2006 January 26


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Editor's Introduction

This week I report on a merger between two geospatial companies, then I focus on the remote sensing segment of the geospatial industry: I report on a new NOAA study and interview executives of three companies. Plus, an addition to last week's calendar of conferences and my usual round up of news from press releases.

PLEASE NOTE: In two weeks you will have an opportunity to let me know in some detail how you think I'm doing as editor and how I can improve GIS Monitor for you — by responding to our readers' survey. Please plan on spending ten minutes answering about 25 questions. It will really help!

— Matteo

One More Conference

In last week's calendar of conferences, I accidentally forgot to include the following: May 2-4, in Phoenix, Arizona, MapInfo Corporation will hold its 13th Annual Global User Conference, "MapWorld 06". Many thanks to the reader who pointed out this omission. Please bring any and all relevant events to my attention. I will put the calendar on the website and keep it up to date, as a rolling six-month calendar.

Ubisense and Ten Sails Merge

Ubisense, the manufacturer of an ultra-wideband (UWB) indoor location technology, has merged with Ten Sails, a location technology consulting firm with operations in North America, Asia, and Europe. According to the company's press release, "Under the terms of the merger agreement, the combined entity will proceed under the Ubisense brand. Ubisense will operate with more than 70 employees and offices located in the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, and Singapore."
     Ubisense provides sensor-driven technology that utilizes UWB to report the locations of persons and assets within one foot of accuracy, according to the company. Small sensors are placed within the indoor environment and active tags worn by people or attached to assets provide location information that can be viewed in 3D. This location data can be used to determine the efficiency and security of any indoor space or training scenario.
     Ubisense was founded in 2002 by four experts in location technology, together with Andy Hopper, head of computing at the University of Cambridge. In 2003, Ubisense entered into a strategic partnership with Ten Sails to further develop the early stage company.

This week I discussed the company's technology and the merger with Richard Green, founder of Ten Sails and CEO of Ubisense.
     A few years ago the GPS community was in tumult over UWB because it feared that, if widely adopted, it would interfere with GPS signals. I asked Green whether that is still a possibility. No, he told me, because "the power levels are almost undetectable. It is almost impossible to have any impact on other devices. Our devices use about 1/200th of the power used by mobile phones. These are very, very low levels."
     What triggered the merger? "This merger was motivated by the tremendous upsurge in sales we have experienced in the past year since receiving FCC approval late in 2004 for our ultra-wideband technology. In less than 12 months, we have acquired more than 80 new customers located around the globe."
     What does Ten Sails bring to the party? "A large customer relations network; a lot of skilled people, already trained; and new customers."
     Will the merger change the company's geographic coverage? The company is already global, Green says. About half of its operations are in North America, about 40 percent are in Europe, and 10 percent are in Asia. "We will see more European countries," he told me. "We just made our first sale in Spain, we have a couple of Spanish employees. We are going to be in Italy quite soon."
     What about your coverage of the verticals? "We are still in the very early stages. We are discovering new markets by the week. For example, retail organizations are interested in the activities of shoppers in malls. There are incredibly interesting new areas; people have not been able to have this level of positioning until now. We are getting many inquiries with regards to public safety. We are already looking at combining our devices with other forms of RFID."
     What about combining your technology seamlessly with outdoor, GPS-based tracking systems? "We just finished putting such a system together for a large military organization in Europe to use in combat simulations. We don't have agreements yet with cell phone manufacturers. We are trying to understand whether opportunities are there."
     Why are the tags active, unlike passive RFID tags? Active tags allow the system to track people and assets in real time, Green explains, because two-way communications allow more frequent updates.
     Is your system in high demand? "The exciting news is that there is a huge pent-up demand for this technology, just like there was with GPS. The market for indoor positioning is just as great."
     What about privacy concerns? A lot of the tracking is done "entirely anonymously" Green assured me, because it is used to study patterns, not to monitor individual behavior. For example, at one company all the tags are in a bucket and employees pick one up randomly as they arrive.

