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DOES GML ENABLE DATA SHARING? SORT OF
A few weeks ago I received three press releases touting different companies' success at an event in the Netherlands called the GML Relay. While Geography Markup Language (GML) is a specification created by the Open GIS Consortium, the event (this was the second annual), was organized by the Netherlands Society for Earth Observation and Geo-informatics, and hosted by Topografische Dienst (Dutch Topographic Services, TDN) in Emmen, Netherlands on December 13th.
This year's event featured five teams of vendors (last year's event had two) ideally importing GML into their software, making a change, and passing it on to the next vendor. According to Peter van Oosterom, of Delft University of Technology, who ran the event, each participant actually started with the same GML file, which had been provided by the hosts. The issue: Everyone wanted to "first" so to be fair, each group got to be first. The file, and all of the data generated by the participants, is available for download on the event website.
The Dutch "flavor" of GML (schema and data), is based on TOP10NL, a vector object model and produced by the Delft University of Technology, GDMC (Geo-Database Management Center). It's is currently being considered by the TDN as its new standard GIS format. To be more technically correct, by "flavor" here I really mean that TDN/TU Delft created a GML application schema to extend GML for their own purposes. That's exactly how GML is supposed to be used. And, if you want to go one step up, GML is an application schema of XML. GML is basically a flavor of XML for spatial data encoding. And TOP10NL is a flavor of GML for encoding Dutch spatial data.
The TOP10NL GML application schema is defined in two .xsd files (XML Schema) called tdn_strict2.1.xsd and metadata2.0.xsd. These application schemas extend the two .xsd files, features.xsd and geometry.xsd, developed by the OpenGIS Consortium, which define GML. .xsd files are XML files that essentially define the structure of the data in the GML file, what Snowflake's Ian Painter refers to as a "machine readable data spec." The Ordnance Survey's (OS) MasterMap format, also based on GML, uses five files to describe its structure.
While each press release claimed that the vendor in question "passed" the test, one made an even stronger statement: "Snowflake's GO Loader passed the test with flying colours, being the only technology able to read the output files from all the other participants despite the fact that each system output its own flavour of Dutch GML."
I contacted Painter, who went on to say that all vendors at the Relay did in fact produce valid GML, but that not all were able to read in each other's files. Here's why. Most of the vendors read in the data with ease because they knew the structure of TOP10NL ahead of time and created custom scripts to read in the data. But when it was time to write out GML, they used their own .xsd for output. Eddie Curtis, CTO of Snowflake, who represented Snowflake at the relay, reported that "the feature type 'Gebouw' (building) was called 'Gebouw' by ESRI and Intergraph but the Laser-Scan schema called it a 'GMLRELAYRADIUS.GEBOUW' and the Bentley/FME schema called it a 'GEBOUW_polygon.'" Since other vendors didn't know the structure of the .xsd files ahead of time, they could not create scripts to read in these files.
Snowflake could read in all of the vendor files because its GML reader, a product called GO Loader, knows how to decipher .xsd files on the fly. From the information, the system can set up a data structure in the target program, in this case Oracle 9i, and put the right data in the right database field all without any code or script creation.
Safe Software participated in the event and used its FME software in conjunction with Bentley's MicroStation Geographics. Safe's press release described how FME supports many data formats "including a number of GML 2 dialects." I asked Safe to clarify that statement. A representative at the company explained, "Our reader will automatically configure itself to read and interpret the GML data if the application schema is well formed. End-users can further tweak the configuration by adjusting our 'xfmap,' which controls how the GML data is interpreted."
At the Relay, Safe had to use a different tactic. "We needed to manually produce the mapping for the GML Relay Event, because its GML application schema defined several features that contained features, and yet these container features were not subclassed from the GML abstract feature collection. It was unclear to the software which GML elements were supposed to be mapped into FME features. This and many other ambiguities occur when examining a GML application schema. Also, many GML application schema have constraints that are specified outside of the schema in their accompanying documentation. It is therefore impossible for software to automatically map these. Human-intervention is required."
