GIS MONITOR, February 7, 2002
- Continuing Concerns About
GIS Data and Terrorism
- More on Xmarc and
- GIS Press Creates More GIS
- Satellite Imagery at the
Departments: Points of Interest, Business Notes, Letter, Week in
Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe
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CONTINUING CONCERNS ABOUT GIS
DATA AND TERRORISM
In January the FBI sent e-mail messages to warn government agencies
that terrorists may be using state and local websites to plan future
attacks. The messages cited “local energy infrastructures, water
reservoirs, dams, highly-enriched uranium storage sites, and nuclear and
gas facilities” as points of particular interest. Last week, the FBI
found structural engineering software programs on a computer owned by an
associate of Osama bin Laden and warned about threats to American water
supply systems. These warnings have become part of the response to
individuals trying to gain access to GIS data under Freedom of
Information (FOI) legislation.
A computer support technician from Greenwich CT filed a complaint in
December with the state Freedom of Information Commission to gain access
to the town’s raw GIS data. Stephen Whitaker wants access to the data
for commercial and civic purposes and is willing to pay a fee for
copying the data. Across the border in Westchester County NY, much of
the corresponding data is available on a website. Still, after September
11, the county decided not to make a set of highly detailed aerial
imagery and building footprints available to the public. The county also
chose to keep maps of fire hydrants and sewer lines off-limits.
Further confusing the issue is the fact that many town or county GIS
databases include both public and private information. To make the data
available the private sector information must be stripped out. The FOI
requests deal only with public information.
Newington, CT is examining its town GIS to determine which
information will uploaded to the Web. The U.S. Office of Pipeline
Security has set new policy to deal with the question. The office pulled
maps of interstate gas lines off the Web. However, if a formal request
is made detailing the reason for access, data will be made available.
The CT Metropolitan District Commission made a similar decision. The
Commission’s website featured utility maps of its eight member towns,
including Hartford and Wethersfield prior to September 11. Now, utility
maps are available to the public at the commission's office, though even
that policy is under review.
Randy Larsen, the director of the ANSER Institute of Homeland
Security takes the threat seriously. “Believe me, there are
organizations in our military that use that type of information,"
said Larsen. "How can we turn off the lights in your town?"
Still, there are still many websites with data readily available.
"It's nothing you couldn't get at Eastern Mountain Sports,"
said Pat McGlamery, librarian of the Map and Geographic Information
Center (MAGIC) site hosted by the University of Connecticut.
What this situation highlights, I think, is the fact that discussions
of homeland security and critical infrastructure seem to be more focused
on technology rather than on policy. Before we plan the new networks to
share information in times of crisis, perhaps it’s time to provide
more detailed guidance to those holding some of the countries richest
spatial data resources.
Debate Rages Over Info
(Greenwich Time) http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/local/scn-gt-
FBI Issues Website Warning (The Hartford Courant) http://www.ctnow.com/news/local/hc-websites0202
Map and Geographic Information Center
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geographic imaging, GPS/GIS, and land information systems.
MORE ON XMARC AND ISIS
Last week I examined the recent agreement between ISIS, parent of
Plangraphics, and Xmarc. ISIS now has the exclusive license for Xmarc’s
technology for use in the US in the local government and utilities
sector. In return, ISIS will support existing customers and pay a
royalty for 21 months. After that, ISIS will have an opportunity to own
the technology outright.
John C. Antenucci, CEO and President of ISIS/Plangraphics, provides
his vision of the relationship. “I do not share your concern that
Xmarc's technology or the company is in peril. In fact the decision to
align the support for North American customers and VARS with
PlanGraphics allows Xmarc to focus on the European market for Wireless
Location Based Services - where the market is more advanced (because of
GSM standard) and addressable. Furthermore, the return of its technology
development activities to Australia (from whence it came) allows the
development and extension of the core technology to be developed at
investment levels substantially lower than could be sustained in Europe
or the US.
“All in all, the move by Xmarc was done with every effort to
enhance and expand the distribution of the technology for enterprise
solutions much like the one we are involved with for the State of
I asked Antenucci about what I considered a potential conflict of
interest for an independent consultant like Plangraphics having this
type of relationship with a software vendor. “I do not believe that
having access to a set of integration tools makes PlanGraphics any less
independent in the GIS space than it has ever been.
“This is not Convergent buying GDS. No one alleges we are any less
independent because we use and deliver solutions built around Oracle
Forms or Oracle spatial. Through the agreement with Xmarc we have
available to us a set of code that we can use in building customer
“PlanGraphics does and will continue to work with other
technologies in this ‘space.’ We define the space to be Enterprise
access to spatially enabled data warehouses and repositories (both
physical and virtual) using industry standard browsers.
