July 3, 2002


From the Editor
Warming Up for the ESRI User Conference
GISbid.com Goes International
Compressus Adds Imaging to MapPoint and Beyond

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This week's issue, as noted last week, comes out early due the Independence Day holiday. Next week, I'll be at the ESRI User Conference where I hope to visit with many of you. I also encourage you, if you find this publication useful, to suggest that other users and vendors subscribe.

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If you've not had a chance to look, ESRI has posted a detailed set of responses to users' questions in anticipation of its annual conference. The answers will be of interest to those in the ESRI community and the GIS community as a whole. I'm not sure how many years ESRI has provided this "preview," but I'm not aware of any other organization that does so.

As I read through the quite candid responses, I am reminded that this conference is about the users. ESRI, perhaps more than any other GIS company, works hard to make the event about the users: their work, their problems, their solutions, and their contributions to their communities, businesses and the world at large. The tone of the questions and answers is, "How does this affect me, the software user?"

In this document, ESRI, via president and founder Jack Dangermond, takes a stand on several issues: whether the "G" should stay in GIS (yes), whether URISA's certification ideas are a good idea (mixed feelings, but a concern that it may cause "exclusion" instead of "inclusion"), charging $5000 for the ArcMap Server for ArcIMS (a policy reversed based on user feedback).

Dangermond responds to rumors, in particular one about coverage editing in ArcMap. Support will be discontinued in ArcGIS 8.3 since that release will support topology in the geodatabase, beginning a likely migration away from coverages.

I will go so far as to suggest that this document is REQUIRED READING for those looking to get the most out of the user conference. Think of it as a "heads up" on what to expect and a way to prepare your other "hard questions" ahead of time. If you can't find the time to read the entire document, at least study the topics that relate to your situation or the products you use.

Preconference Survey Q & A

This week GISbid.com, an endeavor backed by Directions Magazine, opened an office in Australia to be run by Dean Howell, executive vice president of GISbid.com, and founder of GIS Jobs International, a GIS job website. GISbid.com currently boasts 1400 members (those are individuals or companies looking for work) from 35 countries. The plan is to grow the site into a single clearinghouse for GIS projects and offer an automatic e-mail of projects that fit a member's criteria. The site's "free ride" trial ended this week and those with a free membership are encouraged to subscribe at discounted rates. The release calls GISbid.com's fees "an exceptional value" that helps distinguish it from "other bid sites that make it difficult to find GIS-related projects."

I've been watching GISbid.com since its inception. I found the idea promising since many small GIS shops (my own included) are looking for new ways to find work. The truth of the matter is that far more organizations-1400-have signed on to look for projects than have posted jobs. The vast majority of all posts in the last few months have been re-posts of RFPs available elsewhere on the Web attributed to GISbid.com and GIS Jobs International. The few from sources outside these two read more like posts to discussion groups looking for pointers to code or data, than formal scope of work documents. I argued when GISbid.com opened that smaller GIS projects are commonly passed along by word of mouth and wondered if this type of Internet marketplace made sense in the tight-knit GIS community.

It seems that GISbid.com is looking to become a compiler of information available elsewhere. That could be a useful service. FBO Daily, short for Federal Business Opportunities, is now online. It replaced Commerce Business Daily (CBD), which at one time was only available in print. The publication lists all U.S. federal contracts above $25,000; many firms in GIS and other sectors use it as a "bible" of potential work. FBO Daily's website is free and searchable. A search for "GIS" provided many hits. Automated searching for a category and/or terms of interest costs between $95 and $195/year. Governments outside the U.S., state governments, as well as town and cities, also have their own listings on other websites, some of which require a fee for access. Depending on the area a company wants to search, tracking these various sites down and keeping tabs on them could be a time consuming task.

In the GIS arena, the GeoCommunity hosts GeoBids described as the "the original GeoSpatial technology & GIS RFP Repository." Several times weekly, in preparation for an upcoming e-mail service, GeoComm posts lists of released RFPs, RFIs and tenders, mostly linked to other sites. The listed bids are not as easily searchable as those on GISbid.com, but this is a free service. GIS Development.net hosts a tender area with a global scope, but a focus on India. GIS Café hosts a listing service for RFPs, RFIs, etc., which appears to post only RFPs submitted via an online form.