"As for writing, we currently do not write to any arbitrary GML application schema. The FME can write out GML that corresponds to a simple GML application schema, or to GML that corresponds to a GML application schema that is specified through the FME mapping file."
ESRI, in its PowerPoint presentation at the event (available on the event website), suggested a few concerns. In particular, that GML was too extensible and too flexible and that "full flexible support" was too costly to implement. Instead, the company suggested profiles to simplify matters.
When I tried to track down the definition of "profile," I received different answers. A profile, I'm confident, is a bit different than an application schema. According to Snowflake, an application schema is pretty much a wide-open canvas; developers can reuse or extend whatever they like from the GML data structure. A profile specifically defines which parts of GML will be used and which will not, or which can be extended and which cannot.
Curtis suggests that a profile for GML 3 (currently under consideration for approval by the OGC membership) might exclude the section on topology. That section is rather difficult for vendors to implement and "without it" solutions that support the rest of the specification could come to market sooner. He describes it this way. "I think of it as GML being a toolkit. An application schema puts the things together into a particular, final form. A profile would let you build whatever application schema you want so long as use only use certain tools." That idea pushed to the extreme, suggests his colleague Painter, might turn profiles into very rigid application schema, which could become essentially vendor specific.
I asked ESRI about profiles and the company's strategy regarding GML. I received comments back from Clint Brown, Director of Software Products.
"Think of a profile as a format. There can be one profile for each set of information content. Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS), a U.S. format, is an example of a collection of dataset 'profiles' the topological vector profile (TVP), the Point profile, the Raster profile."
"Bottom line, any user could define their own GML profile. For example, it is likely that many organizations and locales (e.g., The Netherlands, the Ordnance Survey in the UK, the U.S. Census Bureau, etc.) will build their own interchange profiles using GML. Each will incorporate their specific sets of 'rich' content according to the GML specifications."
"[GML's] flexibility and extensibility will have both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage will be that any organization can define a profile for its datasets. Because of the large number of profiles and the flexibility in their definition, we think it will be unlikely that vendors will be able to build universal GML translators that go beyond simple data types (such as OGC simple features [an OpenGIS Specification that details simple geometry], etc.). Such translators may not likely be able to read and use the more rich content that will be defined by many organizations in their GML profiles (without a specific converter for that profile)."
"An important phase in the development and adoption of any technology is its use and testing in real-world settings. We are interested in the participation and outcome of the GML Relay and other GML test implementation efforts."
"And truth be told, GML has not been exercised extensively and is just not well understood yet. Its use is just entering a key test and adoption phase."
"We expect that our GML support may have to be locale-specific (e.g., different profiles in each country). . . . We go through a three-phase process in the adoption and implementation of specifications such as GML: 1) design; 2) pilot/prototyping (often released as early release add-ons or extensions to our core technology); and 3) software engineering into our core products."
van Oosterom, of TU Delft feels a wide support for GML is possible. "It should be possible to have generic software be able to read/write any GML document (but it requires a really object oriented architecture, or in OMG's terms a Model Driven Architecture, MDA)."
Where is GML today? Several organizations like TDN have developed their own application schemas. (Brown of ESRI may disagree with my terminology here, but that's what OS and TDN call them.) The most widely supported, I'm guessing, is the one used by OS for MasterMap.
Many vendors claim support for it, including Cadcorp, ESRI-UK, GE Network Solutions, and MapInfo. (Only OS Business Partners are listed here. There are other companies, Manifold.net for example, that support the format, but OS excludes them from the directory.) Most of those have basically "hard-coded" support for the OS flavor of GML. That means that as the OS rolls out new data layers in GML, something it intends to do at the rate of a few per year, the application schema will change. And, these vendors will have to update their software in some way. The U.S. Census is working on a project to deliver TIGER data in GML, so expect a TIGER GML schema soon.
This situation may not be exactly what users expected from an open, standard data encoding. I asked the Open GIS Consortium to comment on the state of GML and vendor implementations but did not receive a reply before press time.
