GIS MONITOR, March 21, 2002
Special GITA Issue
- GITA 2002: General
- Interview: IntelliWhere
- Interview: Autodesk
- Sessions: Worth Your
- Tour of the Floor
Departments: Points of Interest, Business Notes, Letter, Week in
Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe
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The GITA (Geospatial Information Technology Association) hosted its
25th annual conference and trade show in Tampa this week. Attendance
seemed lower than in previous years with unofficial estimates ranging
from 600 to 1,000 end users and perhaps 1,500 total. I never did get an
official figure. Despite lower attendance, one vendor I spoke had a
positive spin: "numbers are down but quality is up, " He
argued that the less serious attendees of previous years stayed home and
those honestly looking for solutions were roaming the floor. Other
vendors echoed that thought.
The floor was large and filled with a good many large booths. Notably
absent: Bentley, LizardTech, ERM and Enghouse. The first two are perhaps
focusing on other things around now. Bentley's focus is… MicroStation
V8, Viecon? I'm not sure, but GIS hasn't been a top priority judging by
the company's marketing. As for LizardTech, money woes and the success
of DejaVu, their document format, may be putting MrSID in the back seat.
Enghouse, as of April 2000, has refocused on acquisitions to grow and
expand its breadth. Present, but unexpected, was MapInfo.
MapInfo and several other vendors split their teams between GITA and
CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) show that
was held in Orlando during the same week. I didn't get there, but you
can read Joe Francica's article at Directions Magazine.
Several people asked me what the "hottest" thing on the
floor was. I have to report that I didn't run into any earth shattering
technology. I did however see a lot more of the "same kinds of
solutions" which suggests to me that these past few uncertain
months have been a chance for companies to play catch up, if needed.
The Open GIS Consortium (OGC) held a treasure hunt of sorts
encouraging attendees to visit 11 vendors showing interoperable
solutions. [Ed. Note: OGC is a client of ABS Consulting Group, my
consulting company]. That, and ESRI's traditional partner hunt, along
with some virtual golf at a booth just outside the hall, were the only
real marketing gimmicks. No one gave away a car, but there were the odd
iPAQ and Xbox drawings.
News from CTIA (Directions
====== a message from our sponsor ===============
Leica Geosystems provides total, end-to-end solutions for the GIS and
Mapping industries. Its GIS & Mapping Division offers quality
airborne data acquisition, geographic imaging, GPS/GIS and LIS products
On Monday I sat down with Lee Finniear, managing director of
IntelliWhere and Majdi Zahran, the company's marketing manager for an
update on Intergraph's spun off location services division. Their candor
was quite refreshing. Lee reinforced his statements of last June that
hundreds of vendors could provide solutions in the consumer markets;
IntelliWhere wanted to focus on the business applications of the
technology. In the consumer market, the carriers are looking for ways to
increase our cell phone bills by having callers use more units, and if
these are SMS messages sending location information, that's just fine.
Fancier networks are all the rage for the dreamers, but says Finniear
MMS (multimedia messaging service) and EMS (enhanced messaging service)
on today's, or near term bandwidth improvements, provide enough
"power" for most simple consumer applications.
On the other hand, it's the highly analytical, business applications,
Finniear feels, where the money is. And, he cites several good reasons
why: there are not so many players in the market, businesses are more
willing to purchase the higher end handsets and handhelds required for
field use, businesses already KNOW the value of data in the field, and
privacy issues of tracking are less of a concern when a worker is on the
The "occasionally connected" vs. "always
connected" issue is real for field workers. Part of the allure of
products like OnDemand, Finniear argues, is that its vectors retain
intelligence when the connection is broken. That is not true of raster
We also discussed the difference between field solutions of five
years ago compared with those of today. Five or more years ago, Finniear
explains, we began taking data to the field using ruggedized tablets or
regular laptops loaded with data CDs. That did and still does work fine
for many applications. But the issue of data persistence - how long data
doesn't change - rears its head more and more in electric, gas and
telecommunications networks. Whereas it may be okay to update the road
database of a town every few months, an electricity network may be
changing every few seconds. That's why the "always connected"
and "occasionally connected" solutions are so appealing to
The conclusion of the article covers transactions, pricing of
OnDemand and a rebuttal regarding my comments about IntelliWhere's
marketing of OnDemand as "easy to use, stable and performs."
