Tech transfer begets map app

Working with a small business, the Navy is customizing big mapping applications through
technology transfer without shelling out big bucks.


“A lot of innovation comes out of small companies,” said Carol Van Wyk,
small-business innovation research program manager at the Naval Air Systems Command.
Through a $70,000 feasibility study followed by a two-year, $750,000 contract, the Navy
developed a prototype terrain-following system that uses a file format called GeoTIFF.


The GeoTIFF cartographic format specifies content and structure of industry-standard
tag sets for georeferenced raster images. It uses TIFF.


More information about the GeoTIFF working group appears on the Web at mcmcweb.er.usgs.gov/drg/geotiff.html.  


The Navy is using GeoTIFF software developed by Dubbs & Severino Inc. of Irvine,
Calif., with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a subcontractor, for three E2
surveillance planes that fly over the Atlantic Ocean and three that fly over the Pacific.
The project, begun in 1994, is part of a Navy initiative to keep planes safely away from
obstacles, Van Wyk said.


Dubbs & Severino also worked last year with the Office of the Secretary of Defense
through the Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., company president
Bob Severino said.


Such technology transfer initiatives give agencies access to advanced technology
without paying hefty bills individually, Severino said.


Dubbs & Severino has customized a terrain-avoidance application for airplanes and a
moving map for boats, helicopters and planes. But it remains to be seen whether the
Federal Aviation Administration and NASA will pay the company to develop the software for
the Global Aviation Database.


“We’ve got a limited budget for these types of projects,” said Dorothy
“Dot” Buckanin, manager of the Communication, Navigation and Surveillance
Engineering and Test Division at FAA’s Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J.


“I personally think if we can get [Geo-TIFF] certified, it has a lot of
potential,” said Buckanin, who attended a test of the Dubbs & Severino software.


FAA officials also are working with NASA to develop mapping programs through the
Aviation Safety Program, said Jan Brecht-Clark, FAA deputy director in the Office of
Aviation Research.


FAA set aside $84 million this fiscal year to improve aircraft and airport safety, she
said.


The National Transportation Safety Board is not a partner in the safety program per se,
Brecht-Clark said, but the safety board makes recommendations to FAA about safety issues.
 


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