Q. What is the NICB GIC?
A. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is a law enforcement support organization representing 1,200-member insurance companies. For the last 115 years, the Crime Bureau has worked between law enforcement and the insurance industry to investigate insurance fraud. Its Geospatial Intelligence Center serves the entirety of the insurance industry with geospatial support and data collected annually as well as first responders in disaster situations.
Q. Who is Vexcel Imaging?
A. Based in Centennial, CO, Vexcel Imaging Inc. is a leading provider of geospatial data and services and mapping products. At the core of the business is the industry-leading line of UltraCam digital aerial and terrestrial camera systems widely adopted by aerial mapping firms worldwide and underpinning the Vexcel data program. The UltraCam portfolio provides a range of imaging systems including photogrammetric nadir camera systems, combined nadir and oblique image capture systems, and high-altitude wide-area mapping systems. For terrestrial collection, the car-based mobile mapping system UltraCam Mustang captures a street-level perspective, and the UltraCam Panther collects high-resolution imagery, video and LiDAR via a portable 3D reality mapping system. These systems, coupled with the UltraMap workflow software, offer geospatial data organizations and geospatial data users with highly accurate but cost-effective nadir, oblique and streetside data.
Blue Sky Program
Q. What is the Blue Sky program?
A. The Blue Sky program refers to our national annual imagery program that captures high-resolution vertical aerial imagery of the entirety of the continental US along with ultra-high-resolution vertical and 360° aerial imagery of the top 150 metropolitan areas.
Q. How often will the imagery be updated?
A. The current plan is to refresh the imagery annually. However, it will be up to the Advisory Board (Charter Members) to determine if there needs to be more frequency
Q. What camera sensor technology will be utilized?
A. For the Blue Sky program we use a combination of UltraCam sensors including the Osprey for ultra-high-resolution 360° oblique collections of metropolitan areas and the Condor wide-area mapping camera for coast-t0-coast, high-resolution collections of the 48 contiguous states.
Gray Sky Program
Q. What is the Gray Sky Program?
A. The Gray Sky program provides high-resolution aerial and terrestrial data in the wake of disastrous events.
Q. What is the strategy for capturing Gray Sky images?
A. At each event, GIC will stage sensors within 24 hours of the event and will begin collection as soon as conditions and air traffic control permit. In many cases this happens before other aircraft is allowed because of special access by GIC.
Q. How do you define “event” and what criteria will be used to initiate Gray Sky image capture?
A. This is up to the Advisory Board to help define, but we currently look at significant damage to a population center. This is typically Cat 3+ hurricanes, EF 3+ tornadoes, and other major storms that strike a population center. We would look at Cat 2/EF 2 but only respond if it causes significant damage.
Q. How quickly will Gray Sky imagery be made available post-event?
A. Gray Sky imagery will be available within 24 hours of aircraft landing after the collection.
Q. How long will the Gray Sky imagery be maintained?
A. Data will be maintained for 2 Years online post event on GIC servers but available in “cold storage” for later retrieval. However, post event on GIC servers but can be provided to GIC members for perpetual access on their own servers.
Q. What camera sensor technology will be utilized?
A. For Gray Sky collection we will use a combination of UltraCam sensors including the Osprey, Condor, Eagle and Falcon depending on what can be deployed most quickly.
Q. How many fixed wing planes are available to GIC for this program?
A. More than 100 in the North America.
Q. How is the catastrophe response imagery collected and processed?
A. Following collection, the aerial mapping firms rapidly process the large volumes of collected data using Vexcel’s workflow software to produce and upload the geo-referenced imagery the following day after collection. The GIC works closely with insurers and emergency responders to identify key areas where imagery is most needed, distinguishing between the benefits of vertical and 360° imagery for given areas, and has established a website to provide up to date status on the collection and availability of the imagery and datasets, as it is unfolding. The data is made available to users through a custom, web-based ESRI ArcGIS application accessible via a web browser on any desktop PC, tablet or mobile device.
Q. What does the web application provide users?
A. The web application allows for searching on address or POI, taking accurate measurements, viewing side-by-side imagery (before/after), and viewing 360° imagery along with corresponding ortho imagery. The web app also enables viewing additional information (public and private) layered on top of the imagery.
Q. Who can access the imagery using the application?
A. High-priority users are the Red Cross, FEMA, all Federal/state/local resources, major NGOs, community organizations and insurers. Meanwhile, public and non-priority users have access to the GIC open-access web site.
Q. What does the GIC web site provide?
A. The GIC web portal provides up to date situational awareness that includes an interactive coverage map indicating areas that have been captured and breaking news. Information on the GIC and the coalition is also included. High priority users will be provided a username/password for access to a dedicated server.
Q. What is the difference between vertical and 360° (oblique) imagery?
A. Vertical imagery, otherwise known as nadir, captures scenes from a straight down perspective allowing a flat “rooftop” view of a location. 360° oblique imagery captures scenes from a 45° angle, allowing you to see building facades and entrances and from all cardinal directions (360°).
Q. What data platforms do you use for this program?
A. Raw and processed data will be stored in Amazon AWS’ S3 storage. Data will be available via direct download, FTP in Q1 2018, and via REST API in Q2 2018. Additionally, we will make imagery data available via Esri’s ArcGIS platform. For ease of access we will provide basic web maps consumable by any browser from https://geointel.org
Q. How will insurer partners/vendors access imagery?
A. All Imagery will be provided on the GIC access controlled website. It will also be available by a RESTful API endpoint for direct data access
Q. What format will the data be provided?
A. Data is currently available as a) Lvl02 raw unstitched images, b) ortho-mosaic tilesets, and c) via ArcGIS directly. We have added GeoTIFF data to all datasets. We have the capability to generate additional data products on request.
Q. How is data storage monitored?
A. Data storage is monitored via AWS’ platform. We have several alerts in place for any sudden spikes.
Q. Is batched data download available?
A. Yes. Batched data is available today via the Amazon CLI with FTP to be available in Q1 2018 and a REST API in Q2 2018.