MultiSpec - Desktop and Online Tool

By Larry Biehl

Purdue University

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MultiSpec is an easy to learn and use, freeware image processing tool for interactively analyzing a broad spectrum of geospatial image data, with capabilities such as image display, unsupervised and supervised classification, feature extraction, feature enhancement, and several other functions. Originally developed for Macintosh and Windows desktop computers, it has a community of several thousand users worldwide, including researchers and educators, as a practical and robust solution for analyzing multispectral and hyperspectral remote sensing data in several different file formats.

More recently MultiSpec was adapted to run in the HUBzero collaboration platform so that it can be used within a web browser, allowing new user communities to be engaged through science gateways. MultiSpec Online has also been extended to interoperate with other components (e.g., data management) in HUBzero through integration with the geospatial data building blocks (GABBs) project. This integration enables a user to directly launch MultiSpec Online from data that is stored and/or shared in a HUBzero gateway and to save output data from MultiSpec Online to hub storage, allowing data sharing and multi-step workflows without having to move data between different systems.

MultiSpec has also been used in K-12 classes for which one example is the GLOBE program ( and in outreach material such as that provided by the USGS ( MultiSpec Online now provides teachers with another way to use MultiSpec without having to install the desktop tool. Recently MultiSpec Online was used in a geospatial data session with 30-35 middle school students at the Turned Onto Technology and Leadership (TOTAL) Camp in the summers of 2016 and 2017 at Purdue University. The students worked on a flood mapping exercise using Landsat 5 data to learn about land remote sensing using supervised classification techniques.

Online documentation is available for MultiSpec ( including a reference manual and several tutorials allowing young high-school students through research faculty to learn the basic functions in MultiSpec. Some of the tutorials have been translated to other languages by MultiSpec users.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Larry Biehl (2017), "MultiSpec - Desktop and Online Tool,"

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