February 2007

Executive compass | February 2007

The year of terrain

John Allan

Terrain, or as it’s more commonly known, elevation data or a digital terrain model (DTM), is one of those data sources that many people take for granted. Until recently, it was really only exploited in the GIS world for the flythroughs that made people sit up and take notice. Few people asked the questions, “Was it taken into account when my 2D vectors were captured?” or “What was the accuracy of the DTM which was used to make my orthophoto?”

Now, as more systems are becoming integrated and photogrammetry, mapping and GIS systems are sharing datasets, it’s apparent that we all have to pay more attention to how we create, handle and work with height information.

Automatic texturing: 3D city view Data courtesy of Simmons Aerofilms/Pictometry

Automatic texturing: 3D city view Data courtesy of Simmons Aerofilms/Pictometry

In Europe, many SOCET SET® customers are working on making their country’s national terrain data set more accurate. Having more accurate height data also improves the quality of the orthophoto databases that are becoming a standard geospatial layer in many applications; the better the terrain is modeled, the better the removal of distortions due to height displacement and consequently, the more accurate the orthophotos. We’re finding that SOCET SET is helping out in many areas here. Automatic Terrain Extraction (ATE) techniques that use multi-pair and back matching are generating terrain models that require far less manual editing — higher accuracy and faster production times keep the production managers happy! Some editing is needed, though, and the broad range of tools available within the software makes that an efficient task, whether working on grids or TINs.

One of the challenges in building height models, however, is differentiating between the ground itself and what is on the surface, the DTM or the Digital Surface Model. To get to the true terrain (the ground), man-made objects and trees have to be removed, preferably automatically, and once again, the tools in SOCET SET are a great asset. For traditional orthophotos and terrain mobility analysis, bare earth (the DTM) is required. However, for new applications such as mobile telecommunications, airfield obstruction mapping, true orthophotos and 3D visualization, the Digital Surface Model is used.

Perspective view of terrain graphics

Perspective view of terrain graphics

Finally, when it comes to advanced visualizations such as urban modeling, SOCET SET offers a unique range of tools. For complex buildings and features, the volumetric data capture tools of the Feature module allow the most amazing city models to be built, comprising complex shapes and structures. Currently, this tends to be done manually. However, our goal is to automate this as much as possible, so the new Next Generation Automatic Terrain Extraction (NGATE) product, with its ability to height every pixel and to create very good renditions of the surface model, will be extremely valuable to all our customers. NGATE is a quantum leap forward in automation.

I think the year ahead will be “the year of terrain.” Accuracy is key. With SOCET SET, we aim to help all of our customers produce the best terrain and surface models of all.

John Allan
John Allan
Director of Sales and Marketing, EMEA
BAE Systems GXP

February 2007 | What's the buzz?

Mark your calendars, and register now!

2007 BAE Systems GXP International User Conference
March 26 – 30, 2007
Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
San Diego, California

Master classes offered

During the 2007 Conference we will debut our master level software classes, designed for experienced SOCET SET and SOCET GXP® users. Following the success of this optional activity last year, we will offer users the opportunity to work closely with our most knowledgeable and experienced instructors.

Classes include details of new functionality, workflows, tips and tricks. Most importantly, registrants will be contacted before the Conference and asked about compelling topics to cover. After reviewing the input we receive, the program will be tailored according to the feedback, and adequate time will be allowed for impromptu discussions based on popular topics. Class materials will be distributed to all attendees.

For more information, visit our website: www.gxpuserconference.com.

2007 BAE Systems GXP International User Conference

2007 BAE Systems GXP International User Conference

Conference highlights

  • New features for SOCET SET v5.4 and SOCET GXP v2.3
  • Preview of SOCET GXP v3.0
  • Focused, hands-on product workshops
  • Software workflow presentations
  • Special sessions for government and classified customers
  • Social activities and networking events

Destinations | February 2007

SOCET SET and SOCET GXP training and workshops

We are starting to plan our training and workshop schedule for 2007, and would appreciate your input. If you are interested in a particular topic and would like us to schedule a regional workshop in your area, please send an email to: socetgxp.support@baesystems.com.

