GIS MONITOR, March 21, 2002


Special GITA Issue

- GITA 2002: General Comments 

- Interview: IntelliWhere 

- Interview: Autodesk 

- Sessions: Worth Your Time? 

- Tour of the Floor

Departments: Points of Interest, Business Notes, Letter, Week in Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe

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This issue sponsored by:

Leica Geosystems



GITA 2002

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 Magazine) 

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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 payroll.

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 maps.

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 these industries.

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: 



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 that.

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 



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: 



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 the floor. 

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: 



- 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 year.  20020319/bs_dowjones/vindigo_seeks_more_paying_users_of_city _guide_service



- Announcements

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 market.

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 project.

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.

- Contracts

GE Network Solutions announced that Hughes 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.

- Hires

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 corrects me.

"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 regularly."

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.



Mar 19 - Questerra Launches Web-Based Spatial Info for Enterprise 

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 

"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 pager.


Mar 19 - Leading Companies Tap NAVTECH Real-Time Map Service 

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 

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" 

The new version has more than 65 new tools and tool improvements.


Mar 18 - Telcontar Announces Acquisition of Gravitate, Inc. 

Telcontar received the company's source code and hired key engineering staff.


Mar 18 - SPATIALnet: ArcSDE integrated with Autodesk Map 

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 

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 

miAware GeoToolBox is being integrated by Siemens IC Mobile in their Location Enabling Server


Mar 15 - Web Interoperability Moves One Step Closer 

Laser-Scan was part of the Open GIS Consortium Web Services Initiative end of project demonstration.


Mar 15 - ESRI Announces Plans to Integrate NG Spatial with ArcGIS 

Netgraph's schematic generation products were recently sold to ESRI CartoNet, an affiliate of ESRI.


Mar 15 - New National Atlas Map Reveals Old Voting Patterns 

The latest addition to a collection with election maps dating back to 1789 is the 2000 event.


Mar 14 - GeoGraphs Releases SVG MapGen 

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 

The technology compresses imagery for speedy delivery.


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