May 16, 2002


  • Bomb Suspect Maps Out a Smiley Face
  • AED Graphics Invests in SICAD GEOMATICS
  • MapInfo Launched Mapinfo Discovery

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I suppose we all look at things differently, but I immediately noticed that the locations of the recent pipe bomb locations were circles. I was sure it was not by accident, either. My friends somehow missed it or they simply didn't read papers that mapped the attacks.

The Iowa and Illinois bombs were placed in a circle with a 70-mile radius, while those in Nebraska formed a ring with a 90-mile radius. What I find odd, beyond that this young man felt the need to booby trap mail boxes, is that after the "smiley" comment was made to an officer, it received all sorts of press, but there were few maps!

One publication that used the AP story included a fuzzy map sourced to Reuters. Other sites provided photos and video of Mr. Helder, the complete text of his messages, and a version of the '70's icon, but no map. The St. Paul Pioneer Press, primarily a print publication, had a map in the print edition and on the Web. The story cites "staff and wire reports" as sources. Kudos to the staff in St. Paul - they knew this story needed a map! To be fair, Helder is from small town 60 miles south of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Still, no matter where you live, did you, when hearing or reading the story, want to see the "smiley" for yourself? I did.

I looked at a number of online publications' coverage including Time, and the Christian Science Monitor, and found no maps. I did find them on the USA Today site and a progressive site called Common Dreams, but most outlets chose not to include a map.

I know that in print there are space issues that are more significant than on the Web, and that could be a factor. But I find it hard to imagine that online editors did not have or couldn't link to a map of the locations. My message, I suppose, is this: If you are reading a news story and think a map would be helpful and you don't see one, send a note to the editor.

Bomb Suspect Sought 'Smiley' Pattern (AP)
FBI agent: Suspected pipe bomber had "elaborate plan" and was prepared to die or go to prison (AP)
Bomb Pattern Meant as 'smiley face' (Pioneer Press)
Suspect said He Wanted to Create Happy Face Pattern (USA Today)
Mailbox Bombing Suspect Was Drawing A 'Smiley Face' on the Map of the US (AP, published in Commom Dreams, a progressive non-profit citizens' organization)


SICAD is not a product we hear much about in the US, though it's been around since 1979. The GIS is widely used in the company homeland of Germany and has the respect of many technical professionals. AED Graphics of Bonn, Germany, this week bought the bulk of the company stock. SICAD GEOMATICS will remain independent, and continue its product partnership with Siemens. SICAD was at one time a subsidiary of Siemens.

AED Graphics has been involved in GIS since 1972 with emphasis on automated property mapping (ALK is the German acronym). In January 2001, Leica GeoSystems purchased a 25% interest in AED. AED was one of the first companies in Germany certified and authorized to install exclusively digital cadastral-mapping solutions in government offices. Both AED and Leica use ESRI technology. AED, Leica and ESRI shared a large booth at Intergeo last year and together developed ArcCadastre.

So, why the sudden large-scale investment from AED in SICAD? AED and SICAD GEOMATICS will be developing a joint solution for the coming ALKIS standard (official land registry information system) based on ESRI and Leica Geosystems technology. A project to modernize land management, ALKIS (Authoritative Cadastre Information System) will integrate descriptive and graphic cadastral data based on a object-oriented concept with common standards for both ALKIS and ATKIS (Authoritative Topographic-Cartographic Information System), common data exchange formats and harmonized object catalogues. According to a 2000 article in GeoEurope, the German state of Northrhine-Westphalia was a pilot for ALKIS. Northrhine-Westphalia is currently working on data sharing issues using OpenGIS Specifications.

The interesting question is why is a software company that has its own GIS, SICAD, building an ALKIS solution on ESRI and Leica technology? Despite discussion in the release about continuing to serve current clients with current products, there is also a mention of "migration." Is it possible that the goal will be to upgrade SICAD users to the new system? Daratech's 2000 estimates put SICAD alongside Autodesk and MapInfo, each holding 6% of GIS software revenues worldwide.

