Education and Training
GIS Monitor - Archives
Products and Companies
Subscribe to GIS Newsletter Submit News

2005 April 14


Editor's Introduction
Tele Atlas
GeoMedia Fusion
SAS-ESRI Integration
New Web Site

This issue sponsored by:

News Briefs, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe

If, for some reason you cannot read this document, visit:

Editor's Introduction

Due to a problem I encountered while using our mass mailing utility, some of you did not receive last week's issue and some of you received it twice. My apologies! We have fixed the problem. If you missed last week's issue (or any previous issue), please download it (them) from our
     Last week's issue included another installment of my report on state GIS Web sites and a summary of a presentation on political uses of GIS.


In this week's issue of GIS Monitor I report on a conversation I had with an executive of Tele Atlas about the company's business strategy; on a conversation I had with the president of Intergraph about her company's focus; and on GeoMedia Fusion. I also summarize a paper on integrating SAS data warehousing/mining with ESRI-based GIS and public sector business systems, which was presented this week at the SAS Users Group International meeting. Plus, I do my usual round-up of industry news.


I am now fully settled in as GIS Monitor's new editor and, as of today, it is back on its regular Thursday schedule. Thank you for your patience during this transition.

— Matteo

Tele Atlas

On Monday I spoke with John Cassidy, director of GIS Markets for Tele Atlas. I asked him first about his title: what on earth does he mean by "GIS Markets"? He laughed and admitted that it is a catch-all category for all those market segments that are not already under one of the company's other divisions — namely, logistics, LBS, governments, and utilities and telcos.

GDT's Approach
Cassidy comes from Geographic Data Technology, Inc. (GDT), which Tele Atlas acquired last year. GDT, he told me, was "focused almost exclusively on geo-coding." Most of its clients were businesses and needed decision-support systems for such tasks as site analysis, sales territory definition and analysis, competitive analysis, or risk analysis. About six years ago, GDT decided to diversify and expand into three new areas:

  • Managing physical assets and facilities — a capability of particular interest to telecommunications companies, utilities, and governments, and for which positional accuracy became more important. (Previously, TIGER files, which traditionally have not been very accurate compared to GPS capabilities, had been considered adequate for most geocoding applications.)
  • Routing applications and fleet tracking — which required the company to start capturing routing attributes, such as bridges and overpasses, that would impede traffic.
  • Navigation applications — which must be in real-time and require extra precision and accuracy.
GDT had a sales team go after each of these groups. Most of the business was what used to be called "business geographics:" for example, geocoding for insurance companies, telecommunications companies, and retail operations.
     GDT's philosophy was data compilation: lots of people in the world have a vested interest in collecting map data — according to Cassidy, there are about 30,000 entities in the United States alone that do this — and GDT cultivated them. Tele Atlas took a different approach: drive and collect.

New Approach
Now, Cassidy told me, Tele Atlas combines the two business models: whenever possible, it compiles data collected by other organizations, relying on the relationships that it built up over the years; in addition, however, it also drives the routes — but in a very cost-effective and efficient way, as needed to complement, check, or update the data collected by others. Because of this new approach, Cassidy said, the company's staff of field data collectors seem to be far more optimistic about their collection methods and accuracy.
     I asked Cassidy about automatic data collection, for example by placing data loggers in fleets of cabs or delivery trucks. He told me that that idea has not had much success, because the burden often ends up being too great for the fleet operators. "At the end of the day," he told me, "a delivery company needs to deliver packages and not worry about whether it is driving routes in such as a way as to do the best job of collecting mapping data."

Who is Tele Atlas' greatest direct competitor? From the perpective of traditional GIS markets, Cassidy told me, it is the United States Census Bureau, which produces the TIGER files. "But even that's a stretch," he was quick to add. He then gave me this analogy: TIGER files are to Tele Atlas' products as Schwinn bicycles are to Bianchi bicycles. "We find that users need to go through a progression and TIGER serves them well as the first step," he said. Navteq is also a competitor, especially when it comes to personal navigation and LBS — but less so in GDT's traditional areas of expertise: business geographics and government.

