Seeing a Better World™

Exploring Location, Time, and Context at DigitalGlobe Engage 2015

By Josh Winer | Published:

On Friday, March 20th, DigitalGlobe hosted its first User Conference in Palo Alto, California (That’s the Location, Time, and Context…more on this later). Industry leading experts in the fields of web-mapping, visualization, analytics, and data science kicked off the day with a networking breakfast in the Garden Court hotel. The collaborative atmosphere set the stage for the day as geo-geeks, data-nerds, and business-suits discussed how location has become the canvas on which they build their products, algorithms, and strategies. Engage was not only the name of the event, but the theme which resonated throughout the day.

Kevin Bullock provided a theme to ground the event around: Location, Time, and Context. Every day, these three pieces of meta-data are uniquely associated with everything we do. This struck a chord with an audience of people who collectively map, analyze, extract, and make big decisions based primarily on these three discrete data-points.

Morning sessions were focused on platforms, portals, and applications with – as expected – beautiful presentations from Mapbox, CartoDB, and PVM. A panel of experts fielded questions from the audience and moderator Marc Prioleau. Open source data, bespoke mapping platforms, and API accessibility were the topics of the day, instigating plenty of healthy discussion.

With data distribution and access covered, the conference shifted gears in the afternoon and focused on image mining, deep learning, analytics, and Geospatial Big Data. Dr. Walter Scott kicked things off by discussing the interaction between machine learning algorithms and human intervention – setting the stage for our afternoon partner presentations.

Exogenesis and Orbital Insight made “trillions” and “petabytes” seem small as they demonstrated how they are sifting through years of DigitalGlobe imagery to extract valuable insights. Heads were blown on more than one occasion as capabilities only dreamed of were live[!] demoed.

The final event of the day was a “big data” panel moderated by Dr. Shay Har-Noy. This panel offered interesting perspectives on questions such as: How big does your data need to be? How do we address privacy concerns? Is there a killer app? (Consensus was no, but one poll voter seemed to know something the rest of the room didn’t).

After a long day of insightful conversations and thought provoking presentations, perhaps it was the networking that was most valuable. Users across vertical markets and with divergent technical backgrounds immediately began riffing on new ways to bring Location, Time, and Context to use.  One thing is certain — we have only just scratched the surface in this space.

Special thanks to our presenters and panel members: Eric and Paul @Mapbox, Javier @CartoDB, Bret, Laura, Pat, and Sydney @PVM, Angelika @Stalman Consulting, Marc Prioleau @Prioleau Advisors, Sean @ExogenesisGEO, Jimi @OrbitalInsight, Alex @RSMetrics, Luke @DigitalGlobe.

Josh Winer is Commercial Sales Manager for the Americas at DigitalGlobe.

DigitalGlobe Powers Penn State University’s GEOINT Massive Open Online Course with Satellite Imagery and Human Geography Layers

By DigitalGlobe | Published:

DigitalGlobe recently partnered with Penn State University, the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and Esri for the capstone exercise of Geospatial Intelligence & the Geospatial Revolution MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) offered by Penn State. This exercise allowed students to access an interactive map with current satellite imagery and over 40 DigitalGlobe Landscape +Human map layers to evaluate possible locations for Ebola treatment clinics in Monrovia, Liberia, using Esri’s ArcGIS Online platform. The map was developed to realistically parallel the NGA Ebola Support page for which we provided satellite imagery and map layers to support the international community’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

NGA Director Robert Cardillo highlighted this collaboration in his remarks to the Esri Federal GIS Conference in Washington, DC, on Feb. 10, saying that he too participated in the MOOC.

The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is the largest outbreak of this disease in history. As of March 16, there were 24,597 cases of the disease (14,591 lab-confirmed cases) and 10,144 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Critical to effectively enabling first responders is for them to have a current and accurate representation of people and infrastructure in countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea.

The DigitalGlobe team has had the privilege to support those working to combat the threat of this disease. In partnership with NGA, DigitalGlobe provided high-resolution satellite imagery and map data layers to fill in data gaps to better understand the human and physical geography of the affected people and places. DigitalGlobe Landscape +Human datasets are analyst-ready map layers that serve as a “quick-start” for conducting geospatial analysis to aid in responding to this crisis. This map data can help decision-makers answer questions such as:

  • Where is an ideal place to locate an Ebola relief clinic?
  • What is the most efficient route to transport supplies to aid stations?
  • Where are the next cases of the outbreak most likely to occur?

Through the ArcGIS Online platform, DigitalGlobe satellite imagery of Monrovia, Liberia, is enhanced by dozens of information layers that describe the human geography of the area, including transportation infrastructure, medical facilities, commercial points of interest, religious institutions, educational institutions, hydrography, and other points of interest.

















Introducing the DigitalGlobe A3C Quality Framework

By Eric Callmann | Published:

DigitalGlobe pioneered the commercial remote sensing industry with the launch of Ikonos in 1999, the first sub-meter resolution commercial imaging satellite. Over the past 15 years, DigitalGlobe has set and evolved the industry standard for image quality, and today we introduce the A3C Quality Framework to help customers and end users select the right imagery for their needs.

Today, users are faced with a myriad of imagery options from different providers, each of whom offer different views of the earth with various levels of resolution, processing, and spectral content, making it difficult to select the right imagery for the customer need. DigitalGlobe is committed to enhancing our customers’ experience and success by ensuring that quality is at the core of the products and services we deliver.

A3C stands for Accuracy, Currency, Completeness, and Consistency, which are the four pillars of image quality that have the greatest impact on performance for most applications. The A3C Quality Framework will allow customers and the industry to have definitive metrics to compare and discuss the quality of imagery from diverse sources to select the product for the job.

The A3C Quality Framework for imagery selection is defined as:

Accuracy – Locational accuracy of imagery, information, and insight anchored to the surface of the earth

Currency –Temporally relevant content to match customer requirements for timeliness and persistence

Completeness – Imagery and information with required resolution, global coverage, and spatial richness

Consistency – Content that is uniform through time, location and appearance.

A3C Quality is the foundation for producing the data, information, and insight that DigitalGlobe provides to customers every day, and it is created through a series of four transformation steps.

Sourcing is the point of origin in the creation of critical information and relevant insight. It is the foundation for all subsequent transformations. If sourcing is not of the highest quality, it is not possible to correct for it later. DigitalGlobe, with its constellation of agile and sophisticated imaging satellites, provides the best source for global high resolution commercial imagery.


Capture is the process of recording data in a lasting and consistent form. Not only do we capture imagery with state-of-the-art sensors, with industry leading multi-spectral and super-spectral imagery, DigitalGlobe also created the industry standard for transforming satellite image coordinates to earth surface coordinates (Satellite RPC’s).


Enrichment is the process of creating decision-ready information. DigitalGlobe brings years of experience to enriching image quality through orthorectification and orthomosaicking, creating Detailed Elevation Models (DEMs), correcting for atmospheric conditions, and adding human geography and other information layers.


Analysis is the process of creating activity-based intelligence and predictive insights. DigitalGlobe’s analysts bring decades of experience and a unique toolset to creating customer solutions.


In subsequent blogs we will be discussing how the A3C Quality Framework helps our customers in specific industries make decisions with confidence.

Visit our A3C Quality Framework page to learn more.

Eric Callmann is Senior Director of Quality at DigitalGlobe.