2006 June 15

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Professional Surveyor Magazine

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Editor's Introduction

This week I focus on the use of GIS in archaeology—the only humanities discipline that has embraced this technology—and on the Intergraph user conference. Both stories center on the fastest growing component in the mix of geospatial technologies: remote sensing. Plus, my usual (again) roundup of news items from press releases.

I would like to cover end user applications of GIS much more—including successful projects, challenges, and failures. However, I cannot do so without your help. Please drop me a line and recommend specific projects.


GIS for Archaeology

While it is well known that GIS is used extensively in government, business, science, and the social sciences, few people think of it in connection with the humanities. Yet there is one discipline that some consider part of the humanities that has embraced GIS unabashedly: archaeology. To explore some of the current uses of GIS in archaeology, I visited the Geographic Information Science Center of the University of California at Berkeley and met with its Associate Director, Dr. Caverlee S. Cary. The Center—filled with large format printouts of aerial photographs and maps from projects covering a wide range of disciplines—has a campus-wide mandate to serve Berkeley faculty, students, and staff by coordinating the acquisition, instruction, deployment, and development of geographic information technologies. The Center's director, Professor John Radke, teaches in the university's department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.

Cary, who has a Ph.D. in Southeast Asian art, left yesterday for Bangkok, Thailand, where she is co-leading a workshop on GIS and remote sensing for archaeology. The workshop's other co-leader, Surat Lertlum, heads the computer science department at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, in Thailand. He was recently a Fullbright Visiting Scholar at the GIS Center, specializing in remote sensing, and is very interested in the history of Southeast Asia and Thailand in particular. "Because there has been so much greater availability of spatial data in recent years," Cary told me, "we decided to have a workshop that would present several of the different options that are available in terms of spatial data that might be of use to archaeologists. We want to show some of the things that are really cutting edge, particularly as represented by a Berkeley professor, Peng Gong, and his colleagues. He is not an archaeologist by training but has become aware in recent years, working with archaeologists in China, as to what some of them have been doing. He and three members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences will be talking about the application of remote sensing in archaeology."

For the participants who are involved in archaeology—students, practitioners, heritage managers, and so on—the emphasis, Carey told me, is going to be particularly on what's available for free or for low cost or somewhat improvising. "Many of these people are operating in institutions that have very little money at their disposal. In many cases they might have money for little more than a computer and a digital camera. We are trying to emphasize possibilities that might be within their reach."

In selecting participants, Cary and Lertlum tried to bring together a spectrum of geographic representation and backgrounds. Participants will be coming from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines. "We also have a range of backgrounds and expertise—from younger scholars to representatives of APSARA, the authority that manages the major monuments of Cambodia, from national museums to universities," says Cary. She is hoping that these people will bring back to their home institutions what they learned from the training and remain in touch with the GIS Center, which can then offer further support later on.

Archaeologists have been using GIS for years, but the intense use of remotely sensed imagery is new and due largely to the sharp increase in the amount and quality of available satellite data. "I am interested in aerial photographs too," Cary says, "because of the huge number of photographs of Southeast Asia that both the Allies and the Japanese took during World War Two. A lot of those on the American side have been de-classified in recent years. This does not necessarily mean that they are all easily available, but the research potential for archaeologists is very great, because you can see many of these sites before a lot of the development that has taken place since the end of the war. In some cases, extremely well meaning restoration projects—for example, to protect sites from soil erosion or to make them more accessible to people—create changes and in the process alter core aspects of how the site originally looked. So, often these photographs are very useful because they show what was actually there before the site was restored, which is sometimes a very useful baseline."

GIS and archaeology are a perfect match, according to Cary, because linking attribute information to locations on the Earth's surface "is exactly what archaeologists need to do when they are documenting a site. The core of archaeology is that you know exactly where on or in the ground any given object that has been discovered came from." When sites are disturbed—for example, looted—it damages their value to scholars, she points out. "So, it's like the real estate mantra—location, location, location."

