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GASB 34 and GIS
What is GASB 34?
A few weeks ago a reader wrote to ask if I could cover GASB 34 in general, and how it relates to and can encourage the use of GIS, in particular. I started out at square one since I knew nothing about GASB 34!
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB, pronounced gas-bee) is an independent body that prescribes generally accepted accounting principles for state and local governments. Interestingly, it lacks regulatory or enforcement powers.
GASB 34 is an accounting standard requiring government to report on its health, for example, detailing the cost of delivering services to its citizens and an analysis of the government's financial performance. One aspect of GASB 34 is new for many governments. It's an inventory of public infrastructure - roads and buildings, bridges and parks.
GASB 34 was enacted in 1999 and applies to all local and state governments, public colleges and universities, and other groups that receive government funding, including transportation and transit departments. It's implemented on a staggered basis depending on jurisdictional income. Those with revenues of more than $100 million were to start the transition to GASB 34 in the fiscal year after June 15, 2001. Those with revenues between $10 million and $100 million began in the fiscal year after June 15, 2002. And, those with less than $10 million in revenues are to start the process in the fiscal year after June 15, 2003. Those deadlines, however, are only for new assets. Governments won't have to "look back" at assets for another three years into the future. The smallest players (the under $10 million group) are never required to do that, though they are encouraged to do so.
There are two different approaches to count up and put a price tag on assets. One, called depreciation, involves an extensive inventory of items, including their costs and the dates when they were created or purchased. The value is then calculated based on depreciation over time. The second method, called the modified approach, also requires an inventory, but requires regular assessment of the condition of each item (inspection is required no less that every three years) and an estimate of the annual cost to maintain and preserve the infrastructure at a condition determined by the organization.
According to a Price Waterhouse report, the modified method came about because those who work with long-lived assets like roads and bridges suggested that simple depreciation didn't take into account regular maintenance on infrastructure. The report suggests that the depreciation model is probably easier to implement, but may not provide an accurate result.
Challenges to GASB 34
Part of the challenge for GASB 34 from the enforcement side, is that there are no state laws forcing cities and towns to use GASB 34. There are some suggested outcomes of non-compliance, including poor audits explaining that financial statements don't adhere to generally accepted accounting principles. Those, in turn, may lead to higher interest on long-term debts and challenges in securing bonds.
My review of articles discussing GASB 34 implementation revealed that many towns and states had some of the information required to support GASB 34 already, but not all of it. One town had a building inventory, but was looking to the state for help in documenting roads. Another had an inventory for insurance purposes with replacement values, but didn't have complete data on the dates and costs of original purchase/construction.
GASB 34 Implementation Realities
I contacted Ralf Platte of the James W. Sewall Company in Old Town Maine to get a sense of how organizations are attacking the GASB 34 challenge. He suggested that GASB 34 "is not a clear win for GIS." Most of the first implementers were large cities who already had GIS in place. The smaller communities, who have more time to comply, also have more of a chance to explore or grow GIS usage.
According to Platte, the demands of GASB 34 have been one of many pushes for GIS. If a town combines funds from other areas, and uses GASB 34 as another reason to implement the program, town officials may be able to make a stronger argument for funding at the town meeting. Small towns have simply looked for the simplest and cheapest solution, which generally has meant the depreciation approach. Platte noted that such an approach indeed does the job, but it has no "spatial or future" benefit. Furthermore, it must typically be done, again and again, by hand.
The biggest change for municipalities in using GASB 34, according to Platte, revolves around the switch from the traditional method of "upfront pre-acquisition accountability" to a "forward looking continuous accountability." While the general process of asking for funding currently requires an initial explanation of how the new resources will be used, there is typically little follow up over time. In contrast, GASB 34 forces accountability throughout the infrastructure lifecycle. GASB 34, as Platte put it, "asks the hard questions" about investment in public infrastructure and the associated record keeping.
While Platte cited that lowered bond ratings are the threat to force compliance with GASB 34, he suggested that some towns with few bonds, or others with sufficient resources, may simply not comply. And, he's not sure how that may play out, since it's not clear how the documentation will be used or reviewed by recipients.
I asked about how hard it is to tease GASB 34 information out of a decently built GIS. Basically, Platte explained, it's a series of queries that yield a series of reports. A skilled analyst could produce the work, or a consultant could customize the GIS or the town could buy a commercial asset management solution. "It's just not that hard," he said.
