2006 August 03

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Professional Surveyor Magazine

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Editor's Introduction

This week I report on how the mix of technical workshops at the annual ERSI user conference has changed over the past six years and preview two presentations that will take place at this year's conference. The first one is about the GIS road layer used for dispatching emergency vehicles in San Diego. The second one is about the use of GIS to save the lives of illegal immigrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. Plus, my usual round-up of industry news from press releases.


Technical Workshops at ESRI UC

As I read the agenda for the Twenty-Sixth Annual ESRI International User Conference, I wondered how the mix of technical workshops has changed over the years. So, I reviewed the agendas for the 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 conferences, counted the number of sessions in each of 179 tracks, entered those numbers in a spreadsheet, and generated some graphics.

The first thing that jumps out is the growth in the total number of workshops: from 147 in 2001 to 380 this year, peaking at 405 last year.

Read more …

GIS Road Layer for 911 Dispatch

In fire, medical, or police emergencies, victims count on emergency vehicles to reach them as quickly as possible. The drivers of these vehicles, in turn, count on the 911 dispatch system's GIS to give them the fastest route to the scene of the emergency. To do this, the dispatch system requires accurate street data. In San Diego, California, Laura Brenner-Mikoly, the city's Public Safety Geofile Coordinator, is responsible for maintaining this GIS layer, which is used by both her agency, the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, and the City's Police Department. She will present her work in the "Local Use of GIS in Emergency Response" session of the EMS/Fire track at the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, on August 10 at 10:15 in room 17B. I asked Brenner-Mikoly to give GIS Monitor a preview of her presentation.

What, exactly, do you do? I maintain the street layers. I work very closely with SanGIS to make sure that the street data is correct and that they have the latest information. I actually do field work on the streets and have them implement those changes. The street file that I generate is put into the police department's 911 system and into our Fire/EMS 911 system.

911 CAD map, showing directions to Friars Road and Frazee Road

Read more …

GIS Saves Lives In the Desert

GIS can be used to save lives. Except for dispatching emergency vehicles, the most direct application of GIS to this purpose I have come across is its use by a non-profit organization called Humane Borders to save the lives of migrants in southern Arizona's Sonoran Desert. Nearly 500,000 people cross the southern border of the United States in a given recent year and so far more than 2,200 have died crossing this desert, not counting all those whose bodies are still lying undiscovered. Most of them died due to heat exposure and lack of water. Through cooperation with the U.S. Border Patrol and local medical examiners, Humane Borders maps the locations of these deaths and provides migrants with 80 drinking water stations in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Each consists of one to three sixty-gallon tanks and a blue flag mounted on a thirty-foot steel pole. Volunteers distribute the water via a fleet of four-wheel-drive trucks.

The organization also distributes posters throughout Northern Mexico that aim to discourage people from crossing Mexico's border with Arizona by correcting misconceptions of the danger they would face. Humane Borders has also developed models of cellular phone service, illustrating how better coverage would save lives by allowing migrants to call for government rescue. Finally, the organization, which argues that Border Patrol policy deliberately forces migrants to cross in the most hostile terrain possible, also works for immigration reform.

Human Borders volunteers replenish a water tank

Read more …

News Briefs

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


    1. The Norwegian Ugland IT Group has chosen NAVTEQ, a provider of digital maps for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, to provide map data for a range of products including Internet and GIS applications. Read more …

    2. ESRI has released the GeoCollector series, a field data collection solution that merges ESRI's mobile GIS software with professional-grade global positioning system (GPS) technology from Trimble. Read more …

    3. Fairfax County Wastewater Management, Virginia, has selected MWH Soft's InfoSewer and InfoView geospatial modeling and design software to aid in managing its wastewater collection system. Read more …

    4. The Mapping the Media—Political Finance in the Americas project uses ESRI's GIS software to create maps for the analysis of the media. Read more …


    1. TerraGo Technologies, creators of MAP2PDF and GeoPDF, have released MAP2PDF for ArcGIS version 3.0, which gives customers many more options and features for creating, sharing, and exchanging mapping data. Read more …

    2. ESRI has released the ArcWeb Services JavaScript application program interface (API), which developers can use to embed rich Adobe Flash-based, interactive, vector maps into a Web application with just a few lines of code and rapidly deploy them. Read more …

    3. TatukGIS—a company that develops and licenses GIS software products developed from its core GIS technology and intellectual property—has released the .NET edition of its GIS Developer Kernel product, supporting .NET manageable code for Windows Forms. Read more …

    4. Leica Geosystems has introduced the GPS900 RTK System, a complete base and rover system packaged in a single ruggedized case, providing a turnkey GPS surveying solution that can be easily transported. Read more …

    5. LeadDog Consulting, LLC has released geographic databases of city streets for Amman, Aqaba, and Irbid, Jordan to support military, government, asset-tracking, and commercial GIS applications. Read more …


    1. Twelve videos showing how GIS technology can help in everything from fighting wildfires to planning for a possible avian flu pandemic will be available this year to GIS Day event organizers. Read more …

    2. The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) will hold three in-depth panel discussions—two of them new—at this year's 15th annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition, slated for September 18-20, in Houston, Texas. Read more …


    1. OneGIS has hired Changming Du as Chief GIS Architect to head up the company's efforts in Web services and assist in the development of OneGIS applications and integration tools. Read more …

  5. OTHER

    1. Topcon will premier its newest digital planetarium presentation—Celestial Connections: Guiding GIS Solutions—at the ESRI International User Conference, August 7-11, at the San Diego Convention Center. Read more …

    2. A to Z GIS: An Illustrated Dictionary of Geographic Information Systems, new from ESRI Press, is a guide to the unique language of GIS technology. Read more …

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Matteo Luccio, Editor
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