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This week I report on Autodesk's decision to set up a MapServer foundation and to donate to it the open source code for its new MapServer Enterprise. I also follow up on GIS Day with two interviews: one with Jim Lahm, a long-time GPS sales consultant who is increasingly switching his focus to GIS, and the other with Cy Smith, Oregon's Statewide GIS Coordinator. Plus, my usual round-up of news from press releases.
Autodesk Backs Open Source
The big news this week for the geospatial industry is that software giant Autodesk, which claims more than seven million users of its products, has thrown its weight behind open source. It has done so with two, tightly related announcements. The first one is that it will release the code for MapServer Enterprise its new Web mapping platform previously code-named Tux as open source. The company developed the platform from scratch using the open source platform ACE, for Adaptive Communication Environment. The second one is that it is spearheading the launch of a MapServer foundation. In the latter effort, which it is funding, Autodesk is joined by members of the MapServer Technical Steering Committee, the University of Minnesota MapServer Project, and DM Solutions Group, a Canadian company that has been developing MapServer commercially. According to Autodesk, the new MapServer Foundation, an independent non-profit organization, will support and promote open source geospatial projects. Its leaders have detailed their decision to cooperate in an open letter to the open source geospatial community.
MapServer Enterprise allows developers to use PHP, .NET, and Java tools to build applications for Windows or Linux server environments and to publish spatial views internally, over the Web, or using Autodesk's DWF viewing technology. Early next year, Autodesk says, it will offer a commercial version of this product, which it will call Autodesk MapServer Enterprise (MSE) and license under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). It will release it jointly with an authoring environment that will enable users to collect geospatial data and prepare it for distribution via the Internet. According to a company press release, "The project site will support code contributions, as well as bug submissions, mailing lists, and discussion forums." Autodesk will also make available source code for its feature data objects (FDOs) technology, which provides an application-programming interface (API) for accessing spatial information. According to the press release, "Autodesk will contribute nearly a dozen FDO 'providers' to the open source project including ArcSDE, WFS, WMS, SHP, ODBC, and MySQL."
The MapServer Foundation's website provides a link to the original platform, a project that began in 1996. Autodesk says that MapServer is downloaded more than 10,000 times a month and DM Solutions Group describes it as "the most widely used Web mapping rendering engine in the world." It will now be called MapServer Cheetah in order to differentiate it from MapServer Enterprise.
According to the open letter, over the past few years MapServer adoption has grown ten-fold while developers have continued to enhance it with new features. "We want to ensure that this success and momentum continues for the MapServer product and community." Autodesk will provide the initial funding to get the foundation off the ground but "we now seek community involvement and participation" and the foundation will be run by "members of the community," who are "encouraged to join and get involved."
The foundation, the letter continues, is intended to provide a "repository" for the source code; provide legal protection for the code and for software developers; pay for "development work on minor improvements of the platform"; "act as a central repository for marketing, branding, and professional image development of the product"; provide a "process for mitigating disputes"; and financially support "advocacy, sponsorship, community events, and conferences."
In many respects the foundation will take over and streamline functions heretofore handled "in an ad-hoc manner or deferred to the University of Minnesota or other organizations." This is another reason for the name change from UMN MapServer to MapServer Cheetah. MapServer Enterprise, the successor to Autodesk MapGuide, and MapServer Cheetah, "will be run as two separate but parallel projects." For both, "Autodesk is eager to participate in an open and transparent development process driven by independent guidance from the community."
I discussed these announcements with Gary Lang, vice president of engineering for Autodesk's Infrastructure Solutions Division and one of the signers of the open letter. He explained to me that Autodesk's decision to go open source has its roots in the company's decision to re-write MapGuide from scratch and create MapServer Enterprise. Open source was the best way to greatly reduce the time it took to meet customer requests for new features and functionalities. He gave me the example of Web Map Service (WMS), an OGC specification. "Initially," he told me, "it was not high on our priority list." However, after OGC "made a big splash" about it, customers began to ask for it.
Also, users increasingly wanted to be able to develop and fine-tune features "in a more granular way." Autodesk knew that, while some users would be happy with the new product, others would want to "finish it themselves." So, Lang told me, he and his colleagues began to think "Why wouldn't this software be a good candidate for open source?" He added: "The more and more we thought about it the more we thought, you know what, an open source process would be best for this project."
