2006 May 4

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Editor's Introduction

This week I report on two Microsoft announcements: one, the launch of MapPoint 2006, is a routine product release; the other, the purchase of Vexcel, is surprising and has far bigger long-term implications. I also report on Bentley Systems Italia's contract with a large Italian company, AES Torino, for a new enterprise-wide GIS. Plus, my usual roundup of news from press releases.

I am still traveling (this week I'm in Reno for the ASPRS annual conference, on which I will report next week) and have still not updated the events calendar. I will finally get to it next week.


Microsoft Buys Vexcel

This morning, at the ASPRS annual conference in Reno, Nevada, Microsoft Corp. announced that it has acquired Vexcel Corp., a provider of photogrammetry, imagery, and remote sensing technologies, and made it part of its Virtual Earth business unit. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. This deal, the second in the past six months for the Virtual Earth business unit, strengthens Microsoft's local search and mapping solutions. Founded in 1985, Vexcel is a multinational company with its headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, and offices in Austria, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Stephen Lawler, general manager of Microsoft's Virtual Earth business unit, said that this acquisition will help his company provide "a rich, immersive, and dynamic experience that mirrors what can be experienced in the real world." According to a press release, "Vexcel's extensive experience in imagery, 2-D, and 3-D will enable rich sets of aerial, bird's-eye, and street-side imagery to be delivered in consumer, commercial, and government offerings in a much easier and timely fashion. ... Vexcel's current assets, including the UltraCam digital aerial camera and remote sensing technologies, will help produce the richest, most dynamic sets of imagery and data in the world, which will be integrated into Windows Live Local and the Virtual Earth platform offerings."

At a telephone press conference from Reno, Lawler and John Curlander, former CEO of Vexcel Corporation, expressed their excitement about the acquisition and outlined their long-term vision. Curlander's new title is general manager, but he will report to Lawler.

Lawler emphasized that the ultimate goal of Virtual Earth is to improve on-line searching. "This requires rich 3D images," he said, "and eventually creating a 3D place." Virtual Earth, in his view, is both a destination and a platform.

Microsoft, according to Lawler, chose Vexcel "first and foremost" because of the caliber of its staff. It also bought the company, he continued, because of its capabilities, history, and assets — especially the UltraCam, a new version of which will be announced this week.

Curlander, who was with Vexcel for about 14 years, acknowledged that, at first glance, this might seem like "a strange marriage," because Vexcel is a mapping and remote sensing company and its customers are primarily government agencies while Microsoft is a consumer company. However, "at closer inspection you can see how they fit together:" Vexcel, having pushed the conversion from analog film to digital airborne mapping, is now working hard to automate both data collection and map production. "This automation will be key to Virtual Earth. It is not a coincidence that we are doing this release at ASPRS." While this is Microsoft's first time at the show, Curlander predicts that henceforth the company will be present every year.

Vexcel, according to Curlander, will not discontinue any of its product lines nor scale back any of its projects, including radar mapping and the building of satellite ground stations. It will, however, outsource some of its work.

Lawler pointed out that Microsoft's acquisition of GeoTango, in December, is "another important piece" of the same Virtual Earth strategy. When I asked him about the division of labor between Vexcel and Pictometry, he declined to answer directly but stressed that Microsoft "will continue to have a strong relationship with Pictometry" and that it is "rapidly expanding" acquisition of Pictometry's bird-eye imagery.

In response to a question, Lawler acknowledged that automating the production of 3D imagery is very challenging, but said that "there is a big reward if we can deliver" and characterized his outlook as "optimistic." As for Virtual Earth's revenue model, it will continue to be based mostly on transactions from corporate websites, such as travel agencies, with strong volume-based discounts. However, it will also rely increasingly on "highly contextual" advertising.

Finally, when I asked Lawler and Curlander what Microsoft's vast resources will do for Vexcel, one of them (it was hard to keep them straight on the phone) said that Microsoft will "crank up" production of UltrCams and accelerate the introduction of new models. He was quick to add, however, that this does not mean that Microsoft's business model will change to include revenue from the sale of cameras. Rather, the company sees the cameras, which are loaded with software, as "developer tools" that will enhance its goals for Virtual Earth.

