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2005 July 28


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Editor's Introduction

ESRI's website has a lot of material on the 25th annual ESRI International User Conference — including the full program, a blog, a list of award winners, and so forth. In what follows I summarize Jack Dangermond's keynote address; report on a joint announcement by ESRI, The National Geographic Society, Geospatial One Stop, and TeleAtlas; and bring you one of several interviews I conducted at the conference. In the coming weeks I will serve up my other interviews and news about products released at the conference. Also, my reporting will be much enriched by the many new contacts I have made at the conference.

— Matteo

Dangermond Outlines His Visions for GIS

ESRI continues to grow steadily — at 10-15 percent per year, according to its founder and president, Jack Dangermond — and so does its user conference. This year, as of two o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, 13,264 people were registered at the San Diego Convention Center, making it by far the largest ESRI user conference yet. Dangermond opened the proceedings on Monday morning with his characteristic unpretentiousness — "My name is Jack Dangermond. Welcome to our conference." — and dove straight into substantive presentations, barely mentioning that this was the company's 25th such conference.

The conference theme this year is "GIS... helping manage our world" and Dangermond stressed and articulated that vision throughout his presentation on Monday, at one point pausing after each of the five words to emphasize their meaning and importance. A parallel, informal theme for the conference was Africa: Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-famous primatologist best known for her study of chimpanzees on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, addressed the audience in the afternoon — and the big party on Thursday night, complete with fireworks, was titled "Heart of Africa." Goodall appealed to GIS professionals to put their knowledge of remote sensing and mapping to the service of conservation efforts — particularly to help stop deforestation and human encroachment onto the shrinking habitat of chimps. She also spoke of her work with children and of her reasons for hope and thanked Dangermond for supporting her work. The crowd gave her a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.

Formal and informal themes aside, the conference's purpose, Dangermond pointed out, is "first and foremost, getting our users together." Inviting participants in the huge hall to introduce themselves to one new person and to then continue to network throughout the conference, Dangermond stressed the importance of relationships: "I believe strongly in relationship, that space where we can make things happen."

Conference participants, Dangermond said, are working on every single problem confronting humanity. To illustrate this diversity, he displayed a handful of slides that he had picked out from among the thousands that he had received for this purpose. They showed GIS used, among other things, to model phylogenetic relationships and plate tectonics; visualize earthquakes and critical infrastructure; manage tsunami disaster relief, transportation, transit, and utility infrastructures; monitor hurricanes in real-time; study site suitability for locating windmills; plan economic development and smart growth; provide citizens with online access to public data; pick the landing site for the Mars lander; and track an iceberg bigger than some states.

Dangermond interspersed his presentation with short videos, featuring ESRI users sharing their own work; the use of GIS for emergency services; USA Today using GIS to generate maps for publication; Kevin Sato, GIS administrator for Murray City, Utah using GIS to figure out safe walking routes for school children; and how Nesa, a large electrical utility in Copenhagen, Denmark, reorganized all of its workflows around GIS and saved a lot of money. Dangermond gave Nesa an award and Rene Vedo, the company's Executive V.P. of Information Technology and Customer Service, accepted it on behalf of his team.

Next, Dangermond launched into a very fast-paced presentation of his vision for GIS. "Our world," he said, "is evolving and becoming more populated, urbanized, technical, specialized, connected, globalized, informed, and fragile." This is impacting the environment, security, biodiversity, the availability of resources, and sustainability. Our cities are spreading into natural areas, we are getting warmer, and the sea level is rising. "The suggestion that I want to put forward: as a species, we need to better manage our world." GIS, according to Dangermond, is particularly valuable as a framework for managing human activity.

GIS is evolving on the Internet, Dangermond said, creating a distributed, global GIS — or "geoweb," as he likes to call it: distributed collaboration, supporting publishing, discovery, sharing, interoperability, distributed data management, collaborative computing, and application integration. "Our individual systems will be connected into a system of systems, facilitated by standardized data models, GIS portals, networks of providers, collaboration agreements, leadership and organization, technology... and you." Dangermond credited NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, with first coming up with this vision, and listed the elements that it will take to implement it: leadership, technology, and GIS professionals such as those in his audience.