The complete article is at: http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/articles/comment/032102GITA1.htm
Tuesday morning I met with Larry Diamond the Vice President of the
GIS Division at Autodesk. Diamond has held a number of positions at
Autodesk including in the AutoCAD Group, GIS Group, and Worldwide
Engineering. He took over the GIS group when Joe Astroth slid over to
head up location services. Diamond reiterated his arguments from the
recent Autodesk Investor Day webcast suggesting that now is the time to
do more with data. By "do more" he means that data should be
used it in more ways: saving money and making money in particular. For
opportunities, he used the example of an estimate from the National
Association of Civil Engineers that, based on the "D" grade of
American infrastructure, it would cost some $1.5 trillion dollars to get
roads and bridges up to safe standards. If some 1/100 of that is
software, he argued, Autodesk would do quite well.
Autodesk's GITA press release on homeland security highlighted two
applications built on MapGuide by third party developers. With those
products as a starting point, Diamond pointed out that Autodesk is well
positioned to participate in infrastructure assessment, remediation and
24/7 monitoring. Emergency response, the fourth segment, as Autodesk
views it, is certainly within their realm of possibility, but is not a
company focus at this time. The mention of partners, Focus Corporation
and FloorView LLC, developed the applications cited in the press
release, was a breath of fresh air for me. Autodesk's GIS group, of late
especially, has appeared to turn away from developers.
I suggested my take on the developer situation to Diamond who noted
that in Europe, for example, third party developers account for some 80%
of Autodesk Map sales. He notes that is in part due to the product not
being localized. The hooks are coming in future releases and that work
is to be done in country by partners.
Diamond went on to outline the three new "series" coming
out. The Civil Series is out. Later this year we'll see the Map Series (Autodesk
Map, Raster Design and some new technology) and the OnSite Series (MapGuide,
OnSite View, OnSite Enterprise, and some new technology). At least some
of the new technology is expected to have some resemblance to the demo
provided at Microsoft's Visual Studio.NET rollout and is still under
wraps. I think the .NET strategy will reopen the doors for developers.
The new series, to my eyes, are a bit of a marketing stunt, but
perhaps more of a tease to pull the wary into the subscription program
Autodesk has been building. I'll suggest that it's mentally easier to
buy into a new payment model when one is buying a "new"
product rather than to switch over on an existing product. One more note
on subscriptions: I pushed Diamond to the wall asking why it took
Autodesk so long to get on board with a subscription program (something
that's been part of ESRI and Bentley for years). "I don't
know," he said. I've got to respect an executive who can admit to
The conclusion of the article covers the status of GIS Design Server,
my sense that some of Autodesk's remarks are bit out of date and what I
found interesting and disappointing about the latest releases of
Autodesk Map and MapGuide. The complete article is available at:
Mar 18 - Autodesk Technology Used in Homeland Security http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031802Autodesk.htm
SESSIONS: WORTH YOUR TIME?
I did get to a few sessions. I was disappointed (after getting up
early) that Jim McGeough of Digital Earth Systems would not be speaking
about location-based services since he was out of the country. However,
I was lucky to select instead Stan Weber's discussion about managing
user expectations. Weber, who was an Associate Principal of Convergent
Group, now runs his own consulting business. One of the truly great
things about his talk was that, except for one small section, it was
applicable to any type of change, not just the introduction of a new or
updated GIS. Look out for Stan: he is an excellent speaker.
For balance I also attended an end-user presentation from Doug Klocko
of Allegheny Power about building a mobile system to perform pole
audits. I, for one, didn't know that those who own utility poles
"rent out" space to other utilities - phone, cable TV, etc.
