February 6, 2003



• Geospatial Technology and Columbia

Issue Focus: Location-based Services

• What Are Location-based Services, Anyway?
• GeoMicro: Redefining Location-based Services
• MapInfo's Take on Location-based Services


• Bentley Announces OpenDGN Program
• Intergraph Q4 and Year End Results Conference Call

This issue sponsored by:
Safe Software

Points of Interest, Week in Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe

The loss of Space Shuttle Columbia on Saturday brings a sorrow across the world. As we read accounts of the bravery of those who build, manage, and fly spacecraft, we in the geospatial community need to be aware of the connection between the Shuttle program and our work.

The Space Shuttle program was designed to create a reusable spacecraft; one that could take a payload, say a GPS satellite, into orbit, return home, then take on a new mission. The Shuttle program, like the U.S. Interstate Highway System and our worldwide airline industry, changed the friction of distance across the earth's surface. While highways and commercial airlines made points on the ground seem closer together, the Shuttle program helped change the friction of distance to outer space. Airplanes make it possible, with only hours' notice, to travel from Boston to Los Angeles for a meeting. While the Shuttles don't fly as regularly as planes, it was possible here on the ground to identify problems with the Hubble Telescope and to send up a Shuttle crew to make repairs. Space somehow seems closer, or certainly more accessible, with the Shuttles flying.

And of course, the Shuttle flew the Radar Topography Mission and delivered large amounts of data back to earth in record time. It's ironic that those very satellites that Shuttle flights were designed to put into orbit for communications, navigation and observation are in wide use in the aftermath of Saturday's tragedy. Volunteers, students, and experienced GPS users from many different geographies are searching for, securing, and geocoding the locations of debris for a master map.

While there is extensive coverage of GPS use, GIS is most certainly a key tool. Stephen F. Austin State University's HUES Geographic Information Systems Lab and the College of Forestry's Forest Resources Institute have been providing mapping support since Saturday. ComputerWorld reports that the data is being fed into ArcInfo with SPOT images as background. More coverage is available at NewsDay. The Deep East Texas Council of Governments on Tuesday turned over its 70 Mb GIS to aid in the mapping in a seven-county area.

Reports suggest that searchers in more than 38 counties in Texas have found debris, with more than 1,000 pieces located in Nacogdoches County alone. Nationwide, located debris fragments number about 12,000 and will no doubt continue to climb. CNN has posted some interactive maps of the distribution of material and the Arthur Temple College of Forestry Forest Research Institute and the Hues GIS Lab at Stephen F. Austin State University posted this one.

The Hartford Courant interviewed Guy Loughridge of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the president of E.R.M. Inc, which makes Tactical Mapping Software, a GIS for tactical use in among other things, plane crash reconstruction. Loughridge explained, "with computer modeling, looking at things in three dimensions, and factoring in mathematical equations, what you are doing is not necessarily re-creating the accident exactly . . . But it does make it possible to eliminate or support the major scenarios."

Gary Jeffress, coordinator of geographic information science at Texas A&M; University in Corpus Christi went so far as to offer in an interview with ComputerWorld, that "the only other government GIS project going on that may be bigger than the Shuttle recovery effort involves planning for a possible attack against Iraq."

If you would like to help in the mapping effort, there are requests for GPS operators posted on the Web.


My Definition of Location-based Services

Since I've been involved in marketing geospatial technologies for the last decade or so, I'm very tuned in to the use of specific marketing terms. One that I find particularly confusing is "open" which can and does mean just about anything. It was with that in mind that I asked readers for explanations of location-based services (LBS) last week.

Before I jump into the responses, I want to give you my understanding on the meaning of LBS. These ideas come from a paper I prepared for the GIS User Forum in Dubai last year. The topic was "Looking Back and Planning Ahead: The Future of GIS." LBS is based on the idea that someone (or something) is asking for information about a particular location. The location might be where the person or sensor is, or not. The requested information might be about man-made topics like traffic conditions, or natural phenomena like the weather.

While the common example of "find me the closest pizza place to my current location" typically results in navigation information, I believe there is a place for services that work the opposite way. In particular, those that provide a service at the location of interest. For example "bring me a pizza/doctor/masseuse." In that case the location of the provider is less important than the location of the requestor. Navigation information in that case would detail the path from the responder to the requestor.