I suppose that in GML, like in all things, the user should beware. First off, be sure you understand the nature of GML and its application schemas, and if they are implemented, profiles. Second, think through if you will be simply reading in GML, or if you will want to write it out. Several applications today do only one or the other. Snowflake's GO loader, for example, only reads in GML. However, a product under development will write GML. Third, work with your vendor of choice to encourage the support that you require. Bear in mind that a quick and dirty "one-off" importer (supporting a particular application schema) might work today, but may not support the extensibility of GML over time. And, finally, if your industry/discipline is considering a GML application schema, be sure to add your two cents on what should be included.
The Relay used Geography Markup Language (GML) Implementation Specification, version 2.1.2. The OGC membership is currently voting on GML 3.0.
STEWART ACQUIRES GLOBEXPLORER
There was a lot of rearranging at Stewart Information Services Corp. this week. On Tuesday, the company combined two subsidiaries into one, then added the assets of GlobeXplorer to the mix. The new company-built from Landata Airborne Systems, Landata Geo Services, and GlobeXplorer-is called Stewart Geo Technologies. Says Don O'Neill, group president for Stewart real estate information (REI), the shift allows the company "to deliver on our vision of an Internet accessible real estate information portal."
Let's start at the beginning. Stewart Information Services is indeed the land title company. It's a well-known real estate services organization founded in 1893. Its Landata Geo Services flies customized aircraft equipped with aerial cameras to perform aerial photography. Its Landata Airborne Systems provides photogrammetric and geographic information systems products and services.
GlobeXplorer is an online imagery delivery company, founded in 1999. Its technology powers the imagery for MapQuest, Maps.com and Claritas among others. The CEO and COO of GlobeXplorer came from Hammond Jenson Wallen. The company counts among it partners the leading providers of aerial imagery including Space Imaging, Digital Globe, AirPhoto USA and others. Landata is listed among GlobeXplorers partners, as an image database processing, production, balancing, mosaicing and data integration center. GlobeXplorer is privately held with Harrods of London and Mitsubishi Aero-space Division acting as key investors. According to its website, the company has about 40 employees.
The acquisition is a smart one for Stewart since virtually all of its business areas can take advantage of the technology and data relationships GlobeXplorer has developed. What does the acquisition say for others who've tried to get into the imagery services business? I'm thinking in particular of EarthScan.
Recall that last September EarthScan made a statement that it was realigning "to focus more on the brokering of geospatial data and less on technology services and the agriculture market."
I'll suggest that these companies may have jumped into Web Services a bit ahead of time. The standards (SOAP, UDDI, .NET and others) and payment tools that needed to be in place in order for a multitude of companies and end-users to plug into these resources were simply not ready. It's not clear they are here even today. With its strong technology and key relationships already in place, I'll not be surprised if GlobeXplorer, or a spin-off, doesn't re-enter the market when these issues are widely resolved.
The "New And Creative Uses Of Geospatial Technology" article brought in another use, and a special offer for GIS Monitor readers from Kent Barnard of GolfPS:
"I read today in the GIS Monitor about the Slope Tracker GPS ski system.
"Our company also has a 'New and Creative Use of GeoSpatial Technology,': Personal GPS Golf Systems.
"Beginning January 14th, Visitors to our website can register to win a FREE system. Your readers need to use Web Code 'GIS' without quotes when entering."
The Editor replies: The software allows mapped coursed to be uploaded to a GPS-enabled hand-held and aids in golf games by providing distance to tee information and more. You can also map your own course. The software, which supports iPAQs and PocketPC, can be purchased with or without hardware.
Two weeks ago I mentioned that Autodesk had no Web-based GIS training. Now that Autodesk is back from its two-week company-wide vacation, I received an update from Brian Baker:
"Autodesk still maintains an online learning program. It's focused on major account customers and live events (AVCT) delivered over the Web - so there's not much published to the autodesk.com website. We have also incorporated self-paced e-Learning into the subscription program by providing lessons on the extensions."