I asked Cassidy how the expectations of businesses differ from those of consumers when it comes to geocoding. For business that have hundreds of thousands of customers or policy holders, he explained, an improvement of even just five percent in the number of correct addresses "is huge;" therefore, businesses are very interested in incremental progress. Consumers, on the other hand, have high expectations and little patience: "if it doesn't work the first time, they don't like you anymore."

Progress of the Merger
The merger of GDT into Tele Atlas is now in its tenth month. "We are integrating the data of the two companies," Cassidy told me, "and expect to continue that process throughout this year." In particular, he pointed out, the two companies' plant lists were "very complementary." "We expect growth in personal navigation — car navigation and location-based services," he said, then added that the market for personal navigation tripled in Europe from 2003 to 2004, largely led by TomTom, a key Tele Atlas partner.


Tuesday I spoke with Preetha Pulusani, the president of
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions, the second largest GIS company after ESRI.

Since its founding in 1969 in Huntsville, Alabama, as an offshoot of NASA, the company has evolved from computer graphics to digital mapping, digital photogrammetry, map production, and GIS. For most of its history it manufactured both hardware and software. As of 2000, however, it got out of the commodity hardware market, except for continuing to make specialized hardware for earth imaging solutions. The DMC (digital mapping camera) is one of the most recent products available with an on-the-ground resolution of one-to-two inches. In addition, the company also contracts to provide consulting and project implementation services. Intergraph now has offices in 60 countries, so "we see customer requirements that come in from all parts of the world," Pulusani told me.

The company has four divisions: Process, Power, & Marine; Mapping and Geospatial Solutions; Public Safety; and the Solutions Group, which provides management consulting, technology, and integrated solutions for both government and commercial customers. Last year it had total revenue of $550 million and an operating revenue of $35 million.

"Everything we do has a spatial element to it," Pulusani explained, adding that Intergraph's customers include national, regional, and local governments. In the United States, she told me, 39 out of 50 state departments of transportation use the company's photogrammetry and GIS products for producing digital and paper maps. According to Pulusani, the fundamental principles included in Intergraph's current technology began in the mid-90s. The company pioneered several new technologies, but sold only turnkey solutions, so each system was an island.

In the 90s Intergraph began to rethink its core philosophy and made fundamental changes. It began using standard database technology to store spatial data so that anyone could get to it and "so that GIS could grow out of its box." This way Intergraph components could operate in a mixed environment, together with those from ESRI, Autodesk, and other vendors. The company also embraced Windows for its user interface: "no matter what the form factor of the client, we need to adapt," Pulusani told me.

She also emphasized that her company works closely with the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) to broaden the reach of location information and assured me that Intergraph's software is "highly relevant to current global concerns." The company, according to Pulusani, now preaches that GIS should not be an island but should be integrated into all aspects of information technology. I asked Pulusani how Intergraph differentiates itself from its competitors. To analyze an organization's needs, she told me, "We don't just look at GIS, but also at how geospatial fits into their IT environment. We believe that there should be no middleware — only an SQL query between the user and the data."

I asked her what kind of mix of participants I will see at the company's upcoming user conference — the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community International Training and Management Conference, or GeoSpatial World 2005 for short, taking place in San Francisco from April 26 to 28. Pulusani answered that both the participants and the focus of the presentations will be very international.

GeoMedia Fusion

Tuesday I also spoke with Scott Seeley, Product Manager, Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions, from the company's Huntsville, Alabama office, about the company's new data integration product,
GeoMedia Fusion. Released at the end of March (see my news brief), it handles data conflation, advanced geometric validation, and graphic queues.

I asked Seeley whether he was at liberty to tell me some of the principal clients for the product. While he declined to mention specific ones, he told me that they were "national military mapping agencies."

The product is primarily aimed at data producers, especially those with an enterprise database, such as national, regional, and local governments, transportation agencies, and utilities (though less so for utilities, because this product is more suited for mapping landcover than infrastructure).

