September 5, 2002


One Year Later
Technology and the Fall TV Lineup

Letters, Points of Interest, Week in Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe

I think there is a rule that every journalist must write a column this week about the changes since last September 11th. I suppose my sense is that though things have changed, most of those changes are in how Americans, and the world, feel. We feel differently toward each other. We feel differently toward our work and our play. The big tangible change for me, honestly, is the longer waits at the airport to go through security.

Why are "practical changes" so few? I'm reminded of how my advisor in grad school kidded around about how the university was like a dinosaur: it was very big, moved very slowly, and had a small brain. He was kidding, at least in part, but the truth holds for the U.S. government. And, that's not necessarily a bad thing; perhaps it prevents a knee-jerk reaction that limits freedom while trying to protect it.

The fact that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has yet to be voted into existence reminds me where real change happens: locally. With fewer people required to get buy-in, local organizations can leapfrog over government mandates and do what they think is "right." The question then is this: have they?

I'll go back to a year ago. I wrote: "Dave LaShell [of ESRI, who worked on site at the Emergency Mapping and Data Center in New York City] highlighted the stark reality of building this type of emergency GIS with a single question, 'Could your agency put together a CD with the latest data and metadata in three hours for inclusion in a disaster GIS for your area?' If more agencies worldwide can answer 'yes' in the coming months, the Emergency Mapping and Data Center will have served one more purpose."

I chose LaShell's statement as quote of the year to spur to action those who could make this possible. Did my (or anyone else's) cajoling have any impact? This local preparedness is perhaps equal in importance to setting up the new federal department.

September is famous, in the U.S. at any rate, for being the month when students head back to school and for being the month when new TV shows debut. As I started hearing about the new shows for 2002, I somehow was reminded of two shows I loved in their opening seasons, but that, afterward had no appeal.

One was The District. Sure, I'll admit it, I was a sucker for GIS on TV. I didn't think the show was riveting, but it was interesting weaving in "real" technology. The other show, and you can laugh if you like, was SeaQuest DSV. It was sort of Star Trek underwater, but not as good. Still, the best part was the "real" technology and real biology woven into the stories and the discussion of it, in a tag ending, by Bob Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Ballard was technical advisor on SeaQuest during its premiere season in 1993/1994. Steven Speilberg went out of his way to declare that SeaQuest was not "Science Fiction," but "Science-FACTion," or better yet, "Science-Future". I'm sure there are other shows that aimed to weave in these types of educational opportunities, including perhaps, CSI, the big hit about forensic medicine and crime scene investigation.

The problem with The District and SeaQuest was that after a first year "celebrating" technology, they threw it out. The District became just another "cops in a city" show and SeaQuest, a hokey sci-fi story with aliens. My fear is that this type of TV fiction - with real science in it - doesn't sell. Of course, there are other reasons, having to do with demographics and advertising, that have an impact, too.

Why did these techno-focused shows get refitted? Here's my best guess: we adults like our education separate from our storytelling. Documentaries are making a big comeback with cable. The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, and PBS are getting high marks and high ratings for documentaries on technology, economics, politics and history. By the same token, drama is making a comeback, too. The Sopranos and Six Feet Under are hot, along with the cop shows and medical shows.

The good news: kids may look at things differently. Many of Animal Planet's shows are kids' favorites. So are shows like Zoom (from PBS here in Boston, a show I grew up with, that has sponsorship from the National Science Foundation).


• Sonny Parafina of Ionic Enterprise shared some notes on Starbucks Wireless offering from the netstumbler board (a website about wireless).

"1) Speed is good, 500kbps+ and maxes the current PDAs running 802.11b.
2) You get a $1,500 credit for 24hours
3) I used it on and off for 1 hour and it would normally have cost me $151!!!!!!!
4) It keeps logging you off, maybe after every 5 minutes of inactivity, probably to prevent connection "borrowing" but it's still a pain. It's pretty basic protection
5) They must have some unspecified hourly quota because at one point it wouldn't let me login again!"

• Woody thinks he knows the source of the new definition of GIS.

"Where the heck did 'global information systems' come from? It must be used exclusively by those Chief Intelligence Officers."

• Milo Robinson of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) corrected me on the name of the Vice Chair of that Committee.

"My understanding is that Mark Forman Associate Director for Information Technology and E-Government for the Office of Management and Budget will serve as Vice Chair of FGDC."

The Editor replies: I contacted FGDC and was directed to this sentence deep in Circular A-16: ""The FGDC is chaired by the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, with the Deputy Director for Management, OMB, serving as Vice-Chair. Chair and Vice-Chair may designate an individual to act in their stead." Mark Forman was designated to act as the Vice Chair of FGDC.

• Marcus Gibson shares a contrasting view from that provided by speakers at the Government Symposium on Information Sharing & Homeland Security in Philadelphia.

