April 1, 2004


Special Section: NSGIC 2004 Midyear

The Federal Sessions
In the Organizations
Project and Office Reports
Facilitated Discussions
Managing Sensitive Information


LizardTech and Galdos Take on JPEG 2000
LizardTech/Earth Resource Mapping Lawsuit Judgment

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NSGIC Midyear

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) held its 2004 midyear event in Reston, Virginia last weekend. As usual it was a jam-packed few days. Below are what can best be described as the highlights.

The Federal Sessions
The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) is now 10-years-old and is going through an "update process." The
idea is to describe the future state of the organization and identify its key goals. FGDC has engaged a number of facilitated discussions and interviews to tap into the geospatial community's thoughts. One such discussion occurred at NSGIC. (More on that below.) Cooperative Agreements Program (CAP) grant announcements are expected in April and will include some new categories relating to support for The National Map and Geospatial One-Stop. The idea of integrated grants was suggested over the past half year or so. Grant funding totals $1.5 million. One other note: Bruce McKenzie, a loyal GIS Monitor reader, is retiring from the Federal Government on April 30. Best of luck!

Geospatial One-Stop (GOS) had little "news." The major focus at this time is formalizing the tools to upload and harvest metadata. An ESRI representative took attendees through the various options. (See ESRI Federal User Conference write-up for details.)

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) addressed the relationship of The National Map to homeland security. The apps we saw were developed with Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and addressed using the content to produce an "interagency operating picture" (IOP) and situation reports. I confess it was odd to see The National Map used this way. However, that's what happens when such a resource becomes available, even in its early stage of development.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has hired a geographic information officer (GIO) Brenda Smith, who started her career at the Defense Intelligence Agency. EPA will be the steward of the "environmental channel" on geodata.gov. The agency is working on the National Environmental Information Exchange Network which uses an XML schema to exchange data and simple reporting for state/local data collectors. The hope is to create a database of timely, reliable, and consistent data and reduce the burden on reporters. To date just five nodes are up, but more are coming.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a new website to share issues relating to the national cadastre. It hosts, among other things, best practices papers, minutes from past meetings, and other goodies for Eastern and Western region BLM states.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is planning a new Coastal Service Center to serve the Northern Gulf of Mexico. New contracts for data are expected as are $1.7 million in grants and cooperative funds and $2 million for geographic services to support water quality work.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) updated the state of the 133 cities program. The cities involved are expected to be re-flown in FY 05-06. NGA has licensed a whole host of data from NAVTEQ, Dun and Bradstreet, and other private vendors, but state and locals can only use it "in an emergency." What exactly constitutes an emergency was not made clear. And of course, states and local governments don't work directly with NGA, but rather through USGS. State coordinators raised some concerns regarding situations where NGA staff was working in states without contacting state coordinators. Other coordinators wondered how a state might take advantage of the data mentioned above without knowing more details about it.

The Census Bureau is moving along with its MAF/TIGER work. Many state data files do not meet the 7.6 meter accuracies required. New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut for example do not, while most of Michigan does. The New England states shouldn't feel too slighted; according to Bob LaMacchia, Geography Division, U.S. Census Bureau, not too many commercial meet the standard! The 2003 annual TIGER/LINE updates are online. The package boasts 124 counties having data "better than last year's" and county level FGDC metadata. The 2004 iteration is set for the last quarter of 2004 and will have feature level metadata. Data providers will receive just their data to compare what the census now has against what they originally provided.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) hopes to soon move its Geospatial One-Stop Transportation Pilot (GOS-TP) demo outside the firewall so that interested parties can explore the work done on sharing transportation data across jurisdictions. The Bureau also highlighted work done when a specific congressman asked for data on bridges. The Bureau provided maps to each congressman. The Bureau hopes to offer a "cookbook" on what it learned in the GOS pilot and currently offers a "virtual library" on its website. Should SAFETEA, the next transportation bill be funded, there may be grant money to distribute for data collection.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA, now part of the Department of Homeland Security) just awarded a contract to Michael Baker and IBM for flood map modernization.