LBS is based on the principle of least effort that suggests "a system will try to adapt to its environment or will try to change the environment to suit its needs, whichever is easier. That's one reason I think that in the long term LBS will be successful to some degree. But LBS is far more than a solution to provide immediate navigational assistance or emergency aid. The idea that a user might set a query for a not-so-immediate need is interesting. How about telling a device, "Let me know when I'm within five miles of an Eddie Bauer store." That way, when going about one's business, there might be an easy chance to return that jacket that doesn't fit. Or, having a sensor to monitor traffic on the route home to suggest when it's appropriate to take the "alternate" route? Those types of "remote sensing" or "remote reporting" or OGC's "Sensor Web" are particularly interesting and practical.

Unfortunately, as I've pointed out before, the hype of "Find me a pizza place," or "Find my friends" has overshadowed more practical uses like E-911 and remote monitoring. The other point, of course, is that the former are very consumer-oriented whereas the latter are government/industry-oriented.

While I don't have hard figures, my guess is that most monies in LBS to date are spent on business apps, mobile navigation (much of that for business, I'd offer) and government-funded emergency response. Only a small fraction, I'd guess, has anything to do with the consumer. In an article at Directions Magazine, Jim VanderMeer, product director at Airbiquity (a company that makes GPS locations available to networks for LBS uses), writes about Nextel's partnership with Televigation that provides GPS navigation to Nextel's Java phone users. He says, "Even though a large percentage of their customers are business users," he expects them to be the beginning of a move to consumer users. And, again, as I've pointed out, since most people spend their lives in a rather limited geographical area, the demands for such services may be few and far between.

The Challenges

LBS seems to be running into all sorts of "brick walls" here in the U.S. The ability to locate handsets is still quite limited. The GPS-based solutions are up and running in limited geographies, but many users do not have the new handsets required to take advantage of them. Other network-based location systems have not performed very well, and, as I noted last year, carriers are moving from one to the other in search of a viable solution. The vast majority of U.S. cell phone holders are not locatable at this time. Jim VanderMeer argues in his article that ubiquitous locating will not be available until 2004.

Another challenge relates to issues of privacy. While those considering offering LBS assure potential customers that they can choose who can track their location, there is still hesitancy among many consumers. The vision of a handheld ringing and buzzing to offer coupons as subscribers walk down the street, whether true or not, has made many fearful of LBS. Naivete about the technology (such as believing that GPS receivers send out locational signals) fuels these concern, as does limited attention to the matter by state and federal governments.

The economic situation is not supportive of LBS growth, either. As Larry Delaney, MapInfo's Director of Location-based Services puts it in an interview with Directions Magazine, "Our target customers are under severe economic pressure from debt created by mergers/acquisitions and 3G license auctions." MapInfo, he says, is looking to put forward a strong business case and share the risk/reward with operators.

The other challenges of bringing LBS to market revolve around gathering and linking together all of the parts of a solution:

(1) capturing a location (if needed)
(2) defining and hosting a service to query (the platform)
(3) developing an "answer" to the query which may rely on a GIS application supported by data providers and consultants (application developers and other providers)
(4) delivering the answer (a map, a list of possible locations, directions…)

As I've noted, technology companies are still working out viable solutions for providing locations for handsets. The platform business seems to be stable as wireless carriers try to choose one vendor's platform over another. My sense is that all wireless carriers have given in to the idea that down the road they will have to provide something to their customers in the LBS arena beyond E-911. If nothing else, I believe that in the U.S., carriers want to see some hard revenue from meeting FCC requirements requiring E-911 support. The application providers, including many GIS vendors involved in LBS who hope to serve this part of the market, have to wait for these two groundwork elements to be up and running before sales shoot through the roof. And, finally, the message delivery system is still in flux. What language do we use to send locational messages back and forth? XML? GML? MMS? SMS? And, do we want the systems to be interoperable?

Bright Spot

Jim VanderMeer points to one bright spot in LBS, one market area nearing saturation: fleet management and asset tracking. He suggests that the many, many hardware and software providers in this space will be shrinking and consolidating this year. He concedes that this market will be quite mature before the consumer business model is nailed down. Fleet management and asset tracking are darlings of this technology, and for good reason. There are no privacy issues, costs have dropped as more players enter the market, and businesses see immediate return on investment and enhanced customer experiences.

