GIS MONITOR, December 13,
- USGS Website Down: How Did
Word Get Out?
- Take Our 1-Minute GIS
- Global Geomatics Launches
- The Wireless Sky is Falling
Departments: Points of
Interest, Letters, New List, Week in Review, Back Issues, Advertise,
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USGS WEBSITE DOWN: HOW DID
WORD GET OUT?
The USGS site, along with
many others under the auspices of the Department of Interior (DOI) were
shut down last Thursday due to security concerns. These are not the same
concerns that have removed maps from the Internet to lessen the risk of
terrorists finding key locations. Rather, the concerns are related to
the security of a land-based trust fund database maintained on behalf of
thousands of Native Americans. A contractor, hired by Elouise Cobell as
part of a lawsuit against the DOI for mismanagement, succeeded in
breaking into the database. As a result, U.S. District Judge Royce C.
Lamberth ordered that all outside access to the trust fund be closed.
This led to shuttering Internet access into and out of the DOI.
In addition to shutting out
the many commercial, educational and private users of the USGS site,
some of the key US hazard monitoring and warning systems were affected.
These included military systems, earthquake, tsunami and volcano
monitoring, as well as geomagnetism tracking and Landsat library access.
On the good news front, Emergency E-mail Network donated its services
Friday to allow 11,000 USGS workers to receive urgent updates on a 6.1
magnitude earthquake that hit New Zealand.
Judge Lamberth signed an
order last Friday, granting “partial relief” so that agency systems
outside the American Indian financial data could go back online. The
USGS site was back online Monday morning and I received email from a
USGS address as well.
These activities raise the
question of how the GIS community receives and distributes information.
The information about the USGS situation unfolded in a haphazard manner
across the Internet. On Friday morning I completed my regular daily
sweep of GIS news and found nothing on the story. I found the story
instead - in my weekly Friday pass of the GIS and relating online
publications - on the GeoTimes website. GeoTimes refers to itself as the
newsmagazine of Earth Science. The status of the USGS site was the top
story in their WEBextras section, which adds daily updates to their
monthly publication. GeoTimes’ website includes pointers to articles
in major newspapers about the litigation. I chose this as the top story
for the day.
I heard nothing further about
it until a faithful reader forwarded a posting from MapInfo-L late on
Friday afternoon. That post cited Slashdot as the source for “USGS and
other sites taken off line.” That afternoon SpatialNews posted a story
about the USGS Internet shutdown, and the lawsuit, based on a post from
GISList, a SpatialNews-hosted e-mail list. The SpatialNews article also
pointed out that many of the USGS products were available from GIS Data
Depot, part of SpatialNews’ corporate family. SpatialNews editor Glenn
Letham also posted the news to the GIS USENET group,
comp.infosystems.gis. The Associated Press covered the story at 8 pm
EST, Friday. As of Sunday, there was no information on the Directions or
GIS Café websites regarding this matter, except in their discussion
areas. SpatialNews continued to top its news with “USGS disconnects
its external network” until Tuesday morning.
Compare this situation with
another from just this time last year. I received a call on Dec 7, 2000
from ESRI’s press relations person, who asked that I help spread the
word that ESRI Web, phone and email systems would not be available that
day but would be back up the following day. I ran the announcement in
GIS Monitor and on the TenLinks GIS site. The news was also, if I recall
correctly, just about everywhere, including SpatialNews, GIS Café,
Directions and USENET.
Why the difference in
distribution? Might it have been that ESRI knew whom to call and USGS
did not? Might USGS have been embarrassed to announce such news? Might
ESRI, as a commercial company, have had a larger stake in getting the
word out? Might the editors have felt ESRI being “down” was
important enough to make the situation known immediately? Might ESRI
have had better contingency options for such events? I don’t know the
answers, but these are interesting questions to consider.