AED Graphics Takes Shares of SICAD GEOMATICS
Daratech 2000 Estimates Press Release (pdf)


Previously hinted at during a conference call several months ago, MapInfo Discovery was announced this week. The product promises an easy-to-use extension to MapInfo that allows data to be shared across the enterprise. MapInfo Discovery will be available in June for $5000 (above the cost of MapInfo Professional).

As I understand it, Discovery sits between the solution of publishing a static map on the Web (already a part of MapInfo Professional) and a full-blown MapXtreme solution. The maps are developed in MapInfo Professional, then cataloged on a Web page with links to the interactive maps. According to the press material, there is no need for programming, other software, or a dedicated server (though if you like you can use one). You do however need MapInfo Professional 6.5, Internet Information Server (IIS), and Windows 2000, or XP, or NT.

Those exploring the maps need no plug-ins to view and interact ( pan, zoom, turn off layers, etc). And, it's possible to password protect maps for a measure of security. The software is licensed for the computer where the catalog resides, so that several users can "share" an installation. Each user would need to install the extension on top of their local MapInfo license.

Basically, this is MapInfo's answer to ESRI's old ArcView extension to publish interactive maps. (ESRI just released an ArcMap extension that allows maps developed in that application to be published using ArcIMS.) The selling point here is that anyone using MapInfo Professional who is comfortable making maps can publish them through a wizard. Though these solutions are not as flexible as those from more "advanced" and more expensive MapXtreme or ArcIMS solutions, they are simple to implement. On the other hand, the $5000 price tag is a bit steeper than similar solutions available in connection with Caliper's Maptitude or Manifold's Manifold System.

MapInfo Discovery: Analysis Across the Enterprise


• Bruce Westcott added more questions to my wonderings about there being no women among the award-winning speakers at GITA. I wrote, "I wonder why there were no women in the list."

"We're supposed to ignore the fact that ours is such a good-ole-boy business. With all due respect to the Preethas [Preetha Pulusani, Intergraph], Tostas [Nancy Tosta, Ross & Associates, FGDC, and more] and Siderelises [Karen Siderelis, USGS] of GIS, that remains true, doesn't it? Has anybody bothered to think why that might be, what the impact is, and whether/what we can or should do about it?"

The editor replies: There certainly are a disproportionate number of men in GIS. That said, the same was, and I expect still is true, in geography. My entering grad school class (Penn State 1986) had 20 people and only four women. Three of us, I'm pleased to say, have done well in GIS at a variety of organizations. My suggestion is for those in the industry to get out in front of girls and let them know about the opportunities in GIS and related fields. I've participated in a "Women in Science and Engineering" program with middle school girls for several years, and later this week I'll be speaking to students about GPS and geocaching.

• Adam M. Carnow, GIS Manager at WilsonMiller, Inc. wrote about successful data sharing in Florida in reply to my comments about "bottom up" vs. "top down" initiatives. I asked why he thought the state was so successful.

"I think people in the GIS industry should look at Florida as a great example of data sharing on a statewide level. Within minutes, I can download most of the GIS data I need to get started on a project anywhere in the state. This is due to the tremendous commitment/investment our state and regional agencies have made in GIS data development and distribution. Between the five Water Management Districts, the Department of Environmental Protection, and other data-sharing entities like the Florida Geographic Data Library, LABINS, and the Florida Data Directory, we GISers in Florida are blessed to work in such a data-rich environment. Usually the only digital GIS data that may be difficult to find/obtain are very localized (county level) datasets such as parcels, zoning, future land use, current road network and recent aerials. Other states can certainly learn from Florida's example.

"I think Florida is good at it for a number of reasons that are all tied together:
1. Sunshine law
2. State & regional acceptance of the value/importance of GIS at all levels
3. Progressive growth management legislation and environmental stewardship that requires spatial analysis and data
4. A fast-growing/developing state under enormous development pressures with sensitive resources to protect
5. Regional (WMD) and State (DEP) agencies with large GIS data development budgets 6. An unofficial standardization on one GIS platform (ESRI)
7. A well-developed & established GIS user community with an established history -- GIS users here expect to be able to get good, accurate, recent GIS data in a common industry format from government agencies"

• The New York State (NYS) GIS Clearinghouse took many of its state maps off its website in the past months for security reasons. Many are now back, but others require a request detailing how the data will be used and a copy of valid government issued ID. Turn around is 3-5 days. In only marginally related news, the NYS Assembly is likely to vote down Governor Pataki's bill to limit public access to data related to combating terrorism.

