GIS MONITOR, December 6, 2001




- Autodesk Location Services Gets a New Partner, Renews Old One 

- A New GIS Standard 

- Autodesk University “Non-coverage” 

- M-commerce May Find Success in Fast Food


Departments: Points of Interest, Letters, Week in Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe


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Autodesk Location Services Gets New Partner, Renews Old One

Autodesk made two “partner” announcements this week, hoping to foretell the success of its Location Services Division. Several clients are already in trials with the new offerings; more details are expected in the coming weeks. There are two real questions: Will location-based services really BE that popular? And, is short message service (SMS) the way to go? Autodesk answers a hearty “yes” to both.


The new partnership is a deal with Ericsson to provide location-based services via short message service. The product that integrates Ericsson SMS Gateway and Autodesk LocationLogic will be marketed and sold jointly by the two companies. Autodesk maintains that carriers supporting such services will increase subscriber use of SMS, thus increasing revenues. And, since a location-based query may use several inbound and outbound messages (1. “Find me a Chinese restaurant,” 2. a list is returned, 3. one is selected, 4. directions are returned) that’s a fair argument. Autodesk also argues that carriers can package and sell services to corporate clients for uses such as logistics, again upping revenues.


Why the allure of short message service? We in the US are not too familiar with it, in part because US carriers can provide SMS support only within their subscriber bases. So, as a Sprint PCS customer I cannot send an SMS message to a Verizon Wireless customer. In Europe, because there is a standard, SMS messages travel freely between carriers and between countries. Further, since SMS messages are typically cheaper than phone minutes, it’s frugal way to communicate.


Here in the US, however, we may still get our chance. The new networks, such as GPRS, may be the host to new services including expanded SMS. Further, since the prices for mobile minutes are rapidly dropping, US carriers are looking for new revenue streams and SMS may just fit the bill. Stay tuned.


The renewed partnership is with Fiat. Autodesk is releasing Autodesk MobileConnect a software layer that opens the Connect telematics solution to GSM or GPRS mobile devices. The idea is to make the Connect system, developed jointly with Fiat S.p.A.’s TargaSys division, available to mobile phones. The system works by sending, via SMS, the user’s “ID” and location to a TargaSys contact center, where an operator then handles the rest of the work. There are some 800 operators, ready to help in 14 languages. Alternatively, requests can be made using SMS only; the conversation will be in the language identified in the user’s profile.


The Connect telematics system was launched in April 2001 in the new Alfa Romeo 147. Ten percent of Alfa Romeo customers who purchased cars in which the system was offered initially chose to subscribe. The system costs 200 euros per year. Today the percentage is up to 20%. Renewals are running about 85%. If phone use of the service is as popular, Autodesk Location Services future does indeed look bright.


Autodesk Announces Availability of Autodesk MobileConnect 


Ericsson and Autodesk Location Services Offer SMS 


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At a recent meeting of the National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS), the Executive Committee approved the Spatial Data Standard for Facilities, Infrastructure & Environment (NCITS 353). NCITS is the group responsible for approving standards such as multimedia (MPEG/JPEG), intercommunication among computing devices and information systems (including the Information Infrastructure, SCSI-2 interfaces, Geographic Information Systems), storage media (hard drives, removable cartridges) and database (including SQL3).


NCITS 353 is an open (nonproprietary) standard for use with CAD, GIS and database software. It’s geared to work with such tasks as master planning, environmental planning, site planning, engineering and lifecycle maintenance for facilities/installations, infrastructure and environmental applications. Basically it’s a means to model and categorize real world geographic phenomena into a set of geographic data that can be represented in a spatial database. It’s geared to large scale (small area) implementations in the ballpark of 1:4800 (1 inch = 400 feet) to 1:600 (1 inch = 50 feet).


Reading the press release it occurred to me that this sounded vaguely like the old Tri-Service Spatial Data Standards (TSSDS) now called Spatial Data Standards for Facilities, Infrastructure, and Environment (SDSFIE). So far as I could tell, it IS that standard, written by the TriService folks, just renamed and updated. And, of course, approved by NCITS. Bobby Carpenter of CADD/GIS Technology Center confirmed my suspicion: “Yes, the NCITS 353 originated from the SDSFIE,” he told me. “The data standards are the same as the SDSFIE, but the NCITS electronic tools provide a different interface and view of the GIS standard.”


