2005 December 15


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Editor's Introduction

This week I bring you 25 responses to a set of four questions that I posed to about 200 GIS practicioners, developers, and managers. (Next week I will bring you a second batch of responses.) Plus, my usual round-up of news from press releases (by coincidence, 25 news items).

— Matteo

Industry Survey:
What was big news this year and what do you wish for next year?

This week I asked a couple of hundred GIS practitioners, developers, and managers in the private and public sectors to answer four questions, in a very informal survey. Following are some of the answers I received, lightly copyedited. Next week I will bring you a second batch. If you would like to contribute your answers, please send them to me.

A few clarifications are in order here. First, while I sent these questions mostly to people whose primary focus is on GIS, I also included a smattering of people in the allied fields of GPS, surveying, remote sensing, and IT. Second, I intended for respondents to answer my second and third question from their individual perspective while looking outward and surveying their niche in the geospatial industry. Instead, most responses I received were from the corporate perspective — partly, I think, because the possessive adjective "your" in my first three questions was ambiguous — and focused inward on each company. (For this reason, I put the responses in alphabetical order by company.) So, the answers I include below are a bit uneven. Still, I hope they provide a useful and stimulating snapshot of our industry.

This survey isn't a contest, of course. If it were, however, the hands-down winner would be Google Earth — cited by more than one third of the respondents as the single biggest technological and/or business development in the geospatial industry this year.

  1. What is your niche in the geospatial industry?

  2. What was the single biggest technological development in your niche this year?

  3. What was the single biggest business development in your niche this year?

  4. What technological or business development would make your company more profitable next year? [Alternative wording, for public agencies: "What technological or business development would make your agency's work more cost-effective next year?"]


Army Topographical Engineering Center
Bradshaw Consulting Services, Inc.
CyberCity 3D, LLC
Data East, LLC
Dynamix Corporation
Electronic Data Solutions
Ellis GeoSpatial
Eugene Water & Electric Board
Extract Systems
Geographic Resource Solutions
Intergraph Corporation
Marion County, Oregon
Precision Lightworks, LLC
Tele Atlas
Visual Learning Systems, Inc
Z Corporation
Zekiah Technologies, Inc.

Company/Agency: Army Topographical Engineering Center
Respondent: Robert Burkhardt, Director
  1. The Army's Topographic Engineering Center (TEC) provides unique geospatial engineering and intelligence support to our nation's warfighters by providing the best geospatial tools and services the Army can offer. The focus of our activity is to produce the best shared situational awareness while transitioning to full net-centric battle command and intelligence operations.

  2. The most significant development from the Army's TEC is the continued spiraling and evolution of the BuckEye System. Born out of the need for a field-expedient change detection system to aid in detecting improvised explosive devices (IEDs), BuckEye has rapidly evolved from only producing high resolution imagery over a commander's area of interest to now providing both high resolution electro-optical (EO) imagery and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) imagery. The BuckEye provides commanders with the geospatial information they need to visualize the battlefield by providing high resolution imagery; geospatial intelligence; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); elevation data; and detail maps of the urban battlefield. The future of BuckEye will marry infrared scanning capability with EO and LIDAR imagery. Our goal is to see the Buckeye fielded with every Army terrain team to ensure service members have the edge they need to win the war.

  3. The Army TEC Joint Geospatial Enterprise Services (JGES) Science and Technology initiative has been a significant business development during the past year. As the program approaches its third spiral, it is acting as an incubator for science and technology projects that support our nation's military. The JGES program provides the environment to foster geospatial compatibility of multiple systems that the warfighters need while offering a test bed for others to flourish and grow. The vast array of tools Army TEC provides to the warfighter are all compatible in the JGES environment. Additionally, Army TEC is working closely with academia, industry, and other federal agencies to provide this framework to ensure future enhancements in a net-centric environment that cries out for synergy among the geospatial tools. JGES is the basis for the synergy to occur.

  4. More robust funding of the Geospatial Logical Data Modeling effort for the Army Battlespace Environment (ABE) project, which is key to connecting Geospatial data between NGA, FCS DCGS-A, and JC2.

Company/Agency: Avenza
Respondent: Ted Florence, President
  1. This is really hard to say for us and I suppose our position has changed recently with the release of our new Geographic Imager product. I would say that our niche is to provide reasonably priced yet extremely functional software that bridges the gap between traditional GIS and the widespread publishing and design environments.

  2. I would say the release of Geographic Imager for Adobe Photoshop.

  3. Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia.

  4. Further adoption of the concept of using the graphics environment (both vector and raster) for doing geospatial work. This and the wish that ESRI and other GIS market leaders would recognize the standard we have created and work with us to make their products more compatible with ours.

Company/Agency: Axiom
Respondent: Ivan A. Pena, Vice President for Marketing
  1. To provide time-saving software and effective training solutions to geospatial professionals using MicroStation

  2. The unveiling of MicroStation V8 XM Edition

  3. Perhaps our release of the first ever GEOPAK training CD-ROM library.

  4. The official release of MicroStation V8 XM Edition.

Company/Agency: Bradshaw Consulting Services, Inc.
Respondent: Timothy M. De Troye, Product Manager
  1. We are an ESRI Business Partner and we focus on public safety (police/EMS/fire) as well as mobile GIS. We provide software solutions, services, and training for ESRI and Trimble products.

  2. Strengthening in the server-side application development arena such as ESRI's ArcWeb Services, and ArcGIS Server, which allow for the dissemination of data, analysis, and solutions from a centralized location. This seems to be the direction in which applications and solutions are continuing to head. This year represents a big step in their growth, and over time they will continue to get more and more robust in the functionality that they provide. This will allow them to be an increasingly important component to many distributed spatially-enabled solutions.

  3. With the release of ArcGIS 9.1, ESRI also made available Network Analyst. This kind of analysis can greatly assist public safety organizations with meeting or exceeding specific response guidelines as set forth by federal, state, and local agencies.

