June 24, 2004


The State of Flash and Web Mapping
ESRI in the Conference Business
Soon-to-be-granted New Zealand Mapping Patent Challenged
Work for Geocompanies Driven by Satellites

This issue sponsored by:
GITC America

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

If, for some reason you cannot read this document, visit: http://www.gismonitor.com/news/newsletter/archive/062404.php

The State of Flash and Web Mapping
I've been wondering on and off for the past few years when/if Flash, the "standard" animated format for the Web, will become a player in the mapping market. I've noted in the past how, to my knowledge, none of the "major" GIS Web map vendors provide output in Flash. I think that's still true. In researching the topic I did learn that the
DEMIS Web Map Server does indeed produce maps, optionally, in Flash format.

Looking around for Flash maps I found three companies that support them. FlashMaps is a map provider of sorts. One can purchase a dynamic .swf (Flash) file ($50) or a static set of jpegs ($10). There's a plug-in for MacroMedia's DreamWeaver to build one's own maps with ease. MapGenius offers more of a service where you are billed for the "geography" you use on your website. One of the features of the demo I saw allowed the user to move the legend and other features around for the best printable layout. That said, map loading was quite slow: each ZIP Code was loaded separately, which took quite a long time. Loris Vector Map Engine v.3.0 is a low cost server side Flash solution.


As for websites that use Flash maps, they are out there. I'm seeing more and more "outreach" websites from government and non-government agencies using Flash. For example, l noted Clear the Air a week or so ago. This week, I found ecoSports, a recreational website for Eagle County, Colorado (left). While it's backed by the county government, it's funded by local sports marketing groups in the area. Clearly, this is as much a resource as a marketing experience. Interestingly, Eagle County's "official" website uses ArcIMS.


If you want to look at maps of the recent UK elections, visit the BBC website with your Flash plug-in. The map for the University of Texas is Flash-based. The Wizeguides company produces hard copy maps and has begun providing online maps. The first city up? Boston. The website has won numerous awards and makes money by charging a fee for each vendor's icon placed on the map. (That's a bit of Harvard Sqauare at right.)

My totally non-scientific look into Flash maps leads me to the following conclusions:

Flash maps are more widely used in:
Security (the first maps of the state of New York City after 9/11 I saw were Flash, as is an ongoing Israeli website of incidents)
Artistically driven websites

Traditional GIS Web maps are more widely used in:
Government websites
Anything involving routing or high end analysis
Technically driven websites

ESRI in the Conference Business
This week I received an invitation to ESRI's Business GeoInfo Summit set for later this month in Chicago. For the first time it hit me that ESRI is in the "conference business." In fact, ESRI probably hosts more GIS conferences, that touch more people, than any other organization in the world. A rundown of some of the topical conferences for this year includes:

Federal User Conference
ESRI Petroleum User Group
Business GeoInfo Summit
ESRI Education User Conference
Survey and GIS Summit-Bridging the Gap
Telecom and LBS Summit
Electric and Gas User Group
ESRI International Health GIS User Conference
European ESRI Educational Conference

To be clear, while some of these are traditional "user" conferences in that they are often open only to users, others are open to non-users and are more like "regular" conferences. The Business GeoInfo Summit, the Survey and GIS Summit, and the Petroleum User Group (PUG) are typically open to all interested parties.

It's not a new idea that a large company might expand into other areas, especially ones that educate potential new users. Microsoft does training, provides certification for some of its products, runs conferences, and has its own press. ESRI does training and has its own press, too. It can be suggested that ESRI in fact "competes" with publishers of books and magazines like Wiley and Adams Business Media. And, it can be suggested that ESRI competes with organizations that hold conferences, specifically the topical ones, on health GIS or LBS. On the other hand, ESRI's events certainly do not compete with the "vendor neutral" conferences, and attendees know that there's a subtle (or not so subtle) marketing goal intertwined.