NOAA Study of the Remote Sensing Industry

Remote sensing — which encompasses satellite imagery, aerial photography (film and, increasingly, digital), LiDAR, and other systems — is experiencing rapid growth and a convergence of technologies that will rapidly transform how its products are defined, presented, and distributed. Last week I reported that Global Marketing Insights, Inc. (GMI) had completed a study entitled Survey and Analysis of Remote Sensing Market, Aerial and Spaceborne and delivered the final report to the Satellite and Information Service Division of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Actually, as I learned this week, GMI had completed the report in September and delivered it to NOAA, which then took three months to release it though it made no changes.
     NOAA had contracted with GMI to conduct a research study of the international remote sensing market as it relates to aerial and satellite data technologies. The company created a series of extensive online surveys covering issues related to eight sectors of the remote sensing market: aerial film, aerial digital, aerial sensors, satellites, commercial end users, value added hardware and software, academic users, and government. These surveys were completed by geospatial industry professionals and end users from the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Central America, and South America between February and August 2005.
     To receive the worldwide input needed to make the survey a success, the company established an international network of 26 Survey Affiliate Partners that hosted the website for the surveys and encouraged their clients to participate in the online survey. The 26 partners included media companies (such as GIS Monitor's publisher, GITC America), the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA), and geospatial companies, such as PCI Geomatics, Intergraph, and BAE Systems.
     Ultimately, GMI collected 1,547 online surveys, recorded 250 in-depth personal interviews, and generated more than 2,000 pages of statistics from the data collected. The analysis and final report were based on NOAA's specific requirements.
     The respondents answered questions about technical and business aspects of the industry, then selected technical, political, economic, and environmental trend information which they felt will have the greatest impact on their businesses in five and ten years. The report's findings include the following: U.S. and Canadian users see homeland security and defense issues as driving future technological development; in Europe, the development of the European Union will dictate the progress of the remote sensing sector; Asian and African participants believe that the increasing commoditization of remote sensing data will allow them greater access to it; the U.S. aerial imaging sectors expect strong growth with the continuation of mergers and acquisitions, consolidating in larger companies; and internationally, growth in the aerial mapping sector will continue to occur within small companies. "Overall," the report finds, "the global outlook for the remote sensing industry is strong and growth oriented."
     According to the report, "The most frequently mentioned technical advances centered around improvements on existing technology rather than the development of new technology." This included the integration of technologies that are currently independent or semi-independent, similarly to the way that GPS receivers, inertial measuring units (IMU), and aerial film and digital cameras have already been integrated. "In addition, the respondents indicated their belief that ever-increasing processing speeds for computers, increased data storage capabilities, and processing software (to lessen image noise) would be technology trends in 2015 which would impact their businesses."
     The aerial digital and satellite sectors were most concerned with greater ground resolution; all levels of government tracked very closely as to which technical advances would impact them the most, with technology integration and greater ground resolution at the top of the list. My favorite: in 2015, "virtual camera/sensor operators" and "lighter-than-air remote controlled and piloted airships."
     The personal interviews confirmed a common sense assumption: that improved access to remote sensing data will lead to greater use of this data and benefit many businesses. With regard to political, economic, and environmental trends, national defense / homeland security will have the greatest impact on the industry in 2010 and will continue to have an impact in 2015.
     According to the survey, the belief that remote sensing data will become a commodity is widespread among both data producers and data users. "This trend, if realized, could have a tremendous impact on the commercial end users and the hardware / software / value-added businesses" as data becomes more standardized and cheaper.
     All the respondents were asked to identify from a list of more than forty choices the technical advances they see impacting their business in 2010 and 2015. I don't put much stock in the figures for 2015, because they are very speculative. For 2010 the top ten choices, in descending order, were: technology integration (LiDAR, digital cameras, airborne GPS receivers, etc.), greater ground resolution, greater horizontal and vertical accuracy, improved airborne GPS units, greater computer processing speed, increased data storage capabilities, increased user friendliness of software, better processing software, spaceborne sensors, more channels and greater bandwidth.
     According to the report, "The satellite sector is of particular interest in the remote sensing industry because of the dramatic changes that have occurred in the past decade. ... The basic technologies driving ground resolution, data storage, and data processing will continue to be important to the satellite industry as they 'push the envelope' of what is possible to achieve from space."
     To me the most interesting part of the report is that about microsatellites. "Until recently," the report says, "remote sensing satellite programs were thought to be too expensive for most developing countries (India being the major exception). However, advancements in microsatellite technology have made the cost more affordable, and a growing number of countries are acquiring their own satellites, many through technology transfers or collaborative agreements with academic research institutions in other countries."
     The survey responses show "a strong interest in improving the basic technology that supports the remote sensing industry, which will allow new applications to be developed and potential customer base to be expanded." As for political, economic, and environmental trends, overall respondents pointed to national defense / homeland security considerations as having the greatest impact on the industry. However, European companies are expecting the expansion of the European Union to create a larger impact than other regions, while companies in the United States "were particularly conscious of homeland security efforts impacting them, while other regions of the world are more concerned about global warming and how environmental protection efforts may impact them." Finally, according to the study, "the projections for increased revenue over the next ten years indicate a good growth potential for the industry," particularly in the aerial digital sector.
     For background on U.S. government policy regarding satellite remote sensing, there's a good article in Crosslink, the magazine of the Aerospace Corporation.

