August 29, 2002


Revisions to U.S. Spatial Data Policy

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More than one reader pointed me to the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Circular No. A-16, revised on August 19, 2002. The circular updates the 1990 version (that established the Federal Geographic Data Committee [FGDC]) by detailing changing technologies and agency roles. Furthermore, the update appoints the Deputy Director for Management of OMB, currently Mark W. Everson, as Vice-Chair of the Federal Geographic Data Committee.

I tracked down an FGDC PowerPoint presentation from 2001 that outlined the revisions. It cited these "major changes": stronger OMB involvement, explicit description of NSDI (National Spatial Data Infrastructure, which had been established in an Executive Order in 1994), a focus on themes (that is, data themes) rather than programs, and clearer guidelines and responsibilities for agencies (such as appointing "lead agencies" in certain areas).

One key change, pointed out in a document introducing the revisions by Milo Robinson of FGDC, highlights the strong language that calls for coordination of mapping data - even from agencies outside the traditional mapping arena. The revision states it this way: "All agencies responsible for spatial data themes are required to be members of the FGDC." The changes also help to weave in GeoSpatial One-Stop, another OMB initiative.

Some of the updates to me sound like housekeeping, but others, including tighter integration with OMB and specific responsibilities to lead agencies, sound like they will push U.S. spatial data policy forward.

Office of Management and Budget's Circular No. A-16

FGDC PowerPoint from 2001 (outlines changes in the new version of the circular)

Improved Policy for Coordinating the Development of the National Spatial
Data Infrastructure
(Milo Robinson)

• Shelby Johnson of the Arkansas Geographic Information Office pointed out some interesting Homeland Security arguments for a concerted effort to update national street centerline data.

"When FCC Phase II of the wireless implementation is complete there are literally going to be millions of folks out there who in times of response are going to call in like the Verizon guy, and say, 'Can you find me now?' Unfortunately without a focused nationwide effort on road centerlines, not only in urban but also rural areas, the answer may be no.

"Nationwide quality road centerline data that could serve a variety of geocoding applications is in the best interest of national security because those applications like surveillance, detection, response, and recovery can be associated with an address probably 90% of the time. Especially in response to health related events where you need to pinpoint a number of cases of human infected by something. In our most recent example in Arkansas it was West Nile Virus. Being able to address match and geocode those addresses can show patterns that otherwise might not be caught. In state government a key issue is that data should be accessible and shareable. In Arkansas' case not only would it be needed by the Department of Health but also the State Police and the Department of Emergency Management and possibly others."

• Road Safety International will begin selling tracking devices for parents to install in the cars of young drivers. According to the
New York Times the company has sold similar technology to emergency organizations (ambulance, fire, police) for ten years. The $280 box taps into the same computer that mechanics use to diagnose automobile ills and can be programmed to emit an alarm when the driver performs certain maneuvers, such as hard turns. For now the system provides feedback to correct poor habits. A new version will include GPS tracking.

• Thanks to GPS anyone can now track the 4,000-plus mile journey of light-bellied brent geese to the Castle Espie nature reserve in Northern Ireland. The New York Times notes that maps are available online. Britain's Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust tagged the geese to learn more about the group's migration patterns and potentially threatened stopover points.

• Starbucks, in a venture with T-Mobile International, added 700 high-speed wireless network service outlets in cities in New Jersey and Connecticut and in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Philadelphia and Portland, Ore., as well as in three international test stores in London and Berlin, for a total of nearly 1,200 outlets providing the service. No, using the service is not free - the two companies plan to share revenues. The best take on this seemingly "new" idea is provided by Simson Garfinkel. He prefers the free access at a no-name coffee shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and argues that providers "should be looking for ways to expand their customer base and the awareness of their product. They shouldn't be looking for ways to charge as much as they can from today's early adopters."

• I ran across some interesting statistics on how customers are using wireless GPS tracking devices in Korea. Digital Chosun reports that a cell phone-based service from SK Telecom, that became available in July, has attracted more than 4,000 subscribers in about three weeks. KTF, a mobile phone carrier, reports that of its 5000 wearers of a beeper-like device, 50% are children, 20% are adults with dementia, and the remaining 20% are sales staff at rental car or cargo transportation businesses. The last group makes me scratch my head.

