and others who rely on our ability to deliver timely, accurate, and actionable geospatial information and services,” Dr. Fontanella told On The FrontLines in a recent interview.

 

In the third part of this three-part OTFL interview, Dr. Fontanella talks about his new job and ongoing efforts to reach out and meet personally with stakeholders and partners. He stressed how important it is to make sure the AGC is being “relevant, ready, reliable and responsible” to its customers and stakeholders in its everyday actions.

Click here to read Part 2 of the interview with Dr. Fontanella.

Click here to read Part 1 of the interview, Dr. Fontanella' biography and a fact sheet on the AGC.


 

OTFL: Is most of the data gathered by satellite, airplane? How do you really get most of your data?

 

Dr. Fontanella:  Well it comes from lots of different sources. And it really depends what level we are looking at. The majority of data that we are using right now, at least in Afghanistan is data that we are collecting and processing using our Buckeye system, which is a system that collects high resolution electro-optical color photography in light detecting ranges data.

 

And that’s probably the basis for a lot of what we are using right now. And it comes from various sources. We are reaching out to areas such as voluntary geographic information, which would be data that’s collected on the ground by folks. There are issues with that. Is the data good, is it bad, is it current, and is it disinformation?

 

A lot of those things have to be considered in that. We have programs now that we are working that are focused on different areas. For example we have a program called oasis which is a humanitarian assistance GIS that helps folks that are in the business of delivering humanitarian aid to be able to track the progress of those activities. So I’m not able to put my finger on one data source. We look at all data sources.

 

OTFL: It's paramount that to use the data to make calculations of location, possibly enemy positions, and things like that. So are you really looking for tools that allow you to have a 3D view as much as possible of areas that the Army is operating in?

 

Dr. Fontanella: We do some of that. We have built some tools that allow for 3D visualization

 

One of the fairly substantial program successes we’ve had here has been our Buckeye program. I just talked a little bit about it. It’s the standard bearer for many of our operations here. It is in tremendous demand because it provides high resolution 3D unclassified imagery for the war fighter.

 

In Iraq we’ve collected over 85,000 square kilometers over urban areas and along MSRs. It includes over 2,000 towns and LIDAR elevation data at one meter resolution. And about 1.8 million color images at 10-15 cm resolution. We ceased work in Iraq in September of 2010 and moved some of the operations, we already had some operations being conducted in Afghanistan and to date we’ve collected over 40,000 square kilometers of data in Afghanistan.

 

I know that a success story that we are pretty proud of is something we call GeoGlobe.

 

This is a 3D terrain visualization capability which serves out industry maps and elevation and data on both classified and unclassified servers, and enables users to do analysis applications such as line of sight applications any place on the globe.

 

What we’ve done is we’ve actually loaded some of this stuff up on laptops and provided to brigade combat teams as they get ready to deploy. It gives these teams visualization capability. And because these guys are disconnected very often, they’ve got this visualization capability and they are able to have the same common operating picture as other folks in their area of operations. And we set these servers up in a couple of places down range and have got some really good feedback from soldiers on the value of this thing.


Note: According to its website, the AGC maintains a worldwide 3D based visualization and dissemination tool called the Army Geospatial Enterprise (AGE) GeoGlobe. The AGE GeoGlobe is part of an Army enterprise approach to raster and vector data sharing and visualization in a 3D environment.

 

AGE GeoGlobe is based on Skyline Software's SkylineGlobe suite of products.

 

This enterprise software allows users to access AGC's geospatial data archives and products through a locally installed 3D client for Internet Explorer and Internet Information Services (IIS). The AGE GeoGlobe provides users with an easy to use interface to find and view AGC products such as the Water Resources Database (WRDB), Urban Tactical Planner (UTP), and Buckeye imagery as well as Theater Geospatial Database (TGD) data from the Army Geospatial Planning Cells (GPC’s).

 

These products form an integral part of the GeoGlobe's data layers and can be viewed in any of the GeoGlobe's 3 different Globe views (World Map, NGA Map and Imagery). 

 

OTFL: What other tools are you deploying?

