2006 January 05


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Editor's Introduction

Happy New Year! This week I report on the launch of the first satellite of the European Galileo satellite navigation system, on the use of GIS to map mines, and on another variation on the trend toward Web-based GIS. I also bring you two more answers to my year-end informal industry survey, a link to a fascinating radio discussion on the geospatial Web, and an intriguing idea about mapping distances between points to reflect the time of travel between them rather than their geographic distance. Plus, my usual roundup of news from press releases.

First, however, this analogy, which occurred to me during one of the several scrumptious meals I had at my parents' home as I visited them during the holidays.

Researching, writing, and producing the weekly GIS Monitor is a bit like cooking a meal for a large group every week. I always know in general what will be in season any day of the year, but I do not know for sure until a few days before a meal what's actually available, of what quality, at what price, and at what store or market. Analogously, I know well in advance when annual trade shows, technical conferences, and user conferences take place; then, as each one grows closer, I know their dates, location, title, and approximate agenda (a year to eight months in advance); their final agenda and list of speakers (a few months to a few weeks in advance); and last minute changes (a few weeks to a few minutes in advance). However, just like I don't know for sure the quality of any ingredients until I taste them, I know not how good a presentation or panel discussion will be until I actually attend it. Likewise, I don't know just how good or relevant an interview will be until I actually conduct it.

To cook a good meal I need mostly fresh ingredients, though I can also use some items that I've had for a few weeks (such as potatoes) and some that I've had for months (such as canned goods, pasta, or beans). Analogously, every week I serve up the readers of GIS Monitor mostly fresh news, sometimes accompanied by reviews of articles or books that I've had for a few weeks or a couple of months. Occasionally I use anecdotes, vignettes, and metaphors that I've had in store for years.

My editor's introduction is the appetizer, my articles and interviews are the main courses; I'd be pushing the analogy to say that letters to the editor and other tidbits are the cheese and fruit; and the analogy breaks down completely when you get to the news from press releases.

Then there's the question of keeping the menu nutritious, healthy, and interesting, week after week...

Soon, it will be your turn to review my cooking´┐Ż I mean, my writing — by responding to a reader survey, as I complete my first year in this job, in mid-February. And, if you ever happen to be in Eugene, Oregon, let me know and I'll invite you to one of my dinner parties!

— Matteo

First Galileo Satellite Launched

After years of studies and squabbles, on December 28 Europe launched the first demonstrator spacecraft of the Galileo constellation — that continent's contribution to the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) that currently consists of the U.S. GPS and the Russian GLONASS. A Russian rocket boosted the small British-built Giove-A satellite into orbit from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A second platform will follow this year. They will trial the in-orbit technologies needed to run the system, including atomic clocks. According to plans, by the end of 2010 Galileo will have a full constellation of 30 satellites providing precise timing and location information to users anywhere on or near Earth's surface. At a cost of about four billion dollars in both public and private investments, it represents the biggest space project yet undertaken in Europe.

Galileo will improve on GPS's design, which was first conceived in the late 1960s. It will provide greater accuracy and penetration, a faster fix, and five service levels. Galileo will also include an "integrity" component — that is, it will automatically inform users whenever its performance might be compromised.

Users will also benefit greatly from the agreement between Europe and the United States, worked out last year, to make the two sat-nav systems compatible and "interoperable." In other words, future receivers will be able to get a fix using satellites from either constellation. For years, a few manufacturers have been making dual-frequency receivers capable of using signals from both GPS and GLONASS. The greater the number of satellites available to a receiver, the faster and more accurate its location fix.

Galileo's rubidium-based atomic clocks, the heart of the system, are 10 times as precise as the ones currently in GPS satellites, and will give positions accurately to within one meter (about three feet) or less. However, the forthcoming upgrade of the GPS network should make it even more accurate than Galileo within the next 10 years.

Galileo aimes at ensuring that the European Union will be able to rely on satellite navigation regardless of whatever geopolitical shifts may occur in the coming decades, without having to count on Washington's continued good will. This was the same reason why the Soviet Union built GLONASS — which Russia has recently resuscitated after years of neglect — instead of relying on the freely available GPS.