The standard is not a data format, but a database structure. The TriService has detailed documents explaining how to implement the standard in ArcView and Autodesk Map but the NCITS version will be more general. The standard does not ensure data interoperability, that is, ArcView data developed using the standard cannot be read into MicroStation, but it does present a format such that you will know what to “expect” from data developed in the other product.


NCITS feels that the approval will push the standard into wider use in homeland security in these challenging times. SDSFIE, though aimed at military facilities, did get widespread usage in municipalities, universities and other campus-like environments. With NCITS’ blessing and a plan to garner the approval of ANSI (American National Standards Institute), who will provide the final CD product, the standard is getting a second wind.


NCITS Approves New CD-Based GIS Standard 




The CADD/GIS Technology Center 


SDSFIE Implementation Guides for ESRI ArcView 3.2a & AutoCAD Map






Autodesk University was last week. Did you hear anything about the conference? I didn’t. There was even a “GIS User Conference.” Did you hear anything? I didn’t.


There was one big announcement, outside the GIS arena, that Autodesk would be developing its own solid modeling kernel. GIS Café posted the press release on their site and delivered it as part of their daily GIS news feed.


Coverage of the GIS side of the event was limited to SpatialNews. That site published daily exclusive coverage developed and written by Autodesk. The material amounted to some formulaic interviews with top management, including biting questions like: “Autodesk today announced the Autodesk Civil Series and Autodesk Raster Design. Can you give more information on these?” It also included reviews of sessions that had the ring of Autodesk marketing: “Autodesk MapGuide's powerful, easy-to-implement client/server capabilities assembles spatial and attribute data from multiple sources and delivers it in real time where it is needed via the Web to thousands of simultaneous users inside or outside the customer's organization.” And, there were requisite pictures of hardworking attendees playing car race games on Compaq’s computers in the AUGI (Autodesk User Group International) playpen.


To be fair, this WAS coverage. Autodesk University at one time was a great event, with lots of value. On my desk I still have my “thank you” clock for teaching at the 1994 edition. But I’m afraid that Autodesk’s own coverage will not help those of you hoping to convince management to send you to the event next year.


SpatialNews Coverage of Autodesk University (provided by Autodesk) 


Autodesk to Develop Solid Modeling Kernel 





M-commerce may soon mean McDonald’s commerce. McQuick service, being test marketed in the Seattle area, allows mobile phone users to dial up requests when near the restaurant, pull into a special parking spot and pick up their meal, with no cash changing hands. There’s a 15-cent fee for each transaction above the cost of the food, paid from a previously set up “bank” account. Eleven Seattle Starbucks have a similar service with a 25-cent tack-on charge. Ontain Corp is behind the automation at both companies. As one Illinois GIS Association conference attendee put it to me, this type of convergence of banks, big corporations and phone carriers is truly the next big thing. Quite correct.


These are small test areas for m-commerce in the US. The closest some of us in the US come to m-commerce is perhaps using “Speed Pass” to pay for gasoline at the pump. With the largest number of wireless phone users, the US is still very far behind other countries in using wireless payment services with less that .1% of users making a purchase of this type in 2000. Yankee Group mobile analyst Adam Zawel notes that mobile commerce is “not a very compelling proposition for the consumer.”


A recent consumer survey taken by Jupiter Media Metrix says the main reason for the lack of transactions is that users do not need what’s being offered. But I for one think McDonald’s and Starbucks are counting on the fact that our society is not much populated with people who like to wait - even for fast food - and that they will be among the first winners in the m-commerce game.


Faster Fast Food Just a Cell Call Away (MSNBC) 


Whatever Happened to M-Commerce? ( 





- Richard Clarke, chairman of President Bush's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, is building a new map. This one will model the interaction of many of the US’s key transportation, communications and energy distribution lines. The idea is to beef up homeland security. 


- European Union officials will decide tomorrow whether to release 450 million euros ($405 million USD) in development funds for the Galileo project, a new GPS satellite constellation to compete with the US version. The project, if funded, would aim to go online in 2008. As we go to press there is doubt as to whether private funds will be available to fill out the budget projected to be 3.6 billion euros ($3.24 billion USD). 


