September 12, 2002


Deal Takes Position at Space Imaging

Special NSGIC Annual Conference Section

What is NSGIC?
NSGIC Proposes Model State
Proposing Legislation GIS Development for Public Safety
Homeland Security Infrastructure Plan (HSIP)
Al Leidner Speaks on 9/11/02
Other Highlights
Quotes from NSGIC

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

The founder, CEO and president of LizardTech, a company specializing in image compression and delivery, John R. "Grizz" Deal, took the top marketing position at satellite image company, Space Imaging.

LizardTech has been having some tough times financially. In April of this year the company laid off half of its staff, trimming the company from 80 to 40. The latest announcement regarding new uses of LizardTech technology describes a service to move large documents via existing mobile data connections. LizardTech chose Bill Patterson as its president and CEO last August, freeing Deal for global partnering work for the company.

Space Imaging has also had its share of challenges as the market for imagery matures. Still, the company continues to find its name in the news. Its imagery is widely used in the war on terror and most recently for surveillance activities in Iraq.

Space Imaging Names John Deal as Chief Marketing Officer

LizardTech lays off half its staff of 80 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

DocRocket Mobile Publishing

Inspectors Rely on Satellites to Monitor Iraq(CNN)

I was invited to attend the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) meeting this year and was able to attend on behalf of the Open GIS Consortium.

While I'd heard of NSGIC before, I didn't really know what it was about. Luckily, I arrived in time to for the new member briefing given by Susan Carson Lambert, past president of NSGIC, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Geographic Information, who is now on a detail to the USGS.

NSGIC is an eleven-year-old organization that brings together the U.S. state GIS coordinators. Currently, 42 of the states are members, as are several private companies and universities. The group works in partnership with other organizations such as Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), National Association of Counties (NaCO) and federal agencies.

The state coordinators, together, hold an important role as a set of "brokers" of the federal agencies such as United State Geological Survey (USGS) and National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) with local governments (the counties, towns and cities within the states). As I learned, many federal agencies (NIMA is one) can't work directly with state or local governments, but they work with lead federal agencies, which in turn work with states. This can be important since federal agencies don't want to work with 3000+ counties and potentially 50 different state laws.

Basically, NSGIC aims to be the voice of states on matters relating to GIS. The coordinators are responsible for civil domestic mapping and typically report to state Chief Information Officers (CIOs). Those state CIOs have their own organization (National Association of Chief Information Officers, NASCIO) and support the National Governors Association (NGA).

NSGIC works hard to get the states' voices heard on federal topics such as cadastral mapping (with for example the Bureau of Land Management, BLM), orthophotography (National Digital Orthophoto Program, NDOP for example), elevation data and more. Basically, though, the organization focuses on four things: policy (the group comments on plans, budgets, and writes issue papers, thereby "looking out for our own"), liaison and networking (NSGIC hosts list servers to connect members and a very successful "adopt-a-fed" program where members connect or "own" an agency to learn how to work with it), research (NSGIC recently released a report on the future of the remote sensing marketplace), and education and public relations (the group provides resources to help elected officials grasp GIS).

On the last point, several people pointed a lunch keynote by Governor Geringer of Wyoming (which I missed) where he stated that 7% of elected officials understand information technology, which leaves GIS far below that.

NSGIC introduced to the membership a Model State Coordination Document. When I say model here, think of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Model Law, sort of a suggested starting point, to be tweaked by each state. There are few aims for this proposal: to answer the question of how to put together local data for a national framework (National Spatial Data Infrastructure, NSDI, at some level), how to identify tools for national coordination, and perhaps most importantly, to put together a model that works for states to answer requests for data. Basically, the proposers offered, the model attempts to identify the characteristics of successfully coordinated GIS states. Later in the day I spoke to Ron Matzner of Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) who said that "best practices" was perhaps the correct term.

In any case, here are the six characteristics (or best practices) the committee put forward: a full time GIS coordinator, a defined state mandate for GIS coordination, responsibility for local GIS coordination, a state clearinghouse, the ability to collect and distribute funds, and a strong political leader. Most of attendees felt this was a valuable "model" to put together that would benefit other states.

Later in the week, when we revisited the topic, there were further suggestions. There was a proposed seventh item to add to the list: a direct link to Homeland Security leadership. That prompted some discussion about whether this was a generic "best practices," or one aimed at Homeland Security. Further, some delegates feared that the list might be used a criteria to "pick" good states for participation in initiatives or funding opportunities, which was not the intent.