 

Something that you may not be aware of, a lot of folks are not, a number of soldiers will deploy with their own personal Garmin GPSs. We build the map background and serve those up. The maps allow the users to see the detailed roads, hydrology, elevations, and contours on these GPS devices.

 

In fact we also created a special set of maps to support the Haiti earthquake response. And since August 2010 I think we’ve sent out close to 2000 Garmin map formats of Afghanistan to units and organizations operating there. And really they are the only US government sanctioned data for Garmin GPS devices, and thousands of these have been distributed to Army users, Air Force and others. So we are pretty proud of those things.

 

 A lot of folks are really not well aware of some of those touch points that we’ve had with units that have deployed. We try to get an understanding from soldiers that have deployed what they really need, and what requirements they have. Another one that we piloted and NGA has now taken off with is something called GEOPDF.

 

It’s kind of GIS for the novice.

 

Most anybody can operate Adobe acrobat. What we’ve done is we’ve taken topographic line maps and created maps in the GEOPDF format for 198 countries as well as all the USGS maps of the United States, so about 230,000 maps to date.

 

We’ve been doing this for 5 years and the cool thing about this is it gives all war fighters and those tasked with the ability to support them, to be able to see the data by using just the Adobe Acrobat reader, and you can move around with this thing, and do a lot of things you can’t do with a paper map. And so we really are pretty proud of this. We’ve put hundreds of thousands of these in in-house files that we’ve now gotten handed and just anyone can open up an Adobe Acrobat reader.

Click here to read Part 2 of the interview with Dr. Fontanella.

Click here to read Part 1 of the interview, Dr. Fontanella' biography and a fact sheet on the AGC.



 

Resources

Websites

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

https://www1.nga.mil/Pages/Default.aspx

NGA provides timely, relevant and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security objectives. The term “geospatial intelligence” (GEOINT) means the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. Geospatial intelligence consists of imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial (e.g., mapping, charting and geodesy) information.

 

USGS National Geospatial Program

http://www.usgs.gov/ngpo/

The National Geospatial Program provides leadership for USGS geospatial coordination, production and service activities. The Program engages partners to develop standards and produce consistent and accurate data through its Geospatial Liaison Network. Operational support is provided by the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center. These and other Program activities that are essential to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) are managed as a unified portfolio that benefits geospatial information users throughout the Nation.

 

Open Spatial Consortium

http://www.opengeospatial.org/

The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.® (OGC) is a non-profit, international, voluntary consensus standards organization that is leading the development of standards for geospatial and location based services.

 

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association

http://www.gita.org/

GITA is the professional association and leading advocate for anyone using geospatial technology to help operate, maintain, and protect the infrastructure, which includes organizations such as utilities, telecommunication companies, and the public sector. Through industry-leading conferences—along with research initiatives, chapters, membership, and other programs—GITA provides education and professional best practices. 

 

The Geospatial Data Gateway

http://datagateway.nrcs.usda.gov/

GDG is the One Stop Source for environmental and natural resources data, at anytime, from anywhere, to anyone. The Gateway allows you to choose your area of interest, browse and select data from our catalog, customize the format, and have it downloaded or shipped on CD or DVD.

 

Geodata.gov

http://gos2.geodata.gov/wps/portal/gos

Geodata.gov is your one stop for finding and using geographic data and will help you: Find Data or Map Services; Make a Map; Browse Community Information; Cooperate on Data Acquisitions; Publish your Data and Map Services

 

nationalatlas.gov™

http://nationalatlas.gov/    

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a map is worth ten thousand. This is not like any atlas you remember. This is nationalatlas.gov™, and it shows us where we are. It allows you to use your imagination and, by probing and questioning, to choose the facts that fit your needs as you explore the American story.

 

Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS)

http://cegis.usgs.gov/

In January 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS) was established. The CEGIS vision is to conduct, lead, and influence the research and innovative solutions required by the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and the emerging GeoSpatial Web.

 

 

 

© 2011 On The FrontLines Media Group, Trezza Media Group, Public Sector Communications, LLC

Contact:
Jeff Erlichman
Editor
On The FrontLines
19009 Alpenglow Lane
Brookeville, MD 20833
www.OnTheFrontLines.net
JeffErlichman@OnTheFrontLines.net

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