When people think about managing data, I can’t imagine anything as intimidating to an IT person as imagery data. Why you may ask? Because the file size is large, very large, the formats can be unfamiliar, and after you’ve acquired it, people want access to it immediately. Imagery data can be so large in fact, that the first time I heard people regularly using the word ‘Terabyte’ was in conjunction with imagery data, and quickly it moved to ‘Petabytes’. Remotely sensed data originates from many different types of sensors…multiple countries have their own satellites, aircraft equipped with cameras, drones, weather balloons, go pros…the list goes on and on. In addition, you have all the different types of data i.e. Optical, Multispectral, Radar, Lidar. And to add to that, you end up with all the different formats from geoTIF, NITF, JP2, JPEG, MrSID… The possibilities are endless for the volume, variety and velocity of data that could be coming into a system.
For an IT person, figuring out the best method to store the data is only the first part of the problem, because as soon as you have it, people want it. And they want more than one type of data, they want multiple pieces of imagery data from different formats captured with different sensors taken at different times. There are many challenges. Efficiently managing, processing and providing suitable access to the data is what the industry affectionately refers to as a ‘big data’ challenge.
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