Letters, Points of Interest, Week in Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe
If, for some reason you cannot read this document, visit: http://www.gismonitor.com/news/newsletter/archive/052203.php
I would like to ask our readers for input on a few topics GIS Monitor will be covering in the future. In two weeks I'll be taking a look at free and open source software. If you are aware of stories, products, or trends that should be addressed, please send them on. The July 3rd issue will focus on new technology. If you have or know about products or services that fall into that category, please let me know.
One more thing. In our rather small community of GIS there are some key movers and shakers whose speeches or presentations everyone should get to listen to at least once. Some are in our industry (like Jack Dangermond and Vanessa Lawrence) and some are not (like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison). Geospatial thinkers will have the opportunity to hear two key players from outside our industry speak in the context of our discipline at the upcoming Emerging Technology Summit scheduled for June 5 and 6 in Vienna, Virginia.
Tim Berners-Lee, the "inventor" of the Internet, and Jim Geringer, former Governor of Wyoming, will present keynotes and participate in moderated, interactive sessions. I've heard both of these men speak, and both are excellent. While I was apprehensive that I might not understand Berners-Lee, I found the ideas easy to grasp, but the implications complex. He makes you think. As for Geringer, he's a leader who "gets" geospatial. His ideas are very helpful as so many of us try to grow more individuals who "get it." The event is a quick, affordable way to run into these men and other attendees as they explore the future of Spatial Web Services.
THE BENTLEY INTERNATIONAL USER CONFERENCE: INTRO
This week I attended the Bentley International User Conference (BIUC) for the first time. The event capped off the company's several-month-long "World Tour." The BIUC provided a chance to update users and partners on the state of affairs relating to all things MicroStation. The conference spanned all the vertical industries that Bentley covers (geospatial, plant, civil, and building) and its horizontal technologies (including MicroStation, its flagship engineering platform), and its collaboration servers (such as ProjectWise, which provides a managed environment for work in each of the vertical industries).
Charley Ferrucci, vice president of marketing, welcomed attendees and set the stage for the conference. He mentioned that attendance at the conference was up from last year, something the company found gratifying considering the many challenges to travel and budgets this year. Attendees came from more than 500 organizations, representing 54 countries, with 15% venturing to Baltimore from outside the U.S. Ferrucci also noted that this was the first time GeoPak and AutoPlant users have joined the BIUC.
CORPORATE KEYNOTE: THE STATE OF THE COMPANY
Greg Bentley, CEO, started his keynote with a look at the company in these challenging times. He noted the cyclic nature of the economy, stressing that it must be at the bottom of the bottom and suggesting that users must prepare for the inevitable upturn. Bentley is doing just that, as it waits patiently for another chance at an initial public offering (IPO) after the first one was withdrawn last year due the economy. As Mr. Bentley put it, "We waited 17 years, we'll wait some more." He also pointed out that the economy has made many public companies wish they'd gone private!
He then turned to the good news in Bentley's growth, something he was unable to do at last year's conference since it was held during the "quiet period" of the potential IPO. In 2002, revenues were approximately $230 million, with 6% growth outside of acquisitions. He mentioned the important role users play in growing the company with their subscription payments, which essentially act as investments. These, he explained, yield substantial return on investment for both Bentley customers and Bentley. This year is off to a good start, with 11% growth over the first quarter last year.
Acquisitions are a key part of Bentley growth. That's good news for Bentley users, Mr. Bentley observed, since it's typically easier, cheaper, and less risky to deal with a single vendor than many, especially when the products are well integrated. Mr. Bentley suggested that Autodesk, which has perhaps a less cohesive integration of its product line, may be "threatening the viability of its user base."
Bentley employs approximately 1500 people - roughly two hundred in each of the four verticals, plus some 600 in field office and corporate responsibilities.
The clear vision for the company and it users, while linked to MicroStation, is the managed environment, basically a document management system specifically designed for engineering workflows. Use of the managed environment, Mr. Bentley reasoned, is what will prevent "technology sprawl"- raw data not tied to workflow and stand-alone applications that can harm, rather than hurt, an architecture, engineering, construction (AEC, sometimes called AECO, adding "operation") organization. The managed environment, he feels, is just about to move into the "mainstream" part of the adoption curve.