In the Organizations

The National Association of Counties (NaCO) is a partner with NSGIC. With a grant of $120,000 and staff support from USGS, NaCO and NSGIC will produce a "Workplan for The National Map." The four areas of work include: a report on the relevance of The National Map, details on best practices, definitions of the opportunities and challenges, and work on tools for collaboration. While I'm a bit frustrated that some of this work is coming a bit late in the game, I must agree with one attendee who noted that the three organizations working closely together is definitely valuable.

NSGIC itself is the recipient of a $90,000 NOAA Costal Service Center grant to explore a Random Access Metadata tool for On-Line National Assessments (RAMONA). The idea is to provide a single place for exploring local data inventories. The tool is aimed at serving state and federal players. And, perhaps local ones, too.

NSGIC is also working with NASA to develop a local liaison program to duplicate the success of the USGS one. NSGIC Membership is, at 307, the highest ever. And, to encourage states that do not or cannot participate, NSGIC hopes to begin offering "conference grants." It was noted by several attendees that no New England states were represented at this meeting. That's been the case since I began attending NSGIC meetings in the fall of 2002.


The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), which just held its Federal Program Conference, highlighted the legislation it is following, including:

Quality-based selection (QBS)
Changes to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)
Water/Waste Water state revolving loan funds
TEA 21 - encouraging the use of private contractors (instead of DOT staff) for mapping work
Providing a statutory framework for geospatial in the Department of Homeland Security
Prison Industries
Legislative barriers to procurements
Executive Order 13327 - Federal Real Property Asset Management

MAPPS is also exploring the possibility of a coalition for geospatial players. Called the Washington Geospatial Round Table (WGRT) it would include some 250 geospatial leaders and help the industry speak with one voice in Washington.

Project and Office Reports
The presentation that was most over my head was from John Crowe, the acting director of the Geospatial Management Office, part of the Department of Homeland Security. He outlined the enterprise architecture plan for homeland security and noted that this is not the architecture for the Department of Homeland Security. It's a service-based architecture and seemed to have all the right buzzwords, such as "standards," but I confess to understanding little else. This vision was created in the last few months and is soon to go out for review.

Scott McAfee reported that the FEMA effort to develop standard symbols is moving along. Four hundred reviewers participated in an online review. 25% were emergency managers, 10% were firefighters. Of the 200 odd symbols, reviewers suggested keeping 101, changing 81, and deleting 14. They also suggested adding symbols for search and rescue. The next step is sending a draft to INCITSI L1 (ANSI), the U.S. standards body. There's also interest in adding these to SDSFIE standards (once known as the "Tri-Service Standards").

Robert Johns of the Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP), part of the Department of Homeland Security, noted that office's roughly $4 billion in grant funding. ODP asked each governor to appoint an administrator to manage grants to local governments. These administrators could set up districts or simply use existing ones (many simply used counties). The districts provide information on threat assessments, vulnerability, risk assessment, and needs assessment, which allows the state to devise a strategic plan. The money ($2.2 billion in FY04) is to be divided such that 80% flows to local governments and 20% to states.

Johns pointed out that in the list of supportable activities/purchases, only "terrorism incident prevention equipment" explicitly mentions GIS. Attendees found this less than acceptable and pointed out a resolution by NSGIC highlighting the organization's opinion of the importance of GIS to homeland security. While that document was delivered to DHS last year, Johns noted he saw it after the list of fundable actions/products was produced. Attendees also raised the issue that it seemed "boots and suits" were highlighted far more on the list than "infrastructure" such as GIS. (That said, radios were high on the list.) Further, noted another attendee, data acquisition should also be funded as part of ODP.

A presentation on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) revealed several places where GIS might play a role. The act, passed in 2002 was developed in response to issues raised in the 2000 presidential election, but mostly focuses on an accurate database of voters and access to voting machines for the disabled. GIS, we learned, might have a role in developing such a database (it requires a physical address), consolidating polling places, and providing online polling place locators. NSGIC offered to work with the HAVA staff to explore collaboration. The state furthest ahead in things HAVA? Michigan.