I made the suggestion that, like some of the Homeland Security work being proposed today, this type of accounting sounds like something that should have been done all along, but was not. Platte agreed. He said that perhaps the best thing about GASB 34, overall, is that it encourages organizations to keep track of publicly owned infrastructure.
Gary Volta at Woodard & Curran echoed Platte's experience. While some GASB 34 clients had GIS up and running, most were in the early stages and saw GIS as a goal down the road. GASB 34 was another factor to get things moving. All of the company's clients chose the "modified" approach, Volta said, because it "was more realistic." Depreciating a sewer system to a value of zero over time, he suggested, doesn't make sense if it's still in use! That, he said, is what the depreciation approach would do. The modified approach, while requiring more short-term and long-term work, seemed to provide a true picture of infrastructure value.
Volta also ran down the process of implementing GASB 34 with GIS. Basically, it involved three parts. First, the organization creates an inventory and assesses each item in the inventory. Second, it sets on a "goal" value for maintenance, that basically defines what is acceptable for use, perhaps described as "good" or "7 out of 10." Third, the organization develops an asset management solution that tracks costs associated with infrastructure and its condition over time. That piece, Volta reports, was typically done with some kind of asset management software tied to the GIS. Along with other capabilities such as work order management, the software generates the GASB 34 reports. Volta did agree that with a well-designed GIS, it was certainly possible to create the necessary reports within the GIS and bypass such software.
My exploration of GASB 34 reinforces my sense that it's rare that a GIS, especially a municipal GIS, can be pushed ahead with a single purpose. Each extra application area, and each extra department that finds value, adds to the push for deployment.
MORE ON COLUMBIA MAPPING
The Midland Reporter Telegram reports that in December 2002, representatives from Nacogdoches County, the City of Nacogdoches, and Stephen F. Ausitn State (SFA) University began work on a Hazard Mitigation Plan. The first draft was completed just a week before the Columbia tragedy and provided a guide to response. One official notes that the process of putting together the plan meant that many of the parties knew each other and jumped right in to help, setting up a command center a mere 57 minutes after the breakup of the shuttle.
Tyler Texas government employees took equipment to San Augustine county to help map shuttle debris. The team learned about a request for mapping help via e-mail from the South Central ARC Users Group. Three team members were from the Tyler Engineering Department, and the fourth was the town's GIS specialist. Members of the town fire department also headed in to help. According to an article on February 7th, there is still a need for high-resolution sub-meter GPS equipment and experienced users.
Three researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio also headed to help out with mapping equipment to train GPS users.
Surveyors are also doing their part. Two employees of Mize & Associates headed to Texas after reading of the need for their expertise on the Web. Kevin Rasnick said in an interview in the Bristol Herald Currier, "A surveyor from Nacogdoches said they were overwhelmed. They had plenty of volunteers but they had very few mapping specialists." In a second interview, in the Kingsport Times-News he noted, "The problem they've run into is that in the southern portion of the debris field, they only have three GPS units, and that's not nearly enough. They need twice, three, four times that many."
An article in InformationWeek explains how the mapping and recovery efforts have drawn together many of the agencies that are now part of the Department of Homeland Security. The article explains that most of the federal agencies involved, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is leading the recovery effort, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Forest Service have standardized on ESRI software, which makes the job easier. The Louisiana State Police just received an ESRI grant for GIS, but are not up and running. The Police are using GPS to gather data, which is phoned into technicians who type it into Excel. FEMA has collected local IT and GIS technicians to design a comprehensive database in SQL Server to house the data. EPA is developing and intranet implementation of ArcIMS for intra-agency data sharing.
NPR reports that search teams immediately headed to Texas, but that local fishermen and hunters were the first to identify and accurately locate debris with their GPS equipment. Fishermen in the waters could give information about objects that fell in. The headstart, says Texas' State Coordinator for Emergency Management, Jack Colley, may have helped save lives by keeping people away from hazardous materials. Seeing the patterns on the map, he said, helped direct further searches. Gordon Wells, of the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas, said "It's like mapping a crime scene." He's been using satellite images and noted SPOT 5 2.5-meter imagery.
