The Path to Digital Asset Management for Geospatial Data

A few years ago, one of our customers in a state department of transportation came to us with a need that ignited a flashbulb moment. One that comes along only so often in a well-established, tenured industry.

This customer, who will remain nameless despite profuse thanks and begging, saw a change in the workflow for their MrSID files that meant they had to import, catalog and manage them more efficiently. They’d lost a few very expensive files, and wanted to learn more about digital asset management (aka DAM) processes and workflows (another area of expertise as our co-division Extensis has developed DAM solutions for more than two decades).

Many of the customer’s files (vector, raster, LiDAR) were all terribly expensive to procure, edit and produce a finished work, when compared to something like a photo from someone’s social media profile. Despite this great chasm in costs, it was the inverse with regards to sophistication of the processes used to manage these images – relatively low-cost digital files were many times very, very well managed by marketing teams as brand assets are their life-blood. Basically, the least expensive assets were managed better than the most expensive. Quite the oddity.

It was this insight that inspired our vision and roadmap for merging technology innovations from LizardTech and Extensis to optimize digital asset management for geospatial data. This vision came to fruition last week with the launch of Portfolio 2017.

So now that you know WHY we decided to push greater emphasis on geospatial assets to the forefront of DAM, let’s talk about WHAT we did.

  • New file formats cataloged – we needed to add support for new file formats / types that DAM didn’t touch. Many of the new files and extensions are just varieties of ‘normal’ files but have extensions for new asset types described above but are now open to ingesting / cataloging, which is always the first step in the DAM workflow. Examples include MrSID, JPEG2000, NITF, and Esri shapefiles.
  • GPS info – is now stripped out of the EXIF and XMP metadata attached to these images or files as they are being ingested. We have new fields of metadata for new formats and can now strip out positioning to automatically plot them on our new mapping functionality. More below.
  • Maps – by the very name, geospatial assets are georeferenced and therefore easily able to be plotted on a map. While many of you reading this, especially analysts and purveyors of this science for years, can look things up with lat./long. Coordinates, the rest of us cannot. We wanted to help the those previously without this ability find assets faster by using maps powered by our friends at Esri.
    • The above maps can be plotted, but georeferenced MrSID and JP2 files can also be overlaid and viewed up to full resolution on the map.
  • Full resolution pan and zoom viewer – we took on the challenge of creating an embedded viewer for geospatial files in either MrSID or JP2, which allows a much deeper and much better viewing experience. Previously, you’d be staring at terribly pixelated images rather than crisp imagery, so we solved that problem too.

Without giving away too much, we’re not done yet – there are more steps in the geospatial workflow we will be solving as we evolve. As you begin walking down the path with us, the ideas behind what we did might introduce more ideas and thoughts on things we can solve together. So give us your feedback!

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the new product offering, check out our Portfolio product page.

My colleague Jeff Young also sat down with GIS Café and provides added insights in the below video interview.

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