September 2006

Executive compass | September 2006

BAE Systems supports the mapping community in many different ways

Stewart Walker

The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), founded in 1934, is a scientific association serving thousands of professional members around the world. Its mission is to advance knowledge and improve understanding of mapping sciences to promote the responsible applications of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS) and supporting technologies. ASPRS conducts some of its U.S. activities on a regional basis, though its international dimension consists primarily of two large annual conferences, in addition to its manuals and journal. Somewhat to my surprise, I was elected President of the ASPRS Southwest U.S. Region, and fulfilled presidential duties from March 2005 to May 2006. The year was undoubtedly busy and, I hope, fruitful.

GXP applications engineer Brandon Gilhooly demonstrates SOCET SET stereo viewing capabilities when viewed on a Planar SD2320W stereoscopic display incorporating StereoMirror technology. This advanced 3-D stereoscopic monitor allows users to obtain clear, bright, high-quality stereo images for extracting 3-D data of buildings, bridges, mountains, valleys or other data.

GXP applications engineer Brandon Gilhooly demonstrates SOCET SET stereo viewing capabilities when viewed on a Planar SD2320W stereoscopic display incorporating StereoMirror technology. This advanced 3-D stereoscopic monitor allows users to obtain clear, bright, high-quality stereo images for extracting 3-D data of buildings, bridges, mountains, valleys or other data.

The Region ran several technical meetings, including two on hand-held GPS in Costa Mesa and West Los Angeles. There was an extremely successful technical meeting at the Remote Sensing Laboratory in Las Vegas in November 2005, at which several RSL speakers and other ASPRS members discussed their work, and the Region ran a “meet and greet” reception for members at the ESRI® International User Conference in San Diego in July 2005.

The ASPRS 2006 Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada this past May was a big event for BAE Systems. On May 3, 2006, the BAE Systems Award, which is in its second year, was presented to Pravara Thanapura of South Dakota State University for her paper, “Mapping urban land cover using QuickBird NDVI image and GIS spatial modeling for runoff coefficient determination.” Pravara was the principal author of this study, which used remotely sensed imagery to determine land use to prepare the necessary inputs to hydrological runoff models of small urban watersheds for storm drainage design and analysis. She had four co-authors from her own institution and one from the Nevada Department of Transportation, a BAE Systems SOCET SET® customer.

Stewart Walker and ASPRS President Karen Schuckman present the BAE Systems Award to Pravara Thanapura of South Dakota State University at the ASPRS 2006 Annual Conference in Reno in May.

Stewart Walker and ASPRS President Karen Schuckman present the BAE Systems Award to Pravara Thanapura of South Dakota State University at the ASPRS 2006 Annual Conference in Reno in May.

The formal presentation of the Award was conducted by ASPRS President Karen Schuckman and myself. The platform was shared with Stephen K. Robinson, a NASA astronaut, and Don A. Liddle, a NASA photogrammetrist, who gave a captivating presentation on the use of photogrammetry to measure on-orbit damage to the Space Shuttle’s Thermal Protection System. Stephen presented a certificate, signed by the Space Shuttle crew, to Warren McKean of Towill Inc, a BAE Systems customer who had used SOCET SET to make some of the measurements.

During a very well attended Dessert Reception at the Reno event, the 2006-07 officers of the ASPRS Southwest U.S. Region were inducted. Members also staffed an ASPRS booth during the ESRI Conference, the GXP International User Conference, and the Arizona Professional Land Surveyors Conference in Tucson. The Region ran joint sessions with the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Sciences at the latter’s annual meeting in Tucson in April.

Rick Racine, GXP Sales Manager, Federal Accounts, demonstrates how SOCET GXP software was used for Hurricane Katrina rescue and evacuation efforts last September.

Rick Racine, GXP Sales Manager, Federal Accounts, demonstrates how SOCET GXP software was used for Hurricane Katrina rescue and evacuation efforts last September.