I asked Lang a few additional questions.
What is Autodesk's business model for this product? The company, according to Lang, plans to make money by "selling applications and services on top of and for MSE, respectively." The number of open source users is so large, he explains, that even if only a small fraction choose to buy these features it will be worth it for the company. To support this conclusion he cites "a ton of market surveys" and the experience with MapGuide.
Why did Autodesk decide to turn its code over to a foundation? "In thinking about how to set up an open source project to which people would want to contribute code, [we knew that] they would want access on a continuous basis." A foundation seemed the best way to guarantee that access.
Why did Autodesk begin to talk to MapServer developers? "We saw that MapServer was actually getting a lot of traction, so we decided to meet with them and we saw that we had a lot in common."
Why is MapServer being renamed to MapServer Cheetah? "It is to differentiate it from MSE because the MapServer folks have been thinking about doing this for a long time, but also because it's sleek and fast."
How much control will Autodesk retain over MapServer Enterprise? "We want everyone to use the stuff that we are using. The open source code belongs to the foundation. We will continue to have total access to the source code, just like we have today. We are not losing control in any way that is material to our development plans." Besides, he was quick to add, "it's no good for us to retain control. We don't have all the smart people."
How much control will Autodesk have over the new foundation? "We really don't want to control it."
Who will fund the foundation? "To kick start this, we are providing the bulk of the funding. Early indicators say that other vendors are willing to contribute."
How will Autodesk's support for open source Web mapping change the market dynamics? Just like operating systems used to be the core of IBM's business and then became the context, Lang explains, Web mapping used to be the core and now is the context.
What is your relationship with other vendors going to be? "I'd like to encourage all other vendors to join us. I'm making contacts with some of those companies myself. Some already have our same business model. Other ones are probably going to reach the same conclusions."
How does MapServer compare to Google Maps? "Google uses only the simplest kinds of applications. As soon as you want to do anything more complex you need MapServer Cheetah or Enterprise."
Not everyone, of course, is happy with this news and takes Autodesk's announcement and the open letter at face value. For a different perspective, see this reaction. I look forward to your e-mail on this topic and will I follow closely the foundation's development.
From GPS to GIS: Interview with Jim Lahm
Jim Lahm has been in the geospatial industry for nearly 20 twenty years mostly as a GPS sales specialist. Recently, however, he has begun shifting to the GIS side of the industry.
Lahm began this career in 1987, selling Trimble Navigation products for a local survey supply dealer in Oregon. Within two years he became the company's GPS sales specialist, focusing on selling and supporting GPS hardware and software, including all survey and mapping products. He conducted field demonstrations and seminars, assessed customers' equipment needs, provided procurement proposals, installed the equipment he sold, and provided hardware/software support and installation training. In 1994 he became a Trimble Certified Mapping Trainer, which authorized him to conduct training classes on behalf of the manufacturer. (It is no surprise, then, that Lahm is a booster for Trimble products!) In early 1995, he started GPS Education Resource, a company dedicated to GPS training and "teaching the finer points of GPS." The next year, he created To The Point, a GPS newsletter for his clients and students.
In 2001 Electronic Data Solutions of Jerome, Idaho, hired Lahm as a GPS/GIS Specialist. He now sells Trimble GPS Mapping Systems as well as other data capture devices and field computers, including the AllegroCX and Archer from Juniper Systems and the Recon and Ranger from Trimble. He also provides Trimble-certified training around the country. Electronic Data Solutions is an ESRI Business Partner. This allows Lahm to offer the full range of ESRI GIS software, including ArcPad 6, ArcView, ArcInfo, ArcGIS 9.x, and many other extensions. His company also designs custom software and systems solutions. In March of 2005, Lahm became a Trimble Certified Trainer for GPS Analyst Extension for ArcGIS.
Jim Lahm and George H.W. Bush at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony in 2003
I caught up with Lahm at the GIS Day event in Salem, two weeks ago, and asked him a few questions.
