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2005 May 19


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Editor's Introduction

In this week's issue of GIS Monitor I report on the launch of a joint Microsoft-Sprint venture to deliver real-time location services to businesses throughout the United States — and how it benefits one of its first customers, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, North America's largest junk removal service. I also share with you Jack Dangermond�s response to a couple of questions I posed to him about the relative contributions of academic and commercial organizations in the development of GIS. Finally, I bring you my usual round-up of industry news from press releases.

— Matteo

Microsoft & Sprint Offer New Location Services

What�s that on your belt? A cell phone? A PDA? A digital camera? A GPS receiver? Increasingly, the chances are that it�s all of the above — and that these devices are partially integrated, so that you can dial a phone call directly from your address book or e-mail a digital photo you just took. The next step in this integration is conveying the location data provided by the GPS receiver to an assistance or dispatch center. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission�s E-911 (for �enhanced 911�) mandate requires wireless carriers to provide location information to public safety answering points (PSAPs) and implementation of the mandate is proceeding. For several years now, it has been widely anticipated that the enabling of this location capability in tens of millions of cell phones will, in turn, finally make location-based services (LBS) viable for the consumer market.
     Meanwhile, in the business-to-business market, the next step is the integration of location information with enterprise IT systems, such as those used for customer relationship management (CRM), human resources administration, inventory control, maintenance tracking, and corporate finances. This week Microsoft and Sprint announced a big step in that direction: their alliance to deliver real-time location services to U.S. businesses. Sprint, first among U.S.-based mobile operators, now has access to Microsoft�s MapPoint Location Server (MLS). In turn, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? LLC, North America's largest junk removal service, is among the first companies to benefit from integrating MLS and Sprint�s Business Mobility Framework (BMF) capabilities into its business applications and processes.
     This Microsoft-Sprint alliance allows third party developers and business customers to tap into Sprint�s nationwide PCS network and to use Microsoft�s mapping capabilities and set of development tools to power such applications as asset tracking, fleet management, and mobile-worker dispatch based on real-time location information. MLS — available to Microsoft customers with a valid license agreement for the MapPoint Web Service — provides access to this information by acting as a proxy between business applications and Microsoft�s MapPoint Web Service and by supporting standards such as Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). MLS enforces user privacy preferences in the enterprise's network, giving the enterprise control of default privacy settings and a single platform for developers to connect to multiple wireless networks. Sprint�s BMF offers several Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network-based capabilities, such as cell sector location, precision location, Short Message Service (SMS) alerts, voice alerts, presence notification, and location notification.
     AppLocation Systems Inc., a Victoria, British Columbia-based independent software vendor (ISV) that specializes in developing wireless and location-based solutions, stitched together these capabilities to build a fleet tracking system for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, a junk removal company that services 38 states. Working with Microsoft and Sprint in the United States and with Bell Mobility Canada's network in Canada, AppLocation built real-time location tracking capabilities into 1-800-GOT-JUNK?'s in-house job booking system. The junk removal company can now use real-time location information to route service calls by dispatching drivers based on their proximity to customer locations; it can also assist drivers with turn-by-turn directions and maps for all their routes.