  4. Technologically speaking, developments which would help make us more profitable next year would include expansion of wireless bandwidth. As wireless bandwidth continues to become available over larger and larger geographic areas (and at higher speeds), applications and solutions will also increasingly utilize mobile technology as an outlet and a means of transferring input/out directly to/from servers, further taking advantage of server-based GIS applications.

Company/Agency: CyberCity 3D, LLC
Respondent: Jacqui Swartz, Account Manger / Executive
  1. CyberCity 3D builds interactive, geo-referenced, high-resolution, computer-based 3D city and terrain models for visualization. Our models are used to develop and explore concepts and alternatives through communication, business development, and planning. Our target markets include engineers, planners, architects, real-estate development, GIS, the entertainment industry, and public outreach.

  2. CyberCity's single biggest technological development in our niche this year has been to cost-effectively and productively visualize massive amounts of geographic data in 3D within a standard PC environment.

  3. CyberCity's single biggest business development in our niche this year has been a contract award to produce a 3D terrain exploration model of a large infrastructure project in Southern California, valued at more than $75,000.

  4. The technological development that will make our company more profitable next year is the Los Angeles Region — Imagery Acquisition Consortium, a comprehensive plan organized by the county to obtain highly accurate digital imagery. The digital imagery is of great value to CyberCity 3D since it is the initial requirement in building our models. Having off-the-shelf data cuts costs for our firm as well as for our clients.

Company/Agency: Data East, LLC
Respondent: Andrei Elobogoev, Head of Software Department
  1. GIS software development, custom development services, ESRI software customization, and functionality extending

  2. Google entering the geospatial market with its Google Maps and Earth. We think this was the most prominent and industry-influencing technological development this year.

  3. ArcGIS 9.1 release

  4. ArcGIS 9.2 release, as some of our efforts in the joint projects with ESRI are planned to be included in 9.2. Besides, continuing expansion of ESRI software and technology worldwide is always important for us since most of our products and services are around ESRI products.

Company/Agency: Dewberry
Respondent: Phil Thiel, Vice President
  1. Dewberry provides a wide range of specialized professional services. We focus on the following performance areas: disaster and emergency response management, data development, quality assurance and quality control, and professional consulting services.

  2. The emergence of open source solutions such as the Google Maps API has had a major impact on the industry. We think that we'll see geospatial applications and Web services proliferate as a result of this kind of technology, pushing data and analytical functions to end users, while at the same time allowing public and private agencies to centralize and create enterprise solutions.

  3. The single biggest business development is fully deploying our ESRI Enterprise License Agreement and rolling out GIS tools to the entire Dewberry Enterprise. With this initiative, we intend to fully enable all disciplines within the company with GIS technology. We will be using GIS in every aspect of our business — including land development, transportation design, facilities management, and environmental planning.

  4. The single biggest development that would make a difference to us is a national strategy for geospatial data. Currently there is no organized, national program for reliably (and efficiently) collecting and distributing geospatial information, in spite of the great strides that have been made in some areas. A recent report by NSGIC identified the impact of this situation. Their study showed that there are hundreds of uncoordinated programs across the country plagued by duplicated effort, higher costs, and varying quality. If everyone could collaborate on a single strategy for data collection then there would be better collaborative funding and in turn bigger projects. Also, less money per client would be spent on data collection, leaving more money for application development and actual utilization of the data.

Company/Agency: Dynamix Corporation
Respondent: Adrian L. Price, Sr. Vice President, Computer Services
  1. Dynamix Corporation views our strengths in spatial data management and geospatial professional staffing services. Our team of experts has headed the industry in terms of the mining, acquisition, quality assurance, and preparation of locally-provided spatial data for both the public and private sector. Dynamix has also provided staff for a variety of geospatial efforts, including cadastral mapping, disaster response, disease proliferation modeling, GPS collection, GIS/GPS training, and GIS programming.

  2. Dynamix Corporation has introduced a wastewater profiling plug-in for ESRI's ArcGIS that aids production technicians in quality control efforts. This tool produces profile views of 3-dimensional data that mimic plan-and-profile engineering hardcopy information used for digitization, in order to simplify quality control visualization techniques. This tool is also capable of identifying both 2D and 3D topological inconsistencies in wastewater data.

  3. Dynamix has recently expanded its staffing services to support disaster response efforts and the heath care industry.

  4. Dynamix Corporation is currently active in developing geospatial tools and analysis to aid in vulnerability studies of critical network infrastructure. We believe this effort can greatly aid in revealing infrastructure that would be vulnerable to failure in catastrophic events and assist in disaster planning, protection, and response.

Company/Agency: Electronic Data Solutions
Respondent: Jim Lahm, GPS/GIS Specialist
  1. I am in GPS-GIS sales, training, and troubleshooting.

  2. The sub-foot GPS mapping system for under $5,000.

  3. Partnering with other companies allowing us to offer more comprehensive systems.

  4. The continued development of partnerships, offering more sophisticated technical support services, and continued integration of technology from other manufacturers allowing us to offer more capable systems.

Company/Agency: Ellis GeoSpatial
Respondent: James Ellis, Principal
  1. Building new content/information layers for GIS from remote sensing and DEM (digital elevation model) data. Focus on environmental baselines and geologic applications.

  2. Google Earth

  3. Google Earth

  4. Asset managers considering 4D GIS (x,y, elevation, time) a cost-effective investment for basic environmental applications, given the immense inventory of digital data that is available from agencies; the ease of conversion; and the fact that assets, people, and the environment operate in (at least) a 4D world.

Company/Agency: Eugene Water & Electric Board
Respondent: Kevin Biersdorff, GeoGraphics Supervisor
  1. Like most other utilities, we employ geospatial technology to model our water, electric, telecommunications, and steam systems as virtual networks. These models begin as a merely graphic inventory of equipment rendered with only relative accuracy on a non-standard projection, and then, over time, mature to fully attributed and connected features with a high degree of geopositional accuracy.

  2. Utilities in general, and public utilities in particular, have been very conservative in the deployment of new technologies. The ones that we are currently investigating were the "biggest technological developments" five or even ten years ago. These developments don't even show up on our radar screen until they have shown staying power for several years and begin to show maturity and acceptance by larger utilities. This conservative bent, along with ongoing resource constraints related to aging infrastructure, and a deep commitment to public benefit keeps us at a safe distance from the 'bleeding edge.'

