GIS Monitor Mar 8, 2001
-Bluetooth for LBS
-Intergraph Gets Good News in Intel Case
-Autodesk Field Survey
-Lasso – Another Spatial Web Search
-Points of Interest
-New Lists at TenLinks.com
-Week in Review
This issue sponsored by:
I fell victim to a Nor’easter which hit New England this past week and did
not make it to GITA in San Diego. Still, I’ve been carefully monitoring
news from the show. As the snow falls outside my window, I observe at
least one theme.
The buzzword is not mobile or wireless as I expected, but asset tracking.
ESRI hooked up with AirTrack and Main Course to announce TerraTrak and
PortaTrak, respectively. The companies will offer services to track
vehicles and other portable assets. 186k Ltd chose GE Smallworld to
inventory its assets as it builds new infrastructure. While utilities and
others have needed to manage “stuff” before, it’s only recently that that
technology -- specifically technology tracking via GPS and cellular -- has
come of age.
BLUETOOTH FOR LBS
Despite the fanfare surrounding location-based services (LBS) and GPS
location determination, Ericsson has chosen to look at a much simpler
model: Bluetooth. The new platform, called Bluetooth Local Infotainment
Point (BLIP) is aimed at local, personal LBS challenges. Bluetooth may not
be able to pinpoint a location but the key element in Ericsson’s choice
may be that “close enough” is good enough. Bluetooth may fit the bill as
it is designed for short distance communications without wires.
Extending that idea to LBS means that when a device is “close enough” the
ad, or message is communicated to the Bluetooth enabled phone or handheld
device. One suggested use is Bluetooth-activated billboards that ask
nearby users if they are interested in further information, coupons, etc.
Ericsson is pursuing not only in the hardware for this solution, but also
in the development of content for delivery.
Because the underlying location determination is much simpler than using
GPS or cell tower triangulation, Bluetooth seems to be a simpler and much
less expensive way to deliver location-based services. The Bluetooth “box”
with a 30ft range will launch in June at about $500. I think privacy
activists might feel more comfortable with this type of “non-tracking.”
INTERGRAPH GETS GOOD NEWS IN INTEL CASE
Intergraph employees must be walking around with smiles on their faces
today after Thursday's ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal
Circuit that Intel does not have a right to use Intergraph’s patented
Clipper technology. This case will make it much easier for Intergraph to
collect on licensing monies or other remuneration should Intel be found
using Clipper technology in its Pentium chips. The court confirmed, “Intel
is not licensed under these [the Clipper] patents.”
Of course, Intergraph CEO James Taylor was happy. Taylor noted that the
future might hold recovery of “the value taken from our employees,
customers and shareholders by Intel’s actions." Intergraph shareholders
should be smiling this morning, too. Intergraph stock leapt to a
three-year high of $10 -- a rise of nearly 40% in a single day, putting
the INGR symbol in many online stock discussions.
Intergraph left the PC business in September 1999 and cited Intel’s
behavior as part of the reason. A patent infringement suit against Intel
by Intergraph in November 1997 covering several areas: illegal coercive
behavior, patent infringement, and antitrust violations. The case had
taken on a few twists. Judge Edwin Nelson at first claimed that Intel did
infringe on Intergraph patents but then reversed his own decision months
later. Intel claimed they had access to the patents via a relationship
with Fairchild Semiconductor. Intergraph had purchased the Clipper patents
and technology in a 1987 acquisition of Fairchild Semiconductor's advanced
Intel, for its part, has not yet responded. They did note however that the
suit only says that Intel is not licensed to use the patents. Spokesman
Chuck Mulloy maintained that Intel does “not believe the patents in
question are valid or have been infringed."
Intergraph plans to show that Intel has in fact used the technology and
will negotiate for repayment for its use. Speculations are that such
monies might total billions of dollars if Intergraph is successful. Others
point out that Intel will draw the battle out as long as possible to
lessen the likelihood of payment. Intergraph appears to be in a far less
precarious position than at the start of the suit, but the company has yet
to turn any significant profit in 2001.
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AUTODESK FIELD SURVEY
Autodesk rolled out its latest GIS product, Autodesk Field Survey. You may
not have noticed since it was announced at GITA amid a flurry of other
press releases. This product is worthy of note for a few reasons. First
off, it’s built on AutoCAD OEM 2000i. AutoCAD OEM is an embeddable,
licensed version aimed at developers. My sense is that the OEM program
never took off in a big way for Autodesk. The first product I recall using
an OEM version, was from Softdesk. It suffered from a very limited
interface since at that time Autodesk did not allow access to the command
line or much customization of the interface. I am assured that the 2000i
OEM used in Field Survey is far more open.
The second reason to take note of Field Survey is the price: $1,395, a
nice step down from full AutoCAD ($3,295). The idea is to aim this
lightweight product at smaller shops and those focusing on the field data
collection and verification. Field Survey has neither the price point nor
learning curve of Land Development Desktop ($$$$), making it more easily
accessible at several levels.
The third and perhaps most significant reason that Field Survey is worth a
look: it supports LandXML. LandXML is an encoding of XML to share land
planning data including terrain models, road alignments, and point data.
What other packages support LandXML? None at the moment, but Land
Development Desktop will soon.