Other delegates argued that the language was too specific, that in fact, some aspects might be inappropriate for Eastern or Western states. Another suggestion was that the document be renamed Characteristics of Successful State GIS Coordination. Another suggestion, that highlighted a products vs. process continuum, a topic that popped up several times during week, suggested that instead of looking at process elements, the criteria should focus on end-products.

A full house attended a session discussing an initiative for funding GIS technologies for public safety. Jack Dangermond of ESRI and Fred Corle of Spatial Technological Industry Association (STIA, a lobbying organization) put forward the idea of developing legislation to authorize and then appropriate funds for GIS data/technology development. Dangermond was the first to say that he didn't know much about putting together such legislation, but that we needed to be "opportunistic" to move forward what basically amounts to funding the NSDI.

Dangermond suggested that we look at this in the context of the 1977 Surface Mining Act (officially, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977) which basically allowed states to fund GISs over several years using federal money. The federal funding slowly dropped away, leaving the state to run the existing system. Dangermond argued that this act essentially built the GISs for Illinois and Kentucky.

Corle noted that the biohazards and pharmacology special interests had lobbied successfully for $10 billion in response to biohazards, and that we could do a similar job. He also noted later, "If this is not the right time, I don't know when is." He also noted that he's optimistic.

How much money do we ask for? Dangermond had started with $1 billion. Bill Burgess of Maryland created a huge spreadsheet trying to cost out what each state might need to create/update its spatial data. The numbers for several states were not too far off of some detailed state estimates. The formula weighted states by census figures, information from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and other surrogate measures, where needed. The grand total was about $6.6 billion, or about $1 billion per year for six years.

The National Association of Counties is already supporting this initiative, and the discussion at NSGIC was aimed at getting NSGIC on board as well. Response was varied. Questions were raised concerning coordination, maintenance of the data after the funding, support for training in use of the tools, the "bottom up" quality of the proposal, the need for support of the insurance industry, the cost of not investing in data creation, privacy, passed investment and testimonials, and the time expected between authorization and appropriation, if such legislation should go forward.

I want to go into detail about a few comments. The subject of long-term maintenance always raises eyebrows. Dangermond noted that this is really about jumpstarting data collection; the maintenance is really the job of the localities. He compared it to implementing barcoding in managing physical products. The big investment is upfront, the benefit is long term and relatively inexpensive.

Later in the week, Scott Cameron, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Performance and Management at the Department of Interior, noted that it's very difficult to get legislation through Congress. He seemed to suggest that another option is to explore ways to more effectively use existing state and local money for geospatial growth. In short, he didn't sound too optimistic.

Just to give you an idea of how important homeland security is to GIS people, the forum was held at 6:30 PM on a day where meetings began at 8:00 AM sharp. At 6:30 PM the room was packed, as it was until we finished at 9:00 PM.

The evening began with recaps from a few states on what they'd done in support of homeland security. Of interest to me was a question from a delegate from Illinois: How can I get hold of pipeline data for homeland security? Much data relating to pipelines was pulled off the Web after last year's security concerns.

Several responses came in. There was talk of franchising and contacting local utility commissions. Al Leidner, GIS Director, NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, noted that New York City uses strict permitting procedures to get at pipeline locations and location changes. MapInfo offered that some of the company's prepackaged data sets might help. Another attendee offered that upcoming legislation may force pipeline owners to disclose where their pipes cross locations where people congregate, such as schools. Another suggestion was to try to work with the Geospatial Industry and Technology Association (GITA) since that organization hosts a GIS event for oil and gas interest. It's interesting, and perhaps a bit scary, that we are still looking for such data one full year after 9/11.

The issue of pipelines prompted a delegate from Louisiana to point out that that state's once underground pipelines were slowly becoming above ground entities. Since oil and gas companies were sold so often, it was quite difficult to get detailed information on the locations of feeders. Furthermore, she noted that about 1/3 of all of the U.S. natural gas goes through a single spot in the state, making security of that location key for the entire country. The plea for help for Louisiana, though taken quite seriously, prompted a joker to pass around a plastic cup labeled "Help Louisiana." When it passed me with significant giggling, there were already a few donations. After such a long day, the levity was welcome.

The laughing was brief as the next topic was introduced. Jeff Sands who is employed by Mitre, but on assignment to NIMA, noted that GIS was a key part of Steve Cooper, the CIO for Homeland Security's vision for the organization's enterprise architecture. With that in mind, he introduced the Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP). This should be a completely new idea to many of you since this is the first time it's been introduced outside of NIMA/federal circles.