And, if somehow a "foreign company" places an attachment on
your poles, you are entitled to collect money. So, it's very important
to know what's on your poles.
In the case of Allegheny, that meant having a look at the 1.6 million
poles that help serve the company's 1.7 million customers. Klocko
pointed some lessons learned, the most important of which, to me, was
that some experience in mobile applications before putting this one out
gave them a far better chance at succeeding. Before developing and
deploying the pole audit application, the company had used mobile
computers, moved to mobile GIS, and mobile work management.
The conclusion of the article covers the panel on interoperability in
the New York City disaster and the closing Giga-panel with industry
leaders. The complete article is at:
TOUR OF THE FLOOR
I set out to fill in some gaps in my knowledge of the industry and
ran into Kathy Covert, the secretary and acting executive director of
the GeoData Alliance. I'm the first to admit that the organization has
puzzled me in the past. The Alliance's purpose statement "to foster
trusted and inclusive process to enable the creation, effective and
equitable flow, and beneficial use of geographic information" never
quite made sense. However, when Covert explained it as addressing the
challenges we face in sharing information, the purpose seemed more
appealing. And, she was quick to point out that the goals are far
broader than solving these problems. The good news is that the process
the Alliance will use, an inclusive one with no formal leadership, is
well defined and there are topics to address. I'm very anxious to see
the results of this process when aimed at a specific task.
I also had a look at E-City Software, another company I've heard of,
but didn't feel I understood. To make sense of E-City's maps think of
the map of your (or your child's) college. All of the ones I've ever
seen are 3-D, looking down from an angle. That way you can see the
shapes of the buildings. These maps are always pretty, and quite useful.
Now, imagine your city mapped that way, but with the buildings colored
in their true colors. Some important buildings will have the correct
roofs and details. More ordinary ones may be simple 3-D rectangles.
Grass is green and water blue and the map has an artistic, but not
cartoony feel. That's what an E-City maps looks like.
How are these made? Take 3-D city data, orthos and other, often
existing material, add a one-day video fly over, some clever software
and artists and viola! In 6-8 weeks a city of under a million can be
mapped this way. Who wants these maps? Two cities in Canada have
invested in the maps as economic development tools. As one rep's spouse
put it, "that's a map I can understand." Or, in other words,
it's 3-D for the rest of us - simple to grasp and lovely to look at.
And, since much of the data already exists, prices are not as high as
one might expect. I'll nominate E-City's maps as the prettiest I saw on
Any*GIS ads, from Hitachi Software Global Technology, exploded onto
the Web a month or so ago. This is the same company that brought the
world image editing/viewing software for AutoCAD and other imagery
solutions. Now, the development team in Japan has developed a tool to
share varied GIS data via a server. Not a true "boxed"
product, but one that an integrator might implement, the product is a
server that can publish data formats including DWG, shape, Oracle
Spatial and imagery. There are three clients that can then access the
data: an AutoCAD client, a lightweight Web viewer client and a more
robust desktop GIS like "standard client."
I like the idea of contrasting this solution with GeoMedia, which is
a desktop tool that can access those formats (Intergraph calls them
warehouses). This is a two-tier system and puts the burden of accessing
the data on the desktop user. Any*GIS, in contrast, is three tier in
that the Any*GIS server sits between the client and the data files. That
puts the burden of managing access on the server and may be appealing to
organization with centralized information technology systems. One more
differentiator in the marketplace: Any*GIS uses the OpenGIS Simple
Feature Specification as the interface for data moving in either
direction between the server and client.
The conclusion of the article covers EnerQuest, a LIDAR firm,
Intergraph's WMS Viewer and EarthScan, an imagery focused service
provider. The complete article is at:
POINTS OF INTEREST
- The GITA Conference News (aka, the Show Daily) had some guest
writers from "three respected geospatial publications:" Glenn
Letham from GeoCommunity, Jim Engelhardt from GeoSpatial Solutions and
Josh Borde from GeoWorld. Nice job, gentlemen.