Why did you begin shifting your emphasis from GPS to GIS? "When I first got involved with GPS I was so enamored with the technology that that is what I focused on. The more GPS became understandable [to me], the more I realized that it was really a tool for collecting data for GIS. I realized the wisdom of getting more involved with GIS and my company supported me in this. It was a natural progression to be able to more fully utilize the skills I had learned in the GPS industry."
How does GIS relate to your work selling Trimble products? "Although I've been a Trimble software user for 18 years, my honest feeling now is that the best system that you can have to collect and manage your data is ArcPad in the field and ArcGIS at the office. Underneath each of these ESRI software packages has to be the corresponding Trimble extension GPScorrect for ArcPad (which came out in February 2002) and GPS Analyst Extension for ArcGIS (which came out in November 2004). They allow the user to stay in the ESRI environment all the time, both in the field and in the office, without needing third-party software to do file transformations. When ESRI launched ArcPad they did not have field data collection experience so they hadn't provided for the ability to differentially correct (post process) GPS data. Trimble closed the gap with GPScorrect, which stores the necessary files in the field so that you can apply corrections to them later."
Do you also do any field projects yourself? "As a sales and training consultant, I do not want to compete with our customers. We provide the hardware, software, system design, expertise, and training to help our customers manage their projects that include both natural and man-made resources (such as utilities)."
What are the key developments you are seeing in the industry? "The main thing that we are seeing is that accuracy is becoming addictive. Why get 15 foot accuracy, when for less than $5,000 you can get 1 foot accuracy without moving into the survey-grade arena? Those products provide centimeter accuracy but it will cost you $45,000. [Another development is that] with new GPS satellites, the rejuvenation of GLONASS, and Galileo coming on line, within five to seven years you will be able to get 1-3 meter accuracy right out of the sky [that is, without applying real-time corrections or post-processing]."
Are Google Earth and MSN Virtual Earth having any impact on professional applications? "Although impressive, they are not editable. You cannot use them in the field or in your handheld device. It is read-only data. I see more of a demand for higher resolution imagery that you can actually use in the field. A great example is TerraServer-USA: it is the only service that will give you high-resolution (.25 meter pixels), full-color images in highly populated areas, absolutely for free."
What's next for you? "I am pushing deeper and deeper into the world of GIS, focusing on selling ESRI products and training on ArcPad with GPScorrect. We are working with the dominant players. I am one of only about 30 GPS Analyst trainers in the country."
When you are advising a local government that is just beginning to set up a GIS shop, what questions do you typically have to answer? "Almost everyone knows about GPS, but typically they don't know about all the various levels of accuracy. They don't realize that they could have up to 15 meters of horizontal error with a recreational receiver. So my first job is to teach them about that. The second question is: will they be mostly collecting new data or updating old data? The answer to that question will help us assess what hardware and software will be most appropriate for them in the field. If you are going to map roads for the next six years, then a two-piece system, with an antenna on the roof and a receiver in the vehicle, would be appropriate. If you are going to be mapping trails, on the other hand, you will want a hand-held device. The inevitable question is always 'What's your budget?' And the budget can determine the accuracy."
A Talk With Oregon's GIS Coordinator
Cy Smith is Oregon's Statewide GIS Coordinator. I met with Smith at the GIS Day event in Salem, two weeks ago, and asked him a few questions.
What do you think of the GIS Day event at the state capitol? "I'm amazed to see this many people here," he told me, "especially in the capitol, when the legislature is not in session. Women in GIS and the City of Salem did a great job organizing the event."
What is your involvement in this annual event? "Every year for the past five years, I have requested a Governor's GIS Day proclamation. I also try to be involved in at least one activity. Last year it was a presentation at a school. This event is particularly important to me this year because we are trying to get the entire community involved in accelerating the collection and accessibility of geographic data. What happened on the Gulf Coast could happen anywhere. We have to be ready. We cannot spend 20 to 30 years gathering the data. We have a GIS utility concept in place for the state based on shareable base data but we are not there yet. We are not going to be there for decades unless we accelerate the collection process and implement the technology to make the data widely accessible."