• Atlanta-based Discrete Wireless introduced its second generation Fleet Management product and service at a wireless show. What's significant about that? The new service allows customers to display locations, vehicles, and zones using MapPoint as an embedded component. This application, I'd argue, is exactly the type that Microsoft would like to soon see plugging into MapPoint .NET.

•GPS monitoring of parolees is now in use in 27 states according to the company that makes the system. Unfortunately, though the systems track infractions-such as traveling outside the boundaries of home and work-law enforcement in at least two cases did not arrest those with more than 100 infractions. The story was detailed on PrimeTime last week. "Texas Parole Division had made a policy decision not to pursue the GPS tracking violations because it might lead to parolees being returned to prison - which would make the system look like a failure on paper."

• Affordable telematics has hit in Japan. A service called Carwings is available in the new economy car, the March. The option is available for $380 on the $8,200 March compact and basic service costs just $28 a year (versus $200 for OnStar, for example). It's still a work in progress and of the 40,000 Marchs ordered since March, only 8% of buyers purchased the system.

• has been set up by a committee of geomatics professionals and academics in British Columbia and Yukon to discuss the limited availability of spatial data in Canada. The site hopes to leverage a Canadian KPMG study on spatial data policy that recommended more liberal access to government spatial data.

• Richard Ankrom a 46-year-old Los Angeles artist designed, built and installed an addition to an overhead freeway sign-to exact state specifications-to help guide motorists to the northbound Golden State Freeway (5). This is a type of community service of which we need to see more. The California Department of Transportation didn't notice and doesn't plan to prosecute him.

• MapInfo Corporation announced a seminar series entitled "Better Insights, Better Decisions," a tour of 25 cities across the United States and Canada. My take: this is part of the company realignment - recall that old-fashioned GIS is now a group called LBI - location based insight.

• GISbid let the news out that come June the company will have a partner. The GIS services matching site has 800 consultants registered, but the number of project postings is still small. GISbid has been posting opportunities published elsewhere on the Web.

• Chicago is among the first cities to get BP Connect - an updated gas station/convenience store. Among the draws: Internet-connected e-kiosks providing free driving directions, maps, weather reports, news and traffic updates. Who needs telematics if we have Internet enabled gas stations?

• In the quest for more GIS content, Autodesk's PointA GIS section now includes links to Directions Magazine articles.

• Here in my home state of Massachusetts, the State budget for environmental programs has been drastically reduced for the upcoming fiscal year. This includes cuts in the Dept of Environmental Protection and the Licensed Site Professional (LSP) Board's budgets. LSPs are the folks who oversee the clean-up of hazardous waste. Equally scary, the MassGIS budget is slated for elimination. MassGIS is our statewide GIS organization - the folks who make so much data available. Massachusetts citizens are urged to speak up. Those in other parts of the US and the world, keep an eye out so this doesn't happen to you!

• Announcements
Laser Alignment, Inc. is now officially known as Leica Geosystems GR LLC. Acquired in January 2001 by Leica Geosystems, Laser Alignment became a part of the parent company's construction business segment.

The higher court in Sweden (Hovrätten) has declined CellPoint's appeal of the lower court's decision to put its subsidiary, CellPoint Systems AB, in bankruptcy.

The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) announced that Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions, a business division of Intergraph Corporation, has upgraded its OGC membership to the Strategic level - the Consortium's highest level of membership. Mr. George Desrochers of Intergraph will play a significant leadership role in the Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative.

DMTI Spatial announced that Bryan McIntosh received its third annual award for "Best Analytical Major Project in Business Geographics".

PlanGraphics, Inc. received a Special Recognition SOLUTIONS Award from Public Technology, Inc. (PTI) for its role in developing New York City's "Interactive World Trade Center Disaster Recovery Application" following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Des Lauriers Municipal Solutions has been selected as a Success Story by Pat Summerall Productions. The two-minute segment will appear on Fox Cable News in June. QCData was profiled on the show last year.