Facilitated Discussions

There were two facilitated discussions during the weekend. The first was on the Future Directions of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). In small groups we pondered what NSDI might look like in 2014 and what might need to be done by 2007 to reach that vision. While many of the steps toward NSDI sounded familiar (set standards, make funding available, coordinate efforts) my group had more fun thinking about what NSDI might look like. We compared the relationship of the Geospatial One-Stop Portal of the 2014 version of NSDI to the relationship that Google has to the Internet today. The other analogy that got lots of play was comparing the "products" of the NSDI of 2014 to the chicken of today. (Yeah, it got a lot of laughs, but it also got people thinking.)

The idea is that NSDI enables the delivery of geospatial in many forms, the way today's economic system allows many ways to acquire chicken. You can go to the grocery store and buy chicken. Or, you can go to a farm and kill your own chicken. Or, you can go to a restaurant and buy a prepared meal including chicken. Or you can purchase a frozen chicken dinner. Chicken is a commodity, something you don't think about, that's integrated into many of the products you use. And, stretching the analogy a bit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture grades chicken, so you know what you are buying. If you are feeding your family, Grade A is best. For producing dog food, you might choose a different grade. In 2014 the same variety of distribution, use, and quality assurances will be available for geospatial data and services, we hope!

U.S. General Accounting Office

The second facilitated discussion was run by the General Accounting Office. It was conducted, in part to address a request by Representatives Putnam and Sessions to explore the creation of redundant geospatial data and the role of the federal government in coordinating geospatial tasks with states and localities. A full report is expected in June and a summary of the discussions may appear as an appendix.

The sate representatives considered two questions: "What does the federal government do to coordinate with states regarding geospatial topics?" and "What could it do better?" A flippant (and clearly made-in-jest) reply was short and sweet, "Nothing" and "Give us money," but the serious responses were far more thoughtful. That said, none of them were new to me. I felt as though I'd heard these same observation and suggestions several times in my participation in NSGIC and other such efforts including the URISA event last spring. I do feel that GAO will provide an effective summary of the ideas. The big question however is will it cause change down the road?

After collecting the responses, participants voted on their "top three" responses to each question. Those will be tallied along with the results of other discussions in the final public report.

Managing Sensitive Information

Mike Domoratz from USGS updated efforts to produce guidelines for managing sensitive geospatial data. The basic questions are "What data is sensitive?" and "If we find some, how do we restrict it?" The general goal is to maximize access to data that is not sensitive. It's possible to change the data to protect the sensitive bits but keep the rest useful. That's preferred over controlling access. However, if changing the data makes it useless, then the best choice is some restriction on use. The guidelines are in the form of a decision tree and should be available for review in the next month or so. (See also the discussion of the RAND study, on which much of this work was based, below.) A plug: if you get a chance to hear Mike speak, do so. He is always informative and entertaining.

The RAND Study

The RAND study, officially titled Mapping the Risks: Assessing the Homeland Security Implications of Publicly Available Geospatial Information is now online. It's a 200-page report funded by USGS and NGA and as I noted above, will form the basis of guidelines for dealing with sensitive data. I suggest folks opt for the three-page summary, which is pretty interesting reading.

Briefly, the study found that information that attackers might use to select a target is widely available, but that details needed to actually plan an attack are scarce and would require significant research to obtain. Moreover, a structured survey of publicly available federal geospatial data sets and a close examination of 629 of those revealed that less than 1% were both useful to terrorists and uniquely available from those sources. Identical, similar, or better data was available from non-federal sources. The report also explores the potential costs and benefits of restricting public access to such data.

Dealing with Sensitive Data: Stories from the States

As a fascinating follow-up to the RAND study, the coordinators from two states shared their experiences with sensitive data. Some of the decisions these states made:

- Contractors were restricted from taking data regarding nuclear or military and road or hydro data sites offshore.

- The state licensed the data (imagery) to local governments with the restriction that before it was made available on the Web, the local governments had to work with local military bases to explore any issues such distribution posed.

- Regional imagery products for 911 were "dumbed down," that is, resolution was lowered so details were blurred.

- Both states felt that "dumbing down" the data was less visible than "air brushing" out features, which would draw more attention to sensitive areas.