Mapping Mines

The mining tragedy in Sago, West Virginia, this week, made me wonder, among other things, how mine engineers and geologists map shafts and tunnels. I asked two experts on the subject and they gave me seemingly opposite answers. Is theirs just a difference of opinion as to what qualifies as GIS? As always, I welcome your letters!

Matt Frost, GIS Project Manager for Marshall Miller & Associates, an engineering firm based in Bluefield, Virginia, told me that GIS "just isn't used" to map mines — CAD is. At the regional scale, Frost told me, state agencies throughout the country are hard at work putting geologic data into GIS. "We use GIS to get at a lot of the state data. It's a canned GIS product by the time it gets to us." However, according to Frost, when it comes to mapping individual mines, most mining engineers use CAD rather than GIS. There are two reasons for this, he explains. First, mining engineers, like most engineers, were using CAD software long before GIS software was widely available and they have "a long tradition of using survey data with CAD." Second, because of the scale at which they map mines. "They map the pillars and every little gap and create a very, very accurate snapshot of a mine," he told me.

By contrast, Dr. Timothy Mote, Senior GIS Analyst for Geomatrix Consultants, of Oakland, California, described to me in detail the use of handheld digital mapping equipment to create 3D geologic, geochemical, and structural models which, in his view, are "essentially" GIS.

Dr. Mote has a B.S. in computer science and a Ph.D. in geology and is a registered GIS professional (GISP). He has extensive experience with copper and gold mines on the Pacific Coast of the United States and in South America. Mining, he told me, has two components: exploration and production. GIS is used extensively in exploration to compile the different regional and local geologic data sets — such as rock types, structural layers (faults), geophysical layers (gravity, magnetism, hyperspectral images from satellites, etc.), and geochemical analyses from specific sample points. These same data sets are gathered both on the surface and underground, the latter by drilling down to thousands of feet beneath the surface. Both surface and subsurface components are put into a GIS to develop a model used to decide where to explore. Using GIS to develop the better exploration targets is vital for mining companies because drilling an exploration borehole to a depth of 1,000 feet typically takes about a month and costs several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Production begins when the mining company begins to actually extract ore from the subsurface. Geologists will go into the new mine and map such features as the rock type, rock competency, orientation of the joints, geochemical alteration, and the types of mineralization. They will then enter the data into a GIS and make a 3D model of the mine. Chemical analyses (assays) from samples allow the geologists to determine the percentage of certain minerals, such as gold or copper. They then use a geostatistical approach (known as Kriging), to interpolate the data and create 3D models of mineral distribution. Certain elements - such as sulfur, arsenic, and iron — can serve as "markers," that is, their presence or absence can be related to minerals of interest. The 3D models, in turn, are used with known "genetic models," which describe the genesis of these metals inside the earth and help target exploration.

In production models, reports are generated as to how much ore is being extracted. This data, together with the assay data, is fed back into the model and helps to guide the next day's work. In the case of open pit mines, GPS receivers are used to guide the earth moving equipment and automate the process even further.

So, back to my original question: how do you actually map a mine? Using handheld total stations and handheld digital computers, Dr. Mote told me. Each one of these total stations measures horizontal and vertical angles, distances (by means of a laser), and bearings (by means of a compass). Of course, unlike total stations used on the surface, these devices do not include GPS receivers. One of the key advantages of using lasers, Dr. Mote points out, is safety: you can shoot them into a structure — say, a fault — from a safe position, obviating the need to climb the wall. All of this data is fed back into the GIS on the handheld computer, allowing geologists to map the exploration faces in real-time. How prevalent is this use of GIS to map mines? Dr. Mote couldn't tell me for sure but pointed out that many of these 3D models, "though they may not be considered traditional GIS, are in fact GIS." For example, 3D visualization systems are used to calculate the available amount of a resource (called an "ore reserve") and the percentage of a metal. "Most mines that are producing metal," Dr. Mote told me, "use these mining information systems. They drill samples and those samples have a geographic location." On the surface, geologists and engineers use traditional GIS.

Are the local coordinates used to maps mines attached to the surface coordinates? Yes, Dr. Mote told me: they must be, in order to tie the features found underground to regional features. In Nevada, for example, where gold deposits are often controlled by structures (faults), you can follow the gold mineralization for miles along the "trend." "So it is very important to have those systems tied together," Dr. Mote explains. "Especially in the gold mines, where the deposits are fairly small, you have to be able to hit them from the surface at depths of half a mile."