These activities were all part of a concerted effort to rejuvenate regional activities in the Southwest U.S. after several years of atrophy. ASPRS recognized the efforts of the 2005 officers with official citations. Although my year of office ended in May, BAE Systems hopes to continue its support of professional activities in photogrammetry and remote sensing as much as possible. I have been involved in the planning of the next technical meeting, which will take place at Airborne 1, El Segundo, CA, on September 28, 2006. These contributions continue a tradition-in previous years many BAE Systems staff members have been involved in ASPRS and other professional photogrammetry and remote sensing organizations.

Stewart Walker
Stewart Walker
Director of Marketing
BAE Systems GXP

September 2006 | What's the buzz?

Airborne Digital Imagers: An Overview & Analysis

On behalf of BAE Systems, Stewart Walker attended the ISPRS Commission I Symposium, in Paris, France, in early July, and gave a joint paper with Gordon Petrie of the University of Glasgow-a regular contributor to the European journal GeoInformatics. The paper, “Airborne Digital Imagers: An Overview & Analysis” covered hardware, software and industry trends.

It was clear during the Symposium that the airborne digital imagers that have attracted so much attention over the last six years are now fully operational and selling well. There are perhaps 120 systems from the three best known suppliers in use, plus an even larger number of medium-format single- and multiple-camera systems of many different types from numerous suppliers. Experts are reviewing issues such as calibration, triangulation and systematic image distortions, but the critical trend is that we have moved forward from talking about the basics of the new systems to reviewing their performance and potential. The airborne digital imager, sensor or camera, is here to stay.

There is abundant evidence of superb image quality and the capability of the new systems to serve as the basis of workflows leading to timely and compliant deliverables. There is some suggestion that results equivalent to or better than those from scanned film can be obtained even with larger pixel sizes, though not yet enough examples to induce new guidelines or principles. Similarly, it is too early to judge the effect of the new imagery on the success of operations such as image matching. And of course return on investment is a complex, longer-term issue that will become clearer in the months to come.

Immediately after ISPRS Commission I, Walker took part in a meeting of the Geospatial Data Acquisition Technologies in Design and Construction Committee of the Transportation Research Board, held in Port Angeles, WA. The meeting addressed many topics, but the most captivating moments were spent participating in a discussion on the future of the aerial film camera.

The Committee has many members from various Departments of Transportation (DOTs), the State level bodies responsible for highways in the U.S., which have been prime movers in the development of U.S. photogrammetry over the years. Concern was expressed that the days of the aerial film camera are numbered. People are worried, for example, that it will soon become difficult to obtain the cameras themselves, or spare parts, or technicians with the skills to assemble and install them. They are worried that films, chemicals and papers may become unavailable.

The suppliers would say otherwise: film cameras are readily available for purchase, as are spares and supplies. It is true that users of the new digital cameras are allocating as much work as possible to them, so some film cameras are seeing less use than before, but it seems certain that our industry, with its customary ingenuity and search for efficiency, will use film and digital methods in the optimal combination for many years to come. We are in the midst of healthy debate, but the underlying process is evolutionary rather than cataclysmic.

GXP in the news | September 2006

BAE Systems software selected for large airport mapping project

GeoEye, the world’s largest commercial remote sensing imaging company, has selected BAE Systems’ SOCET SET and ClearFlite® software for a project that will create three-dimensional maps for hundreds of airports worldwide. Pilots and air traffic controllers will use the new maps to guide aircraft into and out of airports.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) awarded GeoEye a $3.7 million contract in June to complete the 3D mapping project, which involves the creation of airport mapping databases for 365 airports by June 2007. NGA and other international standards organizations define the database specifications for airport authorities. GeoEye will combine the 3D capability of its IKONOS® and OrbView-3 stereo imagery with BAE Systems’ SOCET SET and ClearFlite software to create the detailed maps.