Microsoft Releases MapPoint 2006

On Monday, Microsoft Corp. released MapPoint 2006, the latest version of its business mapping software for analyzing and visualizing geographic data. The new version, which was released to manufacturers at the beginning of April and is now available for sale, also features support for GPS navigation. It comes in two offerings: a stand-alone software package as well as one that includes both the MapPoint 2006 software and a GPS receiver that can be plugged into a laptop computer.

I discussed the release with Alex Daly, Technical Evangelist for Microsoft's Virtual Earth business unit, and watched a demonstration. I asked him to clarify the relationship between Virtual Earth and MapPoint. The Virtual Earth platform, Daly explains, evolved out of the company's MapPoint Web Service — adding bird's eye view, satellite and aerial imagery, enhanced map styles, and local search. "MapPoint used to be the name of our business unit. MapPoint Web Service will continue to exist as a product name, but we are trying to clarify things by pointing out that it is part of the Virtual Earth platform. The platform is the Web service as well as the map control with its embedded Java script mapping client for websites. So, we are trying to reconcile that name difference right now."

Two products carry the MapPoint name. One is Microsoft MapPoint, which is the CD product; there's a version for 2000, one for 2004, and now one for 2006. Daly characterizes this product as a mapping client aimed at information workers and mobile professionals. "MapPoint 2006," he told me, "was built on the same base of functionality as MapPoint 2004." To this, Microsoft added features for use on the road. The other product is MapPoint Web Service, which Daly describes as "an enterprise-focused, business-to-business transactional Web service for doing things like online location applications — like store locator or business intelligence applications."

The desktop portion of MapPoint is a standard mapping client. It allows users to view location information and point data and perform business-specific functions, including data visualization. To illustrate this, Daly pulled data on sales territories from an Excel spreadsheet, including the names of the sales reps, their sales amounts, etc. MapPoint imported the data and automatically created the polygons for the territories, labeled them, and colored them. Daly then created pie charts for each sales region, which displayed on the map, and defined a new sales region.

These visualizations, Daly points out, can be the basis for more statistical analysis and data management. MapPoint then allows users to re-export the data to Microsoft Access or Excel or to other programs.

Switching from the program's analytical functions to those that provide more immediate assistance to travelers, Daly pointed out the program's new "locate me" function. It can use either a GPS receiver or a laptop's WiFi receiver. Microsoft has built a WiFi location system that use WiFi access points to triangulate, very similar to that being built by Skyhook Wireless. The system calculates the user's location from a database of known WiFi access point locations and returns an approximate longitude and latitude.

Microsoft collected the data on WiFi routers at the same time it took street-side imagery from moving vehicles for its Windows Live Local (WLL) consumer search portal. Microsoft first incorporated this WiFi location system — or "GPS-less location solution," as Daly calls it — into Virtual Earth, which it released last July. MapPoint 2006 is the first desktop product to incorporate it.

Unlike MapPoint, which uses only GPS or WiFi for location, if WLL cannot find a WiFi provider it defaults to IP address — "with all the normal caveats that IP address location has." (I attempted to visualize my location while online from my hotel room in Reno, Nevada, where I am attending the ASPRS annual conference: WLL centered the map on southern California and did not display my location at all.)

Once MapPoint knows the user's location, it uses the point of interest (POI) data with which it ships to power the "find nearby places" tool. This allows the user to look up restaurants, tourist attractions, etc., and formulates driving directions. Additionally, MapPoint 2006 can receive location data from any NMEA 2.0-compliant GPS receiver and provide turn-by-turn directions, with and without voice prompts, and display current location, speed and traveling direction. Users can rotate the map and set it to auto-follow so that their position is always in the center and the direction of motion is up. For in-car use there is also a special low-light night view.

This navigation component of MapPoint 2006 includes such standard capabilities as repeating instructions, recalculating a route when the driver does not comply with an instruction, and displaying all turn-by-turn directions to a destination in a single list, including mileage and cost estimates. The program can also retrieve and display current highway construction information.