Mr. Bentley spent quite a bit of time in his keynote explaining and updating the vision of the Bentley/ESRI initiative first announced last year. The most striking comment he made about it, is that Bentley does not and will not offer an enterprise GIS solution. The company recognizes the key role GIS can, and in fact, must play in AEC, and will pursue providing it via a close relationship with ESRI, the leader in the GIS space.
In particular, AEC needs a specialized managed environment, one that can handle the "ad hoc ecosystem" and manage the "volatile workflows" that typically occur in such projects. GIS needs a different managed environment, one, for example, that updates a landbase only after as-built information is available. He pointed out that no company has been able to provide both types of managed environment and Bentley doesn't intend to go down that path.
Instead, Bentley has chosen to develop interoperability at the desktop and between the two managed environments (of AEC and GIS) - both steps that move beyond the lowest common denominator exchange that's been used in the past (think DXF, for example). The partners will embed each other's components at the desktop level and link their servers so that users can access and use the "correct, current and useful" GIS data from the other system.
Beyond that vision, Mr. Bentley noted some potential Bentley-developed ArcView applications and that the results of the partnership may provide a good solution for FRAMME and MGE users. (Intergraph is not porting those products beyond MicroStation/J, the one before V8.) He also announced the creation of a Government Center of Excellence to be based in Reston, Virginia, which will focus on government needs, including homeland security. A series of workshops on AEC/GIS interoperability are in the works at the new Center.
His final points concerned the Future City Competition, part of National Engineers' Week, an opportunity for 12- and 13-year-olds to design a city alongside practicing engineers. Bentley sponsors the finals. Mr. Bentley was encouraging users to act as more mentors since there are not enough to go around.
I had the chance to speak with Greg Bentley later in the conference. We discussed the announcement that the company would support the OpenDWG Alliance in providing libraries to read and write V8 DGN format. Mr. Bentley explained that until V8 the company didn't feel it had a format that could stand test of time. That's why opening up the format took this long. He also explained that it also made sense to wait until the digital rights support was nailed down in V8. That way control of content was available along with the security of having many ways to access it. (More on this in Keith Bentley's keynote, discussed below.)
Mr. Bentley was very pleased with the growth and development of the four verticals that the company had settled on after some "experiments." The clear lines and strong leadership, he feels, are helping to "crystallize" their respective visions. We spoke a bit about the history of AEC and he suggested that much of the discipline's reluctance to work with servers and with information technology (IT) stemmed from a history on the "special hardware" required for the demanding task of visualization. Now that everyone uses similar, rather than specialized hardware, it's far easier for AEC companies to take full advantage of changes in operational philosophy that stem from IT.
He's pleased at the growth of the use of the managed environment and suggests that once AEC users realized it was not such a stretch from their current environment (they already use print servers, for example) there was little resistance to the idea. Mr. Bentley suggested that some 25-30% of new data is being created in a managed environment at this time. He also pointed out, and I've never considered this, that perhaps when attacking the AEC/GIS collaboration problem, software vendors should have started with interoperability (working together), then moved to the perhaps more complex integration (merging the technologies).
The amount of attention given to geospatial in the keynote, and in the conference overall (there was a geospatial demo during the evening's entertainment on Monday night, for example), made it clear to me that Bentley has found its footing, defined its story, and matured its role in this vertical.
GEOSPATIAL KEYNOTE: DETAILS OF THE VISION
After the conference keynote each vertical hosted its own industry-focused keynote. Carey Mann, Vice President of Industry and Product Marketing and Styli Camateros, VP of Bentley Geospatial, spoke to an attentive group that was anxious to get more details on the practical implication of the Bentley/ESRI relationship. Mann explained that this is really the first formal introduction of the geospatial group under its new name. Note that Intergraph now uses that term for its vertical and that NIMA is changing its name to include the term. Bentley is clearly on the same page. Mann also noted that the new group was seeking out an advisory board at the conference to help guide the vertical in the coming years.
Bentley geospatial is really about the spatial-enabled managed environment, a vision built on five pillars: production mapping, a network model, content management, content publishing, and interoperability. There was a brief mention of the network model - how several products now exist for water, wastewater and telco, and how others are expected for gas and electric. These industry specific applications include definitions of the work environment: placement rules (level, symbology, etc.), domain constraints (for example, can only have a 2", 4" or 6" pipe, no other values are allowed) and design standards. When written out to a newfangled DGN, attributes and those environmental "rules" will be written into XML in the DGN for disconnected use.
