2006 August 24

This issue sponsored by

ESRI ArcGIS Server

If, for some reason, you cannot read this document, please visit:

Editor's Introduction

This week, I report on MetaCarta's plan to integrate its GeoTagger software with ESRI's ArcWeb Services; on the use of GIS for a sophisticated public health study; and on a master's program in GIS. Plus, my usual news items from press releases.

Please send me your comments and story ideas!


Professional Surveyor Magazine Readership Survey 2006

MetaCarta Deal with ESRI

At the recent ESRI user conference, MetaCarta, Inc. announced that it had signed an agreement to provide its GeoTagger software as a component of ESRI's ArcWeb Services, which allows users to access GIS content and capabilities over the Web, on-demand. Data storage, maintenance, and updates are handled by ESRI, eliminating the overhead of purchasing and maintaining large data sets. The addition of GeoTagger will enable users to geo-reference data found in unstructured documents—such as articles, field service documents, internal reports, and Web pages—and view the results in custom mapping applications.

The MetaCarta GeoTagger ArcWeb Services solution will be available through ESRI's developer and reseller channel in Q4 2006. It will include features that MetaCarta added earlier this year to its other products—such as search notification, which alerts users of new search results returned since the last time they logged in, document density, which displays the number of search results by geographic area, and region searching.

I discussed this announcement with Bill Fisher, a MetaCarta press contact.

  1. How does region searching work?

    We used to use the entire map extent as our geographic filter for the document search. Now you can actually choose a region—such as a county, state, or country—and search against that. Even though the surrounding area shows up on the map, only those documents that pertain to that region will appear in the search.

  2. How does document density work?

    As you zoom in closer and closer, it allows you to see not only the top ten results but also little squares with results with a lower confidence that still might pertain to your search.

  3. How does your new relationship with ESRI work for your customers?

    It is basically a pay-as-you-go solution. ESRI users will be able to access GIS and our search capability over the Web in front of the firewall.

  4. A kind of MetaCarta light?

    If you want to tag it that. It's very strong integration on our part.

  5. This is your first product aimed at individuals and small businesses, rather than large companies and government agencies.

    Exactly. ESRI is really trying to extend the reach of GIS beyond what it is today. So we're trying to help them with their "GIS for everyone" initiative. A lot of that is coming out with ArcGIS 9.2. So, yes, we are trying to get this capability into the hands of more people and have a broader reach in the GIS market. That's exactly what this Web services integration is all about.

  6. When do you think that ArcGIS 9.2 will actually be available?

    Your guess is as good as mine.

  7. How will you license GeoTagger?

    What we're considering so far, in our early research, is an annual license, per click basis, per sites, maybe something along the lines of 10,000 to 50,000 documents. Document limits will depend on our research in the next two to three months. For some applications it could just be 1,000 to 10,000 documents and that would cover a year's worth in a work group of five to ten people. Other applications would be much larger, probably around 50,000 document, where you would also pay per click, but at a reduced rate.

  8. With this new licensing scheme, the number of your installations might grow extremely rapidly. Can you handle that demand?

    You're right, it does pose a service challenge, but that will just be the nature of the product. It could be in ESRI software exclusively and, therefore, they would share in this responsibility.

  9. I've always thought of MetaCarta installations as only for big agencies and big contracts…

    This is a different model.

  10. How complex is an installation? Do users download the software and then call you for technical support?

    We want to design this so that it can be a credit card purchase, including the initial install and Web or phone support. That's the goal. We will still maintain our relationship with ESRI and do the integrations that we do today. However, we've been asked to come up with a product that is accessible to workgroups for small, medium, and large businesses that wouldn't necessarily have or need this complex integration. So, yes, you're right, it's a different model. It's a services-based, ASP model that will be available directly through ESRI. Now we're announcing that we've agreed to do this full steam ahead. In Q4 we will announce a general availability release—with the details on service, channel availability, and pricing.