I asked Seeley what problem GeoMedia Fusion was intended to solve. The problem, he told me, is that "when you try to create an enterprise database in today's world, you are faced with the problem of having too much data." He gave me the example of homeland security: "I can get the information from local government, from the military, etc. — but then I have to unsnarl all this data and create an enterprise version that is seamless and comprehensive."
     On the other hand, collecting the same information again, as state departments of transportation typically have done, wastes time. Media integration allows you to use the information that's already there, while picking and choosing which geometry and attributes to use. "What GeoMedia Fusion is about," Seeley told me, "is enabling what the term sounds like, taking different data sets and fusing them into your model."

So, how have GIS technicians managed without this product, I asked Seeley? He told me that they have done it by:

  1. re-collecting all the data — which is typically the outcome when two groups have the same data but are not able to share it;
  2. manual editing, including copying and pasting and placing underlays and tracing them; and
  3. buying multiple components from different vendors.
"Intergrpah combined answers to a multiple set of needs into a single toolbox of functions for data integration — a package that should do the majority of what you need," he told me.

Direct competitors
I asked Seeley which company, if any, he saw as his most direct competitor. "I don't know of any other company that has this comprehensive of an integration product," he told me, though he then pointed out that ESRI has some set of these tools, "but not as an integrated product." He added "Our product is aimed almost clinically at people who have diverse datasources and are trying to maintain these databases."

I asked him what the smallest company might be that would buy this product. He told me that GeoMedia Fusion "is not priced out of anyone's range," but explained that smaller users would probably not install it in every seat in their shop. How well does it scale down then, I asked him? "Frankly, it is most scalable in that it has a lot of defaults built in," he answered — meaning that smaller GIS shops would not need to use the more advanced features and settings, but could simply use it as is.

SAS-ESRI Integration

The convergence of GIS and IS offers extraordinary new opportunities, according to
William S. Holland, principal of GeoAnalytics, Inc. He made the argument in a paper titled "Integration of SAS Data Warehousing / Mining and Enterprise Collaboration and Data Acquisition Portals with ESRI-Based GIS and Public Sector Business Systems," which he presented on Monday, April 11, at the SAS Users Group International (SUGI) conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"Driven by emerging data, system, and application interoperability standards," Holland said, "GIS can now become a central and transparent part of business information systems such as asset, financial, human resource, resource, project, and customer relationship management."

Speaking to an audience of SAS, not GIS, specialists, Holland's main objective was to elucidate the intersection of SAS and GIS technologies, particularly in the public sector. "For the most part," he explained, "SAS technologies and GIS have functioned independently in government." Both technologies are integrating, analytical, and strategic — but they are more complementary than competitive. Their intersection occurs at three points: "Where the spatial (map, geographic, or locational) dimension adds value to SAS integration and analytics; where the non-spatial integration and analytics adds value to GIS; and where spatial and non-spatial analytical visualization adds value to both technologies."

"Traditionally," he continued, "GIS technology has existed as a distinct area of information technology. This is in part because until very recently it has been very much proprietary technology." However, he added, GIS is increasingly becoming "more based on open technology that exists within standard RDBMS constructs."

Still, according to Holland, "notwithstanding its ubiquity of purpose and function in the governmental context," GIS has not been integrated deeply into the business systems used by government, despite the fact that many governmental functions rely on the same data. As example of this he cited parcels and addresses that are used by every level of government, from townships to federal agencies. On the other hand, he acknowledged that, as GIS has evolved, "it has become much more oriented toward integration."

GIS is also increasingly becoming enterprise technology and in the future it will be embedded at many levels in business systems and transparent to users. In particular, according to Holland, SAS and GIS will increasingly intersect with regard to business and data system interoperability as well as analytics and performance management.

As for the interoperability, Holland pointed out that "traditionally, the principal driver for data sharing, integration, and interoperability has been the cost of data acquisition and maintenance. Increasingly though, the drivers are business system integration, web/data/application services, simplified system administration, and operations, asset, financial, and human resource management." However, he continued, "because GIS has evolved in its own way as, more or less, proprietary technology distinct from mainstream information systems, it does not have the seamless capabilities of technology like SAS ETL Server and SAS Intelligent Warehousing to manage, mediate, and publish related non-spatial data from business systems and legacy databases." This, he argued, is where SAS technology comes in: to help empower enterprise class business and system integration.