Latest Thoughts on LBS

David H. Williams, CEO at E911-LBS Consulting writing at Wireless Developer Network, puts it bluntly in his article, It's the (LBS) Applications, Stupid! He argues that those making mostly unhealthy predictions about the growth potential for the LBS marketplace need to look specifically at applications and not lump all the uses and users together. He looks at the current environment as a glass half full: decent locating technologies, devices, bandwidth, and regulatory environments. He goes on to argue that application developers (and those purchasing same) need to look carefully at packaging and addressing niche markets. A "generic" friend finder, he suggests won't be a big splash in the market, but one geared to teens or used in a game setting just might.

Delaney of MapInfo agrees that the limited application range is a current problem, but argues, "From a consumer perspective, . . . that the mobile concierge (miGuide) applications and friend finder (miFriends) applications will be the most effective."

One point Williams makes while examining the business case is curious. He suggests that for the businesses implementing LBS, the technology will provide only a small source of new revenues in comparison to other benefits (notably cost savings). The same may well be true of carriers. The increased revenue may be for simply using more minutes for voice/data calls, not necessarily from the service itself. He also points out, as I did in my paper above, the number of layers of "businesses" looking for a cut of the profit between the application provider and the user. These include, he suggests, everyone from carriers, to local governments, to "hot spot" owners, to those seeking brand placement.

Differing Definitions

What do others think location-based services are? Here are some definitions e-mailed me in reply to my query last week, or found on the Web:

• Xavier Lopez of Oracle sent on a chapter from a forthcoming book, Telegeoinformatics: Location-Based Computing and Services, to be published by Taylor and Francis, to which he contributed. "Location-Based Services (LBSs) consist of a broad range of services that incorporate location information with contextual data to provide a value-added experience to users on the Web or wireless devices."

The chapter goes on to note these types of location-based services: Safety Services (E-911 and others), Information Services (traffic information, navigation assistance, yellow pages, travel/tourism services, etc.) Enterprise Services (vehicle tracking, logistic systems, fleet management, and workforce management, and "people finding") Consumer Portal Services (services will enable the delivery of "local" news, weather, and traffic information determined by location of devices), Telematics Services (vehicle navigation systems, such as OnStar, where drivers and passengers employ Global Positioning System (GPS Triggered Location Services (services triggered as consumers or corporate clients enter predetermined areas).

• WhereonEarth, a company involved in LBS that was selected as part of Huthison 3G's LBS plans, includes this definition on its website: "Location Based Services can be described as 'applications,' which re-act according to a geographic trigger."

• MobileInfo.com, a mobile computing and wireless website, describes LBS as "Those mobile commerce services that utilize information about the current location of the person using a mobile device."

• A student presentation at New Jersey Institute of Technology uses this definition: "LBS is the ability to find the geographical location of the mobile device and provide services based on this location."

• MapInfo uses the term "Mobile Location Services" (MLS) on its website. Larry Delaney explained that MLS and LBS "…are frequently used interchangeably. At MapInfo, we define LBS as applying strictly to satisfying the need of wireless operators to provide location-enhanced applications to their subscribers to increase loyalty, attract new subscribers, and generate higher ARPU. Personally, I regard the term 'Mobile Location Services' as having a much broader connotation. Mobile Location Services includes providing location-enhanced wireless applications to a broader customer base including commercial enterprises."

• Jeff Thurston of VectorOne sent this discussion. "When the milkman delivered milk to your house, that was location-based servicing - service to a location. Mail is another location-based service. More recently LBS has come to mean 'motivating' the person to move to a location (i.e. find me the closest milk). The emphasis in LBS appears, to me, to be about driving the consumer to the service as compared to providing the service (not just location) to the consumer.

"Mobility technologies can provide organizations with the capability to conduct more efficient operations since they link to organizational processes. But LBS has not developed the so-called 'killer app' because it is oriented toward consumers moving to services rather than the other way around. If LBS remains a business technology, then it will be used mostly 9-to-5, whereas individual LBS will be a 24/7 venture. There is a greater market for individualized LBS services. A few people are angling that direction and LBS is about to take off."

The big issue, I believe, is not the services aspect, but whether or not the services/information must be delivered, ideally wirelessly, based on the current location of the device. MapInfo's dual definitions raise a good point: the nature of the service might depend on to the buyer: a wireless operator, or a consumer.

I personally prefer a broader definition, one that would include services/information based on any location of interest delivered in any manner (wired or wireless, or even by phone). In one sense, I'll suggest, location-based services is a broad industry, which could, arguably, include GIS as a subset. Furthermore, within that broad definition, we have many definitions of successful LBS applications, from MapQuest to any "store locator" app on the Web, from in-car navigation tools like NeverLost, to the Social Security Administration employee on the other end of the phone who told me the nearest office based on my Zip-code. The recent hype can be thought of as merely the logical development of the request/response model used for years (since milkmen!) to a new platform (a handheld) using a new media (wireless).