Reuters reports that this fall hunters in Finland will be able to communicate with their dogs via cell phone. The phone, which also carries a GPS receiver, is specially designed for dogs. Master can call the dog, listen to its bark, determine what type of animal it has tracked, and give further commands. I suppose the hunter can also track the dog to find the potential prey.

• The Macon Telegraph reports some good news about GPS tracking. A plumbing company in Georgia only put receivers in 12 of its 14 trucks. The reason: "two drivers don't need to be monitored." It's nice to know that some workers can be trusted. There is hope!

• A reader pointed out an odd "correction" in CIO magazine's latest weekly newsletter, CIO Insider.

"Correction: GIS, not GIS

"A kind reader pointed out that in the Aug. 6 CIO Insider, we referred to GIS as 'geographic information systems' when we should have said 'global information systems.' We thank him (while cursing our acronym-laden patois again), and offer these two CIO articles to help clarify."

Oddly, the correction goes on to reference two articles dealing with GIS in previous issues of CIO magazine. One article clearly spells out "geographic information system" in the third paragraph, while the other-from this month's issue-simply uses the term "GIS" without any longhand explanation. No wonder editors and readers are confused!

• I get a LOT of e-mails asking for help finding a job. I'm happy to do what I can, but want to pass along a resource that many of you may not know about: The Environmental Careers Organization, ECO. Launched back in 1972 as the Center for Environmental Internship Programs (CEIP), this not-for-profit group brokers organizations that needi help as well as people with skills (college student, graduates, up through graduate students). Many, many positions are GIS-related. Also, if you have an opening for such a person, the ECO can be a great recruiter for you! Why do I mention this organization? I'm an alumna.

• Bentley's Geoengineering Summit has been postponed. The event was scheduled for November 4-5, 2002 in Madrid, Spain.

• A new e-mail list called Applied GIS & Remote Sensing is hosted by the University of Laval, Quebec, Canada. The purpose of the list is to discuss Applied GIS, GPS & Remote Sensing in forestry, geology, biology, agriculture and water management without any restriction on the systems used.

• The folks at Yahoo have put "sponsored" links in with their news search. The matches are from a deal with Overture (once known as Who's got GIS? Contex scanners ($1.00), Accela government services (49 cents) and Knowledgestorm (48 cents). Who's got "satellite imagery"? For 5 cents per click: The GeoCommunity. "Telematics" bids start at 9 cents and go down from there. I wonder if the bid prices are some type of measure of the health of the different industries?



The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) invites responses to a Call for Participation/Request for Quotation (RFP/RFQ) for OGC Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative Phase 1 (CIPI-1). CIPI takes a new approach to help organizations publish, discover, access, exchange, and maintain vital geo-spatial information and online geoprocessing services required to support critical infrastructure protection. Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions announced support of CIPI. As a Strategic Member of OGC, Intergraph will work closely with the organization as Phase I begins.

The Mars Society used ER Mapper 6.3 on an expedition to the Haughton Impact Crater to generate geological and biological field data as part of a 2-week Martian fieldwork simulation.

URISA has announced its ESIG (Exemplary Systems in Government) winners for this year: Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) - World Trade Center Disaster Response - GPS Recovery System and MetroGIS Data Initiative (MN).

Televoke Inc., a telematics software company, announced service in Mexico. It's the result of integrating location-based services from Maptuit Corporation and Mexico mapping data from Geoscape International, Inc. Televoke customers can now track vehicles as they travel within and between the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as when crossing borders.

Maporama, a provider of online location-centric applications, announced the availability of detailed street-level maps of South American cities.

ImageLinks, Inc., a developer of satellite remote sensing technology based on open source software, announced it has joined the Open Source Software Institute (OSSI) as a corporate sponsor.

As part of the Maine Large Whale Take Reduction Plan, the Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) launched a new Internet mapping site to track whale sightings in Maine waters. The website, developed by Northern Geomantics of Hallowell, Maine, uses the latest Internet Mapping System (IMS) technology to display historical and current whale sightings on a detailed, interactive map.

