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In this issue of GIS Monitor I bring you a few short interviews I conducted last week in San Diego at the ESRI International User Conference. Plus, my usual round-up of the news from press releases.
Trimble's GIS Market Strategy
I discussed the ESRI International User Conference and Trimble's GIS market strategy with Doug Merrill, General Manager for Trimble's Mapping & GIS Division.
What's your take on this show?
It is very big for us and very well attended and busy. It is a key part of our marketing activity for the year.
On what is your division focused right now?
We are continuing to push and improve GIS data collection accuracy: in April we introduced the ProXH, pushing the bar to sub-foot accuracy; it has been released and extremely successful. We are continuing to see an increase in the use of mobile devices in the field. Users want to be always connected and use a multitude of technologies. We introduced a new handheld at this show the Ranger. It has two compact flash slots that customers can use to add a cellular network card; this means that, in addition to the built-in connectivity features of Bluetooth for Personal Area Network (PAN) and 802.11 for Local Area Network (LAN), customers can also add their choice of cellular or Wide Area Network (WAN).
We are also focused on ease of use, shortening the training cycle, support for third party applications, and standardization. A couple of years ago our devices ran Windows CE; now they all run the latest version of Windows Mobile. We are also very focused on growing internationally.
What does the Mapping and GIS Division do?
It is a business division. We make hardware and software for field data collection, including offering custom systems via our partners. Our TerraSync software is a horizontal data collection application. A customer might choose TerraSync while another customer might use a third party field data collection program. We have un-bundled hardware and software. Our office software is Pathfinder Office. Last fall we introduced GPS Analyst, an ArcGIS extension for ESRI customers that brings field data directly into ArcGIS. It is a huge improvement in the workflow.
How does your division relate to Trimble's Survey Division?
We have some overlap in customers and dealers with but differences in the applications of the technology. There's a lot of sharing of technology between divisions.
Who are your competitors?
In a recent Geomatics Industry Association of America (GIA) study, Trimble's market share in the sub-meter category was well above 70 percent; even today our competitors are mostly paper and pencil.
Are the boundaries between industry sectors consumer/recreational, resource grade, and survey grade changing?
Largely, no. The overall market continues to expand. Resource-grade devices have much higher accuracy, more robust environmental specs, higher capacity batteries, etc. than consumer devices.
What is your market strategy?
We are continuing to seek out partnerships to provide better customer solutions. The market now is much more "a market of one" customization is the name of the game. The market is also becoming more educated. We work with third party business partners to develop solutions for our customers. For example, we might show a utility company how it can use our products and a third party application to save two power poles on a stretch of line, by taking into proper account such variables as slope and potential wind loads, etc.
What is Trimble's relationship with ESRI?
We are a strategic alliance partner. ESRI sells our hardware and we sell ArcPad. We developed GPS Analyst in concert with ESRI. Our relationship is broad and deep and has been for a long time.
Governor Geringer's Perspective on GIS
I discussed GIS with Jim Geringer, former two-term governor of Wyoming (1995-2003) and now Director of Policy and Public Sector Strategies for ESRI.
Randy Johnson (see below) introduced Geringer to me as "one of the few elected officials who understand GIS and was willing to put money into it when he was governor."
"My experience with GIS," Geringer told me, "started with natural resources mapping. Wyoming is very rich in natural resources but has a very jumbled land ownership pattern. GIS has the power to integrate for decision makers the different variables natural resources, energy development, air quality, water rights, economic development, etc. that are affected by this checkerboard pattern of ownership. It struck me as odd when I first became governor that one agency would study energy development and then another agency would do the same and issue its own report. Federal agencies say that they are constrained by the federal advisory committee act. I did the unthinkable and read the law: I realized that I could convene a meeting and the feds would then be free to give their input. I convened such a meeting in my first year in office and had them every year for eight years, lasting two days each. I started learning the terminology (for example, 'common base map') before even knowing what GIS was."
"GIS is a power decision making tool that gives you the ability to visualize things, more than a map does, and spot relationships that would not otherwise be evident such as cause and effect in the health field. One of the greatest underdeveloped tools is a decision support tool for policy makers. The greatest challenge any decision maker has is that every decision you make affects something else. Taking the basic GIS concept of layers, you can help figure out these relationships. Also, it allows you to run 'what if' scenarios, in which you can vary the inputs and the values. Now, instead of having five agencies (or NGOs or citizens) disagree on a policy decision, you can show them how the scenario would play out. In the process, critics become collaborators because they've been asked, their views have been considered, they have a role in the process and you can see the effect of your decision on someone else. Often now the survival of an organization depends on controversy, without which you cannot raise funds. Instead, you can build support with your constituency not over conflict but over collaboration."