Users who are on line can also get aerial views of a location, as either ortho or bird's eye view, by clicking on a WLL tool on the toolbar. This, Daly points out, "extends the offline mapping experience by utilizing the online tool."

I asked Daly whose data MapPoint uses. "All our map data comes from Navteq," he told me. "We use the same map data across our CD products as well as the WLL. The current MapPoint CD is all from Q3 2005, so it is a major data update over the previous version. We have developed a system over the years where we actually bring in that data and process it in-house into our own system and we are able to put in the POI data and all kinds of other things. We license and aggregate data from several providers, but all the core map data comes from Navteq. One of our goals is to eventually community-enable all of these types of features, so that the community itself helps to build the database."

Bentley Systems Italia's Biggest 2005 Contract

In December, AES Torino chose Bentley Systems Italia, the Italian division of Bentley Systems, from among several competing companies to build its new enterprise GIS. This deal, worth more than $650,000, was Bentley Systems Italia's biggest contract in 2005. AES Torino, whose name stands for Azienda Energia e Servizi, or Energy and Services Company, manages the distribution of natural gas and of remote heating to 450,000 individual metered homes and businesses in Turin and in the bordering municipality of Moncalieri. It was born in 2001 out of an agreement between the City of Turin and two other companies, AEM Torino and ITALGAS. In Turin, last week, I met with two members of AES Torino's staff, Stefano Bay, an engineer, and Donatella Piscone, a systems analyst, and with Nicoletta Zanchetta, Bentley Systems Italia's Industry Sales Director and sales representative for AES Torino.

According to Bay and Piscone, AES Torino has purchased the new system in order to:

  • upgrade its old GIS for its gas networks
  • integrate into a single system its gas and remote heating systems, which are currently separate
  • move from CAD toward GIS for its remote heating network
  • make the system more user friendly for company staff, and
  • make it easier to answer queries from third parties and, eventually, allow them to query the system directly.

To design its gas facilities, AES Torino inherited from ITALGAS an Autodesk AutoCAD that it will replace with Bentley's MicroStation, a system based on Bentley's ModelServer Continuum, and an Oracle database that contains both graphic and alphanumeric data regarding the cartographic items. For its remote heating network, the company inherited from AEM Torino a CAD in MicroStation v. 8. Therefore, all data regarding its remote heating network are in the form of drawings and it does not have an alphanumeric database. AES Torino now wants to integrate the GIS it uses to manage its gas network, which is based on ModelServer Continuum, and the CAD-based system it uses to manage its remote heating network, which will also become a GIS.

The gas distribution network (about 1,300 kilometers) and the heat distribution network (about 300 kilometers) are parallel but separate. Turin's gas network is 160 years old, though the type of gas and its uses have changed over time. The heat distribution network is much more recent. The two run mostly along the same streets but often in separate trenches.

Now, as AES Torino expands its remote heating network, it is taking the opportunity to also replace the oldest gas pipes with newer ones. Over a given distance, the remote heating network takes much more room than the gas network, for two reasons. First, because it uses two pipes, at the same depth, therefore requiring a wider trench. Second, because the hot water pipes are about three feet in diameter, as opposed to about one foot for the gas pipes. Furthermore, gas pipes bend much more easily than those for remote heating, which have a steel frame and require special treatment due to the temperature of the water they carry.

The old gas pipes often interfere with the new remote heating pipes, requiring the company to move the former when installing the latter. This is one reason why AES Torino wants to integrate its gas and remote heating management systems. Additionally, the Model Server Continuum and Oracle database used to manage the gas network are no longer supported. This has prevented AES Torino from upgrading the software. In turn, this has prevented the company from upgrading the hardware. As a result, software and hardware issues have cumulated to the point that the system, according to Piscone, now works properly only about twenty percent of the time and cannot be fixed.