- Patrick Murphy, 50, of Boulder, Colorado uses his GPS to mark the locations of dog poop on the town’s Sanitas Valley Trail, a popular dog walking trail. In a one-mile stretch he mapped 1,494 mounds in a recent trip, compared with 708 in December 2000. He’s attempting to have the animals banned from the trail, though the city leaders want dog lover’s to simply obey the laws regarding pickup.  2001/11/29/state1444EST7392.DTL


- Privacy advocates had a field day recently when Gate5, a 2-year-old company specializing in location-based services (LBS) put a demo that determines whether a mobile phone is on or off on its website. That information can be found by calling the phone, but this method, based on short messaging service (SMS) gave anyone visiting Gate5's website access to a carrier’s SMS system and, potentially, the information stored therein. The demo has been shutdown, but the incident shows how carefully the messaging and LBS industries are being watched.,1382,48631,00.html 


- Digital Solutions, the company behind the Digital Angel “tracking watch” aimed at tracking children and those with Alzheimer’s disease, has announced a merger plan. The company is at work building a deal with Medical Advisory Systems, a global telemedicine firm that operates a 24/7, physician-staffed call center in Owings, Maryland. 


- Ralph Grabowski reports in his upFront.eZine that Autodesk has officially killed their Visio-killer, Actrix. Sales will be discontinued December 15 with support running for six weeks afterward. The technology may pop up in other Autodesk products. I remember when Actrix was a big secret at AEC in Philly in 1998. I guess it pretty much remained a secret. 





- Brian L. Soliday of Space Imaging wrote to provide some more info on John Schroeder, the Afghanistan expert at Nebraska.


“Just an FYI, John Schroeder is from the University of Nebraska ‘at Omaha.’ I took courses from John as an undergrad, and we UNO grads hate for the "big" school, Univ. of Nebraska, to get credit for our accomplishments. Also of note is that UNO is the Center for Afghan Studies, so they have been getting a lot of press from the Sociology angle as well.”


- K Davies, who provided no affiliation, thought the US should look for Bin Laden elsewhere.


“They should be looking for Bin Laden in Langley, VA. After all, that's where he was created.”





Dec 05 - Axion Compresses Entire USGS Image Database 

This database of digital orthophoto quarter quads (DOQQ) totaling more than 13 terabytes of data is available from partner Pixxures.


Dec 05 - GDT Data Powers FedEx Delivery Operations 

A new three-year contract with FedEx Corporation will incorporate GDT data into routing and dispatch operations.


Dec 05 - Claritas Renews Agreement With Lowe's 

Claritas will provide data to provide site and competitive analysis data for the site selection process.


Dec 05 - Telcontar and Oracle Put Location-based Services on the Map 

The companies are integrating Oracle9i Application Server Release 2 and Telcontar’s Drill Down Server 2.1.


Dec 05 - RouteMatch Announces Routing and Scheduling Solution 

Unlike other systems, RouteMatch's RSE uses an advanced algorithm coupled with Geographic Information System (GIS)-based routing and scheduling to calculate the real travel time between two locations.


Dec 05 - RF Micro says to buy GPS operations of IBM 

Ok, I admit it, I didn’t know that IBM HAD a GPS operation.


Dec 05 - RoadSide Telematics Selects Kivera as Location-based Services (LBS) Partner

 This is “the first solution to combine roadside emergency medical information with an LBS solution.” The distinction from other systems? EMS technicians can get access to your blood type, your allergies, your doctor’s contact info. It’s a high-tech version of a medic-alert bracelet.


Dec 04 - Britain Redrawn in the Most Detailed Map Ever 

The new map went live at the end of November, with 400 million features, with detail down to mailboxes.


Dec 04 - Tele Atlas North America Increases Positional Accuracy 

The company recently completed the repositioning of its street map data in 93 of the top 100 U.S. Census urbanized areas. The task included moving road geometry to match the shape and position of roads as represented in source material including ortho-rectified imagery and field-collected data.


Dec 04 - Sanborn Chosen for Portugal Project 

The company has signed a two-part contract with EDINFOR Sistemas Informáticos, S.A. to assist with land base planning efforts in Portugal.


Dec 04 - Exor Announces Multiple Linear Referencing For Applications 

Network Manager Version 3, a core software and database technology, allows network-related events in a single database using multiple linear referencing methods. The software integrates with popular GIS software at the database server level.


Dec 04 - Winners Announced In GIS Portion Of Digital State Survey 

Kansas is number 1 in GIS, followed by Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Washington, Montana, Utah, Arkansas and Wisconsin. Among the requirements in the GIS/transportation portion of the survey were a GIS coordinating body and a clearinghouse for GIS data.


