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In this issue of GIS Monitor I bring you one more installment in my series on the geospatial industry's reponse to Hurricane Katrina, I report on a new type of 3D monitor, and I review a book on using GPS for mapping. Plus, my usual round-up of news from press releases.
As you probably noticed, I finally cleaned up our website! From here on I will keep it up-to-date and occasionally even use it to post breaking news before getting the weekly issue out.
So, how am I doing by you, after seven months on the job? If you are a regular reader you certainly noticed not only the change in style from the previous editor, but also my various different approaches. Lately, for example, I've been conducting a lot of short interviews. What do you like best about my content and style? Least? What would you like me to cover that I am not covering? Does it matter to you that I often don't get GIS Monitor out until Friday? I always welcome nay, encourage! your comments. Now, however, I am also asking you to start thinking about these questions in preparation for an upcoming reader survey.
This week in this section I report on Trimble and some of its business partners.
Hurricane Katrina: Geospatial Responses
According to Trimble, the company's Mapping and GIS division has either loaned or donated GPS receivers to several federal and state government agencies (through ESRI) and to volunteer organizations including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services� Office of Public Health and Emergency Preparedness, the Louisiana Department of Public Health and Hospitals� Section of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology, and the Medical Reserve Corps. The last one is a volunteer organization that draws upon the skills of practicing and retired physicians, nurses, and other health professionals that help their communities' ongoing public health needs and help during large-scale emergency situations. In most cases, the equipment has been the GeoXT rugged GPS handheld receiver from the GeoExplorer series. It has sub-meter accuracy.
In addition, Trimble dealers and business partners in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia have been lending equipment, technical expertise, and on-the-ground assistance to help various cities restore their electric utilities, their water and sewer systems, and other essential services. For example, Trimble dealer Navigation Electronics, of Lafayette, Louisiana, provided GPS receivers and technical support for the City of Biloxi in locating all of their manholes in just one day. They have also been helping out in various towns and parishes throughout that state. A Trimble business partner, Landmark Systems, located in Starkville, Mississippi, has given all employees time off with pay to help in the cleanup efforts (technical or otherwise) and one of its employees spent a week clearing out houses and debris all along the Mississippi coast. GE Energy, a Trimble Mapping & GIS business partner, has donated geo-referenced black & white, color, and infrared imagery to FEMA.
New Planar 3D Monitor
For decades geospatial analysts have used stereo displays to view aerial and satellite photographs, because they provide a quicker and more accurate extraction of information and offer a more realistic experience than conventional 2D viewing. The conversion to digital photography and the more recent availability of low-cost satellite images have increased demand for high-resolution stereoscopic 3D monitors for photogrammetry that can also support image panning without blurring. Additionally, the older CRT monitors used by most stereoscopic systems are being phased out.
Given these trends, Planar Systems, Inc., a manufacturer of flat panel display systems based in Beaverton, Oregon, saw an opportunity and recently launched the SD1710, a stereoscopic 3D LCD monitor based on an entirely new stereoscopic technology. The device uses the company's proprietary StereoMirror technology, which is composed of two 17-inch AMLCD (active matrix LCD) monitors in an up/down configuration, separated at a 110-degree angle. A semitransparent mirror is positioned at a bisecting angle between the two monitors that, when combined with polarizing glasses, generates the stereo separation. This beam-splitter approach creates a stereoscopic 3D monitor that retains the full resolution, response time, and color saturation of the individual monitors. The device is particularly well-suited for geospatial image analysts and photogrammetrists, who require 3D viewing to discern depth in the imagery and interpret spatial details. According to Planar, future imaging applications for its new device may include medical imaging, molecular modeling, CAD/architecture, and computer gaming.
To validate its new system, Planar has partnered with companies such as DAT/EM Systems International, BAE Systems, Boeing, and Matrox. DAT/EM has integrated Planar's SD1710 3D monitor as an optional component of its SUMMIT EVOLUTION Digital Stereoplotter. DAT/EM, which is based in Alaska, is a developer of photogrammetric hardware and software products and services specializing in 3D feature data collection software.