Sands provided a detailed print report (costing some $800 in copying fees at a local Staples) to federal, state and local officials and their contractors, per NIMA's rules. Since I don't exactly fall into that category, I didn't have a look. But, I did watch the slides and followed up with Sands later.

HSIP is a NIMA/USGS initiative aimed at supporting homeland security efforts by the federal government. The final product will be a database made up of many sources that can be used before, during and after events. It sounds like NSDI and has quite a bit in common with that work. The database will follow FGDC data content standards where available and tie into NSDI. But, there are differences. The plan is to get NSIP up and running quickly, unlike NSDI, which has already been underway for ten years. Also, HSIP will include data beyond NSDI, specific to security, including for example, attributes that detail the security level of the data (i.e., who can see it). The resource will be available to federal employees based on their security level. Will local responders have access? Yes, but indirectly.

One important thing I learned about NIMA: it can't provide data directly to state and local authorities. The agency can only work with "lead federal agencies." So, in the case of an emergency, a local authority might work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which might in turn work with NIMA.

NIMA is already gathering data and looking for feedback on the program from groups like NSGIC. This is a fast-track effort, so if you are part of a local government and want some say, I suggest you contact your state GIS coordinator.

The response from NSGIC members? Mixed. Though many applauded the effort, they took exception to the idea, though I don't believe this was stated, that NIMA/USGS would go directly to local cities and towns for data. There was also concern about who actually was running this-"Who is we?" was one question. But, the biggest frustration, I think, was that despite all of the talk of coordination, states and likely local authorities, are inundated with requests for data. This initiative adds one more. One delegate told a story about contacting a GIS technician to ask for data and having the respondent end up in tears, under the stress of so many requests.

To close the evening, Barbara Ryan gave a bit of a reality check. She noted that $67 billion had been spent on post 9/11 security efforts. The amount assigned to geospatial tasks? $0. USGS's supplemental budget of $26 million, aimed to move the 120/133 cities work forward, was not even approved.

On a lighter note, Sands also introduced a great idea: for each unexplained acronym spoken or on a slide, speakers needed to put a dollar in a jar. Try that at your next conference!

Wednesday's lunch keynote featured Al Leidner, who I overheard, was not in New York City on 9/11 by choice. I've written about Leidner's talks about New York City's GIS and response to 9/11, so I want to highlight the "new" things I learned. I also want to point out that Leidner is perhaps the most plain-spoken GIS speaker I've ever heard. If my mother heard him speak, she'd "get it."

This being a meeting of state GIS coordinators, Leidner was quick to note the important role the state had in getting imagery on Day 2 of the disaster. He noted, too, that local governments should have specifications on file should disaster strike. He assured the audience that "you will need and want up-to-date imagery and you will not want to spend time writing a spec."

Leidner highlighted the "GIS people are one family idea," saying "we are one community" and that it's our job to break down the artificial boundaries (both geographic and hierarchical) that divide us. Leidner noted that since 9/11 he'd read a few books about geography and GIS and found it interesting that mapping is more than 5000 years old, while digital technology is roughly 50 years old. He believes that GIS people are merging these together.

The biggest take away from Leidner's talk is a tool to sell GIS to those who "don't get it." In short, GIS saves lives. Leidner used both COMSTAT, a crime application that cut homicides, and the city's West Nile response as two simple examples. He noted, too, that good maps of underground tanks in the city helped possibly prevent the 9/11 fires from reaching flammable tanks and causing further loss of life.

Another point he made was about the technologies he didn't learn about until too late. One such technology was smoke-penetrating sensors. Though early aerials were possible, most were pictures of smoke. Only months later did the city learn about this technology. Leidner hopes that it will be possible to put out a document outlining what types of technology might be used in emergency situations.

The questions to Leidner were almost as interesting as the talk itself. He'd mentioned that the Office of Emergency Management was quick to give him freedom to get what he needed in terms of equipment, which told him that they understood the value of GIS in the response. The maps were used, among other things, to brief Mayor Giuliani for his daily presentations. A questioner asked that perhaps Giuiliani might be a great champion for GIS. Leidner noted how hard it is to get access to him.

One of the metadata evangelists in the crowd asked about the status of that element in New York City. She noted that in the past the issue was just getting data, but that during the disaster, reports back noted plenty of data but limited metadata. The response was basically, "We are working on it."

Leidner noted that the City created Building Identification Numbers (BINs) for each structure. There are 1 million buildings in the city. How did they do that? ASI (now Sanborn) digitized them the "old fashioned way," and assigned numbers. It took about a year and half.