"We are in an era when data is everything. Our health is mostly affected by preventable causes but in my budget when I became governor less than two percent was for prevention. GIS has tremendous potential for assisting with prevention and early intervention. For example, when reports come in from many pharmacists that the sales of anti-diarrhea medications are up, you can map that information and figure out where there might be a problem with the water. You need data, but also a reporting system and a feedback system."
"From a policy maker's point of view, school isn't 'a place:' children live in places and are affected by various things. GIS can map what affects them such as socioeconomic indicators, meth use, the presence of lead paint, etc. without interfering with their privacy. It gives the teachers, parents, communities, and administrators more tools. Things jump out on maps that nobody had caught in spreadsheet. Governor Lingle of Hawaii overlaid school locations, the age distribution of children, and plans to build new schools and discovered that two planned new schools were not needed."
"If you had 'ten minutes at the top' what would you tell a governor or CEO about GIS? It is not worth scheduling a meeting to tell them how good GIS is. You have to tell them: you have a problem, I have a solution, and then talk about GIS last. When you do talk about GIS, think about how you would explain it to your mother."
Other Perspectives on GIS
I also discussed GIS with
Randy Johnson, whose county includes Minneapolis, describes himself as "a passionate believer in GIS." As the president of the National Association of Counties, a few years ago, one of his major initiatives was promoting GIS in all 3,100 counties in the United States. "Almost everything that counties do is place-based by definition," Johnson says, because counties "deliver services on the ground." Furthermore, "in almost every part of the country the counties have been the keepers of the land records." "I believe passionately," Johnson told me, "that when elected officials see maps they much more quickly grasp reality. With GIS you can understand history, see reality, and contemplate alternative future possibilities."
- Randy Johnson, Chair, Hennepin County, Minnesota, Board of Commissioners
- Mary "Polly" Johnson, an educational software consultant
- Henry "Hank" Garie, Executive Director, Geospatial One Stop Project and
- Leslie Wollack, Outreach and Communications Manager, Geospatial One Stop Project
Counties range enormously in size and resources. About 50 percent of the population lives in the 125 counties that are urban and have resources that are stressed; the rest live in smaller ones, with few resources. While some counties may have just one, if any, IT person, Johnson's the 15th largest in the country has about 15-20 people on staff who are "very competent" in GIS. "I don't do a lot of mapping myself," Johnson said, "but I know what can be done for example, if you map food stamp recipients by ZIP code you may decide that you need to change your location for services. Elected officials often don't read spreadsheets, but you give them a map and you get results. We are still early on the curve but I think we have reached the point where elected officials are beginning to recognize that GIS is not just for the geeks in the basement with the mainframes. It is becoming a very usable tool for people who will spend a minimal amount of time learning."
I asked Johnson what can be done to minimize duplication of mapping efforts between local governments. "That's why we have the Geospatial One Stop portal," he told me, "so that we don't have to reinvent the wheel in every city and county. But training is a big part of this. When I first started working with GIS it was intimidating and complicated. It is not as simple as a Sony Play Station game but it is becoming increasingly user-friendly to people whose main job is not computers."
Polly Johnson just retired after being a public school teacher for 33 years. For the past 17 years she has been teaching technology in grades K-4 while her husband, Randy Johnson, has been "preaching" GIS to her. Her school started out with a single Apple 2E and now has three computer labs with MS Windows with Office suite, a fiber-based network, and at least one computer and high-speed Internet access in every classroom. "All my kids from second grade on know how to log on to the network," she told me. And yet, she pointed out, "as far as I know there's nothing [related to GIS] going on for young kids. You need to start at that young age. Kids want to do important things. When we flew out here one of the articles in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was about the Minnesota DNR trapping loons (who only eat fish) and measuring mercury levels from lakes and rivers. I don't know whether they are using GIS, but that might be an ideal project for the kids to get involved in. You can take a project like that and use it to cover many subjects."