I spoke with Gary Hartwig, president of AppLocation, about his company�s role in this project. �We�ve been in the 'location business' for a long time,� he told me. Ten years ago, the same core group started a commercial ASP service, called, which was then purchased by SignalSoft Corp., an early leader in LBS, in 2000. (When the .com bubble burst, SignalSoft, in turn, was acquired by Open Wave Systems, which makes the Wap browsers used on cell phones.) Since 2002, AppLocation has been integrating wireless communication devices for enterprise clients on a variety of different networks. It also collects location information from these devices and integrates it into business applications for clients that find it valuable.
     While there�s nothing new about the ability to track phones, Hartwig acknowledged, what is new, he explained, is that Sprint and Microsoft have made it possible for third party applications to access this data. �Anybody who does business in the field or at customer sites instead of serving people who walk through their front door values this location information,� Hartwig told me. Unlike automated vehicle location systems (AVL), which rely on devices attached to vehicles, his company�s system makes use of cell phones carried by employees.
     According to Hartwig, routing, scheduling, or a combination of the two improves the efficiency of mobile operations by 10-15 percent. For some of his clients, such as those that operate fleets of planes or tugs and barges, the improvements consist mainly of fuel savings and reduced wear and tear. For others, such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, the improvement consists of a reduction in what drivers call �glass time,� i.e. time spent driving, and an increase in time spent at customers� sites.
     I asked Hartwig about his company�s relationship with Microsoft, Bell Mobility Canada, and Sprint. AppLocation, he told me, is a Microsoft partner and worked on Microsoft�s behalf to integrate MLS into the junk removal company�s infrastructure. The solution it developed extracts cell phone location information from Sprint�s network and obtains maps and routing algorithms from Microsoft�s MapPoint Web Service; it then integrates and repackages this information and feeds it directly into the client�s enterprise IT system.
     The client buys the software from AppLocation, who will then install it, and then hook it up to wireless carrier(s). This is more complicated than just getting a server to talk to an API, Hartwig pointed out, because of the privacy and security considerations involved.
     According to Hartwig, most employees have been supportive of this technology. �Some get paid only when they are on the job,� he pointed out. In the case of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, drivers appreciate receiving turn-by-turn directions to their next location. In other cases, employees enter high-risk areas and if they are not out by a pre-determined time someone will start looking for them. In addition to locating and routing workers, AppLocation�s solution also provides �address validation� — so that drivers do not report to non-existing addresses.
     His company, Hartwig told me, was probably the first to integrate location information from multiple carriers as part of an MLS integration into an enterprise systems. Right now, he points out, only Sprint and Bell Mobility Canada support MLS integration in North America.
     An additional benefit of the system, Hartwig told me, is that it can store location information, so that companies can analyze it later. For example, this allows them to compare scheduled delivery times with actual delivery times and improve their service.
     Finally, clients can use the system to monitor in real-time the location and ETA of supplies. For example, one company used this information to line trucks up at a dock just minutes before the arrival of a barge carrying its supplies, thereby saving on labor costs.

I spoke with Roman Azbel, vice president of IT for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. �We are constantly looking at new ideas to increase efficiency,� he told me. His company has a franchising structure; the territory of each franchise covers a few ZIP codes. �They have the fleet of trucks and perform the service,� Azbel explains, referring to his company�s franchise partners. �We are always trying to optimize their schedule and make their job easier; we are constantly monitoring their performance at the corporate level.�
     According to Azbel, however, his company could not afford expensive tools to obtain the real-time position of its franchise partners� trucks. Therefore, a couple of years ago, they built an in-house solution that used cell phones, which their drivers already carried. It did not require any proprietary hardware device nor any device bolted to the trucks and was only text-based, using WAP (wireless application protocol).
      �We wanted to put everything in the cell phone,� says Azbel. So, when Microsoft — which was looking for a few companies to beta test its new joint venture with Sprint — approached 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, the company jumped at the opportunity. As I mentioned above, the new system derives location information from the drivers� Sprint cell phones and maps and routing information from Microsoft�s MapPoint server; it provides drivers text directions and routing to their next scheduled pickup. Even experienced drivers, Azbel points out, appreciate this very much when they go into new areas, especially complicated and fast-developing industrial zones. Additionally, the system helps ensure the drivers� safety when they enter a dangerous area, by alerting the company if they do not leave the area within a predetermined amount of time.
     His company, Azbel told me, had never used mapping software before — so it is still testing MapPoint, to make sure that the routing works correctly. The new system also provides address verification through QAS, a UK supplier of address management and data accuracy solutions. According to Azbel, an additional benefit of the system is that it improves customer service. His company, as its name indicates, operates a central dispatch system to serve all of its franchise partners. Therefore, the customer service representatives are not from the cities served by the partners and their new ability to see pickup locations on a map helps them assist callers.
     In parallel to the system developed for it by AppLocation Systems on behalf of Microsoft, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? also continued to develop its own in-house WAP-based system, to run on cell phones and on PDAs. �The two systems mirror each other,� Azbel told me. The company uses a combination of Windows Mobile-based Audiovox 6600 Pocket PCs and legacy devices to deliver driving directions to drivers. WAP is used to deliver directions to legacy devices in text format, and Windows Mobile devices enable easier navigation and richer visualization of information.
     In addition to providing real-time assistance to drivers, the system also stores the data about the trucks� actual routes and stops, for later analysis. This is of particular interest to the company because its trucks sport the company�s name/phone number in very large characters on their sides, thereby acting as the company�s main marketing tool. �A lot of our business,� Azbel told me, �is based on people seeing our trucks, which are in effect driving billboards.� By knowing where the trucks are parked at the end of each shift and mapping calls from the surrounding area, the company can evaluate the effectiveness of this kind of marketing. Calls also often cluster in corridors along the routes taken by trucks between towns, Azbel added.
     The company implemented the new system about three months ago and is now also enhancing its scheduling capabilities, in-house. After this initial trial, it will survey its 152 franchise partners to evaluate the success of the project.