- Neither state felt that the changes really protected against terrorists as the data was all available elsewhere. Both noted it was done for political reasons. "The bad guys weren't going to get the data from us."

- As one state put it "reality is perception" and authorities need to be perceived as "doing something."

- One state took its clearinghouse offline for two months while it removed "tiles" that contained sensitive information. There were 500 sensitive sites on 170 quads and 1,600 orthophoto tiles (the tiles are very small).

- There was a process available to access the removed tiles. It included explaining why they were needed and some identification materials. In one year the state received about 3,000 requests for data that was not available online. That caused the state to rethink the process. Most of the requests were from private engineering firms.

- As of last November all the quads were back online. Ortho tiles are in the process of being "blurred." The state called upon a local university to develop an algorithm to blur just the footprints of the sensitive areas, again, attempting not to draw attention to them. While the state GIS staff had the ability to blur the images itself, the leadership decided the credibility of the university was important.

In short, the uniqueness of the data, highlighted in the RAND report, didn't seem to matter in these decisions. All of the data was widely available elsewhere, but both states felt it politically correct to alter at least some of it.

LizardTech and Galdos Take on JPEG2000
It might seem odd that a company like LizardTech, known for its proprietary image compression format, MrSID, is spending its time tweaking the open ISO standard for JPEG2000. It might seem equally odd that Japanese-owned LizardTech is partnering with a Canadian company, Galdos Systems, best known for its work with Geography Markup Language (GML). GML itself is an OpenGIS Specification and is on the road to becoming an ISO standard. But, when you start digging around, this pairing begins to make sense.

Understanding JPEG2000 and "What's Missing"

JPEG2000 is an image format. And, it has many boxes for placing data related to the image. One box, defined in a resolution by ISO, even notes that GML is the preferred encoding for geospatial metadata. That resolution, by the way, was proposed by LuraTech, a German company involved in image compression and JPEG2000.

The "GML box in JPEG2000" for now, is just an empty box. There's no detail of what attributes to put into GML or how to store them. That means JPEG2000 creators are free to put what they like in there, but there's no guarantee JPEG2000 viewers and applications will be able to use it. That's the challenge LizardTech and Galdos are taking up.

Recall that Mapping Science took on the same challenge, but put its solution (not an XML one) into another "open" box in the JPEG2000 definition.

The Approach

So, how are the two companies going to build a recipe for GML for JPEG2000? In a "phased approach" reports LizardTech Vice President, Geospatial Imaging of Marketing, Karen Morley. "The first goal is to add just the most basic ingredients," she notes. She explained that these basics number exactly three and describe: (1) georeferencing information, (2) the coordinate reference system, and (3) coverage geometry. These will be stored in a small GML file, tucked into the GML box in the JPEG2000 file. This addition will not make the image file significantly bigger. If you've used GeoTIFF (a TIFF file with georeferencing "built right in") you have a sense of how the solution will work. GeoTIFFs are not significantly larger than regular TIFFs.

LizardTech and Galdos are taking their proposed GML application schema (akin to the structure of a database table) to an upcoming Open GIS Consortium (OGC) meeting. (I consult to OGC.) There, members of the will have a chance to read over the proposal and suggest changes. To be clear, the proposed application schema is not an addition to the GML specification, but rather an extension to the ISO JPEG2000 specification.

And, following OGC procedure, there will most likely be several iterations of the proposed schema and an opportunity for public comment before a vote is taken to approve the application schema as an OpenGIS Specification. The plan is to keep this first phase relatively simple so the steps toward an ISO standard can begin relatively quickly. ISO has its own complex process for reviewing and editing potential standards. And, there is no assurance that just because OGC approves a specification that ISO will, too. To date, one OGC specification has become an ISO standard (Simple Features) while two others are in review and are currently draft ISO standards (Web Map Service and GML).

In LizardTech and Galdos' proposed phase 2 and phase 3, the plan is to add more information including such things as units of measure and the ability to assign attributes to specific areas of interest. In time, it might be possible to include full ISO metadata along with JPEG2000 files. That information can be quite complex and require many fields, which may make the JPEG2000 files quite large if it is included inside the file.

