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United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation
A reader pointed me to the homepage of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, an organization about which I knew nothing. The homepage boasts the Foundation is "receiving a tremendous amount of interest
The organization members "share a mission focus around the development and application of geospatial intelligence data and geo-processing resources to address National Security objectives." The mission and vision statements reveal educational objectives for government and practitioners (seminars, panels, events, etc.) and for the public (providing materials to K-12 and college scholarships, etc.). In its educational materials the Foundation promises it "shall not espouse policies or positions the accomplishment of which may only be achieved by the passage or defeat of legislation."
The Foundation will "operate exclusively for charitable and educational purposes," that is, as a "Section 501(c)(3)" organization. The requirements of that designation state that the organization may not engage in lobbying to any great extent and may not participate at all in campaign activity.
The organization has a Board of Directors who approved a set of bylaws on February 8th. The bylaws set up membership levels and governance that are eerily similar to the Open GIS Consortium (OGC, for which I consult). For example, there are five kinds of memberships: corporate, government, individual (OGC does not have individual members), affiliate, and academic. Each one has sub-classes that put dues on a sort of sliding scale. For corporate members, first year dues range from $10,000 to $60,000 with annual renewals from $7,500 to $30,000. Organizationally, there's a Strategic Advisory Committee, a Planning Committee, and a Technical Committee exactly parallel to OGC.
There is a long list of potential members. I use the term potential as, according to the website, these organizations that have shown "specific intent to join" but apparently have not yet done so. Potential Strategic Corporate Partners (the top level dues-payers) include: Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), BAE SYSTEMS, Raytheon, General Dynamics, ESRI, Ball Aerospace, Booz Allen Hamilton, DigitalGlobe, and Oracle. Lower level potential members include ITT/Kodak and Harris. There's also a list of "interested" companies with quotes from their communications such as "positively disposed" and "very interested and looking at budget." Those comments seem to me to be company confidential, so I'm surprised organizations have allowed them to be shared in this way. The only federal group noted among the interested is the Department of Homeland Security.
GEOINT as Rallying Point
The Foundation seems to be running GEOINT 2004 (last year's was titled GEO-INTEL 2003, but the name has been changed) and notes it has secured a venue for the event this fall in New Orleans. By conference time, the Foundation hopes to gather 100 members.
Upon further exploration, it seems USGIF was launched out of last year's GEO-INTEL event. In fact, nearly all the sponsors of the 2003 events are on the "potential members" list or the "interested list," save several smaller players and Autodesk and NASA.
GEO-INTEL 2003 was hosted by the Spatial Technology Industry Association (STIA, which is a lobbying organization, specifically a 501 (c) (6) or "business league" organization). STIA is holding its meeting in Florida, September 26-29.
What's It All About?
I think there are a few things going on. First, this group seems to want to run the conference, which from all accounts was quite successful last year, without perhaps, the burden of STIA's mission/vision. Second, I suspect that this type of an investment from private companies can drive interest/funding/purchases/visibility for geospatial intelligence, even though the work is geared toward education. The idea may be that pooling resources is more effective than each company doing its own outreach.
The part that's disquieting to me, at least without more information, is the idea that this organization is going to provide K-12 materials. While I fully support geography and GIS in education, I think the intelligence aspect can be saved for college level work. Let's leave the "little kids" to study bugs and bunnies and other age appropriate geographic issues in their communities.
NGA Ends Talks with Space Imaging
Last week, while the world was focused on a train station in Spain (right, courtesy Space Imaging) the Rocky Mountain News reported that "secret" talks between the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) and Space Imaging for a part of the NextView contract had "collapsed." That news was rather surprising to me, considering NGA has suggested for some time its vision that there be two commercial companies available to provide imagery to the government.
