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2006 February 16


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Editor's Introduction

This week I report on an announcement by MetaCarta of a new contract with the DIA, then focus on change detection, with conversations with three companies — Pictometry (which just announced a joint project with Hitachi), Ellis GeoSpatial, and Geographic Resource Solutions. Plus, my usual roundup of news from press releases.

Now three announcements:

  1. First, if you haven't done so yet, I recommend that you bookmark our new calendar of geospatial conferences and tradeshows. I will be updating it every few days and, at the end of each month, I will drop that month and add one at the end, so that it will always help you plan up to six months in advance.

  2. Professional Surveyor Magazine has produced another issue of Intersect, its supplement. I highly recommend it.

  3. Finally, if you have not yet responded to our READER SURVEY, please do so now. Thanks!
— Matteo

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MetaCarta Joins Forces with Raytheon

On Monday MetaCarta, Inc., a provider of geographic intelligence solutions, announced that its technology has been chosen for inclusion in Raytheon's Direct-access User Knowledge Environment (DUKE) Information Management System, a messaging system used by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The integration of MetaCarta's GeoTagger technology by Raytheon allows the DUKE system to exploit unstructured text messages, producing geospatial content that is incorporated together with other data for display and interpretation by intelligence analysts.

GeoTagger is a Web service that fits within a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and allows users to analyze documents for geographic references, disambiguates those references to specific locations in the world, and creates geographic tags for those documents. According to the company, GeoTagger is capable of identifying more than 7.8 million different place names around the world, tagging millions of documents a day.

Randy Ridley, MetaCarta's Vice President and General Manager of Public Sector Systems, told me that GeoTagger, an appliance technology that runs on a Dell server, is an enterprise technology that takes unstructured data — for example, military message traffic — and then tags those documents and marks them up with XML. Everyone who has access to the system can then see every location that's mentioned in a document — whether it is in the form of latitude and longitude, a place name, or some other kind of location. DUKE controls the documents that are given to the GeoTagger and its output, which it feeds to a DUKE-controlled database which is then accessed by users across the DIA and across the joint commands.

What led to this contract now? "We were in a prototype concept of operation status," Ridley told me, "and the government liked the results well enough that they want to operationalize it. So, Raytheon and MetaCarta are working together with the government to bring this system on line and make it live for many users across the defense intelligence enterprise." The DIA provides the maps.

According to Ridley, this contract illustrates MetaCarta's two-pronged approach to the marketplace. The first prong is the GTS (geographic text search) product. "It has complete maps and indexing systems. It is a turn-key product. We now have a new ArcIMS ESRI plug-in, which ads temporal filtering to the previous extension that we had and that now has been updated to allow shapefiles, exporting, and temporal filtering. That's in beta and will be released in March. We are also coming out in March with another new functionality: GTS Analyst. It is a set of three new capabilities. One of them is a histogram, which permits a user to look at millions of documents at a glance across the globe and look at the pattern of documents. It also permits stored queries and notifications: as an analyst, you can set the system up to do searches overnight and the next morning you have a new pattern for the day. We also have regional search, which allows users to restrict searches to certain countries or regions of the world. That's a new functionality that will be added as an option in March. It has APIs but also turn-key capabilities."

The second prong is GeoTagger, which Ridley describes as "an integrator's tool" — an API that allows integrators to integrate it into larger applications. "So, we have a two product approach: one is a turn-key, very geospatially-focused product and the other one, the GeoTagger, can be used in all kinds of integrator and custom mapping applications, with maps or just with text."

How does this contract fit into the company's growth strategy? "Our strategy, like that of any enterprise software company, is to look for government offices and programs that have enterprise production systems or enterprise portals. If we think that we'd be a good fit we approach them directly or indirectly through our integrators or our partners, such as ESRI or ObjectFX. Right now we are engaged in partnership activities with Raytheon, Titan, SRA, and Lockheed Martin, to name a few. We have a prototyping effort going on at the EPA and other prototyping efforts going on throughout the intelligence community."

Change Detection — Introduction

The amount of available satellite and aerial imagery and other remote sensing data continues to increase rapidly. Processed imagery often becomes the land base in the development of GIS. It is also used for mapping and to identify and locate features — a process called feature analysis. These uses only require latitude and longitude, or X and Y. When you add the third coordinate, Z, for elevation, you can generate digital elevation models (DEMs) and perform volume inventories. When you add the fourth dimension, time, you can identify and analyze change in a given area; this process is called change detection and analysis. (Purists will probably chide me for using the terms "coordinate" and "dimension" interchangeably.)