GIS for Public Health

Analysis of the geographical relationship between environments and diseases has long been a cornerstone of public health. The classic, textbook example is John Snow's study of cholera transmission in London, which has recently been the subject of scholarly re-evaluation. Public health is now a rapidly expanding field for GIS. It is the focus of the ESRI Health GIS Conference, which will take place October 23-26, in Denver, Colorado, and it was the subject of about 40 technical workshops at the recent ESRI user conference.

At one of the workshops, Megan Blewett, a brilliant high school student who spent much of the summer doing research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, gave a flawless presentation of a study she had recently completed. Her paper (this link is to a draft) examined whether Multiple Sclerosis (MS)—the most common primary neurological disorder of young adults—belongs in the same category as Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, and other zoonotic diseases, which are caused by infectious agents that can be transmitted between animals and humans.

Megan Blewett
Megan Blewett working in her lab

Blewett first began to examine the relationship between MS and Lyme after being struck by the similarity in distribution maps of the two diseases. Epidemiological and biochemical similarities suggest a common bacterial basis for MS and Lyme. If there is a zoonotic influence in MS, Blewett reasoned, geostatistical analysis (inferential statistical techniques combined with data visualization and cartographics) should show that MS has the same geographic distribution as similar zoonotic diseases—and that the latter are good predictors of the former. As a control variable, Blewett used accident/injury, because this condition should be unrelated to a bacterial distribution.

Blewett obtained mortality counts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), population data from the 1990 Census, and population elevation data from the MIT Geoserver and the U.S. Census Gazetteer. She constructed a database of the elevation of each county seat, which she then gave to ESRI for use by other researchers.

From the start, Blewett had to contend with, in her words, "the current lack of standardization in health geographics data." Because Lyme is a reportable illness, she had assumed that she could readily find a standardized Lyme incidence dataset online. Instead, she had to contact (and follow up with) every single state epidemiologist. She entered the data into an Excel spreadsheet for each of the 3,141 counties in the United States for each of the years from 1992 through 1998—in the process creating the most comprehensive dataset available on Lyme incidence at the county level. "This process took several months," she told me, "though I am currently making this dataset available to other researchers."

To compare the distributions of different diseases, Blewett had to compile a database of their incidence and of their associated environmental variables. She began with a search for an authoritative source of incidence and prevalence data for Lyme, MS, breast cancer, ALS, and accidents/injuries. Death certificates are filed at the state level and coded in a standard way across all states. The information is then collected from the states by the National Center for Health Statistics, which publishes it along with other vital statistics. Blewett determined the appropriate code for each of the five diseases of interest, then used these codes in DataFerrett to extract the state of residence for those who died of those diseases in the United States in 1998.

To calculate the incidence variables for each state, she added to this data the population from the 1990 Census and the 1998 deaths from DataFerrett. She used the same method to obtain data at the county level. To this state and county data, Blewett added the number of new Lyme cases reported each year from 1992-1998, the centroid latitude, the centroid longitude, and the population elevation, then averaged the centroid latitude and longitude over all counties in a state to calculate the state value. She repeated this process to calculate each state's population elevation.

The results of Blewett's statistical analyses support geographically the proposed connection between MS, Lyme, and related diseases, while the geographic distribution of the control variable is very different. Her correlations and regression analysis also show a clear geographic co-occurrence of MS and Lyme but no such relationship with the control variable. This suggests a common cause for MS and Lyme. The strong association of MS with motor neuron disease (ALS) and the weaker, but significant, association with breast cancer, also suggest a possible common environmental mechanism for these diseases.

In her paper, Blewett also explains the results of her statistical analyses using biochemical principles. This summer she studied the chemical structures of compounds that bind uniquely with Neuregulin, a protein that appears to play a role in many of the diseases that her maps had showed to be geographically correlated. "I find it interesting," she told me, "that the epidemiological commonalities I found hold up on the biochemical level as well. This seems to give credence to the hypothesis that a common agent may be at work in MS and related diseases."