Tokyo workshop

The SOCET SET/SOCET GXP workshop held in Tokyo, Japan on October 26, 2006 attracted many curious participants. The emphasis was on defense and homeland security. The workshop was divided into three different sessions, each with a specific focus:

Session One: Image Analyst/Intelligence

SOCET SET data preparation

  • Multi-sensor import and multi-sensor triangulation
  • SOCET SET v5.3.0 ATE
  • 3D Visualization using OpenFlight export

SOCET GXP change detection and surveillance using Indonesia imagery
SOCET GXP targeting/analyst products using North Korea imagery

Session Two: Homeland Security

SOCET GXP: Hurricane Katrina response
SOCET GXP: Homeland Security terrorist response scenario

Session Three: UAV Application

SOCET GXP: UAV Screener demo

February 2007 | SOCET GXP | Software update

SOCET GXP v2.3 includes a myriad of new functionality

SOCET GXP v2.3, scheduled to launch early this summer, features spatially-enabled exploitation (SEE) through vector analysis with a direct bidirectional link to the ESRI® database and the SOCET SET v5.4 feature database; MIL STD 2525 graphics; and Advanced Geospatial Intelligence (AGI) capabilities (formerly MASINT). Other exciting updates planned for SOCET GXP v3.0 include intuitive, easy-to-use Office 2007 style Ribbon user interface and photogrammetric capabilities.

And remember, SOCET SET users with active Upgrade Entitlement migrate to equivalent photogrammetric functionality in SOCET GXP v3.x free of charge!

February 2007 | SOCET SET | Software update

SOCET SET v5.4 features NGATE — the future of terrain extraction

Enhancements to SOCET SET v5.4, to be released in early spring 2007, include the same NGATE and grid processing functionality planned for SOCET GXP v3.0.


Dr. Bingcai Zhang

Dr. Bingcai Zhang

Last quarter, we unveiled development efforts under way for a new SOCET SET module, NGATE, led by GXP’s Dr. Bingcai Zhang. We are now excited to announce that NGATE will be available in the forthcoming SOCET SET v5.4 release.

NGATE’s performance has exceeded our expectations. Originally, we were scheduled to introduce NGATE in SOCET GXP, our next generation software package. However, with the excellent results we’ve seen, we have decided to include it with SOCET SET as well, so that all of our users can experience the quality, high-resolution terrain output generated from NGATE.

While SOCET SET’s Automatic Terrain Extraction (ATE) feature works well with natural terrain, NGATE is far superior in extracting structures such as buildings in urban areas. NGATE is designed to work with both natural terrain and urban areas by employing a hybrid matching process. DTMs of urban areas generated from NGATE need very little editing.

Some of the benefits of NGATE include the following:

  • On small to medium scale imagery, DTM editing is minimal
  • On large scale imagery in urban areas, DTM editing is significantly reduced
  • On large scale imagery in natural terrain, DTM editing is minimal
  • Building edges are preserved
  • Water bodies are flattened
  • Streets and featureless areas are precisely modelled

The main cost of DTM generation is manual editing: NGATE reduces editing time significantly.

For details about NGATE, http://www.socetgxp.com.

Grid Processing

Grid processing, using the Condor® (http://www.cs.wisc.edu/condor/) grid computing software for distributed processing, will be available in SOCET SET v5.4 for the complex tasks of TFRD decompression and VQ compression for the CIB and DPPDB production workflows (SOCET SET Controlled Image Base® Format Production Module, which uses MIL-PRF-89041, 15 May 1999 format specifications and SOCET SET Digital Point Positioning Data Base Format Production Module, which uses MIL-PRF-89034, March 1999 format specifications).

Grid processing will be expanded to increase performance of the CPU-intensive tasks ATE, NGATE and Orthomosaic (Mosaic Manager). Currently, each of these applications uses multiple CPUs within a single computer or server for distributed processing, but v5.4.1 will take advantage of unused network resources to break up the processing. Documentation on the performance improvements for multi-CPU processing of orthomosaics can be found at http://www.socetgxp.com.

SOCET SET and ArcGIS® 9.2 integrated

With the launch of SOCET SET v5.4, ESRI’s ArcGIS 9.2 software, which debuted in November 2006, will be integrated fully with SOCET SET. ArcGIS 9.2 includes new productivity tools, data visualization and analysis capabilities, sophisticated cartographic tools, high-precision coordinate storage, and expanded support for standards. According to Jack Dangermond, president of ESRI, “This is one of the biggest, most significant software releases in ESRI’s history. Version 9.2 represents a major advance in improving the tools that make GIS professionals more productive.”

