I am delighted to see how remote sensing technology has evolved over the years to assist professionals in many disciplines. This technology had its origin in land-based applications but is now widely utilised in several diverse disciplines. Why this change? I think it’s because an average user of spatial information/GIS can now easily integrate often complex and scientific Remote Sensing tools into their spatial/GIS workflow. Remote Sensing education and teaching has played a vital role in this transformation. University academic programs provide the benefit of Remote Sensing technology by offering this subject in a variety of disciplines such as urban and transportation planning, agriculture and forestry, public health, social and environmental sciences and many more. Modern day software tools have assisted users in integrating the scientific information derived from Remote Sensing into their own disciplines, in their own ways.
Right now we all appreciate the value of GIS. For those of us involved in early GIS teaching and research (this scribe happens to be one of them), GIS was not always as mainstream back then as it is now. The seeds of growth were there, but it would have taken a fair bit of imagination to think this type of technology would be in use today in the form we know now. I don’t believe this transformation has happened by accident though; we require people with passion and vision to drive innovation. I believe this is exactly what has happened over the years.
One person has made a significant change in the way the spatial industry has evolved over the years. When I used PC ARC/INFO in 1990 there was great excitement when I printed a map using the ArcPLOT tool. Today, we have a true Enterprise GIS and to catch up with times, GIS in the Cloud. I am sure many would agree that Jack Dangermond and Esri should be complemented for being such a visionary in their own right and raising the profile of teaching of all things Spatial.
As a Remote Sensing and Imagery professional I have watched how GIS technology has evolved over the years. What I am really pleased about is how Esri is framing the view that GIS is not complete without Remote Sensing and imagery being part of the picture. Esri has been instrumental in adding Remote Sensing and Imagery analysis functionality to the ArcGIS product lines, with the latest release of ArcGIS 10.1 featuring enhanced image processing capabilities. The idea is simple: to get a better understanding of the world through remote sensing and demonstrate how it can aid in geographic analysis and informed decision-making. Satellite and airborne imagery, once considered a simple backdrop for mapping, is now readily available from ArcGIS Online and a great source of valuable content for ArcGIS.
There is now even better news for the GIS community who would like to get involved with advanced Remote Sensing and Image analysis capability. ArcGIS is now a trusted and reliable bridge for those individuals and organisations wanting to have within their umbrella a suite of Geospatial technology encompassing the best of the Raster and the Vector world.
Esri has been involved in close partnership with a company called Exelis Visual Information Solutions (VIS), a company well known for its ENVI line of products. ENVI has been the software of choice for high-end imagery Analyst and Remote Sensing users and is seen as a trusted scientific, robust and reliable product. The exciting thing about this partnership is that ENVI technology is now directly available to ArcGIS users and can now be seamlessly utilised, either in the ArcGIS desktop/server or in the cloud environment. ArcGIS users will now be able to carry out their Image Analysis task in the ArcGIS environment if they chose to do so; thus eliminating any need to move back and forth between software and packages. I think this is a very neat solution for universities and research institutions that specialise in teaching both GIS and Advanced Remote Sensing. Integrating ENVI and ArcGIS would allow students and researchers to access ENVI’s advanced image analysis tools directly from ArcGIS for Desktop or Server. On the other hand, Image Analysis results obtained using ENVI can be added to ArcGIS. So this integration truly works both ways. The ENVI suite consists of ENVI, IDL, ENVI LiDAR for Desktop users and ENVI for ArcGIS Server for those wanting to deploy ENVI functionality in the Cloud. I think students could truly benefit from these integrated and powerful technologies. So why not contact Esri Australia and find out the possibility of adding this powerful set of Remote Sensing tools and significantly enhance your GIS capability for your teaching and research? I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Until next time,
Dr Dipak Paudyal
Remote Sensing & Imagery, Esri Australia