The International Symposium on "Space Information-Technologies, Acquisition, Processing and Effective Application" will be held November 7-8, 2002, in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The International LIDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) will hold its annual meeting at Chateau Sonesta Hotel, New Orleans, 27 & 28 January 2003. The meeting is devoted to the LiDAR mapping industry. The ILMF invites interested parties to submit presentation outlines for inclusion in the technical program.

MapIndia will take place January 28 - 31, 2003 at the Hotel InterContinental, New Delhi, India. Theme of Map India 2003 is "g-Readiness," the status of geographic information generation, availability, accessibility, policy framework, and utilization by organizations and citizens. The call for papers is available.

The municipal authorities of Bietigheim-Bissingen (SW.BB) have upgraded their analog plans to the SICAD-UT network information system. As part of a package based on this standard application for the supply sector, SW.BB also purchased the ALK base data.
MapInfo Corporation announced it has joined ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development), the global insurance technology standards body. By joining ACORD, MapInfo will ensure that its location-based intelligence solutions, used by insurance carriers for enhanced risk assessment, sales force automation and call center support, will comply with all the industry's current and future technology standards.

The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) released a Request for Quotations (RFQ) for the Conformance and Interoperability Test and Evaluation (CITE) Initiative. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) are sponsoring the initiative to advance conformance testing within the consortium.

LAND INFO International, LLC, a producer of international geospatial mapping data, has made a donation to Technology For All-Colorado (TFAC), an initiative creating educational and economic opportunities for disadvantaged people through access to technology. The organization is part of The Jared Polis Foundation, a non-profit serving Colorado's educational community. "As part of our Education Outreach Program, LAND INFO gave several computers, monitors, and accessories," explained Kevin Kuluvar, General Manager of LAND INFO.

Eastman Kodak Company's Commercial and Government Systems (C&GS;) unit announced it has signed an agreement with Boston-based Syncline to become a value added reseller of Kodak Citipix aerial imagery. Syncline offers a full range of web-based GIS mapping solutions for businesses and government organizations, including MapCiti, its fully automated e-government mapping service. Under the terms of the agreement, Syncline will market and sell Kodak Citipix aerial imagery and have rights to develop other products derived from the imagery.

The GeoInformation Group a UK supplier of geographic information announces GeoDATA 2003 a series of seminars showcasing geographic data and its application in business. The events will run in three cities; London, Birmingham, and Edinburgh, in February 2003. Attendees and those wishing to exhibit are encouraged to visit the website, where information will be available at a later date.

Atlantic Air Survey Ltd., a geographic information technology firm, has reported efficiency gains of at least 20% in their data editing and collection process using Boeing Autometric software with technology from IDELIX. The case study is available for download.

Contracts and Sales

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry (Australia), Tourism and Resources, Warren Entsch, recently announced the successful bidders for appointment to a Panel for the provision of topographic map and digital data production services for Geoscience Australia and the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation. The successful companies - Sinclair Knight Merz Pty Ltd, Intergraph Corporation Pty Ltd, Airesearch Mapping Pty Ltd, Aspect North Pty Ltd and Photomapping Services Pty Ltd - were appointed to the Panel following detailed evaluation of bids received from Australia and internationally.

Des Lauriers Municipal Solutions, Inc., provider of Government Automation Solutions, announced that the City Of Draper, UT has chosen GeoTMS to streamline the permit and inspection process, while increasing productivity in multiple departments throughout the municipality.

ObjectFX announced that Minneapolis-based Gearworks has selected the company as its location services platform provider after an industry-wide search.

KeySpan's Electric Business Unit, in conjunction with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), has selected ESRI's ArcGIS and Miner & Miner's ArcFM for its GIS. Miner & Miner will provide ArcFM implementation services including data modeling, application development, DistOps/CYME integration, and training. In addition, ESRI Professional Services was awarded a multiyear contract for program management and quality assurance/quality control services for the data conversion and field survey effort of the project.


Thales GeoSolutions announced the release of C-MAP CM-93 Viewer for ArcView and ArcGIS. The product is sold as a software extension and integrates one of the world's most comprehensive worldwide vector chart databases, the C-MAP CM-93 database, with the world's most popular desktop GIS applications, ArcView and ArcGIS, by ESRI.