For these reasons, AES Torino wants to completely replace the system with a new one, import the data into it, and take the opportunity to integrate the remote heating system, switching it from CAD to GIS. Additionally, this conversion will allow the company to solve many other technical problems that have arisen over the past six years.

The company also needs to simplify the system as much as possible, so as to enable as many staff as possible to use it. In fact, Bay would like all company staff to be able to query the new system via a Web interface and canned queries.

The company will keep using CAD to design new facilities, but will convert from AutoCAD to MicroStation V8 XM for both its gas and remote heating networks. This, says Bay, is the opportunity for the company to standardize its gas and remote heating operations and switch them both to the latest version of MicroStation, while maintaining access to all of the old CAD drawings, which will now all be on the same Bentley platform. Furthermore, according to Bay, the new system will allow company staff to look up customer information via a map, by clicking on their addresses. In other words, as Piscone points out, the new system will be halfway between a GIS and a CIS (customer information system). It will also allow staff to simulate the impact of network damage — such as a break in a pipe accidentally caused by an excavator — both to manage repair operations and to report the outage data to the national regulatory authority.

Yet another goal for the new system is to enable AES Torino to answer queries about the location of its pipes from other companies that also need to dig trenches. Right now AES Torino answers each query of this type by printing out the relevant map portion. In the future, Bay would like to be able to allow other companies that often need this data, such as phone and electric companies, to access it via a Web interface. This will be enabled by the implementation of GeoWebPublisher, in the second phase of the project.

The new system will consist of two modules — one for the gas network and one for the remote heating network. They will both allow users to update and query the database, they will be integrated with the CAD used for design, and they will also be integrated with other enterprise information systems, such as a SAP system that the company uses for accounting.

The new system, called S.I.Te.Gas, will be based on Bentley's MicroStation and include Bentley Map (formerly MicroStation GeoGraphics). For certain types of users, who only need limited data access, a part of the system will be based on PowerMap, which is a kind of "light" version of GIS, and it will be customized. ProjectWise will manage collaborative work among users, allow advanced geo-referenced document management, and connect with SAP and Oracle 10G.

The system will draw from SAP data regarding valves, reduction plants, dispersions, and measuring points. In this system, all the graphical objects will have to be manually inserted, one by one, in the correct location on the map and linked to the relevant data in SAP. Other existing programs will provide data regarding connections at the customer end, monthly meter readings, and gas flow in the pipes. In parallel, the system will draw analogous data regarding the delivery of remote heat.

The project, Bay explains, will proceed in three phases:

  1. gas
  2. remote heating and Web interface for both gas and remote heating
  3. integration with all enterprise-wide systems.

For gas, the company's current system was built on a Bentley platform (MicroStation plus GeoGraphics plus Model Server Continuum) and an Oracle Spatial database. All the CAD drawings were archived separately.

An area of the project concerns work orders. Users can define an area and check it out of the database for the purpose of updating it — while leaving the database unchanged for other users who might want to meanwhile visualize the same area. Until that area is checked back in, other users are prevented from making any edits to it.

AES Torino and Bentley Systems Italia began discussing this project about four years ago and last December signed a one-year contract for it. The first phase, which will consist of scrubbing data about the gas distribution network and importing it to the new architecture, is expected to last about six months, while the second and third phases will last about three months each. However, because Italian companies shut down in August, the project will take about thirteen months in total.

News Briefs

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


    1. Overwatch Systems has acquired Visual Learning Systems (VLS) of Missoula, Montana, effective on April 28. Founded in 1999 by Dr. David Opitz and Stuart Blundell, VLS is provides automated feature extraction solutions (AFE) for GIS. The company's software applications provide assisted and automated tools for extracting geospatial features of interest from imagery with the highest measure of speed and accuracy. VLS tools provide a bridging technology between the raster-based world of imaging and the vector-based world of mapping.

      The VLS flagship product, Feature Analyst, debuted in 2001 and quickly garnered industry-wide attention. Feature Analyst earned "Most Innovative Solution" in the 2002 ArcGIS Challenge Contest sponsored by ESRI. In 2005, VLS introduced LIDAR Analyst to automate the extraction of 3D terrain surfaces, buildings, trees, and forest areas from LIDAR.