The analytical functions of GIS have also been very useful for cultural heritage managers, Cary explains, for example for monitoring and modeling crowd control. "Many of these countries need and, to some degree, welcome, foreign visitors," she says, "because they are a very important source of revenue. The reality is that people will come, whether you want them to or nor, and you have to be prepared to deal with them. So, people who are managing fragile environments, such as archaeological sites, need to have ways to figure out how to manage crowds. How are they going to deal with the fact that the are people living in many of these areas [of interest to archaeologists]? What is going to be the impact of the growing number of tourists on people who are already within the site? APSARA, who is sending two representatives to this workshop, is particularly interested in this aspect, because in Cambodia one can very clearly see the problems that communities are facing as a result of the spectacular growth in tourism. Everyone visiting SE Asia wants to go see the temples at Angkor Wat."

While APSARA is "fairly well equipped," says Cary, other countries do not have access to those kind of resources. In some cases the hardware has been donated but does not come with training and maintenance and often a reliable supply of electricity is problematic. "So, there are many obstacles. Some countries have urgent priorities elsewhere and part of the reason that archaeology receives any attention at all is because of the revenue from tourism."

Archaeologists are still discovering new sites. In one University of Pennsylvania project, researchers are going around Laos with GPS receivers and discovering sites that have not been documented in the literature. In a few cases, researchers are sending field data back to their home institutions in real time. In most cases, however, sites are documented using pen and paper and the data is input into a database later, "back at the ranch."

What assistance does the Center provide to these projects? "It is on a case-by-case basis," says Cary. "One of the ways that it comes about is through outreach programs such as this training, where individuals who see some potential use of these technologies for what they need to do get in touch with us and ask for advice or data."

Whence the Center's interest in archaeology? "We have an archaeology research facility here on our campus. We held a joint program with them in 2004 and that came out of the fact that archaeologists are interested in GIS and we are interested in supporting that. I am particularly interested in supporting GIS for the humanities. Many of the projects that we do come out of individual connections on some level, such as someone who has been to a training program or contacted us about a particular project or need."

In 2004, the Center held a workshop on GIS and archaeology and also that year the first in a series of conferences on remote sensing and archaeology took place in China; the next one will take place in December in Italy. "More and more people are getting interested in the remote sensing aspect of archaeology," says Cary.

Intergraph User Conference

More than 2,000 people from 64 countries attended Intergraph's International User Conference, in Orlando, Florida, which ended today. The program was organized by tracks representing the following industries:

  • Process and power
  • Public safety
  • Shipbuilding and offshore
  • Defense and intelligence
  • Utilities and communications
  • Federal government/ installations
  • Transportation security
  • State, local, regional, and national government
  • Commercial photogrammetry

Ben Eazzetta delivers his keynote address

I discussed the conference with Gadi Benmark, General Manager of Intergraph's Transportation & Commercial Photogrammetry Business Unit, who joined the company a year ago.

Unlike previous years, this year Intergraph held a single, unified show, rather than divisional ones. Initially, this raised some concern, Benmark told me, prompted by such questions as "What would it be like for a GIS customer to be at the show and look at technologies for plant planning? What would it be like for a photogrammetry customer to come to a show and hear about security technology?" However, the new format worked well. "It has been a huge success with customers," says Benmark. "It is impressive to see this arsenal of technology that Intergraph has across the board."

According to Benmark, this wider technology offering did not hurt the contents in any of the industry-specific verticals. "In commercial photogrammetry," he told me, "what we had in this show was just as big, if not bigger, than what we used to have in the past, in the focused show. We didn't take away any content. In fact, because of the scale of this show, we were able to bring even more demos, afford even more tracks. So, the content was there for everybody, in their respective industries and customer segments. In addition, as a bonus, they benefited from a larger show, more people, diverse technology, very interesting state-of-the-art displays, and social events. It has been a very upbeat and fun event for most participants."

