GIS MONITOR, November 15, 2001


- Changes in the GIS Press
- Making Sense of LBS
- MapInfo Introduces New Products at MapWorld
- NIMA Stays Away From Russian Maps of Afghanistan: Correct Choice?

Departments: Points of Interest, New List at TenLinks, Week in Review,
Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe

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I received a press release this week from Peter Fitzgibbon explaining that
GEOEurope (the European brother to GEOWorld) was shutting down and that a new publication, GEO:Connexion, would take its place. Four former
GEOEurope staffers will lead the new magazine. The first issue, Dec/Jan,
is expected in January 2002.

I contacted Matt Ball, who edits GEOWorld, and he passed along an email
that had been sent to GEOEurope advertisers on Monday. It included this
statement explaining the situation: “Recent changes in the economy have
made it impossible to continue publishing GEOEurope magazine.” The
November 2001 issue will be the last. US sales reps will look to expand
advertising in GEOWorld to include European vendors.

This is the second GIS magazine from Adams Business Media to fold this
year. Business Geographics published its last issue in June. In years past
other geospatial magazines including GEO Asia Pacific, Mapping Awareness
and GIS Africa, all controlled by the same group, have ceased publication.
I suppose there is one bright spot, Adams Business Media represents and
provides content to GeoInformación, a publication covering South America.

Also this week, Directions Magazine announced that its new editor, Joseph
R. Francica, will take over immediately. The position, held most recently
by acting editor Bill Huber, has been open for nearly a year since the
passing of founder Scott Elliott. Mr. Francica knows the GIS industry,
having held positions at Intergraph, TYDAC and Vectiv and the publishing
industry, having been editor of Business Geographics.

Finally, this week Intergraph relaunched its hardcopy Global Link
newsletter. It has the look and feel of a mini ArcNews (ESRI’s quarterly
print publication). Potential advertisers are told they can reach 85,000
GIS professionals. The first “new” issue highlights next year’s GeoSpatial
World, the Intergraph mapping/GIS user conference.

GEOEurope Retires, GEO:Connexion is Born 

Directions Magazine is Pleased to Announce New Editor  

Global Link 

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I’ve been having a running conversation with Jim McGeough, the CEO of
Digital Earth Systems, Inc. (DES), developer of GeoMode, a software-only
locating system used to power location-based services (LBS). I’ll be the
first to admit that the whole LBS arena has been daunting to understand.
There are many players who all tout their wares but few who lay out what
is needed to provide a complete solution. Mr. McGeough has been patient
with me, and for the first time I feel like I have a sense of the
categories of players out there. Of course some fall into two or more, but
this classification clears things up nicely.

The first category, LOCATION TECHNOLOGIES, refers to the companies and
their respective tools that can locate a wireless device. Their job is to
capture the location and covert it into some meaningful X,Y. The methods
of doing that, in simple terms, number four. (1) Cell-id simply locates
the nearest tower, and delivers a location within a few kilometers.
Enhanced Cell-id can get a better fix. (2) E-OTD/TOA (Enhanced Observed
TimeDifference/Time of Arrival) uses special transmitters, receivers and
Rf signals (above and beyond those used to transmit the calls) to
determine the distance of a device from several towers. Some
straightforward math can then determine the location. It’s more accurate
than “raw” Cell-id but someone (the carrier, and later, perhaps the user)
must pay to put the new hardware up on all those towers. According to Mr.
McGeough that method seemed like a great way to go back when the phone
companies were doing well, but now presents quite a significant financial
challenge. (3) GPS uses receivers integrated into the mobile device to
communicate with the GPS satellite constellation. The challenges to GPS
include dependence on satellites, increased price of handsets with the
integrated GPS chip and possible signal availability issues in certain GPS
restricted environments. (4) A software only approach pioneered by DES
develops a mathematical model of signal strength in an area.  After adding
updates from ground truth data, the model predicts locations based on a
device’s signal strength. Unlike E-OTD/TOA, it requires no additional
hardware on the towers or in the phones and can be quite accurate. Other
options combine one or more of these technologies in “hybrid” solutions to
serve both coverage area variations as well as consumer preferences.
Hybrid solutions may add the cost of both solutions to the overall price

The second category of player is LOCATION PLATFORM DEVELOPERS. Mr.
McGeough describes the products of the these companies as “the middleware which connects the infrastructure management/billing systems to the applications and X,Y location provider. Platforms also provide API access
to 3rd party developers so they can easily build applications without
having to worry about the middleware/integration bits.” Mr. McGeough
argues that “a true platform should a) support LBS applications from all
sources and b) promote/support interoperability amongst multi-source
applications. Additionally, a platform provider must take care of the
back-end; the integration of their platform to the infrastructure -
whether it’s the Internet or intranet or phone company environment, all of
which should include billing and provisioning. Ideally, a platform
provider should support the use of applications which extend across the
enterprise in any industry.”