Jackie Sandgaard, Industry Marketing Director, Government & Utilities International at Bentley Systems Inc. wrote to correct some errors in my discussion of Bentley:
"Thank you for a good magazine! I always read with interest your personal analysis of the news in the geospatial marketplace. And sometimes I'm even able to say whether you are right or not.
"I've found a couple of minor mistakes regarding Bentley in your publication today:
'as well as Bentley-acquired mechanical software provider, Rebis.' Rebis was a plant software vendor (AutoPlant is the main product). Plant software is rather different than mechanical (which Bentley hasn't been focusing on for a long time - just take a look at Bentley.com).
'I do not actively follow the company's architectural or mechanical offerings closely.' - As I noted, we don't have mechanical offerings now.
"Bentley focuses on five industries: Transportation, Manufacturing Plants, Building, Utilities and Government. We serve these industries via our product lines:
"Platforms (content creation, management and publishing)
"Usually, professionals in a particular industry use a mix of applications from the different product lines. For example, users in different departments at a utility company might very well use products from all our product lines.
"You can of course read much more about this on our website."
The editor replies: I apologize for not doing my homework on that story. This week Bentley releases its response to Autodesk's vision of the building model and organized a cross-functional team to address the building vertical market.
Barry Waite, GIS Project Manager, City of Carson, California shared his take on some certification issues.
"First, I should note that I have been a member of URISA's certification committee although I oppose certification. My goal has been to make whatever we end up with as tolerable as possible if we do adopt something."
"As to APA's statement that its certification gets people more money, I suspect it is because they have more experience and would make more money anyway. Beginning planners don't have certification. Senior planners and consultants often do because employers sometimes ask for it. In other words, it is likely that more high wage earners get AICP than it is that AICP makes them high wage earners. I seriously doubt if certification in GIS would get most people another penny over what they would make otherwise.
"On the question of a test, the committee found early on that there was no one body of knowledge that could be applied to all GIS professionals. The field is far too diverse for that. Employers should test for individual positions if they wish to based on the needs of the particular job.
"One thing I'd really like to see is the ethics code disconnected from the certification discussion."
More than one reader added to my comments on the singular or plural nature of companies. Users of British English use the plural: "Cadcorp are a provider of GIS software" while in the U.S., we'd say "Cadcorp is a provider of GIS software." I meant no disrespect to users of that version of English.
POINTS OF INTEREST
If you want to register your website with geographic coordinate, try GeoURL. This is yet another attempt to add coordinates to Web. This time, you key-in an HTML tag in your webpage and store lat/long coordinates there. At this point the system seems to be particularly focused on supporting blogs.
Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel, presented a keynote at the International Consumer Electronics Show held last week in Las Vegas. One of the points he made was about what Intel calls "Location Aware Computing." According to an article at InternetNews.com, "Intel said it is currently making APIs for developers that merge all the triangulations together and should be delivering the baseline technology by the end of 2003." The idea, as I understand it, is to use information from GPS and other tower-based "triangulation" locating techniques together to get the best possible fix on both absolute and location relative to other devices.
In a subtle change, Microsoft is dropping the ".NET" moniker from its new server and going with the name Windows Server 2003. Apparently, the new plan is to use a ".Net Connected" logo on products and services that support Internet standards, such as SOAP and XML.
The folks at GEO:connexion provided some stats from INTERGEO 2002, an annual geo-related conference and tradeshow held in Germany. According to the article there were 479 booths, representing 680 exhibitors (a 15% increase over the previous year). The exhibits covered 22,000 square meters (up 5%). Twenty-three nations were represented among over 16,000 attendees, 305 of which attended for the first time. This is the largest show of its kind in the world. INTERGEO 2003 is scheduled for 17-19 September 2003 at the Exhibition Centre in Hamburg, Germany.
CMC International put out an attention-getting press release this week claiming that it could provide RouteMAP IMS (an ESRI product) for a flat fee under $10,000 while Vicinity (Microsoft owned) and MapQuest (AOL owned) charge $40,000 to $500,000. Interestingly, ESRI was not mentioned.
