GeoWorld April 2012

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Delivering Geospatial ' Answers On Demand' A WORLD OF INFORMATION content on the Internet, and the increasing ease in accessing it, led to "information on demand": being able to request and instantaneously receive specific information about a topic of interest. In today's world, information on demand is a staple of modern life. At any point in time, people can T BY PETE MCINTOSH sit down at a computer or pick up a smartphone and have instant access to the Web and its billions of pages of "information." Those adept at using such tools can instantaneously access information about almost any topic. For example, I can look up my company's stock price, read stories about my favorite celebrity and view the winning numbers in last night's lottery. When information on demand is combined with location-based information, which typically requires a device with built-in GPS capabilities, I can instantly access information related to my current location. This is helpful for many different purposes. For example, if I was trying to Pete McIntosh is solutions engineering manager for Exelis Visual Information Solutions, developers of ENVI image- analysis and E3De LiDAR data-analysis software; e-mail: pete.mcintosh@, Web: 12 figure out what to do tonight, I could pull out my smartphone and, with a single click, have movie times for the five closest movie theaters, menus of restaurants in the area and the local weather forecast—I could even get directions to my friend's house. Location-Based Information for Geospatial Analysis In the geospatial-analysis world, there's also benefit from location-based information on demand. For example, it would be ideal for those responding after a disaster to be able to bring up a map that instantly shows the damage in an area or transportation routes GEO W ORLD / AP R I L 2O12 he Internet allows users to access infor- mation about almost any topic. During the last decade, the tremendous expansion of that have been compromised. Environmental- monitoring professionals might want to know the pollution runoff after a large rainfall. Defense and intelligence personnel could see if insurgents are gathering in a certain area, what the best lines of approach are to that area and vulnerability points from a sniper. In the consumer world, the desire for location- based information on demand is being met by app developers. For example, apps now show which friends are nearby, where to find nightlife hotspots and what deals are available from nearby stores. What if the geospatial world had location-based apps such as these? It's easy to imagine a world in which I could click on the "View Damage" app after an earthquake struck and have near-instant answers. Many busi- nesses and government institutions could benefit from this, assuming the information provided in such an app is timely and accurate. It's not hard to imagine the large number of apps that could be created for geospatial analysis, but developing the infrastructure for such an app-based world is another story. Creating Geospatial-Intelligence Apps Creating geospatial-intelligence apps will require major collaboration from data and software providers as well as, realistically, an investment from the government and buy in from the geospatial community. Although it's easy to think of all the apps desired from such a system, the barriers to setting this up are real from technology and monetary standpoints. Environmental-monitoring professionals are among those who would benefit from location-based information on-demand. An image shows pollution runoff after a large rainfall. Mobility/GPS Special Issue

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