I contacted Mark Brender, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Space Imaging, who explained that negotiations had been underway since February 10 of this year. Last week "NGA terminated all discussions," he said. Brender noted that the company has requested the reasons for the terminations in a letter to NGA, but offered that "a business case could not be closed for us or them." Space Imaging, like competitor DigitalGlobe, does not build satellites for NGA, but rather, offers NGA capacity and other access to them.
Even without a piece of NextView, the company is riding high on last year's more than $200 million in revenues and a healthy IKONOS satellite. Still, Brender notes, "NextView has always been integral to our business plan."
And, Space Imaging is not out of the running yet. NGA, he noted, may release a second Request for Proposals (RFPs) for the NextView contract in the next few months. That would allow the current players including ORBIMAGE, and other perhaps unknown parties, to bid. As for Space Imaging, Brender says, "we will certainly look carefully at the RFP and if we feel it's a good opportunity, we may well bid."
I reached NGA for comment late Wednesday. The spokesperson acknowledged that talks with Space Imaging had begun in late January. Meetings began at that time because funding had become available and the original RFP was about to expire at the end of the month. The goal was to set up a contract "just like" the one awarded to DigitalGlobe last fall. The spokesperson made it clear that NGA's goal had always been to have a second vendor involved.
The talks did end March 10, but the spokesperson was quick to point out that it was not to be taken as an "adverse inference" toward Space Imaging. Basically "we couldn't reach agreement." He confirmed a new RFP is in the works, but its scope and timing are not yet set. It will be publicly announced, so stay tuned.
Department of Corrections
I received several letters regarding my misplacement of Rocky's run in the film of the same name. As an example, here's one from Charles Dingman.
"It was the Art Museum's steps Rocky went up, not the public library's."
My apologies for the error, especially to the Philadelphians and Rocky fans who wrote.
I reported in February about GITA's new conference pricing policy. Conference registration varies based on if out-of-town visitors choose a hotel room in the "room block" or outside. (Those who live within 80 miles of the convention center receive the lower rate.) I noted that "I believe[d] this was the case last year." That is incorrect. This is the first year there is a differential at the GITA conference. And, be warned, when you go to pick up your registration packet, if you registered saying you were in the room block, and you do not produce the required hotel room key, you will be charged "out of room block" prices.
I received several letters on the Deep Web. Derek Bedarf shared his experience with online catalogs.
"You mentioned Google's ability to 'sort images (if only by name not content),' which I find very useful even in its limited fashion. But just the other day, while surfing around Google, I discovered that Google also has a portion that allows the user to search the content of print catalogs. The search returns the scanned image of the catalog page with the search words highlighted.
"I probably wouldn't need to search in this way though, since a regular Web search would return enough online vendors that I could order the product from, skipping the step of reviewing the scanned paper catalog. But the technology that allows this can be extended to other print media and allow for Web searches of all kinds."
Derek and I went on to consider what that catalog technology might mean for maps. Can you imagine scanned maps on the Web, with the searched location highlighted?
Chris Rewerts at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shared another Deep Web resource.
"OK, to the point: another deep web portal of interest is a part of the firstgov.gov portal - science.gov - take a look at their deep web search page designed for fed-type scientists."
An anonymous reader responded to my comments regarding press releases as "what vendors want you to know" and my requests for Kudos and Conundrums, anonymous or otherwise.
"I hope you get lots of positive feedback from people who ARE willing to be identified. About the way you cover real news, and not just press releases. I rely on you for perspective, and so does my boss - and he's a big shot in a software company. Thanks!"
Points of Interest
Can't Get Enough? The GIS Monitor website now includes daily postings of Points of Interest. To keep GIS Monitor mailings to a reasonable size, you'll find just "the best of" the week's stories here.
NAVTECH? No! NAVTEQ. I suggested some years ago that Navigation Technologies might change its name. (I made the comment after DigitalGlobe took on that moniker to replace EarthWatch.) The data company listened, but opted for a "contemporary spelling" with a "q" at the end. The "q" is hip, but I have to suggest that a leading "q" is cooler than a trailing one. Consider Quiznos (a sandwich company) or the fact that both Quentin Pascal, who I knew at college, and Gary Quinton, who periodically writes to GIS Monitor, are known as "Q."