Interview with SPOT Image Corporation's Clark Nelson

This week I spoke with Clark Nelson, Vice President for Sales and Marketing at SPOT Image Corporation, U.S. subsidiary of the French company Spot Image. The Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French national space agency, appointed Spot Image as sole commercial operator of the SPOT Earth observation satellites, the first of which was placed in orbit in 1986. The company is the worldwide distributor of geographic information products and services derived from the Spot satellites. It acquires the data through a receiving station at its premises in Toulouse, France, and via a network of 26 partner stations around the world. It also distributes complementary optical and radar data acquired by other satellites offering low- to very high-resolution images.
     Nelson began our conversation by proudly pointing out to me that his company, now in its 20th anniversary year, was the first commercial remote sensing company in the world. In his view, the beginning of the commercial provision of satellite imagery, previously the exclusive purview of governments, marked a historical turning point.
     Spot has launched a total of five satellites and currently operates a constellation of three. The company is at the center of what Nelson describes as a "dense commercial network:" "all of our offices," he explains, "distribute the products from all the other first-tier commercial satellite companies, and many government systems as well."
     While France launched the first commercial remote sensing satellite, Nelson points out that "the center of the [remote sensing] universe shifted back to the United States with the launch of the high resolution satellites" in the 1990s. "Recently the most significant fact is the emergence of the U.S. government as the partner of the commercial companies. This is a very, very important milestone for the industry." The reason, he explains, is that for traditional companies the cost of entry into this market is just too great. In Europe, Spot is a public-private partnership with the French government; in the United States, GeoEye and Digital Globe are also, in effect, public-private partnerships, because of their large government contracts. In the United States, Nelson explains, private companies got the commercial remote sensing satellite industry started, "but they were not successful commercially. It took a while for us (the United States) to find the right policy and funding mechanisms to implement government partnership and investments."
     Is commercial satellite remote sensing profitable? "It's a wide open question depending on how you define profitability. Spot Image is profitable to the extent that it covers all of its operating expenses from commercial revenues, including operations of the satellite constellation, but the French government paid for the building and launching of our satellites." How do the aerial photography and satellite imagery businesses differ? The principal difference is that the cost of entry is much lower for aerial photography. "It is a much older, more mature industry than space-borne remote sensing and there are hundreds of aerial companies, as opposed to a handful of satellite providers." says Nelson. Another key difference is that aerial photography is limited as to geographic coverage but provides higher resolution than satellites. On the whole, the two segments "complement each other nicely."
     Will there be a period of shakeout and consolidation in the aerial photography market? According to Nelson, it is experiencing "a whole new type of segmentation." A new phenomenon, for example, is that some companies are investing in the very expensive aerial digital sensors and then leasing them to other companies. As the industry shifts from film to digital, some companies will be able to make the switch, some will merge, and some will fold. "It's an industry that is reconfiguring itself," says Nelson.
     Another big trend, according to Nelson, is globalization — which means more outsourcing and more global cooperation. (However, he points out, "smaller companies often don't have the resources and the reach to do that.") The United States "will retain some national capabilities," but U.S. companies will both export and import more data. "That's when it will get really interesting," he says.
     I asked Nelson about the impact on the industry of the popularity of Google Earth and told him that it has been one of my standard questions for the past six months. The fact that I've been routinely asking that question, he answered, was an indication of the "profound effect" that Google Earth has had on the industry. He likens Google Earth to The Weather Channel: we watch the weather on television without thinking about the enormously complex and expensive technology behind it. "Yet we sit in front of our TV in our living room and use [The Weather Channel] as our personal decision support system."
     However, while Nelson acknowledges that "it is hard to find someone on the street who is not aware of Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth and therefore has not been exposed to satellite imagery," he questions the extent to which this interest has translated into commercial orders. "The real commercial value," Nelson says, "comes from the recognition of the value of satellite imagery by the casual viewer who can then translate that into his professional business."
     Some people use Google Earth in addition to purchasing imagery or as an alternative when time is of the essence. For example, Nelson points out, during Hurricane Katrina, "despite the fact that we were all providing endless streams of pixels and governments were doing the best they could, it was still not enough and there were still people who were just going to Google Earth, where they could get imagery instantly and cheaply." For them, geography was "clip art" — a simple visual tool. Nevertheless, those who have more complex projects — requiring serial acquisition, sophisticated processing, metadata, etc. — will still require professional services.