That's why instead of including the data in the file, there's the possibility of storing it in a separate companion document. NITF, an imagery format used by the military, works just that way. Inside the JPEG2000 file might be a pointer that says, effectively, "If you want information on an area of interest, go look at this field in the companion document." This type of solution doesn't slow down the loading of images, something very important to imagery users across application areas.

Why LizardTech?

Morley reminded me that JPEG2000 is wavelet-based, just like MrSID, so the company knows quite a bit about managing that type of metadata. While some MrSID users work with files that have companion "world files," most users store their metadata inside. Working with JPEG2000 she notes, is simply "the open standard version of what the company has already successfully done."

But LizardTech is also listening to its clients, many of whom are from the military and are looking to use JPEG2000. Moving the standard ahead is part of keeping the company's customers happy. LizardTech has and is in the process of signing additional cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) with various parts of the U.S. military. These groups too will help drive the standard.

Finally, LizardTech is looking for a slightly different business model with JPEG2000 than with MrSID. When LizardTech makes a change to proprietary MrSID there is a corresponding change to every product the company makes (viewers, software development kits, etc.). With an open format, software vendors can compete on the tools they produce to work with the format. LizardTech is looking forward to that type of competition in the years to come, not the issues of the past which focused on "which format was better." Now the competition will be "which tools are better and allow users to do more." That, if you think about it, is what's happening in the vector GIS world even now.

Why Now?

JPEG2000 became a standard in 2000, so why is this issue only coming up in 2004? Morley suggests that part of the delay was the maturing of both JPEG2000 and GML and the education required in the marketplace. She notes too that OGC's top priorities in the first few years revolved around vector GIS issues. In the next few years, she suggests, the Consortium will tackle imagery more seriously. Part of the demand, she notes, comes form homeland security issues in the U.S. and worldwide.

LizardTech/Earth Resource Mapping Lawsuit Judgment

A judge
ruled last week that Earth Resource Mapping's (ERM) technology does not infringe on a LizardTech patent. Other patent claims raised in the suit were judged invalid. The suit filed in October 1999 has had many twists and turns including a summary judgment in favor of ERM and a reversal on appeal. In 2003, the court appointed a Special Master, a technical expert who works on behalf of the court. The research document provided by the Special Master was the basis for ERM to file several motions for summary judgment. All of these were granted in the ruling last week.

One issue raised in the ERM press release highlighted a comment made by a LizardTech employee at the 22nd JPEG2000 Working Group Meeting held in New Orleans in December 2000. The comment suggested the potential that a LizardTech patent might come into play regarding JPEG2000 files. "LizardTech warns any future user of JPEG2000 that if one wishes to perform a seamless DWT by any means other than holding the entire image in memory during processing, one would require a license to its patent..." Part of the patent in question was ruled invalid by the judge in the case.

According to LizardTech's Morley, the comment relates to the processing of an image, not a format in particular. She noted too that none of the employees at the company in 2000 are still employed there.

Earth Resource Mapping's President Stuart Nixon is not convinced. While pleased with the ruling, and confident of its being upheld even under appeal, he is concerned that further litigation by LizardTech would only muddy the JPEG2000 waters. He suggested that given LizardTech's litigation history, it might be appropriate for LizardTech to make a firm and binding public statement detailing LizardTech intellectual property position with respect to the ISO JPEG2000 standard.

Carlos Domingo, LizardTech CEO said "These persistent scare tactics from ERMapper are only misleading the industry and making people afraid of moving towards the ISO standard. LizardTech is promoting JPEG2000 and joining OGC members to extend its capabilities for the geospatial market. The JPEG2000 format itself does not infringe any patent at all.

"The ER Mapper and LizardTech patents cover different ways of creating a seamless wavelet compressed file, whether that is done in ECW, MrSID or JPEG2000. ER Mapper should stop referring to a five year old statement that is not currently supported by the management of LizardTech. If ER Mapper is, in truth, concerned about JPEG2000 infringing patents, it should publicly announce its intention to donate its patents to the industry. The patents behind LizardTech's technology are in fact licensed from the US federal government and LizardTech has the contractual and moral obligation to defend those patents where there is evidence that a company has misappropriated technology. That said, the recent lawsuit has nothing to do with the JPEG2000 ISO standard. LizardTech participated in the industry process that created it and currently has no plans of pursuing intellectual property claims against other companies."