Camateros focused on two of the five pillars: spatially enabled content management and interoperability. The content management demo illustrated an ArcCatalog-like viewing interface to DGN documents. Zooming in changed which DGN, at which level of detail, was shown. Camateros offered that in time the background map could be pulled from any server supporting the Open GIS Consortium's OpenGIS Web Map Service Specification (WMS). He cited MapQuest as an example, but that does not support WMS, to my knowledge. He also illustrated that documents could be associated with a location if they were not inherently in spatial coordinates. For example, Word, Excel or TIF files could be associated with a polygonal area. The documents are then returned when that area is queried.
Camateros explained that interoperability can be thought of as an extension to publishing. One of Bentley's key ideas is that data must be reused inside and outside the organization that creates it. While publishing certainly can take it out to the world, more advanced interoperability insures that it can be widely and intelligently used. He illustrated searching for shape files in the managed environment (ProjectWise), and then viewed them in ArcExplorer. I have to believe in time ProjectWise will show them natively. The query of ArcGIS geodatabases (the data format for ArcGIS) from MicroStation requires three simple steps: (1) define an area (the default is a fence), (2) determine how many DGNs to create from the data and what seed files to use, and then (3) choose which features to extract. The data comes across in one of the newfangled DGNs - complete with attributes and work environment rules and constraints.
ESRI'S TAKE ON AEC/GIS INTEROPERABILITY
David Maguire, ESRI Director of Products, provided ESRI's take on the two companies' vision in a session I later heard described as "awesome and they should do it again." In the time that the two companies have been working together, the vision has been becoming clearer and clearer. That came through in both the ESRI and Bentley presentations at the conference.
Maguire began by explaining that while GIS and AEC platforms are similar, they are also quite different. In particular, AEC applications are quite vertical, while GIS is horizontal; that while AEC uses a graphic-focused model, GIS uses a data-centric one; that while AEC works on quite a large scale, GIS prefers a medium to small one; that while AEC technology depends on a less constrained environment for data creation, GIS favors a far more constrained one. In terms of the practitioners, he observed, AEC software users and GIS users "look at the same problem in different ways." And that, he argues, is why users need the technologies to work together. He introduced the idea that AEC software technology interoperating with GIS can be viewed as performing a transaction against a GIS database.
To illustrate the context GIS provides for AEC tasks, he showed off ArcGlobe, ESRI's 3-D visualization tool introduced at last year's ESRI conference. He illustrated some nifty functionality - like changing the transparency of imagery to reveal the changes in Las Vegas over the past decade (a golf course became the Tropicana, for example). He then visited a few areas where CAD data was integrated into a GIS visualization: there were 3D-rendered DGN files showing the buildings of the Redlands ESRI campus, and 2-D floor plans of ESRI-Denver.
He then reviewed the different options for sharing AEC and GIS data used in the past, highlighting some of the challenges each faces. He started with the "old stand-bys" of exchange files and the use of application programming interfaces, APIs, such as OGC's Simple Features. These, while useful, he pointed out, are "lowest common denominator" exchanges, and they practically insure data loss. Translation of native formats, which can require reverse engineering, is also valuable. However, the energy required for engineers to keep up with the latest file format changes is taxing. Using a common repository such as a database (ArcSDE on DB2, Oracle or SQL Server for example) also solves some problems, but still runs into the lowest common denominator problem, as well as the file format update issues.
He then highlighted the new ways that Bentley and ESRI are approaching the task: one involves embedding native APIs in the other's product, and the other involves making two server technologies work together. He pointed out that both rely not on the solutions above, but on core software engineering. The vision for both of these solutions is the "lossless repeatable movement of simple and advanced features" between software products.
In particular, ESRI is embedding MicroStation code into ArcGIS to read MicroStation data far better than ESRI software has been able to do so before. Similarly, Bentley is embedding ArcObjects (the core code of ArcGIS) into MicroStation to read its formats with integrity. This is significant, because in many instances, when software vendors speak of reading data natively, the software doing the reading is not provided by the vendor who defined the format, and hence can be lossy. As for the server-side solutions, they allow the same type of sharing, only in the formal organization of a managed environment.
