June 10, 2004

Contents

Special Open Source GIS Conference 2004 Issue

The State of Open Source Software
Keynote
Sessions
Open Source Points of Interest

This issue sponsored by:
GITC America


Departments:
Letters, Points of Interest, Kudos and Conundrums, Week in Review (Announcements, Contracts, Products, Events, Training, Hires) Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe

If, for some reason you cannot read this document, visit: http://www.gismonitor.com/news/newsletter/archive/061004.php


The State of Open Source Software
.
I finished up this issue while attending the Open Source GIS Conference 2004 &
Second Annual MapServer User Meeting in Ottawa, Canada. Before delving into what I saw in the first day of the conference, I wanted to "check in" on open source software on the whole. Just my luck, Wired Magazine has compiled an interesting series of articles about the "
The Free & The Unfree," what it calls "a 10-page special on the global battle between liberty and control."

Graphics (all pdfs) provide an atlas of piracy, discussions of file sharing, intellectual property as it relates to medicinal drugs, and the distribution of genetically modified seeds. There's also a section titled "Open Source Everywhere." That's where I'd like to focus. Despite concerns about open source software's robustness, support and long term viability, cost of ownership, and other factors, the products are in use. Windows may have 58% of the server operating system market in 2004, but Linux has 19%, beating out UNIX's 14%. Open source Sendmail has 41% of the mail server market, with Microsoft Exchange at 10%. As for Web servers, open source Apache comes in at 73% over Microsoft's 25%. In the database world open source still has a small sliver with MySQL at 11% and PostGres at 3%. Oracle and others together own 52%, with Microsoft's 34% split between SQL Server and Access.

My point is this stuff is real. It's in use. It's running much of the electronic world as we know it. (MySQL, Apache, and Sendmail all power GITC America's IT infrastructure and likely some of yours, whether you know it or not.) Users and developers are flocking to open source solutions for all kinds of reasons: economic, philosophical, and practical. And, that's happening in the GIS community as well, though the percentages do not meet those of the core tools noted above.

That's what brought me and more than 200 others to Ottawa. Unlike the other GIS conferences I attend, the sponsoring organizations are not yet household GIS names, though they are widely known in open source GIS circles: DM Solutions Group of Canada, TYDAC Inc. of Bern, Switzerland, Camptocamp SA also of Switzerland, and GeoConnections, a Canadian government initiative to develop a national spatial infrastructure meant to unite federal and provincial efforts.

Attendees call four different continents home, and represent non-governmental organizations, academia, industry, and government. I heard stats that suggest 60% were Canadian, 30% US-based, and the other 10% hailed from the rest of the world including Germany, Africa, Switzerland, and Brazil.


Keynote
.

 
Dave McIlhagga, President of DM Solutions, opened the event and noted that just 10 years ago a conference like this would have but one open source GIS project to discuss: GRASS. At this conference 17 different projects were on the agenda, not to mention many others that likely popped up in conversation. The one "big thing" that we now have that was not as fully mature ten years ago, that made that explosive growth possible? The Internet. That, McIlhagga and others later in the day suggested, is the single most important thing helping open source move forward. And, like many others, the open source community often takes it for granted. I do as I sit using the wireless access in the break area to complete this issue.

McIlhagga offered three things that attendees should do over the three-day event: (1) meet everyone, (2) learn at the presentations and workshops, and (3) celebrate "where we are," something 10-15 years in the making. As of the kickoff the first day, one hands-on workshop was maxxed out at 60. Another, on the same topic was stand room only. The topic? PostGIS, an open source database solution which serves many of the same roles as Oracle Spatial.

The keynote was by a fellow New Englander, Dr. Philip Bogden of Portland, Maine. He's the acting director of the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction (SCOOP) Program and the CEO, of the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System (GoMOOS).

Bogden outlined the impact of open source GIS on his and others' work on ocean science. Bogden and others envision an integrated ocean observing system. For us non-ocean people, that's basically a "National Weather Service"-like system but for the ocean. The challenge isn't so much that there's no data - there are lots of buoys and sensors to get information about the ocean. The challenge is that there's "no standard standard" to bring it all together. Said another way, there are a number of projects working in specific regions, capturing data important for that geography, but they are not united. Most of these projects are research-oriented, making the work "less easy" to integrate into operational systems. Bogden calls that gap the "valley of death."


