GIS Monitor Feb 22, 2001


-Autodesk Names LBS Product: Autodesk LocationLogic
-Oracle Offers Business Portal
-Mapping Hits Primetime Again
-3D Maps Coming to Your Phone
-Message in a Bottle, Internet Style
-Points of Interest
-New List at
-Week in Review
-Back Issues


Last month Autodesk announced its new division, Autodesk Location Services but waited for the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France to give its platform a name: Autodesk LocationLogic. There is little other new information, though I did enjoy the part of the press release that tells us what LBS is not. "To us, location-based services is not about cramming a map onto a cell phone. It's about delivering actionable information in an appropriate format at the point and moment of need," says Autodesk VP Joe Astroth.


Oracle announced its business portal, this week at AppsWorld in New Orleans. Calling it the "business person's home page" the company hopes to distinguish it from “personal portals.” The GIS industry is involved as MapInfo will be providing MiDirections. The FAQ also notes a VISA ATM locator that I believe is ESRI’s. These and other productivity tools such as package tracking and flight information are available for groups or businesses to mix and match for their own customizable portal.

Does Oracle really want to be in the portal business? I don’t think so. MSN, Yahoo and many others offer similar tools for free aimed at individuals. Other services such as provide “group” portals. Mostly, this is to be a showcase for Oracle partners and related technologies. For now, the service is free, but plans are to grow it into a subscription model.


On the heels of ESRI’s weekly GIS screen time on CBS’ The District, the West Wing will take on mapping issues in its Feb 28th episode. The fictional Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality will encourage the President to mandate use of the Peters Projection in maps used in schools across the country.

The Peters Projection map created by Dr. Arno Peters in 1974 aimed to show land areas in correct proportion and area. Like all projections which take various approaches to putting the round earth on the flat paper, it is a compromise. Many argue that it presents a more correct version of our world by revealing true country size. The Peters projection has been widely used outside the US. US acceptance has been slow.

Why was a press release issued to announce this episode? The press release included arguments from those who support the projection and a phone number to purchase a Peter’s Projection map. The source of the PR was ODT, Inc. ODT, Inc is a partner of George Simons International, a consulting firm specializing in diversity, intercultural management, and related issues. One of the tools, among the games and courses offered on GSI’s website, is the Peters Projection Map, that can be purchased from ODT, Inc.


Arcus Software of Finland thinks that 3D maps are the future. The company’s press release on their demonstrations at 2001 3GSM World Fair argues that 3D is far more appropriate for mobile mapping. The company’s solution, MobileMaps, delivers maps as a series of still pictures or - as technology develops - as a streaming video clip.

Akif Ali, President and CEO argues that 3D maps need less language specific information and that “3D-animation is … an optimal user interface for the small-sized phone” compared to 2D maps.

Like LBS movie trailers sent to handhelds, I fear this is a bit ahead of its time.


A GIS Monitor reader tipped me off to and their interesting way of breaking the Internet into meaningful geographies. organizes the world into “zons.” (Think of a long “o” and you have zones, which are basically cities.) The idea is to send messages to a zon hoping the recipient who lives in or visited the zon will read your message. Messages fall into several categories: I like you, I saw you while driving, I saw you commit a crime, where are you and for sale. The site is a geographically organized classified ad section.

The company notes its mission as: “to make zonagraphic messaging as popular as email or instant messaging; connecting people and their communities on a global scale.” The business model? Oops, it looks like they forgot something. Everything is free. So far, there are no advertisers.

How’s traffic? In other words, what is the likelihood you’ll find your high school friend or the cute fellow from the 88 bus? Not so hot. Messages posted for the zon of Chicago number 4 total for 2001. The busiest zon, Manhattan, boast 13 for the year. It’s not clear how many folks are reading these messages, but the total posts are around 1,900 since launch on December 8, 2000.

The site was inspired by a column in the Seattle paper, The Stranger, I Saw U, that tries to link up those who “missed each other” in the real world. The feature now runs in dozens of local papers.

It’s difficult to imagine e-mail or messaging to people you don’t know becoming as popular as communicating with people you do know. Further, because the site is so passive and has a single focus, only those looking to “be found” may visit. In contrast, even a classified column in a print newspaper will catch the odd browser looking for a used car in the next column.

I think has many challenges ahead.


-Autodesk Ventures purchased about 9% of a startup in February of last year. CapacityWeb, a site for selling manufacturing capabilities shut its site down last week after less than 20 months in business. With 150 manufacturers signed on in the first three weeks, Forbes called CapacityWeb “One of the 200 Most Promising B2B Web Companies.” Partners such as Vastera, and Cimmetry had signed on as well, but backer divine interVentures, inc. would not continue funding.

-I suppose this could have waited for April 1st but it’s just too funny. Dieceland claims it has a paper disposable cell phone and laptop. Beware: the inventor holds patents on these products. I can’t wait for the paper GPS receiver!

-Yahoo Tuesday launched Local Info, a directory for wireless phones. The service takes location specific content from Yahoo properties including travel, shopping and entertainment. Downside: you must key in your location! Clearly Yahoo is preparing for true LBS services down the road.

-Jupiter Media Metrix reports this week that 46% of consumers say that absolutely no form of compensation--such as a free service--would persuade them to receive advertising on their mobile phones or PDAs. That could make it hard for the whole wireless industry. On the other hand, SkyGo, a wireless ad vendor says in their preliminary report that more that 50% of users agree to the minimum number of ads and 60% say the ads are useful.


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Adena Schutzberg
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