A different perspective: How zoom-level data is advancing vertical insights

Imagine you’re in outer space looking down. Below you are great expanses of green and blue, representing the land and sea. Zoom in and you begin so see the detail in the topography—mountains, rivers, plains.

Mon Mar 26 10:59:00 EDT 2018

Imagine you’re in outer space looking down. Below you are great expanses of green and blue, representing the land and sea. Zoom in and you begin so see the detail in the topography—mountains, rivers, plains. Zoom in further and cities and country sides are visible. Zoom in once more and you see livestock in the fields, cars stopped at traffic lights, and people entering and exiting buildings.

Map of the World

Zoom level image of Earth.

At each point in this journey, we view the world at different levels of granularity. At moments we only see the world as a great expanse, and at other moments we see the details in a particular area of interest.

Similarly, organizations often need to view data at varying levels of detail. Depending on the business requirement, an organization may need to analyze highly detailed data within the cities, a little less granular data in the suburbs and far less granular data in the exurbs and rural areas. Often data with multiple levels of granularity or resolution produces hundreds or thousands of files of varying file sizes that need to be combined for effective analysis.

Map of Europe

Zoom level image of Europe.

Take for example the telecommunications industry. A wireless communication provider often services, or desires to service, an entire nation. In service of this objective they often have the need to build and share a national “coverage map” to communicate a wide range of employees’ and executives’ information about their present and future coverage investments. The technology of the day makes this work challenging because of the number of files containing the required information and resulting file sizes.

Because of this, it’s not uncommon for major wireless providers to ship subsets of the data around to distributed employees on physical hard drives. These restrictions can limit a business’s options for getting this vital intelligence into the hands of the people who require it to make more informed investment decisions.

United Kingdom and Ireland Map

Zoom level image on The United Kingdom and Ireland.

For wireless providers, as with most organizations, data is critical to perform a number of activities across the organization. But in order for business analysts and leaders to make use of that data, it must first be easily accessible. Sharing data can be challenging, and this is particularly true for multi-resolution data that can contain imagery, spectral imagery, gridded data (e.g. digital terrain models) thematic data, a wide array of attributes, and much more.  It is very common for a resulting file of this type to be measured in terabytes, which explains why many share through shipping physical hard drives.

To derive true value from this wealth of data, it needs to be easily accessible and enable the business to make decisions in real time, but the size of these files makes it a challenge for analysts and decision makers to achieve this. Therefore, Pitney Bowes has developed a new raster engine that is designed to provide the highest quality rendering and visualization experience for files of any size, at any scale, in constant time.

Dublin Map

Zoom level image of the Dublin Center in Ireland.

One of the key enabling technologies supporting the new raster engine is a new storage format called Multi-resolution Raster (MRR). MRR is a unifying and enabling technology that minimizes storage requirements using industry standard data compression, making it a superior storage vessel for all varieties of raster data, and which also means that a single MRR file can be used to quickly and easily share information. Pitney Bowes was in fact just awarded a United States patent for the MRR technology, acknowledging this unique approach to solving a routine challenge virtually all of our customers face.

MRR removes the barriers to working with large and complex raster files, and enables the highest quality visualization, processing, and analysis of high-resolution grid and raster data at a continental or global scale, and easily share your analysis across your organization.

Dublin Trinity College Map

Zoom level image of Dublin Trinity College, within the Dublin Center.

In the case of wireless telco providers, organizations are using MRR to consolidate files up to 6 terabytes in size into a single raster, significantly reducing the original file size. Gone is the need for a hard copy of the data because the new file can be accessed via web-based solutions, like Spectrum Spatial Analyst or accessed on the desktop through MapInfo Pro Advanced.

Additionally, MRR allows Government agencies, military/intelligence and commercial businesses to access information in their data sets to show zoom-level data, temporal dimensions, local regulation information, and high-quality spatial statistics. These are just a few of the attributes now accessible with the help of MRR.

To learn more, hear from the Pitney Bowes Team on Thursday, May 24 as they present "The Raster Revolution: How to Advance your GIS Big Data Analysis."