I spoke with Trina Seinfeld, the lead product manager for Microsoft�s MapPoint business unit. I asked her about the timing of Microsoft�s announcement of the available integration of its MLS with Sprint's network. �We�ve been in beta [testing] since about December,� she told me, �but Sprint did not want to announce the service until it was ready for the national market launch of Sprint Business Mobility Framework.�
     Microsoft has been working �with various early adopters� of the new system, Seinfeld told me, but only 1-800-GOT-JUNK? was ready to talk about its experience. Over the next six to twelve months, she added, Microsoft will release more case studies, showing how this technology has been adopted for field force management, sales force automation, and other applications. Meanwhile, according to Seinfeld, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is �a perfect example� of the integration of mapping and real-time location into existing applications.
     Microsoft launched MapPoint Location Server a little over a year ago and partnered with three wireless carriers: TeliaSonera in Sweden, O2 in the U.K., and Bell Canada. Sprint is Microsoft�s first U.S. partner. The relationship, however, is �not exclusive,� Seinfeld told me. �We are talking to all the major mobile operators in North America and Europe. They are all interested but at different stages of being technically able to do this.� Similarly, Microsoft�s relationship with AppLocations is also not exclusive. �We have different partners,� she told me.
     I asked Seinfeld what customers need to have to take advantage of MLS. Deployment only requires a Windows Server 2003, she told me. The location server sits on the customer�s IT and knows how to obtain a cell phone�s lat/long from the carrier and how to get a map from MapPoint; it then serves up that map to the customer. According to Seinfeld, MLS is easy to deploy because it is completely integrated with VisualStudio, with which developers are very familiar.
     A basic MLS license costs $8,000 per year; $15,000 per year also buys driving directions and Web services. The location information, however, must be purchased separately from the wireless carrier.

Jack Dangermond On GIS Development

In a recent conversation, a GIS pioneer told me that he thinks that, on the whole, academic researchers have contributed remarkably little to the development of GIS and that nearly all of the action is now with the vendors. He acknowledged that there are some exceptions but, when I asked him to name a few, he suggested that I ask ESRI founder and president Jack Dangermond. So I did, and added three questions:

  • What do you think academic researchers have contributed to the development of GIS tools, standards, and techniques?
  • Who among them has been most helpful to you and ESRI?
  • What do you think they could contribute most in the future?
Here is Jack�s response:

Dear Matteo,

In response to your email of May 4th, please note my agreement that the development of true GIS has shifted to commercial organizations. While it had its origins in government and academia, today GIS is now primarily offered through private software companies. At ESRI, we spend in excess of $100M annually in GIS product development. Our focus is to develop GIS as both an end-user technology, as well as a platform for spatially enabling IT. We also focus on building "complete systems", meaning a full collection of GIS components to productively support geocentric workflows, and on creating a geospatial software platform of functionality that enables software to integrate geographic thinking and methods into other computing platforms (DBMS, application servers, etc.) as well as other applications. This is being done in a high performance, standards-based, scalable, supported and evolving architecture � this is not an academic environment.

Contributions of The Academy and Academic Geography to GIS
Over the years, there have been many contributions to GIS by dozens of individuals in various academic-based organizations that have enabled our field. The two that I have had first-hand knowledge about are the Lab for Computer Graphics at Harvard University and the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA). These organizations have done considerable research work defining the concepts surrounding GIS and, in some cases, have developed working prototype software that has helped provide ideas and method demonstrations for subsequent deployment in commercial packages. In addition to software development, these and many other academic organizations have also helped provide a strong foundation for GIS by integrating and relating many of the theories and methods of geography with emerging technology. Without this foundation, I believe our field would probably be simply another "geospatial technology".
     It is also worth mentioning that many of the leading GIS developers had their original works in academic labs or institutions. This is perhaps the most important ongoing contribution (creating strong GIS developers and practitioners).