- Oddest thing I saw at the conference? At the publication table were
all kinds of utility and GIS publications. Most out of place was the
latest issue of CADENCE with feature article: Taking Stock of MCAD.
- Vindigo this week announced its first Palm based subscription
product, which offers more detail on local eateries and entertainment.
The still-available free version will have more limited capabilities.
The company offered a "for-fee from the start" Microsoft
compatible version last year. The company hopes to see a profit this
CellPoint has concluded preliminary agreements to eliminate
short-term debt held by Castle Creek Technology Partners and all other
debt holders. The company's stock resumed trading last Thursday.
Trimble announced that it has signed an agreement to expand its
relationship with CompassCom Inc. to serve as an Automatic Vehicle
Location (AVL) value-added reseller for the public safety market.
PlanGraphics along with the City of New York and the Center for the
Analysis of Spatial Information (CARSI) of Hunter College, helped
sponsor "Charting Ground Zero: Before and After" an exhibition
at New York City's Woodward Gallery. The exhibition, which ran for the
entire month of February, featured the role of modern map making in the
post-September 11 disaster recovery. The exhibit will be traveling the
US and later this year, Europe. This sounds like a nice opportunity to
highlight GIS to friends and neighbors.
Spot Image and ImageONE have signed a three-year channel partnership
agreement that gives ImageONE exclusive rights to sell SPOT satellite
products and services to customers in the Japanese national security
The OGC has issued a Call for Participation / Request for Quotation (CFP/RFQ)
for the Second Thread of the OGC Web Services Initiative.
Trimble and Caterpillar will form Caterpillar Trimble Control
Technologies LLC, a joint venture to develop the next generation of
advanced electronic guidance and control products for earthmoving
machines in the construction, mining and waste industries.
ESRI and Tele Atlas North America showed off their new demo that
wirelessly accesses web-based data for a location-based services (LBS)
solution at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)
Conference this week. It uses ESRI technology and Tele Atlas map data,
and the Geography Network. SignalSoft built SignalSoft City at CTIA,
complete with a hotel, café, restaurant and movie theater in its CTAI
booth. The company's LBS demo illustrated how mobile services enabled by
location provide mobile operators with new, revenue-generating services.
Also at CTIA, Autodesk Location Services announced the launch of a
developer program for location-aware wireless applications and services
built on the Autodesk LocationLogic 2 platform.
ESRI and Miner and Miner announced that Alliant Energy has gone into
production using ArcGIS 8.1. Also, that Reliant Energy Entex has
completed its implementation of ArcGIS 8.1.
DigitalGlobe announced that on March 11, it commenced commercial
operations through the DigitalGlobe reseller community.
Farallon Geographics Inc. announced that it has been selected by
Oracle Corporation to be an initial beta tester of the updated Spatial
option for Oracle9i Release 2.
Sanborn announced that the company was chosen by Calaveras County,
California, to provide color orthophotos for the county.
Logica announced that its integrated Work Management Information
System (WMIS) is in full production at City Public Service of San
Antonio (CPS). The system integrates with SAP's Financial Information
System & Materials Management System, and Bentley's GIS.
Geographic Data Technology Canada announced the release of Dynamap
Canada Transportation, the company's first routable Canadian street and
address database product.
DMTI Spatial announced that GDS & Associates Systems Ltd. (GDS)
has joined DMTI Spatial's worldwide Business Partner Program.
American Electric Power Company has successfully gone into production
with its GE Network Solutions PowerOn Outage Management System pilot
Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions today announced a software grant
to Fort Hays State University in Kansas for integrating GeoMedia
technology into the university's introductory, intermediate, and
advanced (GIS) coursework.
GE Network Solutions announced that Hughes Tele.com has chosen its
Network Inventory software, working with GE Network Solutions
world-class partner InfoTech Enterprises Ltd, to manage the physical
infrastructure of its fiber-optic network.