If GISBid.com can provide added value via ease of searching and completeness of listings, there is a market. The question is, will a service just devoted to GIS, surveying, and related fields create enough revenue for the long term?

GISbid.com Expands International Presence; Membership Now Exceeds 1400

GIS Monitor GIS RFP and Bidding Websites List

Early in May 2002, Compressus, Inc. announced the general availability of its ImageI/O product suite and Software Developer Kit (SDK). The company provides technology for image compression and distribution, including support for limited bandwidth. The company didn't register on my radar until later that month when a press release about McDonald's using the technology with MapPoint for site location crossed my desk.


This week, I spoke with John Falk, President and Founder of Compressus about the McDonald's deal and where the company is headed. The application for McDonald's, built from the ImageI/O toolkit, provides a two-window display with MapPoint on the left and imagery on the right. As the analyst pans in MapPoint, the detailed image moves along with it. Compresses claimed that the application saved McDonald's from having to fly three people to the UK to examine the properties. To be fair, the imagery itself played a part, too.

The big value add according to Falk is that the technology puts large images in a user-friendly environment and integrates them with other data - from maps, demographics, and other sources. He emphasized that the two windows of a map and image were "linked dynamically" and moved together. Although the technology can be integrated into a single window (vectors overlaying the image) it seems that for most of the company's users, a separate window is preferred.

I asked about the compression ratio, something compression companies like to tout. A representative responded, "the ratio really depends on 1) what sort of image the end user is compressing (i.e. satellite imagery vs. aerial photo vs. medical imagery) and 2) the complexity of the image. So depending on those parameters, the average lossless compression ratio for a geospatial image can range from 2.5: 1 to 8:1. However, the lossless ratio has been as high as 22:1 for more simple images."

When I asked what distinguished Compressus' technology from other solutions in this space-like LizardTech's MrSID and Earth Resources Mapping's ECW-Falk explained that the solution is lossless. Furthermore, the company's ability to distribute the imagery, even to tiny devices like iPAQs over limited bandwidth, is what sets it apart. I didn't get an answer when I asked about how the technology works, though I did learn that the technology staff hails from military and security backgrounds, and that Laszlo Gasztonyi, Chief Technology Officer, was part of the Joint Photographic Experts Group, a team that developed standards for the JPEG format.

Earlier this year an article in Washington TECHWAY explained Compressus technology this way. "While a JPEG file eliminates descriptions of pixels that are the same, or even similar color, Compressus says it has developed computer code that describes the entire file, but slices it into parts that are easy to store and send."

In addition to McDonald's, Regis Business Centers, a provider of temporary office space is using the technology. Compressus hopes to see users not only in real estate/GIS type applications, but in medical imaging and digital media (think movies and music) storage and transmission. And, there are applications for homeland security applications, too.


A Shrinking Business Model (Washington TECHWAY)


Ed Odenwalder, President of Velocity Labs, L.L.C. agreed with my assessment of AT&T's new "friend finder" service and has a suggestion for the carrier.

"You are right about the friend locator... they have it all wrong!!!
"What you want is to be able to have the phone automatically alert you when one of your buddies is in close proximity of you. So if you are in the grocery and I arrive at the Starbucks next door... we each get an alert and can choose to meet for coffee."

According to
Salon, a 15-year-old student at the University of California San Diego has already developed an application better than many commercial "friend finders." Using the WI-FI network, a handheld determines its position based on the strength of signal around campus, no GPS required. Others can track friends via a website, if permission is given. The accuracy is within one "floor" in a dorm. I guess in the spirit of psychology experiments, college students make great guinea pigs for location-based services testing.

Autodesk announced that the Darebin City Council (Australia) is using its GIS software to provide easier access to information and services to city residents and merchants via the Internet.

YEOMAN Group plc, the parent of Laser-Scan, announced that it has entered into an agreement with Hertz UK Limited for YEOMAN to provide a co-branded version of its mobile navigation service for Hertz to promote to its car rental customers in Great Britain. Yeoman mobile navigation service and co-branded versions will, as of July 1, be called TravelM8 (pronounced 'travelmate') with the GPS-located version called TravelM8 active. YEOMAN showed an increased loss for the first half of the year against a year ago. Laser-Scan saw weaker government sales reduce turnover to 72% for the same period last year.