An article in the Business & Money section of the Boston Sunday Globe (A Distant 2d or 22d Can Take Lead Spot, February 2, 2003, Charles Stein) reminded me that there are no real marketing secrets. All the secrets have been written up in hundreds of articles and books, but are still widely ignored. Why? Because it's easy to read about how a major corporation, say Dell or Amazon, used a new channel to sell computers and books, but the same ideas may be difficult to apply to a different business or discipline.
The article in question reviewed four ways to attack the "leaders" in a product-centered market. I'd add that the same ideas can be translated to services. Let's look at these through the lens of geospatial technology:
First, a classic: redefine the market. The example in the article is how Lowe's is taking on Home Depot by focusing not on men who buy tools, but rather on women who buy furnishings. Lowe's, the article suggests, "succeeded by changing what it means to be a home improvement store." Consider GIS. Has any organization redefined GIS? The closest things I would list would be solutions involving "asset management" or "business locators." These aren't "GIS" but solutions for a particular area. "Hiding" GIS inside a solution is the start, just as Lowe's hides or markets a hardware store in the packaging of a furniture/accessories store.
Second: find a new channel. Dell bypassed stores and sent its "very much like everyone else's" computers directly to users. Amazon learned that since people need not touch books to evaluate them (in contrast to clothes) the Internet was a terrific channel. What's the new channel for selling GIS and GIS services? Is it the Internet? Is it direct? Indirect? Something we've not yet thought of? I'd suggest that GIS has a fairly traditional sales model based on direct and VAR (reseller) channels. I don't think we've found the next big thing in this area.
Third: invent a better mousetrap. Granted many very average products take on the number one spot in a market, but truly effective ones can reach the top, too. EMC attacked IBM's 76% of the data storage hardware business to become #1 with a better product. That's fairly common in the hardware business. A more reliable, faster, bigger solution will have its day on top, then fall as the next one rises. Remember the Zip Drive and Jazz Drive ups and downs? Now we are using CDs for storage and soon we'll be using DVDs. Are there better mousetraps in our arena? Are there truly better, faster, easier, and more stable solutions in geospatial technologies?
Fourth and finally: lower price. "Just" a lower price is not enough. Lower price AND comparable quality has been known to work. Fuji film has always been less expensive than Kodak, but over time, the company convinced the consumer that it was "as good." Dell illustrated that computers that were simply less expensive weren't enough; the company needed cheaper machines, comparable performance, AND a different channel to stay ahead of many competitors with similarly inexpensive boxes. The other point I'll make here: pricing tells a story, too. Drop too low and people think it's a "toy." While there are $100 CAD packages, the comfort level of many professionals starts at $500, where Autodesk's AutoCAD LT lists.
One additional note that was not in the article: timing. Sometimes seeing the right moment in the market (when a competitor is announcing a price jump, a hardware requirement change, or an operating system switch) is the time to jump. Since we have so much of that in our business, it's worth watching.
BOOK REVIEW: TWO NEW RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS FROM ESRI
When I sat down to read the two books on GIS in education sent to me by Charlie Fitzpatrick of ESRI's Schools and Libraries Team, I wasn't sure where to begin. Should I pick up the smaller book GIS in Schools, a 100-page book highlighting case studies, or should I choose Mapping Our World: GIS Lessons for Educators, a 500+ page series of lessons?
GIS in Schools
I opted to start with the smaller one. GIS in Schools by Richard Audet and Gail S. Ludwig puts forth a firm statement to teachers, schools, and communities, that students can and do learn to solve problems with this technology. The book grew out of sessions at the ESRI International Users Conference a few years ago. Two university professors collected many of the presenting teachers' case studies into the 13-chapter book. The projects run the gamut: urban and rural schools, public and private, environmental and social issues, younger students and older ones, teachers with GIS experience and those new to the technology.
This is not a lesson plan for others to follow. Instead, it's a call to action and a guide to the unknown. The call to action is simply this: If you are teacher, are creative and observant of your students and the community, you will find a project. Then, together, you and your students will learn, contribute to the community, gain confidence and grow.
The guidance provided in the book is mostly by way of example. Call the local police department. Work with the conservation society. Call local GIS experts. Encourage the students to present the project to the town leaders or enter it in the science fair. Mostly, guide the students in their inquiry. Trust them to tease out the problem and manage the technology.
The final chapter of the book looks at education issues, including standards, and questions whether teachers and students should learn GIS or learn with GIS. The authors reason that either approach may be appropriate, depending on the students and school. My sense however, is that this book shows the incredible value of learning with GIS.
