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A look at the secrets of the earth’s surface with GIM

GIM is an internationally operating EO and GIS services company based in Heverlee near Leuven in Belgium. The company provides consultancy, software development services and products in the geo-spatial domain. GIM specializes in remote sensing services and GIS applications as well as value adding data services and geo-spatial web applications.

Since its start of activities in 1995, GIM has been able to establish a broad international customer base and has successfully participated in more than 500 local, national, and European projects. GIMs customers are to be found in private industry and public organisations ranging from international to local level. GIM is providing a wide range of value added services for remotely sensed data and GIS applications in segments such as urban planning, precision farming, geomarketing, natural resources and environmental monitoring, world heritage information management and defence.

The GIM team has expertise in managing and executing national and international projects. At present, GIM is employing a staff of 30 experts and consultants graduated in earth sciences, engineering and informatics.

GIM uses cutting edge GIS and image processing software and provides consultancy, processing and bespoke development services on the basis of software components from both the major commercial GIS and remote sensing software vendors as well as Open Source solutions.

Fig1:Left/right – Extraction of Building Footprints and integration with the GIM Building Typologies classification scheme / © GIM & EUSI. The LEFT image shows the building footprints that have been extracted from WorldView-2 50 cm satellite imagery over Zaventem (Belgium). The RIGHT image shows the classification of buildings into different types based on their physical characteristics and other contextual information

GIM builds Spatial Data Infrastructures compliant with international Open Standards and provides consultancy and training services on the implementation of Web Service technology, Open Standards and the application of interoperable metadata and data models.

GIM is an official distributor of optical and radar satellite images

Very high resolution imagery

Very high resolution optical images (e.g. QuickBird, IKONOS, WorldView, GeoEye) have a spatial resolution below 2.5 m where single buildings, roads, vehicles, and even individual trees are identifiable. Applications include urban planning, forestry, agriculture, hydrology or cartography.

High and medium resolution imagery

High and medium Resolution Satellite imagery from sensors such as SPOT, ASTER, LANDSAT and MERIS has a spatial resolution ranging from 5 to 300 m. These images have a much larger extent and a higher revisit rate which makes them suitable for small scale land use mapping and frequent monitoring of events or natural processes.

Radar imagery

Imaging radar systems differ from optical systems because they generate their own electromagnetic waves. The main advantage is that such a system allows day and night-time operation under virtually all atmospheric conditions. They can “see” through haze, light rain and snow, clouds and smoke, because active microwaves are used.

GIM distributes TerraSAR-X images with a resolution of 1 m. Furthermore ERS or ASAR data sets are available.


Earth Observation services

Satellite Imagery is often distributed at a basic pre-processing level and can therefore not be used as such in a Geographic Information System (GIS). At first, GIM offers a number of Earth Observation services to correct the imagery and prepare it for further processing. This is done with dedicated software applications and includes the following operations:
• Radiometric and atmospheric corrections of crucial importance for time series analysis;
• Geometric corrections such as georeferencing and orthorectification as well as images co-registration;
• Images mosaicking and pansharpening.

GIM also creates Digital Elevation Models and 3D visualisation. In addition, GIM specialises since several years in information extraction and analysis from Earth Observation data.

GIM has indeed built an extensive expertise on the development of robust and transferable semi-automated processing chains on the basis of the Object-Based Image Analysis methodology. The latter does not consider an image as a matrix of pixels with specific spectral values but rather as a collection of meaningful objects with specific colour, shape, texture and relation to neighbouring objects. This improves the processing efficiency and allows to deliver high quality results for applications such as:
• Land use / land cover or soil sealing mapping,
• Spatial refinement and updating of existing statistical data sets using dasymetric mapping techniques,
• Specific object extraction (e.g. isolated trees for the elaboration of an urban tree cadastre or specific target detection and recognition for security and defence applications),
• Change detection to update large geographical data bases,
• Elaboration of relevant indicators for geomarketing applications such as building typologies, wealth indicators (e.g. presence of swimming pools and size of the garden), etc.
Fig3: Dasymetric mapping of population provided per commune using ASTER LULC maps (MMU 25 ha) / © GIM & e-GEOS. Dasymetric mapping allows to reflect the reality in a better way by redistributing any statistical data on a higher resolution scale using relevant and objective information extracted from earth observation images

Example of Earth Observation service: Slum Mapping – Monitoring of informal settlements

Based on aerial or satellite imagery with sub-metre resolution, suitable information for the characterization of human informal settlements (“slums”) is provided, e.g. the number of dwellings, the size of dwellings, the distance between dwellings (size of open spaces), the number of inhabitants etc. This information can be used in many applications such as housing allocation programs, rehousing decisions, property development, update of census data, etc.

Fig4: 1- Aerial imagery (25cm resolution), 3 bands (blue, green, red), Rundu, Namibia © N.A.D.A.R. 2- Results of building detection algorithm (polygons) © GIM & N.A.D.A.R. 3- Results of building detection algorithm (points, thematic representation based on area of dwellings) © GIM & N.A.D.A.R.

GIM is also active in the precision farming sector with the development of specific crop monitoring services based on an in depth analysis of very high resolution image time series.

The extracted information can then be directly integrated into the client GIS application or delivered as customized maps.

GeoICT services

GIM customises GIS and EO software tools, both commercial off-the-shelf and Open Source, to make them exactly meet the customer requirements.

Since 2005, GIM specialises in the design, implementation and operation of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) for a variety of regional, national and European organisations. Offered services range from training sessions over the compilation of implementation roadmaps to the full implementation of Web Portals and discovery, view, download and transformation services.

To facilitate the deployment of an SDI for organisations with a variety of data offerings, GIM has developed its GeoCMS that allows efficient distributed management of datasets and easy configuration of modern Web Mapping applications.


We also operate a set of Web Services (Map services offering EO and GIS data, geocoding, reverse geocoding, address generalisation, web processing) that allow our customers to integrate GIS and EO data and GIS application logic in a variety of software applications.

GIM is also active on the standardisation front and helps designing and testing community profiles of Web Service interfaces and (meta-) data models. An example of such an activity is the set of Application Profiles that detail how to employ the Observations and Measurements, Catalogue Service for the Web and Web Coverage Service standards of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) in the Earth Observation domain.

Since 1995 GIM has acquired an expertise in Geographic Information Systems, Earth observation applications, WebGIS and Web Services. As a company GIM is committed to supply products and services to allow our customers to manage and leverage their spatial information.

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GIM – Patricia Desmet
Researchpark Haasrode 1505
Interleuvenlaan 5
BE-3001 Heverlee
tel.: +32 16 40 30 39 / fax: +32 16 40 69 39