Are there the underground equivalent of surface control points? For exploration drill holes since they commonly deviate, "there are fairly sophisticated ways that you survey a hole," Dr. Mote told me. "There is some significant technology to analyze the direction of holes." These methods are now laser-based. Before lasers were available, checking the direction of a hole involved dropping a ball mounted on a gimbal and equipped with a compass and a camera that took a picture of the compass. These photos where later used to survey the hole. During production, the survey of newly excavated shafts and drifts is very precise using modern survey technology (total stationing).

Another County Goes Paperless

[The first part of this article is based on a draft written by Mike Tully, President, Aerial Services, Inc. (ASI).]

Since the early 1800s professional engineers and others have generated land surveys, maps, and many other documents to record residential and industrial construction in Washington County, Iowa. Every year, countless more engineering plans, drawings, and records are added to the County's archives to support its infrastructure of roads, buildings, culverts, signs, survey monuments, driveways, land corners, and bridges.

Until recently, this constantly growing information warehouse was accessible only by trained personnel in the County Engineer's office. Whenever one of these documents or data files was needed, it would usually take between an hour and several business days to find it — or it could not be found at all if it had been misfiled. Once retrieved, it may have required special handling to avoid damaging the aged paper or fabric.

All of these documents relate to features that are spatially within the County. Early in 2005, the County deployed GIS and document management technology to build an enterprise asset management system. The majority of the documents were digitized and published to a Web-based GIS so that any of them could be instantly retrieved. This data warehouse is now available to anyone, anytime on the Web. Now that implementation and training are complete, the County is beginning to reap the practical and financial benefits.

Washington County Engineer Dave Patterson began the process by assembling a team of in-house experts and potential users of the new system to review the documents and assess how often they were needed and by whom — including surveyors, engineers, realtors, historians, developers, and land use planners.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

The County then contracted with Aerial Services, Inc. (ASI) from Cedar Falls, Iowa to design the E-Docs Asset GIS. Mike Tully, the company's president and a certified photogrammetrist who has been working with GIS for more than 15 years, helped to establish the system's goals. These included serving as an off-site digital backup of the historical records; limiting public access to some records; and providing a dual interface to the information: a Web interface and an intuitive "geospatial" portal.

Access to each document was prioritized on the basis of the net value it would add to the new system and the County's Microsoft Access and Excel databases were imported into it. A key component of the project, which helped keep costs down, was ASI's expertise in identifying the minimum fields of information on each form, index card, and map required to facilitate its rapid retrieval and that of all related assets. Mr. Tully understood that as long as high resolution scans of the entire document could be instantly retrieved, the user could read any required ancillary information directly from the documents.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

After defining the scope and goals of the project, the team sampled the different types of historical assets — greatly aided by Assistant Engineer Lyle Moen, who had worked in the office for 36 years and understood how the classification and use of the documents had changed over time. It then collected, inventoried, and sorted the documents and turned them over to ASI for scanning and data entry, which took a few months.

Users can locate documents either via any one of many layers on a GIS map or by selecting an asset type and entering keywords in a few fields. Each asset type has a single index key — e.g. Land Corner ID — which can be clicked to display the detailed information about a specific asset. In addition, special search and hot link tools allow users to directly access detailed information on assets of their choice. For example, when Hot Link is selected on the GIS map and the user clicks anywhere within a section, the system returns a list of all ROW plats that border that section. The Search TRS function allows the user to enter a township, range, and section and zoom to it. The Query tool allows a user to search the attributes for any asset type for a specific value. The fastest and most direct way to access information is via the Search tool on the non-geospatial website. Users can search for specific values in any field of any asset using combo boxes and natural English.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

To enable County personnel to constantly update the database, ASI designed a simple Arcobjects tool for use via ArcMap editor. The tool allows County personnel to either import large numbers of records from existing databases or import records one at a time. Once new asset records are imported, their spatial location is digitized on the county map and linked to that record.

ASI compressed high resolution scans into one of several common formats (such as MrSID, JPEG2000, or PDF) to ensure maximum readability and minimize storage requirements.