Mapping Our World
Feeling more than a bit inspired, I picked up Mapping Our World by Lyn Malone, Anita M. Palmer, and Christine L. Voigt. This is a big book, and for good reason. The book includes lesson plans, handouts, and a one-year, campus-wide educational license of ArcView 3.x aimed at teaching geographic thinking to middle and high school students. The extra large format allows (and encourages) teachers to copy project materials, answer sheets, and maps directly from the book. And, if the book is not enough, there's a website with updates, new resources, and a discussion forum.
One chapter introduces the software, and can be broken into two or three class periods. What follows are six modules which cover material aimed at middle and high schoolers, including assessments. Each module comes in three flavors, a global perspective, a regional examination, and an advanced/independent study project. There are two modules on physical geography, three on human geography, and one on human/environment interactions.
What pleased me most about the text, as a geographer and one-time college geography instructor, is that the process of "doing" geography is woven into each lesson. Just after What is GIS? is a chapter titled Geographic Inquiry: Thinking Geographically. This chapter lays out the five-step geographic inquiry model. If this reminds you of the scientific method, you are getting the picture. I've been out of academia for a while, so forgive me if this has been around for some time, but I think the model is great!
In short the process goes like this: ask a geographic question, acquire geographic resources, explore geographic data, analyze geographic information, and act on geographic knowledge. I like to think of this as a more formal coding of the "What is Where? Why? So what?" definition of the geographic process I ran into in Paul Simkins population geography class at Penn State. The authors also weave the national geography standards into the modules and present a matrix of standards/modules in the front material.
The lessons themselves are very student-focused. Each one begins with general questions: Where do you think volcanoes are? How about earthquakes? Then students are asked to make hypotheses. Next, students fire up ArcView and explore data. Finally, they draw conclusions. I couldn't help but smile at how many times students are asked to describe geographic patterns. When I was a teaching assistant at Penn State, and later when I taught on my own, I learned that such a concept seems simple enough, but really requires practice.
The GIS Investigation text for each module, which is the students "lab guide" to the project, is provided in gray scale for easy and effective photocopying. And, each one provides clear graphics and exclamation point warnings of what to avoid. I feel sure the students and teachers who tested the material helped identify these potential pitfalls. You can have a look at complete module for a regional exploration here.
As someone who has used GIS mostly for human geographic inquiry, it's refreshing to see a strong focus on physical geography along with the human topics. That means that these lessons can find homes in social studies classes, science classes, critical thinking projects, science fairs, computer skills classes, and of course, geography classes. Advanced students should be able to work independently with the detailed guidance in the book. I can even see these lessons used in college and community college classes with little or no change. In fact, had these resources been available in my community college teaching days, I'd have loved to weave a few of these into my World Regional Geography class.
This book is stepping stone. It provides a structure and methodology for instructors to develop their own modules, perhaps based on their own regions or topics of interest. I'd love to see more modules available down the road. And, knowing the ESRI teacher network, I won't be surprised to see just that.
Freebies for GIS Monitor Readers
These two books are valuable tools. I'd like to provide my review copies to a worthy school (K-University). If you'd like the set, send me an e-mail message by Tuesday 2/19/03 with a 50-word statement of how they'd benefit your school/classroom/home schooler. I will select a winner based on the essay.
And one more thing, if you didn't see this last week: 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 (less than 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!
PROFESSIONAL SURVEYOR ACQUIRES EOM
Professional Surveyors Publishing Company, which publishes GIS Monitor, announced the acquisition of Earth Observation Magazine, EOM, a print publication that focuses on the imaging marketplace. It's been just about a year since Professional Surveyor purchased GIS Monitor, and this acquisition is aimed at the same goal: providing the best coverage of geospatial technologies for all its users.
The plan is to call upon the company's strengths to take EOM to the next level. The acquisition is just the beginning, and we have quite a lot to do in the coming months. We invite you to come along for the ride.
POINTS OF INTEREST
• The case of 555. The prefix 555 for phone numbers was set aside for future use some time ago. The idea was to save it for nationwide numbers - numbers that would be valid in seven digits across the U.S. According to a New York Times article, the costs and complexity of implementing such a service has made carriers balk at implementations. Some suggest that carriers fear that 555 numbers will take revenue away from the lucrative 800 number market. While 555 aimed to show that geography didn't matter, something has gotten in the way.