If you talk to Dave Ransier of
GeoMicro about location-based services you'll get a very different picture than the one about consumers "finding the nearest pizza place." About two years ago the company shifted its focus from components and webmapping toward routing and tracking solutions. The company also stayed away from the consumer, for the most part.

Ransier looks at consumer routing services this way. Not too many years ago, travelers could join AAA and receive all the free maps and "Triptiks" they wanted. Then came MapQuest and other online services, which provided maps for free. Why would someone now pay for that same information, just because it is delivered on a mobile device? Does a different medium demand a different price? While broadly, Ransier does not see the business case, he does admit that, for an immediate need (finding a Kinkos to copy reports for meeting in an unknown town) he'd be happy to pay 75 cents or a dollar for the address and directions. But he figures that's not enough to pay for the infrastructure for the solution if he (and many others) would only use the service once or twice a year.

That brings me to GeoMicro's solutions, which are used more often than once or twice a year. The best analogy I can make, after speaking to Ransier, is this: the company offers, on a DVD, something similar to what Microsoft offers with its MapPoint .NET service. (I discussed that in detail earlier this year.) On the DVD is a mapserver, data, and if you want it, a geocoder and router, and last but not least the map renderer, which makes pretty maps. You install this on your Web server and you are up and running. Let me be clear, YOU host the solution. The comparison to MapPoint is apt since at the CTIA Wireless show last year, most of the interest was from existing MapPoint users who were unhappy with the new licensing program. Of course, Microsoft wants its user base to migrate from MapPoint to their MapPoint.NET service.

Who's using the GeoMicro solution suite, called AltaMap? One new user is Monitoring Automation Systems (MAS). MAS provides software solutions to security companies like Brinks and ADT. When I heard that, I imagined a solution that provides the route to the house where a break-in occurred. That's not it. Since these home security companies aim to protect "all" of one's valuables, MAS wants to help them offer another service, tracking of stolen vehicles. They'll be using GeoMicro's tools for tracking.

One of GeoMicro's partners worth mentioning is Digital Data Technologies, Inc. of Columbus, Ohio. That company uses the AltaMap engine to power its E-911 applications. In fact, the company chose to stay with GeoMicro, even though doing so required them to drop a relationship with another vendor.


GeoMicro has been around since 1997. I asked Ransier what had made the company successful, and he mentioned some things I'd not expected or heard before. First off, he pointed to new licensing options from data providers. GeoMicro does a lot of business with TeleAtlas and NavTech, and he noted that payment based on a minimum plus a small charge per transaction keeps costs down for both GeoMicro and its clients. It basically means he can deliver what used to be a $30,000 nationwide data set for far less.

Second, he noted that the company delivers a generic product that's ready to go. The install is simple (you need not be a GIS geek to get it up and running) and the data is already there, nicely displayed. All the user needs to do is add custom data, points, vectors or polygons (such as store locations or sales territories) and the application is done. The product he suggests, compares well to MapPoint .NET and similar services. GeoMicro's offerings, he offers, reduce cost and development time in comparison to complex solutions that require extensive training such as ArcIMS and MapGuide.

Finally, he notes that GeoMicro's Web solutions are built on the same code as its desktop solutions, so moving applications from one to another is simple.

So, how does it work? Well, I did some informal testing on the GeoMicro demo page. I found the routing pretty good, the applications responsive, and the maps-to my great pleasure-very pretty. GeoMicro offers an option for nationwide solutions between "build your own" and "use a service."

After reading up on LBS, I still had questions, and was able to follow up with Larry Delaney.

MapInfo has expertise in demographic analysis so I asked Delaney how that might be used in LBS. The idea, he explained, is to take the company's existing solutions that make sense of "customers behaviors, purchasing patterns, and tastes based on where they choose to live," then "apply this to wireless operators to understand their subscribers and anticipate the services they would prefer." He cited as an example "enhancing a mobile concierge application to sort restaurants or events by both proximity and the probable preferences of the subscriber. The application can be further enhanced by 'learning' from past choices of the individual and utilizing this information as well." This is one situation where subscribers would need to feel comfortable with the carrier keeping track of past choices, I suppose.