To facilitate granular security, the Asset E-Docs GIS can be configured so that any subset of information can be published on the public website, while the entire information store is available internally at the County Engineer's office.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

The benefits of this system, according to Tully, are manifold. "We designed it to be simple and elegant," he told me. "Its component parts are created using common technology — including large-format scanners, compression software such as Adobe PDF, GIS software such as ESRI ArcMap, geospatial Web servers such as ESRI ArcIMS, and database technology such as Microsoft SQLServer or Access."

I asked Tully a few questions about this project.

What is the key problem that your system addresses? "We're taking mature technologies and combining them in sophisticated ways to solve problems like: how do I provide faster, untrained access to a large library of very important information? There are many documents that are rarely needed but, when they are needed, they were very difficult if not impossible to find. Our system allows users to find every document instantly. And, because our system is Web-based, anyone can access them anytime, from anywhere. It also frees up large amounts of office space that can be put to other uses. Just as important: our system allows users, via a browser and an ArcMap plug-in, to add new data and keep the database up to date."

Who are the principal users of the system and how have they received it? "Users include staff in the County Engineer's office (who, historically, have been the ones who had to search for these documents), staff in other county offices, land use planners, engineers, land developers, and realtors. Many private land surveyors are also using the site and they love it. If they can't find the information that they need on the website they will call us with questions because they know that we created it. They will call us in a pinch, which is indicative of how much the system is being used in the county."

Have you built similar systems for other clients? "Yes, we've done this for a number of clients now. One problem is that we refer to this as an 'asset management' GIS but in the broader world this term usually refers to managing fixed assets using specialized software. Our system is meant for clients that have large quantities of paper documents that describe geospatial assets, so that these scanned images of the paper can be related geospatially to things that exist on Earth somewhere. The same applies to digital information, such as CAD drawings, shape files, etc."

What is the key feature of your approach? "A lot of organizations have large archives of paper products — maps, paper drawings, inspection reports, etc. — and it is impractical to digitize all of them. This procedure provides a way to digitally capture the information much more economically. For example, we key in only the few fields that describe that paper asset and associate it to a physical object or a location — so that now I can find that piece of paper by either clicking on a map or searching the index. If there is a culvert number, I can either pull it up on the map or I can search for the culvert number or road name."

You can only find that number or name if it is one of the pieces of information that you have entered into the database´┐Ż "Correct. However, all the other attributes about that asset are available, not just the key field. In addition, all related asset documents can be found in an instant. For example, if you select a bridge, the system will return the attributes that describe it, such as length, width, material, bridge number, etc. It will also bring up all the photos or drawings of that bridge. Lastly, the actual scanned image of documents containing everything known about the asset that may not have been keyed into the database are available."

How does your system handle other layers? "The organization can take whatever geographic information it has — such as orthophotos, street centerlines, inspection forms, design drawings, etc. — and add them to the ArcIMS part of this application, to be layered on top of the base map. They can also bulk-upload data to the system, such as the coordinates of E911 signs in front yards gathered by GPS."

Did you program this system from scratch? "We built the website using Microsoft's asp programming language. For the geospatial display we used ESRI's ArcIMS. For the database our system can use Microsoft Access, SQL Server, Oracle, or any other standard database. For the image files we can also use any common format with a free plug-in viewer, such as JPEG, JPG2000, PDF, or MrSID."

Survey: Last two answers

In the December 15 and 22 issues of GIS Monitor I published some of the answers I had received to an informal year-end industry survey. Here are two more that I left out due to some miscommunications.

Robert Samborski, Executive Director of the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA), sent me this:

What was the single biggest technological development in your niche in 2005?
Certainly the increase of mobile applications to more non-traditional GIS users, as well as the continued evolution of Web-based services and applications is significant. These trends will affect our association's educational conferences and seminars as we do our best to keep our programs at the leading edge for our members and constituents. But, I would add that the progress we have made through our research project on "Business Case Development and Return on Investment Methodology for Geospatial Information Technology" might be the most noteworthy initiative. While not exactly "technical", the project results will include several case studies that were conducted utilizing customized templates for assessing ROI. Results of the first two case studies have been extremely well received by the host organizations and indicate highly positive implications for GIT implementation going forward. (Note: Project principals have been invited to participate in a ROI workshop sponsored by the Joint Research Committee of the European Commission in January in Ispra, Italy. A report on the progress of GITA's project will be offered and opportunities for future efforts discussed).