Dan Walters, Maine's Geographic Information Systems administrator, argues in an article in the Portland Press Herald that federal Homeland Security needs have taken funds destined for a statewide GIS. The state voted to match expected federal funding of $1.6 million for high-definition color aerial photography. Walters goes on to explain that urban areas are benefiting more than rural ones in federal mapping programs aimed at security.
There's a bit of controversy in the selection of an imagery provider for Citrus County,
Florida. Even as the county was ready to vote on a bid from 3001 Inc. (based in Gainesville) to create a GIS, Property Appraiser Ron Schultz claims the company's technology is outdated. He suggests they go with Pictometry, which did not even bid on the project initially. Schultz was denied a request for Pictometry to present to the County Commission.
In a rather confusing article in the Albany Business Review, MapInfo COO Mike Hickey says there are no plans for layoffs at the company. Analysts had suggested that might be a wise course after the company warned of another loss for the first quarter of 2003 (ended Dec 31, 2002) and purchased Thompson Associates, adding some 90 employees. Later in the article, however, Hickey is quoted as saying, "I'm not going to tell you we won't [have layoffs]." Ashish Thadhani, an analyst from Brean Murray Research, who always asks the first question on MapInfo conference calls, changed his estimate for all of fiscal 2003 from a gain of 14 cents a share to a loss of 25 cents a share. My guess: There will be layoffs in the next few months.
If you need a bit of history for mapping in New England, visit this website hosted by the University of New Hampshire. It offers more than 1,500 USGS topographic maps, and includes complete geographical coverage of New England and New York from the 1890s to 1950s. The files are JPEGs, and I did not see georeferencing information. MapTech duplicates that collection and adds a few more states. Thanks to the folks at MassBike for passing this on.
Supermarkets are lining up to install RFID (radio frequency identification) chips in their products. They can help track inventory since the shelf can basically keep track of how many razors are available. Concerns are mounting about what happens to these tags once they leave the store. Can they be used to track our use of that razor? Some vendors are clever and are putting the tag in the packaging, so they can only follow the trash. Retailers have the option to deactivate the tags at purchase, if the consumer chooses to "opt out." I wonder if you get a discount if you leave it "on"?
The tags use the received signal's power to respond, allowing them to virtually live forever. And, at the size of a grain of sand, they can be difficult to remove. One company offers washable tags (great for tagging the kids clothes for camp I suppose) while the European Central Bank is looking into tagging its bills. For now, the technology to read the tags lives only inside a few pilot stores, but down the road, who knows?
According to an article in Wired, our landscape is changing to one of antennae. About Ό of wireless towers don't look like towers, but look like trees, churches, flagpoles, and in one case a lighthouse, quite far from water. The good news there is some creativity to solving the eyesore problem. The bad news, the hidden towers jack up the price of the tower. The cost seems to be worth overturning community objections. I like to play "spot the tower" as a game while traveling. There's one GIANT tree I see on trips to New Jersey. It makes me laugh.
The San Antonio Express-News reports that the Pentagon has approved journalists to travel with the military should war break out in Iraq. One contentious issue: the popular satellite phones apparently provide a GPS signal, potentially alerting the enemy to troop locations.
I read in an interesting article about the business of spatial searches at Directions Magazine that Lasoo, a geographic search website that I really liked, recently folded. A message on the Lasoo website notes, "We regret to inform you that the Lasoo Search service is no longer in operation." The article goes on to introduce Mobile Maps, an open source methodology that integrates location into searches. I did a quick test: I searched for "Redlands GIS" but did not get a link to ESRI. Instead, the top response was the copyright page of GIS.com. While this is a great idea, it sure seems like Web pages are not structured for this type of search. But then, the same could be said regarding standard word searches, too.
