2006 September 15

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Editor's Introduction

This week I bring you two interviews: one on the status of navigation for cell phones—which, in turn, enables location-based services (LBS)—and the other on MapInfo's latest improvements in geocoding, which it has achieved by using data from TeleAtlas. Plus, my usual round-up of news from press releases.


What's New In Cell Phone Navigation

For years now, location-based services (LBS) for consumers using cell phones have been just over the horizon... which is that imaginary line that recedes as you approach it! Now, however, that might be finally changing, as wireless carriers and software companies begin to make full use of handsets' GPS capabilities.

I discussed these developments with Ori Lavie, Director of Product Marketing for the U.S. office of Telmap, an Israeli company that produces navigation software for cell phones. Its latest launch in the United States was a couple of weeks ago with Sprint-Nextel under the MapQuest brand. Lavie, who has an engineering background, wrote parts of the code for this software.

  1. Who writes the turn-by-turn navigation software for GPS receivers?

    There are three sides to this: the hardware side—companies like Magellan, Trimble, SiRF, and Garmin; the map side—NAVTEQ, TeleAtlas, and other companies around the world; and the software side. It tends to be confusing because a lot of the hardware companies also do the software. If you buy a Magellan Roadmate you buy a hardware and a software unit. Telmap tries to have a new approach to turn-by-turn navigation market, by bringing just the software side into your cell phone.

  2. How do "on-board" and "off-board" navigation systems differ?

    In on-board navigation systems, the map data is stored on the device. In an off-board navigation system it is stored on a remote server. The difference is very subtle, but the impact is huge. When all the data resides on a remote server there is really no limit to the amount of storage you can have. Our navigation systems work seamlessly [around the world] because we can aggregate all that data into one local server. Second, there's just one place to update the data. Today, when you get a new BMW, right out of the factory, their map data is already about 18 months old. When you buy an off-board navigation system, that data gets updated automatically, with no charge.

  3. How often do you update your map data?

    Every two to three months, usually on a quarterly basis, for the entire globe.

  4. What other advantages does off-board navigation have?

    You turn the navigation system from a product into a service, because the data is accessed through the wireless network. You only pay when you access the server, so the entry price is really low. A car navigation system for your Lexus would run between $2,500 and $3,000. A personal navigation device (PND) now is $799 or $699; they can go down to $599 on days like Thanksgiving. Our entry price is $9.99 per month.

  5. With a phone, however, you have the issue of screen size...

    I absolutely agree with you that when you are driving you'd much rather have a 10-inch screen, showing you the entire map. However, you certainly don't want to carry that on the plane when you are traveling. There's still going to be a market for PNDs, there's going to be a market for high-end in-car navigation systems, and there's definitely going to be a market for cell phone navigation. These applications and services will complement each other. I see a person owning a Lexus and using it in his neighborhood, and then using a cell phone navigation system when on vacation or on a business trip. Each one will have its own advantages and disadvantages.

  6. What's your vision for the next few years?

    That navigation will turn into such a simple commodity that almost every cell phone will have it. It will be as simple as signing up for a voice plan or a data plan. We don't want to reach just Lexus owners. We want plumbers, electricians, the people that actually use it on a day-to-day basis in their car—or when they are on business trips.

  7. What has changed in this field since Telmap started?

    Telmap has been around since 1999. It grew up in an environment where both the hardware side—GPS receivers and phones—and the network side were far from stable. We found that usually you are able to get a pretty good signal at your origin spot—your hotel, meeting, home, etc.—and at your destination. Along the way, that's the difficult part. We developed a streaming technology that downloads the navigation data in a small buffer that doesn't take more than five to ten seconds to download and usually includes the first four or five turns. While you are getting started, it continues to download whatever it can whenever there is coverage, until it has all the data it needs to get you to your destination.