How is the GIS utility concept progressing? "We recently built a business case for it: we want to accelerate the data gathering process so that it will take only five years instead of 30 or 40. This will cost about $180 million over a six to seven year period. However, the benefit will be about $190,000,000 each year in perpetuity; $1.2 billion in the first 10 years. The business case is a tool to convince other government agencies at all levels to share data." Smith showed me a booklet he had recently purchased in an antique store, detailing the story of the Columbus Day storm of 1962. The storm, he told me, devastated 75,000 square miles and caused $200 million in damages in Oregon in 1962 dollars. Smith plans to map the extent of the storm against the state's current infrastructure. "This is what we are at risk of," he told me, and pointed out that the 1962 storm appeared to be of roughly the scale of Katrina, though few mention it today. "GIS Day is about getting the word out that we need to do more."
Who do you see as your audience for GIS Day? "This is our audience," he said, pointing to the crowd of mostly public employees looking at the maps on display and listening to presentations, "more so than the public. I need to get these people involved in sharing the data they have and in understanding why that is important."
What is your focus as statewide GIS Coordinator? "My focus is on all levels of government; that is written into my charter. Many of my counterparts in other states are primarily focused on state government."
What authority do you have to steer public sector GIS work in Oregon? "I rely mostly on moral authority and good will which are not the best foundations on which to build a lasting, sustainable system. There are some relevant executive orders from the Governor, one specifically authorizing my activities and the Oregon Geographic Information Council, and some IT statutes regulating investments at the state level. Also, the GIS Utility initiative is one of seven key initiatives under the auspices of the Oregon CIO Council state agency CIOs organized to work on enterprise IT initiatives."
In what other ways are you involved in the GIS community? "I have gotten heavily involved in many professional associations for example, the Oregon GIS Association (OGISA) and the Oregon and Southwest Washington chapter of URISA. I am also on the national board of URISA, the Oregon rep for the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO), and very involved in the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC). Next year I will be the Chair of the Pacific Northwest Regional Geospatial Coordinating Council, a coordination group that includes representatives from each of the federal agencies that have a footprint in the Pacific Northwest. Involvement in these organizations enables me to promote collaboration and coordination across the state, as well as have an impact on national and regional issues that affect Oregon directly."
Why did you choose to live and work in Oregon? "I came here five years ago to visit and said there is a real possibility to succeed here in building an enterprise GIS community that includes people from all levels of government and the private sector. This place is like that primarily because people here, by and large, really have the feeling that you get more done by working together and building long-term relationships, as opposed to seeking short-term advantage. That is the key, because everything we're doing in building a GIS community and a GIS Utility is a negotiation every hour of every day of every week. The notion that long-term relationships produce results that can't be achieved through seeking short-term advantage is a fundamental component of a good, successful negotiating strategy.
It's also a fundamental component of a healthy democracy. In America today, the rights of the individual tend to trump the best interest of the community. And Oregon is somewhat famous as a place of rugged individualism. So there's perhaps more of a tendency lately for the individuals that comprise the GIS community to seek short-term advantage. But, as Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out in 1831, in his study of American democracy, 'When the members of a community are forced to attend to public affairs, they are necessarily drawn from the circle of their own interests and snatched at times from self-observation. As soon as a man begins to treat of public affairs in common, he begins to perceive that he is not so independent of his fellow men as he had at first imagined, and that in order to obtain their support he must often lend them his cooperation.' (Source)
In other words, American democracy was designed to combat the effects of individualism, which are the normal products of equality and freedom, with public institutions that force individuals to seek cooperation to achieve their aims. And that's another thing for which Oregon is famous: public, democratic institutions that have produced some truly amazing results through the cooperative, collaborative efforts of many diverse individuals over the past century. Those institutions are working together to develop the GIS Utility for Oregon.
There are pockets of individualism, instances where the conflict between individualism and the public good are more evident, I see them all the time, but for the most part we're able to get past those instances here because people inherently understand that we must."
Please note: I have culled the following news
items from press releases and have not independently verified
CONTRACTS & COLLABORATIONS
Cart�Graph has signed an agreement with Vadim Software of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada to offer the former company's asset management software to the latter company's clients. Vadim Software develops integrated municipal financial management software serving local government, special districts, and utility clients across North America. The two companies will jointly assist existing Vadim clients to transition to Cart�Graph solutions.