See press release >>

Destinations | September 2006

GXP workshops

Earlier this year, the GXP team developed a series of informative workshops designed to provide insight into new functionality and tips on popular workflows for both SOCET SET and SOCET GXP. We are happy to report that the workshops have been an overwhelming success, and users have provided a wealth of valuable feedback. Consequently, we will continue to hold the workshops in all regions around the globe, as they are equally beneficial to users. Upcoming workshops will be held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Reston, Virginia and Tokyo, Japan. Topics include:

  • SOCET GXP for intelligence purposes using satellite imagery
  • Common Geopositioning Services (CGS) with SOCET GXP
  • SOCET SET in an end-to-end workflow
  • Displaying and viewing aerial and satellite imagery in 3D
  • Triangulation of aerial imagery
  • Automatic generation of digital terrain models (DTMs)
  • Automatic generation of orthophotos and mosaics
  • Using our 3D technology with ESRI’s ArcGIS® application

Check our website for details on other workshops coming soon.

September 2006 | SOCET GXP | Software update

Coming soon in SOCET GXP: SOCET GXP creates a direct connection to the ESRI Geodatabase

BAE Systems is excited to announce to users of ESRI products that SOCET GXP v2.3, scheduled for release in 2007, will contain a direct connection to the ESRI Geodatabase. The capability to store graphics and features with attributes in the Geodatabase, and to retrieve them for update or future analysis, creates benefits across the geospatial analysis and imagery analysis communities.

SOCET GXP v2.3 will include the following capabilities:

  • Connect to an established ESRI Geodatabase or SOCET SET Feature Database
  • Use query tool to pull information out of the database, and to populate or update attributes
  • Customize, organize and display annotation graphics, feature graphics and shapefiles
  • Sort layers of graphics for animation
  • Direct access to MIL-STD 2525 symbols and graphics

Download the pdf for more information >>

September 2006 | SOCET SET | Software update

SOCET SET v5.3.1

SOCET SET v5.3.1 has been released to IEC for inclusion in the 6.0 baseline. Significant items in the v5.3.1 release include import, export and processing of terrain precision, NITF and GeoTIFF header updates, Sensor Model Factory updates, triangulation rework for government sensors as well as triangulation outputs for shear analysis, USMSD, and export data compatible with subsequent FHE triangulation. In addition, orthomosaic processing has been improved to allow for pixel void fill from overlapping imagery. These enhancement details along with the multitude of SOCET SET v5.3.0 enhancements will be part of the IEC 6.0 baseline.

SOCET SET Mosaic Manager updated to provide increased performance for orthomosaic production.

The GXP product focus on productivity and accuracy are essential to help shorten the timelines between image acquisition and product generation. The enhanced SOCET SET Mosaic Manager is one example of timelines being reduced without additional software cost and without sacrificing quality or accuracy of the final orthomosaic product.

The Mosaic Manager is an optional module available in SOCET SET, which is licensed and sold as SOCET SET Ortho. The Mosaic Manager application creates large area coverage orthomosaics, orthomosaic sheets or tiles, or individual orthophotos using input georeferenced imagery and terrain data. In addition to creating a nearly seamless output product, there are processing options for automatic seamline generation, seamline feathering and image balancing.

In conjunction with enhancements to the Mosaic Manager application, a new licensing system allows for the production of mosaics on multiple processors.
Significant improvements in processing mosaics can be achieved by distributing the processing across multiple CPUs. Upgrading from SOCET SET v5.2 to v5.3 provides productivity improvements of up to 40% without additional software cost.

For more information on Mosaic Manager, view or download the white paper.

September 2006 | Tips and tricks

Working with the Graphics Manager in SOCET GXP®

When working with several graphics of the same type, you can create multiple instances of the graphics in the Multiport, the main viewing and work space in SOCET GXP. You can also change a common property about the graphic that is reflected dynamically in each of the selected graphics of the same type. The following tips are helpful in accomplishing this task.