 

But, that has not stopped him. He envisions a "systems of systems" enabled by standards. Instead of hampering innovation, he repeated more than once, "standards enable innovation." For his group, that's meant taking advantage of open source software, MapServer, OpenGIS standards, and the expertise of DM Solutions.

The envisioned "system of systems," IOOS, currently a work in progress, will allow better understanding and prediction about the ocean. In particular, that means support for shipping, fishing, fisheries, oil spill response, search and rescue, and waste water management. That last one is already happening; the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority right in my home area of Boston, is tapping into data for such efforts.

The analogy, for me, was The National Map. That's, in essence, a system of systems supported by standards. As the number of systems like it grows regionally, nationally, and globally, the more geodata will be used, and the easier it will be to bring new efforts online.


Sessions
.
I attended an intro session to get my bearings on the open source GIS world. First off, Dave McIlhagga introduced the ideas behind open source, many of which I covered in my open source
issue a year ago. He added some points that struck me. First off, it's not significant really, that the software is free, though it is. Rather the nature of the licensing is significant. Once a commercial license is in place there's inherently a "tug of war" between the provider and the user. The provider wants to maximize sales of licenses and the user, well, likely wants the opposite. Open source licensing removes that "tug" and puts the focus on "solving the problem." Further, development is tied directly to end-user needs, since, as I heard again and again, the "marketing people" are not involved in the open source model. A final point: it's possible, encouraged, and often the case that potential users try and are successfully using open source software before they "commit" to it. In the commercial arena, commitments are made and software purchased, often without a clear plan of how it's to be used. And, while McIlhagga didn't comment on the "total cost of ownership" of open source or commercial software, he did encourage comparisons before committing to either.

What's the future? Well, it looks bright. Internet access is getting speedier and reaching into more corners of the world. That will only help the open source community grow. The adoption of standards will also help grow open source and expand its reach. (I believe every single session I've attended mentioned OpenGIS standards.) Integration between open source technologies will tighten. Applications will grow to serve more complex demands. The community is rapidly growing and yet is still "very young."

I asked about how code developed under contract either joins core open source projects, or is held by the buyer. McIlhagga replied that in the case of his company, it depends on the contract. A fellow from Environment Canada explained that his organization's default contracts give intellectual property rights to the developer. McIlhagga explained that for his company, the best choice was putting newly developed features into open source projects. Why? It means that the company need not support many propriety implementations, but rather, but rather share in the maintenance of just one.

Paul Ramsey (of Refractions Research, the company "behind" PostGIS) gave a quick overview of the state of open source GIS software. There's a lot, he noted, and the best way to make sense of the projects, is to try to categorize what's out there. He did this in several ways, first distinguishing between the code built on the "C" language and that built on Java. The former products include MapServer, OSSIM, GRASS, OpenEV, QGIS, and THUBAN. The latter include GeoTools, GeoServer, deegree, and JUMP. The "C" programmers depend on a core set of open source programming libraries including GDAL, OGR, PROJ4, and GEOS which support raster, vector, projections, and topology, respectively. The Java offerings are built on libraries such as JTS, "ArcObjects-like" GeoTools, and a few others that support "well-known binaries" and GML. There are also several "toolkits" including degree, OpenMap and GeoTools.

To "connect" the two sides (C and Java implementations) the current state-of-the-art is to tap into standards - OGC and JDBC in particular.

Open source GIS runs from the "bottom of the stack" - databases (POSTGIS, MySQL), to map servers (MapServer, GeoServer), to processors (GRASS) and viewers (QGIS, Thuban, OpenEV) and the desktop (JUMP, uDIG).

Reviewing the strengths of open source GIS, Ramsey noted its servers in particular. They are mature, support standards and provide a solution for heterogeneous environments. He suggested a few weaknesses, too: a lack of a general purpose desktop app (something like ArcView) and support for printed output. Ramsey's own company is working on the former in the uGID project.