USGS Blocked from Internet http://www.geotimes.org/current/WebExtra1106.html
USGS Disconnects All of its
External Network http://spatialnews.geocomm.com/dailynews/2001/dec/07/news12.html
Interior Loses Internet for
Day (AP) http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20011207/pl/
Interior Dept. Sites Still
Down (Wired) http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,48980,00.html
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GLOBAL GEOMATICS LAUNCHES
Global Geomatics this week
announced their new MapFusion product. The idea is to open up GIS
products to many data formats. Aimed primarily at the military, the
product, which comes in several flavors, supports some 80 formats. I
spoke with Gilles Clément, president and founder of Global Geomatics,
in early December in preparation for the launch.
Global Geomatics has been
around since 1989 and began the move from consulting to products in
1999. The company believes that without interoperability GIS is but a
“scientific curiosity.” That seems a bit overstated with thirty-plus
years of GIS use and billions of dollars spent. Still, there certainly
are challenges in sharing and using data from other systems, which is
the type of interoperability that Global Geomatics is addressing.
The product uses an in-memory
model, referred to as a transient object model (proprietary) to move
data from its native format to a desktop GIS. Global Geomatics provides
MapFusion extensions to MapInfo, GeoConcept (a French GIS), AutoCAD (not
Autodesk Map or any other flavored product), and ArcView. The company
also provides their own MapFusion Workstation, a desktop GIS with basic
“GIS viewer” functionality. The Web version distributes HMTL maps,
delivers “smart map” features to desktop packages with the MapFusion
extension and provides for a metadata repository. The metadata solution
is “smart” and will pull available information into the repository.
It will tease out what it can when data is loaded and allows updates as
information becomes available.
If the concept sounds a bit
familiar, that’s because it’s based on the company’s OGDI
technology, which has been around for some time. OGDI was originally
developed for the Canadian military. The biggest competitor for this
technology, according to Global Geomatics, is the military mindset or
culture. The company doesn’t see desktop GIS, which reads many formats
(such as GeoMedia), or Safe Software’s translation tools in the same
The commercial sector will
see the product as part of original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
solutions provided by partners under other brands. For now, Global
Geomatics’ two references are GlobXplorer, a data publishing and sales
website, and the Kentucky Office of Geographic Information. The latter
is an ESRI shop that uses other data formats.
How does this solution work
with the Open GIS Consortium’s (OGC) interoperability solutions? This
is “data only” interoperability; it does not address the
interoperability of services. On the data interoperability side, Global
Geomatics supports OGC’s GML.
Global Geomatics Introduces
“On-the-Fly” Interoperability http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/121201GlobalGeo.htm
THE WIRELESS SKY IS FALLING
It’s been a bad week for
wireless Internet providers. EarthLink, one of the largest Internet
Service Providers (ISPs), purchased the assets of OmniSky on Friday,
subject to approval. Yada Yada, only a year old, announced it would shut
down on Thursday. Arch Wireless owes creditors about $2 billion and
filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday.
In the past year at least
eight companies offering some type of wireless Internet connection have
shown indications of financial challenges. Why? Analysts cite the
natural weeding out expected in a new sector. Also, with more wireless
phone carriers offering faster Internet connectivity, the pure wireless
providers are having trouble competing. Sarah Kim, of The Yankee Group,
suggests that the wireless ISPs are still not offering a compelling
product, “[People] buy the service, spend $300 to buy a wireless modem
and get 9.6K connections? It's just not thrilling.”
Even well known Ricochet,
which shut down this year, was only able to capture 51,000 customers -
more than half of them in California. The vision of always on,
on-the-run, access is seeming further away all the time.
EarthLink to take over
EarthLink to Buy OmniSky
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Tiny Rhode Island is set to
become the first state to be able to implement cell phone-based E-911.
The enhanced system is expected to be up and running next week. Alas,
only Sprint sells phones capable of using it.
- Leica announced some new
FREE training in its latest newsletter (can you think of a vendor who
doesn’t have a newsletter, these days?) There’s a fairly good intro
to GPS, and discussions of Rapid Static GPS and Automatic Target
Recognition. You’ll need Macromedia Shockwave, but I’m not sure why.