Changes in land cover can be the consequence of a sudden event (such as a natural disaster) or they can take place from year to year or season to season (as with crop rotation), or over a period of years or decades (as with urban sprawl). Likewise, the extent of the area to be analyzed can vary from a single plot to entire regions. The two principal technologies used for change detection are spectral analysis and spatial analysis. Finally, change detection can be done entirely manually or it can be partially automated. The exact mix of these variables depends on the nature of the project, the available resources, and the preferences of the analysts. In short, change detection is a complicated and rapidly evolving segment of the geospatial industry.

This week, I discussed some of the tools and techniques for change detection and analysis with a few of their developers and users. In this issue I report on my conversations with Stephen Schultz, Chief Technology Officer for Pictometry — a digital aerial imaging company that specializes in oblique views and just released a new change detection product jointly with HitachiDante Pennacchia, Pictometry's Chief Marketing Officer, and Scott Sherwood, the company's V.P. of Corporate Marketing Initiatives; Dr. James Ellis, a geologist and the Principal of Ellis GeoSpatial; and Kenneth A. Stumpf, Director of Remote Sensing Applications at Geographic Resource Solutions. Next week, I will report on my conversations with a few additional companies and experts.

Change Detection — Pictometry

Pictometry announced last week that it will be the master North American distributor for Hitachi's HouseDiff service offering, which it will market and sell as a complementary offering to its own Pictometry Professional (EFS) and Pictometry Change Analysis software systems. HouseDiff automatically detects changes in an area — such as additions to existing structures, demolitions, land use changes, new construction, or other real property features. Pictometry Change Analysis — a spatial, rather than a spectral, tool — allows the direct comparison on a computer monitor of previous aerial imagery with recent imagery of the same area. Combining Pictometry's viewer with Hitachi's change detection process allows users to view change candidates side-by-side with new imagery and to verify and analyze the changes using the multiple views from Pictometry's oblique imagery. The company also produces software that provides the ability to do change analysis on digital orthophotos.

According to Pennacchia, various departments of federal, state, and local governments use Pictometry's change detection tools heavily following such disasters as Hurricane Katrina. Another group that has great need for change detection and analysis, he says, are county tax assessors. "They can overlay their permit data on top of that GIS layer," he told me, "and determine whether they are owed any money." "A couple of years back," Schultz told me, "when we were about to start our first renewal for some of our early adopters, we realized that we were going to have two years worth of data and that they were going to ask us what had changed during that time, especially from the assessors' standpoint." He came up a "half-overlay" mode: the old imagery and the new imagery are displayed side by side, divided by a vertical bar. As the user scrolls the old imagery under the bar, it changes to the new imagery. "New swimming pools and decks and additions all jump out at you," Schultz told me and then Sherwood demonstrated the process for me. (See the second screen shot.)

To enlarge the image, click on it and then, depending on your browser, click on it again.

However, Schultz points out, reviewing each image this way is a very labor-intensive process, so Pictometry wanted to automate it. Meanwhile, Hitachi had worked on automated change detection: "They find edges," Schultz explains, "and they run an algorithm that figures out that an object is, say, a house. They then create a shapefile of the house on both the old and the new imagery and look for changes in the size and shape of those polygons within a user-defined threshold. We had a great analysis tool but it was hard to figure out where in the county there was change. Hitachi had this great tool that went through and figured out where anything had changed, but had no good way to present it to the user and they were running into false positives."

Representatives of the two companies, Schultz recalls, met at a sales demonstration meeting, saw each other's products, and immediately decided to join forces. Hitachi produces a candidate file and Pictometry added to its software the ability to load it. The user sorts the change candidates in a spreadsheet and then the software displays them in that order. Buttons at the top of the screen allow the user to code each candidate as either a true change or a false positive. A county, Schultz points out, can have an intern weed out false positives and ship the file to an assessor, who can then bring up various oblique aerial shots and compare them with the county's permit data. It may turn out, as in an example that Sherwood showed me, that someone with a permit for a deck built a sun roof over it. From an orthophoto, that change would have looked like a taxable addition, requiring a field inspection. "When the three hurricanes hit Florida last year," Schultz told me, "we shipped them this before and after. The insurance companies loved it because, for example, it allowed them to say 'that garage you claimed isn't in the picture from a year ago.' All of the emergency responders also loved it because it allowed them to see what was or was supposed to be there."