“There really aren't many players in this space. Traditional
suppliers of GIS software like ESRI, MapInfo, Smallworld and Intergraph
among others provide only a portion of this solution. ESRI is one of the
subcontractors (as was Xmarc) in the proof of concept we are performing
for the State of Oregon and they have been collaborators on several
other proposals that included Xmarc technology. MapInfo and PlanGraphics
are examining a particular wireless solution at this time and there is
an assignment in New York that will likely involve GE Smallworld's
“However, the traditional GIS products do not have the enterprise
‘penetration’ that Netscape or Explorer do - and the Xmarc tool set
will allow us to build solutions that rely on the data sets built with,
maintained, and used by the traditional GIS suppliers and push this data
to more users within the enterprise. As a result, we believe more
individuals (and organizational units) will become familiar with the
value of spatial and will likely become the next customer for the
traditional GIS suppliers.”
Integrated Spatial Information Solutions to License Assets and Assume
North American Operations of Xmarc http://www.isis.cc/pressreleases/archive/01-28-02.htm
ISIS Licenses Assets, Assumes N. American Operations of Xmarc (GIS
WHEN GETTING PRESS GETS YOU
If a company, GIS-related or not, has an interesting product or signs
a key relationship, it may be newsworthy. But, is the fact that such
things are newsworthy actually newsworthy? The answer is yes.
Last year, a developer of interactive maps had some real news. The
company licensed software to important clients, and added members to its
boards. The company’s latest release highlighted how the organization
“Gathers Press Momentum.” The company decided to use past press as
the reason for current press. Who carried the latest release? At least
one publication that picked up the new release had covered the company
initially. That initial coverage, cited in the current release,
consisted of publishing a press release provided by the vendor.
In a similar vein, last week a vendor announced that several new
clients had recently signed contracts. In the tradition of press
begetting press, the vendor has since provided two further releases,
each featuring one of the clients listed in the initial release. I
expect several more.
That déjà vu feeling you might be experiencing is real.
INTERGRAPH ANNOUNCES Q4 AND
Intergraph management continues to keep a smile on its face as it
holds fast to turnaround plans, even in the shaky economy. The company
turned in a $0.39 net income per share for the year, showing income from
operation of $8.1 million, compared to a loss from operations of $23.6
million last year. The quarter followed on the heels of the three
previous quarters with each division showing a profit. All told, the
company reported income from operations of $0.23 per share, or $1.6
million and net income of $11.9 million for the fourth quarter.
There was no denying that times are tough, but a clear focus, cost
cutting measures and aggressive selling have kept Intergraph Mapping and
GIS on target. The Q4 revenue was $43.1 million with an operating income
of $600,000. For the year, revenue was $136.8 million with operating
income of $5.1 million. Revenues were higher than expected this quarter
due to a large sale of low margin third party hardware in support of a
contract in Russia. The division also did over $1 million in work
supporting the US war efforts, delivered at cost.
The company noted reducing 300 positions during the year and expects
a relatively flat set of revenues for the next quarter and likely the
year. Jim Taylor, CEO had little to say about the Intel lawsuit. The
first trial date is set for July. Taylor did note that there were no
plans at this time to sell off any businesses.
Jan 31 - Intergraph Reports 2001 Fourth Quarter and Annual Results http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/020131/302718_1.html
SATELLITE IMAGERY AT THE
The Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots continue to generate
hoopla here in their hometown of Boston after last Sunday’s game.
During the course of the game I managed to miss the key GIS related
segment. Luckily, a reader told me about the video that started over the
Middle East, showed a spinning globe, and when passing North America,
zoomed in to the Superdome, all using “real” imagery.
The SUPERZOOM movie was put together by the Scientific Visualization
Studio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The imagery is gathered
from NASA's Terra and Landsat satellites and Space Imaging's IKONOS
satellite. The movie, along with a companion piece for the Olympics, is
part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the Landsat program. Viewers
of the opening ceremonies of the Winter Games can expect to see the
Olympic version on NBC television.
The SUPERZOOM movie (about 1 Mb) is downloadable from the NASA site.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- I’ll be speaking at the
GIS User Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on April 28-30.
- Autodesk’s businesses outside of GIS have started a trend. In
December the company announced the Autodesk Civil Series, a package
including Autodesk Land Desktop 3, Autodesk Civil Design 3, Autodesk
Survey 3, and Autodesk Raster Design.