Interview with DigitalGlobe's Chuck Herring

This week I spoke with Chuck Herring, Director of Marketing Communications for DigitalGlobe. "Currently," he told me, "we still operate the world's highest-resolution satellite." The company, he added, also has a vast, centralized archive of satellite imagery.
     I asked him whether he had seen the NOAA report; he told me that he had read it and found "nothing surprising in there, just all the things that we've felt and heard from business partners and users." As for the need for a little higher resolution, cited by many respondents to the survey, Herring pointed out that "to get [a resolution] a lot better than .5 meters takes a much bigger bird." DigitalGlobe's next satellite, called WorldView and scheduled to be launched this year, has a resolution of .5 meters. An even higher resolution, Herring explains, would cost much more up front, shrink the satellite's footprint, and require re-sampling. Therefore, he argues, ".5 meters is the sweet spot in terms of resolution and collection capacity."
     As for the wish for greater and more complete coverage and greater ease of access to satellite imagery, expressed by many respondents to the survey, Herring says that it is "nothing really Earth shattering. They are all things that we've been focused on."
     I asked Herring about the effects on the industry of ORBIMAGE's acquisition of SpaceImaging. He believes it is a good thing, in that it erases many questions as to how those two companies and DigitalGlobe would compete for the two large contracts from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The acquisition will bring "more stability" to the industry and "will allow both companies to grow, allow us to grow our product offerings and capacity, especially as both companies start to get their next generation systems on line."
     How do aerial photography and satellite imagery differ? "What we find is that our product is more complementary than competitive." Aerial photography yields higher resolution and allows for oblique views, but satellites make a lot more sense to cover vast areas and they produce updates without having to re-fly an area. Generally, Herring says, aerial companies "serve their regions and clients' applications needs very well." Satellite companies provide another data set for meeting different application needs.
     What's the impact of Google Earth? According to Herring, it has "set the bar recently with all the media attention and awareness has gone way up. You will see more applications. Google Earth is a good tool for a lot of markets that were not being served traditionally but it does not serve those with higher requirements. Google Earth has been our first truly consumer opportunity." The greater public awareness, he says, boosts sales: "people see that we have coverage, then they come to us to buy our product." As examples, he cites real estate agencies and insurance companies, who, he claims, would otherwise have been "10 to 20 years away" from buying satellite imagery. "As they become more savvy [about satellite imagery] they start to realize what they can and cannot do with Google Earth and they start to migrate to applications with higher end GIS value." So, Google Earth has helped DigitalGlobe not just directly, by buying its products, but also indirectly, by generating new demand.
     What about the flip side — a reduction in demand as some potential customers decide that they can get all or most of what they need for free from Google Earth? "We haven't felt that," says Herring. "Google Earth serves those who would not have bought our products anyway. The people we are serving have not benefited from Google." The reason, he explains, is that Google Earth does not provide metadata, scheduled updates, and other services that high end customers require.

