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The State of the Channel
There seemed to be quite a lot of "channel" news this week. First, I read that Autodesk reopened its office in Russia. It had been closed for six years. Without explanation of why the office was closed, or reopened, an article included an Autodesk representative's comment that legal users of Autodesk products in Russia are expected to reach half a million in two or three years.
Autodesk appointed Tech Pacific as its national distributor for India while adding resellers in smaller cities. The longer term plan is to appoint resellers in specific verticals. To encourage use of the vertical products, R14 users will be given the option to upgrade to a new version of AutoCAD or a vertical product (Map, Building Solutions, etc.) for the same price. I recall special pricing at one point in the U.S. that made Autodesk Map just a few hundred dollars more than vanilla AutoCAD.
Movement of users to vertical products helps both Autodesk and its resellers increase revenue, according to Abel Tan, Autodesk's director of channels for Asia Pacific. Autodesk currently holds a 22% market share in the region. Autodesk hopes to replicate its marketing success here in the states in other geographies over in India and the rest of the region.
Autodesk announced a reformed relationship with partner ViaNova Systems AS, a developer of transportation design and planning software built on Autodesk Map. While Autodesk announced a number of vertical partners in the homeland security space last year, this is the first in recent years that I recall in the civil/transportation space. The updated partnership allows Autodesk to resell ViaNova products. The first rollouts will be in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with other geographies to follow. ViaNova is based in Norway and has offices in eight countries. Autodesk will also work with the company on a new rail solution, built on the Autodesk Civil 3D platform. If this goes well, don't be surprised to see Autodesk acquire the company down the road. Autodesk's relationships with developer partners have been either very close-leading to acquisition-or very distant.
I also received a note which revealed that as of July 1, Bentley Systems acquired Symmetry Systems, formerly a MicroStation reseller in Clifton Park, New Jersey. I visited the recently redesigned Bentley website and to my surprise found no listing of resellers. A quick search of the Web turned up nothing current on resellers. A Bentley representative explained, "We do still work with resellers, though many of our corporate accounts are managed by Bentley account managers under a direct sales model." My first reaction is that Bentley is continuing to prepare itself for an initial public offering (IPO) and that buying resellers, something it's been doing for the last few years, is part of the plan. Resellers essentially become Bentley offices out on the landscape, which may be more appealing to investors than the "old model" of MicroStation Value Added Resellers (MVARS).
Frost and Sullivan on LBS: Did They Get it Right?
Frost and Sullivan released its report on location-based services (LBS) arguing that its limited initial success was due to technology issues. Mike Masnick, writing at TheFeature, disagrees. He argues that carriers saw/see LBS only as a way to enhance revenue by sending "mobile spam." That's not what people want, he believes.
What do they want? Interaction, specifically social interaction. To back up his point Masnick points to several LBS-supported social networks that have been quite successful, despite the technology limitations. Just as e-mail is still one of the main compelling reasons for wired computer access, so too is it for wireless. And, to take it one step further, if that social interaction can be enhanced by using location, all the better. As my eighth grade social studies class teacher reminded us regularly: "Man is fundamentally a social being."
Laser-Scan Acquires Sysdeco
In the grand scheme of things this acquisition won't rival ones involving larger players in terms of cash, but it does show Laser-Scan's keen focus. By acquiring Sysdeco, which serves national mapping agencies and hydrographic users, Laser-Scan continues to hone its niche market providing high-end tools for data cleaning, management, and production. Sysdeco's offices and experience with agencies in Norway, the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland will help broaden Laser-Scan's European presence.
Sysdeco's first major installation at the Ordnance Survey of Ireland dates back to 1979. The company boasts customers including The Ordnance Surveys of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Malaysia, hydrographic institutes in Sweden and Pakistan, and the cities of Oslo and Rome. Sysdeco partners include Siemens AG, Alcatel, and Tiotoenator. Sysdeco offers its GINIS line of GIS software which includes desktop, mobile, Web, and enterprise back office products. The company offers developer tools as well.
Recall that last year Yeoman Group effectively put Laser-Scan up for sale. Not long after, Laser-Scan management bought it. Since then, the company has been working hard to develop partnerships with leading vendors including Autodesk, Intergraph, MapInfo, and Oracle. According to the press release announcing the acquisition, the first year of management ownership has been profitable.