To enlarge the image, click on it and then, depending on your browser, click on it again.

According to Schultz, the software's interfaces allow it to cull data from many different kinds of georeferenced files. Pictometry's oblique imagery is all geospatially referenced, as is Hitachi's data, which is made from georeferenced orthophotos. As Sherwood demonstrated, this allows users to overlay on the images property lines and street centerlines and to obtain the latitude, longitude, and elevation of any point on an image, and the length and bearing of any line they draw. He also demonstrated the software's ability to automatically calculate areas; because oblique views allow the software to determine the height of structures, this includes the areas of facades.

I discussed with Schultz the differences between spectral and spatial analysis. Spectral systems look at the spectral signatures of different materials — such as grass, pavement, water, etc. — and produce a classification map. Change detection then consists of looking for pixels that have changed classification from an old image to a new one. Traditionally, Schultz says, that was the way to go because spatial data was harder to calculate, largely because of the limited resolution available. "Now when you're down in the six inch and five inch pixels — we're actually going to three and four — you have a huge number of pixels to make up the geometry of, say, a house and it becomes very easy to figure out what is the house and what is not the house. That's why the trend you are going to see is that change detection is going to go from a spectral to a spatial process."

Spatial analysis also tells you more about the properties of an object. "If a roof material is similar to a pavement material, it may not show up as a change in the spectral analysis — both might be classified as the same building material. But there's going to be an edge to that roof and the spatial analysis is going to pick it up." Additionally, aerial cameras typically only use three or four spectral bands, rather than the seven used by Landsat satellites, so it's hard to use aerial imagery for spectral analysis.

Pennacchia emphasizes that Pictometry is the only authorized reseller of Hitachi HouseDiff in the United States. Given the popularity with government officials of "before and after" images of areas hit by hurricanes, the company has decided to provide them for free to any county that has a Pictometry license and that the federal government declares to be a disaster area. He expects that this will generate additional use of the company's change detection tool. "Can you imagine the insult of receiving an assessment notice on a house that isn't there anymore?"

Change Detection — Ellis GeoSpatial

Jim Ellis would like to use high resolution satellites, airborne hyperspectral, or airborne digital mapping cameras, such as Intergraph's Z/I DMC or Vexcel's UltraCam, to establish an accurate baseline prior to mapping change. However, as he goes back in time, he mostly ends up using historic aerial photographs. They are orthorectified or georeferenced, but, he says, "not very exotic." I discussed with Ellis the difference between spectral and spatial analysis for change detection and between working in industrialized countries and in developing ones, where he does most of his work, often for petroleum companies.

In the United States, because of the availability of very good maps with high spatial resolution, most changes are interpreted from hand-digitized stereo models developed from overlapping photography. Clients in developing countries, on the other hand, tend to be interested in large areas for which multispectral satellite imagery comes in very handy. Often in these countries there are no training sites, so Ellis must rely on published maps or the expertise of locals. "Some of the changes are so dramatic," he says, "such as degradation of wetlands or expanding settlements, that multispectral and hyperspectral imagery does a really good job of tracking them." Spectral methods work very well when analyzing natural systems that are undergoing their first major change, such as those impacted by urban sprawl. However, he points out, when you are looking at a landscape that is very fragmented by human activity, "spectrally it gets very complicated."

A most promising approach, according to Ellis, is the one taken by eCognition, which integrates spatial information to help identify the features of interest. "Because many times the clients with whom I work have a requirement for very high accuracy," he says, "you end up doing a lot of manual editing, using the eyes and brain. I think the tools that look at the spatial side along with the spectral are leading the way. They really help in the pattern recognition." In the United States, says Ellis, most projects are very large scale (focused, for example, on a gas station or a warehouse), people are more likely to be looking at their own parcels or property, and most projects require very high spatial resolution. In Africa, Central Asia, or South America, on the other hand, the areas of impact tend to be much bigger — such as a whole shoreline — and the questions more regional. Also, while many of these countries have remarkable aerial collections, they are often controlled by the military, which usually restricts access to them. For these reasons, using satellite data can be very cost-effective.