Exploring this theme further, Dangermond briefly described a "geodata-rich society." It will be characterized by more geospatial information — including GPS/location data, geo-demographic data, data from real-time monitoring, and an increase in the next few years by two orders of magnitude in the availability of satellite imagery — and greater access to it — via Web portals and online GIS Services. These services will include enterprise integration, location-based services (LBS), sensor networks, situational awareness, GIS networks, and consumer mapping and will provide the framework to support many geospatial communities. Over time, these expanded GIS services will become pervasive and will be driven by millions of participants.

The enabling technology for this vision, according to Dangermond, will include further increases in processing speed, bandwith, and data storage; Web services standards; mobile technologies; real-time networks; and more services-oriented GIS software. At this point, Dangermond outlined ESRI's software strategies:

  1. Enhance ArcGIS desktop ("the core desktop world")
  2. Strenghten and simplify geodata management
  3. Extend ArcGIS Server
  4. Increase mobile access to GIS and GIS tools

This will be accompanied, he stressed, by an increasing focus on quality, usability, and performance.

"Our focus," Dangermond said, "is now on [ArcGIS] 9.2, which will be released early next year. We've taken hundreds of your requests on additional features and functions and organized them into teams, actually 20 focused projects." Among the many areas of improvement in this new release, he cited data compilation ("where GIS often starts") and said that 9.2 will include COGO construction tools and implement a complete cadastral tool.

ESRI, Dangermond promised, will continue to be a strong supporter of interoperability, including OGC standards and data interoperability extensions. He described interoperability procedures as "the key for integrating our individual efforts" and predicted that they will become services on the Web.

The geodatabase, according to Dangermond, will also support user views and the production of multiple maps at different scales out of the database. "At 9.2 we are going to be introducing geographic sketching and graphic design into the geodatabase for analysis. These graphic tools will be very useful in all sorts of geographic planning." Version 9.2 will also support "terrains" ("new and requested for a long time"), animation in all the different applications, and greatly improved charts.

Dangermond announced ESRI's new Image Server, which is capable of processing and serving large quantities of raw file-based imagery in near-real-time. He introduced Peter Becker, the chief architect of this technology, to describe it. Imagery, Becker pointed out, is the natural background for maps, and is increasing exponentially in volume while dropping in price. The new server — originally developed by MAPS geosystems, a long-time ESRI business partner — will store images as raw scans and process them on the fly and on demand, including radiometric balancing, mosaicking, and pan-sharpening. Output imagery is displayed instantaneously for several concurrent users without the requirement to first preprocess the data and load it into a DBMS.

Because Image Server stores the raw images, the user can change the compression, the color, and the view point — for example, to look at buildings from one side and then from the other. ESRI will initially launch Image Server as a stand-alone product that supports most GIS vendors' software, including ArcGIS, ERDAS IMAGINE, Intergraph GeoMedia, and MapInfo Pro, as well as CAD software such as AutoCAD and MicroStation. In addition, this server supports open standards such as WMS and HTML viewers. Dangermond briefly demonstrated a few of these capabilities on screen and described the product as "a paradigm change in imagery."

Dangermond then moved on to another dimension of his geoweb vision: managing distributed data. This will include the ability to do synchronized updates on the Web and to exchange "updateograms" to facilitate remote collaboration and co-production. He promised a major new release of ArcIMS, which has not been updated in a few years, including a new viewer, and a new version of ArcGIS Server to better complement ESRI's desktop products. The new Server version, he promised, will feature many more services, faster mapping, and free viewer tools; it will support free smart clients for light devices, integration with GPS receivers, and a new class of ArcExplorer viewers. Hugh Keegan, who Dangermond introduced to help with this part of the presentation, showed the use of the free viewer to do a service area analysis, with the computation taking place on the server.

"Another product that comes out a little stronger at 9.2 is our engines," Dangermond said, "which are aimed mostly at developers." EDN (ESRI Development Network), which ESRI modeled on Microsoft's MDN and is available on an annual subscription basis, is not just aimed at commercial developers, he pointed out, but already has thousands of subscribers.

The fastest growing part of ESRI this year, according to Dangermond, are free ArcWeb Services, called Public Services. Previously users had to pay to access these services but now the company has decided to make some of them available for free for non-commercial use. The data is from National Geographic, GlobeXplorer, and TeleAtlas.