"While I greatly sympathise with the anger, frustration and outrage that was expressed at the Government Symposium on Information Sharing & Homeland Security in Philadelphia - I must as a European express some comments with a contrasting view.

"First, it is clear that all the intelligence comms and infrastructure integration in the world would not have predicted accurately the 9/11 attacks, if only because there was no human penetration of Afghan/Al-Qaeda terrorist forces by US agencies, few Farsi speakers in US agencies, and because these terrorists use very simple but virtually untraceable means of communication, co-ordination and money transfer with which to conduct their operations. Mostly Saudi nationals, students with long periods of western education, from a nation with close and friendly links with the US, were deployed in the attacks, not Afghans or known Al-Qaeda officials.

"Ironically, if anything, it is precisely the lack of bricks and mortar intelligence by all Western intelligence agencies, not just America's, the absence of a stovepipe intelligence framework, which was at fault.

"That is, if anyone was at fault."

• The folks at Oracle will make available a 40-page
guide to the company's pricing policies available to potential purchasers. The idea is to increase customer confidence that they won't "get fooled" again. California recently cancelled a $95 million contract with Oracle after alleged price gouging. Although a move like this by the #2 software vendor in the world might make GIS companies consider the policy, I wouldn't hold your breath.

• An article in the New York Times highlights the NASA-sponsored Visible Earth website. The goal is to make imagery typically available only to the media and scientists more accessible to all. Most of the images have no copyright and are available for educational and other non-commercial purposes. The Times notes that most visitors want to see images of where they live.

• Oxfam used maps in a creative way during two photo opportunities at the Earth Summit. To protest European Union subsidized sugar, the group dumped white sugar on a map of the continent. Another photo used sugar packets.

• Wireless phone carriers and radio stations have been licensing airwaves of one sort or another for some time from the FCC. Now Wireless NewsFactor reports, there's an issue about Wi-Fi, the unlicensed bands where home, business and commercial wireless Access Points send signals. Some of the first "collisions" are beginning as Starbucks finishes wiring its stores. In Portland, OR and San Francisco the company has run into neighbors who were already hosting wireless networks on the same channel. When two networks use the same channel and collide, service for both diminishes. The good news: T-Mobile, which is wiring Starbucks, has changed the channel and found software to seek out existing networks before installing its own.

• One of the running jokes at one of my former offices was that the application programming interface (API) for a product was so open that you could attach a toaster to it. How about a washer/dryer? Reuters reports that the folks at IBM and USA Technologies have developed eSuds, a technology to link washers and dryers to the Internet and receive payment via cell phone or credit card. A website can show if machines are available and sends e-mail when laundry is done. That sounds great for harried college students!

• Last week I noted that Britain's Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust was tracking geese using GPS receivers. A reader sent this link to a BBC article that explains how one of the tagged geese ended up in an Eskimo's freezer. The hunter didn't know what the device on the goose's back was, but was happy to show the bird off once researcher explained what they were doing. One other goose was found dead and another's signal was lost.

• A New York Times article raises the question, should you drop land line phone service in favor of just a mobile phone? The article includes this comment from Jeff Kagan, an independent telecommunications analyst in Atlanta: "It's a behavioral shift from the last hundred years in which we called a geographical place and got a person. We're now moving to a model of calling a person - regardless of geography. The consequences of such a change could be profound." He may be correct that in reaching a person, geography does not matter. On the other hand, for the mobile person, the one receiving that call, geography still does matter. Or at least that's what location-based services proponents are betting on.

• Remember when you had to go to the library or perhaps call there to speak to the reference librarian? Now, according to the New York Times you can work with a librarian on the Internet using live chat 24 hours a day. And, instead of just providing the answer, librarians can help teach techniques to better use the Web or access subscription databases to which the library has access. Interestingly, the librarian associated with your local library, may well be in another state. This is a whole different story than when my mother worked in science reference in the New York City Public Library and used real books to answer questions!

Directions Magazine reports that Microsoft has changed the end-user license agreement (EULA) for MapPoint 2003. The change was mandated by data provider Navigation Technologies (Navtech). CD products can now track only 50 vehicles and one license must be available for each user or vehicle, whichever is greater. And, you can't use the technology for real-time guidance, for example, with a GPS on the vehicles. An update on this situation appears in a new article.

• Two researchers at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton have developed guidance software to simplify the stacking of shipping containers. Donghyun Kim and Richard Langley of the department of geodesy and geomatics engineering, contracted by Seoho Electric Company Ltd. of Korea, have created a guidance system to steer giant port cranes using GPS.

GIS Vision publishes its last issue this month. The monthly online magazine began in August 2000. The company behind GIS Café, IBSystems, made a few other announcements this week. A virtual mechanical CAD (MCAD) show, which will work like the Bentley online conference, will be held in October. The company will discontinue its monthly EDA Vision (Electronic Design Automation) online magazine in favor of a weekly e-mail publication, EDA Weekly, set to reach 60,000 via e-mail. IBSystems president also noted in a press release that GIS and MCAD weeklies are in the works.