What was the single biggest business development in your niche in 2005?
The grant we received from the U.S. Department of Labor. In a partnership with the Association of American Geographers (AAG) we are conducting a project entitled, "Defining and Communicating Geospatial Industry Workforce Demand." This five-part project will result in a specially designed Web portal (the Geospatial Industry Workforce Information System) and will involve a local pilot implementation in a selected geographic area. The pilot, which will be conducted in metropolitan Denver, will involve educators, industry employers, and the workforce system collaborating to provide a wealth of industry- and employment-related information, data, and statistics on a local level. The initial phase of the project, scheduled to culminate at the end of January, will produce a report that will provide a definition of the geospatial industry, related job titles, and required skills and competencies for the geospatial workforce of the future.


Steven Ramage, Marketing Director of Laser Scan, sent me this:

What is your niche in the geospatial industry?
Advanced geoprocessing capabilities for spatial data, i.e. ensuring data quality and fitness for purpose. We are effectively involved in large geospatial data re-engineering exercises and won the Association for Geographic Information Central Government Award for Innovation and Best Practice with the UK Royal Air Force!

What was the single biggest technological development in your niche in 2005?
We introduced persistent server-side topology at Oracle9i and we announced our support for Oracle's Topology Manager in Oracle Database 10g Enterprise Edition Spatial option.

What was the single biggest business development in your niche in 2005?
Google Earth and Google Maps is the obvious answer. For ourselves it's the extension of spatial data analysis to areas well outside the traditional GIS market. These projects have absolutely nothing to do with maps, but everything to do with spatial analysis for cost control and decision making.

What technological or business development would make your company more profitable in 2006?
Commercial: a further expansion of awareness by organizations of the value of their spatial data holdings — the level of investment made in spatial data, how many business processes are underpinned by spatial data and effective use of spatial data beyond 'digital wallpaper'?
Technical: our official launch of Radius Studio, a tool to enable functional experts to develop and maintain a rules-base for spatial data processing. To quote Dr. Paul Watson, our Chief Scientist, "Radius Studio will enable the application of semantic Web technologies to control the quality and meaning of spatial data."

Radio Program on the Geospatial Web

On Tuesday, January 3, On Point, a news call-in program on WBUR, National Public Radio's Boston affiliate, focused on the "geospatial Web." You can download the show from the program's website. The blurb for the show says, in part: "Now, the digital realm is exploding into the physical world. They call it the 'geo-spatial web.' Already it means online maps loaded with information about the physical world, and someday soon, that physical world itself will be tagged and teeming with data for the asking: What is that building? Where is my dog? Who is that man? The implications are huge, exciting, and scary and the result will be a world alive with information."

The program's host, Tom Ashbrook, asked intelligent, probing questions, mostly focusing on the public's fear and misconceptions about geospatial technologies. (I cringed only once, when he got two out of three of the words in GPS wrong by saying that it stood for "geographic positioning satellite"!) His three guests were Mike Liebhold, Senior Researcher, Institute for the Future; Christopher Allen, Founding Partner, Counts Media; and Peter Morville, author of Ambient Findability. Morville will be the keynote speaker at the 2006 GeoTec Event. All the callers were interesting and coherent too!

Idea: Mapping distance by time

Many of you are no doubt familiar with cartograms: map transformations that distort area or distance in the interest of some specific objective. For example, an equal population cartogram is a map projection that ensures that every area is drawn approximately in proportion to its population so that every individual is accorded approximately equal weight.

One proposal for a cartogram caught my attention this week. It was posted on the listserve gislist by Dick Boyd, who gave me permission to reprint it here:

Everyone is familiar with maps that have scaling factors distorted to emphasize some feature. Such as elevation at ten times the magnification of horizontal scaling to emphasize grades. Or population density, etc.