  3. We have been largely immune to any developments this year (even though our prime migration vendor, Miner & Miner, was acquired by Telvent). Some of us have loaded up Google Earth, and watch with interest their foray into the spatial arena (they have the money to really shake up Location Based Services), but it is not clear yet whether or how this product will integrate with our core utility business processes.

Company/Agency: Extract Systems
Respondent: Jeff Krause, Regional Sales Manager
  1. The IcoMap product line utilizes mathematically based optical character recognition that allows users in both the government and title insurance space to dramatically increase their mapping productivity. In addition, our professional services group is now contracted with several major underwriters to build GIS-based workflow processes and tools, automating much of the mapping and locating function of the title plant.

  2. The widespread adoption of ArcGIS 9.x has allowed us to focus on developing for the ESRI platform. The IcoMap 4.0 release allows for even great time savings when mapping and, as an ArcGIS extension, is even more tightly integrated with ArcView, ArcEditor, and ArcInfo.

  3. Our billable work and software sales of GIS-based mapping products increased more than 80 percent to title insurance companies over 2004. On the software side, IcoMap is becoming the standard for easement and parcel mapping for commercial and builder services title operations on the West Coast. In terms of operations, we are assisting several major underwriters who are moving from a paper-based mapping and locating process to a true GIS-based title production model.

  4. A continued strong housing market will keep the pressure on title insurance operations to become more productive and competitive. Our products and services directly address this need, making them more profitable.

Company/Agency: Geographic Resource Solutions
Respondent: Kenneth A. Stumpf, Director, Remote Sensing Applications
  1. We provide GIS database development and processing services, with particular emphasis on landcover / fire-fuel mapping based on satellite image processing and classification.

  2. Google Earth

  3. Same answer — Google Earth

  4. Google Earth — we are already using it to supplement our efforts on two ongoing projects involving GIS data development and satellite image processing. We will likely use it more this upcoming year.

Company/Agency: GeoNorth
Respondent: Marshall Payne, Principal / NW Operations Manager
  1. GeoNorth is focused on GIS enabling enterprises of all sizes. We provide traditional consulting services such as needs analysis, implementation planning, and application development. GeoNorth also develops commercial software products for the desktop and the Internet. However, our specialty is integrating GIS with other business systems — such as permitting, land records management, maintenance management, etc. GeoNorth has successfully integrated GIS with several business systems, both commercial and developed in-house.

  2. The recent efforts of Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo along with commercial data providers, GPS, and navigation system providers have massively elevated GIS awareness in all industries worldwide. We see the technology used in these solutions, how information is presented to the user, ease of use, and open API's as some of the biggest technology advances this year.

  3. Consumer adoption of GIS and the realization by non-GIS business system providers that GIS adds significant functionality and value to their solution. Adoption and awareness have been achieved through marketing, the press, commercial navigation systems, and the release of Google Earth. More importantly, software vendors have recognized that it is perhaps more cost effective to develop open APIs rather than attempting to directly offer and support their own GIS functionality. This provides GIS solution providers and end-customers with options and flexibility. It also allows software companies to remain focused on their core solution, be it document management, permitting, or maintenance management.

  4. GeoNorth will continue to innovate new solutions, help clients leverage their existing investments, be responsive, and provide the best possible solutions and services. These all contribute to the health of our company.

Company/Agency: Intergraph Corporation
Respondent: David D. Holmes, Director of Product Management, Security, Government & Infrastructure (SG&I;) Division
  1. Intergraph provides geospatial solutions for the government, public safety, utilities and communication, transportation, military and intelligence, and photogrammetry industries. We are focused on providing open, scalable, and seamless geospatial solutions to improve business operations in these industries.

  2. Improving the ability to fuse data to form Common Operating Pictures for military and emergency operational decision making. High volumes of vector and imagery data along with text and surface data can be easily integrated, analyzed, and viewed for decision making. This includes integrating different formats, coordinate systems, databases, schemas, and map scales.

  3. The introduction of the consumer-level Google Maps, Google Earth, and MSN Virtual Earth websites has increased the value and usage of geospatial data across our industries. This is helping to motivate more creative usage of geospatial information in business processes.

  4. We will continue to introduce the combination of Public Safety dispatch solutions, Emergency Operation Center (EOC) command and control solutions, and incident planning / preparation solutions to provide complete security solutions for the government, public safety, and transportation industries.

Company/Agency: LizardTech
Respondent: Carlos Domingo, President and CEO
  1. We provide state of the art wavelet-based technology (MrSID and JPEG2000) to more efficiently manage, process, and distribute large amounts of high-resolution geospatial imagery.

  2. The biggest technological development has been the endorsement of GML in JPEG2000 as an OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) standard for geographical imagery, a standard that was developed and submitted by LizardTech in collaboration with Galdos and other organizations. GML has traditionally been associated with vectors but the new specification endorsed by OGC is going to take GML into the realm of imagery and will be a great improvement over the geospatial image metadata management capabilities available in other commonly used metadata formats, such as GeoTIFF.

  3. For our company, the biggest business development was the announcement of our relationship with Oracle to provide native wavelet support in MrSID and JPEG2000 for Oracle 10gR2. How to efficiently store and retrieve geospatial imagery in a database has been a poorly addressed problem, and a partnership with the leading database vendor coupled with our long expertise in wavelet technology will certainly be a very important development towards solving geospatial image management and distribution problems for our customers.

  4. The problem of distributing geospatial imagery while interoperating with different applications is still largely unsolved and the company that steps up and really fixes this problem will certainly become more profitable. We think that after ten years of work in wavelet technology, and more recent work with standard bodies like OGC or database vendors like Oracle, our company has the requisite expertise and technology to improve upon the ways geospatial imagery is handled. Now is the time to assemble all the pieces we have been working on into a more complete solution that helps our customers improve their image workflows and hopefully brings us greater profitability on the way.