Dangermond also briefly announced a new partnership with these same three organizations, plus Geospatial One Stop and a few other partners, to upgrade the National Geographic Map Machine — a map service that provides global map coverage for an extensive set of Earth science themes. [See my report on this, below.] Users will be able to access this service through a new viewer, ArcExplorer — a name that ESRI recycled from years ago. This viewer is aimed at a mass audience and appears to be ESRI's response to Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth. However, as Dangermond emphasized and briefly demonstrated, the important difference is that the ArcGIS back end allows users to accomplish much more sophisticated tasks, such as service area analysis.

Finally, Dangermond focused briefly on ESRI itself, now 36 years old, and reported that the company's growth has been consistent throughout this time, at the rate I mentioned earlier. Unlike the explosive diffusion of Internet access and cell phones, he pointed out, the growth of GIS has been slow but steady — built on the fundamental science research conducted in universities. ESRI, according to Dangermond, has no debt and is very supportive of its employees. ESRI Press has published 70 titles since its inception in 1997. And, last but not least, ESRI now finally has a toll-free support number: 1-888-377-4575.

After a break, the focus shifted to the new features that will appear in ArcGIS 9.2, expected in the first quarter of 2006. I will report on that next week. Meanwhile, I'll just leave you with a teaser: the announcement that drew the most enthusiastic applause was that 9.2 will allow users to add an Excel table directly into ArcGIS, without ODBC.

Partnership To Expand MapMachine

At a press conference on Wednesday, Jack Dangermond and others outlined a vision for the next generation of MapMachine, the online atlas from National Geographic first launched in November, 1999, and powered by ESRI's ArcWeb Services. The next generation of the service will provide a link to the data and metadata of the Geospatial One-Stop (GOS) portal to help users discover information about their area of interest or study. MapMachine will also add capabilities for 3D globe services, allowing GIS users to "pull in" their own map services to overlay onto a globe. Also planned is the addition of ESRI's MapStudio (formerly MapShop), used by many daily newspapers to create maps for printing, to enable users to create customized maps. Other partner organizations include MDA, GlobeXplorer, and TeleAtlas, who are working together to bring satellite imagery, aerial photos, and street-level data for MapMachine users.

Dangermond said that the new project will expand MapMachine "in three or four different dimensions." First, it will extend the service to virtually the entire geographic vocabulary of National Geographic. Second, it will be fueled by the new ArcExplorer viewer, which will work in GIS server-based environments. Third, it will give users access to GOS data and metadata.

MapMachine will expand its range of services, to include a few commercial ones. MapStudio — which ESRI, according to Dangermond, has been selling to most of the leading newspapers — will become a National Geographic, commercial for-sale service and will be expanded beyond newspapers. Users will be able to get free maps and also subscribe to make maps for publication in books, magazines, etc.

The main focus of the MapMachine, according to Dangermond, has been on education and that will continue. National Geographic subscribers will be able to use MapMachine to access some GIS sites and bring them into the consumer world. "On the other hand, the GIS community will now have access to a 3D globe on top of which you can layer GIS data and it will be a free service."

Hank Garie, GOS' Executive Director, said that he was very excited to be a part of this emerging partnership. GOS was initially conceived as a portal where professional GIS users could find data, models, live mappping services, etc. "Think of GOS as a library card catalog," said Garie. Garie is particularly excited at the prospect of MapMachine users utilizing the National Geographic cartographic data to generate more GOS basemaps. "Our hope is that we can grow this portal tremendously," he said. He also expressed his hope that GOS and National Geographic could link to similar projects in other countries.

Dangermond recalled ESRI's early involvement in the MapMachine project and wondered "Can we actually bring these two worlds [of professional GIS and the general public] together? Could the kids discover a GIS service (for example, from EPA or Census) and pull it into an educational environment?" Conversely, he added, "People in the GIS world would salivate to be able to put their vegetation data on a [National Geographic] map." "If someone will build a commercial application and exploit these services for profit, there will be a fee," Dangermond explained. "But other stuff will be free and public service organizations will be able to use the data for free."

