Hosted satellite imagery service for govt opens

Shared services model offered by two Wellington companies

Wellington GIS specialist e-spatial and valuation and property information company Quotable Value are setting up a hosted service for satellite imagery for central and local government.

The service addresses the storage and infrastructure needs for the multi-million dollar KiwImage project, a joint government project which aims to provide government agencies with high-resolution Digital Globe satellite imagery of the New Zealand mainland, off-shore islands, the Ross Dependency (an area of Antarctica claimed by New Zealand) and selected South West Pacific Islands. The New Zealand Defence Force acts as data custodian for the KiwImage imagery, according to the Geospatial Information Advisory Group’s website.

KiwImage provides half-meter resolution imagery, says e-spatial CIO Matti Seikkula. It is similar to central city images found in Google Earth and Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, but KiwImage covers all land mass, he says.

“This encompasses 10-plus TB of imagery, which is why we [are opening] up a service to access it,” he says.

Rather than maintaining this huge dataset themselves, organisations can access it directly from e-spatial’s and QV’s service for an annual license fee, says Seikkula.

The two companies saw a business opportunity in offering a shared services model to government agencies. Many organisations that would like to access the KiwImage imagery would not be able to do so if they had to support the required infrastructure, software and GIS expertise themselves, says QV’s general manager of data services, Bryce Johnson.

“It is not necessary for everybody to own their own bit of infrastructure if somebody can serve this up at a reasonable price,” he says.

QV and e-spatial will take care of the download process, put the information on a server – using a tool called Image Web Server – and deliver the imagery as a web service, says Johnson. Organisations can then use their own applications to call the web service and display the imagery within their existing applications, he says. The hosted service, called VueNZ, will also handle and keep secure up to 50GB of the customer’s own imagery, he says.

The annual fee for access to KiwImage for all of New Zealand, plus the 50GB, is $70,000, says Johnson.

The service caters for four different types of data feeds: ECWP, ImageX, ArcXML and WMS (Web mapping Service), which makes it useable for many different applications.

“We are already feeding data via WMS on top of Virtual Earth and Google Earth to show how good some of the data can look even in more remote areas,” says Seikkula.

E-spatial, an integration and data analysis company specialising in geospatial technology, brings the GIS expertise to the table, while QV’s expertise lies in the operational field, understanding property data and running high-availability services online, says Johnson.

Among the first customers are Australian property information provider RP Data and New Zealand Transport Agency.

A demo-site for the service will be live in late September, says Johnson.

The companies are also launching an aerial imagery service for the commercial sector, he says.

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Tags e-spatialsatellite imagerykiwimage

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