• Satellite recycling. The European Space Agency is studying the possibility of using old European television satellites to power a satellite radio service for that part of the world. Currently, the U.S. uses shiny new dedicated satellites for such programming. ESA reports that television satellites are typically abandoned after about 15 years since they run out of propellant to keep them in a tight geosynchronous orbit (over the same point on earth at all times). Radio satellites can have a bit of drift, so the retired satellites may have extended useful life. The planned service will not use live feeds, but rather data cached on the satellite pushed out via a handful of transceivers which will help alleviate "holes" in coverage.
• ZDNet reports on two surveys from Gartner Dataquest. Both suggest that the ways in which companies will implement data services is up for grabs. In one study, system integrators preferred .NET with 58% calling it their "favorite." (N=44) A second survey of companies that have hired integrators favor Java with 39% pointing to Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE). (N=138) Gartner explains that the indecision reflects an immature market and points out that Java typically wins in UNIX environments and .NET in the Windows world.
• The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois, reports that researchers from the University of Illinois, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Health, have developed a West Nile Virus GIS. The system may help predict what will happen in the state this year, and might help uncover early warning signs.
• ABC News (Australia) reports that livestock owners are looking into "virtual fences" powered by GPS as a management tool down the road. The Western Australian Agriculture Department's Robert Rouda, according to the report, argues that chip prices will decrease "because of a push in the United States for them to be used in all mobile phones as part of the fight against terrorism." My understanding is that E-911 response technology was not instigated as part of the fight against terrorism, but began many years before.
• The New York Times reports that a University of Wisconsin geography professor used the style of the now-infamous Nigerian e-mail request for funds with a new twist. He wrote a message under President Bush's name to request support for the war in Iraq. I read the message on GISLIST, which had tagged it as spam.
• "GIS is the glue for government management in the future," said associate director for IT and e-government in the Office of Management and Budget at the ESRI federal user conference in Washington, D.C. last week. Other interesting notes: ESRI president Jack Dangermond said 30,000 government Web sites now use ESRI technology. Hord Tipton, Interior's CIO spoke to the new DOI agreement with ESRI: The agreement, he said, is "standardizing us on software," and suggests the department is "getting a lot more product for the money (we) do spend." The full report is in Government Computer News.
• A handheld device, Tormes, uses advanced European Space Agency (ESA) satellite technology to locate and guide blind pedestrians in real time over a wireless Internet connection. The technology is interesting: it uses GPS, augmented by geo-stationary satellites (a system called Egnos) and local "beacons" (a system called SisNet) which sends signals via the wireless Web.
• Last week Space Imaging put out a press release titled, "Space Imaging Releases Top 10 IKONOS Satellite Images for 2002." I wanted to know what made these 10 the Top 10. Gary Napier replied that these were "the most visually compelling images taken that year." Regional Affiliates and the headquarters submit images, and an internal panel selects the final choices. The resulting images are geared to highlight the markets the company serves.
• Last week's Space News Briefs reported that Space Imaging laid off 65 employee and will lose another dozen, resulting in a headcount of about 300. Acting chief executive officer Robert Dalal directed the elimination of the Emeryville, Calif., and Salt Lake City offices of Space Imaging's Solutions unit. The Solutions unit was made up of the merger of Pacific Meridian Resources (acquired by Space Imaging in 2000) and the company's Program Management Division. I also read this week, in GeoSpatial Solutions, that Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have no place to invest further in Space Imaging.
• A memo highlights the job Clear Channel Communications folks did on Feb 1 following the Columbia tragedy. The company runs hundreds of small radio stations, many completely run by remote control - that is, with few, if any, local personnel. While the company cheers its success, On the Media did a frightening piece this week highlighting not only the lack of Columbia coverage by remote control stations, but also an event in Minot, North Dakota, in 2002 where many locals were injured because important news about a local chemical spill was not delivered via Clear Channel, which ran all of the local stations. How does that saying go, "All news is local news"?
• Good news for geospatial in agriculture. A recent Purdue University survey of farmers in the eastern Corn Belt asked a series of questions on precision agriculture. Despite problems using, understanding, and affording the technology, 73% said they do crop scouting with global positioning systems (GPS) equipment.