Telcontar announced that Sensoria Corporation, a leading provider of in-vehicle, standards-based telematics, has committed to supporting the Telcontar Drill Down Server(TM) 2.5.

ObjectFX Corporation and Charter Solutions, Inc announced that they have formed a partnership for the customization and implementation of ObjectFX's SpatialFX platform in the transportation and logistics markets. Charter Solutions is an e-business consulting firm with vertical expertise in transportation/logistics.
PCI Geomatics is now promoting a formalized customization service to the geomatics market. I think this means they actually now officially "sell" consulting.

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has been nominated for best technical achievement Web site in the 2002 Webby Awards, the international honors for Web sites. Kudos to Luna Imaging, Inc., provider of the image viewing technology and Telemorphic, provider of the GIS technology.

RMSI's GISXtreme application won Microsoft's .NET early adopters' contest. The concept application was showcased at the Dev Days event organized by Microsoft in New Delhi, India. Developed by the Engineering and Spatial Group at RMSI, GISXtreme aims at disseminating spatial data and the various interactions with it as web services.

• Contracts
M.J. Harden Associates, Inc. (MJH) announces Oklahoma Natural Gas (ONG) has selected MJH to provide land base development services.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. announced that the company has been awarded a contract to upgrade and maintain a
satellite ground station in Asia. The contract is valued at $2.5 million (CDN). Systems Inc., developer of information visualization software, announced that the Specialized Information Services (SIS) Division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), as part of their initiative to prototype new interfaces, has chosen to apply Visual Net to their DIRLINE (Directory of Information Resources Online) database to provide health professionals and consumers with a more effective way to search and access healthcare information.

Intergraph Hong Kong Limited, a subsidiary of Intergraph US announced that Companhia de Telecomunicacoes de Macau S.A.R.L. (CTM) has purchased G/Comms, Intergraph's geospatial information management industryware for telecommunications companies.

Trimble announced that it has been awarded a $2.1 million military development contract to supply Global Positioning System technology for Raytheon Company's Miniature Airborne GPS Receiver 2000 GRAM SAASM Program.

Austrian GIS software company PROGIS won the biggest GIS software and service bid in Bosnia Herzegovina to register all forest areas with the help of satellite images, and its geographical information system WinGIS.

Woolpert LLP is providing GIS services to support water utility data for the Honolulu Board of Water Supply.

• Products
Earth Resource Mapping announced the release of the free I-Wizard. The release describes a simple application to seamlessly integrate Image Web Server imagery within an ArcIMS 3.1 implementation.

GE Network Solutions announced the release of its Smallworld Design Manager 2.1 software product.

ESRI announces the release of ArcSDE 8.2 for Oracle, which extends support to Oracle9i Standard and Enterprise Editions. ArcSDE 8.2 for Oracle is the first ArcSDE release that supports Linux servers. Support of Red Hat Linux on Intel-based servers is a continuation of ESRI's commitment to open solutions.

Geographic Data Technology, Inc., a developer of premier map databases, announced that the new quarterly release of its Dynamap street and address databases includes enhanced information for the nation's 600,000 miles of highway to improve routing and navigation applications. The quarterly release also includes new street and address information along with a 12 percent increase in positionally accurate database features to provide current information that accurately models real-world conditions.

ESRI and the National Geographic Society announced the availability of National Geographic's award-winning TOPO! software, which combines seamless map coverage of most U.S. states with easy-to-use mapping tools. Also available through ESRI is National Geographic's TOPO! extension for ArcGIS, which allows users of ArcGIS to use data contained in the TOPO! product.

Leica Geosystems' GIS & Mapping Division introduced the Leica Terrain Productivity Bundle, a software package that combines IMAGINE OrthoBASE Pro with the terrain editing of SOCET SET.

LeadDog Consulting announced the release of Colombia Major Roads & Highways. Designed for routing, tracking and any location based service application, the LeadDog product covers every major road and highway in Colombia.