However, she pointed out that GIS has not yet reached teachers and school districts. "I want to get GIS into classrooms and get teachers to understand its importance. To do that you need to find willing teachers. I bet that not a single teacher in my school could tell you what GIS is. We get a lot of student teachers but I have not found one yet that knows anything about GIS either and that has to change." I asked her whether she saw anything at this conference that will help with that. "I've talked to Jack [Dangermond]," she told me, "and he wants to see GIS in as many elementary classrooms as possible. Working with the universities to train new teachers in GIS is also a priority for us both." Where would she start? "I would try to find several school districts and inspire teachers to get involved in doing GIS projects. My experience is that if you find a few teachers willing to take a risk and do something new and cool then others become interested."
Hank Garie left New Jersey state government a little more than two years ago and took on the GeoSpatial OneStop project. "We are beginning to see the evolution of this technology," he told me, "to where policymakers are beginning to see that it is really useful and are beginning to apply it to their own problems and decisions. Increasingly, towns, cities, nonprofits, and business are recognizing the power of geospatial information and developing geospatial datasets. We provide a place where you can find out what others have done, so that you don't have to start from scratch." Here Leslie Wollack chimed in with an example: "Someone from Sacramento Water Resources is amazed at what the portal marketplace can offer him to partner with someone already investing in this." "Saving money and avoiding duplication," Garie continued, "is a niche where we can add value. We bring together common interests such as transportation and homeland security and provide data, discussion groups, etc." "Local officials don't want to reinvent the wheel," Wollack pointed out. "[At Geospatial One Stop they can find] who to can learn from, a support group. We are not looking to replace any of the organizations and institutions that are out there already; it's a place to begin." "This is the first time that the geospatial community has had these resources at its disposal," Garie added, "a lot of information can be managed inside the portal. In New Jersey I would tell folks: you don't want to start from scratch, you can grab the resources that are out there now and be up and running in 24 hours. Probably about 50 percent of the counties have not gotten involved in GIS yet."
What's the key resource that the portal offers? "A One Stop discovery tool for geospatial resources," Garie told me. "The portal organizes and catalogues summary information (metadata) about geographic data Who developed the database, when was it last updated, and who is the point of contact for information. Geodata.gov captures and organizes metadata so geospatial information can be used to support all kinds of decisions and that's why we are encouraging thousands of organizations to share with us."
What about GIS in schools? "The kids," Garie answered, "can find data from all over the country and the world to analyze and that's a powerful way to learn."
Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.
Entergy Corporation which serves more than 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas has expanded its implementation of the Smallworld geospatial software product suite, produced by GE Energy , by selecting the Cornerstone Gas Productivity Pack for its Gas Division. Additionally, the company has upgraded its electric operations to the Smallworld Core Spatial Technology 4 application and will also use Smallworld 4 Application Framework architecture (SWAF). Reusing existing code and selecting GE Energy's Smallworld Cornerstone Gas Productivity Pack, also based on SWAF, will assist Entergy's management of gas infrastructure in New Orleans and Baton Rouge by providing standard gas applications such as cathodic protection, valve isolation, and analysis of high consequence areas. The SWAF architecture allows Smallworld users, without specialized knowledge of the existing custom code, to migrate it into standardized, supported code.
CONTRACTS & COLLABORATIONS
OneGIS has expanded its GIS service offerings by signing a value added reseller (VAR) agreement with Telcordia Technologies. OneGIS will now market and support Telcordia Network Engineer, a GIS-based communications network design, documentation, and maintenance application built on the ESRI ArcGIS platform. Network Engineer supports the design and management of connected networks and associated inside and outside plant equipment, all on an integrated geodatabase. The offering complements other ESRI ArcGIS applications that OneGIS currently offers in conjunction with its system integration and implementation services.
As a Geospatial Network Management System, Network Engineer provides an open, integratable, and scalable environment for the comprehensive design, documentation, and management of the physical network and its associated asset inventory. Offering an end-to-end view of plant facilities, Network Engineer supports any multivendor, multi-technology, geographically-dispersed telecommunications network infrastructure.
Geodata Systems Technologies, Inc. (GSTI), ESRI's distributor in the Republic of the Philippines, has won a contract worth more than $600,000 to implement a GIS-based assets management system for Districts 1 and 2 of the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo), which is responsible for electrical transmission for the country's National Power Corporation. Philippines Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said that the adoption of GIS technology by TransCo is significant in that it will greatly help in achieving the policies set forth by the government in enacting and implementing the 2001 Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).
TransCo will also implement the Transmission Asset Management Information System (TAMIS) application of POWER Engineers, Inc. that is based on ESRI's ArcGIS and will be ported to Oracle 10g. With TAMIS, TransCo staff will be able to display, query, and analyze digital maps for data such as best route to a facility, obstacles along a transmission route, land ownership where transmission lines pass, topography, aerial imagery, fault locator, and so on.
