WASHINGTON – Esri, the creator of the mapping platform ArcGIS, has acquired ClearTerra to help its users more easily extract geographic coordinates from unstructured data sources.

Unlike structured data, such as financial transaction data that is uniformly formatted in a database and easily queried, unstructured data is information presented in multiple formats that are difficult to aggregate into a single repository. Examples of unstructured data include text (from Word documents, emails, Powerpoint presentations, etc.), images and video and audio files. These unstructured data files often contain useful pieces of information for mapping such as dates, times and coordinates that can help intelligence agencies trace movement of military personnel and equipment over time.

With current software, analysts have to spend excessive amounts of time sifting through unstructured textual data arduously copying, pasting and running data through spreadsheet formulas to piece together an informative geospatial image.

By incorporating ClearTerra’s Location Data Extraction Technology or LocateXT software into its ArcGIS platform, users will be able to rapidly scan treasure troves of unstructured data, and quickly extract geospatial information into usable GIS data.

In a company press release, Jeff Peters, Esri’s director of national government, said, “The unstructured data tools are powerful not only for those who have made use of this technology for a number of years, such as in the military, but it also has useful applications for so many more Esri users.”

ClearTerra’s software could also make searching through such large datasets much easier. The software leverages techniques found in large internet search engines, such as tolerating misspelled words and using Boolean logic searches.