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."

Read more …

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."

Read more …

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.

Read more …

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.… Read more …

    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.… Read more …

    3. Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, is using mPower Technologies's mPower Integrator, to develop their ArcIMS Web GIS.… Read more …

    4. MapInfo Corporation, a provider of location intelligence solutions, has announced the recipients of its 2006 Americas Partner Awards and Meridian Awards.… Read more …

    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.… Read more …

    6. Safe Software, a provider of extract, transform, and load (ETL) tools for spatial data, has named Tensing USA a Technology Partner.… Read more …

    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.… Read more …

    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.… Read more …

    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.… Read more …


    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.… Read more …

    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.… Read more …

  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.… Read more …

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