As for automation, it all depends on what you are trying to do, says Ellis. If you are looking at a jungle that is disappearing or wetlands that are changing dramatically, then most change detection algorithms and remote sensing software work pretty well. However, once the landscape is impacted by humans, there can be a lot of variability from year to year and it becomes much more difficult to keep up with the changes. "It's hard for us, with our simple classifications and limited datasets, to understand what's going on." The increase in spatial resolution isn't necessarily a good thing for mapping natural systems. "As you go to these higher resolution sensors, you are down to 6 inch or 3 inch pixels, you are starting to see individual leaves and their shadows across the canopy and the variability increases. As you stand back, you can see the color and the shape and you can recognize a tree, but as you zoom in it gets more confusing because there is just too much variability."

The beauty of hyperspectral systems, Ellis says, is that they can un-mix materials within single pixels. "So you might be able to fly an area with 2 meter or 3 meter pixels, but you can actually resolve some materials that perhaps only take up 20 percent of that pixel. You will certainly detect a wide range of materials in complex manmade environments with hyperspectral, and you will create unique and highly informative maps, but identifying many of the materials requires experience, training sets, and spectral libraries."

One company goal is to take the image-derived map products and move them into some kind of spatial analyst program to identify spatial relationships through time and model / predict change. "In many cases the client is not even interested in the imagery. The value is in the derived map, which is what is really unique. Once the data, procedures, and rules were understood, then knowledge builder algorithms could be created that would speed up the process of mapping and understanding changes recorded by remote sensing at other locations."

The other major goal, according to Ellis, is to integrate DEMs into change analysis. As a geologist, he would like to tie in subsurface features and work with data cubes, "like they do in seismic, with voxels (volume pixels), instead of pixels." In this regard, he points to C Tech Development Corporation's Environmental Visualization System (EVS) as a very promising tool. "Most of us work in two dimensions at the surface (x & y), and sometimes three (z)," Ellis concludes, "but there is also the space above and below the surface and time. Changes happen within this expanded 3D space, so I believe that's the spatial and temporal framework toward which our technology should be moving. At least that's where I want to be."

Change Detection — Geographic Resource Solutions

Ken Stumpf told me that he has not found many people who are doing much change detection. In fact, he cannot recall his company ever even receiving an RFP for change detection.

As he sees it, there are two basic approaches to change detection — spectral analysis, which is the more typical one, and comparing maps — and he strongly favors the latter. Identifying change in spectral data, says Stumpf, "really doesn't tell you what has changed. It just tells you that there is changed spectrum." It is then up to the user to determine what has changed, how much of a change is a significant change, etc. The other way to do it is to cross-tabulate the data from two really good maps. "Everything that's the same stays the same," Stumpf explains. "What's changed is then shown not as spectral differences, but as features of one type — say, bare ground — that have turned, 20 years later, into, say, forest."

As an example he cites his current project in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, for which a map has been made for spruce bark beetle kill using aerial photography. "I can use the same principles of cross tabulation to compare that previous effort, if the Park Service has deemed it to be really sound, with the data set that I am generating now from my field data. Am I trying to map change? No, I'm trying to map coincidence, to determine where my map comes up with the same answers as opposed to where my map has differences." If the new map is as good as the old one, Stumpf says, the differences between the two "should be due to some sort of difference in the way we are mapping the characteristics that I should be able to explain."

"The change based on spectral difference is there — but you don't know what it is. Whereas, if you have two high quality maps, then by cross-tabulating them you will know what has changed. One methodology is based on a bunch of spectral numbers that go from 0 to 256 and you don't know what on Earth they are. The other is based on looking at the features you've mapped — such as, is it a conifer type or a hardwood type or grassland. One approach is ambiguous, the other is straight forward."

I asked Stumpf what particular software he prefers to use for this process. "You can use any existing software that comes with a typical GIS package," he told me. If this process is so superior to spectral analysis, why isn't it used as much? "If you have two good maps, you can see how easy it is. Maybe, part of the problem is that people don't know how to make good maps. When people fall back on spectral differencing, maybe they think they are taking a giant shortcut, because then they've only identified what's different. [However, by comparing good maps] you'd actually get another product out of the process, too: an updated cover map, in addition to change."

"Conceptually," Stumpf concludes, "spectral image differencing makes a lot of sense... until somebody sees the other way to do it. The drawback of doing it my way is that somebody may not want to develop a whole dataset; they may want just the areas of change. It depends on what somebody wants overall from the project."

Letter to the Editor

When I watched the Olympic opening ceremonies and saw the commentator's map of Italy with anglicized "Milan," "Florence," and "Venice," but then "Torino," I was amused.

Here is the explanation from "NBC, which has the U.S. broadcast rights for the games, reportedly thought 'Torino' sounded more exotic than 'Turin,' a name more closely associated with heavy industry than with winter sports."