Company/Agency: Marion County, Oregon
Respondent: Steve Ford, GIS Analyst, Department of Public Works
Editor's note: For the sake of consistency I am heading this response with the name of the author's agency. However, he prefaced his response with this disclaimer: "The views expressed are my personal, professional observations and neither speak for, nor represent, Marion County government or its Departments in any fashion."
  1. Provide county government employees and county citizens with decision-support services via geospatial-related mapping products and provide tailored, Web-based GIS business mapping applications which improve the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of county resources.

  2. Improvement in 3D information display techniques coupled with advancement in hardware processing capabilities.

  3. Hurricane Katrina events mandated increased and improved GIS applications / techniques for government emergency management preparedness. Federal funding for emergency preparedness was a significant business development. Local focus on very realistic emergency drills, scenarios, and preparedness has increased by several orders of magnitude and thus elevated GIS to a very significant/visible member of the emergency response team.

  4. Quicker and more robust hardware processing capabilities for rendering and visualizing raster and TIN products in an emergency. Visualization of analyzed/integrated data is the fastest and most efficient decision-support tool/methodology for emergency management decision-makers.

Company/Agency: MetaCarta
  1. MetaCarta, and the technology we provide, occupy a unique place in the GIS market. MetaCarta's technology plays a key role in delivering actionable intelligence, by automatically fusing traditional GIS, based on structured data, with unstructured text content. MetaCarta GTS is the only solution that can take massive amounts of text content and provide geospatial search with a map-based results display. Both of MetaCarta's flagship products, GTS and GeoTagger, provide massive productivity gains to organizations that have a geographic focus and large amounts of unstructured data in their decision-making processes. Only GTS and GeoTagger are able to automatically detect geographic references in natural language text and resolve them to places on the earth (Lat/Lon).

  2. We believe that the biggest development this year is the development and interest in the new class of geographic visualization tools for the Web (intranet and Internet), which have exposed a wider audience to geospatial presentations of complex content.

  3. Geospatial analysis and visualization has begun to emerge as an enterprise-level service that is applicable to a wide range of business processes. These solutions are no longer just niche products that make maps.

  4. We believe that the nexus of both the technological innovations and business developments mentioned in the previous questions will lead to increased profitability, as more organizations and individuals understand the value of geospatial integration with their knowledge management efforts.

Company/Agency: Precision Lightworks, LLC
Respondent: Ellery Y. Chan, Owner and Chief Technologist
  1. We provide technology for the rapid construction of highly accurate, highly realistic 3D urban datasets modeled and texture-mapped from aerial or satellite photography, packaged to be very affordable and usable. You don't need to be a photogrammetry expert or a traditional 3D modeler to get good results from our software, yet it's built to handle the large amounts of data with which geospatial professionals are accustomed to dealing.

  2. 3D viewing technologies capable of interactively handling real geospatial data beyond just maps and terrain are finally becoming a reality. Faster graphics hardware, smarter software that caches and pages data to improve interactivity, more bandwidth, and more data accessible through standard Web services all drive that.

  3. There are many favorable trends, but I think that the introduction of Google Earth may have done the most to raise the awareness, change the thinking, and increase the number of geospatial data consumers. It will be exciting to see what new ideas and new opportunities evolve from that.

  4. I think the current trends will continue, and I am hoping an expansion in thought will proliferate in the geospatial community that will relax the pervasive 2D, orthorectified, North-up assumptions. Our users would benefit from easy online availability of unprocessed high-resolution aerial photography, now normally just used to create orthomosaics. They would also benefit from support for 3D data types in OGC standards like WFS. In the short-term, however, if Google Earth or one of its competitors added a no-nonsense capability to display texture-mapped 3D cities our user base would grow considerably.

Company/Agency: Surdex
Respondent: Randy Burkham, Sr. Vice President, Customer Solutions
  1. High quality and timely delivery in aerial photography acquisition and photogrammetry.

  2. Digital camera

  3. Not a single event, hard work, focused efforts.

  4. Same as #3

Company/Agency: Tele Atlas
Respondent: Don Cooke, founder of GDT, now part of Tele Atlas
  1. Our niche is to supply the best digital maps and dynamic location content to end users and partners. I love seeing how quickly we've moved from GDT being the Business Geographics street data provider to a much richer global role as part of Tele Atlas, and without compromising our obsession with getting things right and bonding with customers and partners.

  2. The biggest technical development is clearly the open interfaces to services like Google Earth & Local, Microsoft Live Local, and Amazon A9. It's really nice to be a key supplier to such innovative and visible companies as they introduce increasingly intriguing products.

  3. For Tele Atlas, it's the coming-of-age of personal navigation devices. I've stopped renting a Neverlost from Hertz when I'm on the road; I bring my own TomTom now. I've taken it out to California twice now, and both times when I've re-installed it in my car back home, it hasn't balked at computing a 52-hour, 3,000-mile commute from the Hertz depot at SFO where I last turned it off to my office in New Hampshire. Then a few seconds later, when it gets a GPS fix — still inside my garage — it quickly recalculates a more appropriate route. I need to download the John Cleese voice for it, and perhaps even sexy Sylvia. I love the TomTom — especially because if I find an occasional map glitch, I can make corrections for the next data release myself!

  4. Tough question, as I think all we need to do is execute our business plan; I have a lot of confidence in all areas of our operations. We're ahead of the game in technology, just having bought GeoInvent. I'd like to see several large companies — currently wedded to the "industry leader" — take another look at the new Tele Atlas. I think they'd like what they see!

Company/Agency: Trimble
  1. Trimble provides complete GPS systems for the collection, maintenance, and use of geospatial data.

  2. Trimble introduced subfoot accuracy for GIS data collection and maintenance in April of 2005. Subfoot accuracy is especially important for utilities and telecommunications customers and others where the need for higher accuracy is critical.

  3. The expansion and evolution of our business partner channel, which focuses on creating and delivering customized solutions. Our business partners use Trimble technology along with their own solutions to address our customers' specific needs.

  4. [Declined to answer.]

Company/Agency: Visual Learning Systems, Inc
Respondent: Rebecca Holman, Marketing and Sales
  1. Automated feature extraction (AFE) software solutions for the geospatial industry.