Currently, the two dominant computer-based methods of presenting stereographic images are active and passive stereo. Both of these methods use eye-wear: "active" stereo uses glasses with electronic components, "passive" stereo uses glasses without electronics. The higher quality active systems are generally frame sequential that is, the left and right eye images are presented in rapid succession (typically 120Hz) and LCD shutters on the glasses go alternatively transparent or opaque in perfect synchronization with the stereo pairs being presented. The two main drawbacks of this method is that the cards that support left and right stereo buffers are typically expensive and the projectors capable of projecting at the high frame rates are limited to CRT which are bulky, difficult to calibrate, and nearing their end-of-life. The most common passive stereographic system uses dual projectors with polaroid filters in front of the projectors and matching filters in the glasses. Various kinds of projectors are suitable for this task, though two of them are required.
Planar claims that, because of its improved lighting and the fact that it displays a continuous flicker-free image to both eyes, its monitor can be used for an entire workshift without discomfort. The company contrasts this with CRT stereoscopic displays, which, it claims, can cause eye strain, headaches, or even nausea from alternately blinking right and left images. Planar also contrasts its device with autostereo (glasses-free) displays, which "restrict users to position their head in a specific 'sweet spot' with no room for movement over extended periods of time."
I discussed Planar's new display with Pat Green, the manager of Planar's R&D; group; Brian Barnes, hardware engineer at DAT/EM; Gerry D. Bering, production manager for AeroMap U.S., in Anchorage, Alaska; and Richard Pounders, Manager of Photogrammetry at Southern Resources Mapping Corporation. Both Bering and Pounders are in the process of converting from Monitor ZScreen to Planar's SD1710 and, during this transition, can compare the two devices side-by-side.
Green told me that Planar, which was originally spun out of Tektronix, has long been intrigued by the display of 3D data. "This specific design," he told me, referring to the SD1710, "addresses the problem that there is not a good desktop solution that is high-resolution. One of our claims to fame for this monitor is that it provides the image at full resolution, without a compromise in presenting the stereoscopic 3D image." A competing technology, he explained to me, is that of autostereo displays, which do not require the user to wear any kind of glasses. However, in achieving stereo, they cut the resolution in half (and they use XGA to begin with). "With autostereo displays, the resolution is low, plus you have to be exactly square with the display." Another big issue, he told me, is that many of these CRTs are going end of life and are no longer for sale. "Our active matrix LTD displays are a technology that is available today and will continue to be available in the future."
Yet another problem with LCC displays is that the optical path through them consumes a lot of the light, so they need to be used in a dark room. "Ours can be used in a standard office environment. They are plenty bright and flicker-free. We've also incorporated LCD that have a fast response time so the blur factor is not a problem. Also, unlike the other stereo displays, three of us could be shoulder-to-shoulder and all see the stereo effect, so we can work collaboratively."
What about the graphics card? According to Green, "all the other stereo displays need a rather specialized graphics card; with ours you can use an off-the shelf card and software. We qualified nVidia and Metrox, both well-known graphics card providers."
Then there's the question of compatibility with software from various vendors. "Using software from BAE, Sensorsystems, and others," he told me, "we found that the monitor is plug-and-play. We had Socket up and running in five minutes. The same was the case with software from RemoteView, Leica, Intergraph, Boeing, and DAT/EM."
Finally, I asked Green about the larger market for this product. "Our intent," he told me, "is to market this over a broad range of markets: GIS, computational chemistry for the pharmaceutical industry and academic researchers, oil & gas, etc. We also have a medical business unit that produces imaging for every kind of modality."
Barnes worked on the integration of DAT/EM's technology with Planar's. I asked him what this integration involved. Planar's device, he told me, "was originally designed for medical imagery and we got it to work with our software. ZScreen or Active Glasses take a dual-output video card; you can use one for the video monitor and one for the CAD. Planar needs the dual video card just for the one monitor, so we needed to come up with a secondary card for the CAD. Another benefit of the secondary card is that users can have another CAD monitor." (Since each card has two outputs, you can have two displays for the monitor and two more for mapping.)
What about software compatibility? "The software pretty much worked with it right off the bat," he told me. "We use frame sequential stereo and you have to wear polarized glasses that trick your brain. With the Planar monitor, instead, you get both images all the time. Their system uses clone mode for the stereo image; the left image is on the top and the right image on the bottom and they are combined on the glass."