Double-click to select an icon from the Multiport Annotation toolbar to create multiple instances of the annotation in a Multiport. Similarly, in the Toolbox tab of the Graphics Manager, double-click on icons to create multiple instances of the annotations simultaneously in the Multiport.


To change the graphic properties for a group of selected graphics of the same type, use the Graphic Format toolbar.


  1. Start SOCET GXP, and load an image into the Workspace Manager.
  2. Open the image into a Multiport window.
  3. From the Annotation toolbar, select the Rectangle icon.
    Annotation Toolbar

    Annotation Toolbar

  4. Click and drag a rectangle in the Multiport panel (notice system cursor changes back to select mode after completion of single graphic drawn).
  5. Double-click to select the Rectangle icon.
  6. Click and drag several rectangles in the Multiport panel (notice system cursor remains in draw mode).
  7. Press the Esc key to set system cursor back to select mode.
  8. Press and hold the Ctrl key and mouse button; click to select all rectangles drawn (or press Ctrl+A).
  9. From the Graphics Format toolbar, select the Fill Color icon and choose a color to fill all rectangles selected.
    Graphics Format Toolbar

    Graphics Format Toolbar

    Note: If you select multiple graphics of the same type, and right-click for the context menu properties option, the properties option is disabled. The properties option is only available for a single graphic change.

Research and development | September 2006

Next Generation Automatic Terrain Extraction (NGATE)

Next Generation Automatic Terrain Extraction (NGATE)

Next Generation Automatic Terrain Extraction (NGATE)

With MSN® Virtual Earth and Google Earth, 3D geospatial data is finding its way into daily life. A digital terrain model (DTM) is one of the most important 3D geospatial data types. One of the key automation technologies in softcopy photogrammetry is to generate a DTM automatically. The most reliable and widely used algorithm for DTM generation is normalized image correlation. However, this algorithm has limitations when dealing with elevation discontinuities such as building edges, because it is based on the assumption that elevation within a window hardly changes.

NGATE, a remarkable innovation invented by GXP’s Dr. Bingcai Zhang, provides automatic generation of DEMs and DSMs and, as far as we can judge from the experiments we have conducted to date, far outperforms ATE. The algorithms behind the NGATE technology are ingenious. NGATE uses both image correlation and edge matching. The edge matching algorithm can deal with building edges or elevation discontinuities well. The results from image correlation are used to constrain and guide the edge matching process. At the same time, the results from edge matching are used to assist image correlation.

We applied NGATE on 66 images (GSD = 0.14 feet = 1.68 inches = 4.3 cm) acquired with a Microsoft UltraCam-D digital airborne camera over an urban area. The resulting DTM with 21 million 3D points from NGATE has the following characteristics:

  • On natural terrain, the NGATE DTM has an RMS (root mean square) error of 0.4 feet in height
  • On streets and parking lots, NGATE DTM has an RMS error of 0.3 feet
  • On center points of flat roof buildings, NGATE DTM has an RMS error of 0.5 feet
  • On corner points of flat roof buildings, NGATE can capture 94% of corners with an RMS error of 0.9 feet
  • On center points, edge points, corner points, and ground points of complex buildings, NGATE DTM has an RMS error of 0.9 feet. 90% of these points have an RMS error of 0.4 feet
  • Building edges are well preserved
  • Streets are precisely modeled
  • Positions and shapes of residential houses are accurately depicted

The above results must be considered in perspective. No editing was conducted prior to the computation of the RMS values. Owing to the design of the flight mission, the parallactic angles subtended by many of the points were small, i.e., not all of the base-height ratios were optimal. And the RMS of 0.9 feet at building corners is impressive given that those are the most challenging points for traditional image matching.

DTMs from NGATE are very dense and accurate — similar to LIDAR data. We have used LIDAR data to extract 3D buildings with encouraging results and we expect that we may achieve similar success with DTM from NGATE as a part of our ongoing research.