  2. Release of LiDAR Analyst for automated extraction of 3D features from airborne LiDAR. Release of Feature Analyst 4.0 which is now available on all of the leading GIS and remote sensing software applications including ArcGIS, ERDAS IMAGINE, GeoMedia and SOCET SET.

  3. Insertion of Feature Analyst into the NGA's IEC baseline geospatial production environment.

  4. VLS continues to automate the collection of 2D and 3D geospatial features from imagery — LiDAR radar, scanned maps, etc. &$151 and provides a complete integrated workflow with the industry leaders in commercial GIS and remote sensing software for feature collection, editing, and attribution.

Company/Agency: Z Corporation
Respondent: Roger A Kelesoglu, Director, Business Development
  1. Affordable, full-color 3D printing

  2. The release of our new high-definition color 3D printers, which can print models at 600 DPI.

  3. Z Corp and Contex Scanning have merged. Contex has a significant presence in the GIS and AEC vertical markets and the ability to make 3D printers available to a wider audience.

  4. We will benefit from the upward trend in adoption of 3D software for visualization and analysis by GIS & AEC professionals.

Company/Agency: Zekiah Technologies, Inc.
Respondent: Bill Dollins, Senior Vice President
  1. We view our niche as the integration of geospatial technologies with traditional IT systems to extend the benefits of spatial analysis to non-spatial data. We have primarily focused on the delivery of custom GIS solutions for the Web and the desktop to the homeland security / homeland defense, critical infrastructure protection, and defense markets.

  2. I'm not certain whether you want us to answer this question with respect to just us or the industry as a whole. Therefore, I'll answer it both ways. For us, our big technological development was the delivery of four variations of the HD-MAP system to other customers, in coordination with our primary HD-MAP customer. One of those versions was deployed on the Internet to support the Navy's search and recovery efforts in response to Hurricane Katrina and became the primary geospatial visualization and analysis tool for their remote teams. For the industry as a whole, the single biggest technological development seems to be Google Earth. We are hearing about it everywhere now. It seems to be driving the development of more robust free data viewers across the industry.

  3. For us, the single biggest business development has been the introduction of the ESRI Developer Network (EDN). It has made it extremely affordable to get up and running with their product line and has greatly reduced our production and R&D; development costs. It could use some improvement but ESRI is on the right track with this one.

  4. For us, it would be helpful if key players in the homeland security community, such as DHS and the US Northern Command, would finalize and publish their geospatial requirements in order to give the industry a rallying point.

News Briefs

Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.


Varion Systems, the software development and value-added reseller division of GeoAnalytics, has completed a public deployment of PV.Web for Juneau County, Wisconsin. County residents can now view GIS layers located on Juneau County's home page.
     The Internet deployment has allowed the county to make available several GIS layers such as transportation (major roads, ROW, local roads, and railroads), parcels (lot dimensions, address points, parcels, and subdivisions), government features (town halls, congressional district, senate district, assembly district, and voting wards), critical facilities (police departments, fire departments, airports, EMS, county government, haz-mat, schools, churches, waysides, hospitals, and ESN), recreation (ATV trails, campgrounds, parks, boat landing, and snowmobile trails), environmental features (soils, dams, floodplain, wetlands, streams, lakes, rivers, and landcover), and boundary features (minor civil divisions, ZIP codes, fortys, sections, and PLSS townships).
     PV.Web puts the power of real GIS in the hands of an entire organization, its constituents, and its neighboring communities. Built on ESRI's ArcIMS technology, it allows anyone with a Web browser to easily navigate, browse, query, and report on both spatial and non-spatial land information. Implemented in 2004 as an Intranet application, PV.Web allowed the county to view GIS layers via a Web browser and eventually bring it to the public.

OneGIS has implemented an Enterprise GIS for Saint Vincent Electricity Services Ltd. (VINLEC), the electric company that serves the Caribbean country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The new GIS is based on the ArcGIS platform from ESRI and includes ArcFM from Miner & Miner, a Telvent Company, for managing the company's electrical facilities. The contract also includes ArcFM Mobile and Trimble GPS equipment for supporting VINLEC's own field data collection efforts.
     The project will utilize satellite imagery as a base layer along with the facility data being collected. In addition to the GIS software and desktop applications, OneGIS is also providing VINLEC with hardware for the new system as well as a custom interface for linking the new system to VINLEC's HTE customer billing system. OneGIS is also developing a custom ESRI ArcPad application that will aid in the collection of GPS data for the facilities being inventoried in the field. OneGIS will be training VINLEC employees on the new system as well as on the field data collection process. The new system will allow interdepartmental access to facility and network data for planning and analyses of the company's electrical network.

The Canadian Ice Service (CIS) has signed a one year agreement with MDA Geospatial Services to use RADARSAT-1 data to detect and monitor ice conditions in Canadian waters. CIS has been using RADARSAT-1 data since 1996 to provide information for safe marine vessel navigation and ship icebreaking activities. With its all-weather imaging, large area coverage, and frequent revisit cycle, the RADARSAT-1 satellite is a valuable data source for CIS and supplies it with as many as ten images a day. CIS receives the RADARSAT-1 data in as little as two hours after it is downlinked. It uses the data to generate detailed ice charts that it then sends electronically to workstations onboard marine vessels and applied to navigation and route planning purposes.

Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE, Inc., has selected GE Energy 's PowerOn product suite as the enterprise outage management system solution for its electric division. The PowerOn suite includes several applications including PowerOn Dispatch, reliability reporting, and a trouble call application. The product will integrate with existing applications, including Minnesota Power's ESRI Geodatabase.
     The PowerOn product suite will be integrated with applications such as work management, automated meter reading, and GE Energy's XA/21 energy management system. The project started in October 2005 and is scheduled to go live in the third quarter of 2006.