Interview with Airborne1 Corp.'s Todd Stennett

This week I spoke to Todd Stennett, CEO of Airborne1 Corporation, a LiDAR terrain mapping company. His background is in business. "I came out of business school looking for opportunities in the mapping arena," he told me, "and was embedded in it for about ten years as a manager, getting a billion dollar start up company's GIS up and running." "Our company," Stennett says, "is focused on enabling North American mapping firms to compete in the mapping arena. Of about 10,400 aerial photography firms in North America, only about 40 will ever be able to afford LiDAR technology. We help the other 10,360 be competitive."
     Is there excess capacity in the aerial photography industry? "The technology is still fairly fragile," Stennett explains. "It is hard to make good use of technology that is more than seven years old, because it changes so quickly that it is already obsolete and not usable. I think that the sensors that are out there are rarely used more than 10 percent of the time."
     Have you read the NOAA report on remote sensing? "I had seen a previous iteration. It appears mostly weighted toward government and academics. This is reflected in the fact that homeland security and sensor fusion come out as top priorities. There is an ever increasing demand for higher levels of accuracy and resolution from the same or higher altitude. We are firm believers — many mapping firms don't believe this at all — that our data sets will be fully commoditized in the next seven years."
     Do you think that GeoEye is going to be profitable? "They have a sophisticated management team. I have a high level of confidence that the company will find profitability quite soon."
     How do the satellite imagery and the aerial photography segments of the remote sensing industry differ? According to Stennett, the key difference is that the former makes fewer but larger deals (in the hundreds of millions of dollars), while the latter makes many more, smaller deals (in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars — for a total of billions annually). Both segments will continue to try to enhance resolution and accuracy for a given cost structure. Satellites will not overtake aerial photography in this regard because it, too, is constantly evolving. "We will see parallel paths unfold."
     Will there be a shakeout in the aerial photography industry? No, says Stennett, because the profits have already been squeezed and there is no economy of scale to be gained. However, he points out, there will be some consolidation as companies retire 50 to 70 year old cameras. For now, film still has higher resolution than digital, right? "That's exactly right. Digital cameras are not producing results comparable to film cameras yet. We get samples from a wide variety of providers and in all cases film is much better than digital. But every year digital gets better. There is going to be resistance by those who have not yet converted to digital. But 10 to 15 years out, digital will dominate collection."
     What's your overall assessment of the prospects for the remote sensing industry? "The market stands a chance to double its size in the next five years, driven by consumer-level demand for map products."

News Briefs

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


The City of Coldwater, Michigan is using mPower Integrator, by mPower Technologies, to develop custom Web GIS applications. The city was expected to take another two and a half years to bring its data to the Web using traditional methods, but, using mPower Integrator, it completed the task in only a few weeks. Since then, it has been expanding beyond its original plans and is expecting more departments and users to take advantage of this new GIS Web technology.

The Hemisphere GPS division of CSI Wireless Inc., a designer and manufacturer of wireless and GPS products, has completed its previously announced acquisition of Del Norte Technology, Inc. of Euless, Texas. Effective January 1, Hemisphere GPS purchased the Del Norte business assets for cash of $940,000, including working capital of approximately $250,000. Hemisphere GPS is combining its Satloc aerial guidance unit with the Del Norte assets to create a new unit called Hemisphere Air that is focused on providing GPS products for aerial guidance, primarily for agricultural applications.