Bering bought an SD1710 for his staff and will buy three more in the next month or so, he told me, so that all four of his shop's softcopies will have this viewing system. The new device "is a considerable improvement compared to the ZScreen," Bering told me. Specifically, it lets more light through, allowing the user to see the image much more sharply. "The biggest difference we see," Bering explained, "is in low-light conditions, such as under trees and behind buildings. With the previous system you could hardly see stereo in those conditions. Other systems also flicker, because they switch back and forth between two images. The Planar doesn't, because it uses two monitors that are both on continuously. The image is bright and crisper."
"I'm a photogrammetrist," Pounders told me, "and we do stereo compilation for large-scale mapping." His shop has been using softcopy stations for about eight years: it started with analytical platforms with optics, then converted to ZScreen, and recently installed the new Planar device on one station. "The clarity is much better on the Planar," he told me. "The drawback," he added, in contrast to Planar's claim, "is that you can't have any head tilt or the polarity will start to cut out. After a while, people get lazy and tilt their head; if you move your head more than 5-10 degrees (this is a guesstimate) you lose the polarization. Digital terrain modeling involves rapidly pushing a button and collecting points; if you tilt your head you lose the stereo and start losing accuracy. However, as long as you are careful with that it's not a problem. On the Z screen the polarization is much broader, so this is not a problem." Pounders then brought up another issue: "when we load up CAD there are occasions when the Planar image gets jittery." He attributes this to the nVidia 1300 video card, which, he adds is the only one currently available for this setup according to DAT/EM. "They are looking at new cards," Pounders added. "I'm certain that this will eventually be resolved."
GPS Mapping: Make Your Own Maps, by Rich Owings (Fort Bragg, California: Ten Mile Press, 2005), 374 pages, $24.95
Now that GPS receivers are commonplace and that satellite imagery, aerial photos, and 3D projections are available for little or no money, mapping is on its way to joining music editing and digital photography as a mass market computer application. Don Cooke's book Fun with GPS, which I reviewed about two months ago, shows readers how much fun it can be to use GPS receivers for mapping and, secondarily, teaches them how to do so. A new book, GPS Mapping: Make Your Own Maps, by Rich Owings, assumes the interest and motivation and guides readers systematically through a dozen popular software programs. Besides the redundant title (my choice would have been How to Use GPS to Make Your Own Maps), this is a great book. It is aimed at a mass audience of outdoor enthusiasts, but it will also be of interest to GIS professionals, now that the barriers between recreational and professional geospatial technologies are rapidly eroding. In particular, the brief chapter on downloading free maps may be the one of greatest interest to the readers of GIS Monitor.
Leaving it to the many other sources he cites to explain the fundamentals of navigation, cartography, GPS, remote sensing, and related technologies, Owings dives right into a discussion of the hardware and software required to make maps. The book is very clear and concise and chock-full of practical advice and tips such as "Beware ... of cheap [USB-to-serial] adapters, which often fail to work." and "I've seen no significant performance difference between antennae types."
For each software package he reviews, Owings lists the cost, the system requirements, GPS receiver compatibility, which version he tested, the manufacturer's contact information, other available options (such as upgrade packages), Internet resources, advantages (e.g. "You can view maps in three dimensions."), and disadvantages (e.g. "You cannot split tracks."). He then goes on to discuss the program's tutorial/manual, installation, and configuration and such topics as getting started, navigating the map, waypoints and waypoint management, routes, tracks, file structure, GPS receiver interface, printing, moving map, and working with other programs. In short, everything you might need but in such a well-organized and consistent way that you can easily skip over the material you don't need at the moment, yet find it easily later using the excellent index.
GPS Mapping also includes a set of eight color screen shots of maps produced by software described in the book and a 12-page table listing all the file types that each program is able to import and export.
You can use Owings' book the way you would use a Consumer Reports guide reviewing the comparative table of features and prices that appears early in the book and then reading the pros and cons of each program or you can read only the introductory chapters and those about the specific software package(s) you have chosen.
