Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

A few weeks ago I was looking in Amazon for books that dealt with photogrammetry. During my search some associated books showed up. After taking a look at the table of content on two that called my attention, I decided to go with both, not for depth in the subject, but to get a broad look at GIS.

One of the books I selected is titled Geographic Information Systems – An Introduction by Tor Bernhardsen published by Wiley in 2002. In chapter 10 Data Collection II, section 10.3 Photogrammetry Mapping provides a simple and high level description of the basics in the subject. To be honest, you can get a more up to date and extensive description in Wikipedia.

The reason I decided to go with this book was the fact that a couple decades ago, I worked in the design and implementation of a system that generates nautical charts on demand. The project did not entailed photogrammetry, but it collected raw data from NOAA keeping up to date several distributed locations in which customers could walk in and request a complete and up to date navigational chart.

You might think that printed navigational charts are a thing of the past. That is not the case and in the foreseeable future there is no technology that could replace them. Allow me to explain. Today most people all over the world own a smart phone. Most (never say all) of them have access to some type of digital map that uses the current location from a set of satellites. I am not going to get into the description of how GPS and competitors work, but as have been shown in the past, it is possible to disrupt such signals and render the application useless. Just imagine a cargo ship sailing into NY without the assistance of a charge to determine where the vessel is located. Depending on weather conditions and radio signals (which can also be tampered with), sailors need to make use of a sextant (weather permitting) and some up to date tables, to determine their approximate location. I do know about that because I studied navigation some time ago.

After receiving the book, I read the section of interest to me in chapter 10 and then read the entire book. The book was translated into English and as you read it, you can tell that the syntax of sentences is on occasions, not the way native speakers would write. I am not a native English speaker but have lived in the USA for more than 40 years and studied in K-12 American school in which most teachers and subjects were taught in English.

The book covers may aspects specific to the implementation of GIS from the point of view of projects that wish to introduce such technology into organizations. Today some of the issue might have been resolved by the amount of readily available images offered by different companies (i.e., Google). Not only that, but additional information accessible by easy to use APIs should simplify the development of specific GIS products based on COTS (Commercial of the Shelf) data and systems. A few years ago I experimented with a Google Maps API to get location coordinates for customer addresses in order to get nearby locations of people who you know in the area where you would be visiting. For example, you plan a trip to Panama City, FL and while you are there, the weather does not cooperate with outdoor activities. You would like to see if friends or acquaintances in the area are available for some indoor activities.

As usual, having high technical expertise is important, but knowing how to manage projects and people is very important for success. I have been developing software most of my life from the technical and managerial sides. Learning about what is needed in a GIS project is quite interesting. Some of the challenges are quite similar to software development. I would assume that the essence of management is quite similar for most (never say all) disciplines.

In conclusion, I found the book quite interesting. If you are interested in photogrammetry and GIS I would not recommend the book because it is relatively old. There are more up to date books that deal with these two subjects. That said, I enjoyed reading it and as usual I have refreshed and learned a thing or two.

If you have comments or questions, please do not hesitate and spend a couple minutes posting it in the area reserved at the end of this post. I will respond as soon as possible.



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