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GIS Monitor is being delivered on Wednesday so that the GITC America staff can celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Best wishes and safe travels to those celebrating.
Another GIS Day
I headed up to the University of New Hampshire for GIS Day last week. Talk about a little of everything! In addition to sessions aimed at high school students, there were workshops for professionals, a college fair, a geo-store, a presentation by an astronaut, tours, and more.
A few notes from my visit:
In the van over to the event from the parking lot, I met an instructor from New Haven, Connecticut (that's three hours away!) and a computer science student from Tufts (outside Boston) who wanted GIS to be his "minor" of sorts. I was pleased this event was both "outreach" and "in-reach."
High school students are still the same (in case anyone wondered). They like to get freebies (posters and maps of Boston were popular as were the ubiquitous GIS Day pens). One group was working through a series of quiz questions on a hall floor when I walked through. Another group was asked to move down the hall so as not to disturb those listening to the keynote. While I didn't attend the sessions aimed at these students (What is GIS, GPS and Remote Sensing?, 3D Mapping and Imaging, Model Rocketry and Remote Sensing, and others) I'm hopeful they were interactive. I'm confident the 25-minute sessions worked well with the "teenage" attention span!
Astronaut and author Dr. Jay Apt showed images from his time in space and, among other things, highlighted the man-made vs. natural features on the Earth's surface.
The vendors in the geo-store were very pleased with business. Since the store was also part of the event last year, many of the people who work in the host building (mostly "geo" folks) took advantage of the store to buy holiday gifts. Since Apt was highlighting images from his National Geographic book Orbit (and signed copies after his talk) that book was "flying off the shelves."
Professional GIS vendors were gathered together on the first floor, with posters on the second and third, and educational institution tables on the fourth. While students may have simply found the displays from ESRI, DeLorme, and other local and national companies "cool," it's nice for them to see that people actually have jobs in this area. I was amazed at how many regional post secondary schools, including community colleges, offer geo-related programs in and around New England.
Kudos to the folks at UNH and sponsor New Hampshire Space Grant Consortium.
Why Journalists Should Be Our Best Friends
I don't know Roberta de Boer, but it seems she's a key journalist in Toledo. Her column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in the Toledo Blade and she's on TV Wednesdays during the local 6 p.m. news. But, here's what I do know: she's not afraid of technology or calling the "right" people.
Her column on Sunday was a response to a stinging (to her) report by the Milken Institute that Toledo fell behind Youngstown, Ohio in a recent economic development ranking. She recalled an article in Governing Magazine that noted that most preliminary site selection by businesses in done online. That article went on to note that a city looking for development should be able to answer key demographic and spatial questions.
But she went further and called up the consultant noted in the Governing article and asked him to review her city's website. He did (for free) and noted it was "incomplete." He went on to explain that the county had a good deal of data already compiled and the city could "piggyback" on it. She wrapped up by noting that GIS played a key role in landing Oklahoma City, Oklahoma a new Dell plant. That's the best plug for GIS I've seen in some time.
Why is it the best plug? It deals with a real issue in that city: the need for economic development. It doesn't involve vendors yammering about how great GIS is. It provides concrete information on what the city can do to enhance its online offering. It doesn't get into the technical jargon of GIS. Oh, and the best part - it's in the local paper, not in a GIS or geo-related publication.
What to Print
As editor of this publication, I get a lot of e-mail from professional organizations and companies. That's fine; as someone who watches the industry, I'm supposed to stay informed. Some of the information I have no hesitation in passing on to readers; other information, I really have to think about.
- I was very pleased to hear about GITA's efforts to document return on investment in geospatial technology in a project called "Business Case Development and Return on Investment Methodology for Geospatial Information Technology."
Here are the details of the survey, if readers would like to participate:
"The survey is designed to be concise and as easy to complete as possible. Completing the twelve questions for each application area will take about five to ten minutes. Participating users will receive a complimentary copy of the survey results.
"You can assist GITA (and our cooperating partners AWWA Research Foundation and GeoConnections Canada) in maximizing the value of this research project by urging your user clients to complete the survey, which can be found [here]."
- I read in a newsgroup about a survey for GRASS users, which asked that it be passed on. So, here are the details.