If I were Pepperidge Farm, I would sponsor a change of the NBC map to say "Milano" so that everyone would subliminally be inspired to get up during the commercials and get a cookie.

Gail Elber, Oakland, Oregon

News Briefs

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


To manage its electrical network maintenance workflow and infrastructure for more than 4,000 customers in Ontario, Canada, Wirebury Connections Inc., an electric distribution services and smart metering company, has deployed Cityworks, by Azteca Systems Inc., a provider of GIS-centric asset maintenance management solutions. Wirebury provides the electrical infrastructure leading up to and including meters in new business developments and multi-tenant high-rises and condominiums. This includes individual suite metering for both new facilities as well as for retrofitting older buildings using state-of-the-art "SMART" meters, which enable the company to track detailed electricity use by the hour — helping customers lower their overall cost of energy by better managing consumption, during off-peak pricing periods.
     Wirebury is using Cityworks with ESRI's ArcGIS and Miner & Miner's ArcFM. Cityworks is used to manage and coordinate workflow related to all capital assets. The asset inventory is stored entirely in the geodatabase and accessible to Wirebury staff and business partners over a Wide Area Network. The system is hosted by ESRI Canada and deployed using Citrix.

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU), a division of the City of Rochester, Minnesota and the largest municipal utility in the state of Minnesota, has gone into production with Responder, an outage management system (OMS) by Miner & Miner, a Telvent company. The new OMS solution will allow the utility to better serve their more than 46,000 electric customers through efficient response to service interruptions.
     RPU has been a long-time user of Miner & Miner's ArcFM Solution suite of applications, running ArcFM to support facilities management for six years and Designer, which provides graphic work design, since January 2005. An integrated GIS workflow has afforded RPU the ability to efficiently manage assets, create designs, and streamline business processes. With the addition of Responder, RPU will take additional advantage of GIS functionality by leveraging the asset data immediately for outages.
     Responder provides crucial information for accurate decision-making, both for storm restoration and daily operations. Prior to the OMS implementation, RPU recorded outages manually, so they sought an automated system with the ability to track outages in real time, to roll up outages to a probable outage device, and to improve overall reporting. Now, system operators will have access to an interface and intuitive menus to efficiently dispatch crews based on geographical and tabular data. Marketing and customer service representatives will also access the system to gain updated outage information and accurately relay it to the public without having to interrupt the system operators. The project, managed primarily by in-house administrators and supported by M&M;'s project team, began in October 2005 and took less than three months to roll out into full production with an out-of-the-box implementation.

Galdos Systems Inc has signed a contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL has engaged Galdos' Engineering Services department to provide a range of engineering services related to the use of open standards (GML, WFS etc.) in the design and development of Sensor Net applications for homeland security.
     Galdos services will include the development of Web service-based architectures for the real time integration of geographic and sensor information, GML application schemas for sensor observations, and system performance analysis. Galdos' Engineering Services department assists organizations and government agencies move to an open-standards based IT infrastructure. In particular, Galdos offers extensive knowledge in the areas of GML, XML, and Web services technologies.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has selected GeoDecisions, a provider of geospatial information technology solutions for the transportation industry, to perform a review of the department's current Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) business process. GeoDecisions' business process review will provide Caltrans with an assessment of current HPMS business processes, an analysis of alternative process improvements, and a plan to implement recommended actions. The review will focus on processes for the collection, validation, and management of data related to non-state roads in California, which account for approximately 90 percent of the 169,000 miles of California's public roads. The results of the review will supplement Caltrans' ongoing initiative to improve the overall quality and cost-effectiveness of its annual HPMS submittal process.
     HPMS is a federal program for monitoring the state of the nation's highway system. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requires that each state department of transportation produce annual submissions of various public road data on the extent, condition, performance, use, and operating characteristics of highways. FHWA manages the HPMS as an information repository for the federal government. HPMS data is used as a resource for reporting to Congress on needs within the national highway systems, determining funding levels for federal highway programs, and apportioning federal highway funds.