Blewett is careful to point out several possible confounding factors and spurious correlations. People diagnosed with chronic illnesses often move to Florida or California, because of the weather in those states, or to East Coast states with better healthcare. States with higher rates of diagnosis sometimes display lower death rates because, with experience, doctors in those areas often are more familiar with treating the disease. To protect the privacy of individuals, federal statistics lump together data for counties with fewer than 100,000 residents; this excludes mostly rural counties, which have a higher incidence of Lyme transmitted by ticks in wooded areas. Finally, MS and Lyme are commonly misdiagnosed and people's state/county of residence may not be a good indicator of where they were exposed to a disease.

Blewett found ArcGIS 9.1, without any extensions, sufficient for mapping the distributions of diseases. She used Excel to create her datasets and SPSS to calculate the descriptive and inferential statistics and to run the correlations and the multiple regressions. She saved the SPSS file as a Dbase IV file, then opened it and saved it in ArcGIS to use in her cartographic analyses.

"Overall," she told me, "I have been extremely satisfied with the ArcGIS software. This technology has given me insight I would not have gained using more conventional biochemical / statistical techniques. In the future, I want to explore the ArcGIS statistical package and other ArcGIS extensions. Operating individually also means that cost is an issue; ESRI was very generous in supplying me with the tools I needed. I especially enjoyed presenting at the ESRI user conference."

What are Blewett's plans for future research? "One of my focuses now," she says, "is collecting more datasets. I hope to compare MS distribution to bird migratory patterns, tick density, and population density, among other factors. I am still searching for a nationwide comprehensive tick distribution dataset."

Will GIS remain one of her key tools? "GIS holds the potential to answer questions few other approaches can. I hope to continue to use GIS to investigate the epidemiological overlap between MS and Lyme. Since the cause of Lyme has already been identified as a spirochetal bacterium, looking at commonalities could eventually reveal the cause of MS as well. Future steps include using standard deviational ellipses to both compare disease distributions and to investigate the spread / saturation of the diseases over time. I often worry that medical research today is not sufficiently goal-oriented. Scientific fields of study are becoming increasingly narrow and complex. GIS allows us to see the big picture and I hope to use it to guide any future biochemical investigation of these disorders."

The next presenter in the workshop, who is just completing her PhD, probably expressed the feelings of most of the people in the audience: when she was Blewett's age, she said, her biggest technical challenge was learning to drive a stick shift!

Master's of GIS Program

As the start of the academic year approaches, it is a good time to spotlight university courses in geographic information systems and sciences. Dr. Chris Lukinbeal, an assistant professor in the School of Geographical Sciences at Arizona State University, sent me this description of a degree program for which he serves as associate director and Dr. Robert Balling serves as director.

The School of Geographical Sciences at Arizona State University is in the third year of offering a Master's of Advanced Study in Geographic Information Systems (MAS-GIS) degree program. MAS-GIS is a compact, one-year, non-thesis degree program fostering advanced study in management and the use of GIS technology in public and corporate environments. The degree meets important educational needs of working professionals and recent college graduates seeking to improve their career standing.

The MAS-GIS program provides a comprehensive professional degree that balances work in the theoretical aspects of GIS, the technical side of the discipline, and the applications domain. Students are exposed to cutting edge technology, management theory and practice, and several societal dimensions associated with the application of GIS technology.

Students in the program must complete three sequential semesters of coursework, totaling 30 graduate credit hours. The first semester, offered during the fall, is composed of six two-credit hour modules. Courses include GIS Theory and Practice (two courses), Spatial Modeling and Statistics, GIS Implementation in the Corporate and Public Sectors, GIS Project Development, and a GIS Presentations class. Students in the spring semester must complete one mandatory and three elective 15-week advanced courses, each worth 3 credit hours. Course topics include GIS programming, air photo and remote sensing, GIS for the Internet, and GIS and business.

