Irish Times
Dick Ahlstrom

The StratAG project, Strategic Research in Advanced Geotechnologies, is a strategic research cluster funded by Science Foundation Ireland. The clusters aim to bring groups of academics into contact with private companies with a view to developing technologies and innovative products.

The main role of the new project is to “promote the use of GIS in spatial data analysis”, says Prof Fotheringham. They will look for applications “which have location attached to them”.

For example, he hopes to develop intelligent satellite navigation systems that not only give directions but can detect and provide warnings of traffic jams. The system will then suggest alternative routes to avoid the blockage.

“Most of the money is being spent on developing new people and new technologies for Ireland,” says Fotheringham.

“What we do is very applied. We want to develop a mobile phone that you point at a building and it tells you what is going on there. We are able to acquire huge amounts of data. The challenge is to convert the data into useable, useful information.”

“A key challenge we are working to solve is to get a common language between all the different types of sensors, such as CCTV, satellites and radio frequency ID monitors, so that we can develop a more complete picture of what is happening in an area.”

A practical application of this is already under way, as Maynooth develops its emergency management plan. The team is creating a 3D computer replica of the university’s North Campus using sensors placed across the campus.

The system is designed to send back real-time feedback on student movements through the general space. The idea is to find typical patterns of movement and traffic flow that will help inform the development of health and safety procedures.

The research also has social dimensions. “Location-based technology aims to allow friends and family to find each other by tracking each other on their mobile phones, giving their location in real time,” he suggests. “The possibilities for this line of research are endless”

[…] in this case State bodies are also involved, says Prof Fotheringham.

The initial four private sector firms taking part include ESRI Ireland, which develops GIS software; eSpatial Ltd, another GIS specialist; PMS (Pavement Management Systems); and BKS land surveyors.

[…] the project will integrate data from Geographical Information Systems (GIS) such as the orbiting Global Positioning System with the wealth of information already available from other data-producing systems, from CCTV to sensors.

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Click here to watch a StratAG Video showing the full extent of this “all seeing” tracking technology.

Images from the StratAG (Stra-tag)  video: