The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has released an open-source version of its FalconView software that displays topographical maps, aeronautical charts, satellite images and other maps, along with overlay tools that can be displayed on any map background.
"We are excited to broaden our user base outside of the Department of Defense," said Chris Bailey, GTRI principal research engineer and FalconView project director. "We expect that individual municipalities, including state, city and town governments; police forces; architects, environmental researchers and utility companies will be among those who will benefit from this new FalconView open-source software."
The Windows-based FalconView software package allows users to view many different imagery formats, including popular geographic information systems formats and KML, which is the code used by Google Earth and Google Maps. Municipalities can upload archived maps of their localities into FalconView and users can also download topographical, nautical, aeronautical and satellite maps from the Internet for use in FalconView.
"FalconView has advantages over most of the free mapping software products because FalconView can be used without an active Internet connection," added GTRI's Joel Odom, a member of the 11-person FalconView development team. "Someone can take a file they're viewing in another program and look at it in FalconView to get a top-down two-dimensional view that they can thoroughly analyze even if they're in a boat in the middle of the ocean without a satellite uplink and downlink."
The open-source version of FalconView also contains several analysis tools. The drawing utility allows users to create custom shapes in an overlay that can be saved and shared. Calculating distances between points on a map is easy with the analysis tool. The tool also allows users to calculate the visibility between areas on the map if elevation data is available. In addition, a global positioning system and camera can be hooked up to the FalconView software to allow users to track their movements on a "moving" map and record the exact locations where they snapped photographs.