Open Map Based Information Platform

The Open Map Based Information Platform (OMBIP) is a software package that includes a reader, a server, and a back-end database data management and integration studio. The three applications together provide cutting-edge solutions to:

  • the viewing and indexing of extremely large images
  • the piecing together of several extremely large images to form a mosaic image
  • the sharing of extremely large images over a network
  • the integration of distributed information nondestructively and visually onto Remote Sensing (RS) images
High speed access large images via database technology

RS images often come in very large sizes, this makes it difficult to view them on a computer as they exceed memory size limitations and must be processed with the much slower virtual memory. Although only a screen sized portion of this image may be seen at once, conventional software programs will process all of the data for the whole picture anyway each time the image is shifted.

There is an existing solution to accessing text information from an immensely large amount of data -- the database, where data are divided into individually indexable records and fields. Only the records relevant to the user抯 queries will be returned for further processing. Applying the same logic, InforShell has achieved a unique technology that is capable of dividing images into small stamp-sized pieces, compressing and storing them into a database. Now, when the image is being displayed, only the pieces necessary to fill the screen are called upon. They are merged virtually to form a unsegmented image and loaded into the memory -- taking up minimal space.

Each time the image is shifted, only those pieces necessary to fill empty portions on the screen are merged onto the existing section. Pieces no longer visible are immediately deleted from memory. This rolling movement enables OMBIP to display images with no size limitations.

Image conversion, manipulation and indexing

For RS data providers, many separate images can be pieced together into an aerial mosaic and be viewed by the end user in a uninterrupted and continuous manner via the OMBIP Reader on an ordinary PC.

A RS image can be automatically converted into compressed, small pieces and stored in a database with Graphic Aided Database Shell (GADB) ?the back-end database data management and integration studio. In addition, GADB Shell enables the following to aid the navigation process:

  • RS data providers can convert and store the RS image into a lower image level (5 zoom levels are possible), underneath a consumer map. This map, obtained through a similar conversion process as the RS image, can be used as a visual index to the RS image to facilitate the navigation process.
  • An alphabetically organized text index of street/area names can be created for any image level. Each 2cm by 2cm piece may be associated with up to 8 street/area names. Choosing from this index in the Find feature of the OMBIP Reader, End Users can jump directly to view the desired area.
  • "Jump To" relationships can be established between any 2 pieces on any image levels. This feature is used to create index maps or establish zoom-in connections between images of unsuitable projection ratios.
  • The image of each individual piece can be manually re-extracted at an altered position from the original image to compensate for skewed images or from a completely different image to create a virtual mosaic background.

Nondestructive drawings on image background

One of the most outstanding features of the OMBIP system is its ability to create and display vector format (like drawings in Word as opposed to Bitmap) custom symbols and diagrams nondestructively over top the maps/RS images. These diagrams are easily modified and would appear superimposed over the image background but be stored in a separate database. Users can create symbols according to any necessary standard, and draw distribution networks using these symbols, lines and curves etc. as if drawing directly onto the background RS images.

Connecting additional data to diagrams for one-click access

Each symbol or line drawn onto the background image is considered an element and can be used to represent components within various distributed systems. Distribution networks such as natural gas pipelines, railroads or the spread of certain characteristics/utilities over an area, e.g. hospitals, mineral deposits can be effectively illustrated with OMBIP.

Each element is indexed alphabetically and can be linked to additional text descriptions or images stored in a database. GADB Shell can directly connect to existing ODBC compatible databases with any data table structure(e.g. DB2, Sybase, Oracle, SQL server, Access) and provides dialog boxes for entering ID/passwords when necessary . Alternatively, GADB Shell can create databases for users that allow user-defined database table structures.

Text and image data related to an element can be accessed by the end user using the OMBIP Reader by simply clicking on the symbol or line. Such information will appear in a pop-up window which can be opened simultaneously with other pop-up windows for data comparison purposes as well as with the main image display window.

Overall, the OMBIP enables each element to:

  • directly and visually display its location and surroundings
  • one-click display supporting text/images
  • be found through the element name index, its location name index or simply through image browsing.
Accessing images over the Internet

The OMBIP is the first software system in the world capable of sharing such enormous maps/RS images and distribution networks over the Internet/LAN with high image quality and high speed. The OMBIP Server receives queries from the OMBIP Reader (acting as a specialized browser) and acquires necessary data from the supporting database to send only those image pieces required to fill the screen back to the Reader.

The OMBIP Reader, using a Windows multi-document interface, is designed with maximum user friendliness so that any PC user new to OMBIP with no database knowledge can easily access maps/RS images, diagrams, text and photos. Many additional user-friendly features are incorporated into the Reader, including Find, Go Home, Go To (exact row-column), Zoom-in/out, Hide Items (map only), Hide Map (diagram/symbols only), Display Grid (2cm by 2cm rows columns) and Display Item Notes (element labels).

Remote data collection over a network

The OMBIP system supports remote data collection where the location and text descriptions for a new element can be submitted by the Reader to the Server over the Internet. This is also a very straightforward procedure, the user could simply click on a location on the map/RS image and the exact coordinates would be sent back to the Server and stored in a designated file for screening/insertion into the database.