The City of Naperville's utility division, serving 55,000 electric customers in the state of Illinois, has completed its implementation of Designer and Workflow Manager. The city continues its use of GIS with the ArcFM Solution and finalized its latest investment with the inclusion of Designer, a GIS-based graphic design solution from Miner & Miner, a Telvent company.
     In 2004, the City decided to streamline its design engineering by leveraging the GIS and integrating it with HTE, its work order and financial system from SunGard, to simplify existing processes, improve workflow, and optimize the design cycle. The City also procured Miner & Miner services to deliver customized tools, including a CAD export tool and a custom cost engine that generates cost estimates in Designer based on the information in HTE.
     Currently, six designers utilize the technology, and additional users may be added over the next year.

EarthData has announced plans to work with Microsoft Corp. to bolster Windows Live Local powered by Virtual Earth, Microsoft's online mapping tool. Under the 5-year agreement, EarthData will supply Microsoft with new imagery, LiDAR, and radar data acquisition and map production support to keep Windows Live Local populated with current, accurate, high-resolution geospatial information. Microsoft will also have access to EarthData's own data archives. The agreement also includes research, development, and investment to improve production efficiency and develop new product offerings.

North East Water — the utility that provides water and wastewater services to a population of 95,000 Victorians in 36 towns, localities, and cities in North East Victoria, Australia — has selected Open Spatial Australia to supply its corporate spatial solutions. Bridging the gap between engineering (CAD applications) and GIS is a priority for all GIS users looking to improve productivity. Addressing the convergence of CAD and GIS data is a key differentiator in the Open Spatial offering. As an example, the ability to process drawings from development sub-divisions automatically into the corporate database for access by all staff throughout the organization will reduce the current time needed to validate as-constructed drawings and incorporate them into the GIS.
     Included in the offering is Munsys (spatial data management business system) and enlighten, Open Spatial's own browser-based spatial distribution solution. These applications are based on technologies from Oracle and Autodesk. The Open Spatial solution provides a single location-based user interface into the organization's many corporate applications and emphasizes minimizing data redundancies experienced by traditional GIS implementations.
     Oracle claims that between 80 to 90 percent of what a typical GIS user needs from a GIS can be delivered directly from the database. The power of Oracle combined with the CAD heritage of Autodesk delivers a level of accuracy and precision that is unprecedented to the GIS community.

LizardTech, a division of Celartem, Inc. that provides software solutions for managing and distributing digital content, has announced that the company's MrSID Generation 3 image compression format (MG3) is supported in ESRI's ArcPad 7, so that it can be used to view geospatial raster imagery on handheld devices.
     ArcPad allows field-based personnel to capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze, and display geographic information. Now with the MG3 implementation, ArcPad users can take advantage of GeoExpress' image compression functionality to repurpose an image for use on a handheld device. The ability to reproject and compress the images at differing compression ratios within the same mosaic will enable broader use of the imagery by remote field users and first responders in areas where remote access to geospatial imagery is critical. The integration of MrSID with ArcPad benefits users of images from the National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP). With NAIP's compressed county image mosaics being delivered in MG3 format, customers no longer have to double up their data by converting to MG2 to use it in ArcPad.
     Another LizardTech product, Express Server, has also been recently integrated with ESRI's ArcIMS. With ArcPad supporting MG3, users can keep their imagery in one place and in one format, and access it over the web in ArcIMS, locally via ArcMap, and remotely using ArcPad.

Bentley Systems, Incorporated has acquired RAM International, LLC, a provider of structural engineering software for building structures made from all major materials, including steel and concrete. RAM offerings include products for engineering modeling, analysis, and design. Bentley believes RAM is the most widely adopted software for these functions in the North American building industry. This acquisition follows Bentley's acquisition last month of the STAAD product line, also for structural design and analysis. RAM International's founder Michael Markovitz is now vice president at Bentley.

NVision Solutions, Inc. has acquired PixSell, Inc. for an undisclosed sum. NVision plans to operate the company as a wholly owned subsidiary, specializing in tracking and real-time data management. In the transaction, NVision received stock, assets, and existing contracts from PixSell, formerly PixSell Data Brokers. PixSell will act as the commercialization agent supporting NVision's proprietary tracking and data transmittal systems. The potential applications for this technology include fleet tracking, vehicle anti-theft, personal tracking, and real-time sensor array deployment. PixSell plans to launch three new tracking solutions and two different software solutions over the next three months.


ESRI has begun shipping version 3 of Job Tracking for ArcGIS (JTX). This latest version includes usability improvements, support for a variety of workflows, and new functionality. JTX is a solution-based extension to ArcGIS that provides an integration framework for ArcGIS multiuser geodatabase environments. This enterprise workflow management application simplifies and automates many aspects of job management and tracking and streamlines the workflow, resulting in improved efficiency and significant time savings for any enterprise GIS project (e.g., data maintenance and commercial mapping).
     New features of JTX include: numerous usability, performance, and accessibility improvements such as better integration with ArcGIS spatial tools, advanced query and visualization tools, extended APIs for custom functionality, and enhanced configurability; additional options and tools for creating jobs; ability to model and graphically interact with more advanced, real-world workflows that include branching, looping, and decision points; built-in e-mail notification capability with configurable subscribers, subject, and body for when certain actions are performed in JTX; new tools to allow relationships to be established between jobs; and support for annotation feature classes. JTX3 requires ArcSDE in addition to ArcInfo or ArcEditor 9.0 or 9.1.

Applanix has released POSPac AIR 4.3, the latest update to its airborne data post-processing software. Developed for the aerial survey and remote sensing industry, the software incorporates a series of application-specific tools for systems using the company's POS AV (Position and Orientation System, Airborne Vehicles) Direct Georeferencing technology. The software now enables data post-processing to be completed within one package and the toolsets are designed to optimize the data usage depending upon the sensor being georeferenced.
     Application-specific toolsets include photogrammetry tools for system calibration and quality control of direct georeferencing for frame cameras, tools for mission management and image development of DSS imagery, and processing tools for use with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). New to the photogrammetry tools is an automatic tie-point generation engine, for improved workflow efficiency. Several new enhancements to the GPS-aided inertial navigation processing tools have also been added, including improved coordinate transformations and simultaneous multiple base station processing in POSGPS via a single, simple step.

