December 18, 1998

OSD Grants Phase I Contract Award for GeoTIFF V2 Design

December 18, 1998


Today the Office of the Secretary of Defense provide authorization for the Position Integrity Team to begin design of GeoTIFF Version 2.0.  GeoTIFF 2.0 is the next generation Geographic Information System (GIS) format for the storage of multi-scale nested map datasets.  The GeoTIFF family of specifications is critical to real time manipulation of maps, charts, photo-imagery, and terrain both in the battlefield and in commercial navigation.  The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed GeoTIFF 1.0 in the early part of this decade in coordination with scientists and cartographers from around the globe. The contract is administered as an SBIR Phase I from the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB in Florida.


Because the GeoTIFF architecture and specification is open-format, non-proprietary,  license-free and placed in the public domain, it became a popular mechanism which all users and contributors could use to exchange geographic data. It was rapidly adopted as a de-facto standard, with over 250 subscribing organizations in 100 countries using GeoTIFF in mapping and cartography applications.


While GeoTIFF 1.0 was being used extensively in scientific laboratories and in advanced industries like space based imaging and oil exploration, it was difficult for the average pilot or navigator to leverage the inherent advantages of this architecture.  This is where we stepped in.  The Position Integrity team partnered with  JPL on several Navy SBIR, Army STTR and DARPA TRP Phase I, II and III contracts to incorporate the power of GeoTIFF into a COTS Intel-based Windows-driven tactical mapping system.  The result is the Position Integrity product line.  Its chief designer and architect, Mr. Jesse Lund  maintains the web site for this robust and innovative software suite at:


Since this GeoTIFF 1.0-based moving map and tactical display was introduced five years ago, Position Integrity has been adopted by:


1) pilots flying the Navy E-2C Hawkeye who manage JTIDS tracks,

2) ground controllers who fly the Skyeye Unmanned Air Vehicle as they monitor the Suez Canal,

3) forward observers supporting SOCOM call for fire maneuvers on the ground,

4) scouts hunting unexploded ordnance at the Buckley Bombing Range in Colorado and

5) NASA scientists viewing the new "Digital Earth" space-based imagery.


The GeoTIFF architecture gives these applications blinding speed in terms of map and image slewing, reduced storage requirements due to the advanced compression protocols, and highly detailed  geo-positioning accuracy to support targeting missions.  This GeoTIFF-based application won the 1998 Windows World Open competition and Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates personally helped give the product line market visibility because he saw the benefits in life saving applications.


As we embark on the next generation of the format,  which we call GeoTIFF 2.0, we have users across the world who are providing suggestions and valuable feedback about what would help them do their jobs more effectively.  This is one critical advantage that our SBIR team has is generating the next generation architecture: we have military users, commercial designers and  NASA scientists all working together to advance the requirements phase of this project.  The outcome will therefore have relevance to the GIS community in a way which is born from field experience and real world applications.


Goals of GeoTIFF 2.0


What is needed is an innovative tool to concatenate the multiple scale datasets for the region of navigation into a single GeoTIFF file.  Seamless viewing should be provided so that the user scrolls and pans without regard for where one underlying image stops and another starts.  Nesting properties would be automatically self-declared in this file, so the viewer application running the file would alert the user if, for example, a higher resolution patch for the given geographic area were available for display. Finally, efficient and lossless compression would be employed so that the file would take up the smallest space without sacrificing real time viewing performance.  These are the hallmarks of the next generation GeoTIFF 2.0 architecture.  Over the next six months the design and specification will be crafted based on user inputs from the scientific, military  and commercial communities about desired features of such a advanced geographic image file format.


For more information contact Robert A. Severino at Position Integrity or by email at






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