I asked about how the current location technology affects the marketplace, if it was "good enough" for current services. Delaney replied, "Yes, with the caveat that this specific application will certainly be more compelling with more precise position determination. As you know, cell sector-based position determination has varying degrees of precision based on the location of the end-user. . . MapInfo also has the ability to present a map of an individual's location with a translucent polygon indicating the uncertainty of the position determination. This avoids misleading the end-user by implying a greater precision through the use of a push-pin or point on a map."

Bentley reconfirmed its financials in a press release this week. I mentioned last week that the company noted revenues rose by 14% to $230. This week there were two other interesting
announcements. Bentley intends to provide support to an independent, nonprofit consortium that will maintain and license, at no fee to end-users, libraries to read and write V8 DGN format content. And, Bentley View software will be provided without charge from the company website.

It's commendable that the company is doing so well in tough economic times. My sense is that Bentley has been very careful to use cash wisely and focus on its strongest vertical markets. The formation of a non-profit organization to support the DGN format is curious. Recall that the OpenDWG Alliance organization was set up by non-Autodesk players to "force" open Autodesk's proprietary format. Autdoesk is not involved with the group, though it's been asked to join. The OpenDWG Alliance hosts both code to read/write DWG and the details of the file format. Bentley, Intergraph, and ESRI are all founding members of the OpenDWG Alliance. Sustaining members from the geospatial marketplace include Safe Software, Cadcorp, Trimble, Eagle Point, Star Informatics, Hitachi, and Blue Marble.

Bentley, I suspect, is mounting this effort to make it easier for developers to play well with MicroStation and perhaps lure more of them to its platform. Note that the company did not indicated explicitly in the press release that it will publish the DGN format, though there are suggestions that the DGN format is available to Bentley users in a USENET post. I contacted Bentley for clarification on this and other matters, but did not receive a response in time for this issue. Stay tuned.

Ralph Grabowski notes in his UpFront.eZine that DGN v 7 was mostly Intergraph's published IGDS code, with a few proprietary bits added by Bentley. At DGN v 8 the entire format became proprietary. I don't really expect the availability of this code to change the marketplace significantly. Software libraries like this have been available for some time for a fee.

The change of Bentley View from a limited distribution to a worldwide one is significant. When the product was announced last May I suggested that limiting distribution to Bentley users (and their "friends") might defeat the purpose.

It's also worth noting that Bentley is following very closely in Autodesk's footsteps with the consortium (in this case Bentley supported vs. Autodesk's "competitor sponsored" one), a free viewer, and a solid focus on subscription revenue. Moreover, this week Bentley announced it has introduced vertical organizations for each major facility/asset category. "Focused, cross-functional organizations" named Bentley Civil, Bentley Building, Bentley Plant, and Bentley Geospatial, are now on the books. This sounds similar to Autodesk's organization. More details of these changes, part of the "V8 Generation" are expected in the company's upcoming tour and user conference.

Some other points from the "earnings" release:

After normalizing for acquired businesses and currency translations, the company's organic revenue growth approximated 6%.

405 accounts each invested more than $100,000 in Bentley products and services during the year, an increase of 65 accounts over 2001.

No single account represented more than 1% of revenue.

Among the top three providers listed in market research firm Daratech's new A/E/C/O rankings, Bentley is the only one with positive corporate revenue growth in reports for 2002.

Intergraph's Q4 and year-end conference call yielded little insight into specific divisions. Instead, after a very short summary of the numbers, CEO Jim Taylor answered numerous questions about the company's pending lawsuits and agreements.

Net fourth-quarter income was $90.1 million, or $1.85 per diluted share, compared to $11.9 million, or 23 cents per diluted share, in fourth-quarter 2001. Revenue was down to $122 million from $133 million in fourth-quarter 2001, while year-end revenue fell to $501.1 million from $532.1 million in 2001. Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions division posted a $2.1 million restructure charge likely pertaining to taking on Utilities & Communications Group and Z/I Imaging.

In addition to 148 million from Intel thus far this year, and $300 million from last year, Intergraph was looking good. There was more good news in that area, too. In January 2002, Intergraph began a cross-licensing agreement worth $10 million with IBM. This means IBM pays Intergraph money, but also, that Intergraph gains some 25 patents from IBM.

Taylor also mentioned that he'd hoped to be able to announce the new CEO by now, but was not able to do so. It sounds to me like they are still looking.