A Few More Notes
[Your source] is certainly correct when he points out that nearly all of the action and deployment of GIS is with the vendors. GIS gets real when we create real products, with high quality software engineering � not academic-based prototypes. The commercial software world has played a major part in �making real� many geographic concepts by engineering them into real code. The attributes of performance, solving the problem 100 percent of the time, being practical, usable, scalable, reliable, interoperable, and easy to use are what ultimately has made GIS become the widespread and practical technology that it has become. And we still have so far to go.

Specific Contributions
Contributions at the Harvard Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis during the 60's and 70's that should be acknowledged include people such as Howard Fisher, Allen Schmidt, Carl Steinitz, Nick Chrisman, Dennis White, Scott Morehouse, Dave Sinton, Tom Poiker, Tom Waugh and many others who were all there. Several of these individuals later migrated into commercial software firms.
     Then, during the 80's and 90's, Mike Goodchild, Paul Denshem, Hugh Calkins, Andrew Frank, Max Egenhofer, David Mark, and many of their colleagues at NCGIA carried out fundamental research and definition of our field with literally dozens of books and hundreds of papers formalizing for the academic community what GIS is. Today, there continue to be many small and focused efforts in academia around the world that contribute to our field. Academic "product" contributions include IDRISI, PC Raster, Minnesota Map Server, GeoDA and others associated with the open source community. These are all helping us continue to grow our collective knowledge of what is possible and useful.

Future Development
Going forward, I believe that there is great need for a strong academic research community that focuses on:
  1. Training professionals that can work in the private sector.
  2. Developing the technical framework for what has been engineered in products.
  3. Defining these gaps in technologies and methods.
  4. Developing prototype solutions for these gaps that show the way (prototypes, extensions, etc.).
  5. Using GIS as a platform for more fundamental domain research and development of various applications that demonstrate how GI science and technology can be applied.

News Briefs

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


DM Solutions Group — a provider of online mapping solutions headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and developer of open source MapTools technologies — has launched a new open source online mapping project that will provide a more interactive and continuous user experience in future online mapping applications.
     The new MapTools project, called ka-Map, is being developed to work with MapServer technology, a development environment for creating online mapping applications. The new capabilities take advantage of the user environment now available in such browsers as Firefox and Internet Explorer to deliver a new generation of online mapping solutions that will include the user interaction and response typically only found in desktop applications or browser plug-ins.
     A preview of this capability with DMTI CanMap data and a preliminary developers� version are available.

NAVTEQ, a provider of digital maps for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, has integrated extended lane information into its maps of six European countries. The company first introduced and tested extended lane attributes in its map of Germany in 2004 and is now making them available for select junctions on motorways and roads to major airports in the Q2 2005 release of its maps of Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. NAVTEQ plans to continue launching the extended lane attributes on its maps of additional European countries and select North American cities throughout 2005.
     The extended lane information that NAVTEQ is integrating into its maps includes extended number of lanes (the total number of lanes along a stretch of roadway including turn, deceleration, and exit lanes), lane connectivity (indicates how and where along the roadway lanes connect and depart from one another), and lane restrictions (restricted time and usage information).
     This technology enables navigation systems to guide drivers who are approaching complex interchanges through lanes, alerting them of upcoming lane changes and visually illustrating which lane to choose. The extended lane attributes for Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are currently available upon request. Starting in the Q4 2005, extended lanes will be standard on all maps that have been integrated with these attributes.

GfK Macon has released several new datasets, available for download through its website. One is an updated set of administrative and postal digital maps of Italy, supplemented by topographical information, such as urban features, rivers, railway lines, lakes, major roads, and other details. The Italy set consists of a total of 36 individual maps that match up with those of neighboring countries without any overlaps.
     Another available data package shows commuter flows between communities throughout Germany: how many people from any given town travel to another town to work and/or how many people commute to a particular community. The latest population and regional data for Germany, Austria and Switzerland is available for downloading for free. It consists of population numbers and regional information in square kilometers for all administrative and postal districts in these three countries. All data is available for the years 2000-2005.