The biggest announcement in photogrammetry was Intergraph's PixelPipe initiative, a new offering that the company is developing in commercial photogrammetry software. According to Benmark, "it strives to provide one-press-of-the-button orthophotos." While it is impossible to automate the orthophoto production process entirely, he explains, PixelPipe "tries to get it as close as possible, given the state-of-the-art, to what we call 'push button workflow.' It targets those photogrammetry shops that deal with fairly high volumes of orthophoto production and need this high degree of automation so that they can get increased speed and efficiency and drive more cost out of the system." Intergraph will release the product in the fall. Meanwhile, Benmark told me, it will have "a set of big announcements" in July and August.

"I think that we are the only company out there that has a combination of data acquisition, through our DMC, our large format digital camera, and the photogrammetric workflow," says Benmark. He points out that Vexcel, a manufacturer of digital cameras recently purchased by Microsoft, does not have any products downstream in the photogrammetric workflow. "Our ability to offer customers a combination that includes a camera and a completely streamlined downstream orthophoto production process," he says, "makes it a very unique package."

At the conference, in the sessions devoted to transportation, there was a lot of excitement about transportation security. The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has selected Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor for the cornerstone program initiating a comprehensive upgrade of MTA's electronic security operations infrastructure, and Intergraph is one of the subcontractors. The Authority oversees the New York City Transit system, Long Island Railroad, Metro North Railroad, and MTA bridges and tunnels. "At this show for the first time we had MTA and Lockheed come and talk about this project and Intergraph's role in it," says Benmark. "We unveiled the Intergraph security demo, which shows our integrated security software for transit systems, for airports, for critical infrastructure, for ports protection. It lets you integrate sensors, alarms, and video feeds into one COP (common operational picture) that is GIS-enabled and geospatial-based and makes it very easy to act upon and manage incidents. It has been a crowd-pleaser. It was featured in the keynote and attracted attention in the demo area."

The trade show at the Intergraph user conference

Intergraph also introduced a few new, GeoMedia-based products. These included straight line diagrams (SLD), which allow users to present very complex pieces of the road network linearly, and multiple linear reference system (MLRS), which enable users to reconcile different models of data representation in transportation, primarily around the road network.

TerraShare, Intergraph's file management system for imagery, was also a big topic at the conference. "Everyone seems to be experiencing an explosion involving the sheer volume of imagery that they access and share," says Benmark. "TerraShare is a great system to manage imagery across the enterprise in a really intuitive way. We found that a lot of people in state departments of transportation spend a lot of money collecting their own imagery — for example, with one of our digital cameras. That's a very expensive venture. Some people with a need for imagery in a DOT will go to Google Earth because it is so easy to get the imagery there, it is very easy to find." Imagery is usually kept in such a way that only few people in an enterprise know how to access it, Benmark explains. "That's quite a wasteful use of imagery. TerraShare really becomes an enterprise-wide system to access the imagery data through a user interface [that makes it easy to] locate an image file. It tiles the files on a raster backdrop."


Also at the conference, Intergraph made the following announcements:

  1. Intergraph has completed phase one implementation of its G/Technology geofacilities management application at Nanjing Gas, the largest of 25 Chinese companies that have joint ventures with the utility giant, Hong Kong China Gas Company, also known as Towngas. The phase one milestone encompasses using geospatial technology to streamline network operations, including maintenance, repair, and replacement. Nanjing Gas is the first gas industry provider to deploy Intergraph's G/Technology platform in China. It is implementing the G/Gas suite of geofacilities management applications, which are based on gas distribution industry best practices and are a key enabling technology within Intergraph's Geospatial Resource Management (GRM) environment of integrated systems.