The Ultimate Sensored Environment
A soon-to-be opened residential community for seniors in Pittsford, New York, may be one of the most sensor-enabled places in the United States. Residents will carry a "panic button" that, when pressed, will alert staff with information including their location, name, and medical conditions or handicaps. Personal safety is one of the key selling points of the $30 million project set to open in August.
Technologies include the personal locator system which can locate residents on the 41-acre campus everywhere from in their apartments, to the pool, to the outdoor trails throughout the property. Refrigerators carry sensors that let staff know that residents are up and about and ideally eating. Common areas are accessed by a wireless key that also holds "money" that can be used for purchases at shops on campus. Residents can "preview" guests via color live video feeds direct to their televisions. The technology will also be used to track the comings and goings of the staff.
The costs are substantial, so the complex, called Cloverwood, is aimed at wealthier seniors. Entrance fees start at $160,000 plus a several thousand dollar monthly fee.
This complex and others like it may provide a type of microcosm for exploring such systems before they are widely available to the public. Further, the first properties offering these services will have to do the hard work of educating potential residents and their families regarding how the systems work and their benefits.
Press releases have been coming from vendors regarding the latest National Aerial Imagery Program, but I was unable to find a written statement from USDA on the Web listing the selected players. A call to contracting office got me the list:
Northwest Group and Triathlon are based in Canada. The other point worth noting is that the program made awards for both film and digital acquisition. Last year there were a total of six contractors, this year there are 10. A statement by Glenn Bethel of USDA last year indicated that USDA wanted to keep the number under 10 to make management easier. The digital data is archived by The National Map; the film at APFO (Aerial Photography Field Office).
The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) did protest some of USDA's actions in the NAIP contract, but USDA using its authority overrode those protests to get the contract done. According to USDA findings upon researching the protest, there were "urgent and compelling circumstances … such that the award of the NAIP contracts is in the interest of the U.S. Government."
• Eric K. Fisher, a GIS Analyst at Fairfax County (Virginia) Fire and Rescue Department responded to my Point of Interest titled "What are Camera Phones For?"
"I have an answer. What I am looking for is the ability to use a GPS-enabled cell phone/camera combination in support of emergency services. Imagine a natural disaster (tornado) has occurred. Field personnel doing the initial damage assessment could take pictures of the damage (GPS coordinates automatically being attached to file) and email the images back to a central location. Staff at an Emergency Operations Center could take the emails and rapidly plot the locations of the damage with the added benefit of having the attached images. Properly coordinated such tools and procedures could aid the emergency response in this and other emergency situations. I realize this can already be accomplished using existing products, but the simplicity and convenience of this single integrated solution I find very attractive.
"On a personal note, it would be a fun way of capturing memories of my vacation travels that could then be associated with a map.
"My limited search for such capability didn't turn up much success here .."
The editor asks: Readers, does such a system exist?
• Kathleen J. Brown, at the Illinois State Water Survey, shared her take on "Tracking Teens."
"Maybe I am fortunate in that the town I live in (Champaign, Illinois) is not as bad as others but I still want to believe that it is not that bad that you have to track the whereabouts of your child or teen electronically. How will they learn trust and independence if they know you are always monitoring them? I believe that boundaries (rules not geographic) should be set up and good communication established. Then you must trust in your child. Tracking them electronically would only give the message that they cannot be trusted. It's also is an infringement on their right to freedom.
"However, I think the GPS may be appropriate when teens have already lost trust. Substance abuse is an example where a teen may be in over their head and parents need a clue. The punishment of loss of freedom would fit the crime."
• Another reader shared a past experience.
"Beyond the 'limitations' and 'value' of a 'Teen Tracking system' there is the potential social and psychological damage that may result. Do we really need the ability to track the location of our children 24 hours a day? What harm will we cause our children with this type of over protective monitoring? How will our children learn to be self-reliant if they know we are lingering at the other end of a GPS signal? Are there really more dangers in today's world than there were when we were children? Or are the dangers just over emphasized in today's media?