Franson Technology has released GPSTools v2.20, a program to develop GPS, mapping, and basic GIS applications in Visual Studio. The program�s set of samples and documentation allow developers who are new to GPS programming to program in Windows, Pocket PC, WindowsCE, ActiveX, and .NET.
     This version of GPSTools includes vector map support, allowing the user to draw polygons and polylines and to load, display, save, and manage ESRI Shapefiles. The program provides access to GPS position, speed, and satellite information and can convert geographic coordinates between most coordinate systems, including UTM, WGS84, NAD27, and NAD83.
     The program also allows the user to define raster maps and draw icons, lines, ellipses, rectangles, and other objects on them. These maps can be connected to the GPS data, where they can be rotated and zoomed. Objects can be drawn on multiple layers.
     Franson GpsTools v2.20 is available for .NET, .NET Compact Framework, ActiveX for Windows, and ActiveX for Pocket PC. Single-user licenses for Franson GPSTools Pro start at $49(US). The standard version does not support raster maps.

Miner & Miner (M&M;) — a Telvent company that develops and implements GIS software for utilities � has released Responder 9.0.2, a GIS-hosted Outage Management System (OMS).
     Responder, based on ESRI's ArcGIS, is scalable, extensible, and sustainable. It helps utilities respond to customers, manage crews and incidents, and enhance customer service by providing information based on both geographical and tabular data for restoration during storms or daily operations. Utilizing an OMS that leverages a GIS provides operational staff the advantage of a user interface and removes the challenges of data integrity and transformation often associated with managing disparate systems.
     The 9.0.2 release includes the following updates: a function that allows users to create, manage and execute planned switching orders; a tagging capability that allows users to place or remove tags at device and fault locations; the ability to place and remove rounds on a conductor and include them as part of a switching or restoration order; and the ability to place open points (cuts) on conductors to create incidents (faults).

MapInfo Corporation, a provider of location intelligence solutions headquartered in Troy, New York, has launched the 2005 National Survey of Local Shopping Patterns, a country-wide survey of shopping destination preferences based on the responses of more than six million households throughout Great Britain.
     Incorporating three data sets — non-food, grocery, and retail parks � the survey identifies the catchments and catchment penetration rates of comparison goods trading locations (towns/shopping centres), grocery branches (superstores and supermarkets), and retail parks throughout Great Britain. When combined with MapInfo products and MapInfo Predictive Analytics�s services, the survey enables organizations to spot consumer and market trends, identify demographic profiles, pinpoint market potential for dovetailing products and services, model and analyze catchment areas for site location purposes, and plan sales territories. The survey is maintained by CB Richard Ellis, a property services company, and is available through MapInfo.
     The survey can be combined with any MapInfo data set available at postcode sector level, such as demographic, income, lifestyle or expenditure, enabling organizations to visualize the primary, secondary and tertiary catchments and/or shopping population profiles for any individual location or group of locations.

Mapcom Systems has released M4 Solutions v6.5, the debut version of its Windows-based Geographical Operations System (GOS) software for telecommunications companies. Retaining all of the functionality of previous versions, the release includes the major additions of complete fiber management (copper- integrated or stand-alone) and increased work order capabilities, including one-step staking sheets and CPR generation.
     M4 Solutions can integrate with any open database and with most billing, accounting, network management, and customer service applications. The M4 Fiber module facilitates the design, implementation and management of the fiber network and allows users to manage fiber alone or to integrate with their copper network, managing both networks simultaneously in a consistent format. When used with the M4 Integration Engine, users may correlate customers to individual pieces of equipment and work in conjunction with existing Element Management Systems (EMS). Companies know immediately who is affected by outages and have geographically-based access to fiber cut locations and splicing priorities, significantly reducing outage times.

Navicore has launched its Navicore Personal handset navigation system in the U.K, following its earlier introduction in Scandinavia. The product provides mapping and routing through a point-and-click user interface, using a proprietary routing algorithm. Navicore Personal is sold as a complete retail package, including a 256 MB memory card containing the Navicore application, UK maps from Tele Atlas with street-level detail, a charger, and a Bluetooth GPS receiver featuring a Sirf III GPS chip.
     Navicore Personal shows instructions on screen and also gives spoken instructions in multiple languages. The product also offers thousands of points of interest and �location messaging,� allowing users to send their location to others via text message. It will available throughout the U.K. beginning on June 1, through O2 retail stores.