Kmart announced it is closing 326 stores in the coming months. The odd thing, reports NPR's MarketPlace, is that other retailers will not be competing to take over those locations. Analysts say Kmart is strongest in urban areas where Wal-Mart and Target are less interested. But the impact will be greatest in rural areas where Kmart was the only game in town. Now, instead of mixing shopping at Kmart and local hardware and specialty stores, shoppers will be pulled to distant larger stores like Wal-Mart, which may further doom the local economy. The Kmart in my urban area is staying open, one of the very few shops in a nearly empty mall.
ESRI is hosting a user survey regarding plans for ArcGIS 9. The questions are about operating system use, and the use of data and applications included with the software.
WEEK IN REVIEW
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Coulter Mapping Solutions, Inc. and Azteca Systems, Inc. have partnered to create a powerful computer maintenance management system for Public Works and Utilities organizations.
The National Agency for Environmental Protection (APAT) Italy, has developed a WebGIS application that streams 300GB of imagery (compressed to a 15GB using the ECW format) across the Internet to handheld PCs from its Image Web Server website. Employees connect their handheld PC to their mobile phone (wireless transmission portal) allowing for an Internet connection using Bluetooth Technology. Once connected, the ECW image is served to their handheld PC via APAT's Image Web Server website.
The Centre for Spatial Database Management and Solutions (CSDMS), India, and the Malaysian Centre for Remote Sensing (MACRES), Malaysia, announced an agreement on 24th December 2002 to jointly organize Map Asia 2003, the 2nd annual international conference and exhibition on Geographical Information System (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS) and Remote Sensing (RS) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The event is scheduled for July 17-19, 2003, for promoting usage of GIS technologies and its applications in the Asian Region.
ESRI will host the 2003 Federal User Conference February 5-6, 2003, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. The conference is targeted at current and prospective ESRI software users as well as policy makers from the nation's top federal agencies.
PCI Geomatics is supporting the geodata efforts of the United Nations by providing technology and supporting training to help produce accurate and up-to-date digital elevation models (DEMs) using affordable ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) data. The United Nations will be producing DEMs in order to support the growing data demand by humanitarian efforts in third-world nations where accurate DEMs are vital but largely unavailable or simply do not exist. The company also signed an agreement with the University of Alcalα, Spain. PCI Geomatics will provide software services for the university's existing PCI Geomatics software licenses in return for the university's assistance with improvements to language support for the Geomatica Focus interface. This extends into the translation of related documentation manuals into Spanish.
Cadcorp announced a UK roadshow in January and February to show off its product line. The company currently has 12,000 licenses of its Cadcorp SIS products used worldwide.
Choctaw Geo Imaging (CGI) and Applied Geo Technologies (AGT) jointly announced they are now operating under the umbrella of CHAHTA Enterprise. The new structure enables CGI and AGT to tap the significant resources, assets, and management experience of CHAHTA. CHAHTA Enterprise is internationally recognized as one of the most successful and largest tribally-owned manufacturing firms in North America.
Claritas Inc. announced the formation of a new advanced analytical services division called Integras, specializing in high-end location research and customer analysis for marketing.
The Open GIS Consortium Inc. (OGC) recently launched its Conformance and Interoperability Test and Evaluation Initiative (CITE). CITE is the first of a series of initiatives addressing interoperability verification and validation. OGC also announced that Phase 2 of its Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative (CIPI-2) began with a successful kick-off meeting recently. The Geography Division of the U.S. Census Bureau is sponsoring CIPI-2 and will use OGC's rapid-prototyping process to develop two prototype systems: an online system to update governmental unit boundary information for existing incorporated places, and a system based on OpenGIS Specifications for serving Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing(TIGER) data.
European Space Imaging announced new operations and technical partnerships with DLR and GAF. As part of this partnership, DLR will operate the new IKONOS ground receiving station.
IDELIX Software Inc.'s Pliable Display Technology (PDT) has been recognized as the "Imaging Solution of the Year" by Advanced Imaging Magazine. Len Yencharis, Editor-in-Chief of Advanced Imaging Magazine said, "We chose IDELIX from the more than two hundred and fifty entries because they not only met the technical challenge with a workable solution, but they also provided the industry with a forward-looking technology that can be easily deployed today."