Goodbye Jerry. If you are a serious reader of GIS magazines, you'll know the name Jerry Dobson. He's been writing for GeoWorld since it was GIS World, and made the switch from newsletter to magazine format. I for one have been reading his columns since then, circa 1991. This month he penned his last column for GeoWorld and will begin a new phase of his career bringing GIS and geography to "society at large." I can't question the need for that type of work for a minute. Best of luck!
A .mobile Domain? A group of vendors involved in mobile communications have proposed (New York Times, registration required) a new top level domain (like .com or .org) to ICANN, the keepers of Internet naming. The idea is to provide a domain that would specifically cater to mobile devices - have quick downloads, limited graphics, etc. The vendors include just those you might expect: HP, Microsoft, Vodafone, Nokia, and others. Applications for new domains were due March 16 and should .mobile (or perhaps .m, as some have suggested) go through, it might be up and running by early 2005. Such a domain could play a key role in growing demand for location-based services.
Another "Celebrity" Public GISer Joins Private Sector. PlanGraphics Inc. has hired Alan Leidner, who led GIS technology in New York City government for 35 years and became an in-demand speaker after 9/11. He joined the company as a senior associate. Leidner joins Governor Geringer at ESRI and former Oklahoma City Fire Chief John Hansen at Autodesk as public GIS stars who have moved to the private sector.
Google Goes Local. Google introduced its Google Labs-created Google Local on Tuesday. Using the tool as integrated into the main Google search page plays out this way. Key in "bookstore" and a ZIP code and results will focus on that geography. Findings are grouped under a "Local results" title at the top of listings and include the distance and compass bearing to each, along with address and phone. From there further details, maps, and broader searches are possible. The "regular" non-local results for the query appear below. For now, Google does not sell ads via Google Local, but that's expected later that year. Analysts suggest that while Google will compete with Yahoo's recently released SmartView, the big battle will be with traditional print Yellow Pages.
Kudos and Conundrums
Have you seen something in our industry worthy of kudos? Or that makes you scratch your head? Send it on. You may take credit or remain anonymous.
Kudos (concepts we applaud)
DARPA Race: No Prize Money Awarded. In the end, fifteen robot vehicles began the race, but none got more than seven miles in. There were roll-overs, fires, and worse. Front runner Sandstorm, from Carnegie Mellon, went 7.6 miles, just topping the SciAutonics II team entry, which went 6.7 miles. I suppose there are more than a few things that, at least today, demand human intelligence. The interesting part: the entrants, and backers, spent millions on the race. Might there have been a better way to use the money to move the technology forward? I really don't know. However, I do know the thrill of the hobbyist is amazingly strong. If you are skeptical, you are invited to tour my basement...
GPS Niche Markets Grow. MotionBased is an upcoming online offering for endurance athletes (and others) to track their progress via GPS, receive analysis and potentially share their adventures with others. The website doesn't promise better times, but rather offers "a new dimension" to training and outdoor fitness. Basically, you strap a GPS to yourself or your equipment (bike, kayak, backpack) and off you go. Upon returning the data is uploaded and graphs, charts, maps, etc. are produced. The map backgrounds include street, photo, topo, and elevation layers. One other goodie: members are encouraged to share their routes creating an online library of potential paths. A public beta is scheduled for May. Reader and mountain biker Matt passed on this tip.
Conundrums (concepts we question)
GPS Overkill for Pet Tracking? PetTrax uses radio signals to track lost pets. The collar holds the transmitter and once a dog is AWOL the owner must call the company to activate a human search party. The searcher will cover about 10 miles around the last sighting, and ideally recover the dog within an hour. All the various services may bring the cost up to well, that of GPS!