I did a quick check on the progress of Intergraph and Bentley, both
involved in the LandXML project. And though I did find a USENET post from
an Intergraph employee from September of last year noting Intergraph’s
commitment, neither company had any mention of LandXML on their websites.
Of course, you can always share data from Field Survey with their products
the old fashioned way: using DWG files.
I recalled one software application that already fit well in this space:
Carlson Software’s Carlson Survey, based on AutoCAD OEM 14. My Autodesk
reps informed me that Carlson had in fact been involved with the
development of Field Survey. They suggested that Carlson would not be
upgrading their product further.
Little did I know that a press release from Uclid would turn into a
detective story. Uclid makes automated data capture tools for taking data
from scanned survey documents into CAD. They were announcing a partnership
with ESRI and mentioned NILS: “Because of the NILS project, more
communities find themselves faced with the prospect of moving from paper
records to a GIS,” claims UCLID Vice President of Software Development.
NILS project? I found the NILS website where I leaned:
The National Integrated Land System (NILS) is a joint project between the
BLM [Bureau of Land Management] and the USDA [US Department of
Agriculture] Forest Service in partnership with the states, counties, and
private industry to provide business solutions for the management of
cadastral records and land parcel information in a Geographic Information
System (GIS) environment. The goal of NILS is to provide a process to
collect, maintain, and store parcel-based land and survey information that
meets the common, shared business needs of land title and land resource
The project dates back to 1999 when ESRI joined as a partner. Right now,
no other partnerships are available. Both BML and USFS are both big ESRI
users. The plan was to develop a data model based on Federal Geographic
Data Committee (FGDC) work and integrate it into ESRI’s ArcInfo 8.1. The
solution would be open because the cadastral data model and requirements
for the extensions would be provided to the Open GIS Consortium through
the FGDC’s Cadastral Subcommittee.
So, who’s involved? ESRI, BLM, USFS, Oakland County, Michigan (1999 winner
an ESRI achievement award), Fairview Industries (who’ve worked on the
ArcGIS Parcel Model and Oakland County Michigan’s GIS), FGDC, and the
University of Maine. The ESRI-centricity of this project helps put recent
ESRI partnerships with Leica (survey equipment developer) and Uclid in
Professional Surveyor noted NILS several times in articles in the past
years or so, highlighting that documents were available for review, and
that one of the goals of LandXML was to integrate it into NILS. That
occurred to me, too. However there is no mention of NILS on the LandXML
page or vice-versa.
One positive step for this project is that the GeoCommunicator part of
NILS (a proactive Internet subscription (no fee) Web site for sharing
information about data and activities of interest to land managers) is to
be hosted by the Geography Network, which is committed to being Open GIS
While this may be short of conspiracy, I do think that the rest of us who
participate in the integration of surveying/GIS and use information from
USFS and BLM should be aware of the interests involved.
LASSO: ANOTHER SPATIAL WEB SEARCH
Just as brick and mortar stores can change over time, Web sites can too.
Between the time I found and reviewed LASSO, the company has removed their
fine geographic search application. Still, I share my thoughts, since I
think this is (was?) an exceptional example of web mapping, searching and
I’ve been less than pleased with most of the geographic search engines
I’ve visited. But, now I have a keeper: Lasso.com. LASSO first asks that
you “Lasso” your area of interest. It then zooms in showing the center of
your search so you can adjust it. You also get radius circles showing 200
km distances from that point.
Next you key in the search term. I “Lassoed” Boston, then searched on
“kite.” Up came 25 results on a list. As I passed the mouse over one of
the dots on the map locating a hit, it was highlighted in the list. And,
highlighting one on the list, lit up the dot on the map.
Another nice touch: the radius ring colors are matched to the list. Those
hits in the inner yellow circle, within 100km on the map, are in a yellow
backed part of the list. The hits in the blue ring (100-200 km) are in a
blue backed part of the list. Clicking on an entry brings me NOT to the
site, but to a quickly drawn detail map with address and phone, and web
link if available. Map data are from GDT and NAVTECH and are very
attractively and clearly drawn.
The site boasts over 25 million business listings in the Canada and the
US, plus over 25,000 websites worldwide. LASSO was founded in September of
1999, and is a privately owned, Canadian-based company. The company
licenses their proprietary technology to ISPs, portals, e-commerce
m-commerce and private companies.
POINTS OF INTEREST
-Intergraph released MGE 8.0. The release includes numerous fixes and
enhancements and was certified against Windows 2000, SQL Server 2000 and
Oracle 8.1.7. The MGE Data Client incorporates the GeoMedia 4.0 read/only
data servers and is the first release of the Oracle Object Model data
server with MGE. It supports MicroStation 7.1 (MS/J I believe) and drops
support for MS 5.5 (MS SE I believe). Just the fact that the file
describing the release is called “fixes” suggests this is a maintenance
-More new domains are available this week as a new idealab!-funded
company, New.net rolls out .store, .firm, .mp3, .pic, .movie, .game,
.sport, .kids, .chat, .xxx, .euro and .duh. The company, like other
alternative top-level domains discussed in a previous issue, rely on
alternative root servers. New.net hopes to use a browser plug-in to enable
access for those who’d like it. They are also negotiating with many
mid-level ISPs to support their new domains. Idealab is responsible for
several well-known dead .coms including etoys, eve.com and refer.com. I
don’t expect this one to fare well either.
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