The Saskatchewan Geospatial
Imagery Collaborative FlySask2 Portal

CubeWerx Managed Services

Case Study

The SGIC describes their collaborative as “a partnership of organizations sharing knowledge and costs relating to acquisition and use of remotely sensed imagery for mutual and public benefit.” It was formed in 2006 by 29 member organizations. Current membership has increased to nearly 40 groups. Members include crown corporations, provincial, federal and municipal agencies, industry and nonprofits, as well as the province’s two universities. The Saskatchewan Research Council serves as administrators for the collaborative.

The Project

The initial goal of the project was to acquire and publish high-resolution imagery covering the entire province for the members’ use, as well as lower-resolution data that would be available for public consumption. Data currently available to members includes:

  • 10 centimeter aerial images for selected areas
  • 20-30 centimeter aerial data for major metropolitan areas
  • 60 centimeter aerial orthophotos for the entire province
  • 2.5 meter SPOT satellite imagery for the entire province

Data available to the general public as well as SGIC members includes 10 meter satellite imagery for the entire province as well as a variety of vector layers as useful context information. Data volume for imagery collected to date sits at about 10 terabytes.

The Solution

The imagery storage and access system, Flysask, is now in its second generation. It is hosted on Amazon’s AWS architecture and managed using the CubeWerx Stratos geospatial platform.

Data is delivered to CubeWerx on portable hard drives or directly uploaded to cloud storage and processed by Stratos into image pyramids. Since there are frequent updates to the data layers, it is important that the software be capable of rapid updates when new data arrives without any downtime for the services. Stratos provides this capability with it’s SmartTiles™ feature, which automatically maintains a registry of all images involved in a mosaic and the tiles affected by each image. When updates occur, only those map tiles affected by the update are altered.

The Stratos platform provides access to the data through various Web services, including OpenGIS® Web Map Service, Web Map Tile Service, as well as commercial APIs such as Google Maps. Source data is also available in its native format, either through direct download, or through a “clip and ship” interface using the OpenGIS Web Coverage Service.

The value of provider-managed services

Imagery collaboratives as an emerging business model in the geospatial market are a compelling and effective means for many small to medium-sized groups to reap the benefits of Big Data geospatial intelligence while spreading the cost and risk widely. Cloud computing and provider-managed services are a natural fit with this model. They supply high-performance, reliable and secure services at a fraction of the cost of in-house implementations, with none of the infrastructure overhead or maintenance. Services are future-proofed, since cloud providers are constantly upgrading their hardware and software solutions at no cost or effort to the collaborative.