June 5, 2002
High-Performance Database Research Center
School of Computer Science
Florida International University
Contact: Martha Gutierrez
Phone: (305) 348-6262 or (305) 348-1706 | Fax: (305) 348-1705 | E-mail:
Address: 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33199
In its seventh annual round-up of data warehousing and business intelligence enterprises, the June, 2002, edition of the DM Review named TerraFly a winner of its annual World Class Solution Award in the category of Data Management. Awards were given to entries "that demonstrated innovative solutions that enable more than was previously possible and provide quantitative business value." The journal, a premier business intelligence and data warehousing publication, praised TerraFly's technological strength and novel data delivery mechanisms-as well as its unique "fly-over" interface. The accolade was given to both Florida International University (the project's institutional home) and the IBM Corporation, which has supplied the project with top-of-the-line hardware and software.
TerraFly is a Web-enabled system designed to aid in the visualization of spatial and remotely sensed imagery. This system allows users to "fly" over the Earth's surface and explore spatial data such as aerial photography, satellite imagery, street maps, and locale information-all at resolutions of one meter or finer. The system's database currently houses satellite imagery of the entire United States and aerial photographic imagery of most metropolitan markets. Users simply enter an address into the system's intuitive interface and instantly receive a bird's eye view. Industry-specific uses are also in development, including applications for the real estate industry, for disaster management agencies, and for planners and developers, among many other professional groups.
Dr. Naphtali Rishe, the Director of the project, is delighted with the announcement that TerraFly has won the award. "It's wonderful to have others recognize the innovative work we are doing," he says. "Over the past several years we have conducted research that has refined TerraFly into a versatile, efficient, and very useful application. In the near future, we anticipate adding even greater functionality, improved efficiency, and datasets of satellite imagery for the entire world."
Such datasets take up huge amounts of digital storage space. TerraFly's ability to handle these enormous databases efficiently was one of the prime factors that earned it the World Class Solution Award. The DM Review cites as a particular strength the IBM DB2 Universal Database, running on an IBM RS/6000 SP cluster and on Linux servers, which stores and manages the vast amount of data needed to display high-resolution aerial images via parallel processing technology and clustered server configurations. The Review also notes that TerraFly takes advantage of IBM DB2 Net Search Extender, a database extension that both indexes large DB2 volumes very rapidly and enables high-speed searching with numerous concurrent users.
The TerraFly project debuted to the public in the fall of 2001. Since that time, usage of the site has grown to over 10,000 unique users per day. It has been featured on television news programs, in top publications such as Science magazine, Nature journal, major newspapers worldwide, Yahoo's Weekly Picks, and the selection of "top tech picks" offered by USA Today. TerraFly was recently named the first-place winner of the Miami Herald "Business Challenge," a ranking of up-and-coming endeavors in the South Florida region.
The World Class Solution award rounds out the array of accolades that TerraFly has received, according to Dr. Rishe. "It is especially nice to be recognized by a trade journal. It's great when TerraFly is featured on newspapers and television, of course, but to be praised by our peers is a real sign that we're doing something unique and valuable."
TerraFly can be accessed on the Web at http://www.terrafly.com.
TerraFly is a project of the High-Performance Database Research Center (HPDRC) at Florida International University (FIU). The HPDRC and its constituent FIU-NASA Regional Applications Center (RAC) comprise 100 researchers working under the direction of Dr. Naphtali Rishe, Professor of Computer Science and the first-ever recipient of FIU's Outstanding Faculty Award. The U.S. government has funded the Center's work on database technology, the Internet, and data visualization at $17 million, while private industry has delivered nearly $13 million in equipment and funding.