• According to Government Computer News, NIMA is
taking on new clients beyond its traditional defense and intelligence users. NIMA was involved with security at the SuperBowl, and also serves the Homeland Security Department, the FBI, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Defense Department's Northern Command.

• Once upon a time we could all find a pay phone if we needed to make a call. Today, the highly sought after communications tool is energy. So, UK-based startup Charge Me is stepping in with its charging kiosk, which can charge up to 24 devices at once. Wireless NewsFactor reports that by inserting bills, coins, or credit cards, passers-by can change a variety of phones and PDAs. Another option is to provide charges for free. Those kiosks are likely to be hosted by a vendor who wants to the 10 or 20 minutes of dead time of the device owner to sell other products.

• The state of aerial imagery in India? Not so good. An article in the Times of India notes that taking photos from a plane is prohibited, and that after waiting years for a response from the government for imagery, much of it may be blacked out for security reasons. The Survey of India recently commercially released its first map in digital format with 25-meter resolution. For defense reasons, the coordinates have been distorted and contours omitted. So, what do those needing data, including the government, do? They buy old Russian topographic maps and digitize them.

• The Detroit News reported yesterday that "Canadian-based MapInfo acquires company to expand." The company is Thompson and Associates. MapInfo is based in the U.S. but its site-selection division is based in Toronto. By today, they'd found the error. The article tells the inside scoop on how the acquisition played out.

• A report in Federal Computer Week details the Bush administration's request for $178 million for the Agriculture Department's Common Computing Environment (CCE) in the fiscal 2004 budget. That's a $45 million increase from the previous year. The extra funds for the most part will fund GIS aimed at putting information online and speeding up soil mapping projects. Another article notes the $119.5 million tag to reconfigure Project 615 (the huge USDA GIS contract ultimately won by ESRI) for workstations, geographic information systems, and software.

• J.R. Alison Airport, in Gainesville, Florida, changed its name 26 years ago. According to the Gainsville Sun, Orbitz.com and other mapping websites still list the Gainesville Regional Airport by its old name. The airport gets calls about it and apparently you can still book flights online to Alison.

• ESRI and Geographic Data Technology, Inc. (GDT), announced that seven select U.S. educators will receive scholarships to attend the 2003 ESRI Education User Conference. Recipients will receive the GDT Scholarship for travel costs and ESRI will provide complimentary admission to the conference in San Diego, California, July 6-9, 2003. Here's how to apply: send an e-mail to Milton Ospina with a short (under 200 word) essay explaining "Why I should get to go the ESRI EdUC and have GDT and ESRI help me get there." The deadline is February 25th. Good luck!


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• Announcements
ESRI and the Association of Geographic Information Laboratories of Europe (AGILE) signed an agreement on November 20, 2002, to combine efforts for geographic information system (GIS) education in Europe. The agreement provides several benefits for both organizations. Through the agreement, ESRI will provide internships at its headquarters in Redlands, California, to students who are AGILE members, and AGILE laboratories will receive ESRI Press books. There will also be special ESRI awards for posters and presentations at the annual AGILE conference, which will take place April 24-26, 2003, in Lyon, France.

BOOST MobileT and go2 Directory Systems have partnered to provide location-based directory services to the youth wireless market.

Applied Geo Technologies, Inc. (AGT), a digital mapping service provider for the federal government, has earned Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) certification by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Space Imaging, a provider of Earth imagery and related services to commercial and government markets, now offers the purchase of worldwide Geo 1-meter and 4-meter resolution IKONOS satellite imagery through Space Imaging's Internet portal, Carterra Online.

Municipal Software has entered into a reseller agreement with Patrick Engineering from Chicago, Illinois, in order to promote Municipal Software's CityView 8.NET enterprise software in the Midwest.

USDA Secretary Ann Veneman announced that the Administration will propose investing $177 million in FY 2004, an increase of $44.5 million, to upgrade its County Service Centers, most of which will be used to provide Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies to these offices, allowing farmers and ranchers more access to satellite mapping and planting information.

The Air Force put a Global Positioning System satellite into orbit last Wednesday. The satellite will join 26 other GPS spacecraft circling Earth and providing the military and civilians with precise navigational information and will likely help with future military plans.

The Management and Staff of ImageSat International N.V. announced the launch of the Company's newly enhanced website.

The ASPRS George E. Brown, Jr. Congressional Honor Award for 2002 was presented to Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss) on January 15, 2003. The award was given to Sen. Lott in recognition of his leadership, policy guidance, and legislative efforts contributing to significant advancements in the science, engineering, application, education, and commerce of imaging and geospatial information.