  2. Intergraph has partnered with the Italian government to safeguard the Venice lagoon from the rising tides of the Adriatic Sea, which threaten to erode the city and erase history in the next 50 to 100 years. Consorzio Venezia Nuova (CVN) is a private consortium which proposed a solution to the sinking of Venice. The solution, Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico (Electromechanic Experimental Module) or MOSE, was approved by the Italian government in 2003 and is slated for completion in 2011. It features 78 submerged, mobile dams at the three entrances to the lagoon. When the sea tide rises above 110 centimeters, the dams can be activated by inflating compressed air and expelling water, thereby preventing the flooding of the lagoon and the city of Venice.

    The Magistrato alle Acque, the agency charged with safeguarding and managing Venetian waters, and CVN have employed Intergraph hardware and software solutions almost exclusively for nearly 15 years. The selection of a suite of Intergraph GIS and commercial photogrammetry products for the protection, management, and infrastructure maintenance of the Venice lagoon is the latest extension of that relationship. The Intergraph products used to obtain GIS information and conduct analyses of environmental issues include ImageStation, MGE, GeoMedia, and the GeoMedia Web Map family.

  3. Gaz Metro Limited Partnership (Gaz Metro), Canada's third-largest gas provider, has completed its transition to G/Technology geofacilities management applications, which incorporates complete deployment of geofacilities data across the enterprise with full integration at all levels of systems, applications, access, view, and updates. This enables Gaz Metro to use one system for all departments to share the same data.

  4. The City of Milan, Italy, Department of GIS and Cartography, has selected Intergraph technology to integrate the city's base cartography with regional technical cartographic information featuring a different scale. According to Intergraph, its open architecture enables seamless integration of the data, which is housed in disparate databases and maintained using other vendors' software. The main goal of the first phase of the project was to demonstrate the feasibility of map generalization from urban scale (1:1.000) to regional scale (1:10.000) with the objective to automatize the production of the regional maps starting from maps at larger scale.

  5. Centro Geografico del Ejercito de Tierra (Spanish Army) has selected and implemented Intergraph geospatial technology to create a completely digital end-to-end production workflow for processing and finishing paper maps. Using Intergraph technology, the Spanish Army is standardizing operator training by consolidating knowledge of various products into one environment. The mapping workflow allows for customization, including secure attribution capture and population, as well as simplified maintenance tasks. In addition, users may publish maps directly into Adobe Acrobat PDF format reducing time-consuming conversion steps.

News Briefs

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


    1. ESRI and Systematic Software Engineering, Denmark's largest privately-owned software company, are forming a relationship through ESRI's Danish authorized distributor Informi GIS to take the traditional C4I market to the next level. They will combine Systematic's C4I solution, SitaWare, and ESRI's ArcGIS platform to deliver commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) C4I solutions to military organizations around the world. The goal of this deployment is a C4I system on each officer's desk at every echelon in army, navy, air force, and joint operations.

      Systematic's SitaWare and ESRI's ArcGIS platform are proven COTS technologies. Their open, service-oriented architecture ensures interoperability with existing systems and easy customization to fit specific demands. SitaWare is a commercial C4I solution based on the Command and Control Information Exchange Data Model (C2IEDM) standard. SitaWare is optimized for combined and joint nteroperability. It feeds near-real-time data through the command system at low bandwidth from war fighter to headquarters for a wide range of applications such as updating the common operational picture.

      ESRI's ArcGIS is the most widely deployed COTS GIS in the defense and intelligence community worldwide. Currently operating in defense organizations in more than 100 countries, ArcGIS is increasingly used to create spatial information and application infrastructures that cut across capability areas.

      The two companies participate in a wide range of standards development organizations. This active involvement in IT, defense, and geospatial standards organizations ensures that capabilities are based on guaranteed interoperability. Similar in business culture, Systematic and ESRI both invest nearly 20 percent of their revenue in research and development.

    2. Intergraph Corporation has implemented the first phase of an advanced computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system for the Cleveland, Ohio, Fire and Emergency Medical Services departments. The effort is part of an initiative by the Cleveland Department of Public Safety to modernize the city's public safety systems to enable the department and its various divisions to enhance operations, share information, and increase management reporting capabilities. The new system will provide both agencies with an integrated, interactive mapping capability that provides dispatchers and field personnel with information on the closest available resources and the fastest response routes as well as real-time information on the location of assets in the field as they respond to emergencies.

