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This week I spoke to an account manager for Intergraph about his company's response to Hurricane Katrina and with five leaders of URISA about the organization's annual conference, which took place last week. I also bring you two news items about maps, a letter from a reader, and a request for your input. Plus, my usual round-up of news from press releases.
Hurricane Katrina: Geospatial Responses
This week I spoke with Scott Bridges, of Intergraph's Security, Government, & Infrastructure (SG&I;) Division about his involvement with Intergraph's response to Hurricane Katrina. "I am an alumnus of Louisiana State University (LSU)," he told me, "and had known Farrell [Jones, the Associate Director of the LSU CADGIS Research Laboratory and worked with the lab and then with Intergraph. I am Intergraph's account manager for the south-central United States, so LSU fell under my purview. Immediately before and after the storm I told Farrell: 'Look, if there is anything we can do, please let us know.'"
What assistance did you provide? "We helped them white-board out a solution and implement it with TerraShare and GeoMediaWebMap. They already had access to a lot of our technology. We gave them TerraShare and assisted them in building a raster database, then we worked with them to implement a solution on top of that. We worked with their staff on almost a daily basis for about four weeks after the storm, answering questions and providing technical support."
What helped the most? "Providing them an enabling technology to quickly ingest and vet a large amount of data and import it into a warehouse that made it easily accessible to the various groups that LSU was supporting. We helped them build a tool particularly for raster data, but also for vector data. Additionally, we developed a Web application for them that allowed an end user to pick a particular layer of raster data, zoom into an area, then use an extract and download command and pick a coordinate system and a file format."
In short, you were helping them help others? "That's correct."
How soon after the storm did you start? "We had people on staff that we dispatched by Monday after the storm. I live in Baton Rouge and I had a couple of guys staying with me."
What were some of the lessons you learned? "The biggest overall lesson was that in disaster response the real bottleneck is the massive amounts of imagery data that come in from vendors and the government terabytes of data. It is both a blessing and a curse. You need to have the workflows, processes, and staff in place to handle it. There are also many questions that you have to ask about the data: What is the resolution? What is the quality? Are the images black & white, true color, or color infrared? Do they cover the right area and time? You can get overwhelmed with data and processing is a time-consuming process. That's where TerraShare helped tremendously. This experience [with Hurricane Katrina] helped us better understand our customers' plight and it validated some of the technology and showed us how to implement it in a mission-critical environment. The good thing about those situations is that you have to make decisions pretty quickly, in a rapidly evolving environment. If a solution does not work, you move on to a different one. You are just going ahead and putting some things to the test right away."
What is at the top of emergency responders' technology wish list? "I would say, mobile technology and mobile resource management. Talking to our customer base, the roles are kind of converging between mobile resource management and local community first responders. Massive amounts of data are being thrown at a governmental organization at a time of crisis. You need to have the tools and the trained personnel to take it all in, process it, and disseminate it to first responders in a helpful way."
What are you looking forward to next? "What's going to be exciting will be to work with state and local officials to develop these systems. Managers want mobile resources to push valuable data to the folks out in the field."
Last week the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) held its 43rd Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. The conference was attended by about 475 people from all levels of government and the private sector including consultants, vendors, and professors. Numerous attendees came from overseas and from the Caribbean, especially Jamaica and Barbados. International participation also included Canadian members and representatives from the Australian Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI). Key topics at the conference included the activities of the organization's GISCorps, making GIS an integral component of emergency response operations, building support for GIS at all levels of government, and professional development. The conference included Summit II: National NSDI Vision Local Implementation, a meeting of representatives of U.S. federal agencies and state and local governments to discuss how local and state governments can more effectively contribute geographic data to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), and how federal agencies can more effectively provide resource assistance to do so. The summit was jointly organized by URISA, the National Association of Counties (NACo), the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).
This week I discussed the conference with five URISA leaders: Dianne M. Haley, immediate past president and GIS Program Coordinator for the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Cindy Domenico, President and Boulder County Assessor, in Boulder, Colorado; Susan Johnson, a past board member, the co-facilitator of the summit, and Key Business Executive for the City of Charlotte, North Carolina; Bruce Joffe, a former board member, the other co-facilitator of the summit, and a GIS consultant; and Ed Wells, President-elect and the GIS Transportation/Operations Liaison for the District of Columbia Office of the CTO.