I was curious about the role of this group based on MapInfo’s statement
during last week’s earnings conference call that the company was far more
interested in being a platform provider than an application developer.
Will a GIS company like MapInfo really be interested in hosting
applications from, say, ESRI? Perhaps not, but a more “pure” platform
developer, like SignalSoft, is happy to work with ESRI (and others) and
may find less direct competition since ESRI (and others) are only in the
application business.

The third category on the list is APPLICATION DEVELOPERS. One application
of course, the one driving this whole industry, is E911. Other examples
include routing, traffic information, telematics; these are the end user
services. Autodesk, Intergraph (IntelliWhere), ESRI and others are aiming
at the application side, though not necessarily at emergency services.
>From my perspective, this is the part of the story GIS companies
understand the best. Still, those companies that are moving deeply into
enterprise solutions – and thus know how to link up to existing business
systems - may be ready to provide effective platforms.

The final category in Mr. McGeough’s map of LBS is titled PROVISIONING. It
includes data providers and consultants – those who complete the offering
of the application developer. That category I see more tightly knit into
the application developers since there are already long-standing
relationships here. GDT, Navigation Technologies, TeleAtlas, PlanGraphics
and ASI all have strong existing relationships with the GIS-turned LBS
application developers.

As I’ve suggested, exactly how many of these categories a company chooses to participate in varies. MapInfo seems to want to be both a platform and an application developer. They may also play a role in provisioning since they continue to be a data provider. Cambridge Positioning Systems provides applications and has its own location technology offering.
Further, different partnerings from different categories are possible.
DES, a location positioning technology provider, has partnered with
LocatioNet, a platform developer. SignalSoft, a platform developer, has
partnered with long lists of location technology, content, hardware,
network, application and service providers (such as Cell-Loc, MapQuest,
Geodan and SchlumbergerSema) to round out its offering.

So, with all this technology, ingenuity, and an FCC mandate, why does the
LBS marketplace appear to be stalled?

The platform and application companies are waiting for the telcos to
choose a positioning technology, all the while remaining “open.” McGeough
refers to this as “agnostic.” He feels the waiting is slowing down the
adoption of LBS. He argues that platform developers should do their
homework, pick a location technology partner and start selling.

The telco buyers of this technology are also challenged. After years of
testing technology to meet the FCC E911 requirements, all but one carrier
has requested and received an extension on implementation. GIS software
vendors, data providers and consultants who chose to play in the above
arenas stand to gain quite a lot when the LBS applications and services
find their way to paying customers.

Stay tuned. LBS is still in its infancy.

Digital Earth Systems  

Cambridge Positioning Systems  













Navigation Technologies  



TenLinks Location-based Services List  

TenLinks Location-based Services Articles 


At its annual user conference, MapWorld, MapInfo this week unveiled four
new products. The focus on new initiatives follows the company’s move away from the desktop and toward mobile/location-based services and the
business enterprise arenas.

MapInfo MapX Mobile is a development tool for building apps on the
PocketPC operating system. The standalone application will work in the
field for data collection, updating and other tasks, and does not require
a wireless connection. Data can be “synced” back in the office.

MapInfo Professional for SQL Server is aimed at multiple users who want to
share spatial information across the enterprise. I’m not sure why there is
a separate version of desktop MapInfo for SQL Server. Typically this type
of connection is made using a direct driver or ODBC.

TargetPro v4.0, a market analysis tool with built-in data, will include US
data as well as versions for Canada, Australia, UK and Germany. According
to the press release this is the first time both market segmentation and
site location analysis can be done in one database.

A new product, codenamed “Catalina,” is said to link MapInfo Professional
and the Web, enabling power users to more efficiently share information
across their organization. The press release did not detail how this is
different from, say, MapXtreme, except that it appears the source of the
maps is now MapInfo Professional.