During the first two semesters, courses are held on weekdays evenings, allowing students to maintain or seek employment and/or internships at ASU or in Phoenix's rapidly growing high-technology economy. During the final semester, offered through the 8-week summer session, students must complete 6 credit hours of work, culminating in a written and oral capstone project. Our curriculum seeks a balance between GIScience theories and GISystems practice, making it highly adaptable to the work environment. Moreover, students are taught by both professors from the School of Geographical Sciences and by top-of-the-line working professionals in the Phoenix geospatial technology industry.

In the first two years of offering the program (2004-2006), 37 students have completed the MAS-GIS degree, and nearly 100 percent of them have finished on time. Several international students have taken the program and approximately 30 percent of the students are from out of state. Graduates have advanced in their existing jobs, gained employment with local companies and agencies (sometimes via internships), moved into higher education teaching, started their own business, and on and on—the sky is the limit for ASU MAS-GIS graduates!

News Briefs

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


    1. Google and Autodesk, Inc. have made available to government customers a software bundle combining GIS technology and Google Earth Pro. The bundle, called Autodesk Government Geospatial Solution with Google Earth Pro, is available exclusively to government agencies through DLT Solutions, Inc., the Autodesk Master Government Reseller, on the General Services Administration's (GSA) Schedule 70. It brings together two distinct user communities, enabling business users to leverage highly technical spatial data via an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. While Google is widely used as a search and mapping tool, it does not have deep penetration into the engineering / architecture user community. By contrast, Autodesk is used widely by engineers and architects, but until now has not offered the ease of use and search functions preferred by such "business" users as planners and lawyers. The combination enables both companies to reach into "untapped" user markets.

      The comprehensive nature of this bundle supports the increasingly widespread adoption of GIS technology by virtually all government business users. As noted in the Federal Enterprise Architecture Geospatial Profile, "Twenty [federal] lines of business (63 percent of the total) are identified as having primary geospatial elements. In the 'Services for Citizens' lines of business, 74 percent are identified as having geospatial as a primary element. … The most accurate and up-to-date [GIS] data are data that are collected, maintained and used locally."

      The bundle includes the following core software applications: Autodesk Map 3D 2007, which allows engineers and geospatial professionals to integrate CAD (computer-aided design) and GIS information; Autodesk Raster Design 2007, which provides the ability to visualize and manage raster images, including georeferenced image files, aerial photographs, and digital elevation models in an integrated environment; and Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise 2007, which enables technical workgroups to create HTML-based applications that integrate numerous GIS live datasets. It also includes MapGuide, which allows users to publish their Autodesk, Intergraph, and ESRI geospatial content for viewing in Google Earth Pro.

      Google Earth Pro enables business users to access spatial data and integrate full-Earth datasets with datasets from a variety of sources. Agency technical staff can use Autodesk Map 3D and Raster Design to create, aggregate, and edit precision GIS datasets. These datasets can then be accessed via the Web by Autodesk MapGuide, which can either publish to HTML or KML via beta plug-in software available for free download at the company's Autodesk Labs website. Non-technical agency personnel, using Google Earth Pro, can then access the datasets and leverage them to support their agency business objectives. In addition, Google Earth Pro enables the agency business users to marry the internal agency GIS data with the rich external data in Google Earth Pro.

    2. Laclede Gas, a retail gas distribution company servicing the City of St. Louis and eight surrounding counties, has selected Swova to provide onsite ArcSDE services. The services include performing daily ArcSDE/Oracle administrative functions, along with providing support and assistance to the company's GIS users. Laclede's enterprise GIS environment includes Miner and Miner's ArcFM solutions coupled with ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop applications and ArcSDE database engine application. The company uses MapFrame for mobile applications and Citrix for employee GIS access.