Allen Carroll, National Geographic's chief cartographer, clarified that most of this vision is still potential: "This is mostly about things that are not happening yet. We will spend the next few months and years exploring opportunities." He described the partnership as a three-way street, with National Geographic contributing its 117-year tradition, ESRI contributing its technology and its community of users, and GOS contributing its large and growing reservoir of data, "which is of great value for good governance but also, largely untapped, for civil society." Three additional partners — TeleAtlas, GlobeXplorer, and EarthSat — will contribute huge amounts of data.

According to Dangermond, in the future, local governments, businesses, and private organizations could have their own, customized versions of MapMachine. He also expressed the need to recruit the people who have so far only browsed the service to actively use it and the hope that it could be populated with thousands of geolocated amateur digital photos. MapMachine, Dangermond said, is going to do more than just link to GOS: "We hope that MapMachine becomes the chief public front end and that the data is fully integrated."

I asked Dangermond how MapMachine will relate to the new, mass market online mapping services, such as Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth. "It is not our intention to compete head-to-head with those services," he answered. "They are doing the things that we've been doing for a long time. The focus of Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth is principally on search and they use geography to attract people to that environment. We are cooperating by making our technology interoperable [with theirs]." He then listed three principal uses of MapMachine: education and science geographical exploration; GIS users who want better base maps; and people who want to make custom maps on demand.

According to Roger Mitchell, Vice President of EarthSat, "In addition to providing the imagery, we will go the next step: we will show how things are changing, how they have changed" — using the company's complete Earth coverage from 1975 and 1990.

Rob Shanks, GlobeXplorer's president, said that since the company's founding in 1999 it has aggregated "the largest commercial collection" of aerial and satellite imagery. "We now produce well over 30 million maps a month. "We are proud to be a part of this. The learning and sharing portion of this is very important and something that we support as a company. We need to continue to create demand and get partners to publish [maps]. The latter you do by showing them ways that commercial organizations will pay for the service."

TeleAtlas staff pointed out the division of labor among the partners: "Our expertise lies in building the data, these partners get it out to the people."

Interview with Don Cooke, of TeleAtlas

At the ESRI user conference I interviewed Donald Cooke, Tele Atlas' information scientist. Cooke, who has been doing GIS works for nearly 40 years, is the founder of GDT, which was acquired by TeleAtlas last year. (I use my words here to report Cooke's answers to my questions, except for verbatim quotes enclosed in quotation marks.)

What is TeleAtlas' approach to data gathering?
The two companies that became TeleAtlas had opposite approaches to data gathering: GDT (Geographic Data Technology, purchased by TeleAtlas in July 2004) used to be known as "the compilation people," because it gathered and compiled data from a wide variety of sources, whereas Etak compiled the data by driving. TeleAtlas takes a pragmatic approach and does both.

How did TeleAtlas combine GDT's and Etak's databases?
Combining the two companies' databases was a conflation project that offered a wonderful opportunity for quality control. Most of the two companies' data turned out to be identical. The difference, however, is that, while GDT was "obsessive about metadata," Etak had very little of it. Therefore, TeleAtlas had to reconstruct and blend the metadata. In the future, the greater availability of compilable data source will change the mix. The big challenge will be meeting customer demands for additional attributes.

How does TeleAtlas relate to data vendors?
TeleAtlas has a variety of relations with data vendors. Two examples at the opposite ends of the spectrum are the company's relations with MapInfo and with ESRI. TeleAtlas does not work very closely with MapInfo, even though the two companies are only about a three hour drive from each other. Rather, every quarter, TeleAtlas sends MapInfo new data and receives a big check in return. MapInfo's only requirement is that TeleAtlas not sell data in the same format in which MapInfo sells it. Additionally, if MapInfo requests it, TeleAtlas staff are glad to brief MapInfo staff or give presentations at MapInfo's user conference. Cooke figures that as long as MapInfo pays fair market value for the data TeleAtlas is not playing favorites.
     By contrast, TeleAtlas's relationship with ESRI is "much richer and closer" than its relationship with other business partners. Often the two companies will talk with prospective customers jointly, as partners, and then present two bids: one from ESRI for software and one from TeleAtlas for data. ESRI does not pay TeleAtlas royalties for the data. TeleAtlas does a lot of business with people who use ESRI software. "The ESRI user conference is our user conference as well," Cooke told me. Additionally, ESRI gives TeleAtlas a heads up when it is about to make major announcements.

