Flight Tracking and Noise Management using Open Source GIS Tools - Part 2
Posted on June 12, 2012 by Dennis Wuthrich
In Designing an Open Source Geospatial Solution to Manage Airport Noise and Operations - Part 1 I described OpenNOMS, a modular and Open Source suite of applications for managing airport and flight noise information and operations in a geospatial context. The first module of the application suite we have worked on is FlightTracker, a fully web-based application for monitoring, visualizing, and reporting on the correlation between airplane flight paths, noise monitoring data and noise complaints.
The ROI of Correlating Noise Data with Mitigation Programs
At Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP), like many airports, the flight approach on take off goes over residential properties. The noise generated yields almost 20,000 noise complaints annually.
In response, the MAC has spent tens of million of dollars to retrofit buildings in the areas with double-pane glass and better insulation - all for noise abatement (As an interesting aside, apparently one of the major noise problems is for air conditioning systems. The systems resonate with the aircraft.)
Using FlightTracker, MAC can analyze the effectiveness of its noise abatement investment, better plan for future investment, and document the results in a robust and quantitative manner.
Additional Environmental Impact Use Cases
Correlating flights paths to noise complaints was the primary use for which the Metropolitan Airports Commission first developed their system. But with the redesign as a modular Open Source system, the same application could readily be extended to correlate flight paths to other data such air quality or impact on wildlife, etc.
The Community Advantage of Open Source
I started this blog by saying that OpenNOMS and FlightTracker represent an Open Source alternative to already existing proprietary offerings. It seems a fair question to ask why MAC would invest the money and time to develop an open source alternative.
Chad Leqve, MAC's Noise, Environment and Planning Division Manager, said that their previous proprietary Noise and Operations Management software (NOMS) did a reasonable job of tracking aircraft and noise events. So, the problem wasn't a technical one.
The reason Chad invested in an open source FlightTracker is rooted firmly in the business model of software. MAC's proprietary NOMS was extremely expensive to acquire and customize. It forced the MAC into a single vendor relationship whenever it wanted to tailor the application to better fit its constantly evolving business needs.
This means that the MAC can't take advantage of one of the most potent market forces for any buyer: competitive bidding. Chad reasoned that the MAC would realize substantial savings by investing in an open source and standards-based alternative to their proprietary system and using competitively bid developers to extend and support the technology. MAC has estimated that it has already saved over $200,000 by funding the development of OpenNOMS as compared to following the traditional software maintenance and upgrade model of their previous vendor.
Adapting to Changing Business Requirements
With proprietary systems the traditional business model is, "I've got this flight-tracking system for XX dollars. If you also want this other capability that's another XX dollars." It's a great business model if you're the vendor. Perhaps not such a good business model if you're an airport that needs the system's capabilities to better suit your changing business requirements.
FlightTracker in contrast, is an open source project. So any new capability, such as an air quality or environmental impact module, can be developed and contributed back to the Open Source core. This allows all users of the system to implement this new capability, essentially for free. To the extent airports form a community around developing the FlightTracker software, they can pool developer resources in a very intelligent way - extending their work on top of the work of others.
Open Source is not always the right choice for a geospatial business application. Sometimes the cost and technology advantages of proprietary systems are particularly well suited to a customer's needs. But more and more, savvy technology buyers are looking at the underlying business model of software - open vs proprietary - and making more informed decisions on the technologies that they choose to support their businesses.
Designing an Open Source Geospatial Solution to Manage Airport Noise and Operations - Part 1
Posted on June 04, 2012 by Dennis Wuthrich
Much of our recent application development work has been focused on creating intuitive and richly interactive geospatial applications using Open Source software and standards. Many of these solutions offer completely new functionality such as our Enterprise Addressing System, Archeological Asset Management system, and a real-time fisheries management application. But others were designed as modern, Open Source alternatives to legacy proprietary systems. OpenNOMS (Open Noise and Operations Management System) is one example we're currently working on with the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC).
OpenNOMS (code available at https://github.com/OpenNOMS/OpenNOMS) is a modular and open suite of applications for managing all manner of airport and flight operational information in a geospatial context. The first module of the application suite is FlightTracker, a fully web-based application for monitoring, visualizing, and reporting on airplane flight paths and the noise each airplane generates.
Airport Noise Management & Operations System that is robust, scalable, intuitive, geospatially-aware and Open Source
Applications to correlate airplane position data with noise monitoring data (aviation noise compliance) are not new. But these systems have all been proprietary and costly (one leading application easily tops 6 figures in price).
With FlightTracker, we worked with a talented programming team at the Metropolitan Airports Commission (Minneapolis-St. Paul and regional airports) to structure, build out and document an open source, freely available solution.
FlightTracker takes the data streams from aircraft tracking systems and the feed from noise monitoring sensors and does the geoprocessing necessary to correlate each individual airplane's position with noise monitoring data and present it all in a clean, modern user interface. The UI supports animation of flight tracks, and shows the full flight path and noise monitor reading for flights arriving and departing from the 3 airports around Minneapolis-St. Paul.
We've built the entire platform on Open Source technologies, including PostGIS, GeoServer, OpenLayers and GeoExt.
What does FlightTracker do for Airport Noise Abatement?
Using FlightTracker, an airport can access flight path and noise data, both in real-time or historical mode, via a web application. Officials can search historical data, animate flight paths and view noise tracking sensor data enabling users to view detailed information about flights and noise in relation to a particular location.
At first glance, this application might seem only mildly interesting. But if you are like the MAC and receive thousands of noise complaints a month and spend millions in noise abatement programs, this set of capabilities become extremely important.
With FlightTracker, MAC staff can quickly review the position of all incoming and departing flights for any day and time over the past year. For example, environmental compliance staff can ask for "all flight tracks for December 15th, 2011 between 9:00 in the morning and 3:00 in the afternoon". FlightTracker displays the all the flight data (and can optionally animate it) to show the position and associated noise for any (or all) aircraft during that time period.
With this information, staff can begin to correlate the location of noise complaints with actual data. It's important to know whether an irate citizen's noise complaints correlate with the position of an aircraft. Its even more important to be able to compare where noise complaints are consistently located and where the MAC has invested in noise mitigation programs.
In Flight Tracking and Noise Management using Open Source GIS Tools - Part 2 I will talk about ROI and the community advantage of choosing the Open Source approach
Another Great Use of the MarineMap Environmental GIS Decision Support Tool
Posted on May 18, 2012 by Joe Metro
Yesterday, we received a very rewarding email from a colleague who had worked for Farallon on a project we helped the MarineMap Consortium complete a couple of years ago:
"Just thought I would pass along an experience that, I hope, may bring a smile to your face. I was in a meeting with some VIP's today for a petroleum client we are working with. It has to do with running power cables out to the oil platforms off the coast of So-Cal. They have to be very careful to do this while also adhering to several environmental guidelines of not disturbing any habitat."
"Well, we were in this meeting and one of the project managers said he had discovered a 'killer' web application that shows all the features we need to make sure we avoid."
"He proceeded to open up the MarineMap Decision Support Tool. I was so excited! I told them that I had a hand in helping to create that web application when I worked for Farallon which was part of the MarineMap Consortium team. The tools that Farallon creates are well respected and you never know who might be using them (and for what, right?)."
Tomas Lopes, GIS Manager, URS Corporation
What is MarineMap?
MarineMap Web 2.0 is online mapping application that enables members of scientific community and general public to participate in the selection of marine environments that should be designated for conservation, recreational, and commercial uses. Read More »
The MarineMap application is being updated and will be replaced by SeaSketch Read More »