WEEK IN REVIEW
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Sanborn and ITspatial, LLC, a provider of visual information management and decision support solutions, announced that they have formed a strategic alliance to offer integrated 3D GIS mapping as part of their solutions. As part of this agreement, Sanborn will re-sell ITspatial's InterSCOPE Visual Information Management system as well as real-time 3D GIS maps generated using Sanborn source data. ITspatial will, in turn, gain access to Sanborn source data to provide its clients with ongoing 3D GIS decision support solutions.
The Open GIS Consortium (OGC) announces the approval and release of Geography Markup Language version 3.0 (GML 3). GML 3 defines a data encoding in XML that allows geographic data and its attributes to be moved between disparate systems with ease.
ObjectFX Corporation announced that it recorded a 50 percent year-over-year revenue growth rate in 2002, which resulted in a more than 300 percent improvement in profitability and the highest revenue level in the company's history. ObjectFX completed a move from St. Paul, Minnesota, to new offices located in Minneapolis earlier this month.
CH2M HILL and UAI (Utility Automation Integrators) are partnering to provide software solutions for utility, municipal, state, federal, and international markets.
Tele Atlas's turn-by-turn digital map database, MultiNet North America 2.4, will now be available to federal, state, and local government agencies through DLT Solutions' GSA Schedule. DLT is Autodesk's master government sales and marketing partner.
The Indian Taskforce on National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), suggested changes in the existing map policy of the government, and is setting the groundwork for a National Spatial Data Infrastructure. India will be hosting the global conference on Geospatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) in February, 2004, which should also help keep things moving.
Spatial Insights, Inc. has announced a strategic alliance with DBx Geomatics, Inc.
eSpatial and Artech Consulting Group are entering a new partnership agreement.
Forty-six new members - from countries including Canada, Hong Kong, and Germany - recently joined the Intergraph Team GeoMedia Registered Solutions Provider (RSP) and Registered Solutions Center (RSC) programs.
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. announced that the company is expanding into a new geographic market with its Information Products Group by acquiring the largest and most established commercial provider of title and legal information in Scotland - Millar & Bryce Limited.
NovaLIS Technologies has acquired Cott-Charlotte, the North Carolina-based Division of Cott Systems. Cott-Charlotte has existed as a division of Cott Systems for 15 years with responsibilities for the development and delivery of Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA), Tax Billing, Collection, and Motor Vehicles software modules.
ATS Asset Tracking Services Inc. (ATS) partnered with Maporama to add enhanced value and accuracy to the vShepherd line of GPS-powered asset management products.
RMSI announced that the Software Division of the company's operations has been successfully assessed at SEI CMM Level 3. The accreditation demonstrates RMSI's capability to manage and control software development risks related to the project, organization, process, and technology in application software development projects that it undertakes.
MapInfo Corporation announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Injury Center used its MapInfo MapXtreme mapping technology to create Injury Maps, an interactive Web-based mapping application of injury-related mortality in the U.S.
MapQuest has renewed its license agreement to use Sagent's Centrus GeoStan software. InformationWeek says the renewal is part of a push toward LBS.
Rand McNally & Co., the world's largest seller of maps, Tuesday filed a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in Chicago that will give majority control of the company to private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners. Rand McNally said last month that no store closings or layoffs are expected, and normal business operations will continue during the reorganization.
Garmin reported a record quarter for Q4 2002: Revenue for the quarter increased 43.7 percent to $133.7 million from $93.0 million in the year-ago quarter. There was significant growth (46% over the year ago quarter) in the consumer arena.
A report at MCAD Cafe details Autodesk's plan for AutoCAD 2004. The company is expected to meet its earnings expectations, too.
MetaCarta and ESRI announced they are working together to provide a search tool that combines MetaCarta's geographic text search capabilities with ESRI's GIS tools.
The Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) in Oklahoma has selected GE Network Solutions' XA/21 Energy Management System software to monitor, control and optimize the day-to-day operation of its generation and transmission grid.
Imagem Geosistemas E Comercio Ltda., one of ESRI's distributors in Brazil, is implementing a GIS at AES Eletropaulo, the major energy distribution company in Latin America.
Intergraph Hong Kong Limited, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Intergraph Corporation, announced today that Hong Kong China Gas Company (HKCG) has selected Intergraph to implement a PDA-based mobile workforce management solution to automate the daily workflow of its customer installation department.
DeLorme announced the availability of Street Atlas USA 2003 Plus. The core of the new functionality is the Document Management system, which allows users to dynamically link icons to any type of digital document on detailed maps of the entire U.S.