How often does TeleAtlas issue updates?
TeleAtlas provides updates to the vast majority of its customers on a quarterly basis. For the rest, the frequency depends on need and data availability: for example, TeleAtlas provides monthly updates to Clark County, Nevada, which includes fast-growing Las Vegas, while it updates the data for Lyme, New Hampshire, about every three years. In a few cases, TeleAtlas provides daily updates. Cooke is bullish about the need and technical possibility of gathering data faster and earlier as cities grow. One example of the need is 911 dispatch centers: "People get injured on worksites before people even move into new houses," he points out.

Who are TeleAtlas' competitors?
In the United States there are currently three sources for map data: the U.S. Census Bureau's TIGER/Line files, Navteq, and TeleAtlas. TIGER, says Cooke, "is starting to get very good" and is a constant reminder that the federal government is out there gathering data and that private companies have to provide better data than TIGER to remain viable. Customers like this "duopoly" of commercial data providers, because it ensures price and quality competition.

What is Cooke's history with TIGER?
In 1967, Cooke created the first street centerlines for TIGER and in the mid-80s he helped build up the system. "GDT was the only contractor in 1998 that qualified to sell content with the full knowledge that it would go straight into TIGER. The Census Bureau only bought data from us if it was cheaper and less risky for them than gathering it themselves. We also did a lot of work for them gathering control points independently from the work done by Harris, the major supplier of control points for TIGER."

How does TeleAtlas differ from Navteq?
In two respects. First, TeleAtlas is a global company, with a large presence in Europe — in countries that are ahead of the United States in certain markets (such as wireless) and that, therefore, help the company forecast what will happen in U.S. markets. Second, TeleAtlas has a very strong presence in the GIS market because that is how GDT started. TeleAtlas also has strong relationships with MapQuest and Google.

What is the role of the Geospatial One Stop portal in making data available?
Cooke is skeptical. It would require a large staff and financial incentives, he thinks, to prod state and local government agencies to provide large amounts of data on a regular basis. "I can't help thinking of 'Field of Dreams' ("If we build it, they will come"). It is a fairy tale."

How has the changed security climate affected map-making?
After 9/11 many states decided to lock up all their maps. Cooke, Jack Dangermond, and other map-makers locked arms and made three points, in public statements:
  1. If we lock up the maps terrorists will have won.
  2. Maps are out there anyway.
  3. Maps make us more secure.

News Briefs

Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.


The DuPage County, Illinois, Division of Stormwater Management has retained GeoAnalytics, Inc., a provider of geographic and land information systems (GIS/LIS) technology and management consulting, to help migrate its legacy GIS tools and spatial databases into a floodplain mapping and data management system based on ESRI ArcGIS technology. DuPage County has long embraced the use of GIS to support stormwater management and floodplain mapping. Current goals of the Stormwater Division include migrating its existing technical architecture into ESRI's ArcGIS 9.x environment. Support services being provided by GeoAnalytics include overall system design covering technology, database, and application components.
     GeoAnalytics will also assist with the migration of Stormwater Division legacy ArcInfo coverages into an ArcGIS Geodatabase structure and the development of custom application functionality. The primary focus of data efforts will be on those spatial layers required to support hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, floodplain delineation, and the creation of floodplain maps for regulatory and flood insurance purposes. In addition, the floodplain mapping and data management system will be designed to meet content and reporting requirements of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency's map modernization program. Publication of legacy county floodplain GIS data into a format compatible with FEMA's Mapping Information Platform (MIP) environment has already been accomplished.

Flight Landata, Inc., a 10 year-old remote sensing firm based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, is assisting the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center's (ERDC) Topographic Engineering Center (TEC) with the development of technology that has proven to be of value detecting IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and suspected insurgent activities. The BuckEye system, which has recently been deployed in Iraq, is the next generation of Flight Landata's remote sensing digital camera system technology. It incorporates the latest in digital cameras with GPS, inertial measurement units, CPU, and software to produce a lightweight, portable camera system. The BuckEye system produces high-resolution imagery that can be used to rapidly produce digital orthophoto mosaics in the field. The system is platform-independent and has been used on both fixed wing and rotary aircraft. Due to its ultracompact design and lightweight it is ideally suited for use in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
     The imagery produced by the BuckEye is not only useful in detecting IEDs, but also for improving situational awareness. BuckEye imagery is being incorporated into the Urban Tactical Planner (UTP), also designed by ERDC/TEC. The UTP, a digital representation of the urban environment, is a product for mission and tactical planning, and urban fighting. As a result of the success with the BuckEye, Flight Landata was recently awarded a contract providing ERDC/TEC with authority to purchase up to $10 million of Flight Landata's camera systems over the next 5 years.