Owings' chapters on specific software packages supplement the programs' user manuals, add many useful tips, and detail work-arounds to deal with the programs' limitations. For example, discussing Topo USA's autorouting feature, Owings writes: "Try connecting the logging road with a trail along the same route. It won't work. You cannot join a road to a trail. You can handle this by creating a route along the road and then another route along the trail, but you'll have to switch the routes on your GPS [receiver] partway through your trip."
Owings is not shy about stating his own preferences. He describes USAPhotoMaps as "an excellent place to start" because it is "free and easily accessible." In introducing Maptech Terrain Navigator, he writes:
"It has some nice features my favorite is the way it displays the grid on printed maps. I always carry a printed map on my outdoor adventures, and it is usually a Terrain Navigator map. Most of the software packages in this book will superimpose a grid on the map. What Terrain Navigator does, in addition, is to place rulers along the perimeter. If you combine this with a UTM coordinate display, you end up with a map that makes it very easy to establish your location in the field."
He begins one chapter by saying "OziExplorer is a package that seems to have it all and the price is right, too." Unlike Cooke, Owings does not state a preference for Garmin GPS receivers (though the only receiver he shows on the cover is a Garmin GPSmap 60CS).
Owings provides just enough background to allow readers who are not familiar with various aspects of geospatial technology to understand the pros and cons of the software packages and techniques he discusses. His explanation of raster-based v. vector-based maps is a good example:
All the map programs we've looked at so far are raster-based. Raster maps are scanned images, and all the previous programs are based on scanned USGS maps. They take up a lot of room on your hard disk or in whatever media they are stored. That is why it takes ten CDs to cover all of California. These maps are very familiar; they look exactly like standard USGS 1:24,000 and 1:100,000-scale paper maps. Each point on these maps is represented by a single pixel of a certain color. If you try zooming in on an image of, say, a 1:24,000-scale map, you quickly lose resolution.
DeLorme Topo USA, on the other hand, is a vector-based program. ... Vector maps take up a lot less storage space than do raster maps. DeLorme has packaged the entire United States in a six-CD set, at a resolution and scale that is in some ways comparable to 1:24,000 maps. How is this possible? Remember, raster images must assign a color to every pixel. Vector maps consist of data, not scanned images, so to construct a map of contour lines, the software must establish only the lines, not the background.
While this sounds great, there are some drawbacks. These maps simply don't have the look and feel of USGS maps. While contour lines, streams, and roads may be represented, other features, such as buildings and waterfalls, may be missing.
Section Five discusses how to load maps onto GPS receivers. "The low-end receivers," Owings writes, "typically cannot display any but the most rudimentary of maps. To display detailed maps that can show contour lines, you'll need a more sophisticated receiver and a program such as those in this section." He then reviews three proprietary programs, each of which works with only one brand of GPS receiver.
The book's step-by-step instructions and many screen shots give it the look and feel of a computer manual and it will be just as quickly out of date. I found that several commands for USAPhotoMaps have already changed name from the instructions in the book (for example, Owings writes "Choose View, then Grid On to superimpose a UTM grid." In my version of the program the equivalent selections are View, then UTM Grid). Fortunately, the author assures us that he is "committed to updating the material in this book regularly, bringing you news of technological change and improvements to both hardware and software," via both subsequent editions and a companion website, www.MakeYourOwnMaps.com.
The problem is even greater for the many Internet addresses Owings provides. URLs, which are by nature impermanent, complicate further the already complex cost-benefit analysis of print vs. online publishing. As I read GPS Mapping, I came up with a solution: the author should number URLs sequentially throughout a printed book and then list them all (as live links, of course) on a website with a permanent URL, listed in the book. The site should also contain an easy way for readers of the book to report out-of-date URLs. The author could then update the URLs one-by-one, as needed. Upon encountering a URL in print that no longer worked online, a reader could simply click on the link with the corresponding number on the website! Additionally, this would save the reader the trouble of manually entering long URLs, such as casil.ucdavis.edu/casil/gis.ca.gov/drg/7.5_minute_series_albers_nad27_untrimmed/37119/
Finally, I have to mention, again, my pet peeve. Throughout the book, Owings uses the abbreviation GPS as one would use the word "radio" referring to "a GPS" and in constructions such as "deciding which GPS to buy." As I never tire to repeat, there are millions of GPS receivers but only one Global Positioning System with its space, control, and user segments. Unfortunately, mine is probably a lost cause, like complaining about those signs in some supermarkets that say "Ten items or less" instead of "Ten items or fewer."
Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.
GEOSPATIAL RESPONSES TO HURRICANE KATRINA
The U.S. military is using IRRIS technology, a Web-based transportation security and logistics application, to coordinate the movement of military cargo during the Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery efforts. GeoDecisions, an information technology and GIS consulting firm, developed IRRIS technology for military and homeland security agencies to deploy armed forces and emergency personnel and to manage the movement of cargo on a global basis. The U.S. military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) and the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) have been the primary users of the system for the Katrina emergency.
IRRIS technology integrates and displays critical information about transportation infrastructure including roads, bridges, tunnels, and dams as well as real-time weather, traffic, and real-time vehicle locations. The technology also features Total Asset Visibility (TAV) and In-Transit Visibility (ITV) functions for transportation logistics and real-time tracking.
Since the recovery efforts began, the IRRIS application has been updated to incorporate new enhancements and information specifically related to the Katrina emergency. For instance: IRRIS security staff expedited basic user access to IRRIS for U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Army National Guard users on a temporary basis; IRRIS incorporated up-to-date satellite imagery of the city of New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico coastline from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; IRRIS has new data feeds of transportation-related classified and unclassified situation reports (SITREPS) pertaining to the relief effort; a new IRRIS syndicated news widget provides up-to-date information from FOX and CNN, and a new IRRIS FEMA emergency documents widget allows easy access to SITREPS, PowerPoint presentations, and other documents related to the relief effort; IRRIS incorporated major supply routes, including interstate and U.S. highway routes, designated for the Katrina relief effort; and the classified version of IRRIS provides classified imagery of the Gulf Coast.
On Saturday, September 24, Shoreh Elhami, co-chair of URISA's GISCorps, received the fourth request for GIS volunteers to assist in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. This time the request was for two volunteers to be deployed as map production specialists to the Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) for Mississippi's Jackson and Hancock counties. The volunteers had to arrive within two days, remain for at least five to seven days, and work 12-hour shifts. Other requirements included high proficiency in creating maps in ArcGIS 9X environment and in working with peripherals (plotters and printers) and the ability to work well in a team environment and under unpredictable conditions. Experience in disaster management and familiarity with geo-coding, Map Books, and GPS, while all useful, were not required. Unlike with previous deployments, volunteers were not required to bring their own laptop or GPS receiver. The EOCs provide meals, transportation, and lodging (in hotels, at the EOC, or in tents, depending on the location) but volunteers were required to arrange and pay for their own flight (to be reimbursed later), bring sleeping bags and suitable clothes, and be prepared for extremely hot weather.
Joel Nelson, a GIS specialist at the University of Minnesota, and Ed Cardenas, the GIS applications manager for the City of Cleveland, Ohio met the requirements and were selected to go.
CONTRACTS & COLLABORATIONS
The cities of Coronado and Lomita, California, Port Jervis, New York, Somerton, Arizona, and Taylorville, Illinois have purchased Cart�Graph products.
Coronado (pop. 23,784) purchased WORKdirector to replace its existing Microsoft Access-based work management system. Lomita (pop. 20,658) chose WORKdirector, PAVEMENTview Plus, MAPdirector, and CALLlink. The city wants to be able to track citizen calls and initiate work orders from those calls for the Public Works Department. They are also looking to maintain an inventory of their pavement segments with assistance from WILLDAN, an engineering firm performing the data collection. Port Jervis (pop. 9,100) selected Cart�Graph's WORKdirector, SEWERview, and WATERview products for their first phase of implementation of a comprehensive management solution. Somerton (pop. 8,089) purchased PAVEMENTview Plus as part of a capital improvement plan spanning the next three to five years and SIGNview for a later phase, which will be to acquire an inventory of their traffic signs. Taylorville (pop. 11,427) purchased Cart�Graph's SEWERview, SIGNview, and PAVEMENTview. The city will begin its process with a complete sign inventory.