I spoke to Maguire after the presentation about the role of CAD-based GIS in the world. He explained that while its possible to add mapping functionality to AEC software, there's only so far that you can go. As he put it, "you can stretch the rubber band only so far before it breaks." The "breaking point" is when you run up against those fundamental differences that make CAD, CAD and GIS, GIS. For example, its quite a stretch to make a file-based solution magically become a continuous, quick access database. By the same token, it's hard to imagine the speed and editing tools of a CAD package working in the heavily constrained world of a GIS.
Maguire also explained that it has become clear that AEC and GIS professionals have different mindsets. "They use the same words, but really are speaking about something completely different." Those differences are defined as professionals gain experience in their respective fields, as they further define "their way of looking at the world." After some years exploring the dichotomy between AEC and GIS, he suggested, the two companies are becoming better at seeing and explaining these inherent differences and working with then, not fighting against them.
I asked Maguire what role the older methods of data sharing would play as ESRI/Bentley roll out new ways to solve the AEC/GIS interoperability challenge. "Nothing goes away," he replied. "There are still plenty of people on MicroStation 5 and AutoCAD v11 that will continue to use DXF to move data back and forth." Now, he noted, there will simply be more choices.
He gave this update of ESRI's plans with respect to CAD:
• ArcGIS will be able to read V8, supporting more data types in the file format (this ability is built on Bentley technology).
• ArcSDE CAD Client currently supports V8 and AutoCAD 2002, and the company is working on AutoCAD 2004.
• ArcGIS will be able to read and write DXF, DWG, and DGN V8 (with Bentley technology).
• A new version of ArcGIS will allow CAD users to build elegant models to process CAD drawings as needed.
I asked if the work that the two companies had done will inspire more "server to server" interoperability. Maguire replied that the work being done in Web services will encourage those types of connections. (The vision there, however, is for open standards like SOAP and XML to enable connections, while the Bentley/ESRI collaboration involved two companies sharing proprietary technologies.)
Maguire, while clearly pleased with the progress the two companies has made, makes it clear that the technology solution is really one of four "steps" that need to happen for the ESRI/Bentley technology to become an effective solution. First, the people involved (the AEC and GIS professionals) must agree to work together, then they must tease out the business logic/workflow that makes data sharing possible, then they must insure the data meets needed standards ("garbage in, garbage out" still holds!). Then, and only then, can the technology provide its link between AEC and GIS, and their practitioners.
A USER SESSION
Karen Stewart, Engineering Spatial Information Section Manager, reported on the challenge her city of 400,000 (Surrey, British Columbia) goes through to move data from MicroStation to ESRI format. She referred to it as "the old way" in the context of the Bentley/ESRI partnership. The city had been working with MicroStation since 1985, and after a few servers "passed on," the city examined its technology needs. The answer was both AEC and GIS software. Her team of 19 had substantial MicroStation experience, and the city was comfortable that MicroStation was the right tool for data update and creation. However, the map users in the city really needed GIS. That, she explained, would free up her staff from making custom maps for many city departments.
In the end, the city chose MicroStation DGN and several ESRI formats (shapefiles, coverages and ArcSDE layers) as its core data formats. The data is created using custom MicroStation tools that help prevent errors. Files move through Axiom, Safe Software, and AML (ArcInfo's scripting language) routines before coming out the other end in an ESRI format. The good news is that the system only converts the changes, so that the huge data set need not be converted each time. What I think is interesting is that much of the energy put into this workflow will be retained even if the city moves to the new interoperability paradigm. From her discussion, I understood that much of the energy involved in setting up the process focused on creating good, clean data that meets standards. That important work will be required if the city moves to Bentley/ESRI's vision as outlined at the conference, or any other solution.
KEITH BENTLEY LOOKS AT THE FUTURE
Since so many sessions at the conference were about content (creating and especially managing content), it made sense that when Chief Technology Officer Keith Bentley took the stage he wanted to speak about content. He focused on the idea of a platform, and why one is needed. The key answer is that AEC is a hybrid world, that its practitioners use data from many different disciplines and in many different formats. It'd be ideal, but not practical for all practitioners to use the same tool. It'd be nice if users could use a single database to store all AEC content, but that's not practical either, since among other things, it concentrates the risk in single place. Further, platforms help maintain consistency for customization and application development. They integrate workflow and allow for the "federation" of AEC data so that although it's not really stored in a continuous database, users can act upon it as though it were.
Mr. Bentley also made it quite clear that all of the attendees are in fact in the "information business." He also explained that information is a valuable asset, one, that at the end of the day, is what the software users get paid to create. To get the most out of that asset, inside the organization, he noted, users must manage, index, re-use and publish the data. To get the most out of the data outside the organization, users must sign it, protect it, and promote it.