Read more on ArcGIS 9.2 >>

Other SOCET SET v5.4 updates

Both new releases of SOCET GXP and SOCET SET will support the NextView sensors, GeoEye-1 and WorldView 1, 0.5 meter resolution satellites, scheduled for launch in late spring 2007. And SOCET SET v5.4.0 will be included in the IEC 6.1 baseline.

February 2007 | Q & A

How are SOCET SET image coordinates defined?

Coordinate Measurement window

Coordinate Measurement window

SOCET SET image coordinates are expressed as an ordered pair of double precision, floating point numbers which identify a row (line) and column (sample) location within the matrix of pixels. The SOCET SET image coordinate values can be seen on the Coordinate Measurement window, or within measurement files from triangulation (*.ipf) and interior orientation (*.iop).

The origin, position (0,0), to which the line and sample values are referenced is defined as half of the total number of lines and half of the total number of samples measured from the center of the upper left pixel. This means that the origin of the image coordinate system may fall inside a pixel or on the boundary between pixels depending on whether the number of lines and samples is even or odd, respectively. Also it should be noted that the origin will be near the center of the image, not exactly at the center. The origin will be one half pixel down and to the right of the actual image center.

Figure 1. Even number of lines and samples, origin inside a pixel.

Figure 1. Even number of lines and samples, origin inside a pixel.

Figure 2. Odd number of lines and samples, origin at pixel boundary.

Figure 2. Odd number of lines and samples, origin at pixel boundary.

Positive line coordinates are measured downward from the origin and positive sample coordinates are to the right of the origin. Lines above the origin are negative as are samples to the left of the origin. The figure below shows some example image locations and their line and sample values in the SOCET SET image coordinate system. See Sensor Model section of the SOCET SET programmer’s reference for more detail.

Figure 3. Point, line and sample results

Figure 3. Point, line and sample results

Point, line, and sample results

Point, line, and sample results

Note to Developers: When integrating SOCET SET with other applications where image coordinates are being passed back and forth, it is the calling application’s responsibility to convert the image coordinates to/from SOCET SET coordinates, origin as described above, and the coordinate system used by the other application — most likely origin at the upper left hand corner.

February 2007 | Tips and tricks

Terrain Visualization and Line of Sight in SOCET GXP

Line of Sight

Line of Sight

SOCET GXP allows users to view elevation data over imagery. To study an image in fine detail using SOCET GXP, evaluation tools for enhanced viewing are combined with a digital elevation model. The color and detail of the terrain being viewed are controlled through the terrain display preference node or through the terrain visualization properties window, accessible from the terrain visualization toolbar.

The terrain visualization toolbar is available on the Multiport via a right-click from the toolbar area on the Multiport.


To view terrain data without an image, select View > Visibility > Raster to turn the image on and off.

Hot-key hint

Press the F4 key to re-center the image on the Multiport to the current cursor position.

Loading a DTED for Terrain Visualization and Line of Sight evaluation

  1. Display an image in the Multiport.
  2. In Tools > Preferences, select Terrain > Auto DTED.
  3. If the Auto DTED directory is not identified, select Add Path.
  4. Navigate to your site’s DTED directory in the Browse for Folder window, and click OK.
  5. Highlight the DTED path and click OK from the Preferences window.
  6. From the Terrain Visualization toolbar, click the Auto-load Terrain icon.
    (If the Terrain Visualization toolbar is not displayed, right-click in the
    Multiport toolbar or menu area, and check the Terrain Visualization toolbar
    in the context menu).
  7. Click the Terrain Properties icon to modify the DTED display appearance.
  8. Select Tools > Line of Sight.
  9. Modify Line of Sight properties, then click on the image to place the Line of
    Sight observation point. Line of Sight shows the area of visibility from the
    observation point.
  10. Close the Line of Sight Properties window.

Customer and partner spotlight | February 2007

Finnish Geodetic Institute purchases SOCET SET and BINGO to aid research efforts

Finnish Geodetic Institute

Finnish Geodetic Institute

The Finnish Geodetic Institute (FGI), a research institute for mapping sciences located near Helsinki, Finland, purchased the SOCET SET Pro Bundle as well as SOCET SET’s BINGO module to assist in their ongoing efforts to create an ideal research and testing environment. FGI’s primary responsibility is to research geospatial information and develop methods for public authorities and companies in Finland and elsewhere. Therefore the robust processing capabilities of SOCET SET’s new Adaptive Tie-Point Matcher (ATM) as well as its ability to work with multiple sensors in a single block adjustment is attractive to the FGI team. ATM can match imagery and create tie points automatically from disparate sensors, saving valuable time and resources. Furthermore, using SOCET SET’s Developers Kit, they can create their own sensor models with ease.