Frederick's of Hollywood, the lingerie retailer, has chosen geoVue,
for professional services and software solutions for the growing
company's market planning and site selection needs.
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. announced that the company's
Geographic Information Products Group has secured a contract with the
Iowa Department of Natural Resources to provide high resolution digital
orthophotography for the entire State.
PCI Geomatics announced the appointment of John Cheng as the
company's new reseller manager for North Asia.
I commented several weeks ago that I thought that GE Smallworld was
playing down the Smallworld brand and suggested it may be on the way
out. Pamela Small of GE Network Solutions Marketing Communications team
"I just wanted to let you know that there are no plans to phase
out the Smallworld name and in fact we are now branding our products
Smallworld xxx (eg: Smallworld PowerOn, Smallworld Core Technology) etc
so you should continue to see the Smallworld name referred to
I did speak with a few GE Network Solutions staff at GITA who
reinforced this idea. That said, you had to look rather hard to find the
Smallworld name at the GE booth.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Mar 19 - Questerra Launches
Web-Based Spatial Info for Enterprise http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/020318/180096_1.html
Another company enters the
GIS web-hosting space. These folks were at GITA in force.
Mar 19 - Wherify Offers
GPS-based Car Safety for Consumers http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031902wherify.htm
"SMART-Car" is a
vehicle safety and security solution that offers consumers a new way to
monitor their family vehicles and process and deliver location, safety
and security information through the Internet, email or any phone and
Mar 19 - Leading Companies
Tap NAVTECH Real-Time Map Service http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031902Navtech.htm
NavTech announced NAVTECH
Real-Time Map Service available for use in commercial Location-Based
Services (LBS) applications. Instead of buying/licensing the data
application developers plug into the service.
Mar 18 - Tele Atlas and
Telcontar Form Strategic Alliance http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031802Telcontar2.htm
Tele Atlas's U.S. and
European digital maps will be available in Telcontar's Rich Map Engine
format optimized for LBS and telematics applications.
Mar 18 - Mapping Toolkit
delivers "One-Pick Automation" http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031802MapTools.htm
The new version has more than
65 new tools and tool improvements.
Mar 18 - Telcontar Announces
Acquisition of Gravitate, Inc. http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031802Telcontar.htm
Telcontar received the
company's source code and hired key engineering staff.
Mar 18 - SPATIALnet: ArcSDE
integrated with Autodesk Map http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031802spatialinfo.htm
I didn't manage to get a demo
of this solution. I'm curious how it differs from ESRI's CADClient
solution for ArcSDE.
Mar 18 - Airbiquity/Esemde
Announce LBS/SMS Services For GSM http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031802Airbiquity.htm
The companies are partnering
to offer combined short message services and location-based services for
any GSM mobile phone equipped with Airbiquity's GPS Accessory.
Mar 18 - MapInfo to Work with
Siemens IC Mobile http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031802MapInfo.htm
miAware GeoToolBox is being
integrated by Siemens IC Mobile in their Location Enabling Server
Mar 15 - Web Interoperability
Moves One Step Closer http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031502LS.htm
Laser-Scan was part of the
Open GIS Consortium Web Services Initiative end of project
Mar 15 - ESRI Announces Plans
to Integrate NG Spatial with ArcGIS http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031502ESRI.htm
generation products were recently sold to ESRI CartoNet, an affiliate of
Mar 15 - New National Atlas
Map Reveals Old Voting Patterns http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031502USGS.htm
The latest addition to a
collection with election maps dating back to 1789 is the 2000 event.
Mar 14 - GeoGraphs Releases
SVG MapGen http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031402Georaphs.htm
GeoGraphs SVG MapGen is an
affordable Map Publishing Tool for ESRI ArcView, MapInfo that produces
SVG (scalable vector graphics) format maps.
Mar 14 - AirZip to Speed
ESRI's Geography Network http://www.tenlinks.com/mapgis/news/pr/031402ESRI.htm
The technology compresses
imagery for speedy delivery.
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