Where it all began

In order to tell the story of WeoGeo, we really need to start with the Florida Environmental Research Institute (FERI). FERI was a not-for-profit research institute founded by W. Paul Bissett, PhD in 1998. FERI was responsible for a wide range of tasks spanning from the construction and aerial deployment of several digital sensor systems to the analysis of the data generated by these systems. The guiding mission of the institute was to develop methods, tools, products and software programs to better assist decision makers, government officials, educators, and scientists around the world, to better monitor and manage the coastal ocean environment.

One of FERI’s primary missions was the development and deployment of custom hyperspectral remote sensing systems designed to characterize the near shore environment. In 2001, Paul hired David Kohler, PhD, to lead and manage the research and flight missions for the Institute. Originally FERI was entrusted with deploying the Naval Research Laboratory’s PHILLS (Portable Hyperspectral Imager for Low-Light Spectroscopy) system to service these missions. FERI later built a system of its own design, SAMSON (Spectroscopic Aerial Mapping System with Onboard Navigation).

In design alone, SAMSON made major advances in spectral integrity (14 bit very low noise camera), spectral range (256 bands), and geoaccuracy (Trimble’s Applanix IMU). Also FERI and the SAMSON sensor were integral in developing state of the art NIST calibrations for airborne hyperspectral imagers. And FERI refined their infield mission deployment to the point that they were able to produce atmospherically corrected and calibrated imagery within 12 - 24 hours after it was collected. This type of turn around time was unheard of.

The Problem

Collecting world class hyperspectral data is one thing. Figuring out how to distribute it effectively is another. Most of FERI’s missions were either government or academically sponsored events. This usually meant there were multiple organizations represented at each collect; all with their own research focus and needs. When it was time to distribute that data FERI collected in support of the mission, some groups needed the full area but at a reduced (Red Green Blue) spectral resolution; others needed the full hyperspectral return but only for the area their teams were studying. This coupled with the fact that SAMSON collected an enormous amount of data (up to a terabyte per mission) made this a non-trivial task. Determining exactly what part of the SAMSON data each team needed and getting it to them was a full time effort.

Initially, FERI tackled this by cloning hard drives and distributing them to their partners. But this was extremely expensive and inefficient. They needed a provisioning system. A way for the end user to request only what he or she needed, when it was needed. And to this end, an online password protected portal was developed, FERI’s Hyperspectral Data Repository Online (HyDRO).

The Transition

HyDRO was met with much enthusiasm by FERI’s research partners. But it was not long before FERI was inundated with requests for the use of their innovated data distribution system and questioned if it could host other data streams. Clearly, it was a success. However, a more universal system was needed. And thus, in the fall of 2006, Paul Bissett and David Kohler decided to devote the focus necessary for this promising project and subsequently WeoGeo was born. (FERI’s other main effort, the SAMSON hyperspectral system, was acquired by Northrup Gruman.)

WeoGeo as a concept grew quickly. The start of a geospatial Library product was rapidly developed. This was followed by a fully enabled e-commerce counterpart: WeoGeo Market. All of the technology was built upon the newly introduced Amazon Web Services (WeoGeo were alpha/beta testers). In order to gain Amazon Web Services’ promise of robustness and scalability, we built our own innovative infrastructure system, WeoCEO. This product is still in use by us today. The innovation and resourcefulness of our team was not lost on Amazon, who named WeoGeo as a finalist it is inaugural Start Up Challenge.

The Next Phase

In search of easier access to skilled employees and needed capital, WeoGeo migrated from Tampa, Florida to Portland, Oregon starting in the spring of 2008. Our new city and state welcomed us and recognized our potential, awarding us runner up in the 2009 Angel Oregon Awards.

At the same time, things continued to move swiftly on the technology front. We formally partnered with Safe Software. And through our unique deployment of their technology (FME Server), we were able to expand our mostly raster/imagery offering to include a wide variety of vector and GIS formats.

And in September of 2011, we released a brand new interface to the world. Our new UI was fully redesigned to be the most efficient search and discovery data management system that exists today. We have also exposed nearly every aspect of our system through our well documented, public API. Allowing any user to make a customized version of the system to meet the needs of their particular audience.

We continue to help our users easily manage their location-data no matter what the format of their data or the business intelligence engine that they are using. Our WeoGeo Library product offers an easy-to-use, location data content management service, augmented by a data marketplace service. The management and marketplace services work together to allow anyone from individuals to enterprise organizations to recognize the full potential of their geospatial and location based data.