FGI manages and processes geodetic information and develops methods to support the national spatial data infrastructure of Finland. It is also tasked with fostering the introduction of geodetic, geoinformatic, remote sensing, and navigation methods and equipment in the acquisition and processing of geospatial information. Furthermore, it conducts field tests for airborne mapping, and manages geospatial metrology and the nationwide coordinate systems.

Among its responsibilities are studying and researching:

  • changes in the Antarctic ice load that cause crustal deformations
  • horizontal and vertical crust movement; large-scale postglacial land uplift
  • metrological measurements, which include the maintenance and development of the national gravity network
  • the quality and accuracy of GPS measurements.

The explosion of satellite technology and increased demands on geospatial accuracy and exploitation have yielded numerous innovative measuring and mapping techniques, which in turn require more extensive, continuous R&D efforts for the analysis of remotely sensed data. Through its research, FGI discovers and employs the highest standards and resources to promote excellence in the industry.

To succeed in this area, it renews its equipment, processes, and production lines on a regular basis. After a thorough evaluation of the products available, FGI opted to update to SOCET SET and BINGO. SOCET SET, with its unequalled range of image imports and sensor models for multiple sources, provides an ideal resource for FGI’s extensive research. BINGO performs photogrammetric bundle adjustment with self-calibration, based on rigorous mathematics: GPS, IMU and ground measurements, all included in the rigorous adjustment process. Moreover, BINGO uses groundbreaking statistical techniques for quality control checks; delivers fast adjustment of huge blocks; and produces smooth, reliable triangulation for rapid product creation.

The investment in these innovative tools gives FGI a broader canvas from which to work, and ensures accurate, timely results — important elements as it creates and disseminates photogrammetric and metrological testing methodologies and quality control baselines for geospatial data and airborne imaging systems.

FGI has an extensive network of contacts both in Finland and abroad, and its stature as a renowned European research institute, which serves the government, business sector and academia, is rising.

The Finnish Geodetic Institute at a glance

Department of Geodesy and Geodynamics

Establishes and maintains Finnish reference frames, the national geodetic and gravity networks, and builds relationships with the corresponding frames and measurements of neighboring countries and international systems. In addition, the Department carries out research in geodynamics, gravity and metrology.

Department of Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry

Carries out research in photogrammetry, remote sensing, mapping accuracy and calibration of airborne sensors. The Sjökulla photogrammetric test field is used in research projects for the Department.

Department of Geoinformatics and Cartography

Develops and researches geoinformatics for acquisition, storage, and analysis; uses geospatial information in visualization and cartographic presentations.

The Department of Navigation and Positioning

Carries out research into satellite-based real-time positioning, map- and satellite-based navigation, kinematic geodesy and kinematic mapping methods.

Metsähovi research station

The Department of Geodesy and Geodynamics manages all geodetic work that takes place at the Metsähovi research station, which is available to each of the four departments at FGI. The research and testing facility has a geodetic station, gravity laboratory and affiliated research site at Sjökulla.

For more information, visit the FGI website: www.fgi.fi.

Bits and pieces | February 2007

Award-winning paper published

January 2007 issue of PE&RS

January 2007 issue of PE&RS

ASPRS has published the paper that won the BAE Systems Award, presented at the 2006 ASPRS Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada in May 2006. Winning author Pravara Thanapura received the award from BAE Systems’ Director of Marketing, Stewart Walker. The paper, Mapping Urban Land Cover Using QuickBird NDVI and GIS Spatial Modeling for Runoff Coefficient Determination, was co-authored by Pravara Thanapura, Dennis
L. Helder, Suzette Burckhard, Mary O’Neill, and Dwight Galster, all of South Dakota State University, and Eric Warmath of the Nevada Department of Transportation.

The paper appears in the January 2007 issue of Photogrammetric
Engineering & Remote Sensing
, vol. 73, issue 1, pgs.57 – 65.