Longtime GIS Monitor reader Arnulf Christl from Germany told the open source story in that country. Basically, he suggested, with the acquisition of SICAD by AED, and ESRI's involvement in AED, there's no longer a German GIS company of any stature. He looked at supporting ESRI solutions but found that his customers could not afford them. In reality, he notes, data is expensive, software is not.

His CCGIS developed MapBender, a top of the stack tool to tie together various existing open source offerings. While it's "his baby" he's realistic that should it not "take off" it'd be only because something better would take its place. That, he implied, really limits the risk of using open source.

Christl highlighted the difference between the product lifecycle of the commercial market and the development cycle of the open source world. In the former, marketing people tell developers what to write. They do, and pass it on to "third party developers" for beta testing. When it's time to ship (which is geared more to revenue and other factors that quality in many cases) out the door it goes. The goal is, as noted above, to sell more copies.

In the open source development cycle, users identify a problem and software developers fix it. The software is made available via the Internet and is quickly available. The goal is making the users happy. [I simplified these greatly.]

Christl noted that different players in open source see different aspects. Decision makers typically see the economic value (it's free!), end-users see the ease of finding support, and developers see the development model and easy access to "peer" developers via the Internet.


Impressions
.
I've only been at this event for a day. It's very different from any GIS conference I've attended.

There are more people meeting each other for the first or second time rather than the tenth or twentieth.

There's no "paranoia" about other people's products or projects. While some of the attendees could be described as competitors, they treat each other as collaborators.

There's an energy here. Halls and rooms are loud with talk and laughter. There's a "we're changing the world" sense, but it's very different from the feeling at other GIS gatherings. Perhaps that's because these people own the underlying code as much as their neighbor does. Perhaps it's because there are few people outside this community loudly validating the work. Interestingly, that does not seem to bother anyone.

Members of this community seem genuinely pleased with helping their neighbor. More than one person noted frustration at not being able to be the first to respond to a question posted to a mailing list.

The "famous people" in this open source community are "just" members of the community. When they were introduced at the plenary, no one stood up. Each waved, but necks craned to link a name with a face.


Open Source Points of Interest
.
GIS Radar. I flew in to Ottawa late one evening, when organizers had planned a get-together in a local bar. Of course, my traveling companions and I forget to grab the name of the bar off the Internet. We had a cab drop us off on the main street of bars in Ottawa. It was late, we'd not eaten dinner, and only one of us had ever been to Ottawa. So we walked along the street trying to imagine what bar it might be. We stopped in front of one with an outdoor deck and lots of noise. It looked interesting, so we figured we'd quit looking and get a bite there. No sooner had we climbed the steps to the second level did one of my companions say, "This is it. They're here." And, after a quick search we found a lively bunch of GIS people in a private area.

Community. We walked into this room and to my pleasant surprise, several people knew me. More knew my name. I knew their names. That's what happened all night. People were connecting e-mail address and names on lists with real people. They were thanking each other for bits of code that "made them look great" in front of their bosses/clients. Even those who didn't know one anothers' names were familiar with their products or companies - JUMP, JTS, PostGIS, PeopleGIS. The next morning, I ran into local and state government MapServer users from Wisconsin and Ohio, as well as former ESRI colleagues, who are now working with MapServer and other open source offerings.

Playing the Journalist. I plunked down to eat at one point surrounded by Paul Ramsey and Chris Hodgeson of Refractions Research, two PostGIS guys, and Martin Davis of Vivid Solutions, the JUMP guy. They patiently did their best to answer the questions I posed. What's the percentage of people in open source GIS who are geographers vs. computer scientists? We agreed that would be a great question for the plenary, but they suggested a 60/40 split in favor of geographers, after looking around the room. Tell me about the geography of open source. Canada, Ottawa in particular, is a hotbed mostly due to support from the Canadian government. The U.S. government was credited with funding GRASS and a NASA grant gave MapServer its start. There are pockets in Australia and Europe, but no "hotbeds" yet. We agreed that standards and open source support for them was helping to level the playing field worldwide. We talked about the differences between open source development and commercial software. I gleaned this picture: commercial vendors have marketing departments and they determine what features to add. In the open source community there are no marketing departments so developers speak directly to users, tap into standards, and implement tools for which organizations will pay. That, the theory goes, ensures open source developers stay true to what's really needed by users.