Does anyone know of a time-distorted map? Let me explain. Most cities are laid out in grids with streets running at right angles. Eastings and northings are presented to the same linear scale. But for a traveler, do the trip times have the same linear scale? If north-south trips can be made at twice the speed as an east-west trip, the "rubber sheet" distorted map would show the city more as a linear one dimensional map. If time were the scaling factor, the map would make the east-west streets look twice as long as the north-south streets. If speed were the scaling factor, the north-south streets would look twice as long as the east-west streets.

What good is such a map? I had in mind an audience of planners or traffic engineers. If the criteria is to place things close in time, that may not be the same as placing them close in distance. The distorted map would highlight shortness in time.

The speed difference may be a time of day phenomenon. Traffic engineers could capitalize on the time sensitivity of the direction of flow, coupled with time of day origin-destination studies to optimize signal timing, or to advise travelers of fastest routes.

News Briefs

Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.


GeoDecisions, an information technology company that specializes in geospatial solutions, has signed a strategic partnership with eSpatial, Inc., to give users of IRRIS technology the option to integrate eSpatial's enterprise geospatial platform for spatial querying and Web editing capabilities.
     IRRIS technology is a Web-based transportation security and logistics application. It integrates and displays critical data about transportation infrastructure, including information on roads, bridges, tunnels, and dams — as well as real-time weather, traffic, and vehicle locations, from more than 150 sources worldwide. The technology also features Total Asset Visibility (TAV) and In-Transit Visibility (ITV) functions for transportation logistics and real-time tracking.
     GeoPortal is part of the iSMART Enterprise Spatial Suite of software products from eSpatial. It provides a general purpose multi-user pure-Web application for viewing, editing, and analyzing spatial data. IRRIS system users who choose to use GeoPortal software will have the ability to create and edit spatial information and input attribute details. The GeoPortal component also provides navigation and layer controls, searching tools, and thematic analysis.

Hawaiian Telcom, a telecommunications provider, has selected Intergraph Corporation's G/Technology as the enabling engine for its geospatial resource management (GRM) e nvironment. This communication-specific solutionware will integrate workflows among applications that manage, monitor, and maintain the provider's service-delivery network and will provide it with open database access and scalability that will simplify projects and processes.
     BearingPoint, Inc., a management and technology consulting firm, will facilitate the integration to support the company's changing network topology and minimize the geographical barriers associated with legacy systems. G/Technology will support workflows for new connections, fault repair, and operations within an enterprise environment that includes enterprise-wide integration with Peoplesoft Enterprise applications such as Asset Management, Resource Allocation, Inventory, the Hawaiian Telcom Circuit Assignment Systems, as well as other core enterprise systems.

Overwatch Systems has acquired Paragon Imaging of Woburn, Massachusetts, effective on Nov. 30. Paragon Imaging is now known as the Boston Operations of Overwatch. Founded in 1987, Paragon Imaging is a supplier of image processing software for government and commercial applications. The company's ELT (Electronic Light Table) Series commercial image processing software is widely used among tactical imagery analysts in the U.S Air Force Theatre Battle Management Core System, the Naval Special Ops Warfare Command, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Paragon engineering team specializes in NITF (National Imagery Transmission Format) and complies with a range of Department of Defense certifications.
     In October 2005, Overwatch Systems combined the resources of four companies — Sensor Systems, Austin Info Systems, IT Spatial, and Federal IT — to provide a suite of integrated geospatial and fusion software tools for the defense/intelligence community called the Overwatch Intelligence Center (OIC). The OIC focuses on providing situational awareness by enabling analysts to generate relevant, actionable intelligence faster and more effectively for the warfighter, first responder, and decision maker.
     The senior management of Paragon has chosen to use a portion of its transaction proceeds to invest back into Overwatch Systems and will continue to manage the company under the new name, Boston Operations of Overwatch. The company will report to Kirk Brown, President of Overwatch Geospatial Operations, formerly Sensor Systems, based in Sterling, Virginia.