Other questions highlighted the existing relationships in NYC that made the team effort before, during, and after the disaster possible. An informal mechanism, GISMO, the city GIS group, was one key tool for finding volunteers, but Leidner expects a more formal emergency response group to be developed. He noted that his 35 years working for the city allowed him to make one to one relationships of trust that helped develop sharing relationships. He also noted, in terms of changes since 9/11/01 that now OEM now has his datasets, and backup copies. The new Emergency Management Center has GIS as a key component. The City continues to work on BIN registration. Finally, the City is looking to FEMA to lead the way "to raise the bar" in the coming months and years.

At the end of his talk, Leidner received a standing ovation. He replied, "This is very nice, but what's better is actually making it happen."

I caught the tail end of the "Roll Call of the States": an alphabetical walk-through where each state coordinator (or delegate to the conference) report on what the state has been up to. Several people noted how useful those brief reports are for linking states together to share ideas. Wisconsin, for example is bringing in money, $12.5 million from use of its data. That's great, but now other agencies in the state want to use that money for things other than GIS. Wyoming, on the other hand, is just about done producing its DOQQs, and has revamped its website and data clearinghouse. I'm sorry I missed the entire rundown - the information would make a great "News from Every State"-type document, like the daily ones in USA Today.

The Gold Sponsor Sessions provided Space Imaging, Geographic Data Technology (GDT) and ESRI the chance to speak. The new president of Space Imaging Solutions, Gene Colabatistto, outlined the product evolution at the company from raw data to derived data, through end-user decision-making products integrated with applications.

Don Cooke, founder of GDT, pointed out a continuum between the data itself (where GDT, TIGER, and the National Map are housed) and the process/procedure of getting to the data (where I-Teams, FGDC, GeoSpatial One-Stop and the GeoData Alliance are housed). He identified himself as at the data (product) side and made it clear that the other side gave him a headache. I thought that was a pretty insightful way to look at data - especially in these times of creating/collecting/managing data for homeland security. Barbara Ryan, USGS Associate Director of Geography, returned to this idea later suggesting that 10 years ago policy focused on process (FGDC) but now we need to look for more of a mix of products (National Map) and process.

Cooke feels that the National Map is the best vision the USGS has had since the 1881 plan for quad maps. He is a big proponent of partnerships and highlighted a GDT partnership with Florida Power and Light that involved a "trade" of services/data. That framework seemed to me an interesting way to get buy-in from local/state governments with federal work for homeland security. He also highlighted feature-level metadata, arguing that it works for his company in the private sector and would be valuable in the public sector as well.

Jack Dangermond highlighted the ten technologies that are key in GIS these days. This was the same list he discussed at the ESRI User Conference, but the clear focus was on GIS as a Web service.

Barbara Ryan outlined the status of the National Map and highlighted something that I didn't know: the National Map shares five data layers with GeoSpatial One-Stop (orthophotography, elevation, hydrography, transportation and geographic units [boundaries]). GeoSpatial One-Stop also calls for geodetic control and cadastral, while the National Map needs land cover and geographic names to round out its list. The other point that Ryan made, that popped up several times at the conference is that with these types of projects the best way to order the players (federal, state and local government) is not in a hierarchy, but as peers.

A representative of the U.S. Census Bureau highlighted that organization's partnerships and noted an upcoming pilot to provide online certification of TIGER. Currently, that process involves roles of paper and red pencils. The online pilot being run by the Open GIS Consortium is expected to begin this winter and will use Geography Markup Language (GML).

Milo Robinson of FGDC addressed GeoSpatial One-Stop and explained how it was passed from Department of Interior (which owns it) to the FGDC for implementation. The bottom line is that it's a short-cut to developing the NSDI.

The Lt. Governor of Utah, Olene Walker, presented a folksy anecdotal lunch keynote that was just great. First off, she outlined how to create instant GIS experts. Her story involved a phone call from someone asking if she had GIS in the state. After she said yes, she learned that she'd be moderating a two-hour panel on the subject the next day. That meant a call to her state GIS leader who got her up to speed, and she never lost interest! She also outlined two key ways that Utah uses GIS. Utah's history includes federal grants of land, every 10th plot, aimed at education. That makes a sort of checkerboard of state lands that the state hopes to form into a "blotch" by land swaps. The other hot use of GIS is for redistricting. Since the state does not have a Secretary of State, redistricting falls to the Lt. Governor. And, in recent years, the state found representatives representing districts in which they did not live!