OneGIS — a consulting and outsourcing firm specializing in the development of GIS solutions for the electric, gas, water, wastewater, storm water, and municipal government markets � has received several new GIS implementation contracts in the first four months of 2005. They include contracts for new clients in the municipal utility and electric cooperative markets as well as new custom interface development and support engagements for existing clients. The company�s new clients include: Appalachian Electric Cooperative, New Market, Tennessee; Black River EMC, Sumter, South Carolina; Bristol Tennessee Essential Services; the City of Concord, North Carolina; the City of Ponca City, Oklahoma; the City of Salisbury, North Carolina; the City of Wilson, North Carolina; and Tri-County EMC, Azle, Texas.
     In addition to installation and implementation services, OneGIS is providing custom interfaces between clients� GIS and their Customer Information System (CIS), Work Management System (WMS), Engineering Analysis (EA) and Staking/Design software.

Orion Technology Inc., based in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and Pakistan Resources Development Services (PRDS) Ltd. have entered into a strategic partnership aimed at increasing their share of the growing Pakistani market. Through this partnership, PRDS will distribute Orion�s WebGIS software products, as an addition to its suite of services.
     Established in 1994 to market and support ESRI products in Pakistan, PRDS� client list has grown to include several national and international organizations.
     Orion Technology has developed a suite of off-the-shelf web-GIS solutions led by OnPoint, a fully customizable web-GIS product (using ESRI's ArcIMS) for posting geographic data on the Web. Their flagship product, OnPoint Professional, allows GIS administrators to integrate multiple data sources through a single-point-of-access Web portal and incorporate interactive mapping capabilities into websites. Orion assists clients throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan, Bhutan, the United Arab Emirates, Jamaica, and Botswana.

Intergraph and Skyline Software Systems have signed a reseller agreement allowing the former to resell the latter�s TerraExplorer suite of products with its GeoMedia suite of products. Geospatial professionals integrating data collected and managed by Intergraph's GeoMedia technology into Skyline's TerraExplorer will now have real-time 3D visualization capabilities for their entire range of geospatial information — from digital elevation models to high-resolution imagery and geospatial features, such as road networks, infrastructure and other points of interest.
     Combining dynamic and accurate geospatial data from GeoMedia with real-time streaming imagery capabilities of TerraSuite enables users to evaluate environments using realistic, location-specific environments, thus enhancing situation analysis and decision support.

Multnomah County, Oregon, has selected NovaLIS Technologies and business partner High Desert Geo-Technologies, Inc., to implement NovaLIS Land Development Office. The county�s Land Use and Transportation Division will be replacing its existing legacy land use tracking and GIS property information applications with the new system.
     The Staff at Multnomah County will become partners in the development of the Land Development Office system and will focus their attention on the workflow and business rules. High Desert will begin implementation in mid-May with the Business Area Analysis unit and are planning on going live by the fall of 2005. The ultimate goal of this project is to ensure the public has access to more reliable and faster service from the Land Use Planning section through a Web interface. Replacing the old systems will reduce the overall maintenance costs to the county and will give the section better information on how efficiently it is servicing the public.
     NovaLIS Land Development Office automates workflow practices, ensuring the consistent application of regulations, increasing staff productivity, and improving customer service. NovaLIS' land management solution combines GIS, document imaging, workflow management, parcel and application cloning, Internet browser connectivity, and relational database technology in one package.
     High Desert Geo-Technologies, located in Bend, Oregon, specializes in integrated land development systems including NovaLIS Technologies, ESRI, and Trimble. NovaLIS Technologies designs and delivers products that streamline land records management and improve access to information relating to property valuation, property taxation, land tenure, cadastral mapping, and land development. It is jointly owned by ESRI Canada and Leica Geosystems. NovaLIS� corporate headquarters are in Charlotte, North Carolina and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission has selected Vargis, LLC — a global geospatial consulting and professional services firm � to provide digital orthophoto mapping and planimetric updates for Prince George�s County. The County�s last update occurred in 2000, and to ensure that the existing GIS databases reflect changes in the landscape, the County decided to embark on this new project for Spring 2005.
     For the entire geographic area, approximately 485 square miles, the scope of work includes the acquisition of color aerial photography, production of digital orthophotography, and completion of planimetric update mapping of selected layers. The data requested— by the County will be used for obtaining impervious surfaces, land use land cover, and for various economic development initiatives. Final deliverables consist of 6� pixel color digital orthophotos and planimetric updates.