The Waterford Township, Michigan, Department of Public Works (DPW), has chosen MWH Soft's InfoWater Suite and InfoSewer Suite software to replace its existing modeling solution. The suites will serve as the foundation for developing a comprehensive ArcGIS-centric solution for managing the Township's drinking water infrastructure and sanitary sewer collection system. The Township's decision to standardize on InfoWater and InfoSewer geocentric technology followed a technical evaluation of several GIS-based modeling software packages by key DPW staff. They selected InfoWater and InfoSewer suites because they deliver geocentric modeling functionality and ease of use in an affordable package.
     The Waterford Township Water and Sewer Division of the DPW is responsible for approximately 23,000 water and 25,000 sewer accounts, serving approximately 60,000 customers within its 36 square mile boundary. The Water Branch operates and maintains over 350 miles of water main, 11 iron filtration plants, storage facilities with a capacity of over 8,000,000 gallons, 3,300 fire hydrants and 3,000 valves. Average annual day water demand is approximately 8,000,000 gallons, with peak day demands exceeding 20,000,000 gallons. The Sewer Branch operates and maintains over 350 miles of sanitary sewer main, 8,500 sewer manholes, and 63 sewer pumping stations.
     Built atop ArcGIS with native geodatabase support, InfoWater and InfoSewer offer a single comprehensive, GIS-centric solution for analyzing and managing the most complex water distribution and sewer collections systems. An integrated geospatial framework applies GIS intelligence to engineering-accurate information, coupled with the most advanced numerical computation, genetic algorithm optimization and object-component geospatial technologies in the marketplace. The resulting centralized, multi-function system enables world-record performance, scalability, reliability, functionality, and flexibility within the powerful ArcGIS environment, completely eliminating the need for inefficient, unreliable data synchronization, synching schemes, or middlelink interfaces required by other software.

Cart�Graph ended 2005 adding 10 new clients in December to its growing list of organizations using Cart�Graph solutions to achieve better government: Campbell County, Wyoming; City of Casa Grande, Arizona; Town of Castle Rock, Colorado; Village of Hazel Crest, Illinois; Ouray County, Colorado; City of St. Mary's , Georgia; City of Wheat Ridge, Colorado; Willdan Associates, California; Ville de Longueuil, Quebec, Canada; and the National Roads Authority in the Cayman Islands.

Toyo Engineering Corporation (TEC), an engineering, procurement, and construction firm based in Chiba, Japan, has joined Bentley Systems' Enterprise License Subscription (ELS) program, which grants organizations unlimited access to the entire ELS software portfolio for a fixed annual fee. The portfolio covers all the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) software needs of subscribers, providing building, plant, civil, and geospatial solutions and supporting a managed environment for their AEC IT.
     The total coverage at a fixed, discounted price means that organizations can increase their software productivity and reduce their total AEC software costs simultaneously. The unlimited access streamlines software administration while the annual term simplifies budgeting and accounting. Immediately, the Bentley ELS will give TEC a quick, cost-effective way to offer its clients creative technical alternatives and solutions in support of their projects.

MDA's Geospatial Services will participate in the on-going development of the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) for the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Tajikistan (MoES). Funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with additional assistance from the United Nations (UN), MDA will aid in the development of GIS and remote sensing techniques that will help Tajikistan authorities organize and conduct rehabilitation efforts to minimize the impact of natural disasters.
     As one of the poorest nations in the world, Tajikistan is afflicted with earthquakes, mudslides, and large-scale crippling floods that demolish the country's fragile infrastructure at a rate that exceeds the government's rebuilding efforts. The MoES, an integral component of the Tajikistan Government's disaster preparedness strategy, is responsible for the implementation and co-ordination of the Government's response to disasters when they occur. The establishment of the disaster management database is a collaborative project with the U.N. and will be designed to aid local and national authorities in identifying high-risk flood areas and increase emergency preparedness. MDA's Geospatial Services' role involves developing advanced GIS for IMAC. Drawing from a number of data sources including SAR imagery from RADARSAT-1 and topographic maps, MDA's Geospatial Services will integrate meteorological data, such as climate conditions and rainfall, with socio-economic statistics into a spatial database. These data layers can be used to monitor and map flood extent, assess damage, and more importantly, provide a detailed spatial description of affected communities and people that are in greatest need.