In order to collect up-to-date information on the GRASS user base and evaluate the current releases of GRASS, the folks involved with GRASS are launching the GRASS Users Survey 2004. Users are encouraged to fill out the ten-minute questionnaire online. The results will published in the next issue of GRASS News.
- Just this week I received a press release from Bentley (neither of the above were press releases) about a survey. It's for "all AutoCAD users facing Autodesk's forced retirement of their AutoCAD 2000i and AutoCAD LT 2000i products. Bentley will use the survey responses to tailor its upgrade program, which will include special program pricing and services, to the needs of these AutoCAD users." Those who participate get a free subscription to the already free BE Magazine and a copy of PDF Composer (a tool for making PDFs, not be confused with Autodesk's DWF Composer). Responses are requested by November 30, that's next Tuesday. Clearly, there's a bit more of an agenda in this announcement, but I suppose the fact that one company is going after another (though it's been doing so for some time) is "news."
- The release that gave me pause was from a company that was basically advertising a "sale." That's right, for a limited time, the company has lowered prices. Is that news? Is that advertising? Where is the line? It's a hard call. Many announcements, certainly the top two above, I run as a "public service" sort of like the "Ad Council" does. The third, about Bentley's survey is a little less clear. Still, I do like readers to be aware of opportunities to get free tools. But, this last press release sounded more like the large advertisement Macy's has in the paper for its Thanksgiving sale. That's not news, according to the Boston Globe, there's no editorial about it, so the company pays for an ad. I still don't have an answer, but wanted to share some of my thinking process with readers.
GIG and You
Long-time reader Kirk put forward a specific question about the U.S. Department of Defense's Global Information Grid (GIG) Enterprise Services (ES). GIG, described on its homepage as "a suite of value-added information, Web, and computing capabilities that will improve user access to mission-critical data" was covered in some depth by the New York Times this past weekend. (registration required) The Times compared the project to a $200 billion Internet.
The description above may make you think of geospatial technology, and that was Kirk's question: "I think a lot of readers (including me) would be very interested in hearing more details on how GIS fits into it." The words on the website sound eerily like those I heard recently at GEOINT (in particular at the USGIF interoperability demonstration) and in press releases and other documents from organizations like the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC, for which I consult). So, is GIS in there?
The GIG website is pretty vague and describes just generic services (application, storage, messaging, etc.) and not specification applications. But, The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is "designated as the executive agent for the NCES [Net-Centric Enterprise Services] program to deliver GIG ES and application program interfaces." DISA is geosavvy; it's an OGC member.
The Register has a stinging criticism of GIG including references to Government Accountability Office (GAO) worries about the use of funds. The consortium chosen to build GIG includes many of the usual suspects: IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. All of those companies have experience in geospatial efforts, to be sure. A UPI piece notes the secrecy around the project, so I fear answering Kirk's question may be difficult.
My hope is that geospatial technology is part of GIG; my guess is that it is. But, it's likely we won't get to hear much about it, at least not now.
Autodesk Numbers and Geo
It's always interesting to see how many boxes of software are out there. Ralph Grabowski came upon some interesting numbers from January 2004, which he shared on his blog.
Total AutoCAD-based Installed Base = 3,423,300
Stand-alone AutoCAD = 2,368,000
AutoCAD LT = 2,430,400.
Architectural Desktop = 336,300
AutoCAD Map = 190,100
AutoCAD Mechanical = 139,000
Land Desktop = 109,900
Of interest to us are two values. First, consider the number of Autodesk Maps out there. I've heard 200,000 for some time, but note that all Land Desktops also include Map, as does the new Civil 3D. So, it's hard to count anymore.
Second, note the numbers of seats of AutoCAD LT vs. AutoCAD. LT has outsold its parent 2.7 times, between 2003 and 2004, reports Grabowski. And that he says, explains why the LT price is on the rise. While ESRI publishes no numbers, it seems the numbers of ArcViews sold over the years has crept up to those of ArcInfo. The big question, really, is: are these seats "new additional seats" that would never have been AutoCAD or ArcInfo seats, or are they seats that otherwise would have gone to the higher cost products?