U.S. federal government security teams used Intergraph's mobile resource management solution in support of security operations at the President's State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C. Intergraph provided the teams with an IntelliWhere-based system for real-time tracking of resources throughout the course of the event. IntelliWhere TrackForce was used to provide a map-based command and control interface, allowing visibility and management of deployed mobile resources.
     Intergraph mobilized a security solution using its Mobile Resource Management products to provide a flexible platform that includes GPS-based tracking and wireless communications via standard technologies, such as PDAs and smartphones, to ensure the project's success. The solution complements the broad range of Intergraph security capabilities being used in the Washington, D.C., area.
     During these operations, Intergraph provided support to operations command elements, as well as behind-the-scenes technical support. Intergraph business partners, Airo Wireless Media and T-Mobile, provided hardware and network support to the project. The same Intergraph team provided similar support for other key events in 2005, including the Presidential Inauguration and the State of the Union Address. Intergraph is continuing to work with the customer to define requirements for a permanent capability.

Wuhan University, China, the world's largest mapping university, has purchased an Intergraph Z/I Imaging DMC (Digital Mapping Camera). Leveraging some of the most advanced digital imagery available on the market, the university will be able to provide small-scale to large-scale digital images to customers. China's rapid infrastructure development has created a growing demand for large-scale, high-resolution imagery. To meet this demand, Wuhan University will use the Intergraph DMC to provide government agencies with precise, high-resolution digital imagery for planning, land use and transportation projects.

The Geospatial Solutions Division of Tadpole Technology Plc has signed an agreement with SembCorp Utilities (UK) Ltd, a SembCorp Industries group company, in which the intellectual property rights to a suite of GIS solutions are transferred to Tadpole. Under this agreement Tadpole Technology has the right to license and further develop these solutions, which are already established within the Process Industry sector. These solutions complement the division's existing geospatial expertise, to include Web-based development, thereby extending the range of geospatial solutions it is able to offer its customers.

The Podlasie Heritage Association (PHA) and ESRI Polska have initiated an educational project to introduce GIS technology to secondary school students in the Podlasie Province of Poland. The plan is to set up GIS clubs in the schools so students can learn how GIS can help in environmental conservation, cultural heritage preservation, and the sustainable development of their region. The students will be involved in building an integrated GIS database, which will include the cultural and natural resource information of Podlasie.
     The concept of GIS clubs at secondary schools in Podlasie was conceived approximately two years ago. At that time, PHA, a user of ESRI's GIS software, had begun a project to collect information about historic buildings and place-names throughout the Podlasie region. The PHA members invited teachers and their students to join in the project. The students and teachers agreed that the study stimulated their interest in research and made other academic subjects more engaging.
     The GIS club educational initiative will soon begin a pilot study project involving 13 schools in the Polish section of the Puszcza Bialowieska Euroregion. This region lies between the Republics of Poland and Belarus and, according to the World Wildlife Fund, contains the only remaining primeval forest in Europe. Students will use ESRI's ArcView 9.1 software to evaluate and record the traditional geographic names of the region. Their methodology will include the examination of existing maps and land register records, interviews with elderly residents to record the origins of local geographic place-names, and the recording of the results of their research on regional maps that they will develop. ESRI Polska is a supporting partner with PHA on the project.

Phase 2 of the AQUIFER project is close to completion. AQUIFER focuses on the development and demonstration of Earth observation-based products and services for supporting national authorities and international institutions in the management of two prominent, internationally shared ground water resources, aquifers in Africa, the SASS, and Iullemeden. Responsibility for project realization is sub-divided across the AQUIFER consortium that includes African as well as European AQUIFER partners under the leadership of GAF AG.
     The ongoing implementation of the project consists of three phases. The completion of AQUIFER phase 2 — the prototype phase — foresees now a review by all stakeholders and the subsequent necessary project adjustments before entering into the phase 3, which shall last till May 2007.
     The AQUIFER project, now approaching the completion of its prototype phase, can announce the following achievements: a consolidated list of required AQUIFER products and services as a result of several meetings and intense discussions with the AQUIFER users on requirements and expectations; prototypes products based on satellite imagery (limited in geographic coverage to the selected prototype areas) are generated and made available on the AQUIFER website; training and extensive on-site cooperation has been already performed with water management organizations as well as remote sensing institutes in Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Tunisia; ground truth campaigns were performed by our partners in Africa with participation from experts from Europe; programming and acquisition of optical and radar satellite data for the areas of interest is ongoing and to a considerable extend completed; in the frame of AQUIFER an ESA-funded airborne campaign "AquiferEx" — performed by the German Aerospace Establishment DLR — has mapped 2 test sites in Tunisia with hyperspectral and radar imagery; and the AQUIFER website is established and continuously updated to keep the public informed on the aims of AQUIFER, its status of achievements, latest news and on future planning. In the internal section a forum is provided for information exchange and discussion among the more than 20 AQUIFER project partners.