These five leaders were unanimous in describing the conference as well-attended, high-quality, and exciting. They attributed that excitement largely to three factors. The first factor was the URISA GISCorps' tremendous growth during the past year ("from an idea," as Wells put it) and its recent accomplishments especially in Indonesia, following last December's tsunami, and in Mississippi, following Hurricane Katrina. The second factor was the spirit of collaboration with other organizations and between levels of government, evident in the summit and throughout the conference. According to Joffe, "The spirit of cooperation was very high and palpable. Its not like other conferences. There's a camaraderie that is extraordinary and that is the main purpose of the meeting. It is not about promoting software." The third factor was the increasingly clear sense of identity that the profession and the industry are developing. "The field has matured tremendously over the past several years," Wells told me, "and we now bring a well-defined set of skills and technological capabilities to any IT team and to a broad range of disciplines. This provides a solid foundation for the collaboration and civic contribution we can offer."
Domenico said to me: "It was one of the most dynamic conferences I have ever attended. I found it to be inspiring. The topics were extremely timely. The GISCorps contribution was tremendous and added so much energy through the whole week. There were a lot of great ideas coming out of every part of the conference about what we can do in the future to connect the spatial sciences to everything we do. I keep seeing the organization at the intersection of technology, passion, people, and policy. Where those four circles intersect, that's where URISA people are. We thoroughly believe that we can change the world for the better."
According to Wells, who has been attending these conferences for 20 years, "What's always impressive is the networking that goes on from all across our profession." What keeps the conference so vibrant, he told me, is that it gives GIS professionals "a chance to be with their peers. What's different this year, and will continue in future years, is the sense of GIS and geospatial technology as being more and more embedded in all aspects of how we do things and how we govern. Whenever there's a challenge or something of importance and we put out a call for volunteers, there is always someone who responds: for the GISCorps, for the federal-local summit, for workshops. There is a lot of energy in our organization."
Conference attendees heard much about GISCorps' remarkable year of activity and growth. Its online database of potential volunteers has grown from 70 to over 900. GISCorps provided volunteers for nine projects, assisting agencies in Indonesia, India, Afghanistan, Central America, and, after Hurricane Katrina, in Mississippi and Louisiana. Some volunteers worked on-site while others worked remotely, from their worksites. GISCorps has worked in partnership with four agencies and several projects are in the pipeline for next year.
"Having become so central," Wells told me, speaking of the GISCorps, "we now have a chance to give back. A sense of civic contribution brought a wonderful tone to the conference: people need us and we can make a difference." He added that "Everyone was very interested in knowing exactly what was needed and how to be prepared next time." Johnson told me that her city dispatched two GIS professionals to the Gulf to assist with hurricane relief activities.
According to Johnson, a major transformation is taking place as to how GIS experts relate to emergency responders. "We have for years very closely related with emergency operations centers (EOCs) in individual cities," she told me. "What was startling to us and to the two people we dispatched to Mississippi, was how hungry the FEMA, state, and local people were for GIS-type of information." As an example she cited the fact that in many areas churches are "a really critical part of the response" yet neither FEMA nor states traditionally map them. At the conference, Johnson told me, "we were finally hearing GIS people saying that perhaps they should attend seminars with local emergency responders" and figure out "how we can help them use GIS effectively." As a consequence of "the confluence of the recent emergencies and the experience of the GISCorps volunteers" many of whom were present at the conference "you saw this collective light bulb go off: people who have always understood the importance of GIS in an emergency now understand how to insert themselves into the emergency response process. They now say 'I will learn your rules of response and language and I will take my business and translate it, so that you can learn to use these tools.' You have to transform yourself to look like the emergency responder."
Emergency response, Johnson explained to me, is planned in detail and a very structured, role- and protocol-driven operation, "like the Battle of Normandy." All procedures are meticulously documented in writing. "The problem with GIS," she told me, "is that it is almost never written into those response plans." Now that the fieldwork of the GISCorps has yielded important lessons and focused national attention on the importance of GIS, URISA is drafting standard language that can be inserted into emergency operations plans. "I think it is going to bear incredible fruit if we stay true to the course," says Johnson.