Another important consideration is the choice of which file format to use to store the information assets. Mr. Bentley reminded attendees that files are the currency of AEC content, that the files are what users interpret and use, that they are a long-term investment. Perhaps most importantly, the creators hold the intellectual property (IP) rights to the content, though it may appear that at times, software vendors intrude on that right. A good file format, one that helps hold the value of the asset, he argued, should be stable, open, and standard (that is, widely used).
Mr. Bentley used those statements to introduce the next step in the company's OpenDGN Initiative that was announced some months ago. Bentley will be providing support to the OpenDWG Alliance to develop libraries to read and write V8 DGN format. The Alliance, with a name change on the horizon, will then make those libraries available to software developers. That, Mr. Bentley suggested, should make Bentley users far more comfortable with their ownership of content.
Mr. Bentley then went on to detail the importance of file format stability, noting that every new format puts substantial burdens on users. If the return on the new format is not large enough, users may simply not move to the new format. However, he does admit that formats do become "long in the tooth" and need retooling from time to time. Sometimes the reason to create a new one is to provide necessary functionality in the software that would not otherwise be possible. That was the situation with the MicroStation V8 format. He noted that for Bentley, which has had a subscription program for many years, if users chose not to upgrade, there is little impact on the company's bottom line. That however, isn't the case for all software development organizations.
Mr. Bentley gave his opinion of the latest version of AutoCAD, AutoCAD 2004, released just over two months ago. While he found a few new features impressive, overall he deemed it a "minor release." To create the new file format for the release, he says "Autodesk went to great lengths to rearrange the bits" to make it complicated for others to read. Still, he noted, it's not that different since to provide support for the format in MicroStation, he and his colleagues will not need to change the DGN format at all.
Mr. Bentley and Tom Anderson, Vice President of Product Marketing, showed off some of the challenges of the new 2004 format and AutoCAD 2004: Volo View 2002, Autodesk's free viewer does not support the new format, nor does the new Express View (it only supports DWF, drawing Web format). And, AutoCAD 2004 doesn't write out AutoCAD R14 format. But, the pair illustrated, 63 days after AutoCAD 2004 shipped, the team at Bentley had MicroStation 8.1 reading the format. The format will be supported in Select releases (for subscribers) soon and in MicroStation 8.2 early next year. Even more interesting, Bentley View, Bentley's free viewer will support AutoCAD 2004.
Keith Bentley is probably one of the best people to evaluate technology trends and their impact on AEC. This year he suggested, technologists are recovering from the hype of the Internet, Java and .NET. Bentley described .NET as Microsoft's implementation of Java based on XML messaging, and closely tied to Windows. One of the challenges of Java, he offered, is that it was "too big of disconnect" with what came before, and that .NET will provide a less drastic step in the same direction. He cautions that .NET is still new, but will be the "programming paradigm for the foreseeable future." In fact, it will be part of an upcoming release of MicroStation. Mr. Bentley offered no action items to prepare for the trends coming down the road, except perhaps to download and read some of the many white papers from Microsoft on .NET.
As for the future, user can expect a new version of MicroStation, Version 8.2, early next year. A release candidate will be available in October of this year. Planned new features include support for AutoCAD 2004's DWG format, and the writing of PDF files, enhancements to feature modeling, sheet composition, text style, and visualization, some of which will be drawn from MicroStation Modeler.
The next version, code-named Mozart (I somehow connect this choice with Beethoven's famous ninth symphony…) is planned for early 2005 and will likely use the V8 format. It will focus on "innovation from within" and tidy up some of the internal changes that didn't make it into V8. The release will include support for .NET, an updated user interface, a new display system (I saw a brief demo - there were no "blank spots" when you move elements; very cool), productivity enhancements, parametric relationships, support for shared files (from Project Bank - remember that one?) and some enhancement to make MicroStation work better with ProjectWise.
UPDATES AND CLARIFICATIONS
After my discussion of the status of the technology of peanut butter and jelly a few weeks ago, I want to provide yet another update. The folks from Unilever Bestfoods are introducing new packaging for their product, Skippy peanut butter. First, there's Sqeez' It, a tube of the condiment that looks like the new toothpaste tubes that can stand on their caps. The idea is that you can "lose the knife" and that "Kids can make it themselves." I'm guessing the marketing promo means that kids can make a peanut butter (plain) and/or jelly (should it also come in a "lose the knife" package) by themselves, something that might complete with the pre-made "uncrustables."