MapInfo announced a special pricing structure for small to medium sized municipal governments (counties/cities/towns with populations of fewer than 100,000 people) wishing to purchase the right to geocode addresses at a county level using MapMarker US (standard) and MapMarker Plus US. This unit of sale is priced per CPU: MapMarker - County, $1,200.00/CPU, MapMarker Plus - County, $2,400.00/CPU. I suppose they are eager to grow sales in the public sector.

ESRI announced ArcGIS 8.2. Because ArcView and ArcInfo share the same code base, many of the new features are also in ArcView 8.2, announced last week. New to ArcGIS are enhancements to the ArcGIS 3D Analyst and ArcGIS Spatial Analyst extensions.

Dakota Worldwide has announced the release of quarterly population forecasts by block group for the U.S. Dakota Worldwide is working with Synergos Technologies.

Earth Resource Mapping the latest release of the free ECW plugins for ArcGIS 8.1, 8.1.2 and 8.2 and ERDAS Imagine 8.5. The ArcGIS plug-in adds support for ECW, URL, ALG and ERS image formats. It also includes the 500MB (not 50MB) ECW compressor utility for free. The ERDAS plug-in supports the same formats, but the website does not mention the compressor.

Choctaw Geo Imaging (CGI), a Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) Enterprise now offers a seamless mosaic of USGS Digital Ortho Quarter Quad (DOQQ) aerial photography. The line also includes geoTOPO, seamless topographic maps for the United States. The geoORTHO dataset contains several enhancements over traditional DOQQs, including radiometric balancing, mosaicking, database formatting, and color standardization.

DMTI Spatial released CanMap Streetfiles and CanMap RouteLogistics V6.1.

Thales Navigation released Ashtech Micro-Manager and Micro Manager Pro version 1.2.00. Micro-Manager is a new Windows software program to help administrators manage a network of remotely operating GPS reference stations. The company also released version 3.2.00 of the Ashtech Geodetic Base Station Software (GBSS) for managing a continuously operating GPS reference stations.

A software bundle of ArcView 8.1 and IcoMap for ArcGIS is now available from UCLID at a savings of $1000 off the list price.

• Hires
Eastman Kodak Company's Commercial & Government Systems (C&GS;) unit announced the appointment of Bruce A. Wald as General Manager, Image Information Solutions. Wald comes to Kodak from LH Systems, LLC, a subsidiary of Leica Geosystems AG, where he served as President and Chief Executive Officer for five years.

In one of the highest profile appointments to a Board of Directors, Webraska appointed Barry Glick, Founder and ex-CEO of MapQuest to its Board Of Directors. The company hopes to use his talents to grow location-based services in the US.

Quova announced that Jim Fisher joined the company as vice president business development, where he will be responsible for strategic relations and new market development; John Handscomb joined as managing director of Quova's European headquarters, where he will oversee the company's international operations.

James W. Sewall Company announced that John A. Ferketic has joined the firm as Director of Geographic Information Technology Services.

May 13 - Wingcast Selects GDT Data for Telematics Services
GDT data will be used to support the services provided by Wingcast, a company founded by Ford Motor Company and to provide telematics services and applications to the automotive market.

May 13 - ArcPad 6 and Application Builder 6 Now Available
The new release provides a new development product, extended global positioning system (GPS) receiver support, enhancements to key functions, internationalization and localization, and continued growth as the mobile client in the ArcGIS family of products.

May 10 - The First SPOT 5 Image
The first images received in Toulouse, France, Tuesday at 09:27 GMT were obtained in black and white over the city of Athens, Greece, and met expected technical specifications.

May 09 - DigitalGlobe Reduces Prices and Unveils Archive Access
The QuickBird prices were decreased to respond to customers' and resellers' demands for more affordable products. DigitalGlobe also announced that customers may now search archived QuickBird imagery on the company's Web-based interface before placing product orders. Prices drop between $5 and $15 per square kilometer, depending on the product.

May 09 - HDM Supports FEMA's Multi-hazard Mapping Initiative
When I visited the site I received a fatal error. According to a reply received via e-mail, work is underway to upgrade capacity.


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