GIS Monitor June 7, 2001


-GIS ASPs: Ready for Action?
-Supercomm 2001

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This issue sponsored by: ERDAS


Several months ago, I attempted to develop a list of GIS services available online. I expected to find a variety of geocoders, map creation tools and more. I was disappointed to find only a few, mostly focused on basic geocoding. The services offered were from well-known data suppliers such as GDT and Etak (now Tele Atlas North America).

The recent introduction of two strong players in Web map hosting, Syncline and, made me think that perhaps I’d jumped the gun. Perhaps before using online services, organizations needed to get comfortable with something even simpler: remote hosting. For one thing, Web map hosting, as well as other types of hosting, can be far easier to understand than a Web service model. And, since so few companies, localities or organizations host their own website, hosting an application elsewhere shouldn’t be a stretch.

However, using a “real” GIS service and depending on it as part of a larger solution can be more intense. Industry leaders like Jack Dangermond and standards organizations like the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) envision a world where little bits of GIS technology lie in wait, worldwide, for applications to call upon them to do a small part of a larger task. For example, geocode this point, make me a buffer, parse out the locations from this text document, and so on.

This vision requires standards (OGC’s current task) and confidence that offering only a part of a larger whole will not make a company lose its electronic shirt. Of course, offering services without a demand from customers will not work either. We are still a ways away from this componentized, interoperable GIS solution on the Web.

But, there are signs the vision is becoming reality. One good sign is CellPoint – a company setting up a network solely to provide location information. It’s a part of the whole solution used by those building a location-based solution. Another is the listing at Geography Network of GIS ASP services, there referred to as GeoServices. Though the list hasn’t grown much since the Geography Network was launched, its very existence is a good sign. Location-based services may well be the killer app that drives GIS ASP options.

Cquay hopes so: this week the company announced a service that offers GIS functionality as a service to those interested in building location-based services. Finally, the OGC’s recent work has produced outlines for standard interfaces for such things as gazeteering, geocoding and geoparsing.

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Supercomm, THE show for the telecommunications industry is wrapping up this week in Atlanta. The annual show includes carriers, equipment makers (hardware and software) and a host of GIS and location-based companies all trying to get a bigger share of the market. Attendees were up 24% last year to 53,000 in 2000, a number expected to be about the same this year. Exhibitors this year numbered 850, up 100 over last year. Compared to other shows that we in the GIS industry are likely to attend, that is BIG!

However, the current downturn in the telco market has made many companies cut workers and worse, kept things relatively quiet for those in attendance. Still, there were some announcements on the GIS side of things. Granite Systems specializing in Service Resource Management (SRM) is entering the full service SRM market by beefing up its alliance program. With partners, the company hopes to give service providers everything they need to implement SRM. Among the new partners is CADTEL, a company that has worked with both ESRI and Autodesk GIS technology. Again I’ll suggest that the motion of industry solutions away from horizontal GIS toward their application area is a step forward for GIS.

MapInfo, along with now Marconi-owned Northwood Technologies, announced that deciBel Planner 2.5 and the UMTS Module are shipping. New features in deciBel Planner 2.5 include data warehousing and enhanced model tuning.

After poring over the hundreds of press releases from the show, I’ll note a few things I found particularly interesting. Navini Networks introduced its wireless, no-install, high-speed Internet access solution. Aimed to be inexpensive to set up, Navini says its service is cheaper and at least as fast as DSL. The service will be available this fall.

Cingular (whose symbol is that orange asterisk shaped fellow) is introducing micropayments, which allow charges under $10 to be put on a user’s phone bill. The first item on sale is a new “ring” tone for a cell phone at 99 cents.


-We all like to think that those “push” ads that will appear on our phones will be ignored. SkyGo’s statistics say otherwise. According to the wireless marketing company, 64% of the ads it delivered to mobile phones were opened! While that doesn’t mean they were acted on, they were at least viewed.

-Professor Arthur Getis, San Diego State University, was elected president of UCGIS, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, and will take office in February 2002. He will succeed the current president, Professor Harlan Onsrud, University of Maine.

-The GeoCommunity has started an e-mail discussion list focusing on Microsoft MapPoint. Previous portals hosted by GIS sites have not had much traffic. Now however, with MapPoint reading in GIS formats, there should be more interaction between MapPointers and the traditional GIS community. An archive is available for this list and all other GeoCommunity lists.

-GM shareholders are voting this week on a proposal that would require the company to track accidents with cars using its OnStar telematics system. Proponents are concerned that there’s too much distraction caused by these systems that may lead to more accidents. GM opposes the plan. This vote may have serious repercussions for other telematics solutions.


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Adena Schutzberg
GIS Monitor Editor
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