United States Army Corps of Engineers

United States Army Corps of Engineers

Creates Comprehensive Image Distribution System


About United States Army Corps of Engineers

The Geospatial Unit of the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Albuquerque District maintains more than 12,000 raster and image files covering New Mexico, southeast Colorado, and parts of southwest Texas. 195,000 square miles in all. The imagery is used daily by USACE scientists, engineers, and other personnel in a custom Enterprise GIS viewer and LAN environment. The USACE builds facilities for the Army and Air Force, provides flood protection, supplies public recreation, protects and restores wetlands and other natural resources, and supports other government agencies with engineering, contracting, and project management services.

United States Army Corps of Engineers

Where They Started

Much of USACE’s imagery is in the MrSID format, the industry standard for compressed imagery. It includes USGS Digital Raster Graphic hill shade and flat topographic sets, black and white DOQQs, historic photography, and recent orthophotography. The sets include edge-matched tiles and multi-gigabyte mosaics.

The Geospatial Unit built its current image viewer using Geocortex Essentials version 3.7 designed for ArcGIS Server. This system enables the Geospatial Unit to take advantage of the increasing availability of cloud-cached imagery offered by third-party providers such as Esri Online and Microsoft’s Bing Maps.

The foundation of the Geospatial Unit’s image distribution workflow, however, has always been to serve the thousands of in-house raster files that make up the enterprise’s image libraries.

Their Goals

Create a comprehensive distribution environment for imagery

Reproject images on the fly

Integrate a flexible system that interoperates with other business systems

The Solution:

The Geospatial Unit enlisted Express Server image serving software in conjunction with a Geocortex IMF web GIS viewer running on top of ArcIMS to deliver its thousands of image files. When they switched to ArcGIS and Essentials, they also upgraded their Express Server, which added support for reprojecting images “on the fly” to coordinate reference systems used most prevalently in the industry.

A hurdle arose in the new workflow surrounding the Web Mercator projection, a coordinate reference system widely used in cloud service repositories that has not been standardized, which prevented Express Server from properly reprojecting imagery on the fly for use with Esri ArcGIS Online and Microsoft’s Bing Maps. Working with Peterson and his team, Extensis engineers recreated a coordinate reference system script for the Web Mercator projection that resolved the incompatibilities. Says Peterson, “Express Server is interoperable with both ArcIMS and ArcGIS Server as well as both GeoCortex IMF and Essentials front-end products and proved to be an indispensable component in a solution made up of software products from multiple providers.”

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The Result

  • The Albuquerque District’s Geospatial Unit is serving both in-house image holdings and cloud-based imagery to its USACE-wide audience
  • All of the image holdings in the enterprise system reproject on the fly which eliminates having to reprocess existing image libraries
  • The system remained flexible as Express Server operated both with the new back end (ArcGIS Server) and with the new web application software (Geo-cortex Essentials)
“Express Server enables us to serve all of our MrSID-formatted data out of the same enterprise web map service as those coming from cloud services, making for a comprehensive distribution environment.”

John Peterson
Geospatial Unit Leader | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Albuquerque District | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Next Steps

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