GIS MONITOR, Dec 21, 2000


- Intergraph Stakes Claim in Location-based Services
- GIS User Stats from Autodesk’s GIS2000
- Autodesk’s E-Learning Offers 11 Map Courses
- AutoCAD Map Book Hides Ending in CD
- .geo Tries Again!
- Real Time LBS Database Creation: Is It For You?
- Geo-Business Association Rises from the Ashes
- Updates: MicroStation iSpatial, TerraServer, LBS
- Subscribe/Unsubscribe

***Next week: Top Ten List of 2000***


Intergraph staked its position in location-based services (LBS) with a new division, IntelliWhere. The name is far better than some of the manufactured, ambiguous names (ACUNIA? Vaultus?) that I’ve seen lately. The tag "Intelligence about where you are" is one of the best and most succinct descriptions of LBS.

Intergraph is leveraging two of its strengths: existing technology and an extensive partner network. IntelliWhere Genie is built on GeoMedia, Intergraph’s flagship GIS. GeoMedia's strength, its extensive data support, is something that may ease implementation cost and complexity. Intergraph's partners are perhaps not as strong or numerous as ESRI's or Autodesk's, but they are certainly stronger than those of start-ups in this space.

Of course, Intergraph is not the only GIS company making a move in this market, one estimated by the Strategis Group to grow to US$3.9 billion by 2004. A host of new companies are jumping in, and slowly but surely, the traditional GIS companies are following. MapInfo was perhaps the first of the "old guard" to move to LBS. That made sense as MapInfo made its living early on in the business/commercial sector, thought by many to be the marketplace to earn money in LBS. Xmarc was in, too, their contact with Oracle and other "large business" oriented clients put them in good position.

Despite Intergraph’s fine pedigree in software (now at V4.0), they do not have a significant client base from the commercial/retail sector. However, they may be able to draw on long time relationships with utilities and the military/defense industry. These organizations are long time advocates of open standards, something Intergraph touts, though they are not clear exactly which open standard they support for LBS.

The demonstration on the IntelliWhere page shows an application on an Ericsson phone for a field worker following up on a burst water pipe. What distinguishes the scenario from an ordinary "mobile workforce" solution is that the worker’s location is "magically known" instead of the user keying it in.

Since LBS is not typically a "one company" solution, Intergraph is on the prowl for partners involved in map content, mobile network operators, mobile device manufacturers, system integrators, and position system vendors. Intergraph may have had a stronger position if it had already garnered such strong partners earlier. More than likely, such announcements are forthcoming. If not, Intergraph may be barking up the wrong tree.

And what of the rest of the "old guard"? I would expect to see announcements from other traditional GIS companies (ESRI, Autodesk) soon. It’s getting late in the game.


Autodesk posted a summary of what transpired at their GIS 2000, the first annual worldwide Autodesk GIS User Conference held in September in California. Here is a breakdown of their GIS user base:

- over 600,000 AutoCAD-only GIS users - over 150,000 AutoCAD Map and AutoCAD Land Development Desktop (LDD)users - more than 17,000 Enterprise GIS users - 2000 Autodesk MapGuide installations with users measured in the millions

Of particular interest is that 600,000 users continue to use “vanilla” AutoCAD to do mapping; they have not been cajoled into moving to AutoCAD Map or LDD. That may suggest that much of digital mapping, alas, does not need topology, or the complexity of spatial analysis. Or maybe there are other non-Autodesk, independently made mapping addons out there.

I understand the “Enterprise GIS” users to mean those using Vision*, the utility-focused solution Autodesk purchased from SHL Systemhouse.


Autodesk has also been sending e-mail and advertising e-Learning, its online learning option. There are eleven AutoCAD Map classes. They range from beginner classes working with objects and databases up to advanced classes explaining how to manage projects. Prices range from $14.95 to $80.73 and all take from 15-30 minutes. Of particular note, there are individual classes discussing importing data: one each for explaining how to import shape files, coverages, DGN files.


In August, Onward Press released INSIDE AutoCAD Map 2000, by Dylan Vance and Ray Eisenberg. At about $55 online, this is another way to spend your training dollars. However, do be forewarned, several purchasers were unhappy to find that the last chapters and appendix are provided ONLY on the included CD-ROM – not in the hard copy. Those who found this out too late, after breaking the seal, were unable to return the package.


On December 15, SRI resubmitted its .geo top-level domain proposal to ICANN. There were some eight other resubmittals requesting reconsideration for other domains, for a variety of reasons. The SRI request seems to rehash past arguments, as evidenced in the e-mail they sent out:

- .geo is genuinely innovative. It is not simply a TLD. Once implemented, its infrastructure will provide for a more efficient, robust, comprehensive and, ultimately, more useful Internet. - .geo supports civic and commercial progress on a global basis. - The .geo technology is a proven technology using standard DNS, http, and XML, thereby maintaining the stability and robustness of the Internet. - .geo resolves the current conundrum of assigning location based information to Internet data.

As part of its case SRI did include all the positive press they could find. However, very little discussion greeted the original proposal in any community (GIS, Web, general press). Not only that, the material gathered was weak. In fact, one article that supposedly bolstered their resubmittal was nothing but a reprint of their press release. I have no issue with publishing press releases [TenLinks publishes GIS press releases daily], but it’s clear that the act of doing so does in no way endorse the activity. Another entry, taken from GISVision, was nothing more than a verbatim reproduction of parts of the Executive Summary of the SRI proposal itself. Now, isn’t that a dog chasing its own tail?