      The new system will give field personnel remote Web access and telephony, including Automatic Number Identification/Location Information (ANI/ALI), Telephone Device for the Deaf, and paging. This will speed real-time incident response and, in the case of EMS calls, the ability for emergency technicians to provide patient information to hospitals en route, so that hospital personnel can prepare to treat patients' specific needs as soon as they arrive at the emergency room.


    1. A new version of BAE Systems' SOCET GXP software has added tools for image analysis, geospatial analysis, 3D simulation, and targeting—applications that will be particularly helpful for homeland defense or military intelligence missions. SOCET GXP v2.2 establishes greater situational awareness for users engaged in disaster relief and recovery, humanitarian efforts, reconnaissance, battle-damage assessment, and surveillance missions.

      Military analysts can use the new BAE Systems software to process, analyze, and deliver high-resolution digital imagery derived from airborne and satellite sensors. That imagery can now be labeled with detailed notes to provide actionable intelligence to first responders, decision-makers, and others across secure networks. The software processes data from a variety of image sources and creates image products that can be compressed and saved in multiple formats. Data and reports can be immediately e-mailed and accessed from mobile laptop computers, relay stations, and ground control centers. SOCET GXP is available on both UNIX and Windows platforms.


    1. The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) will hold its 44th annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, September 26-29. The first day will consist of workshops, followed by three full days of educational sessions and networking opportunities. Conference highlights will include: thirteen pre-conference workshops, covering topics ranging from GIS program management to LiDAR concepts, principles and applications; an opening keynote address from Ward Chapin, CIO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games; more than 200 presenters from around the world; 72 comprehensive educational sessions on a wide-range of topics; a new professional development program track; a special presentation by the 2006 URISA Exemplary Systems in Government award winners; a closing keynote address from Mike Liebhold, a Senior Researcher for the Institute for the Future, who will address pro-active, context-aware and ubiquitous computing, as well as the social implications and technical evolution of a geospatial Web.

      URISA's Public Participation GIS Conference will be co-located at the Vancouver event. One and a half days of program content will allow the PPGIS community to connect with the broader URISA audience.

    2. Representatives from 30 companies will give presentations at the Laser-Scan User & Partner Conference 2006, June 27-29, They range from Land Registry Ireland to Tele Atlas, from Landmark Information Group to Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, from Great Britain's Ordnance Survey to Australia's MidCoast Water. LizardTech, a division of Celartem, Inc., and a provider of software solutions for managing and distributing digital content, will be one of the sponsors at the conference.

      There will also be a series of vendor presentations from senior level management at Autodesk, eSpatial, Galdos, Oracle and STAR Informatic, and presentations by independent consultants, such as Simon Greener, Mike Cessford from PA Consulting Group, and Rob Starling in his role as Coordinator for the Open Geospatial Consortium in Australasia (OGC-A). Day 3 will feature workshops by the Office for Government Computing (also OGC!) and DNF Expert Committee from Great Britain.

      The conference, which has the theme 'Spatial Data Supply Chain: Delivering ROI', will examine the best ways of maximizing the return on investment made by organizations that purchase and use or reuse spatial data.

    3. The Centre for GeoInformatics (Z_GIS) at Salzburg University will hold two "summer schools" in Salzburg, Austria. The GMOSSS Summer School, dedicated to the theme of "Human Security: People - Homes - Infrastructure," will take place October 1-8. GMOSS stands for Global Monitoring for Security and Stability.

      Participants from the GMOSS Network and other institutions involved in security-related issues can sign up on online until July 21. Another one, dedicated to the theme "Regional Potentials for Renewable Energy Generation," will take place October 1-12.