Pronunciation Lessons. I've known of long time reader Frank Warmerdam's GDAL library (open source programming library for imagery) for years. But, I'd never had to "say" GDAL. It's not "Geedal" as I expected. It's "goodal." And OGR (the vector library), is not "ogre" but "oh gee are." One other note: attendees include many French Canadians and Swiss, so there's a lot of French spoken. French words are oddly interspersed with the term "open source" articulated in English.

Letters
.
Allan Doyle wrote to address a few of last week's Points of Interest.

"Regarding 'In the Middle' [Massachusetts surveyors marked the center of the state's population on a high school athletic field]... it would be interesting to go a little further and see where the marker is during the day vs. at night (commuters into Boston would affect its location, I suspect) and where it would have been 10, 20, etc. years ago. Also, how much would the marker move if a single individual moved from one place to another within the state, or if the entire Natick High student body goes to Chicopee for a day at Six Flags? These kinds of questions would provide a great basis for awareness of statistics and geography.

"Regarding 'Making the Ultimate Map' and 'what we do'... given that 'we' is an incredibly broad term it would seem that it's kind of hard to help the public understand what 'we' do. Furthermore, it seems that there are plenty of other professions where the public may see the output of an industry but don't understand what 'they' do either. Does someone looking at a weather report have a better understanding of meteorology than a person looking at a map has of geography? Does a person watching TV have a better understanding of the consumer electronics business? 'We' should be less hung up on what the public thinks about 'us' and more concerned about making geography more accessible in more ways. That's really what the article was about.

"Contrasting something cool, like Keyhole with something scary, like Fundrace, is a great way to show the yin and the yang of making geography accessible. And, it's only by defocusing on GIS and focusing on the integration of location knowledge into other systems that the 'GIS' industry is growing. (c.f. the statement that 'GIS is dead' in the BE Conference [article])."

Josh Pope also responded to my question regarding the value of articles like "Making the Ultimate Map."

"Concerning your question: Do articles like this help the public understand what we do? I think that the article might go a little further if it were to correctly label the maps on page 58. The claims adjuster is using a ring analysis map and the store locator knows where the building collapsed and where to quote a car policy."

A reader felt I was not covering one company in particular quite enough.

"I just have to ask....where is ANY coverage of InterGraph [sic] and the far superior GIS, GeoMedia Pro? I just dont [sic] understand why you dont provide ANY articles or for that matter, ANYTHING at all about InterGraph. Anyone who has used both will tell you that InterGraph's GeoMedia Pro is light-years ahead of [ESRI technology]....I see so many projects that use ESRI products that HAVE to use some other third-party software to do simple things like reprojecting vector data and even do simple joins....

"If you want to cover the GIS world, you really need to start covering InterGraph as well."

Maurice O'Connor of ESBI Computing Ltd. wrote a few weeks back questioning a sentence I quoted from a press release.

"In your May 27th edition of GIS Monitor, you included an announcement from LaserScan about its agreement with MapInfo for reselling Laser-Scan's Radius Topology.

"I had a quick read of that press release. Not knowing anything about Radius Topology, I was curious.

"I thought I was getting the message when I read:

"'Laser-Scan's Radius Topology operates as a 'gatekeeper' to automatically correct data as it enters an Oracle database.'"

"Fairly straightforward and understandable concept. However, I challenge anyone to explain what followed:

"'This prevents negative data mutation after data has been positively conflated from multiple sources.'"

The editor replies: I contacted Laser-Scan. A representative took the question to heart and replied this way:

"By 'positive conflation', we mean that combining different datasets is a planned, beneficial process and that having combined different datasets into a single central database, Radius Topology will clean up the data so that it does match correctly and is now ready to be used for accurate business decisions.

"'Negative data mutation' is a gradual introduction of errors through the life of the data. We can perform data cleaning, but when data is maintained and modified, these errors inevitably creep back in. The use of Radius Topology as a gatekeeper ensures that every subsequent edit to the data conforms to the user-defined rules, and hence the data will not lose quality over time.