As for analytics and performance management, "Best management practices," he said, "are driving executive decision support, performance monitoring, and business and analytic intelligence."

From the SAS perspective, he explained, these powerful analytics can have a locational aspect — such as district, municipality, etc. What SAS technology does not easily permit, however, is a spatial or geographic dimension — which, of course, is where GIS comes in, allowing users to establish metrics and measure them at a very fine unit of analysis.

This integration is synergistic, Holland argued, because SAS analytical technology has the capability of enhancing the traditional modeling undertaken in GIS, including more advanced analytics for environmental modeling and bringing financial analytics to bear on asset management decisions. "All of these new functions require integration of spatial data and technologies with traditional business systems," he said.

Holland proposed an architecture centered around the "integration tier," which "will drive management, maintenance, and access to spatial and non-spatial address information." At the core of this integration framework is SAS's ETL Server technology, which mediates among various agencies and their business systems. "ETL Server," according to him, "can pull non-spatial data from nearly any database and/or business system. In that process, data can be validated, cleansed, and pushed back into the originating business systems." In addition, ETL Server can publish cleansed data to an enterprise repository or warehouse in a generic data model or into a data mart to meet a specific business need. He proposed a similar architecture for spatial-related data, with ESRI's ArcSDE used to maintain, manage, and publish spatial data.

Finally, Holland described what he termed "the Fifth Dimension of GIS," namely, the intersection of GIS and SAS technology. "The Fifth Dimension," he said, "leverages emerging technologies to provide spatial and non-spatial data and application services that are embedded, transparent, and ubiquitous. This Dimension moves GIS beyond an enterprise information system initiative, making it a central and interoperable part of government's most critical business information systems including environmental, ERP, asset, financial, human resource, justice, emergency management, and customer relationship management."

The Fifth Dimension, in Holland's vision, "extends the concept of GIS interoperability and integration beyond just spatial data and technology" and "creates new value for government by leveraging the power of place and analytics in support of decision-making, science, governance, and operations."

New Web Site

GIM International — "The Global Magazine for Geomatics" — has launched a new
Web site for the geomatics industry and community. Besides the latest news, a calendar of events, a bookstore, "Supply and Demand" (an online marketplace), and subscription information, the site now contains special offers, job listings, and an archive of articles published in GIM International. For a limited time, the site will allow you to request that a free trial issue of the magazine be sent to a person of your choice.

News Briefs

Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.


Pima Association of Governments (PAG) — a Tucson, Arizona-based coalition of local, state, and tribal governments that assists its members and the public with regional planning issues — has selected Sanborn, a provider of GIS and photogrammetric services, to provide it with GIS topographic mapping services.
     Project scope requires Sanborn to acquire and provide 6"- to 1'-resolution digital color ortho-rectified imagery and LiDAR data to generate comprehensive digital terrain models and digital elevation models for more than 1,800 square miles of the Tucson region.
     With the data Sanborn provides, PAG and its associated parties will have an up-to-date topographic and raster database to support operational and business applications. The data will also provide the coalition with additional intelligence for better decision-making on regional issues such as transportation, air quality, water quality, and population growth. Sanborn is scheduled to complete the project in November 2005.

The City of San Diego has awarded its Photogrammetric Mapping Project 2005 to Merrick & Company, a provider of lidar, digital ortho imaging, photogrammetry, and GIS mapping services.
     Beginning with LiDAR data collection, Merrick will provide a DTM and 1"=100' 3-inch pixel resolution color digital orthophotography for the entire 370 square mile area of the city. In order to address lean issues associated with photographing tall buildings, Merrick will also provide true orthophotography of a 2.2 square mile area in the downtown central business district. Final delivery is scheduled for October 2005.
     This project resulted from a strong collaboration between the City's GIS Advisory Committee representing 18 departments and the CADD Advisory Committee representing multiple departments, including engineering.
     The city also included a public agency clause in the RFP that allows other public agencies to utilize the city's RFP vendor selection and enter into their own contracts with the selected vendor. As a result, an additional fifteen local agencies will have Merrick deliver similar aerial photography and lidar products.