    4. Autodesk, Inc., Lockheed Martin, Adobe Systems Incorporated, and GeoWorld Magazine have sponsored the GeoWeb 2006 conference, which will be held July 24-28, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The conference will feature nearly 70 paper presentations, 13 workshops, keynote addresses, and an exhibit floor, all focused on the convergence of XML, Web services, and GIS.

      The new sponsors join platinum sponsor Microsoft, gold sponsors Google Inc. and Oracle, silver sponsors Laser-Scan and Safe Software, and coffee break and bag insert sponsor LizardTech. Autodesk has agreed to be a gold sponsor, Lockheed Martin is a silver sponsor, Adobe is a coffee break and bag insert sponsor, and GeoWorld is the official publication sponsor. Conference organizer Galdos Systems Inc. and conference supporter the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) are looking for more companies to add to the list of well-known sponsors as many opportunities are still available.


    At its inaugural BE Conference in Europe held this week in Prague, Czech Republic, Bentley Systems, Incorporated, made several announcements:

    1. It released its May 2006 Annual Report, "Empowering Distributed Enterprises for the World's Infrastructure.". The conference, an annual gathering of Bentley software users and their managers, is aimed at the European infrastructure community and is modeled after the BE Conference held in the United States.

    2. It released the newest version of ProjectWise—a system of collaboration servers that enables distributed enterprises and related organizations to deliver infrastructure projects. The ProjectWise V8 XM Edition provides new tools specifically for organizations running a portfolio of projects, including: a project framework offering capabilities to find and reuse content across projects; standards management tools that increase the quality and consistency of work on all MicroStation- or AutoCAD-based projects; and load balancing and clustering for scaling the solution to a portfolio of projects and optimizing performance across a distributed enterprise.

    3. It announced that it has acquired the map publishing and finishing products, including CADscript and MAPscript, from Corporate Montage Pty. Ltd. of Perth, Australia. Among the users of CADscript and MAPscript around the world are the national survey organizations of Great Britain, Australia, and Hong Kong; the land information departments of Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, New Zealand, and Hong Kong; and the departments of transportation of the states of Connecticut, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana. CADscript is also used by municipalities, forestry authorities, mapping organizations, mineral extraction companies, oil companies, military mapping organizations, surveying companies, and engineering companies.

    4. It announced the acquisition of GEF-RIS AG, based in Leimen, Germany. The company provides GIS solutions used in the design and management of multi-utility infrastructure. Users of its products include E.ON Hanse, swb Bremen, Drewag Dresden, Wien Energie, and EVM Koblenz. GEF-RIS's sis family of products is led by sisNET, an integrated solution for the design, documentation, and management of electricity, gas, water, and district heating networks. sisNET is built on Bentley's MicroStation and maintains data in commercial spatially oriented databases such as Oracle.

      In addition to offering products that help manage power utility networks, GEF-RIS also provides advanced analysis tools for engineers. sisHYD is an analysis solution for pipe hydraulics in systems that carry compressible media such as steam or gas. sisKMR provides structural analysis of any type of pipe and is particularly useful in optimizing district heating networks.

      GEF-RIS's two executives, Martin Icking and Klaus Blettner, have joined Bentley in senior roles, in which they will continue to apply their expertise in multi-utility infrastructure solutions.

      The GEF-RIS products are available from Bentley immediately.

  5. OTHER

    1. In light of groundbreaking work being done by GISCorps and the realization that GIS volunteer efforts are becoming more widespread, the board of directors of the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) has voted unanimously to create a separate contribution point category for volunteer efforts. The new category, within the "Contributions to the Profession" section of the application, ensures that applicants have a clear understanding of how stewardship activities translate to points. Volunteer work has always been worth credit towards professional certification but until now the program lacked a defined methodology for awarding it.

      Volunteer work consists of providing any form of uncompensated GIS-related work performed in agreement with a service-oriented organization—such as GISCorps, clubs, organizations, schools, or other entities. Documentation must be provided from the entity that lists the nature and duration of the volunteer effort.

