15

Jul

2016

TWI Finish Line

Author: Guss Wright

Hello Everyone,

This is officially my last blog as an Army Training with Industry (TWI) Student, although you will certainly hear from me again. Can you believe a year has passed already? When I came on board at Harris Geospatial last August the goal was to facilitate mutually improved understanding, strengthen the partnership and better learn ENVI to ultimately enhance the US Army’s combat effectiveness. With all that has been learned, shared and documented in the last 12 months, I think we’ve accomplished what we set out to do and more. I was made to feel as though I was a part of the Harris Geospatial team. To reciprocate this hospitality, a few Army Challenge Coins have been passed out this week. If you are a Soldier, then you know what that means. Harris is a part of the team, so when you see a member at the upcoming ENVI Analytics Symposium or any other conference or encounter, challenge them to show you their coin or beverages are on them; just kidding about the beverages J.

    

With respect to the past twelve months, I’d say it has been an absolute marathon of learning. When I first arrived, my experience with ENVI was novice at best. I had successfully implemented solutions such as anomaly detection and change detection during tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. However, like many other Defense & Intelligence users, I was still heavily reliant on other software suites to perform certain workflows, such as mosaicking, orthorectification and producing specialized Compressed Arc-Digitized Raster Graphics (CADRG). This wasn’t because ENVI couldn’t accomplish these tasks, but rather because Soldiers like me just didn’t know how to using ENVI. 

I’m confident enough to now say that this knowledge gap has been bridged for the D&I community with the help of the ENVI Pocket Guides, VOLUME 1 | BASICS and the recently finished VOLUME 2 | INTERMEDIATE.

Volume 1 provides succinct instructions on how to perform the following tasks using ENVI:

1.       Understand the Interface

2.       Mosaic data

3.       Subset data

4.       Orthorectify data

5.       Pan Sharpen data

6.       Perform change detection

7.       Perform anomaly detection

8.       Produce a terrain categorization (TERCAT)

9.       Export data to CADRG

Volume 2 builds on the basics by providing succinct steps on how to perform the following tasks using ENVI and IDL:

1.       Add Grid reference & count features

2.       Perform Band Math

3.       Layer Stack images

4.       Exploit Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) bands

5.       Perform Spectral Analysis in general

6.       Perform Image Calibration/ Atmospheric Correction

7.       Extract features from LiDAR

8.       Batch Processing using IDL

Keep an eye on this blog for a hyperlink to VOLUME 2 of the Pocket Guide. It’s currently being formatted and printed.

TWI has been an honor and a privilege. I strongly recommend continuation of this program by both Harris Geospatial and the Army. I can certainly say that Army Technicians’ and Noncommissioned Officers’ development yearns for such opportunities. There is absolutely no way I could have learned enough to compile the Pocket Guides in any other setting. Again, it has been a marathon, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks for the hospitality and opportunity from the bottom of my heart to the good folks at ENVI.

Chief Wright~ Out for Now.

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Categories: ENVI Blog | Imagery Speaks

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20

May

2016

Go Tell Someone

Author: Guss Wright

Hello Everyone Chief Guss Wright again.

I was recently with some of you in Orlando at the USGIF GEOINT Symposium, and others of you at the Geospatial Planning Cell (GPC) Coproduction Working Group at Fort Leonard Wood. I can attest, NOTHING travels faster than the "word of mouth". Given this fact, I want you to walk away after reading this blog and go tell someone that ENVI has a United States Army – Home Use Program! The software is interoperable with ESRI solutions both on the desktop and in the cloud, and the specialized CADRG/RPF workflow is steadily being improved as we make steps towards automating the entire process for you.

First of all, I’d like to introduce the new Defense Account Manager here at Harris, Jeff Hildebrandt. If you’re an Army DCGS-A user interested in obtaining the latest copy of ENVI and a home use license, then you’ll need to reach out to Jeff @ jeffrey.hildebrandt@harris.com. He’ll vett the request and get you squared away. Taking advantage of this HUP and the ENVI Pocket Guide will have you using ENVI in no time. If you want to meet Jeff, the upcoming ENVI Analytics Symposium (EAS) would be a great time to do so and it’s also an excellent training opportunity.

