February 22, 2018

Esri Adds an Unstructured Location Data Capability

George Leopold


Spatial analytics specialist Esri continues to expand its mapping platform with the acquisition of ClearTerra, a developer of geospatial and other intelligence tools focused on unstructured data.

Esri, Redlands, Calif., announced the acquisition on Thursday (Feb. 22). Terms were not disclosed. The deal follows plans to run Esri’s geo-database platform on SAP HANA.

Esri said it would integrate ClearTerra’s location data extraction technology into its flagship geographic information system, the ArcGIS platform. The new capability would enable users to scan unstructured text data ranging from emails to reports, generating map-based information. Along with ArcGIS, ClearTerra’s Locate XT software also works with Google Earth (NASDAQ: GOOGL).

The workflow software also is designed to free analysts from tasks like scanning documents and creating spreadsheets, automating the process of extracting geographical coordinates and presenting the results as geospatial features. The tool also provides Esri’s platform with an enhanced search engine.

ClearTerra, which has focused heavily on the military and intelligence markets, is a member of Esri’s partner program, providing its software to ArcGIS users via desktops, servers and the cloud. Jeff Wilson, former vice president for sales at ClearTerra, will now oversee Esri’s defense and intelligence unit.

The acquisition also will allow Esri to boost support for unstructured data on the ArcGIS platform as it expands beyond military, intelligence and public safety applications to include market segments like energy exploration and utilities.

The huge amounts of unstructured data containing geospatial data improves the chances of locating information about the planet. The trick is allowing users to scan the data in ways that go beyond traditional street address searches. The ClearTerra acquisition aims to speed the process of extracting location data and presenting it as usable GIS data on the Esri platform.

The company announced last month it would run the enterprise version of its ArcGIS geo-database on HANA, SAP’s (NYSE: SAP) in-memory data and application development platform. The integration is designed to boost performance and scaling with the goal of combining location with other enterprise data sets. Along with GIS and mapping applications, the partners envision advanced visualization and spatial analytics applications.

Esri’s ArcGIS platform is among a growing list of GIS databases that have filled the gap for storing geo-location data. The ClearTerra acquisitions expands that capability to handle unstructured data.

In the open source arena, PostGIS, which overlays a geospatial component atop the Postgres relational database, also has a large following.

Meanwhile, the shift to in-memory and GPU-powered platforms reflects the explosion of geospatial data being generated by ubiquitous video and other terrestrial and airborne sensors. According to industry estimates, as much as 80 percent of all data being generated today has a geospatial component.

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