      The VLS product line is an extension of the current Overwatch Systems product offerings. Overwatch Systems was formed from the combined the resources of five companies - Sensor Systems, Paragon Imaging, Austin Information Systems, ITSpatial and Federal IT - to provide a suite of integrated geospatial and intelligence fusion software tools for the defense/intelligence community. This toolset, known as the Overwatch Intelligence Center (OIC), focuses on providing situational awareness by enabling analysts to generate relevant, actionable intelligence faster and more effectively for the warfighter, first responder and decision maker.

      The senior management of VLS has chosen to use a portion of its transaction proceeds to invest back into Overwatch Systems and will continue to manage the company. VLS will report to Kirk Brown, President of Overwatch Geospatial Operations, formerly Sensor Systems, based in Sterling, Virginia. Brown was a key advocate for acquiring VLS and expressed his enthusiasm for the transaction.

    2. The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) has signed a 2-year $675,000 contract with MDA's Geospatial Services for the continued supply of RADARSAT-1 data in near-real time. This is the eighth consecutive year that RADARSAT-1 data has served as the backbone of the Ice Charting service that provides up-to-date ice charts to captains navigating the ice-infested waters of the Greenland Sea.

      RADARSAT-1 data is delivered to DMI within 2-4 hours of downlink at one of the following RADARSAT-1 network stations: KSAT (Norway), QinetiQ (United Kingdom), and Gatineau (Canada). Once the data is received, DMI creates detailed ice maps that show ice edge, ice type, iceberg location, and ice concentration. These maps are then sent to DMI's customers and provide accurate and timely information about ice conditions in the waters they are navigating.

    3. Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, is using mPower Technologies's mPower Integrator, to develop their ArcIMS Web GIS. The county purchased ArcIMS in 2001 but lacked the resources to develop their Web GIS on this platform. Lori Liddell, the LIO of Trempealeau County, consulted with mPower Technologies for an overview of mPower Integrator — an intuitive, wizard-based, development tool that eliminates the need for programming — and decided to purchase it.

    4. MapInfo Corporation, a provider of location intelligence solutions, has announced the recipients of its 2006 Americas Partner Awards and Meridian Awards. The former recognize partner and value-added resellers (VARs) for outstanding achievement and commitment to MapInfo. More than 300 partners in the Americas distribute MapInfo products and solutions around the globe. The latter recognize MapInfo customers all over the world that are driving business innovation with dynamic uses of local intelligence technology.

      The 2006 MapInfo Partner Award winners include:

      • U.S. Partner of the Year — Schlosser Geographic Systems, Inc.;
      • Canadian Partner of the Year — KOREM, Inc.;
      • Latin America Partner of the Year — gedas Mexico S.A. de C.V.;
      • U.S. "Above & Beyond" Award — Peachtree Geographics;
      • State & Local Government "Above & Beyond" Award — Galilee Enterprises;
      • Canadian "Above & Beyond" Award — Baseline Business Geographics, Inc.;
      • and Latin America "Above & Beyond" Award — Geograph Informatica e Servicos.

      The winners of the 2006 MapInfo Meridian Awards in five categories are as follows:

      • Organizational Impact — Blockbuster, Inc. With MapInfo, Blockbuster developed the Blockbuster Ultimate Location Intelligence Tool (BULIT), a premier application that supports numerous departments, including development, marketing, operations, finance, diversity, human resources, strategic planning and alternate brands and products.
      • Changing the World — State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health. A 2003 MapInfo eGovernment Grant Winner, the State of Louisiana's Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health uses MapInfo solutions to better evaluate transportation issues, engage in strategic planning projects and develop better visual information. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Bureau used MapInfo solutions to assess the status of the department's employees, health care facilities and providers.
      • Technical Achievement — Deutsche Bahn Netz AG. GSM-R is a new standard for wireless rail telecommunications and with MapInfo technology, German-based Deutsche Bahn Netz AG is the first company in the world to implement a fully operating digital, mobile communication system for traffic control and other communications to reach engine drivers, maintenance crews, and other personnel working on the railway network-on the track or at stations.
      • Unique & Unusual — Suquamish Tribe. The Suquamish Tribe relies on MapInfo software alongside digital nautical charts to provide geographic coordination for the native tribe's annual canoe journey along the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
      • People's Choice — HomeGain, Inc. With more than four million unique visitors per month, HomeGain is the second largest real estate site in the world. Consumers can browse real estate listings, recently sold homes and resumes of 80,000 realtors across the country. HomeGain turned to MapInfo to develop an application that allows home buyers to search for homes by neighborhood, not just ZIP Codes.
    5. The State of Vermont has hired Applied Geographics, Inc. (AppGeo) to develop a custom Web-based GIS application designed to assist businesses interested in locating in Vermont. The application will integrate with the Department of Economic Development's ThinkVermont.com website and provide a convenient way for businesses to look for available sites that meet their needs.

      The website will make it easy to query and view properties by site characteristics, and to review local demographic and business information within a user-defined distance from the selected property. The website also will enable registered users within the real estate community to submit new properties and participate in the updating of the listings.

    6. Safe Software, a provider of extract, transform, and load (ETL) tools for spatial data, has named Tensing USA a Technology Partner. As a Technology Partner, Tensing USA is able to integrate Safe Software products, including its Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) suite of ETL tools, into the full line of Tensing Mobile GIS solutions.

      Tensing recently introduced its SPY.NET suite of mobile products, the first mobile GIS solution that is 100 percent based on the Microsoft .NET Framework. This platform-independent suite will run on any Windows-driven device that utilizes the .NET Framework 2.0 or .NET Compact Framework 2.0. Tensing developed the SPY .NET suite, built on the core SPY technology, specifically for end users who do not need a full-blown GIS but require fast-performing field tools and hardware independence. The SPY .NET suite consists of Tensing SPY Mobile GIS, Tensing SPY Development Suite, Tensing Live Connect, and Tensing Gateway.

      Safe Software's core technology product, FME, is an integrated collection of Spatial ETL tools for the distribution of location-based data. FME enables data sharing between applications or data stores with different structures. FME also allows spatial data to be manipulated in hundreds of different ways, unlocking the full information potential within a data set. FME consists of four major components: a translation engine (FME Universal Translator), a graphical authoring environment (FME Workbench), a data inspection tool (FME Viewer), and application extenders that directly integrate into a variety of spatial applications.

    7. Global Relief Technologies (GRT) is teaming with GeoEye Inc., the world's largest commercial provider of satellite imagery, and Telenor Satellite Services to deliver timely satellite imagery to emergency relief workers operating in remote and often dangerous areas around the world. The initiative to bring this technology to humanitarian and relief workers is being championed by former Air Force General and founding director of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI or "Star Wars"), James Abrahamson, a member of Global Relief Technologies' Board of Directors.

      With the launch of Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service, Telenor Satellite Services provides a new and significantly improved mobile satellite communications capability that can move large amounts of imagery data to customers operating around the globe. For years, emergency workers and international relief organizations have requested timely satellite imagery of areas in which they are operating.

      When NATO forces moved into Kosovo in 1999 to provide security and relief to Kosovar Albanians, relief workers lined up outside a small trailer to get a glimpse of imagery provided by the U.S. government of areas destroyed by conflict. The imagery available in that case was viewable on a single light-table and for only one individual at a time.

    8. NAVTEQ, a provider of digital maps for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, is playing a key role in the delivery of the UK Highways Agency's ESDAL (Electronic Service Delivery for Abnormal Loads) Internet portal project in providing map data for the route planning element. The first phase in this multi-phase project was recently launched following testing and user pilot trials.

      Ultimately, ESDAL will supply a portal for the request as well as planning and notification of Abnormal Indivisible Load (AIL) movements by road. This will provide a common link between hauliers, police, structure owners, and the Highways Agency AIL team — and significantly streamline the process for requesting and assessing an AIL movement.