The electric utility at the City of Leesburg, Florida, has gone live with their ArcFM implementation, completing the final step in a city-wide effort to streamline facility data management between all utility divisions including electric, gas, water, wastewater, reuse, stormwater, and telco utilities. Established in 1926, the City of Leesburg's electric division serves approximately 21,000 customers in a fifty-square-mile area in Lake County, Florida.
Following the other utility divisions, which completed their implementations earlier this year, the electric utility has begun utilizing ArcFM for facilities management, network tracing, and map production. ESRI was the prime contractor, providing overall project management and data conversion services. The City of Leesburg had utilized a set of disparate systems for data management prior to implementing ArcFM and recognized the benefits of a single solution provider to meet the needs of their multiple utilities. Moving to ESRI/Miner & Miner technology has allowed them to integrate thirteen different data sets into one system. In the near future, the City will begin implementing Designer for GIS-based graphic design.
PowerStream, the fourth largest local electricity distribution company in Ontario, Canada, has selected ESRI Canada to implement a single GIS platform to replace its existing legacy applications. Miner & Miner's ArcFM solution, which is an extension to ArcGIS, will be used to help manage the utility's distribution network and support the company's long-term information strategies. First Base Solutions will provide data conversion services from three different sources.
The Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities (SLCPU), the State of Utah's largest water company, has switched to MWH Soft InfoWater Suite to support its large-scale enterprise-wide geospatial hydraulic modeling. MWH Soft is a provider of environmental and water resources applications software, specializing in advanced GIS-based infrastructure modeling and optimization solutions.
SLCPU operates one of the world's most complex drinking water systems, featuring a large number of water sources and significant differences in service elevations. It serves more than 400,000 customers through a network of nearly 1,400 miles of water mains and 49 pressure zones over an area of 135 square miles. The utility's calibrated 24-hour dynamic InfoWater model includes around 36,000 pipes, 31,000 junctions, 25 reservoirs, 32 storage tanks, 98 pumps, and 622 control valves. The model will be used to analyze existing and future hydraulic and water quality conditions and optimize the utility's capital improvement program.
The government of Montgomery County, Virginia, has selected Timmons Group, a geospatial and engineering services company, to provide it with application programming and information technology architecture support. The project is an extension of data model and data conversion services provided to the County by the company during previous contracts. This project will enhance the county's existing GIS capabilities by exposing Internet and Intranet portals to their constituent base including internal county departments, the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia and county residents.
The solution will be built on ESRI's ArcSDE and ArcIMS and will leverage Timmons Group's custom .NET ArcIMS API. Geospatial decision support (GDS) capabilities will be provided by linking other, non-spatial databases, to spatial features for exposure through established portals. The mapping portals will integrate property inspection information from NovaLIS Technology's Land Development Office (LDO) and property appraisal information from Tyler Technologies/CLT appraisal system. All developed portals will be built on a common framework and will access common geospatial repositories to ease administration overhead.
Sanborn a GIS, photogrammetric mapping, and remote sensing solutions company has received task orders to update National Hydrography Datasets (NHD) for Alaska, Maine, and Washington as part of an ongoing five-year IDIQ (indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity) contract with USGS. The company, in conjunction with L-3 Titan, a provider of comprehensive information and communications systems solutions to federal government customers, will support the needs of the USGS National Map, other USGS disciplines, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other partners.
The project includes data conversion by extracting current data layers and updating NHD content for accuracy, ensuring connectivity and network flow, and naming authentication and features based on the original data annotation. The NHD is a comprehensive set of digital spatial data that contains information about surface water features such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, springs, and wells. Within the NHD, surface water features are combined to form "reaches," which provide the framework for linking water-related data to the NHD surface water drainage network. These linkages enable the analysis and display of these water-related data in upstream and downstream order.
CoServ Electric, a not-for-profit utility co-op serving Northern Texas for more than 65 years, has gone into production with Responder as its outage management system (OMS). The co-op, which serves 105,000 electric, retail, and business customers, implemented ArcFM in 2003 for management of its electric distribution network. Adding Responder into its enterprise GIS solution has allowed it to leverage existing data and systems to provide predictions for efficient power restoration during outages.