Wells explained to me that the summit began three years ago, in response to the threats that materialized after 9/11. Federal agencies, he told me, were making a lot of uncoordinated requests to state and local governments. "This year we spent half a day discussing the National Map and we had some strong foundations for success to talk about. By no means is everything resolved, but different levels of government are now able to use this data." Many federal government employees, he added, "went out of their way to travel to the conference" so that they could attend the summit. They included representatives of, inter al., FGDC, the Census Bureau, the US Geological Survey (USGS), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Johnson described the summit as a federal-state-local collaborative process, "where we come together and discuss initiatives to build a stronger National Map that is useful for all levels of government." This year, representatives of the FGDC talked about their initiatives; representatives of North Carolina spoke of NCOneMap, a state version of the National Map; and representatives of the Bay Area Regional GIS Council (BAR-GC) described the collaboration between the federal Department of Homeland Security and Bay Area local governments to provide critical emergency response data in a warehouse that is mirrored in nine different servers. In addition to the organizations sponsoring the summit, other partners in the NSDI effort include the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA).
One of the key issues discussed was how to make it easier for local governments to agree on common standards to collaborate better to strengthen the National Map. In other words, how to get all three levels of government "to play better with each other," as Johnson put it.
According to Joffe, one key reason that participants were "very interested in working together to complete the NSDI" is so that they would be able to work together during an emergency when you need "current and accessible geographic data for the affected region." The need for the National Map, he told me, was underlined by the recent hurricanes and by the work of the GISCorps volunteers: "Their story was very impressive to all of us and really ignited a tremendous energy to work cooperatively to complete the NSDI." What, then, is holding it up? "The biggest obstruction is the lack of resources. The U.S. highway system was not developed by volunteers. The usual federal agencies that are involved in mapping and that support geographic data (especially the USGS, the FGDC, and the Census) don't have much money and are looking for cooperative efforts. Up to now local governments have not seen the NSDI as relevant. Incentive funding would make a big difference in capturing their attention and encouraging them to share their data. The source of the funding would have to be the departments that have money: Homeland Security and Defense. We invited DHS to the conference but they were diverted by the hurricanes. Dan Vernon, of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) was helpful and informative. The NGA funded BAR-GC. This would be a wonderful model to replicate around the country. But NGA says it only has money for pilot projects."
So, what's next? "During the summit," Joffe told me, "we broke into four workgroups to look at what new recommendations we can make in light of progress toward building the NSDI. URISA will coordinate with the four groups, through on-line discussion forums (at www.URISA.org), to come up with a recommended action plan." For Domenico, the fact that representatives of several national organizations spent time "talking to one another in a setting like the URISA conference" means that "great things are going to continue to happen." As an example of the fruits of this type of collaboration, she cited the address data content standard, which a URISA team, including Martha Lombard, Hillary Perkins and Ed Wells, has been spearheading since April with a collaborative approach. The standard is nearly ready and is out for public comment. The next version will be available for review and comment starting on November 1.
Professional development, according to Haley, includes "providing opportunities for our members and conference attendees to develop the 'softer skills' needed to promote the technologies that are part of our profession within our organizations and communities."
"The development of the geospatial field into a defined profession and industry," Wells told me, "has brought with it defined positions and career paths. At a well-attended visioning session on professional development at the conference, participants articulated the need for mentoring, outreach, and an integrated management development curriculum to complement the technical training now available from universities and vendors."
Every year, on the Sunday preceding the conference, Johnson, who has been attending for fifteen years, teaches a workshop on how to get GIS programs funded, how to manage them, and how to build a constituency and political support for them. The ability to convey clearly, succinctly, and convincingly to upper management the benefits of GIS, Domenico told me, increases both the probability of funding and that of promotion to a position of greater responsibility for GIS management. "You need to condense your presentation to capture the decision-maker's attention for 60-90 seconds," she says. Wells summarized professional development from a different perspective: many GIS technicians, he told me, want to become GIS managers and many GIS managers want to master the technology.
What was different this year?
According to Joffe, in years past the emphasis at the URISA conference was on the technology; later it shifted to applications, then to integrating GIS into enterprise solutions. This year, he told me, what was discussed the most were the benefits of GIS especially in disaster situations. "There is great excitement," he told me. "Most of us feel that few people outside of our professional circle have been aware of GIS. But the recent disasters have really put our profession and interests into the public awareness. A lot of people got into this profession and got interested in this technology because they care about improving the world and a lot of times the kind of work we do takes years before it comes on line and the benefits, while significant, are delayed gratification. Now, instead, people immediately saw the benefits of GIS in helping with disaster recovery. That's very gratifying."