Soon-to-be-granted New Zealand Mapping Patent Challenged
Compudigm International, based in Wellington, New Zealand, applied for a patent in that country for what boils down to the calculation and display of isolines, such as contours. The patent is due to be awarded by the end of this week. But 15 mapping and IT companies are likely to stand in the way. Among them are Eagle Technology (which represents ESRI in New Zealand), Critchlow Associates, the Met Service, Niwa, Reveal, and MapInfo. A patent attorney working for the group says it may ask for a deferral for a month or challenge the patent. While one account manager noted that it would be a tough patent to enforce, even if it was passed, his company decided it was better to fight now as more than 100 customers could be affected.

According to an article on Stuff, a New Zealand news website, one of the group's managing directors suggests Compudigm has applied for some 50 patents in 40 countries and already holds one in New Zealand for computing "shortest path" routing.

The laws that guide New Zealand's patent office, New Zealand's Intellectual Property Office, are currently under review at least in part because they do not offer the office the ability to dismiss patent applications because they are "obvious."

Compudigm's CEO, based in Las Vegas (the company focuses on the gambling market), says the concerned companies have not yet contacted him.

Work for Geocompanies Driven by Satellites
While much of the focus on satellite imagery's impact on the economy is measured in how many images are sold to military and non-military users, there is another dimension. There are the related industries that support the use of those images. For example,
PCI just got a contract (press release not yet posted on website) to use its software to analyze imagery from RapidEye, a Munich-based initiative that recently received funding for five Earth observation satellites. IONIC is part of a team for DigitalGlobe's next-generation imaging satellite, WorldView, as are a number of other partners. Just this week, the German Aerospace Center, DLR, and software provider Werum Software & Systems are partnering to commercialize the Data Information and Management System (DIMS), a tool for managing large amounts of Earth observation data. I won't go so far as to say this is a new industry for geocompanies, but with more birds in the sky, it may well be a place where startups and entrenched companies can make their mark.

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

MGE to ??? Last month Bentley penned a white paper (ftp) detailing an upgrade solution for those who did not want to abandon their MGE databases. (Intergraph and Bentley stated in 2002 that there would be MGE for MicroStation/J, which would be supported for a time, but that Intergraph would not enhance MGE to support MicroStation V8.) Bentley's solution is for users to move to MicroStation Geographics, which for all intents and purposes has the same data model as MGE. Intergraph, for its part, offers a white paper on moving from MGE to GeoMedia.

The world is "officially" down to two "major, still in active development" CAD-based GISs: Autodesk Map and MicroStation Geographics. Despite the lack of big players, there's still energy in the CAD/GIS integration space. Directions Magazine is running a 10-part series of articles that are slated for a book on the topic.

More Focused Ads? Google has extended its Adsense for content program, which allows Web publishers to host Google's context sensitive ads and earn money for each click. Adsense for search allows website owners to earn money if visitors to their websites search that website or the Web using Google's search tool and then click on resulting ads. One neat feature: the publisher can direct the ads to reflect the site's focus. A search on "jaguar" on an animal website would yield different ads than one on a car website, for example. I know of one or two GIS websites that use Adsense.

Cool Name. There's a bike shop in Madison Wisconsin called "Two Bicycles and a Map."

Pricing for ArcGIS Server. Government Computer News reports that ArcGIS Server "for Unix and Microsoft Windows platforms starts at $30,000 for two CPUs."

Insight into Certification. I read a post to a newsgroup about a great article in the latest CIO Magazine by MIT's Michael Schrage regarding IT certification. (You might have heard Schrage speak at GIS conferences, as he does that now and then.) There are lots of interesting insights here that may be helpful in the GIS world as we continue to explore certification. Here's a quote to get you started: "..., the willingness to procure credentials can reveal more about attitude than aptitude."

Quote of the Week. "Offering one service for pay when the other is free strikes me as a fairly dumb piece of marketing," said University of Wales professor David Last, an authority on navigational systems. "It's anybody's guess how they're going to make any money." Last, quoted in Wired, was speaking about Galileo, the European answer to the U.S. GPS satellite array. An agreement this week means that the two systems will operate in harmony.


MLA Atlas of Language. The Modern Language Association interactive Language Map Data Center went online this week. It maps out, based on U.S. Census Bureau data, who speaks what where. The map covers the "top 30" languages in the U.S. A second phase will go into more depth. It's an ArcIMS application.