ESRI and Dewberry, a large engineering consulting firm, have entered into a three-year Enterprise License Agreement that will allow Dewberry unlimited access to selected ESRI software and establishes ESRI as Dewberry's standard for GIS. Dewberry will implement ESRI software including ArcGIS, ArcGIS Server, ArcSDE, and more than 1,000 seats of ArcPad mobile GIS software. Recently named ESRI Business Partner of the Year for 2005, Dewberry has been collaborating closely with ESRI regarding opportunities for further product and service integration.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Aeronautical Charting Office (NACO) has chosen ESRI's Production Line Tool Set (PLTS) for ArcGIS 9.1-Aeronautical Solution as the basis to develop and implement an automated, database-centric aeronautical chart production system. ESRI will provide professional consulting, design services, and software customization during the project, which includes the evaluation, system design, and implementation of a central database for the Aeronautical Information Branch.
     Customization will add data editing and validation components used to maintain database integrity. ESRI will also expand Aeronautical Solution charting tools to make it possible for the Enroute Navigation Branch to create entirely database-driven charts. Applications will help streamline GIS database production, maintenance, workflow management, and quality control and support high-volume cartographic production and workflow management. The delivered system will provide NACO with an enterprise solution for data management and product generation. The integrated system will replace NACO's current multiple processes that incorporate data editing tools and manual and CAD procedures.

GeoAnalytics, Inc., a provider of geographic and land information systems (GIS/LIS) technology and management consulting, has completed the implementation of the GIS Data Management portion of the Integrated Real Estate Information System (IRIS) for the South Florida Water Management District. The IRIS project is part of a 30-year environmental restoration project, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). A large portion of the CERP program is acquiring land for regional water resources projects necessitating the need for IRIS. GeoAnalytics designed, developed, and deployed a customized ArcMap editing environment known as the Tract Editor Application; a versioned, multi-user, ArcSDE-Oracle Geodatabase; and data transfer and synchronization components. The project involved validating and integrating information from both the legacy Oracle and GIS databases.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), acting on behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, has signed an agreement with IONIC Enterprise for the purchase of IONIC's products for deployment as part of the NASA-sponsored Kentucky KLC project. Following the Commonwealth's directive to implement an OGC-compliant architecture, IONIC's software was licensed for exchanging spatial data between the Commonwealth's state offices and several Kentucky counties. IONIC's RedSpider product line, including RedSpider Web 3 and RedSpider Studio 3, were selected. IONIC's partner, Sanborn, will be providing a .NET front end for the development of Internet GIS mapping web sites that provide OGC interoperability at the back end and that allow users to seamlessly pull data from different servers in different formats.

Xplore Technologies Corp., a provider of rugged Tablet PCs, has signed ESRI as a worldwide systems integrator. As a result of this arrangement, ESRI has introduced special market bundles of its mobile GIS application solutions with Xplore's rugged iX104C2 family of Tablet PC systems.

Tyler Technologies, Inc. and Pictometry International, a provider of digital, aerial oblique imagery, have have signed a business partnership agreement: Tyler's CLT division will integrate its iasWorld property assessment and tax software with Pictometry's visual information system. The integrated software solution will help jurisdictions using iasWorld to manage assessment and tax information using Pictometry's high-resolution aerial imaging databases of counties and states.
     Tyler's iasWorld software is a Web-based system that helps jurisdictions manage assessment business processes and the property tax life-cycle. Combining this software with Pictometry's imagery tools will provide users with the ability to access up to 12 different oblique views of any property. Pictometry software also enables users to obtain measurements such as distance, height, elevation, and area directly from the 3D-like imagery as well as insert GIS content and other data.