"The phrase 'This prevents negative data mutation after data has been positively conflated from multiple sources' basically means 'We can reap the benefits of combining the datasets, but unless we automatically manage errors as the data is modified, then this data will lose its accuracy over time and these benefits will be lost'."


Points of Interest
.
Can't Get Enough? Read the latest Points of Interest daily on our
website.

Garmin Shares Down, Don't Worry. Garmin shares have dropped $20 since January, raising concerns from shareholders. Not to worry, said executives at a shareholder meeting last week. The drop does not indicate a trend or systematic issue. In fact, the company expects to release 45 new products in 2004 compared to just 16 last year.

Caught on Film. I've heard from several folks in the satellite imagery business that they get calls now and again from law enforcement looking for pictures of alleged criminals running down the street in a specific city, on a specific date, at a specific time. The callers fail to realize that there is not, at least not yet, a complete photographic record of everything that goes on in the world at all times. But, that doesn't mean that sometimes things do just "work out." Take for example the case of Juan Catalan, 24 who was jailed for allegedly killing a woman who testified at a gang-related trial. He told his lawyer he could not have committed the crime, since at the time he was at Dodger Stadium with his daughter. Luckily Catalan recalled that a cable TV show, Curb Your Enthusiasm was filming at the stadium that night. A call to Larry David, the show's star prompted sharing of the tapes. Lo and behold, Mr. Catalan was spotted in the crowd. He's been released after five months in jail.

New Manifold. Manifold 6.0 is expected to ship during the week of June 14, 2004.

Map Acronyms on Clothing? Reader Keith shared this story. He was at a party with a fellow wearing a shirt that said "fgdc.usgs.327." He asked the wearer about its significance and learned the fellow had "bought it at some store and liked it because the sales person said it would make him look "European" due to the style. He had no idea what the letters meant and he said he actually tried keying in the address in a browser and didn't get anything. Can readers offer any suggestion as to what might be going on here?

City Maps Online - for a Fee? The Salem Oregon City Council is considering a new pricing scheme for public access to maps. Some of it sounds familiar to me: "The fees would start at $10.50 for an 8.5-inch by 11-inch version of a standard map. They extend up to a $15 processing fee plus $1.50 per linear foot for much bigger maps. Custom maps could be purchased for $60 per hour of staff time." The part that's different, at least to me: "Salem staff also is proposing that the city start subscription service that would allow people to view unlimited maps online for $25 per year."

Youth Mapping. Youth in more than 40 U.S. cities are engaged in a effort to research and document resources for young people as part of program developed by Washington, D.C.-based Academy for Educational Development Center for Youth Development and Policy Research. One effort is in Fairbanks, Alaska and is sponsored by Anchorage-based Mapping Solutions, a map and analysis business.

Herding Cows with Virtual Fences. New Scientist reports on a paper given by Zack Butler, of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire at the MobiSys 2004 conference in Boston, Massachusetts, on Sunday. Butler has been testing the use of virtual fences to keep cows moving onto fresh pasture. There is no fence, really, but the coordinates of one are downloaded to each cow's collar, which includes several off-the-shelf hardware bits, including an eTrex GPS. Data is delivered via a Wi-fi network. When the cow gets near the boundary it receives either a sound or electric "stimulus" to get it to move back. Moving the fences has proved a bit complex and current tests use students, instead of cows. I wonder if this has implications for crowd control?

Taking Back the Park? I'm partial to Philadelphia. I was born there and my best friend now lives there. On one trip we walked into town right through JFK Plaza, aka, LOVE park (the one with the cool statue of the four letters in "LOVE") and she explained that the skateboarders had been banned from using it. She liked the skateboarders. They didn't bother anyone, and hey, what they did was fun to watch. Last week a California athletic shoe company offered the city $100,000 for each of the next ten years to maintain the park, if and only if, the boaders could come back. So far, the city is not too interested. The city is working on a new park for the skate boarders, not far from the existing one.