The pet tracking discussion continues with observations from Don Cooke who's been attaching GPS receivers to various living creatures lately.

"There are two problems with using GPS as an animal locator: first of all, GPS only finds where the animal is, some other system is needed to transmit that location to the owner for mapping. Second, GPS is a huge power hog.

"FWIW, I've never owned a dog, but I'm amazed to hear how many people have no idea where their dog goes during the day! We do have a cat, though; she's looking forward to spring so she can carry a GPS around also."

Last week I noted in my review of Autodesk's launch of its 2005 product line that the event "has not been heavily marketed toward mapping and GIS users."

Ian Edwards of Open Spatial in Australia explained what's going on in his geography.

"Here in Australia (and I assume in USA, too) that is done for good reason - the versions of AutoCAD specific to GIS / Mapping / Infrastructure / Government users (as opposed to Architecture or Manufacturing) are Autodesk Map 3D 2005 (and its superset Autodesk Land Desktop). Working in the above areas with 'vanilla' AutoCAD is like working with one hand tied behind your back. You are working with the wrong product.

"Here in Australia we are conducting a separate launch which will be 'heavily marketed toward mapping and GIS users.'"

Several readers wrote to ask questions regarding the SilverEye product from GeoTango. Some wondered about the accuracy, others about the process, and one noted related work.

Ellery Chan of Precision Lightworks, LLC noted:

"Precision Lightworks, has been working hard for the last 3+ years to field a rapid, capable, versatile, commercial, image-based urban modeling solution. Our 3D photogrammetric urban modeling tool also has a single-image modeling capability, and we can also ingest QuickBird and IKONOS imagery with RPCs."

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.

Neighbors' Giving Info. FundRace, a website devoted to mapping the fundraising efforts of the two parties in the United States, has added two new features. City Maps shows the distribution of giving across major cities. There's lots of blue Democratic money in Boston. Neighbor Search allows visitors to key in an address, ZIP Code, or name, and see how much and to whom their neighbors are donating. Quite a mixed bag in my neighborhood. Reader Kirk and Slashdot pointed me to this update.

More on NGA Talks with Space Imaging. Sources close to the recently ended talks between Space Imaging and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, regarding work under the NextView contract, paint an interesting picture. According to an article in the Denver Post, NGA offered Space Imaging a "$435 million contract to do work worth as much as $585 million." The idea was that the company find other sources for the remaining $150 million. NGA wanted Space Imaging backers Lockheed Martin (which owns 46%) and Raytheon (which owns 31%) to guarantee the funds. They would not. A Lockheed spokesman said the company plans no further investment in Space Imaging. Neither Lockheed nor Raytheon has made money on their investments; both took charges in 2002.

Stealing Data Based on Geography. Reader Larry who keeps up on security issues shared a story about a breach in Equifax Canada's database. More than 1,400 people were informed that detailed personal data (social insurance numbers, bank account numbers, credit histories, home addresses, and job descriptions) may have been accessed. The odd part: the targets were all in the same geographies: Alberta and British Columbia with a few out of Ontario. That raised the eyebrows of security experts, suggesting the attack may have been funded. Or as Larry noted, "Even the crooks are understanding the value of location metadata."

Stealing Bees. I've mentioned tracking dogs, whales, bears, and other animals in this newsletter over the years, but not bees. It turns out the bees are tough to track, but their boxes are not. And, that's a good thing since it's the boxes are that are typically stolen in California, along with the bees. (Stealing just the bees required quite a lot of bee knowledge.) Bee boxes are set out near orchards to pollinate the trees. Savvy crooks were simply picking them up before owners came to retrieve them. And savvy they are; honey prices are up, keeping bee prices high, too.

Now, beekeepers are attaching tracking devices to their boxes. One solution attaches an RFID tag to the outside of the box and can be identified using a scanner. A more complex chip can be embedded in the box and sends out a signal for 25 years. The article doesn't explain that technology.