    3. Intermap Federal Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Intermap Technologies Corp., has received a US$3.9M contract to provide digital elevation data and orthorectified radar imagery for an international project. The contract will deliver data for geography never before mapped to the accuracy provided by Intermap's Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR) technology. Under the agreement, Intermap will provide radar mapping services for the client over the next six-months.

    4. El Paso Electric has gone into production with Telvent Miner & Miner's ArcFM Solution—including ArcFM, Network Adapter, Conduit Manager, and Designer products. El Paso Electric generates and distributes electricity through an interconnected system to about 344,000 customers in the Rio Grande Valley in west Texas and southern New Mexico.

      During the summer of 2004, El Paso Electric selected ESRI ArcGIS technology along with the ArcFM Solution. They have recently deployed 10 seats of ArcFM to support basic mapping and 50 seats of Designer to support the design process. They have also integrated Designer with Logica's STORMS product to facilitate the workflow and leverage the cost engine and material inventory and scheduling. Other integrations include CIS and to Milsoft's Windmil network analysis software. El Paso made use of several custom autoupdaters to support the business rules as well as creation of composite favorites and templates to improve productivity.

    5. In response to the technical requirements of European Union Directive 2002/49/EC, relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise, the Centre Scientifique et Technique du Batiment (CSTB) and the Institut Geographique National (IGN), both in France, have jointly developed a new noise analysis mapping application. Known as MITHRA-SIG, the product is based on the Cadcorp SIS - Spatial Information System. Cadcorp is a developer of digital mapping and GIS software.

      Sold exclusively by Cadcorp business partner Geomod, MITHRA-SIG integrates the analysis engine of MITHRA with the 3D spatial modelling capabilities of Cadcorp SIS Map Modeller. It enables the user to calculate the noise footprint of an entire community from hundreds of thousands of surveyed points and then to use the 3D geospatial modelling capabilities of Cadcorp Map Modeller to graphically represent the results and generate a 3D visualisation of the townscape or landscape under investigation. The user is able to 'walk through' the model to obtain a clear and definitive view of the noise analysis results.

      MITHRA-SIG is suitable for monitoring road, rail, and industrial noise levels and is designed for use by local authorities, government agencies, and acoustic research offices in statutory noise mapping, for assessing the acoustic impact of future construction projects, and for mapping noise from roads and railways.

    6. MWH Global has subcontracted to ESRI to support the creation of an enterprise GIS (EGIS) for Pasadena Water and Power in Pasadena, California. The EGIS will include ESRI ArcSDE, ArcIMS, and ArcInfo software along with the Miner & Miner ArcFM solution. Additionally, ESRI will support MWH in the development of the system architecture design portion of the final Life Cycle Architecture document and it will implement a complete GIS data quality control / quality assurance program for the project. This will include performing quality assurance checks and quality control on the converted data with the Production Line Tool Set (PLTS) GIS Data ReViewer. ESRI business partner DCSE, Inc., will assist the City of Pasadena by implementing and configuring the Web portal, map production, and markup management applications.

    7. Snowflake Software has joined the ESRI Developer Network to ensure even greater compatibility between the two companies' product lines. Snowflake Software has always taken an open approach with regards to the integration of its product suites with GIS technologies. GO Loader integrates seamlessly with multiple GIS packages and many of its customers are already connecting to the ESRI GIS products, ESRI ArcSDE, and CAPS UNI-form.

    8. ESRI is developing a new ArcGIS extension to support local governments participating in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program for the 2010 Census. LUCA is a geographic partnership program that will allow the Census Bureau to benefit from local knowledge to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the 2010 Census by providing digital data and a review and update tool to approximately 40,000 local governments. The program is also expected to be one of the key cost-saving programs of the 2010 Census.

      The extension will read Census Bureau-provided spatial data in shapefile format, provide a toolbox of census-specific workflow tasks (incorporating business rules and data validation), and output a revised shapefile in the required census format. This extension will replicate the task and technical functionality of the census Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (MAF/TIGER) Partnership Software (MTPS) in an ArcGIS environment.