Sensing Not Where, but How Hard. Those familiar with modern fencing know that fencers are "wired" and points are garnered when the foil makes contact. Now, the sensors have advanced to serve tae kwon do. First off, they are wireless. Second, the sensor records not the location of a hit, as I understand it, but its force. Judges receive the data wirelessly and two of the three judges must "confirm" the blow. Ideally, this makes judging more fair. I hate to think of a time when we judge "crashes" in kite flying via such a sensor. As an experienced judge, I'll note we make judging more fair by having five judges - high and low scores are thrown out. With 10 eyes, we like to think we do a decent job.


 

Yet Another Mapping/Directions Website. Mapsolute, Inc., based in Germany, this week announced its formal entry into the North American market with the launch of its new website. Data is from Tele Atlas and others. A very quick look revealed a rather slow loading app. While I keyed in an address, by default I was returned not a map of that address, but one of the US. From there I had to perform a "proximity search" to "zoom in" to that location. That zooming, by the way, was animated, as promised in the press release. I suspect that will help keep "context" for many people, especially those unfamiliar with the area in question. The final map, alas, mis-geocoded the address. Also of concern: the street names ran along the streets, in between the "two line" representations, making them difficult to read.


Kudos and Conundrums
.
Have you seen something in our industry worthy of kudos? Or that makes you scratch your head?
Send it on. You may take credit or remain anonymous.

Kudos (concepts we applaud)

Public, Private Partnership. Montgomery, New Jersey, Director of Community Development and Planning, Bob Marmion, and Wansoo Im of Vertices LLC, a GIS company, have created a pilot program to incorporate GIS into the curriculum for Montgomery school children, town staff, and the public. According to an article in the local paper, the two "met at the 2003 International GIS conference" and the idea took off from there.

Journals Away! In Streator, Illinois, a local school had students send off journals to friends and relatives in distant lands. Each time a new recipient received a journal he or she was asked to send a postcard to its owner, and to write a note in the book. Students got back pictures of floods, currency, and good wishes from everyone from grandmothers to President Bush. I'm partial to this project because it did not involve the Internet. The speed at which the journals traveled helped reveal the friction of distance.

Hide and Seek for NGS Markers. United States Power Squadron members from District 21 which covers part of Texas and part of Louisiana are doing a different sort of hide-and-seek this week. They'll be seeking NGS geodetic survey markers. Armed with descriptions of their locations and GPS coordinates, they'll help update descriptions and determine if the markers are still in place. The work is done in partnership with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under which NGS falls. It's a bit of a competition with prizes to "top performers." As for geocachers, they find markers for fun.

The Winner. Andrew Wojtanik, 14, of Overland Park, Kansas recently won the 16th Annual National Geographic Bee. He wants to be a journalist. (How cool is that?)

Conundrums (concepts we question)

Whither Tablet PCs? Randall Newton reports in A-E-C Automation Newsletter (now available online without a subscription) that Microsoft has not yet committed to a Tablet PC version of its upcoming operating system code named Longhorn.


Week in Review

Please note: Material used herein is often supplied by external sources and used as is.

Announcements
.
Nextel Partners, Inc., provider of Nextel digital wireless communications services in the mid-sized and rural markets it serves, announced the availability of TeleNav, a mobile-phone based GPS navigation service powered by Televigation, to its customers.

Telcontar, a leading supplier of software and related services for Location-Based Services (LBS), announced its Mobile Location Server - Enterprise Edition has received the Horizon Award at Telematics Detroit 2004, presented by Telematics Update. The Horizon award recognizes the best new innovation and/or company in telematics each year, with the winner being selected by a panel of leaders in the telematics industry.

EarthData Solutions, LLC announced that Twentieth Century Fox utilized 3D city models of Manhattan and Los Angeles in its big-budget film "The Day After Tomorrow," released last Friday in major cities nationwide. The models, highly detailed and accurate to within one meter of each city's actual physical dimensions, were originally licensed by Twentieth Century Fox for pre-visualization prior to on-location filming.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions recently highlighted industry-notable projects in the awards ceremony at GeoSpatial World 2004. Details on the 2004 awards programs and a detailed list of recipients are available online.

