This week meet IGNITE Finalist Ute Gangkofner from Germany. In this Q&A, Ute tells us about her about her background in geography and remote sensing and how she applied this to build her Smart M.App, Global Green Analyzer.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I am from Bad Neustadt/Saale, Unterfranken, Germany. This is a small town with approximately 10,000 people in the northern part of Bavaria in southern Germany.
Q: Where did you attend school and what did you study? Why did you choose this subject?
A: I attended elementary school and High School (Gymnasium) in Bad Neustadt, from 1965 to 1978. In 1978 I went to Munich, where I started my study. I chose three major subjects: Economics, English and Geography, with the idea to become a High School teacher.
The introductory lessons of Physical Geography — Soil Sciences absolutely and immediately convinced me that I wanted to study ONLY Geography from then on. I figured I would like to work in developing countries using Soil Sciences and therefore I studied Geography, with Soil Science and Geology as minors. After the first part of my studies I studied two semesters in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA, from July 1982 to May 1983. There I got acquainted with Remote Sensing, which became from then on my actual major. I finished my Geography study in Munich with a clear focus on Remote Sensing in 1986.
Q: Where do you currently work? What is your current job? What are your responsibilities?
A: After nearly 30 years of employment and freelancer work with remote sensing companies, I started my own small business, eoConsultancy, in January 2016. In my new role, I am focusing on the development of remote sensing methods and tools. My responsibility is to draw from rich and diverse experiences in remote sensing and continue to learn and interact with interesting people, and make a living from that. A major project I am currently working on is to develop a cloud detection model.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do during your free time?
A: Some of my favorite things to do in my free time involve my family, friends, and social life. I enjoy having breakfast while reading the newspaper, “working” in the garden, canoeing and kayaking (I am part of a canoeing club, DTKC in Munich), mountain biking, hiking, ski mountaineering, reading books, watching good stuff on TV, cultural life, studying and traveling.
Q: Where did your interest in geospatial/mapping/information services come from?
A: My interest in geospatial work comes from my interest in my studies and work. It is based on fascination about satellite imagery, a quite long professional history in remote sensing, and the great new technical and communication possibilities. This technology enables one to do things that one could only dream about in the early days of Remote Sensing. Additionally, there are always problems and challenges in remote sensing to be solved to make it work for its destinations.
Q: How did you hear about IGNITE?
A: I heard about IGNITE through my contact with Geosystems GmbH, Germany, and through Derrold Holcomb from Hexagon Geospatial Atlanta, who I have known for more than 10 years.
Q: Why are you excited about this competition?
A: The IGNITE competition is a great challenge for me to condense some essential professional experiences into (hopefully) useful remote sensing services, building on exciting new technologies, and teaming up with extremely motivated people who all want to make these Smart M.Apps a success story.
Q: What is the problem your Smart M.App addresses?
A: Filling the gap between the availability of great remote sensing data on a global level (here: NASA MODIS) on the one hand and interested users to get information out of this data in a feasible way on the other hand.
Q: What is your Smart M.App called?
A: My Smart M.App is called “Global Green Analyzer.”
Q: What IGNITE Theme does it support?
A: My Smart M.App supports the Safety theme and, in a wider sense, sustainability and nature conservation.
Q: What does it do?
A: Global Green Analyzer is a toolkit for vegetation monitoring and analysis. As such it will provide overview information on current vegetation performance, anomalies, trends, as well as an indicator of habitat potential for user-defined areas and periods.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your Smart M.App?
A: Potentially, information such as provided by the Global Green Analyzer in a user accessible and user friendly way will have a great impact on a better management of natural resources.
I hope that the M.App actually fulfills this potential by finding and keeping users who recognize the potential and second, are satisfied with the service and third, perhaps even motivated to give feedback in order to make the Smart M.App better and more useful over time.