The other new offering is Squeeze Stix, a flat, single-serving tube of peanut butter, in the same vein as individual squeezable yogurt. The tag line for that one is "On-the-go snacking" and includes two images: one of child on a skateboard and another playing soccer with the tube in hand.
• Anthony Quartararo shared thoughts on a few issues raised in last week's issue:
John Pike, a defense analyst with GlobalSecurity.org suggested the biggest difference between the U.S. and Iraqi armies was the U.S. use of satellites.
"Huh? Let's get real. Guns. Bombs. People. Air Superiority…are all much bigger factors in the decisive routing of Iraq's army than non-real time satellites. What the commercial satellite platforms did do was to give Keyhole, DigitalGlobe et. al. a few minutes of primetime, not to mention Mr. Pike."
Another piece highlighted that the Washington Supreme Court is tackling whether police tracking of vehicles via GPS should require a warrant.
"[This type of tracking should] absolutely should require a warrant. Police want to be able to track vehicles that they cannot follow? Tough luck. Get a faster car, learn to drive better, drop the donuts. How can anyone think that it is no different than following by sight, when 'sight' is the very thing that they are trying to compensate for the lack of by employing GPS tracking? One step closer to Fahrenheit 451. This reminds me of the story of two frogs. One was put into a pot of boiling water, and jumped right back out. The other was put into a pot of water a room temperature, then slowly boiled to death, and the frog never made an attempt to jump out. It would appear that we are becoming like the latter frog."
• Woody responded to my misunderstanding of a recent license agreement, which led me to publish a warning two weeks ago.
"Your experience with the license agreement . . . just goes to show that you can not presume that everybody will know what you mean. Instructions need to be explicit. Whether it be license agreements or installation instructions, be explicit. Tell the people what you mean to say, don't just presume that they will know what you are trying to tell them."
He also has a suggestion for the folks at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) who will be testing their sensor for its ability to identify small fires, represented by charcoal fires:
"When the forward looking infrared (FLIR) system of the F-117A Stealth fighter was being tested, the methodology was the same, but the terminology was more expensive. In the book Dark Eagles by Curtis Peebles, they used 'a broadband, wide-spectrum, inexpensive, expendable, point-source IR target' (i.e. a barrel filled with glowing coals, a backyard barbecue.)
"If RIT ever expects to get a big grant, they need to boost up [the]
POINTS OF INTEREST
URISA Past President Dies. Bob Aageenbrug, a long-time geospatial technologies leader/educator/visionary passed away last week in Lawrence, KS. He was the 11th URISA president. Said Rick Miller, Chief Information Technology Architect at the Kansas Information Technology Office, "Bob has been an valuable and influential member of the extended world-wide GIS community for many years. He will be missed."
Some of his contributions to geography/GIS were noted in his obituary in the Lawrence, Kansas Journal World:
"Mr. Aangeenbrug was an assistant professor at Boston University, professor in the department of geography-meteorology at Kansas University from 1965 to 1985, executive director of the Association of American Geographers from 1984 to 1989, and professor and former chairman of the geography department at University of Southern Florida.
"He received the Edgar Horwood Award for Outstanding Service to the Urban and Regional Information Systems Assn. in 1980; a Presidential Citation for Exceptional Service, American Congress on Surveying and Mapping in 1980; and Geographers on Films award from the Association of American Geographers. He became an honorary life member of URISA in 1994 and published articles and attended speaking functions on his field of study."
Emergent Technologies. In a review of the O'Reilly Conference on Emerging Technology, an interviewee for an NPR program highlights a focus on emergent technologies - ones where very simple rules and produce complex behavior. The analogy is to ants. Individually, each ant is fairly feeble. Together, a group of ants is a powerhouse built on some very simple instructions. That may carry over to the new trend in "social software" - those big complex enterprise organization tools - that so far haven't perhaps achieved the level of return expected.
He suggests that clever use of simpler technologies may be far more productive. He suggests that workers have taken full advantage of e-mail, and related technologies of mailing lists and attachments to manage workflow and document review processes. They didn't need all of the fancy overhead some companies offer. All I could think of was AEC 1999 in Philadelphia where every company there it seemed, had some soft of Internet/e-mail solution for managing design documents. Many of the companies that had large booths and slick presentations, I never heard from again.