Avencia — a Philadelphia-based geospatial analysis and software development firm specializing in the creation of location-based software tools — has released a new version of CityMaps, the City of Philadelphia's first public online mapping application. Users can visit and view zoning information, aerial photography, and city service information, such as leaf and trash collection days, health centers, police stations, and a variety of other services. CityMaps users can type in their address and return interactive maps and lists of nearest facilities, zoning overlays, and aerial photography. The Web site also links users to public information on schools, city council, public recreation, public transportation, political boundaries, and recycling. Users can also create and export customized maps of their area. The site receives between 5,000 and 6,000 hits per day.

Stafford County, Va., has awarded GeoDecisions, a company that specializes in geospatial solutions, a contract to implement a new GIS that will help county officials evaluate assets and infrastructure for future development.
     In recent years, Stafford County has experienced considerable growth. Although much of the county remains rural, it has increasingly become home to commuters who work in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., approximately 40 miles to the north. To help county officials manage the growth, GeoDecisions is designing a geodatabase that incorporates ESRI ArcSDE technology.
     The geodatabase will serve as a data warehouse or repository for county information, such as parcel, road, zoning, building, census, and subdivision information that is currently stored in a variety of different formats and locations.
     Overall, the geodatabase will consolidate, document, and preserve relevant county information that officials can use to make decisions about land development and community planning. It will also enable multiple users in remote locations to access data at the same time and provide tax parcel data and associated features, thereby improving analysis capabilities. The long-term project goal is preparation of the data for deployment over the Internet.


The Twenty-Fifth Annual ESRI International User Conference will take place July 25-29 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. More than 13,000 new and experienced GIS users from over 80 countries will convene to learn about the latest developments in ESRI's software and to help each other solve problems and answer questions.
     The conference will kick off with a keynote presentation by Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-renowned chimpanzee expert, conservationist, and humanitarian, best known for her study of chimpanzees in Tanzania's Gombe National Park.
     This year's conference will feature 300 technical workshops presented by ESRI staff; an Exhibit Pavilion with an expected 300 ESRI business partners; more than 1,000 user presentations led by analysts, developers, managers, and industry specialists; one-on-one consultations with software experts; and other events. ESRI technical and development staff will lead technical workshops and present software updates on new features in the latest release of ArcGIS 9.
     A User Software Applications Fair will highlight users' projects in embedded desktop, Web-based, and server GIS applications. The Academic GIS Program Fair will host representatives from colleges and universities as they present the different educational options available in GIS.
     The conference Map Gallery will highlight map products, posters, and multi-media projects that illustrate user community achievements.
     The 2005 ESRI Education User Conference, July 23-26, provides a forum for members of the education community to come together and share their experiences and knowledge. The Third Annual Survey and GIS Summit, also taking place July 23-26, bridges the gap between surveying, engineering, and GIS practitioners. The Sixth Annual ESRI Telecommunications and Location-Based Services Summit, held on July 24, is an opportunity to examine best practices as well as trends in technology, applications, and business models.


TMS International — a business development, market research, and communications services firm to the terrestrial, offshore oil, and gas and aerial survey markets — has released the TMSI Global LiDAR Market Report. The report brings together the results of a market survey on the growing number of LiDAR technologies, survey service providers, and market demands and trends in the worldwide market place. The report is being launched at the International LiDAR Mapping Forum Conference in New Orleans, April 25 and 26.

GIS Monitor Back Issues

Advertise with Us

You can reach more than 17,000 GIS professionals every issue by sponsoring GIS Monitor. For more information, email us.


Please send comments and suggestions to:

Matteo Luccio, Editor
GIS Monitor

Ultimate Map/GIS Directory — Your search is over!

GIS Monitor is published by:

GITC America, Inc.
100 Tuscanny Drive, Suite B1
Frederick, MD 21702 USA
Tel: +1 (301) 682-6101
Fax: + 1 (301) 682-6105


If you wish to subscribe or unsubscribe visit our subscription page.
Copyright 2005 by GITC America, Inc. Information may not be reproduced, in whole or in
part, without prior authorization from GITC America, Inc. GIS Monitor is a GITC publication.