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC), the 10th largest cooperative in the United States, has chosen ArcFM and Designer, by Miner and Miner, for an enterprise GIS asset management and design solution. The not-for-profit corporation, which serves more than 125,000 homes and businesses in a 651-square-mile region of Northern Virginia, is experiencing unprecedented growth. This growth, as well as the number of disparate systems it currently has in use, prompted NOVEC to select the ArcFM Solution to meet its present and future requirements for design, engineering, network, connectivity, and workflow management. NOVEC will integrate ArcFM Solution with Logica's Work Management Information System (WMIS) for management of construction materials, costing, crew scheduling, and job closeout.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has contracted with Intermap Technologies Inc. for the company's NEXTMap USA data. Under the contract, Intermap will provide NRCS and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) with NEXTMap USA imagery and elevation data for regions in several states. This data will be available under the NEXTMap USA program over the next 12 months. This is the first phase of a four-year planned acquisition program, which will include the purchase of NEXTMap data for the entire continental United States at a price of US$10 million, pending availability of funding. This initial purchase is valued at US$826,514.
The states of California, Florida, and Mississippi are now complete. Data has also been acquired in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arizona, and Michigan.
NRCS will use the NEXTMap data in its GIS nationwide. Most business conducted by NRCS is on the land and better digital elevation data, combined with digital orthoimagery, will provide NRCS resource conservationists and soil scientists a realistic 3D view of the landscape. Initially, the data will be used to improve the vertical and horizontal accuracy of digital orthoimagery produced under FSA's National Agriculture Imagery Program and to more fully automate NRCS soil survey mapping without the need for hard copy stereo photos. NRCS manages natural resource conservation programs and provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners based on sound science suited to a customer's specific needs.
In conjunction with The Sanborn Mapping Company, Intermap has also received a contract totaling approximately US$340,000 to map eight of the Hawaiian Islands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The islands to be mapped include Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Hawaii, Molokai, Nihau, Lania, and Kahoolawe, with all data to be collected by May 2006. In addition to providing terrain data and radar imagery to NOAA, the data will also be licensed to all state and local agencies within the state of Hawaii.
Pictometry International Corp., a provider of digital, aerial oblique imagery, and measuring software, has signed an agreement with Blom ASA (Norway) that will license the company's technology to Blom for ten years with the option to renew. The agreement grants Blom the right to use Pictometry's imaging technology to digitally photograph 13 countries in Europe. Pictometry will help Blom to establish a separate corporate structure under Blom with the name Pictometry Europe. This entity will create appropriate sales distribution channels for the aerial imaging technology.
GeoDecisions will team with DPRA Incorporated on select projects regarding asset allocation, real-time tracking, and geographic displays for corporate and government solutions. Both companies have been serving the public and private sectors, including the U.S. Department of Defense and its coalition countries, by providing secure systems. These include systems for asset and movement planning, analysis and reporting, real-time tracking, and geographic displays through the Internet, local area networks, or government classified networks.
Image Matters LLC, a geospatial information technology company, and Broadstrokes Inc., an XML Web service for data plus voice communication, have signed a joint marketing agreement. Image Matters will contribute its alertSmarts technology, which provides state-of-the-art geographic-based emergency notification, and Broadstrokes will contribute its VSP Web service, which uses XML data transformations to manage voice, data, session, and event integration. Together these technologies will provide an interoperable geographic-based notification software application that provides users with geospatial tools to automatically generate, dispatch, and monitor customized notification messages and call lists for user-designated geographic zones.
Sprint has launched TeleNav GPS Navigator on its nationwide PCS network, making it the first GPS Java-enabled handset offering available on both the Nextel and Sprint PCS networks. The service offers the ability to receive destination location details and directions at the touch of a button or verbal command prompt. TeleNav GPS Navigator is similar to in-car GPS navigation systems and provides audible turn-by-turn directions, displays maps, and provides graphical cues to help drivers get to their desired locations. This application is portable and updates to road information are automatic. The service is available on Sprint's Sanyo 5600, 7400, and LG 535 mobile handsets as well as all GPS and Java-enabled handsets currently in the Nextel portfolio, including the new BlackBerry 7520.
