The size and number of raster datasets available to the GIS professional is growing rapidly. For example, the resolution and coverage of remote sensing platforms increases with every new generation of hardware. The physical number of satellites and other sensing platforms in operation is increasing year on year. Storing, managing, visualising and processing this data has become increasingly challenging for data providers and consumers.
Although there are already more than a hundred raster data formats, Pitney Bowes determined that there existed a requirement for a new, unifying, format that handles all types of data and provides new capabilities to improve the user experience when visualising and processing raster data.
To meet this challenge, Pitney Bowes developed a raster storage format called ‘MRR’. It provides a flexible solution for the entire spectrum of industry requirements. It is a unifying and enabling technology. It unifies the storage of all kinds of raster data – imagery, spectral imagery, continuous gridded data and thematic data – and removes the barriers to working with different kinds of raster data in the same context. It enables the highest quality visualisation and processing of raster data – at any scale and for a raster of any size.
MRR encompasses all types of raster data like image, classified, discrete, and continuous. MRR is available to be used in MapInfo Pro v15.2 and MapInfo Pro Advanced v15.2 as well as the newly released MapInfo Pro/Advanced v16, MapInfo Discover 2015 64bit, Spectrum Spatial technology platform and SDK’s.
What are the key benefits of the new MRR file format?
1. Extremely large raster/grid datasets
The MRR format has been designed to address the difficulty of handling extremely large datasets. It supports a wide variety of data types, and provides industry standard compression techniques and predictive encoding techniques.
The MRR format minimises storage requirements and provides efficient data access to extremely large raster files. It has been designed to deliver an enhanced visualisation experience by maintaining an overview data pyramid. This guarantees efficient data visualisation at any scale and opening, panning and zooming of MRR files is near-instantaneous.
2. Unified data
The MRR format is capable of storing all types of raster/grid data in common use. It can be used to store numeric gridded data, imagery and classified (thematic) data.
3. Sparse data
Sometimes raster/grid datasets can be extremely large but only sparsely populated with valid data. An example of such a dataset is a LiDAR survey which follows along a pipeline for several 100km but is only 100m wide.
In cases such as these, the MRR format does not store values for the regions containing no data, but still remains flexible enough to add additional data to the source file any time. This allows extremely sparse datasets to be stored efficiently on disk, be rapidly accessed and easily updated.
4. Change in raster data
The MRR format provides unique capability to store changes in raster/grid data over any period of time. Using the MRR format you can store and then view changes in a dataset for a point in time or over a given period of time.
5. Efficient memory management
The MapInfo Pro Advanced Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provide intelligent data caching which automatically manage the use of system memory for the user. This automatic caching system simplifies the programmer’s tasks when working with extremely large datasets.
6. BONUS: MRR = Multi-Resolution Raster
We couldn’t fit all of the key benefits into five points so we’ve added this extra, but very important benefit.
The name MRR stands for Multi-Resolution-Raster and alludes to one of the key benefits of MRR.
MapInfo Pro Advanced allows you to create a multi-resolution raster by merging data from different resolution raster files. For example, if you have elevation data that is of high resolution in some parts and low resolution in some other places, you might want to combine the data in a single raster to perform better analysis of the area. This multi-resolution capability saves disk space and improves the performance of your analysis.
See it for yourself
Want to see MRR in action? Check out the introduction to MapInfo Pro Advanced below and then try it for yourself by downloading the free trial of MapInfo Pro v16. Once downloaded you can activate your trial of MapInfo Pro Advanced through the back-stage licencing options.