Last week the company announced the Autodesk Inventor Series that
includes Autodesk Inventor 3D design software and Autodesk Mechanical
Desktop as well as the functionality of AutoCAD and AutoCAD Mechanical.
According to reports, Mechanical Desktop will no longer be sold on its
own, outside of the Series. Ralph Grabowski, editor of upFront.eZine
which covers CAD, sees the mechanical package as a way to steer users
toward Inventor, the new technology, and quickly grow the number of
Inventor seats (whether they are in use or not) to compete with rival
I would not be surprised to see something similar for mapping that
included Autodesk Map, Autodesk Land Desktop, and Autodesk Raster
Design. It might be a way to steer Map users to Land Desktop (which
includes Map), just as Mechanical Desktop Users are being herded to
BUSINESS NOTES (New Hires,
New Offices, New Events)
ObjectFX mamed Tim Devine
president and CEO.
Clark Labs announced a new
IONIC Enterprise opened for business in Washington, DC. It’s a
joint venture of the Belgian company IONIC Softw are and U.S. interests.
GITA’s latest webcast is titled Enterprise Application Integration:
Modern Techniques and is taught by representatives from ESRI, Xtensible
Solutions and Florida Power and Light. https://www.gita.org/events/webcasts/webcast_300.html
ESRI is hosting the Third
Annual Telecom and Location-Based Services (LBS) Summit, April 16–18,
2002, at the Renaissance Dallas–Richardson Hotel in Richardson,
geoVue, a Boston-based provider of location intelligence solutions,
announced the appointment of long-time technology consulting expert
Michael Richie as the company’s chief software architect. http://www.geovue.com
ESRI has announced that GIS
Day 2002 is scheduled for November 20, 2002 worldwide.
Space Imaging opened a
regional services office in Orlando, Fla. Company headquarters is in
Sanborn has opened two new
regional sales offices: Jeff Buchanan will head the Midwest Office, in
Kansas City, and Doug Firth will head the Rocky Mountain office in Salt
Snowflake Software is offering a consultancy service specializing in
the adoption and usage of OS MasterMap. http://www.snowflakesoft.co.uk/consult.htm
The Geospatial Information
& Technology Association (GITA), announced the Call for Papers for
its 2002 GIS for Oil & Gas Conference--Securing Your Assets:
Leveraging the GIS Investment. The deadline for abstract submission is
May 3, 2002, with the conference scheduled for September 23-25, 2002, at
the JW Marriott Hotel in Houston, Texas, USA. http://www.gita.org/events/conferences/oil_gas/
M.J. Harden Associates, Inc.
(MJH) has been selected by Equistar Pipeline Operations (EPO) to develop
Bill Cozzens of Software Consulting Group Inc. wrote to vent some
frustration with online mapping service like MSN MapPoint.
“I travel quite a lot on business so I'm frequently going into
MapQuest or MapsOnUs to find a route to my destination. I've also
informally tested them in my home metropolitan area to see if their
results conform to local common sense. My pet peeves:
- maps that include non-existent streets or streets not open to motor
- inaccurate entrances and exits to/from limited access highways
(Some time ago MapsOnUs showed an entrance to the Pennsylvania Turnpike
that was miles off. More recently I've been told I could exit from I-95
where there is only an on ramp.)
- routing the wrong way on one-way streets and allowing illegal turns
“The routing algorithms also seem to leave something to be desired.
Not to pick on MapsOnUs, but their ‘fastest’ algorithm seems to
choose some of the most congested routes in Philadelphia, where you can
only drive at a speed approaching the speed limit between midnight and 5
AM. Also it appears to ignore the impedance provided by traffic lights.
“It is difficult to be too upset since -- aside from whatever
benefit the provider gets from my registering as a user -- these are
free services. Also I recognize the tremendous challenge the providers
face trying to keep up with growth and change in the road network.
“One suggestion: Provide an easier way for users to indicate
problems and suggest corrections. Many users would flag and submit
errors if it was relatively easy to do so.
“Finally, users need to be aware of the difference between these
‘casual’ mapping and routing tools and ‘industrial strength’
databases. I have to believe that the databases used by public safety
and utility dispatchers are cleaner and more accurate than what we have
access to over the web.”
These are all good points. I am aware of only one effort to get
feedback on “wrong” data. That’s a public private partnership
called Community Update, a collaborative program between GDT and ESRI
developed to support the Federal Geographic Data Committee's initiative
for a National Spatial Database Infrastructure (NSDI). The program was
launched at the 1999 ESRI User Conference.
I contacted GDT to see how the initiative was doing. Tonya McMurray,
Marketing Director at GDT, provided both an update and some very
interesting insight into the overhead of managing user submitted
corrections to spatial data.