Other vendors don't really face this issue: MapInfo has no "lite" version and in the case of Intergraph GeoMedia (regular) was introduced before big brother GeoMedia Professional. The whole discussion reminds me of a suggestion from Daniel Burrus who keynoted CADCAMP (Autodesk's reseller/partner meeting) some years ago. (He was at Intergraph's Geospatial World this year.) Burrus noted back then (1993?) that one thing businesses must do is "kill their cash cow." He's even got a "card" in his book (Technotrends) about it: "Render your cash cow obsolete before others do it for you." Well, Autodesk and ESRI are doing just that, and perhaps, creating a new cash cow that will need to be made obsolete yet again.
• I want to share one more letter on certification, on the "pro-certification" side. It's from Peter L. Croswell, GISP, PMP, ASPRS-MS, Executive Consultant, PlanGraphics, Inc.
"I would like to add my two cents on the discussion, particularly the negative criticism, of the GISCI certification program.
"First I do not have any criticism of your decision or that of any other long-time GIS professional with well-established credentials, not to be certified.
"I do disagree with negative comments from readers of your newsletter about the program in general because I think it has great value and adds much to the profession. Those who are critical may not be aware of the considerable work, research, and consensus building done by the GISCI committee that laid the foundation. Over three years of work has resulted in a stable, well-designed program.
"The GIS Certification may not be of much value for the longtime GIS professional but that is not the point. The program does establish a minimum set of GIS qualifications for the industry--something that has been lacking for a long time. Maybe hard to believe but there are folks out there claiming expertise with GIS who do not have the credentials to back it up.
"Perhaps the greatest value is that it encourages professional growth by many budding professionals (students and junior staff) by giving a target to shoot for. Finally, this program is new and will likely evolve and improve over time--maybe a test, more rigorous criteria, or different levels of certification. For now, it is a solid, well-run program and GIS professionals should support it--even if they choose not to be certified themselves."
Points of Interest
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Plangraphics to be Acquired. IceWEB, Inc. a provider of integrated enterprise networking and security solutions, and other services, announced that it has entered into a letter of intent to acquire PlanGraphics, Inc. It's really a merger, using a stock swap as payment. The acquisition, which is subject to negotiation and execution is anticipated to close before the end of IceWEB's second quarter. The combined company will have approximately 130 employees, with offices in Maryland, Colorado, New York, Virginia, Kentucky, Rhode Island, the United Kingdom, and China. I've never heard of IceWEB, which boasts 1400 customers worldwide, but a quick look at the website highlights two key areas: Online Products and Services and Integration Products and Services. Those do sound like the kinds of things Plangraphics, which has had some challenging times of late, does within the GIS arena. This acquisition follows the acquisition of Convergent Group, another well-known GIS consultancy by a larger services firm, SlumbergerSema several years ago.
Financial News. Autodesk reported third quarter earnings of $74.1 million, or 60 cents per share, up from $22.6 million, or 20 cents per share, for the same period a year ago. The results were extra-high due to a $29 million tax benefit and a $3 million pre-tax restructuring charge. Revenue for the quarter rose 28 percent to $300.2 million from $234 million, largely driven by a 35 percent increase in commercial seats of the company's AutoCAD family of products. The company also announced a two for one stock split. All the good news prompted a jump in stock prices early on Friday. In other financial news, shares of MapInfo jumped 15 percent last week after J.P. Morgan upgraded the company to "overweight" from "neutral."
Self-Driving Cars in Your Future. That's right, the technology is almost ready. Even those in DARPA's challenge who made it only partially through the course believe such vehicles are closer than most people think. The U.S. Department of Defense aims to have 1/3 of its transports use automated driving techniques by 2015. One glitch? Some people actually like driving! But, they alas are the ones who get distracted and injure themselves and others.
Wither SVG? Jon Udell asks in InfoWorld, whatever happened to SVG (scalable vector graphics, a vector graphic format for the Web) that was supposed to change everything? He starts by referring to Macromedia's Chief Software Architect Kevin Lynch who noted that the election was closely divided, but developers voted overwhelmingly to use Flash for interactive maps, dynamic tables, and live charts. Still, Udell has hope SVG has come of age.
Certification Update. No, not on GISCI, but ASPRS. Justin Carasick is the first GIS/LIS Technologist to complete the requirements for certification under the recently introduced American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) certification program for technologists. He completed several requirements, including an exam.
