How HP Workstations are Helping Geospatial Pros


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I recently had the chance to chat with Jason San Souci, remote sensing scientist and Geographic Information System (GIS) strategy consultant, to learn more about his use of the HP Z220 Workstation and how it aids in providing geospatial solutions to his clients.


For those of you who just got a headache from trying to figure out what GIS really means, it allows specialists to visualize, analyze, and interpret data to disclose patterns and trends in the form of maps, reports, and charts. This allows you to look at data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared. Think of the map apps on your phone – guys like Jason make the information that is at your fingertips possible, among many other things.


GIS benefits organizations of all sizes and in almost every industry. Powerful and professional processors from Intel allow the complex GIS analysis to easily run on HP Workstations.  Because of the large hard drives and reliability of HP Z Workstations, Jason has been able to run multiple geospatial applications with a much quicker turnaround time. Check out the interview below to learn more about Jason and his work with the Z220…

Jim Christensen: Tell us about yourself and your work.

Jason San Souci: I have 11 years hands-on technical experience in the field of remote sensing and geospatial technology.  I’m currently working at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as a mission commander for military operations with a geospatial emphasis. I am also the principal and owner of Automated Feature Extraction (AFE) Advisor, which provides geospatial solutions. My work covers a broad range of combined technological and functional areas including, but not limited to: remote sensing solutions, GIS strategy consulting, feature extraction, imagery acquisition and exploitation, and decision support system development.


JC: Why do you need a workstation versus a desktop PC or laptop?

JS: I need to be able to walk away from a large, complex batch process and return without seeing a blue screen of death (BSOD).  I can't trust large projects to desktop PCs or laptops.  As a small business owner, I typically have to complete all aspects of a geospatial project on one workstation.  It is not cost effective to have an image processing station, a feature extraction station and a GIS analysis and modeling station.  I need to have the flexibility to combine these tasks as well as report writing, and common office tasks.  The HP Workstations provide the reliability, power and upgradability of things like storage, graphics and processors that I need as a professional.


JC: What is the most important factor for you when choosing a workstation? How has the HP Z220 Workstation measured up?

JS: Processing power and reliability are the two most important factors when picking a workstation for GIS.  The HP Z220 has enough processing power to run multiple geospatial applications in parallel faster than I've ever experienced on comparable workstations. Others weigh twice as much and take up too much space.


One project that I worked on recently required processing terabytes of high-resolution imagery. Because of the limitations of the workstations that I was using at the time, I had to break the project up into more manageable subsets. This added more quality control tasks than would have been necessary if I could have done more of the project on one machine. The Z220 has eased several data processing bottlenecks that I've experienced over the past several years and exceeded my expectations for processing demands and parallel workflow implementation.


JC: What improvements have you seen with the HP Z220 Workstation?

JS: The main improvement that I've seen with the Z220 is the ability to run multiple geospatial processes and applications in parallel with increased reliability. This gives me the ability to run multiple processes over larger areas, increasing my productivity and allowing me to meet demanding product deadlines. Processes that would typically run overnight and with a high risk for data errors, and BSOD now run three to five times faster. 


I am very impressed with the speed, data storage, compact design, weight, and video/media connectivity options that the HP Z220 offers. Geospatial professionals demand a workstation that can process massive amounts of data, run multiple applications in parallel, seamlessly render 2D and 3D data, all at a cost that makes sense for small business owners.  The Z220 offers everything that today's geospatial professional needs to be successful in a constantly changing, data-driven environment.


JC: What are you working on next?

JS: I am designing a large-scale agricultural monitoring process for sugarcane in Brazil. It will incorporate multi-temporal, multiple resolution imagery, climate data, in field measurements and other ancillary data to provide timely, more accurate information to farmers and agricultural product suppliers on crop area, vigor, biomass, and disease.

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