Digital technology has advanced GIS imaging to generate real-time models in multiple dimensions – going beyond advanced 3-D into the realm of 4-D representation. One group of software developers based on Maui at International Underwater Explorations LLC (IUE) is taking a lead in pushing the envelope to utilize GIS in multi-dimensional ocean analysis.
The ocean is a massive environment of constantly flowing fluid masses differentiated by depth, temperature, pressure gradients, direction and force. GIS analysis of the ocean entails acquisition of volumes of data, which requires systems to sort, establish relevance and translate. For IUE President Joe Breman, it means there are opportunities for his company, combining expertise in ocean systems and information processing, to develop applications not limited to ocean systems but a GIS capability that extends to defense, energy, and conservation.
One such opportunity is a current contract to develop applications for the Navy to better access data that’s being collected by military and civilian agencies, including satellite imagery of weather systems collected by NASA, surface wind-swell-temperature data transmitted from NOAA buoys and ocean terrain data being developed by Google Earth.
“There are all kinds of devices in and above the ocean to collect data,” Breman said. “We are developing better ways to communicate that data so it can be useful to the Navy.” There are other examples. When the Deep Horizon oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast, IUE formulated a model of the Gulf of Mexico charting contours of the ocean bottom and compiling layers of data on currents, ocean surface movements, water temperature gradients and wind patterns to provide an analysis of the movement of the oil spilling from the blown well. The prototype was developed for CEROS, the Defense Advanced Research Agency program based in Hawaii to support Department of Defense needs for technology development in ocean science. “We developed high resolution images of areas of the sea floor where it appeared that the oil would become a hazard,” Breman said.
Multi-dimensional GIS modeling can also be used to analyze feasibility of renewable energy systems. “Hawaii is among the states with the highest reliance on fossil fuels,” observes Breman. “We consume the most energy from fossil fuels at the highest cost. But Hawaii has the most renewable energy resources — wind, solar, ocean thermal and waves, geothermal,” he said. “There is a great reason for Hawaii to develop those resources.” IUE already has contracted to develop wind and terrain analysis for a wind farm on Maui, to establish the optimum location for each turbine and for the placement of power lines.
The company’s data on the ocean bottom around the islands can be used in developing undersea power cables, while its capabilities create opportunities for energy generation from ocean thermal and wave energy projects. GIS analysis also will be useful for siting and positioning solar generators, for identifying the most efficient alignments for transmission lines as new generating resources are installed and for analysis of agricultural fields for biofuel crops.
Breman’s interest in energy efficiencies are a factor in a related program involving geospatial analysis, but on a small scale — to develop smart grid systems within structures including homes, and businesses. IUE handles a Geo-Smart Grid software system that provides real-time data on energy consumption of components in a building to allow the owner to control, monitor and manage electricity use. In time, Breman sees IUE expanding its services to developing applications for utilizing multi-dimensional data sets, and Internet based web services, whether in the ocean, on land or in the atmosphere.
Breman explains that Maui is an ideal location for a growing tech company like IUE in part because of the support systems. He said the Small Business Development Center, Maui County Business Resource Center and Maui Economic Development Board provided support and resources to set up IUE. Being on Maui, IUE also qualifies as a HUB Zone small business – an SBA designation that gives IUE priority consideration in contracting opportunities.