Autodesk Inc. has launched its Autodesk European Location Services Developer Program. This location-based services (LBS) program provides European developers with the resources and support needed to rapidly bring LBS applications and services to market. The LBS market is estimated to reach $200 million EUR by 2007, according to Frost and Sullivan, and wireless carriers around the world are location-enabling their networks to facilitate worldwide demand for LBS services such as social networking, gaming, personal navigation, and directions.
     Modeled on its successful U.S. program, this new program helps developers create LBS services using Autodesk's open standards platform to market their applications worldwide. Autodesk works with the most successful wireless carries in the world; including three of the five tier-one wireless providers in the United States.
     Additionally, the program offers a solid geo-services and location privacy management platform architecture, a standards-based application programming interface (API) for the Web and handsets, as well as technical documentation and support. Autodesk plans to foster location-based developer discussions, blogs, events and discussion groups for the community on an ongoing basis. The European program was created with developers' needs in mind by utilizing feedback from Autodesk's Developer Council, a selected group of LBS developers devoted to guiding and informing Autodesk about the tools needed to bring commercially successful applications to market.
     Specific aspects of the developer program include: free connectivity to hosted LocationLogic LBS platform; Application Programming Interfaces (APIs); Software Development Kit (SDK); dedicated support services; a network of carrier relationships; and a suite of geospatial services.


LeadDog Consulting, LLC has released a detailed GIS vector map of Tehran, Iran. LeadDog map products provide base level mapping, featuring numerous vector layers and attributes. Tehran City Streets is available in all major GIS formats. An Iran Major Roads and Highways product is available at a 1:250,000 scale with major roads, administrative boundaries, buildings, infrastructure and other points of interest.

TatukGIS has released the TatukGIS ASP.NET Internet Map Server (IS) product for Windows, with a trial version and mapping samples. This GIS Internet Server reflects the latest advancement of the TatukGIS engine and supports the same object API (2,300+ functions and properties) as the comprehensive TatukGIS Developer Kernel toolkit product. This includes support for geographic coordinate systems, topological operations, geocoding, routing, GPS tracking, SQL server database map layers, most GIS vector and image data formats, and much more.
     TatukGIS has also released the latest update of its Internet Map Server LITE product, with a simple API designed for non GIS developers. The IS LITE is now also based on the latest version of the TatukGIS GIS engine.
     Each license of the TatukGIS Developer Kernel toolkit (ActiveX version) now includes a perpetual development license for both the full Internet Server and Internet Server LITE products. A DK-ActiveX licensed developer can run the IS or IS LITE indefinitely in development mode and wait to purchase the IS or IS LITE license when the map server solution is ready for deployment.

Applanix is now shipping L2C-ready L1/L2 GPS receivers in its Position and Orientation System (POS) products, which are used as a component for the company's air, land, and marine integrated inertial / GPS geospatial solutions. The new GPS receivers have been built with the future capabilities of GPS in mind, allowing L2C functionality to be activated via a simple in-field feature upgrade. Users can now be ready to take full advantage of the L2C capabilities when available, without the need to invest in additional hardware.
     Anticipating the additional workload of more complex signals during acquisition and tracking, the L2C-capable receivers contain hardware and firmware to support the longer codes of the new GPS signal format. The L2C GPS signal has been designed for civilian use, and offers a stronger and more robust carrier phase differential solution for precise RTK positioning than current generation codeless L2 can provide. Used in conjunction with the original L1 GPS carrier signal, ionosphere delay and other distortions become more correctible, resulting in greater position, navigation and timing accuracy, and reliability. The L2C GPS signal will also offer better L2 signal to noise ratios because receivers can track the L2C code directly, and makes it easier to resolve and dramatically reduce multipath effects (incorrect position readings resulting from signal reflections).
     The first GPS L2C satellite started broadcasting in December 2005. Seven additional satellites are expected to launch over the next two to three years and a full satellite constellation is expected to be in operation within seven years. Applanix Corporation pioneered aided inertial navigation products for commercial survey applications and has been developing GPS-aided inertial position and orientation solutions as well as aerial digital sensor systems for civilian and government applications since 1991.