      The extension development is a joint effort between ESRI and Citygate GIS LLC. The anticipated availability of the initial version of the extension is December 2006, coinciding with the availability of census-provided data and a census-developed review and update tool. Advance notice letters to participate in the LUCA program are expected to be sent to local government entities early in 2007, with formal invitation letters sent in July 2007 and census-provided data and the review and update tool delivered in the August-October 2007 time frame.

      The Census Bureau is currently developing datasets in tabular (addresses and counts) and shapefile (geographic features) formats, along with a basic, no-cost mapping application to support the update of the shapefile-based information. Use of the data and application will help to ensure that the local updates can be used immediately (after Census Bureau review and acceptance) and effectively within the larger 2010 Census effort. Local governments without ArcGIS software or expertise can use the MTPS toolset to fulfill the same responsibilities under the LUCA program.

      Local government entities will be requested to review and update address lists, counts of housing units, and other geographic features (roads, legal boundaries, etc.) for the areas under their jurisdictions, which the Census Bureau will incorporate and distribute from into the modernized MAF/TIGER database.

      Local government entities will be presented with three options for participation in the LUCA program. The three options differ primarily in the address or housing count data mechanism that is made available as well as access and safeguards for the Title 13 (individual household) address data. The three options include the capability for local government entities to provide corrections and updates for geographic features (roads, boundaries, housing unit locations, and other geographic data provided in the TIGER database.


    1. ESRI has announced that the upcoming release of ArcGIS Business Analyst desktop software will include its 2006/2011 segmentation, demographic, business, and shopping center data. This updated data will help companies, agencies, and organizations perform accurate marketing analyses faster and more efficiently.

      The 2006 data updates to ArcGIS Business Analyst 9.1 will include ESRI's 2006/2011 demographic data and forecasts; segmentation data from Community Tapestry down to the census tract level; business data for approximately 11 million U.S. businesses, from infoUSA (vintage January 2006); and shopping center data for 4,200 major U.S. shopping centers, from Directory of Major Malls (vintage January 2006).

      Companies, agencies, and organizations can use the new data in ArcGIS Business Analyst 9.1 to profile customers and constituents, find similar customer and constituent segments, craft marketing messages to increase response from targeted customers and constituents, analyze and select the best locations for expansion, perform competitive analyses, and evaluate store/site performance.

    2. DeLorme has released Street Atlas USA 2007, which includes 3.5 million new or updated U.S. roads, as well as routable local roads and places of interest for Canada. The product provides routing and GPS support for PDAs and smartphones, without requiring separate handheld software, and static map support for iPods and other portable media players. It also includes aerial images that can be used for routing, real-time GPS tracking, and labeling landmarks. Street Atlas USA 2007 can run on Intel-based Macs running Boot Camp for Microsoft Windows XP.


    1. What's New in ArcGIS Desktop at 9.2, an upcoming live training seminar on the Web, will showcase the new and improved tools and capabilities of this ESRI release—such as zooming, managing data, and creating graphs. The seminar will air live over the Internet on August 31 at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. PDT.

      ESRI Educational Services instructor Bronwyn Agrios will discuss and demonstrate additions and improvements in mapping, cartography, and tables, as well as provide tips and tricks. This will be the first in a series of seminars about the new software, which is scheduled for release later this year.

      Key points Agrios will cover include new ArcMap navigation options; new options for working with tables and graphs; new "intelligent symbology;" new tools for managing data in ArcCatalog; and ArcGIS Desktop Help improvements. She will explain the new ways to navigate ArcMap, investigate map data, and save favorite spatial elements and will familiarize the audience with the new tools for working with tables and labels and annotation, the editing features, and creating graphs with the new graph engine. She will also introduce online viewers to new cartographic representations in ArcGIS 9.2 and show how they can use them in map production.