James W. Sewall Company of Old Town, Maine, announced that the firm is acquiring Weiler Mapping, Inc., of Horseheads, New York. With over 30 years' experience in parcel-based GIS, Weiler Mapping brings to the partnership recognized expertise in tax map conversion and deed research. Weiler Associates, Land Surveyors, an independent business also located in Horseheads, New York, will not be affected by the merger.
GeoConcept SA announced a partnership with B&B; Market, provider of decision-making tools for the sales sector and data relating to consumer markets. B&B; Market will provide data that deals primarily with the lifestyle and consumption levels of households in relation to their socio-demographic characteristics to GeoConcept's geomarketing solution.
Space Imaging announced that Raytheon Australia has become a master reseller of Space Imaging's products and services including imagery from IKONOS.
Contracts and Sales
Visual Learning Systems (VLS) has been awarded a Phase I SBIR contract with the U.S. Army Topographic Engineering Center (TEC). With the award, VLS will develop technology that integrates its advanced machine learning techniques with rule-based classifiers for enhanced digital image analysis.
Leica Geosystems announced an agreement between Leica Geosystems and Mapping Science, Inc. to build a support solution for JPEG2000 data within ERDAS IMAGINE's image processing and photogrammetry product lines.
KeySpan Energy Delivery of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, has contracted national GIS firm James W. Sewall Company to obtain black-and-white aerial photography of 10 communities in eastern Massachusetts. Sewall will fly the photography in the spring at 1"=660' scale and develop limited planimetric and utility infrastructure mapping for integration into KeySpan's GIS landbase.
Tamil Nadu has chosen and deployed "Spinfo Tamil Nadu" for its Spatial Visualization and Analysis needs. Spinfo Tamil Nadu is a product of Spatial Data Private Limited, Bangalore.
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is planning to buy a system from Pictometry. A Pictometry spokesman declined to comment on the Palm Beach County licensing contract or cost.
A team headed by Terra Map Server, including staff from Definiens Imaging, C-CORE, the German Aerospace Research Center, Micus Management Consulting and Ruhrgas, will conduct a comprehensive characterization of the factors affecting demand and supply of geo-information in the pipeline monitoring market sector and assess how these are likely to evolve in the future. The focus of this 13-month project will be the potential opportunities and risks for the European Earth Observation Service Industry.
Claritas Inc. announced a three-year agreement with Quizno's Master LLC, which franchises Quizno's Sub restaurants, to provide marketing information datasets, including lifestyle segmentation, for site selection and market analysis.
Earth Resource Mapping announced the release of an ECW Plug-ins and Tools CD-ROM. The CD-ROM contains a ECW plug-ins, compressors, and tools that assist users in accessing ECW images within common GIS applications from companies such as ESRI and ERDAS. The $99 CD is available online of through resellers. The materials are also available for free download from the website.
Safe Software Inc. announced today the immediate availability of FME Suite 2003. Key new additions in FME 2003 mean that users can now easily merge large numbers of datasets, write to SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), and reference a completely reworked on-line help system. Expanded format support now includes reading Autodesk Map Object Data and OS MasterMap V2 Address Layer, along with improved handling of generic XML and GML 2.1. This release also includes SDE versioning support and a .NET interface for FME Objects.
The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) announced that it has published the Geospatial Technology Report 2002: A Survey of Organizations Implementing Geospatial Information Technologies. The report, the fifth in an annual series from GITA, contains detailed information on the complexity, direction, and completeness of GIS projects being implemented at 187 infrastructure-based organizations-an increase of 19 percent from the 2001 study. The report, which is provided free of charge to survey participants, is available for $125 for GITA individual members and $175 for nonmembers.
Earth Resource Mapping announced that Research Systems, Inc. (RSI) has incorporated native Enhanced Compressed Wavelet (ECW) support in their latest release of their image processing software - ENVI v3.6.