Customer and partner spotlight | September 2006

Romans seek assistance in recording Empire

A Roman legionnaire takes great interest in the use of digital photogrammetry as an aid to heritage documentation, ably guided by GXP customer Mick Clowes.

A Roman legionnaire takes great interest in the use of digital photogrammetry as an aid to heritage documentation, ably guided by GXP customer Mick Clowes.

English Heritage held its annual Festival of History show at Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire, England in August 2006. The show is the premier historical event in the UK. Festival attendees experienced over 2,000 years of history including knights jousting, Vikings rampaging, re-enactments from various periods and a First World War aerial dogfight. Teams from English Heritage demonstrated their work in support of the organization’s needs. The Metric Survey Team from the Research Department uses SOCET SET to carry out surveys of historic properties and ancient monuments through close-range and aerial techniques. A stereo projector system adjacent to the laptop is used to project the left and right-hand images onto a high reflectance screen, enabling a large audience to enjoy stereoscopic viewing through simple spectacles.


Bits and pieces | September 2006

GXP appoints new sales manager for North America region

GXP has announced the appointment of Drew Fisher to the position of commercial sales manager for North America, representing the company’s GXP software products. Fisher replaces John Parker, who held the position previously, and will be based in our Tampa, Florida office.

Drew has gained considerable knowledge of the commercial geospatial hardware, software and imagery markets in the U.S. and Canada over the past 12 years through his employment with Applanix Corporation, Emerge, Space Imaging/EOSAT, and ERM South, Inc. Moreover, his experience spans many disciplines, including federal, state and local government agencies, utilities, telecommunications, environmental sciences and forestry.

He holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s of science in geography and environmental planning from Towson State University. Fisher joined the GXP team on August 28.

Bits and pieces | September 2006

Scott Miller named Engineering Fellow

Scott Miller

Scott Miller

Many readers will remember Scott Miller from his association with SOCET SET since the very early days, perhaps through his highly proficient, yet charismatic and practical, benchmarks, technical support and User Conference presentations. We are delighted that Scott has been named an Engineering Fellow at BAE Systems National Security Solutions for his nationally recognized expertise in photogrammetry and its applications. This is a great honor within the BAE Systems community–there are 59 Fellows amongst the 19,000 employees in the Electronics & Integrated Solutions Operating Group that constitutes the largest part of the company’s activities based in North America.

Scott received a B.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin and a M.S. in photogrammetry from Purdue University. After his tenure with the Defense Mapping Agency (now known as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency), he has had an impressive career at BAE Systems and its predecessor companies, including its Helava Associates subsidiary and LH Systems joint venture.

For over 25 years, Scott has been a key figure in advancing BAE Systems’ technical programs. In the 1980s, he developed the Automatic Terrain Extraction capability for the Defense Mapping Agency Data Extraction Segment, an important discriminator for BAE Systems which resulted in a significant program win that fueled BAE Systems’ growth in image and photogrammetric processing systems.

Following the development and deployment of the system, Scott led the successful competition for the Digital Stereo Photogrammetric Workstation. That project launched the development of the commercial photogrammetric software package, SOCET SET. As chief engineer for SOCET SET, Scott added capabilities into the software that allowed BAE Systems to sell the product worldwide for commercial applications. Today SOCET SET is established as the premier software package in photogrammetric mapping.

Scott has published several papers in automated photogrammetry and cartography. He is co-author of the Photogrammetric Products chapter in the Fifth Edition of the ASPRS Manual of Photogrammetry, and he was co-editor of a special issue of the ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing to commemorate the life of Uki Helava. Currently, Scott is chief engineer for GXP’s sister business area, Geospatial Intelligence Technologies. Some of the work going on there can be reviewed at Scott is recognized as an expert in the field of photogrammetry within BAE Systems, the industry, the academic world and our customer community.