RSPSoc 2014 TOPSIG session

A little delayed due to holidays and meetings, but here is a short review of the very interesting TOPSIG session at the RSPSoc Annual Conference held in Aberystwyth at the start of the month. I was only at the conference for the Wednesday but there was such a good vibe amongst the delegates, in what was a very well organised event – it was a shame I couldn’t stay longer.

I opened the TOPSIG session with a round-up of the notions of open software and data, as well as collaboration, along with examples specific to the (particularly commercial) remote sensing sector. The main message was to use what works best for you, which might be a mix of open and proprietary solutions but to make sure you interact with the open community.

Pete Bunting followed up with an explanation of an open source package that he is developing in Aberystwyth. ARCSI is software for automatically pre-processing optical satellite imagery. More details of the package and how to use it can be found here. Alison Waterfall followed with an explanation of CEDA (The Centre for Environmental Data Archival), JASMIN and CEMS, all based on the Harwell campus near Didcot, south of Oxford. The resources she described are there for researchers and commercial organisations to access, so feel free to check them out. Veronique Morel spoke about an online tool that she is helping develop for delivering spatial data and research results to a wide range of users and stakeholders. She gave a short demo of the datasets that are hosted on the web platform, taunting the ‘live demo gremlins’ but getting away with it.

The final two talks of the session were great overviews of operational, commercial remote sensing. Andy Wells explained how much the user experience has improved since he started working in the sector. Users no longer need to fight format differences or save temporary files to disk, and can rapidly prototype complex models to answer questions rather than battle the software and data. Steve Keyworth provided insight into the commercial EO industry, using examples of completed projects to demonstrate how explaining and delivering benefits is more important to clients, than blinding them with technology.

All of the talks were excellent, engaging and informative. I very much look forward to the next Annual Conference in Southampton and hope that another TOPSIG session will be included.