An orientation session for new attendees was added to the conference program this year. The session was designed to help these individuals navigate the program, highlight events and sessions that should not be missed, and provide hints for networking opportunities. According to Haley, the session was well attended and well received and, "seemed to go over very well."
On the technology side, the emphasis continues to be on increasing mobility. Domenico moderated a session in which representatives from Baltimore, Maryland; Kansas City, Missouri; and King County, Washington discussed their varied initiatives to enable public works staff to access city infrastructure data through GIS technology from home and made the business case for their applications through allocation of costs and productivity increases. When I asked her what is on her wish list she told me that it is funding to purchase new mobile, hand-held field equipment. Pointing to a parallel development, Wells told me: "Web services are becoming central to enterprise GIS operations as a way to provide geospatial information to the public and to exchange it between internal applications within the enterprise."
I asked Domenico who, in her view, would have benefited most from attending the conference. "State and local CIOs who work in enterprise environments," she told me and added "I wish my own IT director had been able to participate."
According to Haley, URISA will completely restructure its website and enhance its member services, including a focus on younger professionals. Already, Haley told me, she noticed a few new and younger faces in some of the committee meetings. "That's encouraging," she said. At the conference, Wendy Francis, previously URISA's CEO/Director of Marketing, was recognized for her recent promotion to Executive Director of the organization.
Finally, according to Haley, "The social event at the American Jazz Museum and its Blue Room jazz club was one the best ever."
Letter to the Editor
Thank you for the interviews and discussion of how spatial technologies have been deployed post-Katrina. They made me wonder about the future.
Any of us can imagine nightmare terrorist scenarios much more severe than Katrina, with large and long-term implications for whole regions of the country. I imagine that, as I write this, there are people reviewing the local, state, federal, and private responses to Katrina and the technology deployed to support them. I imagine that they are detailing how these responses could be improved and what technology infrastructure changes could be made to support those improvements. In this way I suppose each disaster is a "laboratory" for the next one. I wonder if you'd be able to interview spatial technologists who could help us understand what is lacking, and where technology investments could help out The Next Time.
Marshfield, Vermont 05658
I plan to do so. Please, readers, send me your thoughts on this vital topic!
Whenever maps are the subject in the mass media, I take notice. Today I came across two prominent instances. First, the "Circuits" section of the New York Times devoted two thirds of its front page to an article titled "A Journey to a Thousand Maps Begins With an Open Code: Google and Others Welcome Web Mapmakers," by Damon Darlin. Then National Public Radio ran a story on the newly discovered "peace map" of the Middle East that T.E. Lawrence presented to the British cabinet in 1918.
Please note: I have culled the following news
items from press releases and have not independently verified
CONTRACTS & COLLABORATIONS
The City of Newport News, Virginia, has awarded to GeoDecisions a contract to conduct the next phase of a field data collection project that will help the city produce better, more up-to-date maps of its sanitary sewer systems. As part of the project, the company will locate and inspect approximately 3,000 manholes within 0.15-foot accuracy using GPS receivers. Additionally, it will use its G2 Survey software 3.0 an application developed specifically for field data collection to collect the features and attributes of the sewer system. Additionally, the system will provide users with a single database source that will eliminate duplicate data sets and shorten the time to search for information.
GeoDecisions also began work on a citywide mapping project that will catalogue storm water features for the Stoney Run Basin in Newport News. Information collected on the basin's features (such as catch basins, junction boxes, end sections, gravity mains, and pump stations) will be integrated into a geodatabase for easy access to water modeling and general mapping tasks
The Arizona Republic, a newspaper serving 1.27 million households in Arizona, is using ESRI's ArcGIS family of software to give advertisers the option to reach consumers on a "per-piece" basis. This allows advertisers to more accurately target consumers than by traditional means of marketing by ZIP Code, census block group, or carrier route.
Sales staff log on to a map-based application of the newspaper's coverage territory to view subscribers and non-subscribers and select from a pull-down list of demographics to help advertisers target customers more precisely. For example, if an advertiser is interested in customer income, they can choose that demographic variable and the value, such as household income between $50,000 and $74,999. More demographic variables can then be queried, for example to find only swimming pool owners in the income bracket they selected. Using GIS, advertisers are able to specifically market to the customers they would like by selecting particular households for inserts, instead of blanketing an entire carrier route, ZIP Code, or census block.