Change Detection for All. Telemorphic has a demo of its MapImager On-Line, with interactive before/after satellite imagery of Fallujah, Iraq. Live demonstrations of MapImager On-Line for Fallujah are publicly available.
[56k or faster connection recommended].
Ooops. The latest Yellow Book for Des Moines, Iowa has an error. On page 40, there's supposed to be a map of the Des Moines Airport. In fact, it's a map of Denver International.
Vegas Bound. I'll be out at Autodesk University in Las Vegas next week. I look forward to speaking with readers there.
Kudos and Conundrums
Have you seen something in our industry worthy of kudos? Or that makes you scratch your head? Send it on. You may take credit or remain anonymous.
Kudos (concepts we applaud)
Standing Up for Geodata. V S Ramamurthy, India's Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, spoke on the Defense Ministry's proposal to limit data layer availability, and introduce errors, such as random 50-meter ones, into any maps available to the public. "Contours and heights are essential for any digitized mapping work," he said. "Users will never take India seriously once they know about conditions like the one on introducing random errors. In fact, people will laugh at us." Indeed.
Conundrums (concepts we question/give us pause)
Confusing Geotechnology. "David Pond, a consultant with WK Dickson, said GPS was used for computer mapping systems because it didn't require a direct line of sight along the earth's surface to get accurate results." Barbara Arntsen wrote the article about how GPS will be used to map Goldsboro, North Carolina's sewer system. I'm really not sure what this means.
Week in Review
Please note: Material used herein is often supplied by external sources and used as is.
Definiens Imaging appointed Brock & Michelsen as eCognition reseller for Scandinavia and the Baltic region.
NavCom Technology has just named Geo Info Strategies as their new Eastern European dealer.
LizardTech, Inc. announced the kick-off for the Educational Licensing Program. Details of the two different packages are available here.
Crossbow Technology, Inc., a provider of wireless sensor networks and a manufacturer of Smart Dust wireless sensors, announced the deadline of Jan. 2, 2005, for software developers to turn in their entries for the Crossbow Smart Dust Challenge, for wireless mesh networking applications that better society. Five winners will receive a total of $14,000 in cash prizes, including a $10,000 first-place prize.
3M and Thales Navigation business signed a cooperative marketing agreement. It has to do with a locating method using GPS/GIS data collection to simplify mapping underground facilities.
ORBIMAGE Inc. entered into definitive agreements with a group of investors for the private sale of 3.25 million units (each unit consisting of one share of common stock and one five year warrant to purchase a share of common stock at $10.00) for a price of $10.00 per unit. The $32.5 million in proceeds from the sale of these units represents the first tranche (a block of bank instruments) of equity financing for the NextView satellite project recently awarded to ORBIMAGE by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Positive Systems, Inc. announces that it has been authorized to resell ESRI's ArcIMS.
The City of Hamilton and Canadian Forces' National Defence Mine/Countermine Information Centre (NDMIC), were recently commended at GTEC WEEK 2004 with Gold Distinction Awards for their accomplishments in the information technology (IT) arena. Both are Intergraph customers.
• Contracts and Sales
Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping announced the USDA Forest Service has signed a blanket purchase agreement allowing it access to the full complement of its software. This is the largest single commercial software order Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping has ever fulfilled, but the release doesn't note its size in software or dollars.
Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced Nanjing Gas of Chian will deploy G/Gas, Intergraph's solution for gas geofacilities management, as the enabling technology of a comprehensive Geospatial Resource Management (GRM) system.
LuraTech announced that new customer International Land Systems (ILS) has integrated LuraTech's JPEG 2000 image compression technology into its widely-used ILS GeoViewer software. The integration is expected to further speed the geo-information industry's uptake of the open imaging standard, JPEG 2000, as a replacement for proprietary standards. The ILS GeoViewer used in both aerial and satellite image user markets and previously offered compatibility only with proprietary wavelet compression standards (MrSID). LuraTech is offering discounts on its JPEG 2000 libraries until Feb 15, 2005.
The Arkansas Geographic Information Office purchased DigitalGlobe data for Pulaski County for agency support of the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library.
Aligo Inc., a provider of mobile software solutions, is using ESRI's ArcWeb Services for WorkTrack, a hosted solution for managing the time and productivity of mobile employees.
