GeoWorld September 2011

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BY TINA CARY Cloud ComputingWhere Will It Take Geotechnology? C loud computing is a popular phrase these days. But what does it mean, and, in particular, what does it mean for geotechnology? What problems can it solve and at what cost? As people become more familiar with imagery and the useful information it provides, and as technology enables geospatial data of ever-finer resolution measured across more parts of the spectrum, there are many challenges: • Managing larger data volumes. • Enabling more prospective (non-specialist) users to query holdings. • Delivering data in the format of the user's choice for any area of interest. • Performing classification, change detection and other processing tasks rapidly for fast delivery. Ken Spratlin, Trimble's director of innovation, Geomatics, describes his interest in cloud computing. "We're seeing an explosion in the size of the data- sets produced by some of our combined imaging and laser-scanning systems," he says. "We have custom- ers now working on projects that will generate 100 terabytes (TB) in one annual collect, and then repeat every year. So change detection will be faced with com- paring multiple 100TB datasets, and one can easily imagine a petabyte project in the near future." At the same time, the economy is forcing greater scrutiny of proposed capital expenditures, challenging everyone to do all of this on a budget that's at best static and more often shrinking. What's Cloud Computing? The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) explains that the chal- lenge in defining cloud computing arises 14 GEO W ORLD / S EPTEMBER 2O11 Industry Trends

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