Misreading the Images. The LA Times (free registration required) reports on some of the errors made by analysts in interpreting imagery of Iraq in the run up to the war. One misread had analysts pointing out "Scud missile storage places" when in fact they were viewing "the short, half-cylindrical sheds typically used to house poultry in Iraq." One former inspector had shirts made that read, "Ballistic Chicken Farm Inspection Team." Another misinterpretation found decontamination trucks where there was really fire suppression and water trucks. "It's scandalous," said Sharon Squassoni, an intelligence expert at the Congressional Research Service says in the article. "The satellite analysts couldn't tell the trucks were red."

NGA Contract for Intermap. The United States Department of Defense contract website noted that Intermap Federal Services Inc (part of Intermap, the folks who made the 3D map of the UK) was awarded a contract for $4,153,885 as part of a $47,000,000 deal for interferometric synthetic aperture radar system airborne radar commercial imagery high-resolution radar images, digital surface models, and radar-based map products. The work is expected to be completed by Jan. 14, 2005. This was a sole source contract initiated on March 8, 2004. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency was the contracting agency. I read an article in a Canadian paper alluding to this work back in March.

More on Reason Magazine's Custom Covers. Reader Tony sent a note with a pointer to the publisher's note that explains how each subscriber to Reason Magazine received the latest issue with a custom cover including image of the subscriber's residence. The companies behind the technology are interesting, as are the organizations that funded the project.

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)

GIS in Local News. I still see lots of articles about the "town GIS." I am however seeing more journalists using the town GIS. For example, an article about a new mall in Montgomery County, Virginia includes this sentence: "The assessed value of the two parcels that make up Gables shopping center was $7.6 million, according to Montgomery County's online GIS system.

Conundrums (concepts we question)

NOAA Website Last. Last year I noted that NOAA's MapFinder website received a rather low score on the E-Government Satisfaction Index with a 51 (NASA had a 79). The latest study has NOAA again at the bottom, this time with a 48. If I recall correctly, Representative Adam Putnam noted earlier this year this was one of the first mapping websites he visited and found it challenging. Top sites in the study included those for medical information and job prospects. Can we get NOAA some resources to enhance this website?

Week in Review

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

Bluesoft, Inc. has rebranded itself as AeroScout, and announced its MobileView platform for developing and utilizing location-based solutions. As a fan of all things blue, I'm disappointed.

The Ordnance Survey announced that almost 220 departments and other government bodies are now signed up to the Pan-government agreement (PGA) for the supply of Ordnance Survey digital mapping and geographic data - a fourfold increase on the take-up only two years ago.

ASPRS presented the 2004 Fellow Awards at their recent Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado. The winners are Amelia Marie Budge, Clive Fraser, Paul F. Hopkins (1955-2003), and Elias Johnson.

Avenza Systems Inc., the developer of MAPublisher map production software, announced the 2004 MAPublisher Map Awards.

The ISPRS Foundation invites donations to The ISPRS Foundation. Awards and grants will enable recipients to further their knowledge and skills in the fields of photogrammetry, remote sensing, and spatial information sciences.

The Association for Geographic Information announced the publication on CD of the 2004 AGI Sourcebook, the premier source of information about the Geographic Information industry in the UK. It's available from CALMap.

Mapsolute, Inc. announced the company's website was awarded both a Webby Award and a People's Voice Award by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. I gave the new U.S. part of their website a middling review.

Visual Learning Systems Feature Analyst State and Local Government Grant Program grantees will receive a 10% discount on LizardTech's GeoExpress 4.0 with MrSID geospatial image compression software.

AirIQ Inc. of Pickering, Ont., has acquired Irvine, Calif.-based Aircept.com LLC -- a developer and provider of GPS systems, including wireless vehicle monitoring and tracking services to rental vehicle fleets, heavy equipment, and commercial transport markets.

Intergraph Solutions Group has licensed technology from NASA that may be used in intelligence work. The software programs licensed include Fuzzy Reasoning Edge Detection (FRED), Fuzzy Reasoning Adaptive Threshold (FRAT), and Image Processing for Binarization Enhancement Via Fuzzy Reasoning.

