GIS MONITOR, November 29, 2001



- Finding Bin Laden 

- NIMA Discontinues Support for NIMAMUSE 2.1 and VPFView 2.1 

- Autodesk University Unveils “New” Products 

- Indoor Location Tracking 

- TIME’S Geospatial Inventions of the Year


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The search for Bin Laden in the rough and tumble countryside of Afghanistan will take on the decidedly high-tech look of geocaching.


The military, adverse to sending in US forces for the search, is instead planning to use thermal and gas imaging to find gatherings of cave dwellers. Activity in the caves can be tracked using reconnaissance planes equipped with thermal-guided cameras and devices accurate enough to pinpoint the carbon dioxide exhalations of a Taliban fighter.


The other high-tech tool? Bounty hunters. Those seeking the $25 million reward have already begun sending photos of suspect caves to the top US expert on the local caves, John F. Shroder Jr., a University of Nebraska geologist and geographer. He had posted the images on a university website before the FBI requested he take them down. Natural caves were carved out of the rocks over centuries while man-made canals from the era of Alexander the Great were developed to carry water through the mountains.

Shroder notes one set of man-made tunnels are believed to house Bin Laden, "The precise latitude and longitude coordinates are rather known in Washington now."


Search for Bin Laden Will Use U.S. Gadgetry, Afghan Hunters (LA Times)






In a letter to users of government developed mapping software, NIMA recently announced that it would no longer support NIMAMUSE 2.1 and VPFView 2.1 after January 1, 2002.


The change is part of a long-term commitment from NIMA to move away from custom in-house software to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software. Alternatives to the two retiring viewers are EDGE Viewer, built by Boeing, Autometric, and FalconView built by Georgia Tech Research Institute, as well as free viewers from ESRI, Intergraph, MapInfo and others. EDGE Viewer is supported under UNIX while most of the other commercial applications are not.


EDGE Viewer 




Note to NIMAUSER and VPFView Users


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Autodesk University is being held this week in Las Vegas. Interestingly, the conference includes “general” tracks and a “GIS User Conference” - no other group has its own mini-conference. I’ll suggest that the GIS group hopes to provide a follow up to its small GIS conference held last year.

The two big announcements from the conference thus far highlight a name change for CAD Overlay to Raster Design and a new software series aimed at civil engineers, Autodesk Civil Series.


The name change is a good one since CAD Overlay does not clearly describe what the product does – supporting the viewing and editing of raster imagery within AutoCAD. “Overlay” may have been meaningful to GIS users, but at the same time, it may have made it more difficult to market to other CAD users. Raster Design includes some new features including optical character recognition (OCR), color palette controls, tonal adjustments and rubber sheeting.


The “new” software series appears to be little more than repackaging, with as yet unannounced pricing, of Autodesk products aimed at those moving from AutoCAD 14 and Softdesk 8.0. AutoCAD 14 users have until January 15, 2002 to upgrade or lose the opportunity to do so. Autodesk Civil Series is not due out until the end of the year and will require enrollment in the Autodesk Subscription Program.


Autodesk describes the Civil Series as “a single suite of integrated civil design applications that meets their biggest challenges, including integrating applications, maintaining data integrity, and collaborating with colleagues across the entire design process.” In the bundle are Autodesk Land Desktop 3, Autodesk Civil Design 3, Autodesk Survey 3, and the new Autodesk Raster Design. For now, it appears there are no special enhancements to the integration beyond what is currently in the individual products.


My sense is that Civil Series was a recent decision. Few companies have time to run the paperwork for this upgrade before the January 15 cutoff. On the other hand, the Series provides another way to get Autodesk users onto the subscription program, which I’ll suggest is one of the company’s key goals for 2002.


Autodesk Raster Design Announced 


Autodesk Introduces New Software Series for Civil Engineers 


Autodesk University and GIS User Conference Bring Together Customers and Partners to Explore the Latest Industry and Technology Trends 


A Q&A on Autodesk's GIS solutions with Larry Diamond, vice president of Autodesk's GIS Solutions Division (Spatial News) 





Changwah Tech, a venture firm in Korea, introduced Virphy in September. The product, named by combining "virtual" and "physical," is an indoor location tracker. The system calculates the location of people or objects that “carry” special wireless terminals. The terminals in the shape of a nametag are similar to common radio frequency (RF) cards.


The hardware, terminals and receivers are designed in a way that minimizes power consumption, and controls multiple and simultaneous signals without causing jamming, Changwah Tech said. The company markets the technology as an "invisible security system" to secure individuals and properties, enhance property management and to extend facility management system (FMS) integration. In time the company envisions the system as an “indoor” Digital Angel, tracking children in shopping malls, monitoring temperature across a large complex to maintain equal air conditioning or heating, and tracking visitors to public and private buildings.


Chanwah Tech suggests that the system can save money by cutting energy costs and eliminating “troublesome personal contacts with security guards.” The company notes that Virphy can pinpoint locations within 3 meters indoors or outdoors, compared with GPS, which can measure 10 to 30 meters outdoors. Batteries for Virphy can last up to 2 years; GPS batteries typically last about 12 hours.


Technology Pinpoints Indoor Locations (Korea Herald)  2001/11/27/200111270003.asp





TIME magazine has outlined several dozen inventions of the year. On the list are several that may play a role in geospatial disciplines.


A new electric bus will debut in 2003 in Las Vegas. It follows a painted stripe on the road with a camera “eye,” and if it strays, is pushed back on course. There is a human driver who controls acceleration and breaking.