The Environmental Business Council (EBC) of New England presented Applied Geographics, Inc. (AGI) and The Silent Spring Institute (SSI) the Award for Outstanding New Technology or Application for its use of a Geographic Information System (GIS) in an "… environmentally related application that resulted in an outstanding, distinct environmental benefit."


Eastman Kodak Company's JPEG2000 consulting services have been chosen by GlobeXplorer, Inc. to help speed the delivery of images to its online customers.

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that its Transportation Management Systems division has been awarded a $3.6 million contract by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) to supply a public transit vehicle management system (VMS).

Cell-Loc has reached agreement with a U.S.-based corporation with more than $10 Billion in assets to work jointly to license and deploy Cell-Loc's proprietary Cellocate technology throughout the entire state of California. The venture will be called TimesThree California. The release does not highlight consumer LBS uses, but rather remote wireless meter reading, vending machine monitoring, vehicle performance monitoring, and other short-messaging uses. Recall that Cellocate is a standalone network that ONLY provides location determination. Sheldon Reid has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company.

Avado Brands, parent company of Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen, Hops Restaurant-Bar-Brewery, and Canyon Café, chose geoVue to support strategic site selection initiatives.

Merrick & Company signed a $400,000 contract to map the 10-square mile Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, CO. The company will locate all utility features, including water, sewer, storm, electrical, natural gas, communications, fiber optics and navigation aids, within an extensive 1.75 million linear feet utility network.

GE Network Solutions has received a contract from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation to supply a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for an upgrade of the Bureau's Colorado River storage facility in Page, Arizona. GE Network Solutions is a group made up of three GE companies, including GE Smallworld.

Michael Baker Jr., Inc., has been awarded a contract by the City of Norfolk, Virginia, to provide GIS tax parcel development services.

Transfinder, a MapInfo Corp. partner and developer of transportation management software for school districts, announced that the largest school district in Idaho has selected its software to improve bus routing.

@Road released the RoadREPORT service application. RoadREPORT is a new Internet-based solution designed to provide detailed historical workforce activity information to businesses at an affordable price.

Parcel Editor 8 for ArcMap from NovaLIS will be released at the ESRI User Conference next week.

Tensing*SKS is offering a less expensive alternative to GE-Smallworld users to view their data via the Internet. SPYder is a completely independent full-functioned Internet solution that requires fewer hardware resources than other solutions.

MultiGen-Paradigm announced the availability of version 1.1 of SiteBuilder 3D, an extension to ArcView. Some of the significant new features delivered with SiteBuilder 3D v1.1 include the ability to generate terrain from any feature theme (or themes) that contain elevation data, to define and navigate custom paths, and to produce digital movie files directly from interactive sessions.

Voice-Insight has released Voice Assistant for ArcPad, a new application built on top of ESRI's ArcPad 6 that enables a user in the field to complete common ArcPad applications using his or her voice.

EnerQuest Systems, LLC, of Denver, Colo., opened a new Washington, D.C., office and appointed Sandra B. MacMurdy to lead its federal business development and strategic marketing initiatives.


July 02 - Satellite Image Shows Fire Near Show Low, AZ
A dirt road provided a firebreak; you can see the difference between the charred and non-charred areas.

July 02 - Organizations Select GDT/ESRI Route Server
Geographic Data Technology, Inc. announced that the Environmental Working Group and the Fannie Mae Foundation have selected GDT data for use within ESRI's ArcIMS Route Server Extension.

July 02 - Cities Revealed Delivers On-line
CR Connect is a new, hosted on-line service that brings low-cost access to Cities Revealed aerial photography. According to the release, CR Connect is the first on-line facility to provide UK aerial photography directly into a GIS with free-of-charge browsing and viewing capabilities.

June 28 - Autodesk Releases LocationLogic 3
The new release includes an XML Application Programming Interface (API) for developers and support for subscription and alert services.

June 27 - Harris Awarded Census Accuracy Improvement Project
The eight-year, $200 million contract from the U.S. Census Bureau for the Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing Accuracy Improvement Project is one of the largest GIS contracts in recent memory. The team includes Harris, Trimble, and others.


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