Contracts and Sales
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced it has been selected by the Geomatik + Vermessung Stadt Zurich (GeoZ) to provide land information management (LIM) solutions that manage the cadastral and mapping data of the City of Zurich's 90 square kilometer area.

SANZ Inc., a storage consulting and system integration company, announced that it has been awarded a contract for its EarthWhere Spatial Data Provisioning Application software with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Albuquerque District. The EarthWhere application will assist the Corps' Albuquerque District office with the management and dissemination of geospatial data used in the Bosque Wildfires Project.

Sanborn was chosen by the Florida Department of Revenue to provide digital color orthophotos for DeSoto and Hardee counties. This project marks the first time the Department of Revenue has required digital orthophotos.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced Photo Science Inc. has selected the company's Z/I Imaging Digital Mapping Camera (DMC), the only large-format digital aerial camera system.

NTT DoCoMo, Inc. signed an agreement with MappointAsia (Thailand) Company Limited, which is a Thailand-based digital mapping and location-based service provider. NTT will own 18% of the company for a US$1.9 million investment.

Z/I Imaging Hellas S.A., Intergraph's Mapping and Geospatial Solutions division's exclusive distributor for Greece and Cyprus, was awarded a contract to supply Land Information Management solutions (LIM) for Filoxenia 2004. Appointed by the Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee, Filoxenia is managing the Private Homes Rental Program during this year's Olympic Games.

The Cadcorp SIS product suite is now able to read ESRI ArcSDE Binary Geometry stored in Oracle, ESRI Personal Geodatabases, and Intergraph GeoMedia Access Warehouses.

LandVoyage.com has released the next generation of its award winning interactive mapping software. The new LandVoyage.com software is built on the latest in Java technology. (The press release does not explain that the company is basically a data vendor.)

MapInfo Corporation announced the release of MarketNetPlanner, a comprehensive Web-based network planning and demographic analysis solution for the telecommunications industry.

IcoMap for ArcGIS v3.0, is now available from UCLID Software. (The press release does not note which version of ArcGIS is supported. I asked: it's version 9.)

Spatially Aware's Map Suite allows developers to add mapping functionality to their applications using any .Net-compatible language. There are three flavors: for the desktop, the Web, and Web services. Evals are available. The product starts at about $4,000.

Training and Education
Learning ArcGIS 9, a new course from ESRI Virtual Campus, introduces the fundamental concepts of geographic information system (GIS) technology and explores the major functionality of ArcGIS 9 software. This eight-module course is designed for those who are new to GIS and to ArcGIS 9 software. The first module of the course is free. Geoprocessing with ArcGIS 9 (for ArcInfo) is a new course designed for experienced GIS and ArcGIS users who want to employ geoprocessing tools and models in their GIS projects.

Titan will offer a GIS project management course. I will note that the Penn State online Masters in GIS also has a project management course. Why? The advisory board, from industry, said it was needed.

The Twenty-fourth Annual ESRI International User Conference will bring together more than 12,000 geographic information system (GIS) professionals from around the world August 9-13, 2004, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. More than 500 K-12 teachers, college and university instructors, school administrators, librarians, and museum professionals from more than 20 countries will convene in San Diego, California, at the 2004 ESRI Education User Conference (EdUC) August 7-10, 2004.

GIS Technology, TUDelft, NL is organizing a symposium on Geo-information for Disaster Management. The call for papers is online. The Symposium will be held at the Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands. The duration of the workshop is 2.5 days: March 21-23, 2005.

The 2004 Conference on Race/Ethnicity and Place will be held September 16-18 in Washington, D.C., on the campus of Howard University.

GIS Monitor Back Issues

Advertise With Us
You can reach more than 16,000 GIS professionals every issue by sponsoring GIS Monitor. For more information, email

Please send comments and suggestions to:
Adena Schutzberg
GIS Monitor Editor
Ultimate Map/GIS Directory - Your search is over!

GIS Monitor is published by:

GITC America, Inc.
100 Tuscanny Drive, Suite B1
Frederick, MD 21702 USA
Tel: +1 (301) 682-6101
Fax: + 1 (301) 682-6105

If you wish to subscribe, unsubscribe or change your preferences visit our