Five years ago, I observed a transformation taking place in the GIS community. Image analysts who traditionally used electronic light tables for analyzing satellite and aerial images were starting to ask for tools to extract accurate geospatial information, while photogrammetrists, cartographers, and geospatial production teams were looking to add image-analysis tools, increase ease-of-use for rigorous processing tasks, and improve productivity.
At that time, BAE Systems offered two distinct software products — the VITec® electronic light table (VITec ELT), used for image viewing, analysis, and exploitation, and SOCET SET®, the versatile photogrammetry suite for precision 3-D mapping, feature collection, and digital terrain generation. In the late 1990s, as technology became more accessible, many GIS software products flooded the market, creating an abundance of specialized, task-based tools.
After working with many VITec ELT and SOCET SET users, it became apparent that an ideal solution would consist of a single application to capture the functionality required for both disciplines. Since the R&D, engineering, and product implementation teams for VITec ELT and SOCET SET operate under the same business within BAE Systems, it made sense to pool future development efforts to one scalable, integrated application that would be accessible to an expanding user base. In addition, some of BAE Systems’ internal programs use the application, which provides a built-in test-bed during product development. Guided by market demand and an eye toward implementing new technology — such as smart algorithms to speed processing times and reduce workflows — BAE Systems began rapid software development on a new product.
In October 2004, SOCET GXP®, the next-generation image analysis and geospatial production application made its debut. The plan was to deliver the strengths of VITec ELT and SOCET SET in one cohesive package. With each new release, we have moved closer to the goal of incorporating a wide range of functionality in a single product.
SOCET GXP v3.0, scheduled for public distribution later this month, combines the disciplines of image analysis and geospatial analysis in one application — we call this eXtreme Analysis™. eXtreme Analysis offers a combination of automated tools for image and geospatial analysis in a single product to facilitate collaboration and interoperability among users and decision-makers at all levels. These convenient tools, along with streamlined workflows, assist in organizing the vast resources needed for multiple projects, from orthorectification, triangulation, creating 3-D image maps and terrain models, to populating and accessing shared geospatial databases. Rigorous sensor modeling, a hallmark of the SOCET SET application, is now available in SOCET GXP as well, which makes it possible for users to combine imagery from several sensors — commercial, defense, airborne, and customer-defined plug-in sensor models — in one project. And with the implementation of a brand new GUI, most tasks are initiated with a few mouse-clicks. This is a major differentiator for SOCET GXP; the workspace can be organized according to individual or organizational preferences for maximum ease of use.
When we demonstrated SOCET GXP v3.0 technology in April at our annual user’s conference, customers were very impressed. Working directly with our core customers in a collaborative manner helps us understand how the integration of image analysis and geospatial analysis is making a positive impact on reducing production timelines, and offers insight into areas of improvement for future releases. Our ultimate goal is to make SOCET GXP the best software available for image analysis, geospatial production, and mapping for customers worldwide.
Vice president, sales and marketing