The Arizona Republic first turned to ESRI software in 2001 to fine-tune the process of targeting customers for its advertisers. Some advertisers wanted to target certain segments of the population or certain geographic areas. Some chain merchants wanted to create different versions of their ads depending on the targeted customer, advertising one set of items for sale at one store and a different set at another. The newspaper was able to offer its advertisers the ability to precisely target customers using ArcIMS, ESRI's solution for delivering dynamic maps and GIS data and services via the Web, along with ArcSDE, which is used for maintaining large datasets of customers, and ArcView for creating custom applications. Between 200 to 250 sales staff access the system across the Phoenix valley. Using GIS, the Arizona Republic has been able to increase both the number of advertisers and the revenue from their legacy advertisers
Wolf Survey and Mapping, a division of Destiny Resources Services Partnership in Western Canada, has ordered 30 GPS 1230 surveying systems from Leica Geosystems. This is the second large order for Leica Geosystems' GPS equipment from the Alberta-based seismic services company. In late 2004 Wolf took delivery of 65 GPS 1230 systems. Spatial Technologies, Leica Geosystems' business partner in Canada, was responsible for winning the order, configuring and delivering the products, and providing technical support and training.
Wolf Survey and Mapping is a major supplier of seismic front-end services to energy exploration and production companies in Canada. The company uses the Leica GPS instruments for a wide range of applications in support of seismic exploration and surveying applications, such as staking out seismic lines, setting survey control, and shothole drilling
Southeastern Reprographics, Inc (SRI) has reached an agreement with Partner Software that will allow SRI to offer damage assessment services to utilities that have been affected by hurricanes, utilizing the Partner software application. SRI's Damage Assessment program provides utilities a post-storm compliance and safety field inspection. The company is performing this service for Baldwin EMC in Alabama and Southern Pine Electric in Mississippi to ensure that each system has been restored to its pre-storm condition.
SRI has developed an approach that allows their experienced field technicians to visit each pole, pad-mounted transformer, and other point features on the distribution system in the most time-efficient manner. This involves a fully automated data collection technique using a customized toolset SRI developed utilizing Partner Software's 4.0 Map Viewer
The 2005 U.S. Open golf championship held in Pinehurst, North Carolina, used ESRI's Tracking Server to enable security field personnel to move throughout the event and monitor potential threats using georeferenced and temporal tracking methods. The successful deployment of the technology provided a proof of concept that may lead to future statewide homeland security initiatives. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) served as the lead law enforcement agency for this year's U.S. Open. SBI, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS;), wanted to use the U.S. Open to field-test remote-sensing devices that can detect chemical, radiological, and biological threats.
For application development, ESRI used Tracking Server to collect and send real-time data from many data sources and formats to Web and desktop clients. DigitalGlobe provided imagery data and Autonomechs provided the remote sensors. ESRI, NCDA&CS;, and Autonomechs worked together to fully integrate the GIS, GPS, and remote sensors. ArcGIS Desktop was used as the client GIS software, with ArcIMS and ArcSDE serving as the GIS server platform.
Northrop Grumman developed Tracking Server to enable the integration of real-time data and GIS. This integration helps users make better decisions and share information quickly, easily, and efficiently. Tracking Server is an enterprise-level technology that is integrated with other server and services products
ISTAR, a European digital cartography company, has delivered its mobile production suite, called the Mobile Pixel Factory, to PASCO's GIS Institute, located in Tokyo, Japan. This shipment marks the first sale of this stand-alone complete system, since its introduction a few weeks ago. Mobile Pixel Factory is a mobile solution that processes vast volumes of raw Earth observation data from multiple sensors and rapidly produces a wide range of cartographic end products. To drive the unit, the operator requires only a laptop computer connected to it via a conventional LAN or wireless interface.
The computers are configured so that users can accomplish fundamental image processing tasks such as Digital Elevation Model (DEM) production, rectification and mosaicking (including TrueOrtho) almost automatically. The unit comes with software that makes it possible to input data from a majority of both traditional analogue cameras and common large format and multi-line digital aerial ones. It can also import data from most of the current crop of high-resolution satellites -such as SPOT 1-4, SPOT 5, Ikonos, and Quickbird - which can be handled during the same production workflow
Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), the second largest locally owned utility in Florida, has chosen to implement ArcFM Viewer as a mobile application for both their water and electric departments. Home to Sea World, Universal Studios, and Walt Disney World, this quickly growing area serves more than 190,000 electric customers and 130,000 water customers in the City of Orlando and portions of Orange and Osceola counties. ArcFM is made by Miner & Miner, a Telvent company.