Ocala Electric Utility (OEU), a municipal utility serving 50,000 customers in Marion County, Florida, has successfully migrated from ArcFM 8.3.2 to the ArcFM 9.1 Solution. OEU is the first Miner & Miner client to place the latest release of the ArcFM 9.1 solution into production. OEU has been a user of Miner & Miner technology since 2001 and decided to upgrade to the most current version for better support of business requirements. OEU has also chosen to implement Designer for both desktop and mobile users to improve the asset management and design process of its distribution assets. Prior to this decision, the utility used a custom-built work order system to facilitate the design process. The Designer project kickoff occurred mid-June 2005 and rollout is scheduled for December 2005. Ultimately, Designer will be deployed to both engineer and design technicians in the field.

Tamworth Borough Council, in the heart of England, has selected SIS - Spatial Information System by Cadcorp, a developer of digital mapping and GIS software, as the basis of its new corporate GIS. Cadcorp will deliver and assist the council in the implementation of Cadcorp SIS Map Modeller for managing and deploying OS MasterMap data and Cadcorp SIS Map Editor for creating, maintaining, and editing spatial data. In addition, Cadcorp will supply Cadcorp GeognoSIS.NET, which allows the functionality of Cadcorp SIS to be accessed over the Internet and/or a corporate intranet.

The City of Tuscola, Illinois, has purchased SEWERview, STORMview, WATERview and MAPdirector for ArcGIS from Cart�Graph Systems, Inc. Tuscola, a small community of 4,490 residents, will be working closely with Douglas County, Illinois, as they implement this new software system. Douglas County has been using Cart�Graph for a year and will maintain the main database for Tuscola, while giving access to the city over the VPN.


Tele Atlas, a provider of digital map data and other geographic content, has enhanced its flagship MultiNet and Dynamap product families. The company has been integrating the two databases following its acquisition of Geographic Data Technology (GDT) last year, allowing it to offer a single database.
     MultiNet 5.1 covers all of North America and more than 20 European countries, along with more than 11 million featured points of interest. It also includes navigation-quality attribution covering nearly 900 million people worldwide. Landuse areas and landmark polygons have been increased significantly, resulting in a richness of mapping displays, including golf courses, universities, stadiums, and state, national, and municipal parks. Dynamap/Transportation v7.2 and Dynamap/2000 v15.2 expand the U.S. coverage of repositioned street network mileage to encompass a greater portion of the population. Address accuracy has also been greatly improved. In addition, FGDC Metadata is now available for all standard Dynamap street products. This feature provides a common set of terminology and definitions for the documentation of digital geospatial data.

Microsoft has released MSN Virtual Earth beta, a new Web service that enables people to capture, connect, share, and visualize information based on location. Virtual Earth provides a core set of reference points such as maps, aerial imagery, photos, consumer and business directories, and ratings/reviews. In addition, the service allows consumers and businesses to contribute their own location-specific information.
     The release includes the following features: Aerial View with Labels, which displays the aerial imagery with an overlay of geo-referenced road networks and point-of-interest information; a "Locate Me" link that activates Microsoft Location Finder, which uses WiFi access points or reverse IP to determine a person's location and then launch a map of that location; a "Permalink" Control that captures a screenshot of everything open in Virtual Earth, represented by a URL; a "Community" button that calls up a website enabling feedback about the service; a Developer Resource Center website where developers can download the Virtual Earth Map Control functionality and find other information to help them start creating Web content that incorporates the service; and Yellow and White page directories.
     The next release of MSN Virtual Earth is expected to be available this Fall incorporating oblique or "bird's eye" imagery licensed from Pictometry International Corp. displaying cities, landmarks, and points of interest at a 45 degree view.

Applanix, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trimble, has launched its POS AV 610 (Position and Orientation System - Airborne Vehicles), designed for direct georeferencing of airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and high-altitude Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors. The system, which is used for strategic surveillance and commercial remote sensing applications, integrates precision survey-grade GPS with inertial technology to produce real-time and post-processed terrain data for topographic imaging and digital surface models. It was specifically designed for the geospatial community and such tasks as visual spatial analysis, environmental monitoring, glacier flow mapping, and three-dimensional city modeling.