Dec 04 - NavTech Joins Intergraph's Team GeoMedia Program 

As a Team GeoMedia Register Solution Center partner, Navigation Technologies will optimize its NAVTECH mapping data for the GeoMedia environment and ensure that it integrates seamlessly with GeoMedia-based solutions. Says NavTech’s European marketing manager, “We're excited to be the first Registered Solutions Center, but it should not be a surprise to anyone.” It’s not.


Dec 04 - DigitalGlobal Partners with Earth Resource Mapping America 

Earth Resource Mapping entered into a software agreement with DigitalGlobal, for the QuickBird sensor model. ER Mapper users will be able to manage and customize QuickBird satellite imagery they license.


Dec 04 - Maporama Partners with Ubitalk 

The two will build applications designed specifically for call center management, integrating Maporama's capabilities with Ubitalk's automated voice services.


Dec 03 - Compaq’s iPAQ Navigation System Delivers Routing 

This is a sort of iPAQ Map ‘N Go for the UK. Cost for the GPS add-on, software and maps? With prices ranging from £499 to £999 the solution is about 4 or 5 times less than an in-car version.


Dec 03 - MapCloud Partners with will implement FreshMaps web mapping software.

Dec 03 - Gibson Petroleum Selects Cquay to Add Location Intelligence 

Cquay's Common Ground location intelligence platform will provide real-time mapping and spatial analysis capabilities for Gibson's TIGER project, an intranet-based, fleet management system.


Dec 03 - Syncline Strikes Reseller Agreement With GDT 

Syncline will offer customers GDT's Dynamap/2000 data.


Nov 30 - SignalSoft Awarded Contract and Patent 

PTC-Era's subscribers in Poland will get location-based services in part based on SignalSoft’s platform. The patent outlines an interface for obtaining and managing location information from various location technologies, including cell/sector, Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) and Global Positioning System (GPS), and then directing the data to a mobile location application.


Nov 30 - URISA Announces Leadership, Award Winners 

Peirce Eichelberger, GIS manager for Chester County (West Chester, PA), begins his term as URISA president.


Nov 30 - USGS Provides Water Quality Maps for the Nation 

The app uses MapInfo's MapXtreme Java software. I found the app to be a bit clunky, but it seems to work. MapInfo released the same announcement several days later.


Nov 30 - Students from Top Universities to Use TerraSeer Software 

TerraSeer, Inc., awarded over $16,000 in software to outstanding graduate student research proposals in its first annual Graduate Research Contest.


Nov 30 - Clark Labs Updates GIS and Mountain Environments Workbook 

This volume deals with issues of representation and interpretation of a 3-dimensional space in two dimensions and the impact of such representations on the data.


Nov 30 - Space Imaging Names Paul Tinney as EVP of Global Alliances 

Tinney is responsible for the business development and overall management of the company’s Regional Affiliate program.


Nov 29 - Autodesk To Give Resellers Exclusive on Subscriptions

 According to a first vice president at Merrill Lync, at the beginning of fiscal 2003, this coming February, only Autodesk’s channel will sell its subscription service.


Nov 29 - Avenza Releases SVG Initiative, MAPublisher-SVG 

Unlike standard SVG files, which are natively exportable by Adobe Illustrator, MAPublisher-SVG files retain all the data attribute tables and offer searching and querying options. 


Nov 29 - Wireless Location Industry Association Adopts Privacy Policy 

"The general goal of the WLIA policy is to give subscribers of a location-based service the ability to choose whether or not to have geographically tagged personal information collected," said Tom Morner, WLIA's vice president for Standards and Self-Regulation (GoAmerica Communications Corporation).


Nov 29 - TELUS/ViaVis Mobile Solutions Test Voice-activated Location-based Services 

Using content from and, callers seeking the closest location of, say, a specific music store, simply dial an access number on a cellular or landline phone, verbally provide a location and request the information. Using recorded audio and text-to-speech technology, the system replies with verbal directions on how to get to the nearest store.


Nov 29 - KOREM Named MapInfo Canadian Partner of the Year 2001 

KOREM was named "Canadian Partner of the Year 2001" by MapInfo for its sales and product innovations.


Nov 29 - NovaLIS Releases Permitting/Land Development Mgmt Tools 

The company announced the official release of Land Development Office version 8.1.


Nov 29 - Asian Gas Relies on British Technology 

Laser-Scan technology is part of a new facilities management system at the Titas Gas Corporation in Bangladesh.


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