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Media Release
Release Date: July 29, 2019

A Digital Earth that acts as a central nervous system for the surface of the entire planet is the focus of a presentation by Camosun College civil engineering instructor Perry Peterson to an international audience in Japan this week.

Imagine knowing everything about the planet at any time and any place just by asking questions. What was once a vision popularized in science fiction is becoming a reality due in part to a system developed by Camosun College civil engineering instructor Perry Peterson, Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian IT firm Global Grid Systems.

Peterson, an instructor with the School of Trades and Technology at the college, is presenting his solutions for a Digital Earth to the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium in Yokohama, Japan.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society is a group where interdisciplinary scientists and engineers can exchange knowledge about remote sensing of the earth, oceans, and atmosphere.

“There is explosive growth in the variety and the volume of spatial data,” says Peterson. “Satellites are continually mapping our planet. The traditional surveying and mapping that we teach in the civil engineering technology department at Camosun is another important source of information that contributes to the mapping. Even our cell phones and the proliferation of other connected devices that sense and transmit location and describe what’s happening where and when.

“The problem has been how do we bring all that data together and make sense of it when a person has a question. Imagine there are millions of tiny tiles that cover the entire world, and in each tile there’s information stored that describes that location. When aggregated together they can tell us what’s going on and that’s how Digital Earth works, a central nervous system for the planet.”

Peterson believes that better decisions can be made when information describing the world is available and easy to access. Peterson is working with other engineers, scientists, and mathematicians on a solution. The International Standards Organization, the United Nations, and the Open Geospatial Consortium have adopted it as an international standard.

“There is a lot of work necessary before general adoption will occur but many significant information technology groups are joining us; Google has Earth Engine based on their S2 grid cells and Uber has even developed one called H3,” adds Peterson. “We are going to see mass changes in how people access answers to their ‘What is here?’ and ‘Where is it?’ questions.”

The School of Trades and Technology at Camosun College offers a variety of computer-focused and engineering technology programs, including certificates, diplomas, bridging to university and university transfer courses.

Camosun College has campuses located on the traditional territories of the Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. Established in 1971, the college serves 19,000 learners a year in certificate, diploma, bachelor's degree, post-degree diploma and continuing education programs.

Program Contact:

Perry Peterson
Instructor, Civil Engineering Technology
School of Trades and Technology, Camosun College

Media Contact:

Rodney Porter
Executive Director, Communications & Marketing
Camosun College
250-889-7494 |

Last updated: August 26, 2019 12:21 pm

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