The courses use only simple slides. These training sessions will not
train a viewer in the use of Leica products, but will instead provide
- Special kudos this week to
Kent Knudsen, GSEC, Office of Information Resources Security, Computing
& Information Services (ITIM) Texas A&M University. I received a
virus-laced reply regarding GIS Monitor from an account at the school. I’ve
learned that trying to send e-mail to the individual who is infected
rarely succeeds in anything but receiving further infected messages. So,
I sent my concern to the webmaster of the site. I was asked for further
information and later received a thank you and confirmation that the
owner of the account had been provided with a cleaning utility, so I
should have no further problems. Well done, Texas A&M, you are
setting a great example for all of us!
- At the International
Association for Exhibition Management Expo URHere and ActiveMaps showed
off three new products: an online map of Washington, D.C. that allows a
user to listen to information about the city’s historical and cultural
attractions, a mobile version for use on the iPAQ personal digital
assistant (PDA) and a printed map that allows tourists to use their cell
phones to access audio information about the city’s attractions. The
online demo of Washington D.C. provides some clickable audio information
in categories for parents, kids and history. Each one provided poor
quality audio (I’m on a high speed line) and the “kids” version
for the White House made no sense. I see room for improvement here.
- Jack Shroder, a professor
of geography and geology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, who led
a project to map Afghanistan, says the innermost caves in that country
may be impervious to US attacks. The deep caves, he suggests, may
require “gassing” to force out those in hiding.
- As of early December
MapQuest has removed “My MapQuest” from its site. That feature,
requiring a log-in, allowed a visitor to store maps and routes,
store that information. Although those who hate cookies may not be
happy, MapQuest will no doubt gain back some of its server storage
- Paul Crisp of Syntegra
passed along some calculations from a colleague based on the numbers in
last week’s article about tracking dog poop with a GPS receiver.
“Ermmmm... One Mile - 1,600
meters. 1,600 meters - 1,494 mounds of poop. So he must have a hand held
GPS that's 1m accurate... Or he's counting multiple mounds - that's
cheating. I bet his data isn't good enough for a RobotPooperScooper....”
NEW LIST AT TENLINKS
WEEK IN REVIEW
Dec 12 - Autodesk/Fiat
Deliver LBS to Telecom Italia Mobile
Connect TIM delivers
navigation, concierge and mobile commerce services to wireless
subscribers. This is the first taker for Autodesk’s location-based
service offering that was recently moved “from the car to the phone.”
Dec 12 - LizardTech Announces
MrSID Geo 1.5 http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/121201LT.htm
MrSID Geo 1.5 new features
include: Enhanced statistics generation, Flexible TIFF mosaicking, JPEG
and JPEG with World File (.jgw) image support, Ability to launch a MrSID
viewer from within the encoder, ability to mosaic imagery with slightly
different x,y resolution.
Dec 12 - Kivera Announces
Migration Option for MapQuest Customers http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/121201Kivera.htm
Michael Fisher, executive
vice president of Kivera, says, “Companies who have already replaced
MapQuest with Kivera have done so due to our low cost of ownership,
optimized services and proven customer satisfaction.” Don’t look for
more info on the company website, a one-page PDF gives only a phone
number and no details.
Dec 12 - Security Hold Lifted
on Radar Maps http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20011211/us/attacks_maps_2.html
NASA has begun giving
scientists access to portions of extraordinarily accurate 3D maps of
Earth's surface that were placed under a security embargo following the
Sept. 11 attacks. Scientists can access US data, but no foreign data.
Further, they are prohibited from making the information the do
Dec 11 - Snowflake Announces
Free Viewer for OS MasterMap http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/121101Snow.htm
This is Java based, too, for
those on non-Windows platforms.
Dec 11 - Sanborn Announces
Plan to Consolidate its Divisions http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/121101Sanborn.htm
The acquisitions moving to
the Sanborn name after the first of the year include the Colorado
Springs office of Analytical Surveys, Inc., Williams-Stackhouse, based
in San Antonio, Texas; Barton Aerial Technologies, based in Columbus,
Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina-based Aero-Dynamics; St. Louis,
Missouri-based Walker Associates; and Rochester, New York-based Lockwood
Mapping Company. Good move on Sanborn’s part – the name is
synonymous with mapping; it should be used to advantage.