News by ZIP Code. Topix is a website that offers news about your location of interest. Type in a ZIP Code, get back news stories from all over--about or with reference to that area. My first visit wasn't that helpful. I read pretty much the same set of stories, only from a Montana paper and a UK paper. I would have done as well by going to the Boston Globe website. Others who toast the website say it does better with smaller towns.
Week in Review
Pictometry has announced a partnership with Intermap Technologies.
Contracts and Sales
Woolpert LLP was recently selected by the North Table Mountain Water and Sanitation District, Golden, Colo.; to create a water/sewer system inventory.
Michael Baker Corp. secured a potentially lucrative contract to manage a flood-map project for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Its engineering unit, Michael Baker Jr. Inc., had successfully completed negotiations with FEMA, a part of the Department of Homeland Security. The contract has a maximum value of $750 million.
Spectrum North Carolina, LLC (SNC) a photogrammetry, LiDAR, and GIS services firm, has been awarded a contract with the Lower Savannah Council of Governments (LSCOG) to produce digital color orthophotography for Allendale, Barnwell, and Bamberg Counties as well as a portion of Aiken County.
Telcontar announced that MobileAria, a subsidiary of Delphi, has selected Telcontar's Drill Down Server as the spatial platform for its FleetOutlook fleet management system.
Z/I Imaging Corporation has extended its suite of ImageStation photogrammetry applications to include support for imagery from the STARIMAGER Photographic System, a helicopter-borne, three-line scanner (TLS) system. The Japanese corporation, STARLABO, developed STARIMAGER. The company also released software enhancements for its line of end-to-end digital photogrammetric products. The enhanced release of Z/I Imaging photogrammetry products is now being shipped at no additional charge to customers subscribing to Z/I Imaging's maintenance program.
Definiens Imaging GmbH announces the release of eCognition Professional 4.0, the latest version of its unique software for object-oriented image classification.
Autodesk's Envision 8 GPS Extension provides access to GPS data when combined with Trimble GPS Pathfinder Systems. DLT Solutions, Autodesk's master government partner, announced a business partner agreement with Trimble and will resell Pathfinder.
Cary and Associates of Longmont, Colo., announces the release of the third edition of its market report "Geotechnology Business Opportunities with Government."
IONIC Software announced the latest release of RedSpider Web 3.1, an out-of-the-box, easily-deployable, configurable portfolio of OpenGIS compliant spatial Web services.
Earth Resource Mapping (ERM) has released the beta of its ECW JPEG 2000 Software Development Kit (SDK). The SDK enables application developers to add support for ECW and JPEG 2000 image files and is an upgrade to the existing ECW SDK. The final release is expected soon.
Mapping Solutions LLC announced the release of version 2.0 of Map-In-A-Box for MapInfo Professional. This new release includes street-level routing and proximity using the Microsoft MapPoint routing engine. The PR touts USGS imagery in the box, but it's really accessible via TerraServer.
Navigation Technologies, sorry, NAVTEQ, now offers a map of Mexico City.
ASPRS celebrates its 70th anniversary at the 2004 Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, May 23-28.
The 2004 "Mapping the News" conference will take place May 14-15 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
GISMAP 2004 (Geographic Information Systems Mapping in Asia and the Pacific) will be held June 7-9 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Board of Directors for the 17th Annual GIS in the Rockies Conference issues its call for papers with an invitation to come share, experience, and explore the "Worlds of Opportunity" this exciting industry has to offer. The Conference will be October 6-8, 2004 at the Plaza at the Mart, Denver.
Abstracts are to be submitted online. Deadline for submission of abstracts is April 16, 2004.
Cheryl L. Huber was recently named marketing manager at GeoDecisions, a leader in the information technology industry that specializes in geospatial solutions.
Sanborn named Jay Tilley executive vice president of programs and products for the Colorado Springs office. Tilley will be responsible for overseeing Sanborn's digital camera program, as well as managing advanced product development and implementation for the company. He comes from Resource21.
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