GIS Predicts Crime. CBS News reports that a grant from the Department of Justice has been turned into a fairly accurate predictor of where crime will occur. Carnegie Mellon researchers expect to release software in the coming months that can predict the number and types of crimes that will occur within a 10-block area with a 20 percent error rate.
J2ME vs. .NET Compact Framework for GIS. A recent article at JavaWorld compares using J2ME and .NET Compact Framework. Bottom line: ""If the mobile application must work on a variety of devices from low-end cell phones to high-end PDAs, J2ME is the only choice. If you only deploy to Pocket PC devices and your developers already have .Net and VS.Net skills, .Net Compact Framework makes sense."
WEEK IN REVIEW
Over 500 government departments, agencies, and regional offices will benefit from a new three-year agreement extending access to Ordnance Survey's most detailed and up-to-date digital mapping. The initiative will help the drive towards meeting government targets for e-delivery of services and information by 2005. The agreement is an extension of a pilot which produced positive results last year: the number of civil service organizations using Ordnance Survey data rose from 54 to 144.
Rosum Corporation announced the closure of a $16M investment from several players including William Tai of Charles River Ventures, Allegis Capital, Motorola Inc., Korean Technology Bank, Microtune and Steamboat Ventures. Rosum has also received funding from In-Q-Tel, which is an investment branch of the U.S. Government. Rosum has a positioning technology built on broadcast TV signals - that works indoors.
This week the Department of Homeland Security announced it would allocate $700 million from the 2003 supplemental budget to help protect urban areas and critical infrastructure. While much of the money may go for "goods" like trucks and protective suits, hopefully some will go for basic infrastructure, like mapping systems.
GiveMePower Corporation, a provider of desktop, mobile and wireless software solutions for the design/building industry, and Tripod Data Systems (TDS), a Trimble Company announced an agreement to offer specially bundled mobile CAD and GPS solutions for a wide range of customers who require the ability to remotely manage AutoCAD compatible designs and digital blueprints in harsh outdoor and industrial environments.
The OpenDWG Alliance, a non-profit industry consortium committed to promoting open industry-standard formats for the exchange of CAD data, announced that it has updated its DWGdirect program libraries to support AutoCAD 2004. The Alliance along with Bentley Systems, Incorporated, announced that the Alliance will support V8 DGN. Bentley will become the Alliance's first supporting member, providing full documentation and technical support to the Alliance for its implementation, delivery, and maintenance of software libraries to read and write Bentley's format, V8 DGN. The Alliance is planning a name change to reflect its broader mission.
The California Digital Conservation Atlas is online.
Avenza Systems Inc., the developer of MAPublisher map production software, is requesting entries for the 3rd Annual MAPublisher Map Competition.
Tele Atlas a provider of digital map databases and real-time traffic information in the United States, and Meteorlogix, a commercial weather services provider, announced that the two companies are working together to deliver real-time, location-specific weather information.
PBS&J;, SmartRoute Systems/Westwood One (SRS), Tele Atlas and Meteorlogix announced the formation of a national alliance to provide 511 traveler information telephone services to state and local agencies.
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced that it will immediately begin reselling Safe Software's Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) products, including FME Desktop Suite, FME Professional Suite, FME Intergraph Suite, FME Oracle Suite and the FME GDO for GeoMedia WebMap.
ESRI's Internet mapping solutions power a new customer service hotline at The Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Ltd. (KMB), Hong Kong's largest bus company. The system was recently awarded the Hong Kong Computer Society's prestigious 2003 IT Excellence in Applications Bronze Award.
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. announced that the company has agreed to enter a partnership with on-geo to develop the German land information market.
• Contracts and Sales
Municipal Software Corporation announced that the Village of Arlington Heights, Illinois (population approx. 76,000) will be its 7th client in the state. The village plans to use CityView 8.NET Enterprise.
The City of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, will be utilizing Full Circle Technologies' Web-product, VectorEyes to web-enable its GIS.
ESRI China (Beijing) Ltd., ESRI's software distributor in Mainland China, has been selected to provide the geographic information system (GIS) component for the Beijing Cadastral Investigation and Land Registration Office's cadastral information management system.
GeoConcept SA announced that it will provide a GIS client/server intranet solution for the command post of France's gendarmerie.