"When I was a teen in the early 80's I was the victim of a pedophile. He was a friend of the family and a tracking device would not have protected me from harm. Certainly there are other situations where a tracking system may help us protect our children from their own foolish behavior, e.g., dangerous driving. But we would be doing a much better job as parents if we help our children develop their own 'good judgment.' If you think you need to track your teen it is because you failed to do your parenting when your teen was younger.
"There are dangers in today's world and we must protect our children but I fear a tracking device may give some parents a false sense of protection. But even more dangerous is the social and psychological damage we may cause our children."
The editor notes: This week I found a commentary at Tech News World which gives an overview of the state-of-the-art in child tracking with an endorsement of sorts.
Also, an unconfirmed report at Silicon.com last week noted that a school in Japan would be placing RFID chips in students bags and clothes and placing readers in and around the campus. Readers mostly weighed in "against" the idea.
Points of Interest
Can't Get Enough? Read the latest Points of Interest daily on our website.
More Survey Data. In order to determine how to develop a subscription Web mapping service for Allen County, Indiana, the iMap Management Board which oversees the project did several surveys. Thirty-six local firms (engineering, surveying, and title companies) answered one survey and the Board learned that 90 percent were willing to pay for quality data at a reasonable price and that most used AutoCAD and wanted data in that format. Of the 250 URISA members who also responded, 74 percent reported that for one or more reasons, they did not charge for data.
Quote of the Week. "The moderate usage of GIS in India has been partly due to restrictive government policy in making map data available." T R Srinivasan, president of WTI, a GIS company in India, highlights the need for data to help grow GIS in that country. He's a member of GITA.
Map Update Needed. According to Ananova, a 79-year-old American tourist with a 90-year-old guidebook got a bit lost on vacation in Bayreuth, Germany. The area had changed quite a bit after two world wars and so attractions he hoped to see were nowhere to be found. When he failed to turn up at his hotel, police searchers found him in a wooded area.
Open Source GIS Conference Gets Slashdotted. About a month after the event, the recent Open Source GIS Conference, and a presentation by Paul Ramsey, were noted on Slashdot. While there's a bunch of comments on why there's so much detail on the location of the conference (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) and why Paul's paper is available in .DOC format, there are some interesting notes.
GeoTargeting in the News. The AP provided a story this week on geotargeting. Thanks to readers Duane and Greg, for the pointer. On most newspaper and TV websites the story ran with the title "Geolocation tech slices and dices World Wide Web." What I found interesting were the other titles given the article:
The Chicago Tribune: "They Know Where You Live"
The Centre Daily Times (Pennsylvania): "It's a Small Web After All"
The LongView Daily News (Washington State): "Your Computer's Web No Longer 'World Wide'"
The Knoxville Sentinel: "World Wide Piece"
The Toronto Star: "Geolocation Makes World Wide Web Less Worldwide"
The Seattle Times: "Geolocation Narrowing the Web World"
The East Valley Tribune (Arizona): "Technology Makes World Wide Web Much Less Worldwide"
Newsday (New York): "New Technology Limits Access"
The Ventura County Star: "Web Can Be Geared to Users' Locations"
Wired: "Geolocation: Don't Fence Web In"
CBSNews.com: "WWW Gets Regionalized"
A companion piece that included examples of the use of geotargeting was also available, though few outlets seemed to pick it up. Most websites called it "Some Uses of 'Geolocation Technology'" The Holland Sentinel (Michigan) called it "Borders Online."
Intergraph Invests in Thai LBS. Japanese telecom firm NTT DoCoMo acquired a 17.6-percent stake in digital mapping and location-based service (LBS) provider MappointAsia, based in Thailand, to grow its presence in that company. Other shareholders include Japan's Mitsui and Intergraph, which owns 5%. I wonder if Microsoft is ok with the name?
Tracking the Tandem. A southern California husband and wife, both volunteer tutors at the Mustard Seed Tutorial Center, are riding a tandem bicycle across the country to raise money for the center. ESRI has donated ArcWeb services so it's possible to track their progress.