The International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) is pleased to announce its application for full Union membership in the International Council for Science (ICSU) was approved at the 27th ICSU General Assembly, granting ISPRS status as a full Scientific Union Member.

The 2003 Australian International Air Show will host a Defense project team to demonstrate the beginning (obtaining aerial photography) to end (processing data into other software) workflow of the Leica ADS40 as it quickly merges photogrammetric accuracy with image analysis and interpretation.

The Dow Jones reports that analysts suggest selling shares of Infotech Enterprises, an Indian GIS concern. The report suggests sluggish GIS sales and challenges to the company, which gets 50% of its revenue from partners.

IntelData, Inc. and PlanGraphics, Inc. launched the latest version of the web-enabled Graphical GeoSearch tool for the Voyager Integrated Library System at NIMA. The enhanced version provides users with access to map and chart data on the NIMA's internal secret network. (Shh! The network is a secret, but what software is used is not. Hmmm.)

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions is providing GIS software available to the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Department of Geography. Intergraph recently awarded the university a GeoMedia Education Grant for the software and designated NIU as a "Team GeoMedia Registered Research Laboratory." The Huntsville, Alabama-based company has collaborated with NIU since 1995.

David Rumsey Internet GIS site now has virtual reality tools that make it easier to interact with history and modern online mapping technologies. A new suite of gaming and simulation techniques gives Web-based GIS and map enthusiasts the unique opportunity to fly through and interact with late 1800s maps of California's most scenic and dynamic landscapes: Yosemite Valley, Lake Tahoe, and Los Angeles.

Los Angeles-based Key3Media Group, the company operating the giant Comdex trade show, filed for protection from its creditors Monday in the United States Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Earth Resource Mapping announced that Innogistic Software has added native Enhanced Compressed Wavelet (ECW) support to its software product - Innogistic Cartology v4.1.

Trimble reported fiscal fourth quarter ended January 3, 2003. Revenues totaled $124.6 million, versus $106.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2001. Shipments of $2.4 million in deferred orders for the GeoExplorer CE series GPS handhelds began in October and contributed to a 22% revenue increase over the fourth quarter of 2001 in the GIS sector. The Company also announced a settlement of a patent infringement lawsuit filed in January, 2001 by Philip M. Clegg in federal court in the state of Utah. Under the agreement, Trimble has purchased a fully paid up, non-exclusive license under U.S. Patent No. 4,807,131 relating to an automated earthgrading machine and system.

I missed it, but two weeks ago Microsoft announced acquisition of PlaceWare, a privately-held Web conferencing provider. This week it was revealed that it will pay about $200 million for the company. Autodesk was a big user of PlaceWare at one time.

DMTI Spatial launched a map-based tourism website for The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC). DMTI Spatial has digitized over 46,000 kilometers of OFSC snowmobile trails in Ontario. DMTI will host this Web map service for OFSC

Metropolis New Media, a provider of managed hosting solutions for ESRI server products, announced that it has successfully completed Federal HUB Zone business certification. Th contract vehicle gives preference to companies who maintain offices, and provide jobs in Historically Underutilized Business Zones.

ESRI acquired the French software company ALIDA, a business partner specializing in digital cartography. The ALIDA team has joined the software development team in Redlands and will be working on cartographic improvements in the base ArcGIS technology.

• Contracts
GE Network Solutions, a supplier of technology solutions to the utilities industry, has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract by the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) in Columbus, Nebraska, for the implementation of GE Network Solutions' Smallworld Core Spatial Technology software. The company was also awarded a contract from Manitoba Hydro to supply engineering and network management software and services. Manitoba Hydro will replace its existing AutoCAD-based distribution engineering system with GE Network Solutions' Smallworld Design Manager engineering management software.

Pictometry International announced that it will provide the preliminary digital camera calibration system for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at the Earth Resource Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This system will support the initial steps in the calibration for digital aerial sensor systems for the aerial mapping community. As the aerial imaging industry shifts from film-based technology to digitally acquired data, limited standards are in place to calibrate digital aerial sensors. Pictometry developed its calibration system specifically to provide both itself and the USGS cost- effective calibration for digitally acquired data.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. announced the government of Norway has agreed to purchase $15 million (CDN) worth of RADARSAT-2 data. The company will design an Earth observation satellite mission that will use hyperspectral technology for the Canadian Space Agency.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) has chosen Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions' GeoMedia technology for the development and maintenance of the agency's Linear Referencing System (LRS).