• Jones Knowledge, Inc., a developer of online learning solutions is donating its baseline Jones e-education online course delivery and management platform to the schools and students of the world. You can sign up to be notified when the free version is available.

• A reader wrote to note that the NEARC (the Northeast Arc User Group) conference is scheduled to coincide with election day, November 5. Attendees may want to make plans to vote at another time.

• I heard some rumors of changes at EarthScan and contacted the company. John Rasure, CEO, confirmed that "EarthScan is going through a transition to focus more on the brokering of geospatial data and less on technology services and the agriculture market. " He promised more details would be available in the coming weeks.

• The Federal Geographic Data Committee and the Council for Excellence in Government have launched a newsletter covering the I-Team Initiative. The first issue is available in PDF. Also available on the Council's website, a five minute video called "Remapping Ground Zero" by the Council for Excellence in Government and Urban Logic. This look at the importance of GIS might be valuable to share with coworkers/students and others next week as we remember what happened a year ago.

TenLinks, Inc., the CAD, CAM and CAE media company, announced that it has passed the 1,000,000 page view per month milestone, with 1,060,000 page views in the month of August. TenLinks also recorded a total of 150,000 unique visitors during the same time. Not bad for a company that started out as a hobby…and launched GIS Monitor.

• I'll be attending the NSGIC Conference next week in Park City, Utah and hope to meet some of you there.



Airbiquity Inc. has signed Marketronics as a Latin American distributor for its aqLink suite of mobile and back office products and location-enabling technology. The patented aqLink technology enables the simultaneous transmission of voice and data, including GPS, over the voice channel of a wireless phone, allowing enterprises to easily implement location-enhanced services, such as vehicle navigation, fleet management, asset tracking, and personal safety and security.

A case study reports that IDELIX Software Inc.'s Pliable Display Technology (PDT) used in Boeing Autometric's SoftPlotter 4.0 and KDSP 1.2 applications boosts productivity. Atlantic Air Survey Ltd., a geographic information technology firm, reported efficiency gains of at least 20% in their data editing and collection process using Boeing Autometric's software.

Imagery generated by DigitalGlobe's QuickBird satellite will be transformed by Boeing Autometric's high-end photogrammetric software toolkit, Softplotter, to support mapping and intelligence missions for the Department of Defense. One of the key improvements in Softplotter 4.0 is the addition of IDELIX Pliable Display Technology (PDT).

Laser-Scan's Radius Topology showed off its stuff for consulting firm InfoTech Europe last week. The first test involved conducting a spatial intersect query on InfoTech Europe's data within the Oracle9i environment. Radius Topology significantly enhanced the speed the spatial query was delivered, reducing the time from 55 seconds to instantaneous. Measured another way, that's 1 feature per second vs. 5400 features per second.

Ford is testing a new system that will automatically report vehicle crashes to authorities. The move follows a similar idea from General Motors and the shutdown of the WingCast join venture.

SPATIALinfo, a specialist supplier of network and spatial information solutions, has formed a strategic alliance with SophSys, a provider of design, engineering, and cost estimating tools for the electric and gas industries. A joint demonstration by the two companies will be exhibited next week at the annual One Team Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, from September 10-12, 2002. This is Autodesk's partner conference and is not open to users. Lenny Melamedas of SPATIALinfo noted that an announcement for Gentry users should be expected soon.

Miner & Miner announced that ArcFM and Designer were awarded the distinction of Best of Show in ESRI's Business Partner ArcGIS Challenge Contest.

Telemorphic, Inc. was recently awarded "Best Internet Application" during the 2002 ESRI International User Conference. The Company also received the top honors for "Most Unique" map during the conference's map gallery, an exposition of more than 1,000 of the most effective maps created by GIS and mapping professionals from around the world.

Contracts and Sales


Leica Geosystems' GIS & Mapping Division announced the purchase of multiple Leica GS50+ data collection systems by the City of Rock Island (Illinois, USA). The City will use the systems to inventory its physical assets, map and collect attributes and structures of its storm sewers. The base station is mounted on top of a local water tower. Photo credit: Rock Island.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. announced that the company's Geographic Information Products Group will design and carry out a feasibility study for a property information network for the government of El Salvador.

Exor Corporation, supplier of integrated highways management software, announced that the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) has selected Exor Corporation to provide Highways by Exor software applications and implementation services. The contract is valued at over $440,000.

Niagara Falls Hydro has signed a contract to replace its legacy GIS with an advanced geofacilities management system from the Utilities & Communications division of Intergraph Corporation.