MapQuest Search. In case you missed it in the wave of "local search" announcements from Yahoo! and Google, MapQuest now offers a similar feature, MapQuest Search. The user keys in a category and an address or ZIP Code and the system returns hits within 25 miles. The radius can be upped to 50 miles. As a bonus, partner Google provides sponsored links related to the search. The future of this service is not known. Recall that Google uses MapQuest for its local search.

Autodesk Goes for $1 Billion. Autodesk raised its estimates for the current quarter and the year. This may be the year the company hits what has been an elusive $1 billion in revenue. CEO Carol Bartz had made that a goal of hers some years ago, but a challenging economy and burst of the Internet bubble prevented reaching it for the past few years. Autodesk noted that only a fraction of its users have moved to the 3D environment. This year's iteration of its GIS product, Autodesk Map, is called Autodesk Map 3D. The 3D product line (for mechanical and architectural work) is typically more expensive than 2D and should raise revenues, so the theory goes.

Intel Pays off Intergraph, Again. Intel Corp. agreed to pay $225 million to settle claims that its Itanium chips for business computers infringed on the patents of Intergraph. According to Reuters, that brings the total Intel has paid or has agreed to pay Intergraph to $675 million. As part of the deal Intergraph agreed to drop a lawsuit against Dell and agreed not to "sue any PC makers for using Intel's microprocessors in combination with Intel's supporting chip sets and motherboards."

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)

The State of Confluences. I wrote about the Degree Confluence Project during GIS Monitor's first year of existence. It's time for an update and Wired provides just that. Of the 64,000 confluences of lines of longitude and latitude (full degrees) about 16,000 fall into the target area of the project. (The rest are at sea or very close together at the poles.) To date about 3,000 have been located and documented in the online archive. Stories of challenges in reaching remote or dangerous locations abound. One new entry is from soldiers in Iraq who used a BlackHawk helicopter to reach their destination. A new twist? Adventurers are invited to return to the locations to document change. Cool - change detection!

$500 Million for ORBIMAGE. Just as Space Imaging tries to plan its future without a NextView contract from NGA, that organization signed a ClearView (the precursor to NextView) deal worth up to $500 million with newly flying ORBIMAGE, the third "one meter or better" commercial satellite vendor. That's big news for a company that just recently emerged from bankruptcy.

Conundrums (concepts we question)

Open Source or Not? Last week you might have seen this title for a press release posted on several websites (not on GIS Monitor, however): GeoGraphs announces GeoFlash Pro 2004, an Open Source Internet Mapping Software. I read the release and was unclear as to whether the software itself was open source. An e-mail to the company confirmed it was not. The product does however include open source components.

Week in Review

Star Informatic and Laser-Scan announced a reseller agreement that allows Star Informatic to resell Radius Topology to its customers.

ESRI Canada is pleased to announce that the following Canadian Business Partners, Enghouse Systems Limited, R.J. Burnside & Associates Limited, and Safe Software, received awards at the 2004 ESRI Worldwide Business Partner Conference in Palm Springs, California.

The membership of the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) has approved the release of the OpenGIS Geography Markup Language (GML) Implementation Specification Version 3.1.0 as a publicly available OpenGIS Recommendation Paper.

Pictometry International Corp. and Manatron, Inc. a provider of Government Revenue Management (GRM) software products and services for local governments announced a marketing alliance. Manatron has an extensive client base utilizing its Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) software and appraisal services.

Bentley announced that it will join an industry team developing TransXML, a proposed set of standards to allow exchange of transportation data across IT systems and asset lifecycles.

Kenneth J. Osborn (51), chief, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Southwest Geographic Science Team in Sacramento, California, passed away on Saturday, March 6, 2004 from complications resulting from a recent heart attack and stroke. Osborn had been with USGS since 1975. In honor of Osborn's love for surveying and mapping ("all things geospatial"), a memorial scholarship for students seeking a career in the profession has been established.

Quova, Inc. a provider and developer of Web geography services and technologies, announced the acquisition of longtime competitor InfoSplit, Inc.