“We currently have hundreds of local governments signed up for
Community Update, and 54 of them are active participants sending
information that we incorporate into our database. Those participants
are located throughout 21 states and represent either county or regional
“In addition, GDT has an established feedback process available to
several of our business customers that allows them to alert us to new
streets or subdivisions and other areas that need updates. Much like the
Community Update program, GDT verifies the information that is sent in
through our standard QC procedures and incorporates appropriate updates
into our core database.
“The concept of capturing potential update information from the
consumers using Internet mapping services in a more structured or formal
way is an idea that GDT is extremely interested in; however,
implementing that concept isn't as simple as it might seem on the
surface. First, each of the Internet mapping providers uses the data
within their own algorithms and internal software systems. (That's one
of the reasons, for example, that you may get slightly different driving
directions from one site to another.) Assuming that the Internet map
providers were interested in capturing update information from users
(and most are), GDT would have to find a way to make an update system
work within each of their individual environments. That's certainly not
an impossible thing to do, but it does take some work.
“A bigger issue for GDT in opening up a ‘Community Update’ type
system to the public would be estimating the volume of information that
would come in and preparing to verify and QC it. Even though we know
that the bulk of information coming in from end users would be highly
accurate, we cannot lower our QC standards and accept proposed edits at
face value - we have an obligation to our customers to verify the
validity of all information that goes into our core database. Our
anticipation is that the infrastructure needed to handle that process
could be a fairly substantial one.
“A final issue is the amount of lead time between when changes are
made in GDT's database and when those changes appear on a public
Internet site. GDT currently makes millions of changes each month to its
core database, but it can take a few months before those changes make it
onto Internet mapping sites. The expectation of the Internet is one of
‘immediacy,’ and it's currently not technically feasible to make
update information from users appear ‘immediately’ on a mapping
site. I suspect many users would view the amount of time in the process
of absorbing the information, verifying it, returning it to the Internet
map provider, and incorporating it into the map site to a fairly lengthy
one -- and I'm not sure how that would impact a user's overall
frustration level or their willingness to participate in the system.”
WEEK IN REVIEW
Feb 06 - OS Launches
Pre-Build Data Sets for UK http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020602OS.htm
Pre-Build data is available
for current Land-Line customers at a price of £45 per tile in DXF
Feb 06 - CEM awards
Intergraph Contract for GIS/Outage Management http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020602INGR.htm
CEM is the sole electricity
provider on Macau, serving 180,000 customers in a 22-square-km area.
Feb 06 - R2V Selected by
United Nations Development Programme http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020602r2v.htm
The organization in Bosnia
and Herzegovina has purchased multiple copies of R2V for their map
digitizing and GIS data capture applications.
Feb 05 - GIStec and
IntelliWhere Team for European LBS http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020502Intelliwhere.htm
GIStec, a Team GeoMedia
Registered Solutions Provider, is establishing an infrastructure with
several host servers and will act as a service provider to customers who
want to offer mobile information services, especially in the event
sector. For example, sponsors of large public events such as festivals
and music concerts can provide key information to attendees about
entertainment timetables, routing and parking, information and
merchandise kiosks, and so forth.
Feb 05 - QUALCOMM Announces
New Position Location Capabilities http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020502Qualcomm.htm
Don Schrock, president of
QUALCOMM CDMA Technologies notes "the MGP6200 solution will enable
handset manufacturers to roll out early devices for use in UMTS/GSM/GPRS
systems that can support just about any location-based application.”
Feb 05 - President's FY 2003
Budget for USGS http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020502USGS.htm
Without funds for retirement
and health benefits, the budget request is $867.3 million, a net
decrease of approximately $47 million below the enacted 2002 budget. The
2003 budget focuses resources on core USGS programs, such as mapping and
hazards, and those that directly support science-based land and natural
resource management by the Department.
Feb 05 - MaplicitySDK
Provides Java Solution For ArcIMS http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020502Telemorphic.htm
MaplicitySDK is a Java software developers' toolkit for rapid
development and deployment of enhanced Internet GIS and image processing
solutions based on ESRI's ArcIMS.
Feb 05 - Webraska Announces
Record Year in 2001 http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020502Webraska.htm
Webraska received more than
€17 million in new multi-year customer orders for the calendar year
ending December 31, 2001, with over €10 million alone awarded in the
fourth calendar quarter of 2001. Virtually of the company’s business
was outside the US.