MapInfo Corporation and International Computer Works, Inc. announced that its technology has been selected by the School District of Hillsborough County, Florida, (SDHC) for its GIS-based student registration and management system.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), on behalf of the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and ESRI signed a General Services Administration (GSA) blanket purchase agreement (BPA) on December 20, 2002. The three-year agreement provides for department-wide enterprise site licenses for ArcGIS and its extensions and for deployment of ESRI server technologies including ArcSDE and ArcIMS. The agreement encompasses all eight bureaus of DOI and will make available other ESRI products, services, and training via an indefinite delivery and quantity schedule.

The Transportation Group for the GIS Division of Autodesk, Inc. announced the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has selected CAiCE Visual Drainage as its highway drainage design software.

Luciad announced that it has been awarded a contract by Eurocontrol to provide graphical tools based on its LuciadMap technology. The contract is part of a larger project for the development of the European Aeronautical Information Services Database (EAD).

Safe Software Inc. announced that Dotted Eyes in the United Kingdom, a supplier and developer of a wide range of GIS applications, has chosen to embed FME technology in its SuperpOSe product. SuperpOSe is used to process the Ordnance Survey's OS MasterMap GML-2 based digital data product, and load it into spatial databases.

• Products
Visual Learning Systems (VLS) announced the release of Feature Analyst 3.2. An extension to both the ArcView 3.x and ArcGIS 8.x platforms, Feature Analyst aids in feature extraction and image understanding software.

Exor Corporation and Chaparral Systems Corporation announced the availability of the U.S. version of their traffic data management solution for traffic engineers and transportation departments.

Applanix announced that its POS LV line of products now features Inertially-Aided RTK positioning technology. By using raw satellite data (rather than receiver-computed position) to aid the inertial sensor, Applanix's POS LV products now reacquire RTK lock within seconds after an outage, and can maintain centimeter-level positioning in areas of frequent GPS outages.

ESRI announced that ArcIMS 4.0.1 is available. The big news is the expansion of the ArcIMS Metadata Services capabilities introduced with ArcIMS 4.

According to a press release from Lizardtech, requests from Intergraph, Trimble, MapInfo, and Autodesk convinced the company to offer a Windows CE software development kit (SDK) for creating Pocket PC viewers for MrSID files. The product is called GeoExpress WinCE SDK. Lizardtech renamed all of its MrSID compressors family "GeoExpress" last year, in case you missed it, as I did. And, if you like details, the company is changing its name just a bit, from LizardTech Inc. to Lizardtech Software.

MapInfo announced support for the OpenGIS Web Map Service (WMS) Implementation Specification in its MapXtreme Java Edition product.

MiniMax released LookOut, a "geographic informational system" DataBook specifically designed for the mobile workforce. The product renders shape and .DWG files natively.

New correlations to standards in key Texas subjects help further enhance the usefulness of a new book from ESRI Press. Mapping Our World: GIS Lessons for Educators is a classroom resource combining global geographic themes and issues, inquiry-based learning, and interactive mapping and analysis using geographic information system (GIS) technology. To further Texas teachers' use of the materials, correlations have been created for Texas Essentials Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in several subjects: middle-school technology applications, high school technology applications, sixth grade social studies, and ninth grade world geography.

• Events
Laser-Scan's User & Partner Conference will be held July 17-18, 2003 at Moller Centre, Cambridge, U.K. Also, Laser-Scan will host a Radius Topology Web Forum, a free Web forum to discover the hidden benefits of spatial data. The live event will be held on the Internet on Thursday March 20th at 10:00 GMT (if I do the math correctly that's 5:00 a.m. EST in the U.S.). The Web forum will be available for 60 minutes, but you can log out at any time.

Organizers of CoastGIS '03, the fifth international symposium on computer mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) for coastal zone management, are now accepting papers for the conference to be held October 16-18, 2003, in Genoa, Italy.

• Hires and Appointments
Avineon, Inc., has named Gary Wilkison to lead its Clearwater, Florida, operations. In this new role, Mr. Wilkison will be responsible for directing and overseeing day-to-day operations of the Florida office and delivering all of Avineon's Geospatial solutions. Mr. Wilkison will also continue in his role as Vice President, Commercial Business Development for Avineon.

Mary Wild has been appointed Sanborn's chief financial officer, and Joan Powers has been appointed as Sanborn's controller.


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