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions' IntelliWhere division announced availability of IntelliWhere LocationServer 5.0. IntelliWhere LocationServer, a server-side software development platform based on Intergraph's GeoMedia(R), location-enables and automates data delivery to an organization's mobile workforce.
Technologica Internet Map Server (TIMS) is a Java Map Server for dynamic internet maps visualization and spatial data processing. It supports Oracle Spatial, ArcView Shape files, images and image catalogues. Clients run in an Internet browser as an applet or JSP or as a standalone Java application. A Java API for application development and customization is provided. A free download is available.
Announcements from the Consumer Electronics Show
Garmin Ltd. unveiled a handheld computer that combines its global positioning system (GPS) technology with Palm Inc.'s personal information software. Garmin's iQue 3600 personal digital assistant (PDA) with built-in GPS capabilities, is expected to begin sales in the 2003 second quarter, and will be sold at large electronics retailers, such as Circuit City Stores, for about $590. The company may also license its navigation to other PalmOS developers. The iQue 3600 won a CES Best of Innovations award.
Thales Navigation announced worldwide availability of the full-color handheld GPS receiver, the Magellan Meridian Color. The company claims it has "the only GPS receivers to offer unsurpassed memory expansion through industry standard Secure Digital (SD) memory cards for downloading data." The release also said it was the world's first color GPS. This Thales offering is a consumer product, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Garmin and Handango announced they are working together to deliver software to users of the new iQue 3600. Garmin has licensed Handango's application management and provisioning platform, Handango AMPP, to create the Garmin Software Store and give iQue 3600 users access to the world's largest catalog of commercial Palm OS applications. The Garmin Software Store will be available when the product begins shipping in the second quarter of 2003.
Pasadena, California-based Evolution Robotics said its technology that lets a robot determine its position relative to its environment is based on wheel sensors and a Webcam that cost less than $50. The technology is already licensed to a Japanese toy maker that will introduce a robotic cat in 2005.
Navman announced the release of its latest compact GPS companion product for the Pocket PC and Tablet PC platforms. The Navman GPS 4400 uses a wireless GPS antenna, which provides satellite connectivity to PDA's utilizing Bluetooth capability. The company also announced the release of its latest compact GPS product for the consumer electronics and automotive personal navigation markets. The iCN 630 is a portable in-vehicle navigation product.
Navigation Technologies announced the receipts of 30 patent awards in 2002. To date, the company has received 84 U.S. patents and several non-US patents that cover diverse aspects of digital cartography and its applications, from map data collection to delivery and use. Some of them sound sort of generic, like the one about Web-mapping that is currently being challenged.
Televigation announced today the debut of TeleNav, North America's GPS navigation service for mobile hones. TeleNav gives owners of certain Java (J2ME) mobile phones the ability to navigate turn-by-turn to virtually any street address in the continental United States using a combination of real-time voice and graphical directions delivered directly to their phones.
ESRI is accepting paper submissions for its International Health GIS Conference being held May 4-7, 2003, in Arlington, Virginia. The conference will focus on the uses of GIS technology to lower the barriers for improving health and social conditions that affect the well-being of the world. The deadline to submit papers and posters is January 17, 2003.
The Center for Geographic Information Sciences at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, is sponsoring TUGIS 2003: Reflections on the Past & Solutions for the Present, on June 2nd and 3rd. Pre-conference and post-conference workshops will also be offered. To submit a presentation proposal for concurrent sessions, panel sessions on selected topics, or poster sessions that present visual material or "live" software presentations, visit the website. The deadline to submit proposals has been extended from January 10 to January 31, 2003.
MapInfo is running a series of half-day seminars titled "Creating and Building Customer Value with Location-based Solutions" across the U.S. in January and February.
Education and Training
Hires and Appointments
Eric DesRoche has been named Intermap Technologies' Vice President of GLOBAL Terrain and Value Added Products.
Applied Geo Technologies, Inc. (AGT), a digital mapping and engineering services provider, announced that Laura Ramage has joined its sales team as Federal Sales Manager. She has experience with ERDAS and LizardTech.
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