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August 19, 2015

Azavea awarded research grants for Earth observation web tools

U.S. Department of Energy, NASA to fund applications that help address 21st-century challenges

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041415_earth Stock/AP

Earth in space.

Philadelphia-based software company Azavea, which specializes in geospatial analysis, has been awarded a pair of research grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA to create web tools that will improve storage capacity and maintenance for high-resolution imagery and geospatial models, the company announced Wednesday.

With the profusion of drones, small satellites and sensor technology over the past 15 years, the volume and quality of today's imagery necessitates better tools to meet the technical challenges of storing and processing the influx of data. With the help of the grants, Azavea will lead in the creation of web tools that can be used to address a range of 21st-century issues, from climate change and watershed management to biodiversity loss, urban sprawl and other energy and public health related issues.

The Department of Energy will provide a $155,000 grant to enable the development of the Raster Foundry, a cloud-based platform for high-resolution imagery management and distributed computation. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution will enable users to speed up decision-making activities through intuitive workflows for Earth observation data obtained from satellites and aerial cameras. The same data can be exported for use in other applications.

NASA, meanwhile, will provide $125,000 in funding for the development of ModelLab, which leverages multiple Earth observation data sources to improve the design, storage and execution of geospatial models and algorithms. The platform will help researchers enhance precision agriculture, monitor and simulate flow patterns for tsunamis and floods -- and even forecast crime and seismic activity, among other applications.

Both applications will be based on Azavea's GeoTrellis, an open source geoprocessing engine that strives to bring the power of geospatial analysis to real-time, interactive web and mobile applications.

"We expect micro-satellite constellations and drones to ... drive down the cost and dramatically increase the amount visible and multispectral imagery. This pair of prototyping grants from NASA and the Department of Energy will leverage our ongoing investment in GeoTrellis and position Azavea to contribute to a revolution in Earth observation data that we believe will benefit communities around the world," said Robert Cheetham, Azavea President and CEO.

Both of the awards are Phase I Small Business Innovation (SBIR) grants supported by programs within the Department of Energy and NASA.