Geospatial Round-up – October/November 2018

November 19th, 2018, Published in Articles: PositionIT

US passes geospatial data act

The US Congress has passed the Geospatial Data Act (GDA) of 2018 as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. It establishes the Federal Geographic Data Committee to lead the development, implementation, and review of policies, practices, and standards relating to geospatial data; as well as the National Geospatial Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations to the committee. It also defines the National Spatial Data Infrastructure to ensure that geospatial data from multiple sources is available and integrated. The committee will operate GeoPlatform, an electronic service that provides access to geospatial data and metadata for geospatial data. Agencies whose functions involve geospatial data are also to implement a strategy for advancing geographic information and related geospatial data activities appropriate to their mission in support of the strategic plan for the infrastructure.

Forest development programme launched

The government of Ethiopia has launched its ten-year national forest development programme. The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change launched the programme in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the governments of Sweden and Norway. Speaking on the occasion, Gemedo Dalle, Minister of MoEFCC said deforestation and land degradation must be reversed if Ethiopia is to meet its development goals. The programme will help Ethiopia increase its forest coverage and contribute to national green growth. It will also help create 600 000 new jobs through business development, investment, conservation approaches and sustainable participatory forest management. Conservation and sustainable use of forest resources make considerable contribution to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG2030).

Autonomous mining equipment guidelines

The Global Mining Guidelines Group’s (GMG) Autonomous Mining Working Group is creating a new guideline to clarify functional safety requirements for autonomous mining equipment as the industry embraces automation. This new project aims to provide a unified industry understanding of the functional safety requirements for mobile autonomous equipment. This understanding involves not only clearly defining what functional safety is, but also identifying who is responsible for it, creating a collective view of minimum requirements and presenting general guidance on testing and verifying it. The guideline will develop a process to follow for functional safety management, document existing relevant standards and consider their constraints, present use cases, share lessons learnt, and clarify who owns, builds and is accountable for functional safety management planning.

In-image object detection

Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, has introduced Visual Search that allows users to search within an image. In the Detail View of an image search, users will now see a magnifying glass symbol in the top left of the image, called the visual search button. Clicking the visual search button displays a visual search box on the image. This box can be clicked and dragged to adjust it to cover just the object of interest within the image. Each time the visual search box is adjust, the search engine instantly runs a visual search using the selected portion of the image as the query. This functionality is available on computers and mobile devices, or the Bing mobile app. Developers can also build visual search into their app using Bing APIs.

Ocean satellite takes shape

From November 2020, Sentinel-6A will be the first of two satellites to continue collecting satellite-based measurements of ocean surfaces, a task that began in 1992. Sentinel-6B is expected to follow in 2025. Sentinel-6 is a mission to carry out high-precision measurements of ocean surface topography. The satellite will measure its distance to the ocean surface with an accuracy of a few centimetres and, over a mission lasting up to seven years, use this data to map it, repeating the cycle every ten days. It will document changes in sea-surface height, record and analyse variations in sea levels and observe ocean currents. The measurements made are vital for modelling the oceans and predicting rises in sea levels.

Lidar helps in monument discovery

Two Neolithic cursus monuments were recently discovered near Clifton Reynes and Milton Keynes in England. These long rectangles are believed to be Neolithic cursus monuments, one of the oldest monument types in England, usually dating from between 3600 and 3000 BC. The rectangular feature was recently mapped as part of a project funded by Historic England to record all archaeology from aerial photographs and airborne laser scanning (lidar) in North Bedfordshire. Until this year, the enclosure has lain hidden beneath a medieval bank known as a headland, that is being gradually ploughed away. Most of the 100 plus cursus monuments known in England were discovered through aerial survey. Their exact function remains a mystery, but they are generally thought of as enclosed paths or processional ways, or to have served to demarcate different landscape zones.

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