Scott Cameron spoke about GeoSpatial One-Stop. That effort involves four parts - standards, inventory of existing data, inventory of planned data acquisitions, and a portal for finding data. The governance of the project is heavily non-federal; the board currently has 11 members (including the Western Governors Association, WGA, NASCIO, and others) seven of which are not federal. Cameron was pleased to note that "local" folks have ultimate authority. The board has met twice: once at the ESRI conference this summer, and once this week at the NSGIC meeting. This week's meeting included discussion of a draft charter.

The NSGIC Issues Briefing is a place for all the sessions that don't fit and other NSGIC issues. A FEMA representative kicked the session off by discussing its flood map modernization and HAZUS (Hazards US), a loss estimate tool. HAZUS for earthquakes is already available, and hurricane and flood tools are due next March. The GeoData Alliance highlighted its upcoming conference just before the URISA conference in Chicago. The organization currently has about 100 members. The next topic was the existing NSGIC Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). These are "relationship" documents that ideally allow organizations to have a bit of a say in each other's work. For example, members of NaCO and University Consortium on GIS (UCGIS) were at this NSGIC meeting. NSGIC is looking to reinvigorate existing and in-process relationships with a roster full of acronymed associations.

The representative from NaCO, who is the CTO, did a great job highlighting what that organization is up to. He reported that approximately 300 software, data, and training grants (supported by ESRI and GDT) were provided to under-served counties. Those groups are expected to report back on lessons learned that will be compiled into a resource for counties. The group also is looking to develop further outreach with state and county organizations via seminars. NaCO is, fundamentally, a lobbying organization.

Lisa Warnecke of GeoManagement Associates presented highlights from the 2001 State GIS Summary. Her company was contracted to produce a report on GIS at the state level. She provided these to state coordinators. Some of the highlights: the number of authorized GIS coordinators (that is number of official positions) in states has decreased since 1995, but not by much. The good news: 17 coordinators have a secondary office for support. More of the coordinators are now housed under the state CIO, instead of under environmental or other departments.

Most coordinator positions are created via legislation. Others are created via executive order, but that is risky, since about half of governors are up for re-election this fall, so the positions may be lost. A pie chart showed who the states serve with their data. About one half of requests support local government. About 4% supports utilities. Warnecke suggested that these percentages will have to change as we all try to support critical infrastructure. In short, states need to create relationships with utilities.

The FGDC Homeland Security Working Group representative from NSGIC reported on that group's progress. The working group was chartered in May and includes federal agencies involved in mapping (for example, those involved in defense, energy). For now NSGIC is the only non-federal agency involved. The group produced a white paper on NSDI, geospatial data, and homeland security. That helped put NSDI in the administration's homeland security strategy. Current activities include work on emergency symbology (currently there are many, and we need a standard), data content (extensions and additions), metadata (extensions unique to homeland security - like security classifications) and interoperability. On the map symbols front, Bill Burgess noted a study done at Kent State (funded by FEMA) that set up a recommended set.

A Rand Study commissioned by NIMA/USGS looked at the sensitivity of public data. Basically, the organizations wanted to explore the danger in spatial data publicly available. The preliminary results suggest that several topics need to be explored. One topic is the data itself: does it have utility? (i.e., is it "good" for terrorism?), is it unique? (i.e., is it replicated elsewhere?), what are its costs and benefits (What do you lose if you take it down? What costs do you incur?). A second topic is accessibility: can the information be gathered in a public place? (Can you actually go and take pictures instead of using imagery?). Finally, the report suggests reasons to pull it from public view: if it can show enhanced security (really does enhance security) and if you feel removing the data enhances public confidence (looks like you are doing the right thing).

The Rand study is expected to be deliver to NIMA/USGS in October and later may be available for "official use only" and other parts will likely be classified. NSGIC is asked for a more public summary, which might be available later this winter.

NSGIC has put together a decision tree to evaluate data publication. The Data Access Decision Tree for Critical Infrastructure will be made available to state coordinators and looked very interesting and useful. Contact your state coordinator for more information.

A report from the USGS on the state of the 120/133 cities revealed that the organization learned quite a lot about file sizes in collecting 12" true color data. The 700 Mb file sizes were a challenge. Forty-six of the 133 cities have been flown, but only some of the data has been orthorectified, mostly by private industry. The remaining data are in work by USGS. One key point: the data is useless if it gets stale. This situation is another hurdle faced by USGS as a result of not getting its supplemental budget.