Earlier in the month Jeff, James Lewis, Kevin Wells and I were invited to the GPC Huddle to present on ENVI’s CADRG Save as functionality in ENVI 5.3.x and also to provide a high level status of the software at large. I’m happy we were afforded this opportunity because it enabled us to clarify the intent of the workflow, which is solely to support systems that cannot read vector data, and it also facilitated a provision of clarity concerning limitations within the CADRG Specification itself which was written in the 1990’s. When performing this workflow it’s essential to understand what’s actually happening to the data. An input image containing 16.7 million colors is being compressed to fit the CADRG SPEC which only allocates 216 colors x 4096 codebook entries in a Look Up Table (LUT). Needless to say, the limitations in this specification requires some expert handling of the data in order to gain the results desired. Worry not! I’m working with the team here at ENVI to develop an automated workflow that will revolutionize this process.

If you would like a copy of the briefing I gave at the GPC Coproduction Working group which outlines the current workflow and the way forward, just reach out. The goal is to incorporate this workflow in ENVI Services Engine along with the other great tools available to you in the Hydra solution.

“What’s Hydra?" you might ask. Hydra is a cloud based Workflow platform that provides you and your end-users a real-time dashboard of tasks such as Helicopter Landing Zones (HLZ) and Line of Sight (LOS) Tactical Decision Aids, to name a couple. Why not automate the CADRG workflow and put it here too. That’s the goal. We want to empower you and your end-users. ENVI’s Hydra solution also provides data discovery and dissemination of these analytics.  If you want to know more just reach out and I’ll put you in contact with the same experts I’m learning all these great techniques from in effort to advance the Army GEOINT Tradecraft. That’s all for now. Guss Wright Out!!!

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Categories: ENVI Blog | Imagery Speaks

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1

Apr

2016

Partnerships, Relationships and Shared Understanding

Author: Guss Wright

Hello Everyone,

It’s Chief Wright again, just in from a field trip to Fort Carson’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team(1SBCT).  Scott Paswaters, an ENVI software engineer, Kevin Wells, head of ENVI technical sales and the defense account, and I met up with Chief Warrant Officer Ricky Love who heads up 1SBCT’s GEOINT Cell. Before I get into the nitty gritty of what the visit was all about I’d like to shed light on the premise behind my current focus as this Training With Industry (TWI) tour winds down in the next few months. To build confidence among defense & intelligence ENVI users, and in chorus calibrate ENVI to better meet our missions’ demands, it takes partnership, relationships and shared understanding. It’s not every day a software engineer gets to step into the world of a tactical GEOINT Officer and see firsthand how he or she uses the software to meet requirements. It’s also rare for an Army GEOINT Officer to be afforded the opportunity to share user feedback directly with a developer. 

Yesterday we made this a reality because we needed to test ENVI’s CADRG/RPF outputs directly on a Joint Capability Release (JCR) formerly known as Blue Force Tracker (BFT) before moving forward to automate the workflow. The JCR is used to facilitate friendly and enemy battlefield tracking through distribution of a Common Operational Picture (COP). During our visit we were able to successfully load ENVI’s CADRG output onto a JCR system. This ensures Army GEOINT Cells are able to carry out command directives of propagating a COP across Army systems spanning the ground and aerial maneuver fleet. If you have ENVI 5.2 or 5.3 you can now successfully produce specialized CADRG graphics too. The workflow is documented in the recently released ENVI Pocket Guide | Volume 1.

Speaking of the Pocket Guide, works are already underway to produce Volume 2 which will encompass advanced topics, but I need your feedback. What advanced topics, not covered in Volume 1, would you like to see incorporated?

Lastly I’d like to point out one other community involvement effort we’re pondering. We want to modernize Army data creation via machine learning algorithms. Harris’ Mega algorithm could significantly multiply Geospatial Planning Cells’ (GPC) production by automating extraction of certain features, but a test bed is required to train the algorithm to recognize what the Army wants to extract. Willing participants will be forded an opportunity to lease the required capability at a fraction for testing purposes. That’s all for now, but feel free to comment or reach out because it takes partnership, relationships and shared understanding to continue to advance the torch. 

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Categories: ENVI Blog | Imagery Speaks

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26

Jan

2016

Speak up! Answers are just a shout away

Author: Guss Wright

What does a soldier do when he or she runs into difficulty while using ENVI software? To answer this question you have to consider and understand the culture of most military organizations. Army geospatial professionals are often times under the gun, so to speak, given a limited time to provide GEOINT support and advice to decision makers with the added pressure of knowing the answers we provide could be the key factor in affecting success or failure on the ground.

Considering this, we see time as being one of our most precious resources so we’re always looking for the most efficient way to solve geospatial problems. Unfortunately this often relegates soldiers to the usage of tools he or she is more familiar with or has experienced past success in applying, even if the tool isn’t optimal for the problem at hand. Then we move on to the next task without revisiting the shortfall we just experienced with the more optimal tool, without requesting help or providing user feedback. I call this “suffering in silence”.