ESRI has released ArcWeb Services 2006, which extends on-demand mapping and GIS capabilities for Web developers. ArcWeb Services are mapping APIs that allow developers to integrate mapping and spatial functionality into Web-based applications. Highlights of the new release include new developer APIs, custom map and spatial query services, mobile location services, enhanced route finder service, a new administration portal, and map image service enhancements. The range of mapping data accessible through the ArcWeb Services APIs has also been expanded; data sources now include U.S. business listings, Navteq European Union data, reverse phone number location lookup service, and IP and domain name location lookup services.

ORBIT Geospatial Technologies, the GIS development department of Eurotronics, has released Orbit FlashMap, a solution for a wide range of Web mapping applications. The software blends seamlessly into the Orbit product range, connecting to the standard server system, and is updated by the Orbit GIS desktop GIS tool. Any data editing is immediately viewed online using the same server technology. The wide range of open APIs and format support makes it possible to integrate it in any environment.
     Orbit FlashMap is designed for webmasters, while presenting the proper tools for the GIS specialist. By choosing Macromedia Flash as user interface, Orbit FlashMap provides a rich user interface experience. To publish maps on the Internet, the user only needs to load them into the server, embed Orbit FlashMap into the relevant Web pages, and publish data using the Orbit GIS Publishing Wizard. All this takes less than one hour to set up.
     Orbit Geospatial Technologies delivers highly integrated spatial software, from low- to high-end applications. The Orbit technology comes with a wide range of APIs to access the central toolkit and build extensions on any level of the system: user interface, desktop, Internet, server, and database.

Leica Geosystems has launched Leica GMX902 — the first dedicated high-precision, dual-frequency GPS receiver designed specifically for monitoring bridges, dams, buildings, or other critical infrastructure and crucial topographies such as land slides or volcanoes. The unit provides dual frequency code and phase data up to 20 Hz, enabling precise data capture as the base for highly accurate position calculation and motion analysis.
     Designed with a focus on the reception and transmission of high quality raw data, the Leica GMX902 does not include extra functions, therefore it is an ideal receiver for structural monitoring. It has a robust metal housing that is resistant to water, heat, cold and vibration, and can be easily mounted to the structures to be monitored. When combined with the Leica GPS Spider advanced GPS processing software for coordinate calculation and raw data storage, and the Leica GeoMoS monitoring software for analysis of movements and calculation of limit checks, the unit unfolds its full potential: high-precision measurements, accurate and reliable data processing, and data analysis. Third party analysis software can also be easily integrated via the standard NMEA interface of Leica GPS Spider.

CSDC Systems Inc. has released AMANDA Right-of-Way (ROW), a new module that helps to manage real property along transportation corridors. It is designed to handle many of the complexities associated with managing parcels owned by, to be acquired by, and leased by government agencies responsible for highways. It can also be deployed for railroad, pipeline, or other types of ROW. The module tracks either point or linear locations along routes for use in tracking occupancy permits, leases, licenses, etc., either in the ROW or outside of it. Pertinent information relating to utilities, parcel ownership, subdivisions, and tracking agreements of various kinds can be stored within the module, simplifying and expediting research and retrieval of data and documentation.
     The module is used by government jurisdictions for tracking addressed-based properties as well as internal reviews and public interactions. CSDC has now added the ability to keep track of activities associated with real property assets along ROWs, interacting when necessary with linear referenced route networks and analysis applications.
     The module is geared primarily for state/provincial and local government highway and transportation departments. It works well for tracking new highway parcel acquisitions and also for maintaining records resulting from re-alignment of existing ROW routes over time. It can accommodate not only linearly referenced, but also address-based parcels and locations, Public Land Survey System (PLSS) locations, state plane coordinates, or lat-long locations to allow GPS interactions. The module also integrates with external electronic document management systems at many levels, allowing great versatility in the way scanned or other electronic data files are associated with the tracked processes. has released a DVD of maps and images, including high-resolution aerial photos of select metropolitan areas. This is the first offline product ever offered by, an Internet mapping and imagery company specializing in online data delivery. Each LV DVD includes up to 4.5 gigabytes of the best available high resolution aerial photos for a selected area. The aerial photos are natural color and always 1 meter resolution or better, typically 0.3 meter resolution. The imagery is the latest available and is always less than 36 months old. With the disk, users can incorporate the data into any georeferenced compatible software, such as ESRI ArcGIS or AutoCAD. All of the data on the disks have been compressed at a 10:1 ratio into the ECW file format using ER Mapper software. The initial pricing of the LV DVD will be $500 per disk.


Pictometry International Corp., a provider of digital, aerial oblique imagery and measuring software, will be hosting its first User Conference at the Orlando Hilton in Orlando, Florida, 2006 October 29 to November 1. Pictometry has been rapidly expanding its customer base both domestically and internationally. The conference will feature a wide range of Pictometry and user-hosted sessions focusing on Pictometry's geospatial technology in such applications as 9-1-1, appraisal, community planning and development, disaster response and recovery, emergency management, fire, GIS, homeland security, law enforcement, public works, transportation, and in private industry.

Developers are increasingly expected to have ready access to spatial data and geographic content, regardless of the types of applications with which they work or the industry in which they work. ESRI answers this need with the 2006 ESRI Developer Summit, which will be held March 17-18 at the Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs, California. This two-day event is for developers, software architects, and decision-makers interested in building GIS applications.
     ArcGIS provides a platform that is distributed, networked, interoperable, and open for Internet protocols. This event will focus on using this technology to develop custom applications or embed functionality into existing applications. Experienced and new developers will gain an understanding of the value of spatially enabling an application by enhancing their GIS development skills, meeting face-to-face with industry leaders and ESRI developers, networking with other GIS software developers from around the world, and learning how to plan for the ArcGIS 9.2 release.
     The summit's assortment of events will provide a learning experience for all types of attendees, regardless of experience or industry. Keynote presentations will discuss developer opportunities in GIS as well as industry standards and trends. In-depth technical presentations led by ESRI staff will give updates of the latest functionality in both intermediate and advanced topics. There will be many opportunities to network with other professionals in the summit's Community Center, which will feature Tech Talks and Birds-of-a-Feather forums that include both attendees and ESRI employees with common areas of interest.