In 2001 OUC moved from a collection of disparate systems to ArcFM, which runs on ArcGIS Engine, as the initial part of their overall vision for an enterprise, single architecture system. Currently, users in the electric and water departments access data from different applications, which creates inefficiencies for dispatchers and workers in the field. Implementing ArcFM Viewer for both desktop and mobile users will eliminate complications from running separate systems. The electric department will also use ArcFM Viewer and leverage the electric network tracing tools. OUC will begin a staged rollout of ArcFM Viewer in November and will be in full production by March 2006
ESRI and Soluziona, a technology and professional services company, have agreed to integrate their respective software solutions to better serve the electric utility market. They will work together to integrate ESRI's ArcGIS technology with Soluziona's Open Utilities solution suite and, through joint sales and marketing efforts, introduce these solutions to both the United States and international markets. This will provide utility companies with better enterprise asset management capability, from network planning and design to operations and service restoration
Tracking technology from CSI Wireless Inc. is helping people closely monitor the progress of five relay teams of cyclists as they ride around the clock from Alberta, Canada to Texas to raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and its battle against cancer. The relay teams left on October 12 on a grueling 2,400-mile ride known as the Calgary-to-Austin Peloton Project (CTAPP). Supporters of CTAPP and of cycling superstar Lance Armstrong's Austin-based foundation are tracking the cyclists' progress on the CTAPP website.
A support vehicle accompanying the cyclists is equipped with an Asset-Link fleet-tracking unit from CSI Wireless. The unit features a GPS receiver that calculates the cyclists' current location and a radio that transmits the location data back to CSI's Calgary headquarters, where it is posted in map format on the CTAPP website. The maps are updated every 10 minutes, day and night. Asset-Link products are normally used to remotely monitor and manage the mobile assets of trucking, car rental, and other fleet companies. CSI Wireless also offers the Fleet-Link product line including a solar-powered version specifically for tracking truck trailers
Intermap Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Intermap Technologies Corp., has signed a basic ordering agreement with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to buy Intermap's terrain elevation data products. This agreement is valid for one year, with two additional one-year periods that may be exercised by Baker. The agreement provides Baker and its clients with the ability to acquire data covering areas as small as 100 square miles and as large as entire states, with commensurate reductions in unit rate
The State of Rhode Island has become the second state to license imagery and software from Pictometry International Corp., a provider of digital, aerial oblique imagery, and measuring software. Rhode Island is also the first state in the country to use its technology in a 9-1-1 application and to plan for ultimate statewide 9-1-1 usage of the system. The state's E9-1-1 Uniform Emergency Telephone System is utilizing the imagery and software as part of a pilot program that is being tested in four major cities of the state: Cranston, Newport, Providence, and Warwick. Funding for the pilot program was provided through a homeland security grant.
Pictometry imagery and software enables Rhode Island's 9-1-1 telecommunicators and local first responders to access up to 12 different high-resolution views of any property, building, highway, or other feature in the testing areas. The software also provides users with the ability to obtain measurements such as distance, height, elevation, and area directly from the oblique imagery as well as insert GIS content and other data. The system has received wide support from numerous public officials in the state
Trimble and Connected Innovation LLC have worked together to develop Trimble Navigator Sample Application software that provides mobile workers with in-field access to the real-time maps and driving directions capabilities of the Microsoft MapPoint Web Service. The software will be offered with Trimble's handheld GPS devices that run Microsoft Windows Mobile software for Pocket PCs.
Purchased separately, the Microsoft MapPoint Web Service is a programmable Web service hosted by Microsoft that provides customers and partners with a familiar development platform for more easily creating mapping and location-aware applications and services to help them visualize business processes and data.
The Trimble Navigator Sample Application software uses the wireless LAN and GPS capabilities of the recently introduced GeoExplorer 2005 series handhelds and Trimble Recon GPS systems, and also demonstrates the connectivity to back-office services such as MapPoint Web Service. This functionality demonstrates how well Trimble products are suited for mobile enterprise applications.
Organizations that can benefit from this service include those whose personnel navigate to multiple customer locations, facilities, or job sites in a vehicle during a typical day and those whose plans often change throughout the day. Specific examples include data collection and field service personnel in the utilities and telecommunications industries.