ESRI has begun to ship the newest versions of its software package for mobile GIS and field-mapping applications, ArcPad 7 and ArcPad Application Builder 7. This release expands the capabilities of mobile GIS applications with new features that greatly improve the productivity of working with spatial data in the field.
     ArcPad provides field-based personnel with the ability to capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze, and display geographic information. This enables users to perform reliable, accurate, and validated field data collection — including the use of data input from GPS receivers, rangefinders, and digital cameras. ArcPad 7 features many enhancements in the areas of performance, ease of use, productivity, enterprise GIS integration, and customization. New features in ArcPad 7 include quicker access and loading of spatial data; support for ArcGIS symbology and style sheets; advanced editing tools, including offsets, repeated attributes, segmented line features, snapping, and undo; integrated support for rangefinders and digital cameras; support for freehand marking and taking notes on maps; usability enhancements that streamline connecting a GPS; support for new raster data formats: JPEG 2000, TIFF, MrSID MG3, and GIF; and simple form customization within ArcPad.
     ArcPad Application Builder, the development framework for building custom ArcPad applications for mobile GIS, is sold separately and has also been updated. It is easier to use and offers many more customization options at version 7. Some new features in ArcPad Application Builder 7 include a wizard for creating forms; improved script and XML editing tools; compile tool for customization projects and ability to download compiled projects directly to device; support for Jscript; expanded ArcPad Object Model: new rangefinder, FTP, archive, and multimedia objects; and expanded extensions API: new interfaces for cameras, rangefinders, projections, and datum transformations. Both ArcPad products will allow fieldworkers to collect data faster and more accurately, even in areas they cannot reach.

Carmenta has released version 4.4 of SpatialAce, its GIS engine. The new version, which brings even more power and performance to developers of real-time 2D/3D GIS, comes with many new features, making it easier than ever to include high-class interactive map displays in almost any application. The more important features of the new version include: powerful vector operators which can be used for complex GIS analysis as well as for sophisticated visualization; improved moving map functionality, making it easy to implement dynamic, rotating map displays, which are equally suited for desktop and vehicle-mounted systems; extended support for military overlays and symbology as defined by the military standard MIL-STD-2525B; and enhanced interoperability through the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC) Web Map Service (WMS) layer. The new layer provides easy access to the increasing number of Web services implementing the OGC WMS interface.

AGI and Trinnovations have released Weather Sentinel, new software that imports predicted, real-time, or historical weather data into AGI's STK software for analysis of land, sea, air, and space assets. This unprecedented tool enables mission planners and operational analysts to dynamically visualize how weather variables — e.g. temperature, pressure, cloud cover, and wind velocity — affect critical components of terrestrial and space-based missions, such as communications, travel speed, and visibility.

PCI Geomatics has begun to ship Geomatica 10, the company's image-centric geospatial software. Geomatica 10 introduces automatic ground point collection through advanced image-correlation technology. This, combined with Geomatica OrthoEngine satellite and air photo models, enables fast and accurate orthorectification. Working in conjunction with the new Geomatica Desktop Production Engine — a collection of improvements to the Geomatica Modeler batch-processing capability — it is now possible to completely automate ortho-mosaic workflows.
     With the Desktop Production Engine, options that allow input file, export file, and parameter-setting variation throughout multiple runs of a model are available for each task's module. These improvements make Geomatica 10 Modeler a much more powerful visual modeling environment and can turn any series of tasks into a fully automated process.
     Enhancements to the OrthoEngine auto-mosaicking tool include a new mosaic preview feature. You can now test results of several mosaic parameter settings and inputs through lower resolution mosaic previews. This feature saves time and disk space, and allows greater workplace productivity and efficiency.
     GeoTango SmartDigitizer, a semi-automated feature extraction tool, has also been incorporated in Geomatica 10; however, due to GeoTango's change in ownership, this feature is available for a limited time only.