GeoMicro, Inc. announced that ManaTracking Inc. has selected AltaMap as its Internet Mapping Application provider after an industry-wide search. The AltaMap platform was selected based on its rich feature set, speed, scalability, and ease of use. ManaTracking's products and services provide end to end solutions for tracking and managing mobile assets throughout the supply chain. ManaTracking will utilize the AltaMap Platform to provide real time, location based services, facilitating the visual monitoring of mobile assets and fleets with its TrackTec software and hardware products. ManaTracking's clients see the location and speed of their assets on the map in real time.


Leica Geosystems has announced that its DISTO Tape handheld laser distance measuring tools are now available nationwide through over 700 Lowe's building supply stores.

APIC will launch APIC for MasterMap, a new product to manage and distribute Ordnance Survey MasterMap data, at GeoSolutions in London next week. APIC for MasterMap includes the high performance APIC database to store and access MasterMap data efficiently.

Thales Navigation, introduced its A12 OEM 12-channel GPS receiver. The A12 offers the most powerful combination of WAAS-enabled accuracy, low power consumption and compact size available in a low-cost board. It's half the size of a credit card.

Honda Motor Company unveiled a new voice-operated car navigation system to be offered on its Accord sedan this fall. InterNavi Premium Club offers regularly updated traffic reports, news, maintenance and other information as well as the ability to e-mail. Microsoft Corp. announced that its Windows CE for Automotive, which will be used by Toyota in its new in-car telematics devices.

Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions announced that GeoMedia Grid 5.0, an advanced, fully integrated grid analysis toolkit for GeoMedia, is now shipping worldwide. Built as a collaborative effort with Keigan Systems, the new product combines the strengths of GeoMedia's vector GIS capabilities and the power of grid analysis tools within a single GIS environment.

PCI Geomatics announces the release of their new PCI Software Development Kit. The new kit includes the traditional PACE Toolkit with GeoGateway technology (supporting 100+ spatial data formats) and adds new Visual Basic and Java programming capabilities. The PACE Toolkit, with a collection of over 150 subroutines, provides new and experienced users with the flexibility to customize and communicate with their database, the Geomatica interface, and any supported peripherals they need. The PACE Toolkit allows PCI Geomatics clients to develop their own PACE programs and integrate these directly into the Geomatica software environment.

INPHO GmbH, Stuttgart, launched a new release of MATCH-T fully automated software for DTM generation. The company says that MATCH-T V3.3 is an easy-to-use and highly automated software that brings the quality and speed of the DTM generation into a new level. The comapny also announced a new release of MATCH-AT, the worldwide leading software for fully automated digital aerial triangulation. In addition to faster processing times MATCH-AT V3.3 offers a variety of advanced features, such as project generation wizard for fast and easy project set-up, sub-block handling along with free block adjustment, and support for a wide variety of Tiff imagery, including Tiff Jpeg and 16 bit Tiff formats.

Spatial Data Private Limited (Spinfo), the developer of GIS-based software products and solutions, announced the launch of "Spinfo Andhra Pradesh 2002." By integrating the Spinfo SIS Map Engine and digital maps of the state of Andhra Pradesh, Spinfo has brought out a ready to use, and complete GIS solution for users having a focus on Andhra Pradesh, India.

CrimeStat II has been released by the Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety program of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The program, which is free, was developed by Ned Levine & Associates of Houston, TX, under a research grant. The program is Windows-based and interfaces with most desktop GIS programs. The program provides statistical tools for law enforcement agencies and criminal justice researchers in their crime mapping efforts.

Navigation Technologies announced that VisuAide, a leader in digital audio solutions for the visually impaired, will develop a voice-enabled navigation application using NAVTECH digital map data. Further details regarding the product will be announced later this year.

Hires and Appointments

Laser-Scan announced the appointment of Duncan Guthrie as Sales and Marketing Director. Duncan joins Laser-Scan from Earth Resource Mapping, where he set up the successful reseller channel to drive sales of the company's ECW (enhanced compressed wavelet) format.

James W. Sewall Company of Old Town, Maine, has established a regional contact in Randolph, Vermont. Vice President of Photogrammetric Services Gerard T. Reymore, CP, will be based there.

IDELIX Software Inc. announced the addition of Morgan Sturdy to its Board of Directors.

Diana Clemente has been named to the new position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) of SPOT Image Corporation. She will be responsible for day-to-day operations, management of North American Channel Partners and coordination with SPOT IMAGE, S.A., the parent company in Toulouse, France. She's been with SPOT Image for 9 years, most recently as Director of Customer Support, managing the Customer Service Division and Project Management.


You can reach more than 11,500 GIS professionals every issue by sponsoring GIS Monitor. For more information, email

Please send comments and suggestions to:
Adena Schutzberg
GIS Monitor Editor
Ultimate Map/GIS Directory - Your search is over!

If you wish to subscribe, unsubscribe or change your preferences visit our
subscription page.