Recently, TerraGo Technologies introduced a new suite of solutions, called TerraGo Vision, for location intelligence including APIs, code libraries and Web services. TerraGo’s chief technology officer, George Demmy, provided more details in this interview.
Directions Magazine (DM): TerraGo Vision is described as “a collection of applications, code libraries, services and APIs for location intelligence applications.” Which applications are the key strengths of these libraries - visualization, modeling, data management or reporting?
George Demmy (GD) [pictured at right]: First, let me provide some background on the strategy behind the new TerraGo Vision platform, as well as the new branding for TerraGo. This will provide a more valuable context about our offering and will help answer this question effectively.
From the very beginning, TerraGo focused on building applications that were delivered to warfighters and professionals who did not have traditional GIS backgrounds. For example, telecommunications companies often relied on our solutions for tracking their field assets for repairs – especially in outage situations.
As a very familiar and easy-to-use application, our GeoPDF technology and software became the ideal for delivering and managing geospatial information for non-GIS professionals working in both connected and non-connected environments.
During this time, we saw a dramatic shift in the geospatial sector with more people becoming further geospatially-aware, resulting in GPS in automobiles, smartphone location apps and the like. As such, we decided to shift TerraGo’s brand focus away from being strictly a provider of GeoPDF maps to focusing more the delivery of location intelligence, geospatial collaboration and field data collection solutions.
In July 2012, we acquired Geosemble Technologies, which allowed us to fully leverage its flagship product, GeoXray. The software automates the process of discovering, geospatially visualizing, monitoring and sharing relevant unstructured information from any source. Now our users can effectively mine and process content from news, blogs and social media and analyze data by place, time and topic.
With this acquisition, we are able to continue empowering people with the right location intelligence for advanced decision-making. Our key strength is that we have simplified the discovery of structured and unstructured data, which can be delivered in both online and disconnected environments.
Now our users can develop applications that help in advancing their particular missions with minimal complexity and overhead. For example, it is possible to gather crowdsourced data about potholes for state and local governments. The Secret Service can collect and share geotagged photos and other information while planning an event where senior government leadership will be present.
Our solutions are completely agnostic when it comes to the type of data feeds that can be leveraged. Even if it’s Full Motion Video (FMV), these new applications are collections of information and capabilities that are configured to meet mission goals and requirements. We help establish the connections that allow organizations to leverage any kind of data in a geospatial context – whether on the Internet or through GeoPDF.
DM: In one of the graphics that explains the applications of the platform, a dashboard with a word cloud, twitter feed, line graph and map is displayed. Assuming it highlights the ability to display structured and unstructured data, can you share some use cases of how this dashboard is effective in delivering location intelligent insights?
GD: That dashboard is a Web application called GeoUNITY built by our partner, Wiser Company on top of the GeoXray API, which in turn is a part of the TerraGo Vision platform.
GeoUNITY is a sentiment analysis application that enables users to see how sentiments trend and correlate in time and space. It’s a useful and interesting tool for understanding human geography and what is happening in places of interest to you. While GeoUNITY is focused on social media sources such as Twitter, content could be drawn from virtually any other source of data or collection of documents.
This solution is ideal for public safety campaigns where law enforcement can track sentiment and location data in preparation for a major public event. It is also ideal for marketing campaigns where companies can measure and analyze true sentiment insights for specific target demographic groups. Through an easy-to-use dashboard, all of this location and sentiment data can be tracked and shared in both connected and disconnected environments.
DM: Many companies in business intelligence are building similar dashboards but those systems are focused primarily on modeling data for spatial statistics. Do you expect that TerraGo or its partners will build an interface to a BI platform? Can the Vision platform be leveraged now by BI solutions like Cognos or SAP Business Objects?
GD: We are not looking to compete with Business Intelligence (BI) providers like SAP and Cognos, or Palantir, which provides these BI-like solutions for the Department of Defense.
TerraGo offers a suite of capabilities that allows users to geo-contextualize and uniquely filter information by place, time and topic. In terms of BI solutions, we help create data feeds that can be visualized and filtered through a BI system. Conversely, we also allow users to extract data from BI systems and overlay geospatial data and mine keywords for creating data filters. This is essentially a two-way bridge and we are not looking to provide a unified BI dashboard or interface that competes with these companies, some of whom are our partners. Our solutions integrate well with these types of systems and ultimately allow another layer of data extraction for the creation of products and apps that allow users to have the most powerful data for decision-making as possible.
DM: What’s TerraGo’s solution for ingesting and visualization data from a big data provider like Oracle Exadata or using the Apache Hadoop platform?
GD: We are looking to build a scalable system that supports services in the cloud like Hadoop or leverages raw data feeds from Oracle Exadata. Our vision is to partner with big data experts and to offer a means to interact with big data in ways that provide meaningful context and insights with easy to understand visualization and interactivity.
DM: TerraGo seems to be moving away from its core strength as a visualization tool provider and now moving more into geospatial analysis and data management. Can we expect TerraGo to continue in this direction, thereby placing it in competition with Esri and others? Can we expect further acquisitions to develop the toolkit? What other technology might support the company’s vision?
GD: We don’t see ourselves moving away from our core strength, which is integrating the most relevant information from any source to improve situational awareness to people and the organizations they support. TerraGo will always focus on providing the solutions that allow organizations to discover the most relevant information from any source and deliver actionable location intelligence wherever it is needed most.
As Esri is the dominant geospatial platform provider, other software and solutions providers will necessarily compete with them on the edges. However, we view ourselves as being complementary and we will continue to make Esri’s technology more accessible, more widely deployed and more valuable to our mutual customers, as we have done for many years.
In terms of other acquisitions, we do not have a publically articulated strategy at this time. However, we are excited about our new leadership. Starting at the top, Chris Broderick, our new president and CEO, is very data-driven in his strategy for growth and we will continue to do the right things that make sense for our company and customers.