Next fall will see the commercial debut of the SmartShirt which records body statistics. The data can be relayed wirelessly to doctors or personal trainers. The military may use the clothing to track a trapped soldier's exact location and provide triage units details about wounds.


Finally, and this is my favorite, hands down: Mohammed Bah Abba’s the Pot-in-Pot Preservation Cooling System. Abba lives in rural Nigeria where there is no electricity, and therefore, no refrigeration. His cooling system uses wet sand to pull heat from the inner pot and thus the food inside. A recipient of the Rolex Award for Enterprise, Abba is using the award money to make the invention available throughout Nigeria at a cost of about 40 cents. How will this change geospatial related disciplines? It may well change the maps of poverty.


2001 Inventions of the Year 





- In a survey by Harris Interactive, three out of five Americans indicate that they would prefer an e911 service where dispatchers can locate them in case of an emergency over wireless features such as email, digital imaging, radio and gaming. 


- The New York Post writes that trucks hauling debris from the World Trade Center site will soon be tracked via GPS on their route to the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. It seems some 250 tons of the debris found its way to other non-designated sites; authorities suspect the mob.  



- The FBI this week suggested that pipelines within the US may be at increased risk of attack. Most interesting is the question of whether to continue to make pipeline maps and local pipeline signage available. The Associated Press notes that the maps and signage help promote acceptance of pipelines in communities. Dammed if you map, damned if you don’t.  attacks_energy_threat_4.html


- There is a new GPS newsgroup dedicated to discussing GPS for mapping/surveying. 





- Allan Doyle of International Interfaces wrote about the rather far-out examples of DriveBy InfoFueling provided by Mercedes-Benz.


“These examples are a bit hokey, I agree. But imagine refueling with the latest, detailed, up-to-date street maps for a city you've never been in before. Throw in the yellow pages so you can find that pizza store or your client's place (even though the major highways between you and your client are under construction). Or imagine the car uploading its maintenance data – the engine's been running rough and it dumps the last hour of spark plug firing data. Or, on the darker side, imagine the car uploading where it's been and how fast it's been driving, whether the wheel was held steady or if the driver had been weaving a bit...


“A question does remain, though - will the info-fueling posts get set up first or will the broadband wireless 3G coverage obviate the need for them?”


- Jim Herberich, of ENSR, quite correctly chastises me for using acronyms in last week’s GIS Monitor, after my tirade about them. Thanks Jim!


“Sorry, I can't let this go... you're on your holy horse about acronyms, then there you go using one yourself! Find ‘LBS’ below [in the Week in Review]...”





Nov 28 - Airbiquity Secures $16 Million Round "D" Financing 

Shell is the largest investor in this financing round, which provides $16 million.


Nov 28 - Intergraph Competition for Educators and Students 

Winners get a full ride at GeoSpatial World in 2002. There are cash prizes as well.


Nov 28 - LAND INFO Announces New Speedy Delivery for Data 

The company is introducing data delivery on pre-loaded FireWire drives. These hold the equivalent of more than 130 CDs.


Nov 28 - SGI and Space Imaging Sign Teaming Agreement 

The purpose of this one-year, renewable agreement is to facilitate cooperation between SGI and Space Imaging to expand revenues in the growing geospatial marketplace. The best part of this agreement is a plan to follow through: “A Joint Strategic Opportunity Committee, which will meet on a quarterly basis, will determine mutual revenue goals in the geospatial marketplace and create business opportunities where SGI and Space Imaging can develop new solutions and generate incremental revenue.” I think this is the first time I’ve seen an explicitly stated plan that goes along with a strategic partnering in GIS.


Nov 28 - ISTAR Americas Names Sales Manager for Federal Defense 

Christopher Gilliam as manager of Federal Defense & Security Markets. Gilliam will be responsible for developing markets for ISTAR among various U.S. Federal agencies and service commands.


Nov 26 - Tech Preview of GeoMobilIT Services Available; First Implementation of the MAGIC Services Protocol

 My emails to the company (who provided no contact info on the press release) to clarify what’s going on here went unanswered.


Nov 26 - Kivera Announces CFO and VP of Products and Marketing 

Thomas V. Bonomi, Jr. will be the chief financial officer and Mark Strassman will be vice president of products and marketing.


Nov 26 - SPATIALinfo Selected by Springfield, OR; SPATIALinfo Appoints New EVP

 SPATIALinfo products will be the core components of the city’s first stage program to integrate GIS and Hansen IMS sewer infrastructure inventories into a single function. Lenny Melamedas takes over as executive vice president.


Nov 26 - GeoData Alliance Installs New Council of Trustees 

Each “sector” has one or more trustees. There are some familiar names: Todd Bacastow of Penn State represents the Research subsector, John Moeller of FGDC the Federal subsector, Susan Smith of GISCafe the Media subsector and Bob Samborski of GITA, the “other nonprofit” subsector.


Nov 21 - GeoGraphs' Census 2000 Summary File SF1Table Generator 

The Census Summary File 1 TableGen Tool Kit includes a Summary File 1 to Table translator and a complete data set of 12 Summary File 1 Table CDs as produced and just released by the USA Bureau of the Census.


Nov 21 - Leica Appoints Maine Technical Source Dealer in New York

MTS will be responsible for selling Leica's complete product line of theodolites, total stations, robotic total stations and survey-grade GPS in the region.


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