A third supporting article is by Aaron Pressman, writing in The Standard:

“The staff also said ICANN should consider approving an application from Stanford research spinoff SRI International that proposes creating a dot-geo domain that would use addresses including longitudinal and latitudinal positions. That novel plan would tie addresses in cyberspace to addresses in the physical world.”

The first sentence is pure reporting; the second says it is “novel.” Again, this is NOT an endorsement.

ICANN ought to continue to ask tough questions about .geo. After reading SRI’s resubmittal, one question begs to be answered: Where is the support of the geospatial and LBS communities?

Real Time LBS Database Creation: Is It For You?

The headline from Mobilarus read: Mobilaris Launches Content Aggregation for Mobile LBS. Mobilaris’ goal is to provide carriers the ability to create live location-based databases where subscribers can enter their specific information directly into the database while being automatically positioned by the network. The example they provide is of a restaurant owner who wants to post today’s specials. His location is automatically (or is it automagically) read from his cell phone as he uploads the soup of the day.

Is this the right market? I don’t think so. The idea behind LBS is that most of the services or destinations users seek are NOT mobile, but fixed. The USER is mobile. Unless the restaurant is on wheels, its location is not going to change day to day, so after the first time it is listed in the database, there is no need to geocode it again. The menu may change, but the address remains constant. Of course, the first time it is listed, it is convenient to have the location automatically grabbed. And, it is certainly useful for the owner to provide the daily specials, but the location only matters that first time.

And, let’s think more about that original listing, too. A wise business owner would want to put more in the database than the name of the establishment and the location – hours, type of food, pricing, handicapped accessibility and so on. That type of information will likely mean he has to go to the computer, where he could just as well key in the address.

I think there are several more appropriate markets for this technology. Mobilaris might approach services that ARE mobile: ice cream trucks, bookmobiles, and the like. They move around, often staying put for a few hours at a specific location. The ability to update that information a few times a day might drive more customers to those changing destinations.

A second market for this technology includes people who produce location specific information. Real estate agents might visit a property, and in real time upload info on the property including its location. (SmartCity is offering this service next year.) Then, those tapping the database would immediately receive the information. How about mapping crime in real time? Or mapping cases of measles in real time?

Finally, there are the markets for spatial “buddy” lists. A user might point out “I’m here” and their friends could find them in the amusement park or downtown.

All of these databases have a temporary quality unlike those of restaurants and hotels. Perhaps there is an entire market only for “fleeting geographies” – ones that come and go within hours, days or weeks?


The Geo-Business Association, the GBA, seems to have shut its doors only to re-emerge as a special interest group of the American Marketing Association (the OTHER AMA). Business geographics has always been a tough sell, perhaps this is one more step closer to its demise?


-Back in September the GIS Monitor covered the new release of MicroStation Geographics iSpatial Edition introduced at the Bentley International User Conference. I raised several questions about the status of ModelServer Continuum and other Bentley clients for Oracle Spatial.

Jackie Sandgaard, Director, Geoengineering, based in Denmark wrote to explain.

“In the past Bentley did deliver a product called ModelServer Continuum (MSC). It supports Oracle's Spatial Data Option (SDO) in what Oracle refers to as the Relational Mode (RM). With the release of Oracle 8i Spatial, Oracle introduced the Object Relational Mode (ORM) with numerous new spatial features and much easier access to spatial data. Bentley took this opportunity to rethink its spatial database strategy - we decided not to port MSC to support ORM and at the same time dropped the planned "rapid deployment configuration".”

“Instead of having a separate product for support of spatial database storage, Bentley decided to include this capability in its Geoengineering platform, MicroStation GeoGraphics, with the so called iSpatial Edition. MicroStation GeoGraphics iSpatial is a two-tier architecture. No middleware needed. And at the API level (SDODGN), third party developers don't have to apply to any specific database model (e.g. the GeoGraphics schema).”

“MicroStation GeoOutlook will ship in an iSpatial Edition shortly after the release of the MicroStation GeoGraphics iSpatial Edition.”

-Reader Brian J. wrote to explain the challenge he found trying to correctly name his world file from the TerraServer site. In trying to get the .jgw extension, he found Windows NT adding on “.txt” making it impossible for his software to recognize it. We found that putting the desired file name in quotes in the “Save as” dialog - “stewart.jgw” - will prevent Windows from hijacking the extension.

-Last week I asked: With access to LBS, your cell phone could present a restaurant recommendation but will diners consult it?

Ralph Grabowski, who recently visited Hungary, responded:

“We had several guidebooks, as well as recommendations from upFront.eZine readers. I found two problems with these recommendations: (1) how do I get from the hotel to the restaurant (all provide addresses but not relative directions); and (2) how do I know the guidebooks taste match mine?”

“There is a third issue: a color photo of the place. Restaurants are as much about ambience as food. A photo would go a long way toward helping decide. I found that with Bed & Breakfast guides: the Web-based guides have one or two color photos, which give an indication of whether the place is a dive or a palace.”

“In the end, we asked locals for recommendations and were never disappointed. They provided directions, and once even walked several blocks with us to make sure we got there.”


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