Al Leidner brought up a clever idea in one discussion when someone asked about access to good, hard-cost benefit information on GIS. He suggested that rather than a poster session of maps, at, say the ESRI conference, we instead have a poster session on cost/benefit analysis. That would create a great "library" of resources for the GIS community.

"All of my data has either a social security number or a lat/long."
- One of the CIOs at the CIO panel (I missed it, but heard the quote later)

"In order for data sharing to work, there must be something to share."
Don Cooke's (GDT) First Law of Data Sharing

"You know you've made it when your technology is hidden (embedded)."
- Gene Colabatistto, Space Imaging

"We are making a national map, not a federal map."
- Barbara Ryan (USGS), on the National Map

"It's good to be Number One, or not."
- Al Leidner (NYC), on New York City being Number One on the list of 133 cities in the USGS/NIMA project.

"Geography = Homeland Security, Security = Information"
- Jack Dangermond (ESRI)

"Own what you must, influence what you can."
- Dr. Irwin Itzkovitch, Assistant Deputy Minister, Natural Resources Canada, as quoted by Barbara Ryan (USGS)

"You know you are a coastal state when you can't name the states that border Wyoming without a map."
- From the introduction to the NOAA Coastal Services presentation

Anthony Quartararo wrote to respond to my take on the changes since 9/11/01.

"You bring out a good point in the opening segment of the issue, about
'One Year Later.' The lethargic and "business-as-usual" bipartisan bureaucracy has, in effect, rendered Homeland Security DOA. While it's and easy target to blast the Government for this mentality in normal circumstances, I am very grateful that this has delayed, and perhaps truly killed the Department of Homeland Security. We don't need it, it won't be able to accomplish it's mission, and if pushed through, would take this country one step closer to a fascist state. Thankfully, someone saw the misguided efforts of Operation TIPS and essentially killed that before attempting to implement it. We can only imagine what role GIS and other spatial technologies would have played in Operation TIPS in monitoring and intruding on citizens' lives.

"I would tend to agree with your assessment that the real change and real action happens at the local level. However, the same disastrous programs that are being considered at the Federal level can just as easily be implemented on regional or local level if we are not careful.

"This is not to say we should not use the technology and pay attention to security issues, but it seems to have gotten off to a dismal start. I for one, am tired of seeing little blue hair ladies in wheelchairs on oxygen being subjected to extensive searches at airport security stations by people who were unemployed six-months ago and have absolutely no education and experience in spotting potential 'bad-guys' all in the name of 'Homeland Security.' It doesn't increase security at all, is destroying the airline industry, and siphons valuable resources from other areas that sorely need them."

Jasper Stoodley of Simon Fraser University pointed out a bad link.

"Your link for the following article is incorrect:

"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.

"I believe it should be and not"

The editor replies: Correct. Despite our best efforts a few bad links do get through.

Last week I commented on Oracle's choice to publish a pricing guide online. I wrote: "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." Dimitri Rotow of Manifold took issue with that statement.

"It would be more accurate to have stated 'might make some GIS companies' consider the policy, since there are some GIS companies, such as, that openly publish their prices on the web. We have always done so.

"If you visit you'll see that all Manifold prices and discounts are openly published and are the same for all customers worldwide. We like that level of transparency and so do our customers."

To celebrate 45th anniversary of Malaysian Independence Day, students put together a
map using more than three million one-cent coins.

According to the Associated Press, the operators of the Quecreek Mine where nine miners were trapped in July, did not have the most recent survey information. More digging had been done in an abandoned mine than was indicated.

Though satellite imagery companies are thrilled at the increased use of civilian imagery for defense purposes and see the relationship between the government and such companies tightening, others are skeptical. In an article from Robert David Steele, 25-year veteran of the national security community argues that "Space-based intelligence right now is the Achilles' heel of the U.S. intelligence community. It is grossly over-funded and terribly mismanaged. . ."



Introduction to Urban and Regional Planning using ArcView 3.x, a course from ESRI's Virtual Campus, incorporates hands-on exercises with fundamental urban and regional planning concepts and illustrates how GIS technology can manage various urban and regional planning tasks. The six-module course teaches students how to use ArcView software to address real-world social, economic, and environmental planning problems. Another course, Mapping for Health Care Professionals using ArcView 3.x provides students with an overview of the conceptual, analytical, and technical issues involved in working with demographic data, health data, and GIS software.

Eastman Kodak Company's Research Systems, Inc. (RSI) is offering its software users the ability to share their work on a community website and enter a contest for the best code and graphics developed using RSI's IDL programming language. RSI's new User-Contributed Library website is available here.