  8. What happens when you stop or go off-route?

    Telmap has a unique feature that we call route corridor (we also have a trademark on it: it is called MOND, short for Mobile Optimized Navigation Data). Most of the off-board navigation systems download only the information from point A to point B. Since the system doesn't know anything about the world around that route, if you stop to get some gas or make a wrong turn, it will start recalculating the route. You may not be in network coverage. The recalculation is going to fail and you are going to get a sort of snowball effect and a bad user experience.

  9. So your system also downloads a buffer around the route?

    Exactly. We download a vector buffer for a corridor around the route. If you make a wrong turn or stop to get some gas, we can guide you back to your route without having to recalculate. This is huge in terms of user experience.

  10. For location, do you use only the GPS receiver chip in the phone or also the network?

    Assisted GPS (A-GPS) has two modes: MS-based, which is higher frequency and higher accuracy, and MS-assist. For navigation we rely on MS-based mode. We also rely on other technologies, like triangulation or MS-assist mode, for our destination look-up. For example, if you want to search Starbucks in your vicinity, you don't have to be accurate to 10 feet, you can be accurate to 50 feet. So we combine both.

  11. What is the typical GPS error for cell phones these days?

    The hardware vendors usually say that it is up to 5 meters 95 percent of the time. It is very good but I wouldn't go as far as that. Of course, it depends on where you are. In an urban canyon environment you lose some accuracy. If you are indoors or have only a partial view of the sky you will not have as good an accuracy. People use navigation systems in their car and more than 90 percent of the time they have a clear view of the sky, so we get pretty good accuracy.

  12. Does the consumer download a single software product, depending on the platform?

    Yes, it is a Java application that then resides on your phone. We spend a very large portion of our time porting our system to different phones and platforms. We have launched globally on iDEN, TDMA, and GSM carriers, so we are aware of the three different network technologies. There are many different platforms out there that we spend a great deal of time supporting; they all have different needs and configurations, especially with GPS, both autonomous and assisted. We take our core product and we tweak it. Sometimes we will even have different software built for each specific phone model or sometimes just for a platform.

  13. Why does your software not support my Samsung A900 phone?

    In the MS-assist mode, which is used primarily for E-911, the network knows where the phone is, while in MS-based mode the phone knows where it is, using the network. Unfortunately, the A900 does not support MS-based mode, which gives you a very high accuracy and high-frequency GPS fix. Most of the other Sprint phones support it. For example, all of the Sanyo phones, most of the LG phones, and even the Samsung A920 fixed this problem. But, unfortunately for us as well, because that is a popular phone, the A900 simply will not give a great user experience while navigating.

  14. What are your closest competitors and how do you differ from them?

    We have two direct competitors, Telenav and VZ Navigator, the latest navigation system released on Verizon. They are both comparable to our system in that they are both off-board navigation systems and they run on cell phones. All of these are marked at $9.99 per month. We have quite a few differentiators from them: one of them is our route corridor technology. Second, we offer a full moving map display on all of our phones, even the lowest end phones, just like you would see on a Magellan, where the map slides underneath the car and rotates, while the competitors usually show a static icon. One commercial advantage that we have, is that our launch on Sprint/Nextel is under the MapQuest brand name. In the United States, brand awareness is very important on these things.

MapInfo Uses TeleAtlas Data To Improve Geocoding

MapInfo first released MapMarkerPlus in 1995; at the beginning of August it released version 12.0, which includes quarterly data from TeleAtlas and better address interpolation for New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. At the end of this month it will release MapMarker ParcelPrecision, a parcel-level data set of all 50 states, plus D.C., where data are available. At the end of October, the company will ship MapMarker version 12.1, in which it will implement better address interpolation for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, where data are available.

I recently discussed MapInfo's products with Karl Urich, the company's Director of Data Development. "Our focus is business intelligence, solving the business problems of vertical industries," he told me. Specifically, Urich cites retail and the telecommunications and insurance industries. Almost all of the company's customers, he explains, require software, data, and services, so MapInfo delivers all three—as shrink-wrapped products, developer tools, and data. The data, including demographics and data for mapping, routing, and geocoding "is useful for both horizontal and vertical markets," says Urich.