MapInfo Showcases New Products at User Conference  


A press release from OSS, Open Source Systems, quotes its CEO arguing that NIMA (National Imagery and Mapping Agency) is ignoring some of the best maps of the current war zone, those produced by Russian cartographers. Robert David Steele argues that NIMA’s currently produced maps are not good enough and that those produced by the Russian military “include just under 1,000 caves across Afghanistan, all carefully marked.” Steele cites the former Russian manager (I believe of NIMA; the release is not clear) who notes that the maps are based on aerial imagery and ground surveys. The press release also notes that the maps are available through East View Cartographic, described as “an established open source provider of proven reliability.”

The press release struck me because the title was “OSS CEO Expression of
Concern Over NIMA Refusal to Use Russian Maps.” I thought the OSS must be important, though I did not recognize the acronym. Unfortunately, the
press release did not spell out what OSS stands for, or explain that
Steele is the CEO – facts I only uncovered when I visited the company’s
website. There I learned that Mr. Steele was a former intelligence officer
and is the company CEO. OSS sells intelligence – on any topic or
geography. The site also references East View Cartographic. East View
sells individual 1:50,000, 1998 dated quads in hard copy or raster for
$145 each or the whole set of 1548 for $61,920.

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the Russian maps, but if NIMA can hijack
all of Space Imaging’s IKONOS imagery of the war zone for some millions of
dollars per month, these maps might be worth a look for mere pennies.

Press Release (Yahoo) 

Open Source Solutions  

Robert David Steele’s Bibliography  


- General Motors hopes that its OnStar telematics system will be
profitable by 2003. It’s been a losing proposition for several years
during the initial investment in technology. OnStar has about an
80-percent share of the market with more than 1.8 million subscribers.
Some analysts think the long-term outlook may not be so strong as
customers expect the features to be standard.  

- Telemorphic has expanded its website hosting maps of Afghanistan. The
company is looking for more data to round out its offerings, including
DRG's (scanned andgeoreference Russian maps at 1:200K. Contributors will
receive a link on the launch page. 

- New York Daily News last Sunday highlighted the achievements of outgoing
Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Among them was a sharp drop in NYC crime: since 1994
overall crime in the city has dropped by 52% and murders by 68%. Among the stories told are Guiliani’s interest in stopping crime before it started,
which required Compstat, the practice of tracking crimes using color-coded
pushpins, then flooding hot zones with additional cops. Eventually pushed
to computers and operated citywide, the system is lauded as one of the
keys to New York’s success. 

- ESRI has made available a 5-minute QuickTime video titled "GIS on The
District, First Season." The video, narrated by Lynne Thigpen, (an actress
on the CBS series), highlights the basic concepts of geographic thinking
using examples taken from the show’s first season  

- ESRI has made the decision not to release ArcView 8.x on Microsoft
Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows 98 SE, Microsoft
Windows ME. I received a hint of this from Rich Turner during his keynote
at the New England Arc User Group in September. Platform choices at this
time are: Microsoft Windows NT4 - Service Pack 6a (or higher), Microsoft
Windows 2000 and Microsoft Windows XP. XP support is noted as “coming soon.” =1 

- The Seventh Annual CARIS Users’ Conference will take place September
3-6, 2002 in Norfolk Virginia. Abstract submissions are invited.
Submissions are due no later than June 1, 2002.  

- Intergraph announced a European promotion: a free 60-day trial of
GeoMedia 4.0. If you order before November 30, you’ll receive a free copy
of the European GeoMedia Learning Exercises integrated with Navigation
Technologies' NAVTECH data. No purchase is necessary, but if you buy a
specially priced package from Compaq or Navigation Technologies, you’ll
get a coupon for a full GeoMedia license at 745 euros.  


SVG Creation Software  


Nov 14 - Mapping Technology Helps Firefighters Save Lives
Several companies have created a software solution that not only allows
firefighters to create and maintain maps of cities and communities, but
also helps them generate real-time evacuation routes for critical
emergency response planning.

Nov 14 - Butler County, OH Selects NovaLIS’ Solution 
Butler County, Ohio is now using NovaLIS Technologies’ Parcel Editor and
GATE software to maintain and update the county’s digital maps.

Nov 14 - TCS Names Ex-Qwest Hannan, VP of Location Products 
Mr. Hannan will be responsible for development of location product
offerings for the TCS Xypoint Location Platform (XLP), furthering its
reputation as a market leader in wireless messaging and location.

Nov 14 - Goes Live With GlobeXplorer's Aerial Image Viewer has chosen GlobeXplorer to provide interactive aerial images to online consumers. It seems you cannot have a mapping site today
without a raster image option.