James W. Sewall Company recently completed a nine-month database migration project for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers--Cape Cod Canal (CCC). To assist CCC personnel in maintaining and operating the 17.4-mile-long waterway system between Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay, Sewall migrated landbase data, digital orthophotography, and infrastructure mapping from the existing ESRI ArcView 3.x system to ArcGIS Desktop.

In July 2002, the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) announced that the Cadcorp SIS software suite and the Microsoft COM-based Cadcorp apSIS applications developer toolkit were certified conformant with the OpenGIS Grid Coverages specification.

Laser-Scan is working closely with Ionic Software to investigate new solutions as part of the latest Open GIS Consortium (OGC) project. Both companies are taking part in the current Web Services initiative (OWS 1.2). This collaboration will test the expressiveness of GML3.0 in the support of topology. As part of this evaluation, Ionic will be using Radius Topology tables to provide a storage model for their Web Feature Server (WFS) implementation.

Coastal GeoTools '03, a national conference showcasing coastal uses of geospatial tools and technologies, such as GIS, GPS, remote sensing, and the Internet, will be held January 6-9, 2003, in Charleston, South Carolina. Registration deadline is November 29.

Autodesk, Inc. announced that the Taipei (Taiwan) City Government (TCG) has deployed Autodesk's GIS technology as part of its ambitious "CyberCity" initiative to bring government services online. TCG is using Autodesk MapGuide, Autodesk OnSite View, and Autodesk OnSite Enterprise software to help them reach the initiative's goals. The Autodesk GIS implementation, known as the "CityLook" Reporting and Management System, is designed to more efficiently manage city infrastructure, protect public safety, keep the city clean, and meet the evolving needs of citizens for more government accessibility online.

The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) invites responses to a Request for Technology (RFT) for the
Geographic Objects Initiative Phase 1 (GO-1). The RFT document is available for download. The vision for the Geographic Objects Initiative is to define platform-independent and implementation-neutral interface models of specific geographic services or component objects.

Intermap Technologies, Inc. announced it has been awarded a contract to demonstrate its newly acquired technology that literally "sees through trees." King County Department of Transportation, Renton Washington, awarded Intermap contract to demonstrate its proprietary foliage-penetrating technology for terrain elevation mapping.

The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) invites expressions of interest from industry organizations to participate in a Model Advisory Team (MAT) regarding a nationwide Transportation Framework Data Content Standard, specifically the Air Transportation component and the Public Transit component.

MapInfo Corporation announced it is offering a 20-day free download trial and a reduced rate of MapInfo Professional v7.0 to organizations currently using competitor licenses in North America.

Tina Cary, PhD, President of Cary and Associates, will present the luncheon address Tuesday, October 8th at the 15th Annual GIS in the Rockies Conference. Her topic is the future of the mapping sciences, including GIS.

Eric Fowler, GIS project manager of R.A. Smith & Associates, Inc., Brookfield, Wisconsin, took second place in the "Best MapObjects Application" and third place in the "Best ArcGIS VBA Application" competitions at the recent 2002 ESRI international user conference for geographic information systems (GIS) users worldwide.

Contracts and Sales

ESRI announced that Perupetro, the Peruvian government agency responsible for the administration of petroleum exploration permits and concessions, has selected its software for the management of the agency's technical database for hydrocarbons.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. announced that the company has been awarded over $3 million (CDN) in contracts to collect forestry inventory information for a number of British Columbia forest companies. The funding is provided by the Forest Initiative Fund (FIA).

Cadcorp announced that East Sussex Fire Brigade has placed a contract for the supply and implementation of Cadcorp SIS. A number of factors influenced this decision, including a need to work with Ordnance Survey MasterMap data - the new GML2-based seamless, topological dataset from Ordnance Survey.

The state of Utah has selected ESRI to supply a comprehensive statewide K-12 software license. The license will allow the state to use GIS software with every instructional computer in all of Utah's K-12 schools. Specifically, Utah has licensed ArcView for Windows as well as Macintosh, ArcView Image Analysis extension for Windows (from ERDAS/Leica Geosystems), and the ArcAtlas data set.

KeySpan's Electric Business Unit, in conjunction with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), has selected Analytical Surveys, Inc. (ASI) for the creation of a geospatial database representing their entire electric distribution system serving the New York counties of Nassau, Suffolk, and a small section of Queens. Under this contract, ASI will convert LIPA's overhead, underground, and transmission network to ESRI's ArcGIS and Miner & Miner's ArcFM to create a GIS. In addition, ASI will perform a complete field verification of LIPA's overhead distribution and transmission network.

Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions announced that the City of DeKalb, Ill., Public Works Department, has chosen Intergraph's GeoMedia-Hansen Interface to complete its geospatial infrastructure environment.


Two ESRI business partners, RouteSmart Technologies, Inc. and Infinite Enterprises have developed a territory-planning module that complements ArcLogistics Route. The territory-planning module will allow users to create territories with tens of thousands of customers and to geographically balance them while maintaining business rules that the user selects. In addition, it will allow users to "balance" daily routes based on user business rules such as hours of operation, number of stops, revenue generated, and more.

Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions announced it has released version 5.0 of GeoMedia Transportation Manager and GeoMedia Transportation Analyst, two GIS products built on proven GeoMedia technology. Mapping, GIS, and IT professionals purchasing GeoMedia Transportation Manager 5.0 or Transportation Analyst 5.0 from August 1, 2002, through April 30, 2003, will qualify for a full complimentary registration to GeoSpatial World 2003, the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community international training and management conference, May 19 through 21 in New Orleans.

SPATIALinfo introduced SPATIALnet/Power, a solution for the users of Autodesk GenMap. SPATIALnet/Power will enable users to manage their electric power networks in a modern, cost-effective product. SPATIALnet has a sophisticated electric power data model that provides seamless mapping, version control, and long transaction management as integrated product features. Users continue to operate in a familiar AutoCAD front end while storing all graphics and attribute data in a relational database (SQL Server or Oracle).

The GRASS Development team led by Markus Neteler released the first stable version (5.0.0) of the well-known GRASS Geographic Information System. GRASS 5 is OSI Certified Open Source software, the sources of which can be found at ITC-irst, Italy, and several mirrors along with documentation and sample data.

SRC announced that data provided in the Summary File 3 (SF3) from the U.S. Census Bureau, collected for the 2000 census, is now available on its online demographic data service.

Choctaw Geo Imaging (CGI) Enterprise, a provider of digital mapping services, has introduced new geoORTHO COUNTY and geoORTHO CORRIDOR packaging for its seamless aerial photo data. Clients can now purchase the enhanced imagery by the corridor (linear mile), county, state, or full nation.

MapInfo Corporation introduced MapInfo Site Screener and Site Matcher, the latest in its line of modeling solutions that help organizations identify the best retail locations for business expansion. Building upon MapInfo's industry-recognized expertise for modeling location-relevant data and providing fast and cost-effective site analysis, these new modeling solutions enable organizations to confidently and reliably select a site and shorten the cycle for time to market.


Positioning Resources Ltd has introduced support for the new Nexicam Digital Camera with its PocketGIS field data software. This opens up more compact solution for adding digital camera images as feature attributes to GIS data. The Nexicam Digital Camera expansion pack for the Compaq iPaq features high resolution 800x600 SVGA color for superior picture quality and a built-in Compact Flash expansion slot for storage of both photos and mapping. There is a choice of 5 resolutions that can be selected.

New products being released in commemoration of RSI's 25th anniversary include the IDL Student Edition and Watsyn, a medical imaging software package for medical application development and deployment (see related news release dated June 17, 2002). Product upgrades being released include IDL 5.6, ENVI 4.0, IDL on the Net (ION) 1.6 and FLAASH 2.0.

GeoMicro, Inc. announced that AltaMap Version 4.0, is now available. AltaMap is a suite of Internet and Desktop mapping applications.

Applanix announced the release of POSPac 4.0, the latest update to the company's industry-leading aided inertial post-processing software.

Hires and Appointments

Two promotions at ImageSat International N.V. occurred this week. Mr. Ori Ben-Amotz was promoted to Senior Vice President and CFO from Vice President and CFO, a post which he has held since he joined ImageSat International in January 2001. Mr. Dave Krueger was promoted to Senior Vice President Business Development from Vice President Business Development, a post he assumed in January 2002, following a consulting relationship with the Company in 2001.

The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) announced a new streamlined management structure at its headquarters' office in Park Ridge, Illinois. URISA will now be managed by its senior management team of Wendy Francis, Christine Dionne, and Barbara Hirsch. Bill Gentes, URISA's Executive Director, will be leaving to pursue other opportunities.

A widely-recognized pioneer in the speech recognition industry, Dr. Thomas Schalk, was named today to lead the interactive speech recognition program for telematics service provider ATX Technologies.


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