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)
Treasure Hunt Cuts Sentence. Lawyer D'Arcy Downs-Vollbracht and a colleague used a map given to them by client William Lott to find and literally dig up a stash of money he'd allegedly stolen and hidden in Bullhead City, Arizona. The retrieval of the money helped cut his sentence to two years in jail.
Conundrums (concepts we question/give us pause)
The Latest on NextView. Bids were due June 15 for the second procurement of a next generation satellite by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Those in the know say only Space Imaging and ORBIMAGE bid, though other names including Lockheed, Boeing Co., and Northrop Grumman Corp. were mentioned as potential bidders early in the process. Says Edward Jurkevics, founder of Chesapeake Analytics Corp. in Arlington, Va., "I would look for whoever didn't get the award to be ultimately acquired at some point." Another interesting tidbit from a Rocky Mountain News article cites a report by CRT Capital Group. It says that Space Imaging has reached an agreement with "a politically powerful and technologically advanced strategic partner" that would provide financing to the company. Who is the new partner? Guesses? The final award for NextView is expected in September.
Week in Review
Please note: Material used herein is often supplied by external sources and used as is.
GISCI reports that the number of Certified GIS Professionals (GISPs) has grown to 315 individuals.
ESRI Business Information Solutions (ESRI BIS) announced the release of its printed and digital sourcebook products.
NovaLIS Technologies is now an authorized reseller for the ESRI Federal GSA Schedule.
Sky Light Communication Ltd. and LocatioNet Systems Ltd. announced an agreement to introduce advanced location-based services (LBS) in the Chinese wireless market.
Group 1 Software and MetaCarta Inc. announced a strategic technology alliance. Under the agreement, MetaCarta is integrating Group 1's Centrus geocoding software for U.S. postal addresses into its Geographic Text Search solution.
SRC LLC named Decision Data Resources (DDR) partner of the year for 2003. SRC recognized DDR for its outstanding sales achievements as well as its creativity for building unique applications with SRC technology.
LizardTech, Inc. announced special pricing on its industry standard GeoExpress with MrSID exclusively for members of the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) association. The MAPPS association has more than 150 members and aggressively advocates for the private photogrammetry, remote sensing, surveying, and GIS community. LizardTech is a member of the organization.
• Contracts and Sales
VARGIS LLC, a technology leading worldwide mapping and GIS company, was selected by the Marin Telecommunications Agency to provide countywide digital mapping products and services for Marin County, California. (This news is from June.)
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has elected to include DigitalGlobe's QuickBird satellite imagery in its suite of geographic information system (GIS) data to help manage and protect a variety of coastal marine resources while promoting economic growth.
Aerials Express is using Earth Resource Mapping's (ERM) enterprise imagery solution combining ER Mapper, Enhanced Compression Wavelet (ECW), and Image Web Server to deliver detailed imagery to 8,000 users per month.
The City of Miami, FL has purchased CityView to automate their Land Use Compliance and Code Enforcement business processes.
Haines City, Florida, has contracted with Innoprise Software, Inc. for a new technology solution that will replace the city's legacy community development system.
RMSI, a global IT services company, announced that RMSI and their consortium partner Landmark Government, which is a part of Landmark Information Group Ltd, were awarded a contract to carry out Positional Accuracy Improvement (PAI) processes for South West Water Ltd (SWW), UK.
Space Imaging's high-resolution IKONOS satellite imagery is being used by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to survey the cultivation of illicit crops in Afghanistan, Laos, Myanmar, and Bolivia.
IDELIX Software Inc. has been awarded a $470,000 contribution by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) through the Defence Industrial Research (DIR) Program. The award is for the research and development of the next generation of Pliable Display Technology (PDT), known as PDT "Smart" Lens Technology.
Atlanta-based Discrete Wireless, Inc. announced that the Company has signed a licensing agreement with GDT (Geographic Data Technologies) for GDT's Dynamap/Transportation North America product. Discrete Wireless will utilize the product in its next generation MARCUS-hosted Fleet Management solution.
AMC, Inc. has released GPS2CAD Ver 3.1, a new improvement to the powerful Windows application that enables users to effectively bring into their design environment the GPS points they have collected, their favorite CAD application, and public domain aerial photos and Topo maps.
