Pablo's Mission Planning Website
Greetings Mission Planners,
General Clapper, the head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is interviewed here. I was glad to read about the importance the General puts on standards:
One of the key's to the success of PFPS is NGA's commitment to use standard data formats. None of what we have would be possible if the contents of the DAFIF CD changed each month, or if each map scale was digitized in similar, but slightly different way. Hopefully NGA will build on their existing standards to add the capabilities we need now like more legible Raster Maps (CADRG), higher resolution color imagery (CIB), more detailed elevation models (DTED) and new standards for things like urban modeling. Using commercial standards is a great way to go, but we need agreement on what standards will be used, how the data will be produced, what the files named and what accuracy level / metadata is required. NGA has just created the GEOINT Standards Technical Working Group so hopefully they'll begin addressing these issues.
NGA's Office of Military Support has just completed a great overview briefing on what everyone needs to know about NGA data. There's no wiring diagrams describing NGA's organization, just the kind of info that everyone should be familiar with to stay out of trouble. If you're on a .mil PC go to http://www.nga.mil and click on the link on the left for "Military Support". If you're not on a .mil computer then you won't be able to download the briefing:
Really great stuff that explains at a "pilot level" what you need to understand when you're looking at geospatial information.
Last week saw the dedication of Eagle Vision V, the Air Forces newest Mobile Commercial Imagery Downlink station in Hawaii. More details on the Hawaii Air National Guard's newest capability are available here.
Mission Planning Tip: Excel2FV's Map Path Manager Tools
Excel2FV's Map Path Manager Tools groups some features that have been around for a while and adds a few new ones. Launch the Tools from the "Repairs" tab:
The first tool is the Map Path Scrubber. Several months ago I talked about scrubbing a map path to remove outdated/redundant data and ensure the map files are set for read/write access. Since that time the Scrubber has been updated to repair lower case DTED filenames. FalconView 3.3 accurately displays DTED with uppercase filenames, but some downloaded DTED and the new SRTM DVDs are appearing with lowercase filenames. DTED files with lowercase names always appear in the Northern Hemisphere (FalconView 3.3 only). Scrubbing a path is easy; select it from the dropdown list of read/write paths and press "Go!"
Next up is the "Map Path Update". Like most people you've probably got a network path where you keep most of your map data. When you get new CD you fire up FalconView and copy the data onto that shared path. When you get updated data you use FalconView's Chart Update (Tools - Data Administration - Chart Currency) to replace outdated data frames that are already loaded on the shared drive. Unfortunately anyone who isn't sitting at your specific PC won't see the new data. Every FalconView installation maintains a database on the local hard drive of what data is available on each data path. New/updated data on a network path won't do you any good if FalconView doesn't know it's there. In the old days you could either delete and re-add the network path (time consuming) or do a data check (even more time consuming) to force your machine to "see" what data was really on the network path. Now you can just use Excel2FV's Map Path Update:
The Map Path Update will compare the coverage (.cov) files (database of maps/images loaded) stored on your PC with the ones stored in the data paths. If a coverage file stored in the data path is newer then someone has updated the map data since FalconView did a Data Check from your machine. Map Path Update will replace your outdated coverage file with the newer one that reflects the data loaded/updated/deleted on the path. If someone deleted all the files of a particular type (JNC, DTED1 etc) from a path then the Map Path Update will delete that coverage file from your machine if the "Remove coverage files not present in map path" is checked.
If you check "Generate Excel Map Coverage Report" then Map Path Update will create an Excel Spreadsheet listing the map data paths and the map types stored in each one. For CIB/CADRG a rough estimate will be made of the amount of data stored in the path:
After the Map Path Update completes you may get asked if you want to regenerate coverage regions:
FalconView uses a different database to display coverage regions as you scale in and out with the Map Data Manager turned on. If you don't regenerate these regions you may have data you can view in FalconView but that doesn't appear in the Map Data Manager, i.e. the Map Data Manager might not show 5 Meter CIB over a region but when you scale in you find yourself looking at 5 Meter imagery. Regenerating these "Coverage Regions" only takes a minute or two and normally occurs at the end of any Map Data Check:
The final Map Path Manager tab includes the tools you need to reset, backup and restore a set of map paths:
Excel2FV has had a tool to reset your Map Paths to your PFPS Install Path and CD/DVD drive for a long time. Now it's been moved to the Map Path Manager. What's new is the ability to Backup and Restore your Map Paths. This isn't a big deal for most users since you don't change path sets, but it is a big deal for installing PFPS on a new machine. Normally if you were installing PFPS on a new machine you'd start FalconView, add each new Map Path, then sit interminably as FalconView generated coverage. Now you can go to your "Master" machine and backup the desired paths into a FalconView Path Setting (.fps) file:
Put the .fps file on your thumb drive or on a network path and walk up to the machine where PFPS has just been installed. From Excel2FV's Map Path Manager click on "Restore":
Excel2FV will install the Map Paths stored in the .fps file then do a Map Path Update to copy over the necessary coverage files. After the Update completes you'll see the same message you'd see after a normal Map Path Update:
Using the tools in the Map Path Manager you'll be able to bring the FalconView coverage files up to speed on all the machines in your work area in no time flat.