The Trimble Navigator Sample Application software, which ships with a 45 day trial of the Microsoft MapPoint Web service, is available through Trimble's Mapping and GIS dealer and business partner network in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Australia and most of Western Europe
ESRI, together with business partner GCS Research, recently took part in Operation Last Chance One, a statewide disaster preparedness exercise in the state of Montana. Led by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) in collaboration with Montana Disaster and Emergency Services (DES), this operation was the first exercise of its magnitude in Montana. It included participation from 59 of 63 county and tribal health departments as well as 26 hospitals and clinics. The two-part exercise simulated the spread of pneumonic plague as high school campers returned to their homes as well as a chemical release from a hypothetical airplane crash at Helena Regional Airport.
A crucial element of Operation Last Chance One was to test the ability of local, state, and federal health officials to share information and resources during a disaster response. Another goal was to test the ability of public health agencies to diagnose disease and investigate and control its spread.
ESRI and GCS Research volunteered their services in support of the DPHHS Emergency Operations Center planning team operating under the incident commander. ESRI ArcGIS Desktop software and ArcWeb Services were used to provide real-time mapping of simulated disaster events and assessment of the potential geographic spread of disease over time. The DPHHS GIS team also exchanged information in real time with the DES GIS team to ensure that a common operational picture was established and shared by the participating agencies for disease surveillance, communication, and decision-making
Intergraph Corporation has gone live with its outage management system, InService, at Lansing, Michigan, Board of Water and Light. The new system allows the utility to more effectively predict, manage and respond to outages and critical system events. The solution, which interfaces with a Smallworld GE Networks GIS, speeds restoration time during power outages, manages day-to-day network operations, and analyzes operating data to help predict and correct probable distribution network failures. Intergraph partnered with VELOCITIE Integration to integrate InService with the utility's existing GIS, providing seamless access to the company's geospatial information.
The outage management system has a direct interface to the utility's existing high volume call answering system (HVCA). The HVCA, provided by Twenty First Century Communications, Inc., supplies real-time power outage caller information directly to the outage management system. Outage restoration times are sent back to the HVCA, allowing customers to access estimated times for power restoration.
Visual Learning Systems, Inc. (VLS), a developer of automated feature extraction (AFE) technology, has released Feature Analyst 4.0 for SOCET SET. Earlier this year the National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency (NGA) selected Feature Analyst for early technology insertion into its production environment. The NGA intends to deploy the product across its Integrated Exploitation Capability (IEC) workstations. VLS will be showcasing the Feature Analyst and LIDAR Analyst software at the GEOINT 2005 conference in San Antonio later this month
East View Cartographic (EVC) has released a custom map collection intended to support the international community's efforts to control the spread of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus. The bird flu map collection is available in paper and digital versions in a variety of the most commonly used scales. The authoritative package includes coverage of Southeast Asian countries most directly affected, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Other worldwide and regional collections including Eastern Europe, Russia, and China are also available. Reliable geospatial reference information in the form of maps and GIS data is considered an essential tool in support of cooperative efforts to control the spread of the disease. EVC's bird flu map collection is derived from definitive sources, including national mapping agencies, and can be acquired for immediate use among multiple agencies cooperating in the effort to monitor, control, and disseminate information about the spread of the disease
On Monday, October 24, MetaCarta will introduce a new version of its geographic intelligence solution that incorporates next-generation machine learning technology for improved accuracy and performance - such as speed and precision of placename identification, location accuracy, and confidence. This new architecture also includes a connector framework a plug-and-play framework for integrating MetaCarta's map-based search system into enterprise document repositories. The connector framework makes it easy to quickly geo-reference documents from third-party document management systems so that they can be easily searched and mapped by MetaCarta's solutions.
The first integration of this kind, for EMC Corporation, will be announced the same day, bringing geographic-based intelligence to EMC's Enterprise Content Management Solutions. Under the agreement, MetaCarta's Geographic Text Search (GTS) system will be integrated with EMC's Documentum solution to provide geo-intelligence - the fusion of text, data, and maps by bridging the gap between unstructured content and geography
Leica Geosystems, the company that pioneered in the development of the first handheld laser distance meters in 1993, has introduced its sixth-generation DISTO handheld laser distance measuring devices to the North American market. They are available in two different models A5 for advanced professional applications and A3 for basic distance measuring.