IONIC released RedSpider Catalog 2.1, which includes a customizable thematic portal based on the askTheSpider.com service.
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions began shipping the latest release of G/Technology software, version 9.2.
Blue Marble Geographics announced the release of a new version of the Geographic Calculator 6.1 which features the Iraq Zone System.
Digital Map Products (DMP), a developer of Internet-hosted mapping applications, announced it has launched a new application, ObliqueInterface, to link oblique aerial photography to locations in a GIS. It's an enhancement for the company's CityGIS2 online products. Originally formed by Psomas and Associates and Thomas Brothers, DMP is now independent.
ESRI announced that Production Line Tool Set (PLTS) Foundation is now shipping. PLTS Foundation provides the basic database editing tools and PLTS components found within each of the PLTS solutions (Aeronautical, Defense, Mapping Agency, and Nautical) as well as the ability to implement customized business rules in the data modeling, attribution, validation, and output process.
Leica Geosystems has announced the release of Version 1.5 of Spider software for control of GPS reference stations and networks. Spider V1.5 is designed specifically to support Leica's GRX1200 and GRX1200Pro reference station receivers, which are based on the next-generation System 1200 technology. It also announced the release of the DSW700 Digital Scanning Workstation. This latest version of the popular DSW scanner series features a 30 percent improvement on scanning speeds, as well as improved radiometric quality and lower cost of operation.
StormSource Software released a new version of its "GPS.NET" software . GPS.NET is a software component which assists software developers with rapidly developing GPS-enabled applications for Windows desktop and mobile devices. The component, now available for Visual Studio.NET, boasts more than 400 methods in 50 classes to perform virtually any GPS-related task, from calculating the distance to any point on Earth to writing applications which require highly-precise positional measurements.
GeoplusUSA released VisionCOGO for LDD, an add-on product for Autodesk Land Desktop (2004-2005) users looking for more efficient and broad survey tools.
• Training and Education
MapMart and Kuhns & Associates have joined forces to form the MapMart-Kuhns GIS Software Training Institute, a partnership designed to provide the most comprehensive, flexible, and thorough training available to both novice and experienced users of ESRI GIS software.
Friends and colleagues of Kenneth J. Osborn (1952-2004) have helped establish the Kenneth J. Osborn Memorial Scholarship as a tribute to him from donated funds administered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). The purpose of the Scholarship is to encourage and commend college students who display exceptional interest, desire, ability, and aptitude to enter the profession of surveying, mapping, photogrammetry, or geospatial information and technology. In addition, the Scholarship recognizes students who excel at an aspect of the profession that Osborn demonstrated so very well, that of communications and collaboration.
The Penn State Board of Trustees approved the Online Masters in GIS degree last week and the program is now accepting applications. (I'm on the advisory board for this program.)
Strategic Research Institute presents the second Commercial Remote Sensing Conference, September 13 & 14, in Denver. EOM, of which I am the Editor, is the official publication of the event.
The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) announced panel sessions, events, and keynote speakers for its GEOINT 2004 Symposium to be held October 12-14 in New Orleans.
• Hires, New Offices
GeoDecisions recently named Robert G. Parsons GIS lead for the firm's Columbus, Ohio office. David Dzikowski was recently named commercial director at the company. He comes from ESRI. Brendan J. Wesdock was recently named military director.
BAE Systems has named industry veteran Dr. Stewart Walker Director of Marketing for the Geospatial eXploitation Products (GXP) line of business.
Hitachi Software Global Technology, Ltd. announced the appointment of two new employees, Mr. John Meredith, formerly of Broadband Services Inc., GE Smallworld, and Autodesk, and Ms. Shashikala Shamarao, formerly of GE Smallworld. Both employees join Hitachi Software as members of the Any*GIS product team in the GIS group.
Ronald G. Harper, Chairman of MPSI Systems Inc. accepted a letter of resignation from Dr. Bryan Gross, President and Chief Executive Officer of MPSI since February 2004. Gross will take another position in the Tulsa, OK area. James C. Auten will succeed Gross.
VARGIS LLC announces the expansion and relocation of its headquarters to Sterling, Virginia, and the opening of a new office near Denver, Colorado.
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