Applied Geographics, Inc. (AppGeo) has hired software engineer Ryan Westphal, a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Computer Science. Before joining AppGeo, he was a software engineer at Bentley Systems — Haestad Solutions Center, where he worked on integrating the WaterGEMS product line into MicroStation and ArcGIS. His background also includes managing software development projects and developing software for the video game industry for EA Sports.

Geomatic Technologies (GT) has named Andrew Bashfield as its new Sales and Marketing Manager for Australia and New Zealand. He will continue a career-long interest in the delivery of spatial information services and technology to the government, utilities, and transportation industries. Under his direction, GT will expand its Australian sales force and promote its services into new market segments.
     Bashfield has held several challenging positions in the geospatial technology field. Prior to his appointment with GT, he served five years with Bentley Systems as Geospatial Sales Director and has also worked with Intergraph Corporation, Waitakere City Council (New Zealand), and many other private and government organizations. He will be based at GT's Australian head office in Melbourne.


RMSI, the global IT services company with offices in India, the United States and the UK, has evaluated the ground water pollution in industrializing areas of India using the standardized DRASTIC system. RMSI used the DRASTIC method in the Rachi district of Jharkhand state to create pollution vulnerability maps and to analyze cost/benefit ratios relating to development. The system relies on seven hydrogeologic settings, which also combine to create the DRASTIC acronym: Depth of water, annual Recharge, Aquifer media, Soil media, Topography, vadose zone Impact and hydraulic Conductivity. The resulting pollution index and maps are used by both public and private organizations to gauge susceptibility to groundwater pollution in the area and to encourage economic development in those areas less vulnerable to groundwater pollution.
     The DRASTIC system brings modern definitions and technologies to Third World development: the same areas where groundwater often represents the main source of drinking water are also the areas which can benefit most from increased industrial, agricultural, and animal husbandry activity - precisely the type of activity with the greatest potential for groundwater contamination.

Hemisphere GPS, a wholly owned subsidiary of CSI Wireless Inc. of Calgary that designs and manufactures GPS products, has sold more than 2,000 of its Outback eDrive and Satloc GPSteer automated steering systems for tractors and other self-propelled agricultural equipment. Hemisphere introduced its two auto-steering products in North America in early 2004, and introduced them in South America, Europe, and Australia during 2005.
     Outback eDrive and GPSteer integrate with GPS guidance systems to automatically steer agricultural vehicles along consistently straight or curved rows. Operators touch the steering wheel only when turning at the end of a row. They engage Outback eDrive or GPSteer when starting a row. It automatically disengages when they begin turning at the end of the row. Hemisphere's auto-steering technology enhances driver accuracy and improves field productivity by reducing costly overlaps and skipped areas between rows. It eases driver fatigue and enables vehicles to operate at night or in other low-visibility environments, which means increased flexibility and productivity.
     eDrive and GPSteer can be quickly installed on many types of new and used tractors and other self-propelled equipment. Outback eDrive is part of Hemisphere's Outback product line, while GPSteer is available to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) under Hemisphere's Satloc brand. The Outback product line is built around the Outback S and Outback S2 GPS guidance systems. The new Outback S2 features Hemisphere's Crescent GPS technology that offers significantly improved accuracy and other performance factors, including faster start-up and signal acquisition times, improved update rates, and lower power consumption.
     The Outback S2's enhanced performance also enhances the performance of Outback eDrive. Hemisphere offers a wide variety of model-specific eDrive installation kits that enable buyers to install the auto-steering system on different tractors, self-propelled sprayers, and combines. The kits enable installation of the new 2006 version of eDrive on 344 different models of tractors, sprayers and combines, with more models being added regularly.

A Defense Installation Spatial Data Infrastructure (DISDI) that includes an Installation Visualization Tool (IVT), a tool that assisted the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission, will provide base data for such core Department of Defense (DOD) functions as human resource management, weapon system lifecycle management, materiel supply and service management, real property and installation lifecycle management, and financial management. That was the message Colonel Brian Cullis (USAF), Executive Manager of the Defense Installation Spatial Data Infrastructure and Special Assistant for Geospatial Information Policy to the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment told members of MAPPS on December 8.
     Cullis was the featured speaker at the inaugural MAPPS Washington Policy Forum. His presentation, "Geo-Enabling the DoD Business Enterprise," highlighted the new attention being given to the role of geospatial information resources and spatial technologies in achieving the goals of the business modernization management program for DOD. He noted that the DISDI and IVT can become a model for a geospatially enabled, U.S. government-wide, federal real property asset management inventory.
     MAPPS has been a leader in promoting legislation in Congress — H.R. 1370, the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, introduced by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) — to provide a cadastre of Federal property. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that DOD lacks reliable information about the quantity, location, condition, and value of inventory and property; that "ineffective and inefficient asset management and accountability leave the department vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse"; and that the environmental liability amounts presented in DOD's financial statements were not reliable because the department did not have (1) sufficient guidance for identifying and categorizing cleanup activities whose costs must be included in the liability calculation, (2) complete inventories of the sites and weapons systems that will require cleanup or containment. Cullis called DISDI a significant tool in improvement in DoD business systems modernization.
     The new MAPPS Washington Policy Forum is designed to provide a forum for MAPPS member firm principals based in the Washington, DC area, those from out of town who are visiting the Nation's capital, as well as marketing and government affairs consultants to MAPPS member firms.

3001 has opened an office in Huntsville, Alabama to meet increased demand for geospatial production services. Huntsville offers top quality geospatial analysts to perform the analysis and image processing work for which 3001 is known. The office is also a key location for 3001 to support a variety of defense, homeland security, and NASA clientele. With Civil Works and Intel-Defense Solutions back at full capacity in New Orleans, Mobile, and Stennis Space Center, 3001 expansion plans are on schedule for all offices, including the Huntsville build-out.

East View Cartographic (EVC) has begun to provide global outsourcing management services for mapping and GIS data production. EVC will provide vendor vetting, project management, quality control, and global language / cultural support as a consultant or as the prime contractor.

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