Impress Software, a provider of packaged integration applications for SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Enterprise Project Management (EPM) customers, has released Geo I.App, the first packaged integration application for ESRI and SAP users. Using Geo I.App enables businesses that run mySAP ERP to bridge Plant Maintenance and Project Systems information with location-related, spatial data in ESRI's ArcGIS. Announced at the ESRI International User Conference, the general availability of Geo I.App follows a successful implementation at Marin Municipal Water District, a veteran user of both SAP and ESRI systems.
     Geo I.App enables the use of ESRI's ArcGIS as a front end to mySAP ERP, and allows ESRI users to create, modify, manage, and synchronize asset data and work orders between the two systems. Through real-time integration with SAP, the application enables the execution of maintenance operations and facility management directly from the ArcGIS maps. Geo I.App ensures that functional locations, equipment, work orders, and other geographical data elements are consistent across the systems at all times. The use of Geo I.App eliminates the need for duplicate data entry and the risk of mismatched locations and resources.

Group 1 Software, Inc., a Pitney Bowes company, has introduced GeoStan Point-Level Option, which incorporates point data that locates addresses at the center of the actual building footprint or parcel. The product, which will be available in September, provides enhanced geocoding accuracy with spatially-enabled data for Internet mapping, flood hazard determination, property and casualty insurance, telecommunications, and the utility industries. GeoStan is an application program interface that corrects, standardizes, and geocodes address information. It provides a comprehensive set of address-level geocodes by combining USPS postal data with spatial data files from various data providers into a single unified data set. Enhanced by data from Tele Atlas, GeoStan can locate millions of addresses at the building or parcel center point.
     Historically, geocoding was first performed at the ZIP code level, then ZIP +4, and more recently at the street segment level. With each evolutionary step, geocoding accuracy improved dramatically. With GeoStan, positional accuracy is further enhanced. By providing the ability to locate an address at the center of a building or parcel, geocoding precision is improved by more than 1,000 feet in some cases.


GeoSpatial Training & Consulting, LLC, a provider of virtual and instructor-led GIS training and consulting services, will release its latest virtual training course entitled "Creating .NET Web Services with ArcIMS" on August 15. The course is designed to teach the fundamental concepts of how to create .NET Web Services using ArcIMS. Course participants will be led through a series of five modules covering topics such as "What are Web Services", "Using the ArcIMS .NET Link", "Creating a .NET Web Service with ArcIMS", "Consuming Web Services Created with ArcIMS", and "Dealing with Data Types, Caching, and Exceptions."


RADARSAT International and several other companies in the MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) family have been rebranded and are now conducting business under the common brand name "MDA." RADARSAT International belongs to MDA's Geospatial Services business area and is referred to as MDA Geospatial Services International. Acquired by MDA in 1999, RADARSAT International has more than 16 years of experience in providing Earth observation data, products, and services to the international geospatial marketplace.

Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats Pvt. Ltd. (ICT), a New Delhi-based provider of consultancy services for infrastructure development, has won a 2005 BE Award for its feasibility study and detailed engineering for the four-laning of National Highway 1A project in Jammu and Kashmir State, India. The BE Awards of Excellence, which are selected by an independent jury of industry experts and presented at an evening ceremony during the annual BE Conference, honor the work of Bentley users improving the world's infrastructure.
     ICT is part of a consortium of consultants commissioned by the National Highways Authority of India to develop a feasibility study and detailed design for a project that involved widening an important highway from two lanes to four. The road, part of National Highway 1A, is the main lifeline linking the tourist centers of Jammu and Srinagar in India. Portions of the road that pass through steep, mountainous terrain are subject to avalanches, landslides, and falling rock, which frequently cause fatal accidents. As a result, designers were asked to take on the additional challenge of reducing the existing road's exposure to these hazards by rerouting sections to less difficult terrain.
     ICT used Bentley MX software to create a digital terrain model (DTM) from survey maps, and worked out several new road alignments to avoid hazardous areas. Satellite images draped on the DTM helped identify geological formations and land-use patterns along the proposed alignments. The DTM enabled a team of two engineers to plan not only the 33-kilometer route through the complex, geodynamic terrain, but also alternative routes totaling 120 kilometers. The 3D visualization provided by the Bentley MX software helped identify the best alignments.
     After determining the project to be economically viable — using quantity estimates generated by the Bentley software — ICT began the detailed design. For hazardous areas that were unavoidable, ICT modeled the terrain using ground surveys as well as satellite images. By highlighting topographic details, the models helped engineers see where hazard management measures, such as snow fences, were needed.

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