The Geospatial Solutions Division of Tadpole Technology Plc has appointed Ross Coulman to the position of Business Manager of Process Industries. Coulman will be responsible for the management of the division's business activity within the Process Industries and Energy markets. Reporting to James Blackwood, European General manager, his role will include growing the division's service offerings and leading the development of core software that may be leveraged by these sectors.
     Coulman, who holds a Post-Graduate Certificate in GIS, has a record of developing and implementing GIS systems across a wide range of sectors, specializing in the provision of Web-based applications. He has served in a commercial and technical capacity for several organizations in the Process Industries and Energy markets, including ICI and Enron Ltd.
     During his tenure with Enron, Coulman spearheaded the development of a company-wide GIS and managed its successful integration into UK operations. He most recently worked for SembCorp Utilities, where he held the position of Business Manager and ran his own commercially successfully GIS Business Unit, providing GIS consultancy and overseeing the commercial delivery of the company's GIS products to several blue chip organizations.

Bentley Systems, Incorporated has appointed Rob Whitesell as vice president, Bentley Plant. Recognized as an expert in plant data workflows and a hands-on proponent of standardization, Whitesell brings more than 15 years of experience in the plant vertical delivering solutions for engineering information management to some of the largest companies in the world. Whitesell succeeds Dr. Jeff Hollings, who will focus on strategic business development for Bentley.
     Whitesell most recently served as president and CEO of ESSI, LLC, a company he co-founded in 1997. ESSI's flagship product, eWarehouse, enables owner-operators to effectively manage change for plant assets by integrating data from engineering and enterprise systems. During Whitesell's leadership, ESSI cultivated close customer relationships with BP, Chevron, KBR, and Texaco, all of which deployed ESSI's technology in mission-critical roles. Whitesell led ESSI through a number of significant transitional events, including capital investments from Bechtel and Fluor and ESSI's eventual acquisition by Bentley in 2004.
     Dr. Hollings is credited with managing Bentley Plant to leading vendor status in 14 categories of Daratech's 2005 annual plant industry survey, including overall plant creation software. Dr. Hollings helped establish Rebis in 1985 and later as CEO transformed the company into a significant participant in the plant industry. The Bentley Plant vertical organization was formed after Bentley acquired Rebis in 2002, during which time Dr. Hollings oversaw not only the integration of Rebis with Bentley's existing plant team, but also integrated several key technologies, such as the 2004 AXSYS and ESSI product-line acquisitions.


R.A. Smith & Associates, Inc. — civil engineering, planning, surveying, landscape architecture, GIS and visualization consultants — of Brookfield, Wisconsin, is accepting registrations for several upcoming ESRI-authorized GIS courses. R.A. Smith is the only official ESRI Training Center in Wisconsin and the only facility that offers ESRI instructor-led classes. All courses are held at R.A. Smith's learning center, in Brookfield, which is designed for hands-on technology learning. The location is convenient with ready access to freeways, hotels, and free parking.
      The classes are open to anyone who wants to use GIS as an effective tool for managing, analyzing, and viewing relationships between tabular and spatial information. The classes benefit individuals employed in local government, land development, real estate, police / fire / emergency services, health care, education and others.
     Course descriptions and registration forms are available online. R.A. Smith also offers customized training either on-site or at its in-house learning center. A course outline and materials are prepared based upon each individual's specific needs.

The 4th International Vespucci Summer Institute On Geographic Information Science will take place June 27 to July 07 in Fiesole (Tuscany), Italy. The first week will focus on urban and environmental modelling; the second week on Spatial Data Infrastructures and research methods.


At the DistribuTECH 2006 Conference and Exhibition, February 7-9, in Tampa, Florida, Matrox will demonstrate new graphics hardware for process control and system monitoring applications, including GIS. Demonstrations, in Booth #853 at the Tampa Convention Center, will include using four or more displays at a time and external multi-display upgrades for existing systems.

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