Beak advangeo®, New Technology for spatial data analysis
Changes and advancements in spatial data analysis technology prompted Beak Consultants, a Germany based Geological Consultancy and Software Development Company to develop advangeo®.
Advangeo® is a spatial prediction and analysis software, which is based on methods of artificial neural networks (ANNs). ANNs belong to the methods of artificial intelligence.
The advantages of ANN are their ability to analyse complex cause and effect relationships that are common for natural phenomena or processes: e.g. the formation of a mineral/fuel deposit is the result of interactions of multiple and complex factors, such as geological framework, tectonics, magmatism, metamorphism, and others. ANNs analyse the relationships during a training process and are able to keep the “knowledge” for further use and application. The user must not necessarily have a clear understanding about the relationships before analysis.
The software advangeo® guides the user through all steps of data preparation, supervised training, and the trained network application up to the creation of the predictive maps. It stores all interim data, the trained networks and saves the metadata of any operation.
It consists of a database interface and a GIS interface that are fully integrated. The software is based on ESRI functionalities (ArcGIS 9.2). The GIS extension allows the easy visualisation and preparation of GIS data (incl. map printing) and communicates with the Data and Model explorer.
According to Silke Noack, the project manager, the idea and inspiration to create this software arose because often problems of prediction of complex spatial events are faced. Here, for well-investigated sites and processes mathematical methods can be used (e.g. MODFLOW for groundwater modelling). These models work excellent if the process is well known and there are enough data for calibration available. In case of less investigated processes, or a lack of detailed data these methods do not work. ANN methods are an excellent alternative, also considering that many processes and events cannot be investigated with reasonable efforts in a reasonable time (as the formation of a deposit), hence they started to work with ANN first in the environment of geohazard prediction.
Advangeo® can be used for analysis of any spatial phenomena, such as geological, hydrogeological, soil mapping, prediction of soil erosion, prediction of geohazards (landslides, mudflows,...), prediction of mineral/fuel, ground water deposits, prediction of spread of diseases, prediction of pests in agriculture or forestry and in the economy.
Silke Noack further explained that in case of mineral/fuel deposit exploration targeting, advangeo® analyses the relationship between geological, tectonic, stratigraphic, geochemical patterns (maps) and known deposit sites, creates the "footprint" of the deposit (what is the trained neural network) and applies the knowledge to a large area. The result is a map showing probabilities for the appearance of the event (that means the same type of deposit) that has been used for training.
Advangeo® is trained by a supervised learning process, that means that one must have a sample pattern for learning, i.e. known deposit sites for mineral/fuel deposit prediction. Especially in the field of analysis of complex and voluminous geological data, advangeo® is very helpful, opening new doors for the complex interpretation of existing data.
The software provides many useful features of data organisation, data processing, data transformation, data presentation, and evaluation of results and supports the full workflow of artificial neural network generation and application.
Being developed, tested and used as a tool in several Beak project activities the software is now also available commercially by licensing agreements and can be purchased for € 5000 including 1 year support.
Beak Consultants GmbH offers services for the governmental mining and environmental sector and the private mineral industry as well. Important services are the systematisation, evaluation and processing of geo-scientific data, the creation of customised database and GIS applications, mapping, prospecting and exploration, due diligence of mineral deposits and raw material projects, as well as regional planning conflict analyses.
Beak enforces the development of the advangeo® software product. The use of artificial intelligence for prognosis of spatial phenomena turns out to be exceedingly interesting and future-oriented. The intensive geological data capture and map compilation in Kosovo finishes with the creation of Prognostic Maps for several minerals. At multi-national level, the AEGOS project evolves. This project, as a consortium of African and international institutions as well, shall enforce the usability of geo-information in Africa. Long-term environmental, mineral, research and IT projects in Germany and new abroad projects in Yemen, Namibia, Morocco and in Mongolia are further focus points of Beak’s activities.