Our conversation focused mostly on geocoding. "A lot of our customers use MapMarker Plus both to bulk geocode up to tens of millions of records and to do a lot of one-off geocoding for their business applications," Urich says. For the first several years of the product's existence, customers were satisfied with the product as a stand-alone geocoder with intelligent parsing and matching. "But, as the product matured, people more and more came to us asking for heightened accuracy of the location of addresses."

This is primarily because high geocoding accuracy is increasingly required to solve current business problems. For example, telecommunications companies need it to determine which of their subscribers are within DSL coverage. "That's just one example where customers have come to us, either generically asking for heightened accuracy, or with a specific business problem in mind," says Urich.

In the United States and Canada, MapInfo has a strategic relationship with TeleAtlas. MapInfo buys vector street data from TeleAtlas on a quarterly basis and packages it with its MapMarker Plus software.

The U.S. Postal Service, Urich says, has certified that MapMarker Plus 12.0 meets its CASS guidelines. The product also includes Delivery Point Validation (DPV)—another Postal Service convention that insures correct address determination—and an Oracle Geocoding Cartridge.

I asked Urich to explain how CASS works. "It behooves the U.S. Postal Service," he told me, "to make sure that address standardization software is as accurate as possible, because, not only does it save money for the software's end users, but it also helps the Postal Service do what they do that much better." The Postal Service updates its CASS certification requirements on a roughly yearly basis, tightening them each time. Because MapMarker is both a geocoder and a CASS-approved address standardizer, every year MapInfo must make sure that it still meets the revised guidelines. The Postal Service provides the company a pre-test it uses for internal testing. "Then, when we have a finished piece of software, we submit a post-test of results to the Postal Service and they let us know whether or not we've passed and, if we have not, they give us some guidance on what we did wrong." Some years the Postal Service focuses on certain types of addresses, such as those in Utah or in the Seattle area, which might be a bit non-standard compared to the rest of the United States.

MapInfo, Urich says, has come up with two new developments to improve the geocoding accuracy of its products: the first is an improvement to the MapMarker basic software and data and the second one is an add-on data set called MapMarker Parcel Precision. Both make use of TeleAtlas' Address Point Dataset —a 43-million record database of parcel locations, spread across the United States, which covers roughly 40 percent of MapInfo's parcel locations nationwide. The dataset contains an address (a house number and street name), the location of the parcel centroid, and its association with a street vector in TeleAtlas' vector data set. "The dataset," says Urich, "has been on the market for under a year and it has hit the tipping point, where it makes sense to make use of it in our products."

In MapMarker Plus 12.0, MapInfo makes use of this additional address point dataset to assist with interpolation. Traditionally, Urich explains, when using vector-based data, you geo-code against address ranges. "You may have a record called Smith Street, which has an address range of 1 at the beginning of the segment and 99 at the end of the segment. If you geocode 37 Smith Street, [the geocoding engine places you] 37 percent of the way along the street. Typically, address ranges contain 'padding'—meaning non-existent houses on the street that are covered in the address range. So, on the segment called Smith Street, that has an address range of 1 to 99, you might find only houses 3, 17, and 37 on the street. The fact that the address range covers 1 to 99 provides you coverage if you accidentally geocode 77 Smith Street or if new development recently happened at 97 Smith Street. One of the problems with padding is that it throws off the interpolation and can result in bunching of houses at one end of the street. With MapMarker's native dataset, beginning with version 12.0, we are now making use of address point data to better determine high and low house numbers at the end and beginning of the street, to assist in better interpolation. That is something that at this time none of our competition is doing."

Parcel Precision uses TeleAtlas' address point dataset to geocode to the centroid of each parcel. Together, Urich says, better interpolation and the ability to use the centroid of each parcel greatly expand the potential applications of geocoding. As an example, he cites an insurance company determination as to whether a house is in a flood plain. Inaccurate geocoding may produce a false negative (incorrectly deciding that the house is not in a flood plain when it really is), a false positive (deciding that it is when it is not), or require costly and time-consuming follow-up research in borderline cases. In any one of these cases, "bad decisions are very costly."