In addition to the GIS components, GSTI and F.F. Cruz & Co. will also develop and deliver to TransCo several sets of digital maps. One set contains an assortment of aerial photos and satellite images. Another set will include TransCo's assets, such as offices, warehouses, substations, communication relay stations, transmission lines, towers, control centers, communication facilities, and fiber-optic cables. Also provided will be several thematic maps of various scales depicting administrative boundaries, public infrastructure, road networks, river and water bodies, vegetation cover, land use, land classification, tenurial rights, soils and geology, protected areas and indigenous peoples sites, hazard areas, and some demographic data.
Azteca Systems, Inc. and Systematics have signed an international distribution agreement to distribute Cityworks, the only GIS-based Asset Maintenance Management System in Israel. Systematics will offer Cityworks to public sector, utility, oil & gas, transportation, and other organizations in Israel. Systematics is a distributor and integrator of information technology solutions in the Israeli market. An ESRI international affiliate, Systematics has nearly twenty years experience in GIS and asset management providing its customers with GIS-based solutions from ESRI and Leica Geosystems.
Cityworks is the only asset maintenance management solution built on top of ESRI's ArcGIS suite of products. With full support for the geodatabase including linear referenced assets the product reaches a broad array of customers. It can be deployed to manage any type of asset feature, including public works; water/wastewater distribution, collection and treatment; oil & gas; transportation; energy and communications.
Timmons Group, a provider of geospatial and engineering services, has completed a Web-enabled GIS mapping project for Warren County, Virginia. The mapping portal contains numerous data layers in a wide array of thematic categories (environment, planimetric, utility, etc.). The data and applications are stored and managed in Timmons Group's secure hosting facility. The county transmits regular updates to Timmons Group technical staff, for all relevant dynamic layers. Updates subsequently post to the hosted site. The GIS mapping solution is built on ESRI's ArcSDE and ArcIMS and leverages the most current Internet technologies including DHTML and VML.
The mapping portal provides an interface into Warren County's GIS data and allows for advanced land records queries using the dynamic "locator" tool, which allows for dynamic searching against any configured layer. The project enhances the county's existing GIS capabilities by exposing an Internet portal to their constituent base of county residents.
ESRI Australia has recently completed implementation of the ArcFM Solution from Miner & Miner, a Telvent company, to help manage ENERGEX's gas distribution network. The project consisted of configuring the standard ArcFM gas data model to meet the utility's gas business requirements and migrating existing data into an ArcSDE geodatabase built from the resulting model. ENERGEX will next extend the solution with Designer, the design component of the ArcFM Solution. Designer will provide the utility an integrated environment for preparing design drawings, job cost estimates, and material schedules. Once fully implemented, Designer will also provide for a workflow management module tracking network changes from design to as-built.
The Council of the City of Lincoln, UK, has selected the Cadcorp SIS Spatial Information System software suite as its new corporate GIS. Cadcorp, a digital mapping and GIS software developer, will deliver and assist the Council in the implementation within all four of its directorates of Cadcorp SIS Map Modeller, Map Editor, and Map Manager desktop digital mapping/GIS software. The new Cadcorp SIS-based GIS will be used by City of Lincoln Council for a wide variety of council activities, including grounds maintenance, contaminated land mapping and analysis, housing, waste management, property services and planning and transport policy.
The ability of Cadcorp SIS to read and display more than 120 GIS, CAD, and database formats on the fly, without translation, will result in improved data sharing across the authority.
East View Cartographic, Inc. (EVC) has won a sole source contract to supply 1:10,000 scale GIS vector data for 17 cities around the Black Sea. The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) will use this detailed geographic information to enhance the ability of Black Sea countries such as Ukraine and Turkey to prepare for regional emergencies.
EVC has been a source of large-scale geospatial data for both the United States and international governments as well as for private industry for more than a decade. EVC creates and distributes global datasets formatted to seamlessly integrate into standard GIS applications. Many of these are available exclusively through EVC and can include data layers customized to include administrative boundaries, road networks, bodies of water, and other points of interest.
The City of Arlington, Texas, has chosen software by CarteGraph Systems, Inc., for their work management, pavement management, and inventory needs. The city will be implementing WORKdirector, CALLlink, MAPdirector for ArcGIS, and all of CarteGraph's individual asset modules. With the CarteGraph Software Suite, they will build an asset management system that will integrate with their current ESRI database. It also improves their ability to place and track work orders, map various assets through GIS, and track inventory and asset condition.