Nov 13 - MapCloud Releases Version 2.0 of 
Version 2.0 of the software is focused on new features and an improved
user interface.

Nov 13 - Access to her UK Land Registry Now Available through NLIS 
The National Land Information Service (NLIS) Hub in the UK is now offering
the NLIS Channels, near real-time, online Land Registry access for
conveyancing professionals.

Nov 13 - Intermap Technologies to Map United Kingdom for US $3.2M 
NEXTMap Britain, involves contracts with commercial clients totaling US
$3.2 million. The data will cover all of England and Wales and most of
Scotland and is the next stage in Intermap's population of its GLOBAL
Terrain database.

Nov 13 - Take the GISQuest! 
Play a game for GIS Day!

Nov 12 - Rand McNally and Palm Ally to Deliver Mobile Travel Solution 
If I understand correctly, you will be able to buy, for about $39, a card
with the complete Rand McNally Road Atlas on it. The application allows
point to point routing and a database of hotels, restaurants and ATMs.

Nov 12 - ESRI's Eighth Annual GIS User Conference in Latin America 
The Eighth Annual ESRI/ERDAS Latin American User Conference will be held
November 28-30, 2001, at the Hotel Quito in Quito, Ecuador.

Nov 12 - York (CA) Region Gateway to Provide Access to Geodata 
York Region will charge a nominal annual licensing fee from $295 for a
data CD to up to $5,195 to commercial data resellers.

Nov 09 - IDELIX Announces PliableGIS for ArcView Version 1.1 
New in V 1.1 are the ability to print from the lens, export data in the
lens to a raster file, view lens position and view the scale within the
focal region of the lens.

Nov 09 - Avenza Announces Major Cities USA 
Major Cities USA is a complete set of 44 ready-to-use and royalty-free
Adobe Illustrator files of the 36 largest metropolitan areas in the United

Nov 09 - Space Imaging Names Dodd Vice President of Federal Sales 
Dodd is responsible for the overall management of the company's federal
sales program, including sales strategy and business development.

Nov 09 - LAND INFO Adds Mexico Datasets to Global Map Archive 
The company has nationwide coverage of 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 scale
topographic maps and 3 arc-second digital elevation models (DEM) for

Nov 09 - OGC Seeks Input on Next Web Mapping Specification 
A Request for Comments (RFC) on the OpenGIS Web Feature Server (WFS)
Implementation Specification is now available.

Nov 09 - CellPoint System Locates Over 1/2 Million per Hour in Tests 
The test reflects a capacity of 140 location transactions per second.
Response was measured at 0.5 seconds for active-mode - this is when the
mobile phone is engaged on a call. When the mobile is not on a call,
termed 'idle-mode', latency is between 3 and 5 seconds.

Nov 08 - J.P. Morgan Starts MapInfo at “Buy” 
Morgan says MapInfo is undervalued and poised to expand its offerings to
several revenue-boosting areas. The stock has been settling around 15 from
a low around 6 in mid-September.

Nov 08 - Woolpert Takes on Ohio Geodetic Control Densification 
The purpose of this program is to define the criteria for a statewide
geodetic control densification program, which will ultimately aid in the
development of a comprehensive, statewide GIS for Ohio.

Nov 08 - MDA Selected as First Supplier of Quickbird Ground Station 
MDS was selected by DigitalGlobe of Colorado to be the first supplier of
the certified QuickBird Basic Ground Station.

Nov 08 - AltaMap Server Maps Lucas County Elections in Real Time 
“The live election results can be viewed at .” I’m not sure how live they are now,
but I guess they were then. Unfortunately, blue signifies both absentee
votes and one of the options on the ballot, so the maps are not too

Nov 08 - OGC Requests Input on Directory of Interoperable Products 
Got a product built on OpenGIS specifications? Add it to the directory.
(It need not be tested conformant, nor does the developer need to be an
OGC member.)

Nov 08 - ESRI Associate Sponsor of GIS in Telecoms 2001 Conference 
The company, its partners and others will sponsor the event in Geneva,
Switzerland, at the Hotel Intercontinental Geneve from November 12-15.

Nov 08 - Valley National Gases Looks To Prove Strategic Cost Savings 
GeoTMS will provide Valley National Gases, Inc. routing to distribute
pure, mixed or liquefied industrial gases, as well as fuel, bulk propane
and specialty gases in all grades and levels of purity.


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