The State of Missouri has contracted with Sanborn to provide high-density LiDAR data to support restoration efforts, after a wall of water rushed through a rural area in the south-central part of the state, which included significant portions of the historic Johnson's Shut-ins State Park. On December 14 the northern Taum Sauk reservoir dam broke, sending a rush of water 200 yards wide, emptying the reservoir's 1.5 billion gallons in 12-minutes, causing the evacuation of the near-by town of Lesterville.
     In need of disaster response, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, called on Sanborn — a provider of GIS, photogrammetric mapping, and remote sensing solutions — for rapid response mapping to provide high accuracy last return topographic LiDAR data. The USGS signed the contract the day after the disaster and the company was able to take flight and acquire the data within 24 hours.
     The data is also used to locate new construction in flood-prone areas and for planning construction of embankments, levees, or drainage channels to protect urbanized areas already built. It will enable city engineers to not only assess damage but also make better decisions over repair estimates, design plans, and prioritizing the project.

The Federation of Earth Science Information Partners has accepted ESRI as a partner. The Federation is a network of researchers and associated groups that collect, interpret, and develop applications for satellite-generated Earth observation information. It is developing the Earth Information Exchange, a portal where member data products and tools will be available to researchers, decision makers, educators, and others.
     "The purpose of ESRI's involvement is to provide a link between the GIS practitioner community and the scientific community, and we are delighted to be accepted into the partnership," says Jack Dangermond, ESRI president. "GIS is rapidly invading the Earth science realm," says Dr. Thomas Yunck, Federation president. "ESRI is taking the lead in extending GIS tools for use with the 3D and 4D Earth science datasets collected by our national agencies. Their Geospatial One-Stop technology will be critical in opening this vast archive and the many value-added products and services offered by the Federation to scientists and decision makers worldwide."
     Founded in 1998 under a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the consortium includes more than 80 public, private, and nonprofit organization partners including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data centers; the University of California, Santa Barbara Environmental Information Lab; and NatureServe. ESRI and business partner Farallon Geographics have completed an enterprise GIS application for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). The district is responsible for maintaining air quality standards in the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties. The enterprise GIS will support the district's Community Air Risk Evaluation (CARE) program by allowing collection, integration, and analysis of large volumes of data and subsequent visualization for communication with stakeholders.
     CARE's mission is to improve the monitoring of toxic air contaminants (TAC), determine TAC-related health risk threats, and develop targeted contaminants reduction campaigns. With GIS, the CARE staff has a simple way to quickly understand large volumes of data, including census demographics, point-of-interest sites, health care records, TAC levels, weather patterns, and point source data.
     The goal of an enterprise GIS is the integration of spatial data and analysis in the business processes and workflows of organizations to efficiently support core business needs. Farallon Geographics built the geodatabase using Oracle9i with ESRI's ArcGIS family of software, including ArcView, ArcEditor, StreetMap, ArcPad, and ArcSDE. The ArcGIS Spatial Analyst extension is used to enhance raster data analysis capabilities.
     The enterprise GIS allows BAAQMD to collect, organize, analyze, and visualize large volumes of data; share geospatial information; reduce data and hardware redundancy; and visually display data to policy makers and the public to effectively promote and maintain high air quality standards.


LeadDog Consulting, LLC has released geographic databases of streets for the Moroccan cities of Agadir, Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech, Meknes, Mohammadia, Oudja, Rabat, Tanger, and Taza to support asset-tracking, government, and commercial GIS applications. Designed to help companies track their assets and provide accurate base level mapping, LeadDog's product provides numerous vector layers and such attributes as streets at 1:5,000 scale, street names, street classifications, points of interest, and landmark polygons. Morocco city streets are available in all major GIS formats. Major roads for the country are available at a 1:250,000 scale. LeadDog Consulting, LLC is a provider of GIS street maps for Iraq, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa.

Visual Learning Systems (VLS) has released Feature Analyst 4.0 for ERDAS IMAGINE, providing a solution for extracting features of interest from imagery and scanned maps. The product offers new benefits including enhanced image and vector handling, direct read/write capability with the Geodatabase, and a developer API for creating plug-in tools.
     While utilizing the ERDAS IMAGINE platform for image processing, GIS analysts can now use Feature Analyst to classify object-specific features, such as buildings, water bodies, and airplanes, as well as perform full image segmentation and multi-class extractions. In addition to its automated feature extraction (AFE) capability, Feature Analyst offers tools for polygon editing such as smoothing, convert to line, and square up.