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced that the Public Works Department of the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, has chosen Intergraph's Geospatial Resource Management solutions to improve delivery of public services to residents in conjunction with the recent merger of seven municipalities - now called the City of Hamilton. The company also announced that Southern Company, a super-regional energy company in the southeastern United States, has purchased InService for enterprise-wide mobile workforce management.
Group 1 Software announced that it has extended its exclusive reseller relationship with Geographic Data Technology, Inc. (GDT) for the integration of GDT's geographic boundary data into Group 1's tax-related applications. The multiyear agreement provides for the integration of GDT's Dynamap/Municipal Boundaries database into Group 1's GeoTAX tax jurisdiction assignment solution.
Bradshaw Consulting Services (BCS) has developed a mobile data system that replaces static map books as an EMS professional's most effective navigational tool. The product is in use at the Mecklenburg EMS Agency (MEDIC) in Charlotte, North Carolina, to rapidly position resources throughout Mecklenburg County and provide medics with accurate and reliable route directions for reaching patients faster and safer.
TerraSeer announced the release of its free Cancer Atlas Viewer software. TerraSeer's Cancer Atlas Viewer provides seamless interactive mapping, graphing, and animations for intuitive exploratory data analysis. It is free to download from the TerraSeer website.
SRC has released a geocoding plug-in that can be used with MapInfo Professional desktop mapping software. The plug-in is used in connection with a Web service. A trial is available. A version for ArcView is expected later this year.
NovaLIS Technologies, a provider of integrated land records management solutions, announced the release of Parcel Editor 8 for ESRI's ArcMap 8.3 platform.
Cadcorp, developer of Cadcorp SIS - Spatial Information System GIS software, announced integrated support for Safe Software's Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) Objects within Cadcorp SIS V6.0.
Terratracer's Terrashader terrain rendering plug-in uses Earth Resource Mapping's ECW files, rather than jpeg files, as an image source. The software is used in TV and movie terrain visualization.
OziPhotoTool 1.5 has been released. OziPhotoTool combines the technology of a GPS receiver and a digital camera to automatically keep a record of where digital photos were taken. It is designed to be used in conjunction with OziExplorer.
ESRI is now shipping PLTS Defense Solution. Developed to meet the specialized mapping needs of the defense user, the PLTS Defense Solution includes data loading, single-click editing, extraction, and quality control production tools as well as product-specific geodatabase models.
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions' IntelliWhere division announced the release of IntelliWhere TrackForce, a server-based platform used for Mobile Resource Management (MRM) to track and manage the location of field crews and mobile assets in real time.
MapInfo AnySite v8.5 is now available. It combines MapInfo data, including its 2003 demographic estimates to deliver critical demographic information with trade area analysis.
MapInfo Corporation announced its Insurance Decision Solution Suite (IDSS), which enables insurance companies to visually look across all lines of business to better manage risk and operate more effectively.
GenaWare will host its Annual User Symposium at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, June 25-26th.The event will include the launch of GenaWare's new suite of tools, Ware2. Ware2 offers a completely open architecture framework for spatial development for full enterprise interoperability.
David Sonnen, IDC's Senior Analyst for spatial information management, will give a keynote presentation at the 2003 Laser-Scan User and Partner Conference.
For the first time, ESRI will present a surveying industry conference concurrent with the 23rd Annual ESRI International User Conference. Bridging the Gap 2003 will be held July 6-8, 2003, in San Diego, California. Surveyors and Geographic Information System (GIS) practitioners from all over the world are invited to special sessions for surveyors on July 6, as well as the Plenary Session and Map Gallery Opening and Evening Reception on Monday, July 7, and the Survey Track user presentations, the Survey and GIS User Group Meeting, Exhibit Pavilion, and ESRI Showcase on Tuesday, July 8.
• Hires and New Offices
Lizardtech Software announced the appointment of Karen Morley as the Vice President of GeoSpatial Imaging.
Judy Hricak was recently named a senior associate at Gannett Fleming, an international consulting engineering and construction management firm. Hricak is the vice president of communications for the firm and is based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
DigitalGlobe announced the opening of an office in Washington D.C. to better serve the company's U.S. Government customers. Dawn Sienicki, who has joined DigitalGlobe as director of Washington D.C. operations will run the office.
• Education and Training
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced an online education training program, "Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)," presented by the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community (IGUC).
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