Dec 11 - MxInsight GIS
Provide Weather Info For Geography Network http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/011211/hstu010_1.html
A new subscription service
provides real-time weather via the Geography Network.
Dec 11 - OS MasterMap
Benefits from Laser-Scan Technology http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/121101LS.htm
Laser-Scan helped build the
Dec 11 - DVI To Offer GDT
Products in MicroStation Format http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/f_headline.cgi?bw.121001/213442220
I’d be curious about the
size of the market for this product. However, if DVI simply converts the
data on demand, they may make a few dollars. This is how ADCi, who
pioneered mapping data for CAD, has been successful.
Dec 10 - Matthew Smith Named
President of Leica Geosystems http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/121001Lecia.htm
Smith was Leica Geosystems'
GPS business development director for North America; in his new
position, he will focus his efforts on providing spatial data
acquisition products and services that help customers increase their
Dec 10 - BAE SYSTEMS Focuses
on Support of Interoperability http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/121001OGC.htm
BAE has joined OGC at the “highest”
Dec 10 - Syncline Launches
MapCiti Academic Program http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/011210/102172_1.html
All educational institutions
qualify for special rates that start at $5000.
Dec 07 - Atlas-Arc GIS
Migration Pak Offered By RPM For $895 http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/120701RPM.htm
Upon proof of purchase,
registered users of MapInfo, Maptitude, MapPoint or any other commercial
GIS or mapping software can obtain a copy of both Atlas GIS 4.0 and
ArcView GIS 8.1 for just $895, which is less than half the normal retail
price. The offer is good only through December 31, 2001. Think about it,
ArcView (US only) is $1,500 at the ESRI store – this is a DEAL. Hey,
buy one, take the ArcView and give the Atlas to an aspiring student or
colleague. Atlas is a great package to learn on!
Dec 07 - GITA Publishes
Fourth Annual Geospatial Technology Report http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/120701GITA.htm
The report contains detailed
information on the completeness, complexity and direction of geographic
information system (GIS) projects being implemented at 157
infrastructure-based organizations. Look for a review in an upcoming
Dec 07 - AGI Assists
Massachusetts to Develop Shared GIS Services http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/120701AGI.htm
The proposed Shared GIS
Service architecture capitalizes on recent industry advancements in
services-oriented architecture standards, including the SOAP, WSDL and
UDDI standards. Don’t know what those mean? I didn’t either but fear
we all will soon.
Dec 07 - Webraska Provides
Location Aware Upgrade for Orange UK http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/120701Webraska.htm
The upgraded service offered
by Orange UK now allows the user to be automatically located by the
network rather than typing in the address themselves which was the “old”
Dec 07 - New Brunswick Power
Selects ESRI Technology http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/120701ESRICA.htm
ESRI's technology will be
part of the replacement program for their existing outage management
Dec 06 - TCS Powers New
Verizon Wireless Messaging and more http://www.corporate-ir.net/ireye/ir_site.zhtml?ticker
From a website, it is
possible to send text messages to Verizon phones.
Dec 06 - NovaLIS Technologies
Merges with Partner TerraSoft http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/120601Novalis.htm
The two companies are
combining development, but are keeping their own names and customers.
This makes me scratch my head.
Dec 06 - Online Gaming Sites
Choose Quova GeoPoint http://www.quova.com/pressrelease.cfm?ID=28
There are different laws for
gambling in different geographies. So, online gambling has to “know
where you are” to obey them. Seven such sites are now using Quova’s
GeoPoint to do just that.
Dec 06 - City of Beloit Signs
R.A. Smith & Associates http://www.tenlinks.com/MapGIS/news/pr/120601RASmith.htm
R.A. Smith & Associates,
Inc., civil engineers and surveyors, Brookfield, is assisting the city
of Beloit with implementing the first phase of their new GIS.
Dec 06 - ECW Becomes
One more viewer supports ECW.
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