Innogistic Software Plc. (Bristol, UK), will incorporate Systems Options Ltd. (Aldershot, UK) as a division of Innogistic.

HP signed agreements with MySQL AB and JBoss to certify, support, and jointly sell their open source software solutions on HP's standards-based servers. MySQL is one of the open source databases to supports geospatial data.

UCLID Software now provides workflow consulting services for title insurance companies.

Blue Marble Geographics has signed an agreement with 4MationGeo, Inc. to sell iSync Mobile 2.1, field data collection software for Windows CE and the Pocket PC. The agreement provides Blue Marble customers with a mobile solution for collecting spatial information.

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) has announced the 2004 Speaker Award winners from its recent Annual Conference 27 in Seattle, Wash. The award recognizes the top five percent of session speakers, each of whom were rated by session attendees in the areas of quality of presentation, visual aids, session content, and relevance of topic. While there are some names you've heard before (Peter Batty, Jack Dangermond, and Art Spencer) I want to highlight recipient Linda Gerull, from Pierce County, Washington who spoke on "Innovative GIS Business Strategies to Do More With Less."

Plant Equipment, Inc. a provider of public and private safety telecommunications, and Pictometry International Corp., provider of a system that captures digital aerial oblique and orthogonal images, announced that the two companies have formed a business partnership.

Contracts and Sales
.
Laser-Scan announced that following a successful pilot project at the Municipality of Amsterdam, the Department Geo en VastgoedInformatie has purchased Radius Topology.

GE Energy was awarded a contract by Lakeland Electric of Lakeland, Florida for an XA/21 energy management system upgrade. GE Energy's XA/21 system provides energy management (EMS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) capabilities combined with an open systems architecture featuring Web-based full graphics, advanced power system applications, historical information storage, and retrieval and relational database technology. The company was also awarded a contract by South Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA) of Hattiesburg, Miss. for multiple XA/21 energy management system upgrades. GE Energy has been awarded a contract by Wolverine Power Cooperative of Cadillac, Mich. for an XA/21 energy management system upgrade.

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), an electric cooperative serving more than 130,000 customers, has chosen the turnkey solution proposed by CGI and Miner & Miner.

CSI Wireless Inc., a designer and manufacturer of advanced wireless and GPS products used in more than 40 countries, announced an agreement to begin supplying asset-tracking units to Caterpillar Inc., the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. Initial shipments are to begin this month.

EarthData International of Maryland L.L.C., Frederick, Md., was awarded, on May 28, 2004, a delivery order amount of $7,349,890 as part of a $23,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for Orthorectified Imagery and Digital Elevation Model Data Sets and Derived Imagery Products from GeoSAR and/or ISTAR Remote Sensing and Mapping Systems. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This was a sole source contract initiated on March 5, 2004. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Arnold, Mo., is the contracting activity (HM1574-04-D-0002).

The City of Leduc, Alberta has selected Hitachi Software Global Technology, Ltd. and its HouseDiff service to generate building footprints and conduct change analysis on its satellite imagery. Shawnee County, Kansas will use the HouseDiff service suite to generate building footprints and conduct change analysis on its aerial imagery. Phase one of the project will involve initial footprint generation for the county from existing black and white imagery. The automatic change detection (phase two) will be completed after the county's next imagery collection in late 2005.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the award of multi-year contracts for the acquisition of high-resolution satellite imagery to two U.S.-based companies: Space Imaging of Thornton, Colo., and ORBIMAGE, Inc. of Dulles, Va. The contracts estimated at $15 million provide the USGS and its partner agencies with coordinated access to the remote sensing industry's products and services.

The United States Department of Agriculture Service Center Agency (USDA-SCA) recently implemented a formal training program with ESRI that will provide streamlined access to ESRI's GIS training curriculum.

Sanborn won four GIS base mapping projects in the Midwest. Two are updates for Missouri counties, a third is for a city, and the final one is for Monroe County, Illinois.

The City of Airdrie in Alberta, Canada selected MapOptix, an ArcIMS-based enterprise publishing solution from GeoNorth.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced Touring Club Italiano (TCI) (Milan, Italy), an Italian association for tourism development, is transitioning its cartographic production processes to a data-centric workflow using Intergraph solutions.

