GIS Monitor May 31, 2001
-Marconi Acquires Northwood
-More on Intergraph Alliance
Departments: Points of Interest, Letter, Week in Review, Back Issues,
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MARCONI ACQUIRES NORTHWOOD
Marconi, a 55,000-employee communications company, is buying Northwood
Technologies, best known in GIS circles as MapInfo’s wireless application
partner. The purchase price is CDN$42 million.
Northwood’s deciBel Planner software supports wireless technologies such
as UMTS and CDMA2000 and the company’s other software is widely used to
plan cellular networks because it can predict radio frequency patterns.
Northwood also makes Vertical Mapper, MapInfo’s raster solution.
Marconi provides hardware and services to the likes of BellSouth,
Coca-Cola and Sprint. Marconi already has a wireless network planning
product line and intends to merge the acquired technologies into a new
product line. Marconi will open a new business unit for wireless network
planning headquartered in Ottawa, Canada.
This purchase drives home the idea that GIS and spatial analysis are
really tools to solve industry specific problems. GE’s purchase of
Smallworld was another example. On the other hand, some software companies
are buying vertical app providers: Bentley owns or has a strong financial
interest in all of its “strategic affiliates”. Autodesk has bought
Softdesk, Vision, and Gentry Systems.
Do vertical GIS solution providers fare better as independents, or as part
of bigger organizations? My sense is that it’s best for GIS technologies
to be absorbed into the industries they serve. That way, GIS is more
likely to become invisible, somewhat like databases are now.
MORE ON INTERGRAPH ALLIANCE
Last week Intergraph’s IntelliWhere division announced a new alliance
whose aim is “to build on industry knowledge, industry standards, and open
geospatial software technologies and services to facilitate the rapid
deployment of location-based services (LBS), wireless, and Web-based
solutions in the energy industry.”
I was curious about how this might fit with existing organizations for the
energy industry (GITA) and standards organizations (OGC). Majdi Zahran,
business development and strategic alliances manager for IntelliWhere
Americas provided further detail.
“The Energy Technology Alliance objective is to create a consortium
including energy providers such as Duke; a technology provider,
IntelliWhere; and integration partners such as EWTS. We will also
encourage industry affiliates (e.g., as-built data processors and industry
consultants) and complementary technology providers (e.g., hardware and
network vendors) to participate in the Alliance.
“The main focus is on Web-based solutions and the wireless mobile
workforce. A key advantage that the Alliance provides that will benefit
the energy industry is the ability to take advantage of the Alliance's
proposed solution offering without requiring changes or modifications to
their existing core geofacilities systems.
“This covers two issues:
-We are proposing a solution that is already in production today and was
created by the current Alliance members.
-Since this offering is geofacilities core neutral, energy providers who
wish to deploy this proposed solution will not have to endure the cost and
effort of migrating existing data to take advantage of the proposed
“That's one of the fundamental concepts for this Alliance, enabling energy
providers to explore new technologies that may best fit their future
“Another important goal of the Alliance is to provide a forum where energy
companies and industry affiliates (e.g. regulatory agencies) can discuss
requirements for open, industry-specific solutions.
“The Energy Technology Alliance does not intend to replace or act
independently of established standards organizations such as the OGC and
WAP. We do not plan to establish standards for product development or
technology standards. The Alliance is focused on exploring and enhancing
industry requirements. We are also interested in other energy providers
taking a look at what we have to offer today, evaluating the current
functionality, and providing us with additional requirements for
“More importantly, the Alliance is a forum for the discussion and sharing
of information that impacts industry requirements and will most likely
evolve into more of an "influencer" consortium to those organizations that
do drive/implement the industry standards.”
POINTS OF INTEREST
-MapQuest has put together a hard copy atlas – with page numbers coded to
its website. So, if you need more info, just key in the page number on the
special web page and get more detail on the area. Will it be successful? I
think with all the new telematics apps and tools like Map’nGo, Vindigo and
others, that this is too little, too late.
-GITA has updated its website. There is now a members-only section. Alas,
you must remember an id number to get in. You can change your password to
something you will remember, but you cannot change the five-digit number.
Argh! Once inside you can search for abstracts of recent conference papers
and for other members. If you do not want your personal information on the
Web, you can edit your record accordingly. Perhaps with this secure area
in place the organization will consider putting their GeoExchange
-Autodesk has its telematics solutions for FIAT up and running. To get a
glimpse of the “on call concierge” read their article below. As currently
described, the service will know your family’s birthdays, your musical
tastes, etc. If my car has to tell me when my Mom’s birthday is, I’ll know
that I’m working too hard!
On the other hand, there IS a real need for safety services, which few
vendors are seriously selling. “Roadside assistance” and “Emergency
Services” are 3rd and 4th on Autodesk list of services.
-The word on the street is my favorite “new economy” magazine is going
under. Goodbye Business 2.0!
This letter was in response to my comments on a SPATIALinfo press release
last week: "SPATIALinfo will deploy SPATIALnet and SPATIALweb to integrate
Autodesk and Oracle products into a seamless end-to-end network design and
maintenance solution. One wonders if Autodesk will be able to grow its GIS
Design Server into this space?"
“The implication in your statement is that this is a loss for Autodesk and
a win for SPATIALinfo. The fact is, we are very happy that SPATIALinfo, an
important Autodesk partner, has won this business. We know we can't do
everything … so we need partners like SPATIALinfo with particular
expertise to supplement what we do. If they sold some of their technology
in the process of winning the deal, more power to them. There is plenty of
business to go around.”
Manager of Business Development
GIS Solutions Division
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