Airborne cameras are powerful tools, and represent a significant investment in terms of money, risk, and human effort. Whether the use is filming a movie, or apprehending an armed robber, all parts of the system need to support a mission critical application.
Here are four things that we have determined are essential for aerial moving maps and have included in the SmartCam3D moving map for many years. These four features add value for sensor operators on manned and unmanned systems of any size.
1. Full Geographic Coverage
You can hear the naysayers: “We never fly beyond this area”. Maybe. Suspects have no respect for jurisdiction and lead law enforcement on chases that extend beyond typical patrol areas. Without full geographic coverage the moving map becomes a limited tool hampering operations. If operations are impacted, the tactical flight officer may have choice words for the person that thought it was a good idea to save money on the map coverage.
2. Seamlessly Zoom-able Maps
No one has an infinitely large screen to view maps, so the ability to zoom exactly enough to see clearly is essential. The SmartCam3D moving map uses continuous zoom. This is in contrast with maps using 12 or 14 discrete levels of zoom, this limitation compromises the amount of information available to the user.
3. Smooth Motion
With efficient programming a computer, can easily move the map 30 times a second so that the map, aircraft and other moving items appear to move smoothly. There is no reason to make a user watch the map chunking along at one frame per second.
4. High Resolution Urban Data
Most large cities have big streets, but they also have little streets, plazas and alleys. For mission effectiveness, it is important to see the small features.
While this is true for the sensor operator during flight, it is also true for anyone analyzing the video on the ground. Video exploitation systems need moving maps with these features so that a director or mission commander watching the video from the ground has instant geographic awareness. In addition, when recorded video is reviewed later , the geographic context is still there and easily accessed.
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