      Serco Transport Systems, which was awarded the ESDAL contract by the Highways Agency, chose to use NAVTEQ map data to support the route planning element of the system. Although motorway routing is relatively straightforward, the map attributes come into their own at street level. For example, haulers planning their routes will need to know factors such as road widths and curvature, junction geometry and road barriers or dividers. In addition, information on roundabouts, one way systems, turn and access restrictions is vital along with the location of dual carriageways — particularly as large loads may need to straddle the lanes or even travel the wrong way down certain roads. Each route must be analyzed section by section and the relevant parties notified.

      Phase one provides a Web-based route planning system giving access to contact details of all the structure-owning authorities and police forces which would need to be notified of an abnormal load movement. Internet map display and interaction are provided using Intergraph's GeoMedia WebMap technology, which enables haulers to simply draw routes directly onto a map. The routes drawn are then used to drive other processes, such as automatically identifying organizations requiring notification. Initially, ESDAL will return a list of contacts for each route; automatic notification will be added in the later phases of implementation. Having designed and supplied the system, Serco will operate the service for two years.

    9. LinksPoint has announced that its GlobalPoint GPS receiver was validated for quality and compatibility with Symbol's MC9000 series of mobile computers through the SymbolPLUS Partner Program. LinksPoint is a manufacturer of GPS receivers designed to work with Symbol mobile computers and mobile computer-based software solutions for vehicle tracking and navigation. The program is designed to create a mutually beneficial relationship between Symbol and third-party peripheral vendors to provide enterprise mobility solutions for customers. SymbolPLUS product validation is reserved for "best in class" peripherals that have been tested for quality, reliability, service, and system interoperability with Symbol mobile computers and scanners. LinksPoint's SymbolPLUS validated products have been tested under Symbol's guidelines to ensure compliance with the program.


    1. LeadDog Consulting, LLC has released geographic databases of city streets for the following Egyptian cities: Cairo, Alexandria, BaniSuef, Fayed, Fayoum, Minya, Hurgada, Sharm Shick, Arish, and Sohag to support asset-tracking, government, military, and commercial GIS applications.

      Designed to help companies track their assets and provide accurate base level mapping, LeadDog's product provides numerous vector layers and attributes such as streets at 1:10,000 scale; street names; street classifications; extensive Points of Interest; and park, water, and landmark polygons.

      Egypt City Streets are available in all major GIS formats. An Egypt Major Roads and Highways product is available at a 1:250,000 scale.

    2. Intergraph Corporation has launched ImageStation PixelPipe, an integrated solution for enterprise orthophoto production designed to meet the increasing demand for orthophotos, larger projects, and tighter project schedules. PixelPipe provides a single solution for all aspects of orthophoto production, including image and metadata management, intelligent distributed processing, rigorous quality assurance / quality control processes and automation.

      Building on the tools available in Intergraph's earth imaging solutions — including TerraShare, ImageStation OrthoPro, and ImageStation PixelQue — the entire ortho workflow can be achieved in a distributed processing environment, increasing throughput and reducing computation time.

  3. OTHER

    1. At ESRI's third annual Business GeoInfo Summit, held in Boston, Massachusetts, April 30 to May 2, Lynn Wombold, ESRI's chief demographer, presented ESRI's 2006-2011 demographic data updates and projections. Wombold outlined new demographic trends that were revealed during the update process; discussed the posthurricane population findings; and explained the new, innovative methodology that was used to create ESRI's 2006-2011 demographic data updates.

      Demographic trends pinpoint new growth areas, changes in the housing market, the maturing of Generation Y into household formation, and the economic effects of higher interest rates and rising debt. Posthurricane findings included in the updates show significant change in the population profiles of neighborhoods and communities affected by the 2005 hurricanes, including the damage or destruction of homes, the effects of resettlement on surrounding areas, and other information.

      Decades of demographic forecasting and spatial analysis have culminated in the creation of a truly unique method of geodemographic analysis. This methodology blends ESRI's 2006-2011 demographic data and GIS technology with data from other leading data providers to produce startlingly accurate results.

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