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
***Next week: Top Ten List of 2000***
INTERGRAPH STAKES CLAIM IN LOCATION-BASED SERVICES
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
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
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
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
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.
GIS USER STATS FROM AUTODESK’S GIS2000
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’S E-LEARNING OFFERS 11 MAP COURSES
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.
AUTOCAD MAP BOOK HIDES ENDING IN CD
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.
.GEO TRIES AGAIN!
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
GEO-BUSINESS ASSOCIATION RISES FROM THE ASHES
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
“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
“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
“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.”
GIS MONITOR BACK ISSUES
ADVERTISE WITH US
You can reach more than 6,000 GIS professionals every issue by sponsoring GIS Monitor. For more information, email us.
Please send comments and suggestions to:
GIS Monitor Editor
Ultimate Map/GIS Directory - Your search is over!
If you wish to subscribe, unsubscribe or change your preferences visit our