Berliner Gaswerke Aktiengesellschaft (GASAG), the largest municipal gas supply company in Western Europe, has deployed Intergraph's mobile workforce management software to streamline and integrate trouble reporting, field response, and repair processes. Intergraph, in cooperation with partners Condat AG and Planung-Programmierung-Schulung (PPS/EDV) GmbH, implemented the new central call center system within one year. The new solution, based on Intergraph InService technology, supports the maintenance department's business workflow from the moment a gas fault is reported and a crew is dispatched, to capturing and archiving the operational information on the repair work and completion. With InService GASAG can shorten response times, improve the quality of services, and better ensure the safety of a large customerbase.
The central operations management part of the new system has a graphical component that displays operational locations and vehicle positions, along with the entire pipe network on a digital map. Job details are passed on to mobile maintenance units and status and operational information is fed back non-verbally via the mobile telephony system. Details and the cause of the problem along with the materials used and the time required to do the job are recorded using an online operations form in the vehicle. This information is then transferred via the radio link directly to the central SAP system for further processing. Maintenance department employees are alerted in three ways to ensure the call will reach the relevant person, even if that person is out of the vehicle.
The new system supports GASAG's maintenance department in meeting the requirements set out in the new German GW1200 code of practice. When a gas fault is reported, the emergency crew must be at the location of the event within 30 minutes. In addition, every fault and the related repair work must be fully documented and archived.
Visual Learning Systems, Inc. (VLS) and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service have reached agreement on a Feature Analyst site license to support agency mapping requirements. The USDA Forest Service has attained centralized licensing for Feature Analyst under the Leica Geosystems / Forest Service BPA contract. With the addition of Feature Analyst extensions for both ERDAS Imagine and ArcGIST the field units will now be able to extract features from high resolution imagery and digital resource photography. In addition, stand alone licenses will be set up for checkout for use in forest fire damage assessments and other emergency situations.
Leica Geosystems' Machine Automation group has launched the GradeStar V5.0, its latest generation of machine control systems. The device's 3D control allows higher grading accuracy on different terrain for all work sites, from bulk earth moving to fine grading. GradeStar allows operators to be more aware of their surroundings due to the real-time blade control allowing grading to be on line at the correct elevation. The Leica GradeStar V5.0 system is interchangeable between Leica's Survey Total Stations and GPS positioning sensors. GradeStar V5.0 software utilises the Win XP operating system as well as the industry-standard Controller Area Network (CAN) system.
The device also sees the introduction of a new hardware component, the GSM5. This unit is a consolidated sensor module, which is designed to be a central communications point between positioning sensors and the GradeStar interface. GSM5 can also have an internal GPS receiver, allowing space savings and ease of installation. The component design allows the devices to be exchanged between machines.
The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) will hold the 7th Annual GIS in Addressing Conference, August 14-17 in Austin, Texas. It will focus on all aspects of addressing integration into existing systems, user-friendly information systems, solutions to problems, and newly emerging challenges. Two pre-conference workshops will be presented: Addresses and IS/GIS Implementation: Key to GIS Success, a URISA- Certified Workshop, and Introduction to VoIP for PSAPs, a new National Emergency Number Association (NENA) course. For complete program details and registration information, click here.
EDUCATION & TRAINING
Jim Perrus of The Townsend Group has been promoted to National Sales Manager on the ASPRS business. His new responsibilities include all sales for PE&RS;, the flagship publication of ASPRS, as well as all exhibit and sponsorship sales for ASPRS meetings and conferences. He has been working on sales for ASPRS, along with Kim Kelemen who previously held this position. Kim continues to work at The Townsend Group on other assignments.
Jim's background prior to joining The Townsend Group includes extensive experience in advertising and exhibit sales at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), and CBS Radio/Westwood One Radio Networks.
Film director Spike Lee has incorporated software and aerial imagery from Pictometry International Corp., a provider of digital, aerial oblique imagery, as part of the technical set on his film "The Inside Man," now being filmed in New York City. The plot of the film revolves around tense hostage developments that take place during a carefully crafted bank heist that goes awry. The film stars Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodie Foster and is expected to be released in 2006.
Pictometry's technology was deployed on several plasma monitors in the mobile command vehicle set that was constructed for the movie at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, New York. Pictometry's software enables users to access up to 12 different oblique views of any property, building, highway, or other feature in a county. The 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.
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