GIS MONITOR, February 7, 2002


- Continuing Concerns About GIS Data and Terrorism 

- More on Xmarc and ISIS 

- GIS Press Creates More GIS Press 

- Satellite Imagery at the Super Bowl

Departments: Points of Interest, Business Notes, Letter, Week in Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe

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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)


FBI Issues Website Warning (The Hartford Courant)  artfeb02.story?coll=hc%2Dheadlines%2Dlocal

Map and Geographic Information Center 

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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 Oregon.”

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 specific solutions.

“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 solution.

“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

ISIS Licenses Assets, Assumes N. American Operations of Xmarc (GIS Monitor)



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 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 



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.






- 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 SolidWorks.

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 Inventor. 


BUSINESS NOTES (New Hires, New Offices, New Events)


ObjectFX mamed Tim Devine president and CEO. 


Clark Labs announced a new website. 

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. 

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, Texas. 

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. 

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 Denver. 


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 Lake City. 

Snowflake Software is offering a consultancy service specializing in the adoption and usage of OS MasterMap. 

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. 



M.J. Harden Associates, Inc. (MJH) has been selected by Equistar Pipeline Operations (EPO) to develop a GIS.




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 vehicles

- 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 government entities.

“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.”



Feb 06 - OS Launches Pre-Build Data Sets for UK 

Pre-Build data is available for current Land-Line customers at a price of £45 per tile in DXF format.


Feb 06 - CEM awards Intergraph Contract for GIS/Outage Management 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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  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 

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 

OGC seeks sponsoring organizations to explore Common Architecture, Web Mapping, and Sensor Web technologies.


Feb 04 - MDA's Closes Acquisition of Earth Satellite Corporation 

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 

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  /ap/20020201/ap_on_re_us/charting_ground_zero_2 

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 

The long-time member moves to the top-level membership.


Feb 01 - Intergraph Announces Awards for Cartographic Excellence 

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 

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 

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' satellite.


Feb 01 - Spatial Insights Allies with AirPhotoUSA 

Spatial Insights will act as a value added reseller for AirPhotoUSA.


Feb 01 - LAND INFO Signs Distribution Agreement with eMapSite 

The agreement enables eMapSite to distribute LAND INFO geospatial datasets through its online storefront.


Feb 01 - Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop-A New Title from ESRI 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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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