Special Forces have chosen Intelepix's Oblivision to provide comprehensive on-demand geo-referenced intelligence to assist in advanced target analysis. Oblivision incorporates large amounts of geospatial imagery, from multiple sources (aerial photography, satellite and multi-spectral) using ER Mapper's ECW JPEG 2000 technology.
DDTI announced that it has been selected by Muskingum County, Ohio E9-1-1 to supply the Agency with an emergency dispatch mapping system. The company makes AccuGlobe software.
Cadcorp announced that it has won a tender to provide software and services to the London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) for its corporate GIS.
Azteca Systems announced the release of Cityworks Equipment Manager, a fully integrated solution for managing equipment items. Equipment manager is designed to track equipment through Cityworks, a GIS-based Asset Maintenance Management solution.
GeoLytics has released the new Zip+4 2004 database updated with the U.S. Census Bureau's latest release of the TIGER/Line files and the January 2004 U.S. Postal ZIP+4 codes.
VDS Technologies has released AspMap 3.0, an Internet mapping component for embedding spatial data display and analysis capabilities in ASP and ASP.NET applications and services. An evaluation is available.
ike100 is a rugged mobile GIS device with integrated digital camera for under $5,000. The product, from Surveylab, field staff can point and shoot and add photos and attributes to a GIS. The "photos and attribute information are locked together in the field ensuring error-free and effortless data management when synchronizing data into back office GIS systems."
Orion Technology Inc. announced the launch of OnPoint Lite, a new product based on Orion's flagship OnPoint Standard and OnPoint Professional products. OnPoint Lite presents a slimmed-down version of the OnPoint Standard feature set, offering clients with smaller GIS budgets the opportunity to implement web portals with Orion's recognized interactive mapping technology and rapid deployment using a point-and-click Administration Tool.
RouteMatch Software, Inc. announced the release of RouteMatch 3.0, a transportation management software solution designed for public and private paratransit and demand response transportation providers.
In October 2004, AED-SICAD Aktiengesellschaft released the latest version of its new standard application ArcFM UT with the segment specific applications for electricity, gas and water supply.
The Annual California Geographic Information Systems Conference will be held March 16-18, 2005 at the Bakersfield Centennial Garden and Convention Center.
GIS professionals from Utah, ESRI business partners, and ESRI-Denver staff will convene at the GIS EXPO in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 9, 2004 hosted by ESRI. The EXPO will take place from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at the Hilton Salt Lake City.
Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop, Second Edition, a new book from ESRI Press, is a comprehensive workbook for ArcGIS 9 Desktop.
Learning ArcGIS 9 Spatial Analyst, a new course from ESRI Virtual Campus, teaches experienced ArcGIS users how to perform complex raster modeling and analysis using ArcGIS Spatial Analyst.
Veterans can apply their education benefits toward tuition for the Penn State World Campus online master of Geographic Information Systems and post-baccalaureate certificate in Geographic Information Systems, in addition to programs previously approved by the Pennsylvania Office of Veterans Education.
The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) launched "Location in Education," an educational program for middle- and high-school students in the Denver metropolitan area. The "Location in Education" program consists of 14 global positioning satellite (GPS) units; a copy of the PBS video, The World in a Box; and a detailed lesson plan that offers hands-on instruction on the use of the GPS units as it introduces students to the concept of geographic information systems (GIS). Teachers in the Denver area will be able to use the kit free of charge for a two-week period. The program was created through a generous grant from the Xcel Energy Foundation. A suggestion? Include that cool video Trimble did that has Douglas Adams in it.
Dr. Suzette M. Kimball has been selected Regional Director of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Eastern Region, the agency announced. Kimball replaces Dr. Bonnie McGregor, who retired on Oct. 1.
Thales announced it has appointed Christian Bubenheim general manager of its Magellan consumer business. He has experience from positions at Apple Computer, Compaq and Intel. Bubenheim has served Thales' navigation business for nearly two years as senior director of consumer marketing.
GeoFields, Inc. provider of managed data solutions for the pipeline industry, announced the addition of Jim Roberts. Jim brings more than fourteen years' experience in pipeline design, construction, operations, and maintenance and will serve as lead integrity specialist, responsible for GeoField's integrity consulting practice.
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