North West's team announced the win of the largest contract ever awarded by the NAIP, a program of the USDA, to a large-format digital sensor team. North West and its business partners, EarthData and Horizons, are currently acquiring imagery over 380,000 square miles of land-- the entire states of Texas and Idaho and part of Louisiana. The team is using their combined total of six Leica ADS40 digital sensors to acquire the imagery.

IONIC Software is supporting a project at the Ordnance Survey by providing RedSpider Web Services technology for the delivery of Web-based geographic information in an e-commerce environment. These services will enable all of OS's customers and partners to obtain MasterMap data on-demand, saving time and money.

Products
.
Utility Sciences Corporation (USC), a producer of utility GIS and design software, announced the latest releases of USMap and USDesign which fully support Autodesk Map 3D 2005 software -- integrating the proven productivity of 2D mapping with powerful new 3D capabilities.

Demis bv announced that the Demis Web Map Server 4.0 is one of the first products to be certified as OpenGIS WMS 1.1.1 compliant after passing all the compliance tests as provided by the OpenGIS Consortium Inc.

The SAGA GIS developer team just released SAGA GIS version 1.1. The "System for an Automated Geo-scientific Analysis." It's a free GIS delivered under Gnu Public License. The SAGA GIS API supports grid data like digital terrain models and satellite images, vector data, and tables. This API makes it easy to implement new algorithms and exempts the developer from hassle programming overhead like user-interface design or file-io. SAGA GIS comes with a large collection of SAGA-Modules, in areas of terrain-- analysis, geo-statistics, image processing, and process simulation.

GeoSpatial Experts released an updated version of its flagship photo mapping software, GPS-Photo Link. GPS-Photo Link automatically links digital photos with data from a GPS. After linking data to the digital image, GPS-Photo Link creates a Web page featuring the photos watermarked with the GPS information, topographic maps, and satellite images. ESRI Shape Files are also created, allowing the viewing of the photos in ArcView using the supplied plug-in tool.

ESRI announced ArcSDE 9 for Oracle has been certified for use on Oracle 10g.

uismedia has released a new Version of its Extension MapViewSVG for
ArcGIS 8.x and ArcView 3.x.

Avenza Systems Inc. announced the immediate availability of floating or networked licenses of MAPublisher 6.0 for Adobe Illustrator.

Safe Software Inc. announced the release of the latest version FME, FME 2004 ICE. Safe Software's latest version of FME contains close to 600 user-requested enhancements, as well as several new and updated formats that bring the total number of FME-supported formats to more than 130.

BAE Systems announced the release of VITec Electronic Light Table (ELT) version 6.2. This version enhances speed and efficiency.

Events
.
The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) announced that its 13th Annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition, set for Sept. 20-22, 2004, in Houston, Texas, has been extended to three full days instead of two.

GeoTec Media issued a call for papers for its 2005 GeoTec Event to be held Feb. 13-16, 2005, at the Westin Bayshore Resort and Marina in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Sponsored by GeoTec Media, publisher of GeoWorld magazine and developer of the Web portal http://www.geoplace.com, the event-formerly known as the GIS Conference-is a leading technical event within the industry and the largest geotechnology event in Canada. New to the 2005 event is a pure technology-centric program without vertical-specific tracks. Abstract submissions are due by Aug. 15, 2004.

Training
.
The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) will conduct a three-day hands-on workshop on integrating geographic information systems (GIS) and urban indicator analysis on June 21-23, 2004, in Guadalajara, Mexico. The workshop is designed to introduce urban and regional planning university professors from Mexico and Central America to GIS technology and applications.

Hires
.
Digital Data Services, Inc. (DDS) is pleased to announce that Stephanie Schuette has been hired as the Vice-President of Sales and Marketing.

Tactician Corporation announced the appointment of Stephen Webster as its first COO.

MetaCarta Inc., Cambridge, Mass., has named Ron Matros president and chief executive officer. The company is looking to Matros to advance the company into new markets for its GIS products.


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