As many of you may know from my last blog, I’m Chief Warrant Officer 3 AugustusWright and I’ve been training at Harris with the ENVI software since August as part of the US Army’s Training with Industry program. I want to expound on the topic “suffering in silence” because after having spent the last six months integrating with the staff at Harris, I realize the old way of solving GEOINT problems isn’t the only option when facing the aforementioned shortfalls. WE CAN ASK FOR HELP!!!!!!, J - (And I’m smiling when I say this.)

Case in point, one of the awesome Harris software engineers, Scott Paswaters and I have recently been testing and refining ENVI’s CADRG Save As capability. This is a very important functionality for defense users because it enables us to provide tailored graphics in Raster Product Format (RPF) to defense end-users whose systems can’t and don’t need to read vector data. Ultimately this facilitates the provision of a Common Operational Picture across military platforms. During the process we discovered a shortfall which prevented software such as Falconview from being able to read ENVI’s output. We immediately queried the field to see who else was experiencing this problem and discovered there were many.

Within two days Scott found the problem, produced a patch, and he and I are already exploring methods to develop a tool that will use the IDL-python bridge to automate the entire specialized CADRG creation workflow for defense users. Keep an eye out for this tool.

In addition I’ve written and compiled what we call the “ENVI Pocket Guide”. The ENVI Pocket Guide is a quick reference booklet NOT intended to be read from cover to cover although it can be. The intent is to provide users succinct steps on how to accomplish common tasks in ENVI. The RPF export workflow and other pertinent information such as how to contact ENVI technical support and online help can also be found in this guide. 

If you're a military user of ENVI who is having specific issues or workarounds, comment below and we'll see what we can do.  Let’s not “suffer in silence”!

 

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24

Nov

2015

Industry embed: An Army Chief Warrant Officer trains at Harris

Author: Guss Wright

Hello. My name is Chief Warrant Officer 3 Augustus Wright.  I’ve been working with Harris since August as part of the U.S. Army’s Training with Industry program. Now why on earth would the Army send one of its warrant officers to live what many soldiers would call “The Good Life”? That entails working with and training alongside civilians -- not to mention living as one -- for a year!

The answer is actually quite simple. The Training with Industry program recognizes that it is necessary for selected individuals to actually leave the Army for a while to get hands-on training with the tools needed to do their jobs. Afterward, these industry trainees return with refined and improved skills, as well as knowledge about leading trade practices to move the Army forward. Given my background, I was a good candidate. I’m a 125D Geospatial Engineering Technician and I’ve been serving on active duty for 17 years. Prior to being selected to train with Harris on its geospatial software ENVI, I served as the direct support officer-in-charge for the U.S. Army Europe’s 60th Geospatial Planning Cell.


Over the years, I’ve completed three separate combat deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn totaling 38 months. In 2003, as a Topographic Sergeant with the 4th Infantry Division I provided situational awareness and geospatial tactical decision aids to ground force commanders in Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal. As the Sr. Topographic Sergeant for the 25th Infantry Division in 2005, I used ENVI and ArcGIS to perform predictive analysis on IED trends. ENVI was primarily used to detect disturbed earth and spectral differences in road materials. In 2009, as the GEOINT Officer in Charge for the3rd Infantry Division, I used ENVI and ArcGIS to detect IED making materials and disturbed ground. I also used ENVI and ArcGIS to plan the emplacement of strategic checkpoints that were a part of the strategy to end operations in Iraq. During this tour I was awarded a second Bronze Star Medal. 

Since I started with Harris three months ago, I’ve worked side by side with expert software engineers. Not only am I learning a ton, but I’m also in the unique position to provide user feedback from the Army geospatial community about what additions to the software would be helpful. One intuitive add-on that I’m extremely excited about is the dynamic symbolization of the electromagnetic spectrum in the ENVI DataManger, Layer Manager, Metadata and Spectral profile. Another is Supplementary Color Band Symbology that takes into account the wide range of remote sensing and imagery exploitation experience of users within the Defense & Intelligence Community. This new feature, which is applicable in both academia and day-to-day tradecraft, will help more experienced soldiers teach novice soldiers while ensuring product quality and integrity in practical use cases. Keep an eye out for these enhancements in future releases of ENVI.

Supplementary Color Band Symbology 

Dynamic symbolization of the electromagnetic spectrum in the ENVI Data Manger, Layer Manager, Metadata and Spectral profile. 

I’ll be posting blogs on a regular basis to keep you up to date on what I’m learning and let you know how this new “deployment” as an Industry Trainee with Harris is going. 

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