To use TeleNav GPS navigator, a customer specifies a destination via an interactive voice response system or by keying in the address. The system then calculates a route and provides real-time, audible and graphical turn-by-turn directions over the mobile device. For trip planning, users can also enter multiple destination addresses using the TeleNav website. The TeleNav GPS Navigator service also includes a Business Finder that can help users find nearby banks, restaurants, hotels, or other businesses, and get driving directions with the touch of a button.
With the support of the Canadian Space Agency's Earth Observation Application Development Program (EOADP), MDA's Geospatial Services is undertaking a two year project to develop and commercialize an integrated pipeline hazard monitoring service. The service will provide pipeline operators and engineers with up-to-date information describing potential risks to pipeline integrity, and consequently operator safety, due to ground motion, landslides, and encroachment. The demonstration project conducted in partnership with Threetek Ltd of Brazil will focus on the pipeline operations of two potential end-users Transpetro/Petrobras, Brazil and GeoEngineers, USA.
Pipeline hazards ensuing from small-scale movements at the Earth's surface will be mapped using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) data from Canada's RADARSAT-1 satellite. InSAR provides a means of mapping vertical movement of the Earth on a scale of millimetres. This information will be integrated with existing ground-based surveillance information to provide a comprehensive assessment of pipeline risks.
ESRI has releases the 2005 edition of its Community Coder 9.1 geocoder. This customer profiling and data appending software assigns detailed information and location data to customer records, either individually or in batch mode. Companies, agencies, and organizations can use Community Coder to develop an accurate picture of current customers and prospects. The 9.1 version is the first release of this product to integrate with ArcGIS.
New features and functionalities in Community Coder 9.1 include: ESRI�s 2005/2010 demographic updates and forecasts; street geocoding data from Group 1 (vintage March 2005) with an optional upgrade to Tele Atlas street geocoding data (vintage March 2005); ability to access Community Coder project files through ModelBuilder in ArcGIS 9.1 Business Analyst; ability to output standardized addresses; new input file options including shapefile and personal geodatabase; and new output file types including XML.
ESRI has presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. David J. Cowen of the University of South Carolina (USC). Dr. Cowen is the ninth recipient of this award. "Dr. Cowen exemplifies for me a GIS professional," said Jack Dangermond, ESRI president. "He is a professor who has brought into the field a whole class of GIS professionals. It isn't just his distinguished writings that makes him so special; it's all about the way that he teaches people."
Dr. Cowen is chairman of the department of geography, codirector of the NASA Affiliated Research Center, and Carolina distinguished professor of geography at USC. For the last six years he has chaired the national research council's mapping science committee. In 1976, Dr. Cowen and USC became ESRI customer number 7 and the first university to use ESRI software. He established one of first academic programs in GIS and has directed 45 Master's students and nine Ph.D. students.
Dr. Cowen has held several important positions, including serving as president of the Cartographic and Geographic Information Society, as the U.S. delegate to the International Geographical Union Commission on geographic information systems technology, and as chair of the Association of American Geographers' GIS Specialty Group. He has written more than 70 research papers and book chapters and participated in funded research projects valued at more than $7 million.
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Cowen thanked his students, whose enthusiasm has motivated him since the beginning of his career. "I hope the students I have taught will continue to make a difference," said Cowen. He also noted that his goal has always been to find innovative ways to solve the world's problems and to nurture the utilization of GIS across all levels of government and the private sector.
The 2005 ESRI Health GIS Conference to be held October 23-26 in Chicago, Illinois, will provide an opportunity for professionals from around the world to discuss the role that GIS technology plays in health and human services. Conference highlights will include a special keynote address, networking luncheon, disaster response panel, map gallery, and academic health program.
This year's event - titled Advancing Health and Human Services with Spatial Information brings together speakers from public health practice, health care delivery and financing, academic health sciences, and health-related businesses to examine how GIS technology is being used to improve health and the way it is delivered, financed, and evaluated.
One of the world's most noted cultural geographers, Melinda S. Meade, Ph.D., will provide the keynote address: Cultural Ecology of Disease and Urbanizing Earth. Dr. Meade is a professor of geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her work has inspired three generations of thinking on the relationships between and among nature, humans, and the environment. Tom Koch, Ph.D., author of ESRI Press's Cartographies of Disease, is giving a luncheon address titled Medical Mapping: Then and Now.