MWH Soft has released InfoSWMM Designer for ArcGIS, an optimization module that is part of the company's urban drainage modeling product, for the evaluation, management, rehabilitation, design, and operation of wastewater and stormwater collection systems.
     All operations of a typical sewer system — from analysis and design to management functions like water quality assessment, pollution prediction, urban flooding, real-time control, and record keeping — are addressed in a single, fully integrated geo-engineering environment.
     The program helps users manage urban runoff and wet weather water quality problems in combined, sanitary, and storm sewers, optimizing BMP and LID designs, and meeting SSO and CSO regulations. It can be used to model the entire land phase of the hydrologic cycle as applied to urban stormwater and wastewater collection systems. The software can perform single event or long-term (continuous) rainfall-runoff simulations accounting for climate, soil, land use, and topographic conditions of the watershed. In addition to simulating runoff quantity, InfoSWMM can also predict runoff quality — including buildup and washoff of pollutants from primarily urban watersheds.

Tuck Mapping Solutions has released eagleeyemapping system, which incorporates the Applanix DSS 322 (Digital Sensor System) as its mainstay aerial imaging component. The system is helicopter-based and provides terrain measurement simultaneously with digital photography.
     Tuck Mapping combined the DSS 322's inertial GPS technology with its current Riegl LiDAR scanner to form an integrated and matched mapping system that yields a vertical accuracy of approximately 2 inches. The Applanix DSS 322 features a precision medium format digital camera, advanced Position and Orientation technology designed for Airborne Vehicles (POS AV), and custom optics built within a small, rugged, and easy-to-install package.
     Shipped "ready-to-fly" with a 22 megapixel CCD array and Aerolens custom-manufactured optics, the DSS 322 system can be deployed on an aircraft typically in less than an hour. Notable features include a new camera data module, computer firmware, plus enhanced Flight Management software and TruSpectrum technology engineered to generate color and color infrared (CIR) digital geospatial imaging products. It has been designed and built to directly serve all phases of a project life cycle — from initial flight planning, through digital image acquisition to final product output.
     Applanix control features include a built-in automated flight management system for pilots, an integrated computer-controlled azimuth mount for maximum digital coverage, and integrated direct georeferencing and sensor calibration system. Designed to be a digital imagery workhorse, the DSS 322 provides quick data turnaround times with end-to-end processing and direct data import into photogrammetric and geographical information systems.


Azteca Systems, Inc., a provider of GIS-centric asset maintenance management solutions, has appointed Phil Mogavero as its representative for the Northeast Region. Most recently, Mogavero was an independent consultant providing GIS services for Bergmann Associates, a Strategic Business Partner with Azteca Systems. Previously, he was a GIS Analyst with the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, in Buffalo, New York.
     Mogavero's background also includes GIS analysis and production management for TVGA Engineering and Surveying, in Elma, New York. He holds an MA in Geography and GIS from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a BS in Urban and Regional Planning from Buffalo State College.
     He will be responsible for Azteca Systems' Northeast Region, serving the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.


Epidemiology, wildlife biology, archaeology, and a variety of other disciplines rely on GIS software to perform spatial statistical analysis to conduct research and make better decisions. A new live training seminar from ESRI Virtual Campus details the newest spatial statistics tools available with ArcGIS 9. Understanding Spatial Statistics in ArcGIS 9 will be presented January 26, at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. Pacific time.
     The ArcGIS spatial statistics geoprocessing tools extend traditional GIS spatial analysis techniques with methods that examine spatial patterns, identify spatial clusters, and measure geographic feature distributions. Users can easily identify the geographic center of a set of features, determine whether a set of features forms a clustered or dispersed spatial pattern, find hot spots or spatial outliers, and perform other critical analysis functions.
     This seminar introduces spatial statistics tools included as core functionality with ArcView 9, ArcEditor 9, and ArcInfo 9. Participants should be familiar with the ArcGIS geoprocessing framework and basic statistical concepts. The presenter will discuss what spatial statistics are, measuring geographic distributions, spatial autocorrelation, and hot spot analysis. A broadband Internet connection and an ESRI Virtual Campus membership are required to view the seminar. Becoming a Virtual Campus member is free and only takes a few minutes. Following the live presentation, the seminar will be archived and available for viewing at any time on the Virtual Campus Web site. More information about this seminar, including instructions for attending and a schedule of upcoming seminars, is available at

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