      Although the seminar is available to anyone, viewers of this technical seminar should be familiar with working in the ArcGIS 9.x environment, including understanding how to navigate the ArcMap interface, create symbols for data, work with tables and labels, and use ArcCatalog to manage GIS data. A broadband Internet connection and an ESRI Global Account are needed to watch the seminar. A global account is free and only takes a few minutes to set up. After the live presentation, the seminar will be archived and available to see anytime on the ESRI Training and Education website.

    2. Registrations for URISA's 44th Annual Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia continue to arrive at a brisk pace, mirroring URISA's most well-attended conferences in recent years (Orlando in 2000 and Chicago in 1999). One pre-conference workshop (GIS Program Management) has already reached capacity and four others are almost full (3-D Geospatial: Project Implementation Methods and Best Practices; GIS Enterprise Architecture & System Integration; Best Practices for Developing Geographic Information Models; and LiDAR Concepts, Principles and Applications).

      URISA attendees—typically GIS managers within local, regional, and state/provincial government—will discuss the most serious topics faced by those trying to improve our urban and regional environments through the use of information technology. The conference begins on Tuesday, September 26 with full-day, comprehensive workshops, followed by three full days of educational sessions and networking opportunities. An exhibition accompanies the conference program.

      This year's conference includes for the first time an entire program track devoted to professional development, with ten sessions focusing on such topics as "How to Influence Decision Makers," "Managing Change/Measuring Performance," "Spatial Workforce Development," and "Developing the GIS Strategic Plan and Ensuring It's Continued Relevance." A feature of this track will be an evening speed networking session for industry leaders and new and/or young professionals.

      Winners of this year's Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) Awards will present their systems in a special closing plenary session on Friday afternoon; URISA chapters are sponsoring this year's all-conference social event on Thursday evening; and URISA's Public Participation GIS Committee has developed a one and a half day educational program, held in conjunction with the Annual Conference on September 27-28.

    3. Tomorrow, August 25, is the deadline for taking advantage of early registration discounts for the 15th Annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference of the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA), which will take place September 18-20 in Houston, Texas. Early registration discounts are also available for the four pre-conference seminars taking place on Monday, September 18.

      Only nine booth spaces remain available for the exhibition, which will feature the latest innovations in geospatial software, hardware, and services for the oil and gas industry. The only event of its kind, the conference includes a newly expanded series of nearly 25 paper presentations organized into two concurrent tracks, panel discussions, the exhibition hall, four in-depth pre-conference seminars, and numerous networking opportunities.

    4. The third Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) conference focusing on the effective application of GIS and other information technologies in the Caribbean will take place from October 30 to November 2 at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. More than 300 GIS professionals are expected to attend the event.

      As in the previous gatherings, the conference objectives are to inform a broad cross-section of Caribbean users about GIS technology and applications; share experiences regarding GIS implementation and management issues; establish new relationships with the vendor / consultant community; provide workshops and sessions that are application-driven and relevant to the Caribbean community of GIS users; foster a Caribbean GIS network; and assess the state of readiness of national and regional spatial data infrastructures.

      The conference will begin with three URISA-certified, 8-hour workshops on these topics: Spatial Data Infrastructure: Planning, Policy, Strategy and Implementation—The Caribbean Reality; Asset Management: Planning, Strategy and Implementation; and GIS Program Management.

      The Honourable Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, will deliver the keynote address. On Wednesday morning, delegates will gather for an entertaining plenary session, From Crypt to Courtroom, about the mysterious death of King Tut and how technology was used to investigate it. Jim Geringer, Director of Policy and Public Sector Strategy for ESRI, will provide the luncheon keynote address on Thursday.

      Thirty-two comprehensive educational sessions fill the program with nearly 100 presentations. A variety of social events will provide delegates with every opportunity to network with their peers and colleagues from around the globe. An exhibition will provide the opportunity to compare and contrast technology products and services.

