Spot Image and Infoterra, subsidiaries of EADS Astrium, are launching the World’s first online service at www.express-maps.com to deliver detailed basemaps covering over three quarters of the Earth’s land surfaces. This unique service creates basemaps at a scale of 1:50 000, which can be delivered electronically to users in the space of just 6 hours.
This service is principally aimed at first responders — civil protection agencies, as well as military and humanitarian aid teams — in crisis management situations. EXPRESSMaps supplies detailed and precise maps of an area of interest derived from recent, very-high-resolution archive satellite imagery. The ability to obtain such maps quickly and easily is also vital to meet the critical logistics requirements of prospecting, exploration and operations teams working in remote regions. EXPRESSMaps includes a special multi-licence for NGOs offering the same delivery times, making it easier for them to pool resources and rendering operations more effective on the ground.
Accurate and detailed maps are one of the first things that are called for in the event of a disaster or for military operations. To meet this requirement, and to offer a service that is as universal as possible, Spot Image and Infoterra have combined their expertise to conceive, develop, test and market the EXPRESSMaps service. From the moment the user selects the map area via a dedicated web portal to delivery of files, which in turn can be printed out or loaded into GIS software, every step in the process has been designed with speed and simplicity in mind.
As of mid-2009, EXPRESSMaps’ coverage zone spans 100 million sq.km., including more than 75% of land surfaces (outside the USA and Canada, for which very accurate, recent maps are available). This is made possible using SPOT 5 satellite data.
An innovative feature of the service is that the entire map production process is patented. Each step is optimised and timed to ensure prompt delivery in all circumstances, whatever the area of interest, all year round.
The 1:50 000 scale was chosen to match the inherent accuracy of the source data and the current accuracy of GPS receivers. This universal scale means maps can be used reliably on the ground and have a footprint of roughly 600 sq.km.
Map content is easily interpreted thanks to a legend designed to fit production constraints. The theme and technical specifications are dictated to a large extent by how the map will be used in the field. The information highlighted on each map is chosen to help people and teams on the ground to navigate as easily as possible.
The ground transportation network is therefore the first layer of information entered. This is one of the map elements that gets the most attention during the data extraction process. Populated areas also get special attention. The population layer comprises five classes, with three for types of housing.
Land occupancy in other areas is rendered by 10 additional classes. Many point features like bridges, dams, airports and ports are also mapped to facilitate operational use on the ground. Lastly, relief is represented by contours with a spacing of 50 metres and by shading. High and low points (roughly 80 on each map) extracted from a digital elevation model are also shown.
EXPRESSMaps is the only service of its kind on the market today. Its ability to supply users with 1:50 000 maps of any point on the globe in under a day marks a revolution in map provision.
This has been made possible by the efforts of Spot Image and Infoterra to establish a set of specifications and production procedures applicable to all kinds of landscapes around the globe. Specific resources for communicating with customers shorten the process and smooth the workflow to ensure map production in record time; a dedicated website lets users open their account in a few clicks, pre-pay for maps with a one-year MapPass and select maps to meet their needs through a specially designed interface.
One Click, one Day, one Map… with EXPRESSMaps, mapping has never been easier.