The DISTO A5 features an integrated telescopic optical viewfinder with crosshairs for aiming and a flip-out end piece for reliable measurement from edges of areas or corners. The system automatically adjusts its measurements to the appropriate reference. Functions include room calculations of circumference, wall area, and ceiling/floor areas, and indirect measurements of height and width for inaccessible places. The A5 provides average accuracy of +- 0.08 inches at distances ranging from 0.16 up to 650 feet.
The small, slender DISTO A3 provides a basic measuring tool that can easily be carried in a shirt or pants pocket. The unit offers average accuracy of +- 0.08 inches at distances from 0.16 up to 325 feet. An integrated spirit level assists in horizontal alignment for measuring. It can produce up to 5,000 measurements on one set of two AAA batteries. Leica Geosystems also continues to offer its DISTO plus product, which offers Bluetooth wireless transfer of data to optimize workflow on the job
Leica Geosystems has released a new version of its GeoMoS monitoring software, a measurement and analysis software for deformation monitoring in applications such as mining, land slides, dams, bridges, buildings, tunnels, and engineering structures. GeoMoS 1.6 offers new features that make it more configurable and customizable and adds sophisticated computation and sensor management options to ensure the highest possible accuracy.
A direct interface to Leica GPS Spider gives access to advanced GPS processing features. A redesign of the user interface has added real time analysis capabilities and improved status information for multi-sensor monitoring. Combined with Leica Geosystems' TPS, GPS, and inclination sensors, and third party geotechnical sensors, GeoMoS provides a comprehensive monitoring system for even the most demanding applications.
CONFERENCES & MEETINGS
Bentley Systems, Incorporated will hold its BE Conference Europe 2006, June 11-15 at the Hilton hotel in Prague, Czech Republic. This conference for users and their managers in the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) community is modeled after the BE Conference held annually in the United States. The decision to hold two BE Conferences next year was based on high interest from users in Europe and the Middle East for an annual major training event in their geography.
BE Conference 2005 drew more than 2000 attendees from 644 organizations and 43 countries to the Baltimore Convention Center, exceeding last year's attendance figures by more than 20 percent. BE Conference Europe 2006 will provide attendees with four days of the same learning and networking opportunities, as well as an exhibit area featuring some of the latest AEC software and hardware products for the building, plant, civil, and geospatial markets.
The conference is expected to draw attendees from AE firms, architecture firms, design-build firms, engineering consultants, facility owner-operators, transportation ministries, rail companies, site engineering firms, communications and utilities firms, governments and cadastres, defense contractors, public works departments, plant engineering, procurement and construction contractors (EPCs), and plant owner-operators. These professionals will include users of MicroStation, ProjectWise, and AutoPLANT, as well as ESRI, Land Desktop, and PDS users
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), and the Integrated Program Office (IPO) will sponsor the ninth Hierarchical Data Format (HDF) Users Workshop this year on 30 November-2 December, at the Hilton hotel in San Francisco, California. The time and location were chosen to be convenient for Western participants and for those attending the AGU Fall Meeting. Detailed meeting and registration information, including the planned presentations, can be found here. The first day is intended to provide both introductory and advanced tutorials by NCSA for HDF developers and users. The second and third days will be devoted to user, developer, and program status presentations. Topics include current technical and programmatic developments in HDF; Earth science and related programs using HDF; HDF tools and applications; and other user perspectives and issues
R.A. Smith & Associates, Inc. civil engineering, surveying and technical services consultants of Appleton, Wisconsin, will hold a discussion forum for GIS users in central Wisconsin on Friday, October 28, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., at the town of Menasha, 2000 Municipal Drive, Neenah. The speaker will be George Dearborn Jr., director of community development, speaking on "GIS within the Town of Menasha." The group is open to anyone with an interest in GIS (regardless of background or user platform). R.A. Smith holds bi-monthly user forums out of its Appleton and Brookfield offices.
Deloitte & Touche has named MapFrame Corporation the 19th fastest growing technology company in Texas. MapFrame develops mobile mapping and field automation software for gas, electric and water utilities, telecommunications and cable organizations. The company attributes continued growth to its FieldSmart technology, which focuses on speed and ease-of-use in the field. MapFrame's Enterprising Solutions integrate and extend the power of back-office systems such as CIS and work management, along with the entire GIS, into the field and throughout the enterprise. The company was also ranked the 11th fastest growing technology company in Dallas-Ft Worth area by the Metroplex Technology Business Council.
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