In response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, part of the Conference Plenary will include a panel titled Getting Health Prepared: Are We Getting There? The panel will discuss the state of readiness for disaster response professionals and organizations, including preparedness in relation to the recent Hurricane Katrina disaster. Discussions will include how preparedness may change after Hurricane Katrina.
Additional panel discussions will be included on the following topics: GIS in Health Advocacy, Getting Health Organizations GIS Ready, and The Goodness of Spatial Statistics Tools. Other special features include a health Map and Poster Gallery; an Academic Health Program Fair at which attendees can talk to representatives from colleges and universities offering specialized training in GIS; a GIS Solutions EXPO that will showcase ESRI business partner solutions; and a technical demo theater and doctor's office. Exhibitor sponsorships are also available.
Total E&P; Nederland B.V., an oil exploration and product company, has won a 2005 BE Award for its Geospatial Index to E&P; Documents project in the Netherlands. The award category was "Geospatial: Managed Environment." The BE Awards of Excellence, which are selected by an independent jury of industry experts and presented at an evening ceremony during the annual BE Conference, honor the work of Bentley users improving the world's infrastructure.
The goal of Total E&P;'s project was to make all of its geoscience study files automatically searchable by spatial location. It accomplished this using Bentley ProjectWise Geospatial Management, which handles the geoscience division's ESRI ArcGIS MXD files and MicroStation drawings.
The files and documents contain the results of geological studies done to locate new oil and gas reservoirs, plan the development of new wells, and optimize the production of existing oil and gas fields. Past studies can help with new projects, but finding those that are relevant wasn't always easy. Before implementing ProjectWise, this could only be accomplished through manual searches among tens of thousands of documents and more than 20,000 graphics files stored in the technical archives and drawing offices. The searches were extremely time-consuming, and there were no guarantees that every relevant study would be found. Now geoscientists can quickly conduct a search using an intuitive Web application in Internet Explorer. No additional client software is required.
Geo-3D Inc. is celebrating its 10th year in business developing and commercializing geographic information technologies. The company commenced operations in 1995 by offering services in the field of physical geography. It started developing its Cyclop-3D aerial survey solution in 1997, adapting it to land applications in 2000. "Initially derived from the Cyclop-3D aerial system, the Trident-3D mobile mapping solution is now capable of positioning assets down to a 30 cm accuracy level, the latest camera in use enabling the capture of 17 Mpixel imagery. Within 10 years, the image resolution has literally increased by a factor of 100, the positioning accuracy of the system by a factor of 300!" says Claude Laflamme, the company's R&D; manager. Trident-3D and Cyclop-3D software suites are used in North America and Europe.
URISA's GISCorps was recently asked to get involved in a project to improve communication between short and long-term medical missionaries working in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Guatemala. Its results will benefit underserved patients in these countries. Medical Mission Exchange (MMEX) is a non-profit organization that seeks to facilitate referrals of underserved patients to appropriate medical specialists in developing countries. This NGO does not have GIS capacities and is looking to create some geo-databases for each of these countries. They already have some of the required data, such as hospital capacities, in tabular format, but the spatial data need to be harvested from the Web or other sources.
MMEX missionaries communicate via a searchable, interactive website. Dr. Paul W. Gerke "would very much like to put a GIS map for each of these countries on [the organization's] website with locations of clinics and hospitals that serve the poor. I am having difficulty finding good spatial data for these countries."
Juna Papajorgji, Co-chair of URISA's GISCorps evaluated the project. "What they need is some research time to find the right data," she said. "It could be municipal boundaries, lakes, rivers, cities, and other natural or man-made landmarks, including schools, hospitals, and others. This data will serve to create the maps that will be put on the Web."
GISCorps determined that this project could be accomplished remotely and identified five volunteers, who will each likely devote 40-50 hours to attain the results: Claire Brown, the GIS manager for KHAFRA Engineering Co.; Danielle Ayan, a research scientist at Georgia Tech Center; Lucia Lovison-Golob, a teaching associate at Harvard University; Alfred de Jager, a GIS expert for the European Commission; and Stephen Balogh, a graduate student at the University of Redlands, California.
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