The State University of New York will recognize ESRI President Jack Dangermond's outstanding social and technological contributions to local and global communities with an honorary doctor of science degree to be presented at the 159th general commencement ceremony at the University at Buffalo (UB) on May 15.
     Dangermond founded ESRI in 1969 and was an early participant in developing GIS software. At UB, Dangermond has supported GIS programs by serving on advisory boards for the university's National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis and, currently, the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program. IGERT offers doctoral students an interdisciplinary geographic information science (GIScience) degree that incorporates innovative research in environmental science, social science, information science, or engineering with the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for careers in GIScience.
     UB was one of the first universities to host ESRI's original GIS software, ArcInfo, and its GIScience community now involves nearly 60 UB faculty in more than 20 departments. NCGIA-Buffalo, established in 1988 by a National Science Foundation grant, coordinates an active and interdisciplinary GIScience research community distributed among four universities. It also organizes UB's participation in the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science and the New York State GIS Coordinating Committee.
     "Jack Dangermond has succeeded in creating a community of GIS users that embodies a philosophy of solidarity and positive change," says IGERT Director David Mark, who nominated Dangermond for the honorary degree. The nomination was approved by Simpson, SUNY Chancellor Robert L. King, and Provost Peter D. Salins and confirmed by the SUNY Board of Trustees. Trustees Steven L. Alfasi and Gordon R. Gross will join Simpson in conferring the degree during commencement. UB is a research-intensive university and the largest of the SUNY schools.

Geospatial industry veteran Kent Hargesheimer has launched Geographic Enterprises, LLC (GE) with a focus on providing geographic business intelligence solutions to help clients manage and grow their businesses.
     Hargesheimer is a professional geographer with more than a decade of experience envisioning, planning, and successfully implementing custom geospatial enterprise solutions for Fortune 500 companies such as the American Automobile Association, Bank of America, BP, Clear Channel Communications, and VF Corporation, as well as the US Census Bureau.


Switzerland-based Leica Geosystems has chosen Brisbane, Australia, as the home of its global research and development headquarters for machine automation solutions. The facility will focus on new technology for the mining and construction industries. The new center was officially opened by The Hon. John Howard MP, Prime Minister of Australia, in a ceremony on May 17.

Little Rock, Arkansas, Mayor Jim Dailey voiced the support of the National League of Cities (NLC) for actions taken by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today to require enhanced 911 (E911) service for customers of voice-over-Internet (VoIP) phone service. Dailey, chairman of the FCC�s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee and a member of the NLC Advisory Council, reaffirmed the importance of providing emergency service to anyone using phone service, regardless of how it is delivered.
     The FCC order was in response to a growing number of incidents where VoIP customers dialed 911 but were not able to reach emergency operators. Under the order, VoIP service providers must ensure that their customers are able to reach their local emergency operator as part of a standard feature, similar to what is offered for traditional telephone services. The VoIP providers must provide emergency operators with call-back numbers and location information where required by public safety officials. The providers must inform customers of their E911 capabilities and limitations of service.
     In 2004, the FCC had taken a �hands-off� policy regarding Internet services, finding that they were �information services�, not �telecommunications services.� NLC has opposed this decision, citing public safety concerns such as the ones identified today. The ruling compels VoIP providers to comply with the new requirements within 120 days.

Corbley Communications Inc., based in Winchester, Virginia, has launched a Small Business Development Program to provide public relations services to geospatial firms that have fewer than 12 employees or have been in business less than five years. The firm will offer public relations services to these businesses at special reduced rates for a period of two years.

The Open Geospatial Consortium Inc. (OGC) will soon begin an Interoperability Experiment to create a draft specification and implementations of a Sensor Alert Service (SAS).
     The OGC Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) Working Group has recognized that the SWE suite of standards and proposed standards requires an alert and notification mechanism to specify how alert or "alarm" conditions are defined, detected, and made available to interested users. Therefore, this Interoperability Experiment will create a draft Sensor Alert Service (SAS) specification for consideration by the OGC SWE Working Group. An initial task of the SAS Interoperability Experiment will be to determine if existing standards meet the focused SAS requirements. Standards to be considered include, but are not limited to, the OASIS CAP, WS-N and ASAP specifications. The SAS Interoperability Experiment Initiator Team is comprised of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); Radiance Technology; Innovative Research, Ideas, & Services Corporation (IRIS); and Intergraph. Other OGC members are encouraged to participate in or sign on as observers for this Interoperability Experiment.
     The OGC is an international industry consortium of more than 270 companies, government agencies, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface specifications. OpenGIS Specifications support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT.

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