KOREM announced the release of the latest version of its flagship product Push'n'See, which runs on MapXtreme Java Edition. Version 4.5 offers pie charts and bar charts thematic support, project attachments (URLs and documents), ESRI Shapefiles support, full customizable layer control and configuration of layers & fields display on a "per project" basis.
Conclusive Strategies announced shipment the latest version of its market analysis/site selection solution, Speed. Speed is designed to help the retail industry make fast decisions about where to open, close and move sites. Enhancements revolved around enhanced user-friendliness.
VDS Technologies released AspMap 2.0, an Internet mapping component for ASP and ASP.NET. New features include .NET support, translucency support, customizable highway shields, new point and line styles, and more.
Miner & Miner announced the release of the ArcFM Solution 8.3 for electric, gas, and water/wastewater utilities.
Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping, LLC offers a compact laser scanner, the Leica ALS40. The company claims it has scanning speeds 20-40 percent faster than competing systems.
ESRI announced that ArcGIS 8.3 is now available. The primary focus of the ArcGIS 8.3 release is full topology support for the geographic database coupled with an improved editing environment built to support topological relationships. There are also three new extensions: ArcGIS Survey Analyst, ArcScan for ArcGIS, and ArcGIS Tracking Analyst.
ESEA announced two new products: MapMover simplifies the task of aligning one map representing line features, such as roads, rivers or utility infrastructure, to another more spatially-accurate map. MapMerger automates the transfer of attributes from an attribute-rich but location-inaccurate source to an attribute-poor but spatially-precise map. Both run with ArcGIS.
GEO-Jobe launched an online mapping service, GEOPowered, which allows users to view and query GIS data through a standard Internet web browser.
Manifold announced that Manifold 5.50 delivers over 470 improvements compared to 5.00. Highlights: Unlimited sized projects, with unlimited sized images and surfaces, improved print layouts and printing capabilities, database-driven drawings, numerous IMS improvements, and U.S. Street Address Geocoder, at addition cost. Version 5 users have a special price on upgrades until March 15, 2003.
The Survey of India, in partnership with the Spatial Data Private Limited, a Bangalore based IT Company, launched digital maps of Hyderabad and Bangalore at Map India 2003 on January 28th. This is the first instance of the Government/Industry partnership in digital mapping. These products are titled The Great Arc MapCue.
GIS Tools released new versions of its TIGER extractors, TGR2SHP and TGR2MIF, and a new version of its SummaryFile 3 table extractor, SF3toTable. The new TGR2SHP version 5.0 and TGR2MIF version 5.0 support the recently released TIGER 2002 files.
GE Network Solutions announced the release of its Smallworld PowerOn Remote Dispatch 2.0 software product.
ESRI announced that new commercial data from Geographic Data Technology Canada, (GDT-Canada), has been added to the data section of ESRI's website. Visitors can access and download user-defined areas of a special Internet-optimized version of GDT-Canada's Dynamap Canada database containing detailed street and address coverage, along with postal and census information, landmarks, and water features.
PCI Geomatics and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced support for data (10-metre, 5-metre and 2.5-metre pixel spacing) from the SPOT 5 satellite in PCI Geomatics' Geomatica OrthoEngine software.
Digital Data Technologies, Inc. (DDTI) announced the release of iView Farmland Calculator, a stand-alone application that uses client computer assisted mass appraisal data (CAMA) and existing parcel, soils, and land use GIS layers to generate acreage and land use reports.
Blue Marble Geographics announced a maintenance update to its GeoObjects software development kit.
The Delaware GIS 2003 Conference committee invites anyone with an interest in GIS or geographic information to attend this year's conference. Come join GIS professionals from across Delaware and surrounding areas to share your knowledge and experience. Technical workshops will be held Monday, April 28 and Wednesday, April 30.
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions recently donated 400 copies of GeoMedia Professional software to UNIGIS in support of the program's GIS distance learning curriculum. In a related move, Intergraph and UNIGIS have begun efforts to develop teaching materials based on Intergraph technology.
• Hires and Appointments
Orbital Imaging Corporation (ORBIMAGE) announced the promotion of two senior executives. Mr. Gary Adkins has been appointed Vice President of Federal Sales and National Security Programs, and Mr. Tony Anzilotti has been appointed Vice President, Finance and Controller.
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