Feb 05 - OGC Seeks Sponsors
Web Services Initiative, Thread 2 http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020502OGC.htm
OGC seeks sponsoring
organizations to explore Common Architecture, Web Mapping, and Sensor
Feb 04 - MDA's Closes
Acquisition of Earth Satellite Corporation http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020402MDA.htm
EarthSat is one of the
largest U.S. suppliers of information products derived from satellite
imagery and other sources.
Feb 04 - Nine Councils in
South Wales Choose Cities Revealed http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020402CR.htm
The local authorities within
South Wales have recently invested in a corporate license to use Cities
Revealed's high-resolution aerial photography of the region.
Feb 04 - Art Exhibit Show
Ground Zero Maps http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=
An exhibit shows some of the
GIS created maps used during the rescue and recovery efforts.
Feb 04 - Natural Resources
Canada Becomes OGC Principal Member http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020402OGC.htm
The long-time member moves to
the top-level membership.
Feb 01 - Intergraph Announces
Awards for Cartographic Excellence http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020102INGR2.htm
The awards program recognizes
professional excellence in design, technique, aesthetics, innovation,
communication, and presentation. Participants can submit entries by the
May 1, 2002.
Feb 01 - Intergraph's
GeoSpatial World 2002 Announced http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020102INGR.htm
GeoSpatial World 2002 brings
together mapping and GIS specialists and industry colleagues from around
the world to share and experience first-hand the real-world strategies
and solutions presented at this event. The event will be held in
Atlanta, Georgia, June 10-12.
Feb 01 - MDA to Deliver
Better Than One Meter Resolution to USAF http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020102MDA.htm
The upgrade covered by the
contract will enable the USAF EagleVision mobile Ground Stations units
to receive data from the recently launched high resolution 'QuickBird'
Feb 01 - Spatial Insights
Allies with AirPhotoUSA http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020102SpatialInsights.htm
Spatial Insights will act as
a value added reseller for AirPhotoUSA.
Feb 01 - LAND INFO Signs
Distribution Agreement with eMapSite http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020102LANDINFO.htm
The agreement enables
eMapSite to distribute LAND INFO geospatial datasets through its online
Feb 01 - Getting to Know
ArcGIS Desktop-A New Title from ESRI http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/020102ESRI.htm
The workbook enables readers
to gain a complete understanding of ArcView, provides a firm foundation
for learning ArcEditor and ArcInfo, and includes information needed for
completing GIS projects.
Jan 31 - Safe Software
Releases Web-based Data Delivery Software http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/013102Safe.htm
SpatialDirect 2002 is a
web-based system for distributing and retrieving spatial data either
over the Internet or through an intranet.
Jan 31 - MicroOLAP Announces
MBBuilder, RAD Tool for MapBasic http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/013102MicroOLAP.htm
microOLAP MBBuilder 1.5 is a
Rapid Application Development environment for MapBasic that fully
supports all MapBasic features.
Jan 31 - Thrifty Car Rental
Selects Maporama http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/013102Maporama.htm
Thrifty Car Rental selected
Maporama, an online location-centric solution provider, to add mapping
features to its web site.
Jan 31 - European Fleet
Management System Provider Selects Trimble http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/013102Trimble.htm
Trimble announced that
TRACKER Network Ltd has selected the company's GPS technology for its
next generation TRACKER Communicator, a vehicle management and
telematics system available in Europe.
Jan 31 - Tele Atlas Data
Fuels NextJet Service http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/020131/310040_1.html
NextJet selected Tele Atlas
North America to provide the crucial map and routing data needed to fuel
NextJet's digital transit management system, which evaluates millions of
potential shipment possibilities and automatically selects the most
efficient routing option.
Jan 31 - PlanGraphics Busy in
Franklin, WI and Multnomah, OR http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/013102plangraphics.htm
The City of Franklin,
Wisconsin, chose Plangraphics to design and implement an enterprise GIS
for the city. The company also announced this week that it has been
awarded a contract with the Multnomah County, Oregon, Taxation &
Assessment Office and GIS Information Services Division
Jan 31 - Planning Support
Systems-A New Title from ESRI Press http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/013102ESRI.htm
The latest title from ESRI
Press, is “both a practical and theoretical book that demonstrates how
geographic information system (GIS) technology is being used-and may be
used in the future-by planners, architects, engineers, developers,
Realtors, government and regulatory officials, and concerned citizens.”
Jan 31 - VARGIS Joins
EarthScan's ImageNetwork http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/013102Vargis.htm
VARGIS, a distributor for
off-the-shelf, high resolution aerial image maps is now part of
ImageNetwork, an EarthScan-hosted e-commerce store fronts and Intranets.
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