Integrations with both Coserv's SCADA and IVR systems allow for a dual approach to reporting and response. The SCADA interface automatically enters SCADA-reported outages into Responder and displays them to system operators. Customer incident calls are passed directly from the IVR to Responder, and the IVR utilizes information from Responder to provide outage status information to callers and perform automated callbacks as necessary. CoServ went into production with Responder in August 2005. The electric operations group, with up to five operators, employs the technology to locate outages and dispatch crews.
Open Spatial Inc has released Munsys Monitor and Munsys Archive, two new tools that assist in the management of asset information stored in Oracle databases created with the Munsys asset mapping software. The addition of these two products to the Munsys product family extends the "DBA in a box" features provided by the Munsys Administrator application and allows even novice Oracle users to create and manage a Munsys database schema.
Munsys Monitor is an administrative application that enables transaction logging and reporting on spatial tables in the Munsys schema. The recorded transactions include the creation of new assets, changes to existing assets, and removing of redundant assets. The application provides an interface for the administrator to configure and manage triggers in the Oracle database which are fired on insert, update, and delete operations irrespective of the application that is used. The monitor log tracks which users updated what utility data and when. The administrator can view and report on the monitor logs. The application also records user login information, allowing managers to monitor performance, software usage, and productivity and to schedule personnel training accordingly. The date stamp feature offered in Munsys Monitor is very useful in determining what updates were posted to the database on or after specified dates.
Munsys Archive provides administrators the functionality to selectively manage archived records that retain spatial and attribute information for objects that have been deleted from a Munsys schema. The administrator can define which spatial tables will be placed under archive management. Archiving can easily be toggled on or off per table at selected times such as when batch updates are being performed. Munsys Archive is effective for two critical functions: selectively recovering accidentally deleted records without having to recover an entire backup and loose all the current changes and comparing changes over time. With the Archive feature managers can actively monitor changes. For example, edits on the infrastructure and parcel base data can be mapped to show where changes have occurred during the past year.
URISA is accepting online abstract submissions for it's 44th Annual Conference, taking place 2006 September 26-29, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The program committee is soliciting presentations in four general categories: Applications, Tools, Data, and Management. For details and an online submission form, visit URISA's website. The deadline for abstract submissions is 2006 January 6.
ESRI, has hired Brent A. Jones, PE, PLS, as Survey Industry Solutions manager. Jones joined ESRI from James W. Sewall Company, where he was vice president of Energy and Telecommunications Services. During his nine years with that company, he led strategic efforts that included enterprise-wide GIS implementation, data and application development, and marketing and business development activities. Over the past 20 years, he has also worked as a design engineer, construction manager, and land surveyor.
Jones graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in surveying engineering, is a registered professional engineer and licensed professional land surveyor, and is on the board of directors of the Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA), currently serving as treasurer.
R.A. Smith & Associates, Inc. civil engineering, planning, surveying, and technical services consultants of Brookfield, Wisconsin, has hired Brian Dubis as its GIS project manager. Dubis is providing GIS services throughout the state of Wisconsin and northern Illinois. His primary responsibility will be directing and managing many types of GIS and public safety projects from the conceptual phase through design and production, including quality control and implementation. He is also responsible for GIS business development nationwide with a focus on the Midwest.
Dubis has been a consultant in the GIS industry for more than 12 years, working with many levels of municipal government. His expertise includes data conversion, database design, needs assessment, systems architecture, Web applications, software training, project management, and quality control and assurance. Dubis has provided public safety GIS services to many municipalities and public safety agencies as a result of his in-depth experience in working with numerous fire, police, and 911 dispatch departments. He is an experienced project manager in the conversion of GIS data to enhance speed, accuracy, and staff productivity in these areas.
ESRI has hired Randy Frantz as manager of Telecommunications Industry Solutions. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, Frantz was most recently manager of national telecommunications accounts at Osmose Utilities Services, Inc., where he worked with major utilities implementing GIS solutions.
Frantz has also held senior management positions with Cox Communications, the third-largest U.S. cable telecommunications provider, where he launched new telephone, digital television, and cable modem services operations in the Arizona market. He has served in senior management positions with Axient Communications, a startup Internet Protocol video streaming company, and Jones Communications, and worked for Bell Atlantic in its domestic and international markets as director of network design and deputy trade representative in Indonesia. Frantz will concentrate on the telecommunications sector's growing use of GIS to improve productivity and provide new service offerings.