      The conference was organized via an abstract submission process. More than 100 submissions were received for the committee's review in the following topical categories: Disaster Management, Law Enforcement, Public Health and Safety; Standards, Policy and Management; Land, Environment, Planning and Natural Resources; Utilities, Business and Organizational GIS; Education; and Hot Topics.

  4. OTHER

    1. The GOES-N satellite, in orbit 22,300 miles above the equator and carrying primary payload instruments produced by ITT Corporation's Space Systems Division, has transmitted its first visible and infrared (IR) images of Earth.

      The satellite, now called GOES-13, is the latest in a series of Earth-monitoring Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites built for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It was launched on May 24 aboard a Boeing Delta IV rocket, reached orbit on May 31, and, after a period of testing, transmitted its initial visible image on June 22 and is now providing both visible and infrared images.

      The GOES array of satellites monitors the Earth's atmosphere in visible and infrared wavelengths. By measuring moisture content and tracking weather systems, they provide data to meteorologists to help improve the accuracy of forecasts.

      As a contractor to NASA on the GOES-N project, ITT built the imager and sounder that acquire the high-resolution visible and infrared data, as well as temperature and moisture profiles of the atmosphere.

      The ITT imager and sounder provide flexible scan and simultaneous and independent imaging and sounding. Flexible scan offers small-scale area imaging that allows meteorologists to take pictures of local weather trouble spots in order to improve short-term forecasts over local areas. Simultaneous and independent imaging and sounding enhances forecast accuracy by providing multiple measurements of weather phenomena.

      The imager senses radiant energy and reflected solar energy from the Earth's surface and atmosphere. It can detect changes in temperature and variations in low-level moisture, and it can track hurricanes from their earliest formation as a tropical wave. It allows meteorologists to issue warnings about high-velocity winds or winter storms well in advance of their occurrence.

      The multi-spectral sounder uses sensors to collect and identify fluctuations within the Earth's atmosphere. These variations provide critically important data for computer models that help produce mid- and long- range forecasts.

    2. The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) is now accepting responses to an online survey for the 2006-2007 edition of the URISA Salary Survey, which is used extensively by agencies to evaluate their GIS and IT staff resources and to determine future budgetary needs.

      The comprehensive survey is conducted every three years and the results have been used by hundreds of organizations. Salary data is presented according to region, job title, type of organization, experience level, and much more. GIS department size and organization, technology and non-technology job requirements, and educational backgrounds are examined, along with a wide range of other characteristics.

      There were more than 2,000 responses to the 2003 survey. Participants most frequently held the job titles of GIS Manager (17.9 percent), GIS User (13.8 percent), GIS Coordinator (12.5 percent), or GIS Specialist (11.7 percent). On average, survey respondents earned a salary of $52,750 in 2003. This represented an increase of 7 percent over the 2000 average of $49,258.

      The 2006-2007 edition of the URISA Salary Survey will seek answers to such questions as these: How have salary levels changed since 2003? Have GIS departments increased in size? Are more non-technology skills being required? What GIS software proficiencies are necessary? What benefits do organizations typically offer? How long is the average work week? How has GIS certification impacted salaries? Are GIS professionals actively pursuing continuing education?

      URISA will take responses until October 1 and expect to release the data by the end of this year. Participants will receive a significant discount on pre-publication purchases of the 2006-2007 edition.

GIS Monitor Back Issues

You can reach more than 23,000 GIS professionals every issue by sponsoring GIS Monitor. For more information, email us.


Please send comments and suggestions to:

Matteo Luccio, Editor
GIS Monitor

Ultimate Map/GIS Directory — Your search is over!

GIS Monitor is published by:

GITC America, Inc.
100 Tuscanny Drive, Suite B-1
Frederick, MD 21702 USA
Tel: +1 (301) 682-6101
Fax: + 1 (301) 682-6105


If you wish to subscribe or unsubscribe visit our subscription page.