      Volunteer credit will be awarded in two categories: 1. Volunteer Missions: providing 72 or more consecutive hours of time, including time for food and rest, in active volunteer status; 2. Volunteer Work: providing periodic or sporadic volunteer work with a duration of less than 72 consecutive hours in active volunteer status.

      Volunteer work is an excellent way for certified GIS Professionals (GISPs) and prospective GISPs to earn points towards re-certification or initial certification. Engaging in volunteer outreach offers GIS practitioners a chance to use their skills to improve the quality of life for communities, interest groups, educational institutions, and the disenfranchised.

      As of May 25, there were 1,167 GISPs.

    2. Telcontar, a supplier of software platforms and services for the location-based services (LBS) market, is changing its corporate name to deCarta. The new corporate identity reflects the company's objective and commitment to deliver geospatial software and services to Internet, mobile, and telematics applications. In connection with the name change, the company also unveiled a new corporate logo and began doing business under the new name and identity.

      After 10 years in the geospatial industry, Telcontar has decided to make the name change to deCarta to more effectively market the strengths of the company and highlight its positioning in the industry. It has recently expanded its international presence in Europe and Asia-Pacific and has had record growth in the past two years.

      Through the next few months the company will unveil its new visual identity and website.

    3. All staff at NVision Solutions, Inc., a provider of geospatial solutions for disaster response, has completed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Incident Command System (ICS) certification, which allows them to work within FEMA's personnel structure. All NVision employees are certified at the ICS-200 level. NVision is a minority, woman-owned firm that has been providing GIS personnel and technology assistance to FEMA for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. NVision was a volunteer first responder, beginning work in August 2005, just days after the hurricane, and has continued to assist in the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort.

      According to FEMA's online Emergency Management Institute, the ICS-100 course is geared toward personnel involved with response, planning, and recovery efforts. ICS-100 serves as an introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS) and provides a foundation of knowledge in the history, features, principles, and organizational structure of the ICS. It also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The ICS-200 course enables personnel to operate efficiently within the Incident Command System during an event. It is geared toward personnel who are likely to take a supervisory position within the ICS.

    4. Skyhook Wireless, provider of a Wi-Fi-based positioning system, has launched the Skyhook Developers' Network. Providing location-based service and application developers with free access to the Skyhook Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS), APIs, documentation and a support infrastructure, the Developers' Network will allow solution providers to build location-based products running on commonly available platforms and without the need of additional hardware such as a GPS receiver.

      The cornerstone for the Skyhook Developers' Network is the Developers' Dashboard, a Web-based support infrastructure that will give LBS developers access to the Skyhook software-only positioning APIs and software code, documentation, release notes, community forums, and technical support. Developers can download and integrate the APIs under a no-charge evaluation and development license and then elect to make the integrated application commercially available by upgrading to a distribution license.

      The Skyhook WPS SDK allows for rapid integration with LBS applications running on various platforms. It give developers the ability to add auto-location query functionality and incorporate a complete location profile—latitude, longitude, full street address—through a simple API. Additionally Skyhook's WPS can act as a virtual GPS receiver and provide latitude and longitude in the standard NMEA format, allowing them to leverage location interfaces that they have already developed.

      The Skyhook Developer's Dashboard will also feature an Application Showcase that will describe and promote the most innovative partner-developed WPS-based location based services and applications.

      Skyhook has also launched, and is co-sponsoring with Tele Atlas, the 'Wi-Fi Cage Match' product competition to encourage the development of location-based applications on more open, reliable, and accurate systems. Starting June 15th and running through September 15th, developers can enroll via the Skyhook Developers' Dashboard. Contestants will also be able to leverage the Tele Atlas DeveloperLink to gain access to Tele Atlas map data, development tools, documentation and forum to further enhance their Skyhook-enabled LBS application. Applications submitted for review will be judged by a panel of industry experts who will evaluate applications based on innovation, consumer appeal, ease of use, and breadth of functionality. The developer of the winning application will receive a Segway Human Transporter.

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