Both MapMarker's heightened interpolation ability and ParcelPrecision, Urich says, help experienced geocoding users, "who have lived with the limitations of vector-based interpolation for years," to develop applications that require this heightened accuracy. They also help users who are new to geocoding and are perplexed when they see geocodes bunched up at one end of a street.

"Our original thought" says Urich, "was that this address point data would show the most benefit in the Midwest, in areas that have grid-style addressing and were houses were platted on North, South, East, West. We thought that that would be the place where padded addressing would have the most effect. What we found, though, is that Parcel Precision and MapMarkerPlus' better interpolation actually shows benefits in all areas of the country where we have data available. That was certainly a surprise for us."

Users of aerial imagery, Urich points out, often find it very difficult to overlay it on vector-based datasets and cross-reference it with attribute data, because of misalignment. "You cannot guarantee that the location that you just geocoded is the exact house, even if it falls directly on a house on a piece of aerial imagery." However, Parcel Precision's dataset, he claims, lines up parcel centroids with the physical structure that displays on a map and enables users to link aerial imagery and based analysis. "We are very excited about that," he says.

I am looking forward to testing these claims myself and to comments from other users.

News Briefs

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


    1. The City of Namur will implement STAR INFORMATIC software to migrate from their former GIS based on SICAD to a new architecture based on Oracle Spatial and STAR software. The first phases in the project aimed at the migration of all data from SICAD to ORACLE Spatial started in mid 2005. The data reorganization was over by the end of 2006. The service was carried out in cooperation between STAR INFORMATIC and its partner SODIPLAN.

      After a public call for tenders launched at the end of 2005, the City chose the STAR INFORMATIC-SODIPLAN joint venture for the deployment of the second phase of the GIS project. Many software licenses and applications were required.

      The project includes a site license comprising: WinSTAR, expert GIS software that enables direct processing of GIS data in Oracle Spatial format, to be used by data administrators in charge of the capture and editing of large cartographic databases; STAR GIS, the desktop GIS on which most of the solutions focusing on industries are based, aimed at the data managers in charge of analysis and reporting; and CADAPLI, an application for cadastral data consulting.

      The City also decided to acquire a facilities management application and a license of STAR Web Server (NeXt) to equip their Intranet/Internet server.

      At mid-term, two different WebGIS applications will be driven by the NeXt server. Some applications will only be accessible over the Intranet by the different departments of the municipality in charge of urban geography, land use, urban planning, and cemeteries. The access to these applications will be restricted to authorized users. However, the City also plans to provide open access to some city information (such as an interactive city map) over the Internet.

      Today, the system and workstations are all operational and more than 20 days of service have been delivered including training, consulting and project start-up assistance. The GIS system is under construction.

    2. The Department of Infrastructure (DOI) for the state of Victoria, Australia, and Geomatic Technologies (GT) have completed the Victorian Rail Infrastructure Survey and Pass Assets project, which involved producing a register of assets associated with Victoria's Rail Infrastructure, estimated to be worth $6 billion. The state government identified the register as a requirement following the rail privatization process in the late 1990's. The DOI commissioned Geomatic Technologies to conduct a state-wide survey of all rail infrastructure through Metropolitan Melbourne and Rural Victoria.

      GT utilized many survey techniques, including photogrammetric drivers-view and digital geo-referenced track imagery, taken from equipment mounted onto government rail vehicles. Aerial photography was used to capture more than 470 rural stations and major yards. GT's field personnel also visited all level crossings across the network, to capture driver perspective views of the crossings and their protection types. The data sets were then validated against many business rules and the DOI's legacy paper data sets. The DOI developed and hosts an internet-based GIS platform called PASS Assets, which is used to publish the survey findings.

