GIS MONITOR, Nov 9, 2000

-Two Shopping Dot Coms Go Down
-Open GIS Consortium Announces Wireless Location Services Initiative
-ANVIL “Showcases” Explain Location Services
-Security Concerns Over Geographic Tracking
-Points of Interest
-Week in Review


This week was busy for those playing dot com “Survivor.” On November 6, who "dominated the home furnishings e-tailing category since it launched in January 1999” shut down. On November 7,, the company with the cute sock puppet, closed the doghouse doors.

Neither could find funding to keep going. Could their demise be attributed to simple factors of geography? realized huge shipping bills for those 20-pound bags of dog food. And, never managed to get the goods there on time, if at all. The new economy is so impressed with what the Internet can do with marketing, online buying and customer service, that some think that it can even solve the age-old problem of distance.

Some online e-tailers DO get it. is one. They use local florists to stock and deliver their goods. And, seems to get the books there on time – thought they have yet to turn a profit. And, traditional cataloguers, like LL Bean, had already mastered geography before the Web came along.

As we go to press, Webvan just announced that smaller orders will soon be charged for delivery, indicating that they are beginning to get the message.


The Open GIS Consortium (OGC) has announced an initiative to develop standards for location services (LS), also known as location based services (LBS). A new web site highlights the added direction of OGC and a call for sponsors (CFS) to provide goals for the project. Later, OGC will issue requests for technologies.

OGC has asked platform providers (device, hardware, network hardware, and operating systems), other kinds of equipment manufacturers (e.g., tier-one automotive suppliers), network operators, Internet service providers and portal companies to consider sponsorship. Sponsors are organizations that contribute significant resources (financial, personnel, facilities, etc.) to the effort. Sponsors typically drive the requirements, technical scope and agenda, and demonstration form and content. Or in other words, they help pay for what they want produced.

Of most interest to the user community is the long list of LS applications within the CFS document. If you are not sure what LS is, have a look there.

Will this work? It is perhaps early enough in the game to try to pull the disparate organizations together for this type of interoperability work. Still, there are other organizations, such as the Location Interoperability Forum, already thinking along these lines. It is unclear how or if they are parallel to or “competitive with” OpenLS. And what of the recent MAGIC Services Initiative?

Note that GIS was 30 some years old when OGC tried to develop interface standards there. Sponsors are required to commit by December 1, so we will soon know the interest level.


The folks at ANVIL have made several location services examples available. As in the previous story, these will help explain what LS is all about using every day terms and every day scenarios.

These types of organizations cannot do enough to explain the issues and how the initiatives may help users (potential customers!). Please, keep telling us stories!


Two articles pointed to pros and cons of Quova and its peers building their maps of the Internet to nail down the geographic location of individual computers.

Next week, technologists take the “computer location” matter to a French court claiming to be able to be able to stop a large percentage of Net users in France from using a Yahoo auction site in the United States.

Back in July some unsuspecting network security specialists had their “firewall alarms” go off and Quova was to blame.


A west coast reader tried out MapInfo’s DSL tool for COVAD. “I decided to try the Covad/MapInfo site and it could not find my address. In fact it suggested a location about 100 miles away in another phone prefix.”

From Rob Freedman at Digital Envoy: “FYI, Forbes is running an article on Digital Envoy and Quova coming out November 13th... You scooped them!”

I received a copy of an e-mail addressed to some 600 geospatial community members from SRI that included the .geo press release and a plea for support for the initiative. It was dated Nov 3. The last day for public comment was Nov 5. Was this last minute campaigning?

I tried to visit Sylvan Ascent this week. Their site was down, mail bounced, and the phone was disconnected. Does anyone know where Sylvan, who sold mapping components and data, went?


The Monitor included a statement last week in our article about GDS and MicroGDS that suggested an uncertain future for MicroGDS. This is not the case as the remainder of the article attests; the product, owned by ISIL continues in production. We regret any misunderstanding this statement may have caused.


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Adena Schutzberg
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