A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, Frantz holds electrical engineering and masters in business administration degrees from Widener University, Pennsylvania. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Telecommunications and Information Council.
Sanborn, a provider of GIS and other spatial solutions, has hired Greg Hoffman as human resources manager and promoted Robert Lega to project and business development manager. With more than 20 years of relevant experience, Hoffman is responsible for the design, delivery, and administration of HR systems, programs, policies, and initiatives to support strategic business objectives across the company's multiple business locations. He joins Sanborn from Intermap Technologies, where he served as director of human resources. Hoffman holds a bachelor of arts degree from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.
Lega is responsible for supporting ongoing contracts with the Siemens/Dubai police command center project. Additionally, he will develop new business in the Middle East. He has been with Sanborn since 1993 and has held various positions within the company. Most recently, he worked as a product manager on the products team. Lega also has worked as a GIS specialist and GIS technician within Sanborn. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in environmental sciences from State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
ESRI Canada has presented its Award of Excellence to the Geography Division of Statistics Canada and Int�lec G�omatique Inc. at the 8th Annual Regional ESRI User Conference. Alain Dombrowski, Regional Manager for ESRI Canada, presented the award in recognition of their work on an automated map production project for the 2006 Census of Population. More than 150 GIS professionals attended the presentation on the project by Daniel Paquin, Chief of the Applications Development Section in the Geography Division of Statistics Canada, and Pierre Tr�panier of Int�lec G�omatique Inc.
Before every census, the Geography Division of Statistics Canada produces large quantities of maps in a range of scales and formats, including a series of maps delineating geographic territories for enumerators to use during collection of census data. In the past, cartographers produced these maps by hand. By the early 1990s, all maps for urban areas were being produced using ArcInfo. For the 2001 census, the Geography Division established the National Geographic Database (NGD), which featured a national road network. The NGD was used to automate production of all maps for that census.
A new approach was adopted for the 2006 census collection activity where the Geography Division of Statistics Canada re-engineered the application used in automated production of geographic maps to incorporate new technologies developed by ESRI (ArcGIS 9, the geodatabase, ArcSDE, ArcObjects, and the Maplex extension). A study was completed and Geography Division partnered with Int�lec G�omatique, a Quebec-based Canadian firm specializing in systems development, telecommunications, and geomatics, to develop the Census Mapping System (CMS). Development of the CMS involved primarily transposing and adapting the existing mapping system used by Elections Canada, known as Electoral Maps and Reports Production System (EMRP), which was also developed by Int�lec G�omatique.
The CMS features a bilingual interface and modules supporting tasks including extraction and projection of mapping data from the National Geographic Database; automatic calculation of map scales, formats, and paper sizes; viewing, validation, and modification of individual maps, map scales, formats and paper sizes; and rapid, high-volume generation of high-quality maps at multiple sizes.
Operational since March 2005, CMS has enabled the Geography Division to meet its map production goals. No production delays have been experienced, and in fact the production team was able to complete the first series of maps an entire month ahead of schedule. This first series consisted of 41,505 unique maps of urban regions throughout Canada. The maps were produced, reviewed, packaged, and delivered by a work team of less than 10 within a three-month period. Production of the second half of the required maps is currently underway. A key feature of CMS is that very few maps have required modifications after production.
ESRI Canada, at its 2005 Regional User Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, presented an Award of Excellence to The Yukon Territorial Government's Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources in recognition of their use of GIS for integrating multiple sources of geographic data and making it available to staff and the public. The department's core business is managing the territories' mineral, forest, land, and oil and gas resources and administering the various leases and licenses that are required to access these resources. The department worked with other Yukon Territorial Government departments to collect and manage their data in one location that is accessible to all the departments and to the public.
The data is accessible through several Web-mapping sites that support the work of industry and various activities of interest to the public such as environmental assessment and land use planning. Internal to the government, the data gives land managers a comprehensive view of all the activities on the land and allow them to make decisions faster and with greater confidence.
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