      Earlier this month the project was acknowledged at the 2006 Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards, winning both the Infrastructure and Construction Award and the top industry award, the Victorian Government Award for Spatial Excellence. The project was recognized for providing a foundation on which the DOI can implement its strategy of providing a holistic view of public transport, through access to accurate, field-verified, comprehensive digital rail asset information through a single information portal.

    3. Six fire and rescue services in the United Kingdom have recently implemented new GIS-enabled information systems from SSi Solutions Ltd., a business partner for emergency services of digital mapping and GIS software developer Cadcorp. The new systems will deliver SSi's latest fire planning, fire safety, hydrant management, risk assessment, and risk management, planning and reporting applications, all fully integrated with GIS functionality provided by the Cadcorp SIS - Spatial Information System product family.

      The six services are Central Scotland Fire Service, Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service, Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, Norfolk Fire Service, Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service, and Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service. All of them recently made the decision to upgrade their existing planning, reporting and management systems to SSi's new Cadcorp SIS-based applications in order to reap the benefits of a fully integrated, advanced GIS environment.

      Although each of the services had access to GIS facilities with their earlier systems, users had to rely on in-house GIS experts to assist them in creating location plans and pre-plans. With the new Cadcorp SIS-based systems, users in various departments of each service will be able to create their own plans and maps using centrally-managed data.

    4. Galdos has signed a new contract to develop an urban spatial data infrastructure (SDI) within the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The urban SDI will enable public and private agencies to share mapping data and distribute data changes and updates in near real-time. The objective of this project is to enable users of the system to significantly reduce data redundancy cost and increase productivity through access to timely data.

      The urban SDI will enable agencies like Saudi Post, Riyadh Water & Sewage, Arriyadh Development Authority, Riyadh City Hall and Saudi Telecom to share only data in real time that is of interest to specific participants to enhance their decision-making processes. Each participant operates within their own environment and gains access to data on a transactional basis. Participants cannot modify data that does not belong to them; rather they act as an observer. The data does not emerge from a centralized warehouse; rather it is a distributed system, utilizing the latest collected data of each participating organization.


    1. LeadDog Consulting, LLC has released detailed geographic databases of major roads for Honduras and city streets for Tegucigalpa to support military, government, asset-tracking, and commercial GIS applications.

    2. ESRI has begun shipping BusinessMAP Financial — a new, industry-specific version of its BusinessMAP database mapping software. Packaged with data from ESRI and datasets specifically designed for the financial services industry by RPM Consulting, a financial services data provider, BusinessMAP Financial provides extensive data and interactive features.

      BusinessMAP Financial, available for Windows 2000, XP Home, or XP Professional, includes the following datasets: ESRI's current-year estimates and five-year projections of population, age, and income; lifestyle/lifestage segmentation data from the Community Tapestry LifeMode summary groups; branch locations, assets, deposits, loan and deposit potential from RPM Consulting's BranchInfo and MarketBank data; asset, loan, and other credit union data from the National Credit Union Association; Dunn & Bradstreet Business Listings; and street-level map data from North America from Tele Atlas.

      With BusinessMAP Financial's data and mapping features, you can conduct ring studies, drive-time analysis, and demographic analysis to visualize where customers are concentrated relative to service locations, ATMs, and competitors; understand the demographics and market potential to strategically offer products and services by market area; and query databases geographically to target mail campaigns.

    3. Aerial Cartographics of America, Inc. (ACA), a 33-year old photogrammetric firm, has released MultiVision service, an aerial photography and software solution that allows individuals to view and use multiple, simultaneous digital oblique images for planning, assessment, and emergency purposes from a single computer screen.

      ACA is the exclusive provider of MultiVision and has created a new division called MultiVision USA to introduce the solution nationwide. Multivision is already installed in many county appraisers' offices across the United States, helping to determine true property value assessment. Multivision is also used for emergency services such as hurricane relief, E-911, police, and fire. David Ledgerwood has been promoted to president of the new division and will now be responsible for providing Multivision oblique aerial services across the United States.

