INPE Report 2007

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DRAFT - may be used for announcements purposes instead

The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research - INPE is Brazil’s main institution for space science and technology, whose mission includes building satellites, developing environmental applications, and producing weather and climate forecasts. Since 1984, INPE has had a research and development division for GIS to support its actions in earth observation and to promote GIS and remote sensing technology in Brazil. INPE’s Image Processing Division was created with the following aims: (a) local development and dissemination of image processing and GIS systems in Brazil; (b) establishment of a research program in Image Processing and GIS, and (c) pursuit of co-operative programs with universities, government organizations and private companies. In 1986, INPE brought out Brazil’s first GIS+Image Processing based on an Intel platform. 150 universities and research labs, up to 1996, used the system extensively.

In 1992, given recent advances in hardware and software and the changes in information technology policy in Brazil, INPE started the development of a free GIS software, SPRING, whose first Internet version was made available in late 1996. SPRING provides a comprehensive set of functions for processing of spatial information, including tools for Satellite Image Processing, Digital Terrain Modeling, Spatial Analysis, Geostatistics, Spatial Statistics, Spatial Databases and Map Management.

INPE is a great promoter of free earth observation data. All images of our remote sensing satellites and the maps of Amazon deforestation are available free on the web. To make good use of such free data sets, we need free GIS software. INPE's activities in Earth observation require state-of-the art GIS technology that can handle large environmental data sets. Free GIS tools such as PostGIS are extremely important to support large-scale applications. In a partnership with Computer Graphics Group at the Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, INPE is developing TerraLib (Câmara, Souza et al. 2000), an open-source GIS component library. TerraLib enables quick development of custom-built applications using spatial databases. Currently, such capabilities are only available by means of proprietary solutions. As a research tool, TerraLib aims to enable the development of GIS prototypes that include new concepts such as spatio-temporal data models, geographical ontologies and advanced spatial analysis techniques.

INPE believes that FOSS does not happen spontaneously. FOSS development must be supported by public and private institutions. For this reason, INPE both maintains its own FOSS4G software development team, and in 2007 INPE became one of the sponsors of OSGEO: “networking and best practices are essential conditions for successful FOSS initiatives. INPE considers that the FOSS4G community needs an organization that can provide the links between the developers and also between developers and users. OSGEO provides the connections that are fundamental in FOSS4G” said Dr. Gilberto Câmara, INPE´s general director.

--Lúbia Vinhas, INPE