Drone industry eagerly awaits GeoExpress 9.5.1

February 4, 2016

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You've been smart: you've used the latest drone-assisted technology to obtain some of the highest resolution aerial imagery your company has ever had, at less cost than ever before. You know the ROI will be impressive. The imagery is precise, and so detailed you can clearly see every feature, every line, even the slightest rise in terrain. But then you realize — you have a file size more than 6 times larger than your GIS application allows. Enter LizardTech...

LizardTech established its dominance in the geospatial industry nearly 2 decades ago with the release of MrSID, and has been a leader in the field of large geospatial dataset storage and management ever since.

This week, the industry innovator will release GeoExpress 9.5.1, adding support for .pix raster files, faster processing and a more streamlined user interface to its flagship compression software.

The software's improvements will no doubt be welcomed with some relief by the thousands of companies across the country — and across the globe — who are using the latest drone technology to collect massive amounts of high quality, high resolution imagery, only to end up wrestling with outdated file restrictions common to the leading GIS applications. ArcGIS restricts file size to 10 GB, for example, but today's drone-assisted imaging equipment can record thousands of 16 MB images in a single flight, easily exceeding that limit.

CompassData, the "leading provider of global Ground Control data," which prides itself on its ability to "collect precise ground control information in remote and difficult to access areas to support required image or mapping requirements," regularly encounters complications from this mismatch in technological capabilities — and has been using GeoExpress to overcome them.

When a local airport obtained 6cm aerial imagery to produce an Airport Mapping Database, CompassData used GeoExpress to perform a lossless compression of the original file, producing a 1.34 GB .sid file that was easily uploaded to ArcGIS, while maintaining the 6cm resolution.

In 2014, CompassData used GeoExpress to compress aerial images from a large Colorado ranch for a land use planning project. The images were so detailed that they showed individual prairie dog burrows — and were about 6 GB in size. Using GeoExpress, CompassData was able to produce a 1.77 GB .sid file to meet the needs of the internal server, which had a 2 GB restriction — and every burrow was still rendered in precise detail.

Now with GeoExpress 9.5.1, users will have an even greater tool at their disposal. The updated version of the software includes seamless mosaicking of LiDAR files which supplements lossless compression and uses four times less storage space. There's also a faster default workflow for existing MrSID images, along with a more intuitive user interface, making the software's capabilities more accessible to a greater number of people within the user organization.

Compress LiDAR point clouds to the LAZ and MrSID file formats in GeoExpress.

Use the main GeoExpress interface to view properties, set job options, and run compression and manipulation jobs.

Use powerful cropping tools in GeoExpress to crop from multipolygon shapefiles or simply draw a rectangle of the area that you want to crop.

LizardTech's timing with the release is impeccable: the UAV market is exploding, and with it, the need for increasingly sophisticated yet simultaneously simplified compression software is growing at breakneck speed. Tractica, a market research company, forecasts commercial worldwide drone sales will increase from 80,000 UAVs to almost 2.7 million units by 2025. RnR Market Research predicts unmanned aerial systems markets will reach $4.8 billion dollars by 2021.

As drone use increases, the associated imaging technologies available for drones is becoming vastly more capable: Cameras that record 4K video and 16 megapixel images are already becoming the standard payload. Light-weight thermal and multi-spectral sensing devices are being delivered by Flir, Slantrange and other manufacturers.

Without doubt, instruments carried by commercial sUAV flights will soon generate terabytes of large, high resolution image files, with applications in industries as wide ranging as agriculture to homeland security. In fact, data acquired from drone flights may soon surpass data gathered by aerial and satellite operations — and all of this data will need to be compressed, analyzed, stored and managed.

LizardTech stands uniquely poised to seize the opportunity.

LizardTech will be providing a look at the updated features of GeoExpress 9.5.1 in a free online webinar February 18.

A number of case studies illustrating the application of GeoExpress across industries can be found on the company website.


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