ERDAS software performs NITF translation

Imagery software vendor ERDAS Inc. earlier this month released an application that lets imagery analysts and electronic map makers using the latest version of the company's flagship product translate their files to and from a digital imagery standard used by government agencies and other organizations.

Created with input from the Defense Department, the National Imagery Transmission Format (NITF) defines a standard way for different systems to handle digital imagery, annotations to that imagery and related data.

Version 2.0 of ERDAS' NITF module will work with Version 8.3 of ERDAS's Imagine software, which is used by a host of public and private organizations to store, display and manipulate aerial and satellite imagery. The new release of the module will make it possible for Imagine users to store imagery data from different systems in a common system and to exchange data with other systems.

Although the NITF standard is widely used within DOD and is gaining acceptance with civilian agencies as well as standards organizations, it is only one format that might be used by imagery analysts or makers of electronic maps who rely on imagery software— hence the need for a module capable of translating data to and from NITF.

"The [geographic information systems] community is seeing an increased need for imagery-related capabilities, which naturally leads to an increase in the diversity of systems and file structures," said ERDAS president Lawrie E. Jordan III in a prepared statement. "We realize that in the future, our customers will have a greater need to exchange data between systems [that] must still be able to retain their own individual characteristics and capabilities. Imagine NITF 2.0 allows our customers to achieve this goal."

Although the commercial sector is using airplanes and private satellites for collecting and selling imagery on its own, the federal government is still the major supplier of its own imagery, and much of that imagery is stored and processed using the NITF standard.

News of the NITF product's release for Imagine 8.3 is expected to be welcome among federal users of imagery. ERDAS already has a huge foothold in the government with its flagship Imagine product.

DOD is especially a big Imagine user, but other agencies have embraced it as well. For example, at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., NASA staff members and contractors are using Imagine to monitor infrastructure and conditions around the center, which is close to the waterfront.

"You can take vegetation and calculate how much wetlands you have," said Jay Waravdekar, an engineer and NASA contractor. "We use it for environmental [purposes]." Much of the imagery the center uses for that monitoring comes from commercial sources, Waravdekar said.

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