Galdos Systems Inc. and the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) are jointly sponsoring GeoWeb 2006 at the Morris J. Wosk Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, July 24-28. The event will unite GIS and the Internet to provide business opportunities, specifications, technology development, and business and policy models.
     GeoWeb 2006 is an outgrowth of the successful GML and Geo-Spatial Web Services Conference and GML Days, which were held from 2001 to 2005. Galdos Systems Inc. decided to broaden the conference scope to enrich the educational experience and move the world of Internet GIS and geographic information Web services into the future. This vision led them to change the conference name to "GeoWeb" and forge a partnership with GITA.
     The conference will include dedicated workshops on Geography Markup Language (GML), KML, MapPoint, LandXML, and OGC Web Services for GIS. The conference schedule will also include keynote speakers, panel sessions, product demonstrations, and educational sessions. The call for papers was issued on January 30 and prospective speakers are encouraged to submit abstracts by March 31.


Image Matters LLC, a provider of geospatial and semantic information technology solutions, has named Timothy J. Eveleigh, D.Sc., as Director of Defense and Intelligence Operations. His primary responsibilities will include leading business development efforts and special projects within the Defense and Intelligence sectors.
     Dr. Eveleigh brings more than 22 years of active duty, reserve, and contractor intelligence analysis and program management experience to this position, recently serving the Joint Staff's Deputy Directorate for Targets (JCS/J2T), where he led targeting automation programs and provided systems engineering, technology exploration, and program development services in support of the Military Targeting Committee. In addition, he has prior experience in leading large-scale geospatial-intelligence enterprise application development and implementation for the government and private sectors. Eveleigh received an M.S. in Remote Sensing / Geography from the University of Delaware, and recently completed a D.Sc. in Systems Engineering at George Washington University, where he remains part-time as an assistant professor of engineering.


TikGames, a digital gaming company and member of Autodesk's Location Based Services Developer Program, won Navteq's Global LBS Challenge at 3GSM this week in Barcelona, Spain. Their winning game, GeoUniverse, is powered by, and created on Autodesk's LBS Platform, LocationLogic. Autodesk is helping developers, tier-one wireless carriers, and end users by providing the platform, support and connections to bring LBS applications to market faster. Winners were chosen from three LBS categories: Entertainment & Leisure, Social Networking, and Navigation / Points of Interest Look Up / Traffic. TikGames' GeoUniverse is a mobile game that taps into the gaming trend of "geocashing" through GPS-enabled phones. Millions of "explorers" are currently searching the world for hidden treasures, known as caches. Individual users can create and submit their own caches and clues via mobile phone for others to find. Players can manage every detail of their trip, including mapping routes, checking elevation, and tracking sunrise and sunset, all by mobile phone.

Global Marketing Insights is available to perform customized analysis of the statistical data collected for the NOAA International Remote Sensing Survey. The survey database contains more than 2,000 pages of data extracted from 1,547 surveys relating to technological, political, economic and environmental trends impacting the worldwide remote sensing market.
     The NOAA Satellite and Information Service Division contracted Global Marketing Insights to conduct a research study of the international remote sensing market as it relates to aerial and satellite data technologies. Global Marketing Insights created a series of extensive online surveys covering issues related to eight sectors of the remote sensing market: aerial film, aerial digital, aerial sensors, satellites, commercial end users, value added hardware and software, academic, and government. Results of the report delivered to NOAA are posted, along with information concerning the data available for further analysis.
     With permission from NOAA, Global Marketing Insights has retained the raw data from the study for further processing. There are thousands of data points that have yet to be analyzed relating to economic, employment, purchasing, and revenue trends anticipated from 2005 to 2015. At a client's request, Global Marketing Insights is available to process this data for analysis by market sector, geographic region, across user groups, or other segmentation as needed. Results from market sectors are divided into the following data topics: Aerial Digital, Aerial Film, Aerial Sensor, Satellite, Commercial End User, Government, Software/Hardware, and Academic.

Linking faculty and staff research with the latest in mapping and database technology, the University of Massachusetts Boston has opened the Geographic Information Systems Core Research Facility to serve the needs of the academic community. Located in McCormack Hall, the facility will support campus researchers, colleges, and centers and institutes with a wide range of services under the direction of Joan N. Gardner, the founder and former president of Applied Geographics Inc., a Boston-based geographic information systems company. Assisting Gardner is Ellen Carney, Senior GIS Analyst. The mission of the Center is to outreach to investigators in all disciplines and all departments and lend technical expertise that will allow UMass Boston to pursue new avenues of research funding; engage external partners in research projects; advise of GIS related research; acquire, develop and evaluate data sets; and design and produce maps.

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