AmCad will incorporate UCLID's FLEX Index, which automatically captures , such as grantor, grantee, legal description, address, and other important information, from unstructured county documents. I've not heard from AmCad for years. The company formerly sponsored a running race at URISA.

AeroMap U.S. accepted awards from DigitalGlobe for Reseller of the Year for North America, and for the second year in a row Reseller of the Year for Public Relations.

Contracts and Sales
Cquay Technologies Corp. announced a contract to provide its Common Ground Location Services system to Bell West Inc.

Quova, Inc. announced that Harrah's Online Ltd., and Harrah's Interactive. Ltd., subsidiaries of Harrah's Entertainment Ltd., a United Kingdom company, have deployed Quova's GeoPoint for customer location verification in its newly-launched LuckyMe online gaming site for use in Alderney and the United Kingdom.

NovaLIS Technologies along with partners CDC, AGJD Associated Agents Ltd., and ESRI Ireland, is implementing a GIS-based Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal system for Valuation and Lands Agency in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Vexcel Corporation, a global market leader in photogrammetric products and services, announced a contract with PASCO Corporation, of Japan, for two Vexcel UltraCam large format digital aerial cameras.

MapQuest and NetByTel announced a strategic partnership that will offer MapQuest customers the
ability to speech enable their location technology applications through NetByTel's award-winning voice self-service capabilities.

Harris Corporation announced that is has signed a contract with DigitalGlobe to support its Satellite Control System Upgrade and Expansion program. Harris will provide the satellite command and control system for DigitalGlobe's currently operational QuickBird remote sensing satellite and for its new WorldView satellite.

ESRI Canada, along with partners NovaLIS Technologies and iPLANcorp, have been chosen to implement an enterprise GIS-based land development tracking and management system for the Municipality of Clarington, Ontario.

RouteMatch Software, Inc. announced that it has been awarded a contract to provide Ride Connection, Inc., a not-for-profit demand-response/brokering transportation service based in Portland, Oregon, with its flagship advanced transit management system, RouteMatch TS.

Laser-Scan received a contract from the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), Ministry of Defence, for the support and maintenance of key operational production systems.

Cadcorp announced the availability of Cadcorp SIS Book Plotter, a new, free application that works with Cadcorp SIS Map Modeller V6.0 & V6.1. Plotter enables users to format a large area of mapping onto multiple, separate sheets or pages, with each one sequentially numbered to form the pages of a book. The company also announced Cadcorp SIS Map Browser, a free OpenGIS data viewer for the Web that works only in conjunction with OpenGIS Web services. The software has been developed specifically to enable viewing and querying of data served using OpenGIS Web Map Service (WMS) and Web Feature Service (WFS) specifications. In addition, it supports Geographic Markup Language (GML) 2.1.2 and Web Map Context XML data sources.


Telemorphic, Inc. announced the release of MultiViewer, an extension to ESRI's ArcGIS software. MultiViewer enables a powerful geographically linked map view environment to ArcGIS, allowing users to simultaneously compare multiple scanned maps, aerial photos, satellite imagery, other raster data, and/or vector GIS data layers.

The WhiteStar Corporation announced the expansion of its high-resolution International Digital Land Grid data to the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

CORDA Technologies Inc. announced product upgrades to its dynamic charting and graphing solution PopChart 6.0, and mapping solution, OptiMap 6.0.

GIS and Business Intelligence for the Enterprise is a new seminar series focusing on deploying integrated reporting and geographic analysis throughout the enterprise for visually enhanced business intelligence. The half-day seminars will run through June 2004.

GEA, the Central European's largest convention in the geodesy and geoinformatics industry will be held at the Cracow Fairground in Poland on September 16 - 18 2004.

The 5th African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE) Conference is set for 18-21 October 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya. The focus is on: Geoinformation Sciences In Support Of Africa's Development.

ESRI Virtual Campus will present a free live training seminar titled "What's New in ArcGIS 9," on April 8, 2004.

Sanborn appointed James Curtin vice president of business development and sales, effective immediately. He comes from QC Data.

Analytical Surveys, Inc. (ASI) named Wayne B. Fuquay chief executive officer. He's a business guy not a GIS guy, so his name may not be familiar.

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