Caliper Corporation's GIS users now have easy access to the wealth of data in Summary File 3 (SF 3), the tabulation of the sample data collected for the 2000 U.S. Census of Population and Housing. Each SF 3 Data CD has, for a state, all 16,520 fields of information for eleven summary levels: State, Congressional District, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), County, County Subdivision (MCD), Place (including Census Designated Places), American Indian Area/ Alaska Native Area/Hawaiian Home Land, Census Tract, Block Group, 5-Digit ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA), and Urbanized Area/Urban Cluster (UA/UC). Each SF 3 Data CD or State Data CD costs only $195 per state, plus shipping.

Version 4.0 of the SCAR Antarctic Digital database (ADD) has just been released. The ADD is available free of charge for non-commercial use.


Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions announced availability of GeoMedia WebMap 5.0 with enhancements that include improved display, performance, and spatial analysis. GeoMedia WebMap is a Web-based map visualization solution that offers real-time links to GIS data warehouses for exploiting an organization's valuable geospatial data when it is needed.

Getmapping has introduced free PC software to view the Millennium Map, the high-resolution aerial photography that now covers every inch of England, Wales and much of Scotland. ImageViewer can read JPEG, TIFF and compressed ECW raster files and import vector data from other GIS or CAD programs such as SHP, DXF and MIF files. A full range of export options are supported and the product can link to separate database files including DBF, Access and Excel.

The price of the popular USGS topographic quadrangle map will go up $2 per sheet beginning September 1, 2002, to $6. The price of USGS topographic quadrangle maps was last increased 7 years ago. The price of the maps is being adjusted to accurately reflect and ensure recovery of the costs associated with their reproduction and distribution.

GE Network Solutions announced the availability of its Smallworld Internet Application Server 2.1 software product. The Smallworld Internet Application Server 2.1 software is a powerful application server, designed to support direct access to geospatial enterprise data and applications across the Internet. Among the new features: users can now specify which information can be rendered on a map and can convert data values from one unit system to another (e.g., meters to miles); the HTML Client provides dynamic map resizing, map rotation, and dynamic coordinates; and the new version provides full support for AIX, Tru64, and Windows XP Professional. The company also released its Smallworld Core Spatial Technology revision 3.3 software product. Features include improved usability, extended plotting functionality and continued commitment to support the latest mainstream technologies, such as Oracle.

Haestad Methods announced the addition of Scenario Control Center to WaterGEMS, its GIS-based water distribution modeling software. Scenario Control Center provides a consolidated data management environment for managing "what-if" situations in the distribution network and maintaining a paper trail of design and operational changes to the system without leaving the GIS environment.

LocatioNet announced its LBS middleware platform and LBS interface to the Ericsson TDMA system.

Thales Navigation announced that its ProMark2 now offers kinematic capabilities, making it, according to the company, the first kinematic GPS survey system to combine precise positioning and street navigation capabilities in one compact solution.

Mapping innovator Rand McNally launched its new Road Atlas Road Travel Software, a PC version of the best-selling print Road Atlas. The software puts maps, directions, and details on attractions on a computer desktop, just as accessible as a music player or online messenger.

Hires and Appointments

MOORE Resource Systems, a division of Enghouse Systems Limited, announced the opening of its Calgary, Alberta office and the appointment of Gord Gin as Sales Executive, Western Region. The Calgary office covers the geographical areas of Western Canada and the Northwestern U.S.

Carl Rogers recently joined GeoDecisions, a software independent geographic information system (GIS) and information technology consulting firm, as a GIS analyst. He is based in the company's Pittsburgh, PA office.

Fort Lauderdale mobile computing company Tiger Telematics' chief financial officer will serve as interim chief executive officer. This is the third CEO the company has had in two months. Tiger Telematics recently sold off its flooring business, Floor Decor, to focus on telematics. Shares are 14 cents.

Gary Bilow recently joined Woolpert Design LLP to manage all surveying operations in the firm's Okemos office. Bilow has nearly 30 years of surveying experience in Michigan.

Thales Navigation announced the appointment of Stig Pedersen as its director of GIS product marketing. Pedersen will be responsible for developing and launching all of Thales Navigation's GIS products for the professional market. He comes from Leica Geosystems.


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