      As part of the MultiVision solution, ACA has developed a five directional digital-camera solution that produces a near 360 degree, synchronized view of nearly any ground feature in high resolutions, ranging from two to 12 inches. The software also includes several enhanced features, such as tools that allow the user to view and measure—both vertically and horizontally—items such as building facades, in order to create full 3D models. MultiVision can import layers to, and export layers from, any GIS program.

    4. Bentley has released the textbook Learning MicroStation VBA.


    1. The Trimble Dimensions 2006 conference will take place in Las Vegas, November 6-8, with the theme "Building Your Connected Site." Process integration and intelligent positioning devices will profoundly impact surveying, engineering, and construction professionals. The conference will help participants implement on-demand location, asset, spatial, and business management information. It is suited for professional surveyors, construction managers, earthmoving contractors, government / transportation agencies, architects, engineers, and dealers / distributors.

      Keynote speakers will include Steven W. Berglund, President and CEO, Trimble; Dava Sobel, author and former New York Times science reporter; Daniel Burrus, Founder and CEO, Burrus Research Associates, Inc.; and Dr. Jill Tarter, Director of the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).

    2. A free ESRI live training seminar offered on the Web in October will demonstrate new cartographic functions in ArcGIS 9.2 that will make producing maps easier.

      Introduction to Cartographic Representations at ArcGIS 9.2 will air from the Training and Education website on October 12, at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. PDT.

      With ESRI's ArcGIS 9.2 set for release later this year, users will for the first time be able to store feature symbology in the geodatabase and edit how individual features appear on maps. Exporting maps to a graphics program to manipulate individual feature symbols will no longer be necessary.

      The seminar will introduce cartographic representations and explain how they are stored in the geodatabase, used in ArcMap and ArcCatalog, and managed using geoprocessing tools.

      The presenter will discuss representation schema, feature class representations, creating representation rules, editing with representations, and new geoprocessing tools for representations. Although the seminar is open to the public, it is designed for ArcGIS users who create and maintain cartographic data and feature symbol standards. Users should be familiar with ArcGIS Desktop software and the tools needed to create and manage feature symbology.

      A broadband Internet connection and an ESRI Global Account are needed to watch the seminar. Creating a global account is easy and free, only taking a few minutes to set up. After the live presentation, the seminar will be archived and available to see anytime.

    3. Airborne 1 Corporation, a provider of LiDAR services, rentals, and software worldwide, will host the ASPRS Southwest Region Technical Meeting on Thursday September 28. This event will feature presentations by Airborne 1, I.K. Curtis Services, CyberCity, Multi-Vision, and Digital Map, Inc. Topics will include LiDAR technology, 3D modeling, digital cameras, and photogrammetry.

      The ASPRS technical meeting allows competitors to come together to learn from one another and see how the different advances in the industry can be combined to work together. For example, representatives from Multi-Vision will show block oblique photography and its incorporation with 3D modeling and ortho-photos.

    4. ESRI is demonstrating enhancements in its new ArcGIS 9.2 software this fall during a series of worldwide seminars developed for GIS professionals. The complimentary day-long presentations are being held in 46 states, ending in December. Seminars also are planned for customers outside the United States, starting in Sweden, Finland, and the United Kingdom, and expanding to other countries.

      ArcGIS 9.2 is a complete system for authoring, serving, and using geographic knowledge.

      The seminars will illustrate improvements in software quality, documentation, productivity, and performance as well as simpler use and system administration; support for evolving computer trends and standards such as integrating new platforms, Web services, service-oriented architecture (SOA) standards, and new geospatial data types; and new and enhanced capabilities, including innovations in areas such as data management, spatial analysis and modeling, intelligent cartography, and mobile GIS.

      This seminar is designed for current users of ESRI software, including GIS analysts and coordinators. IT/IS managers and technology evangelists also will benefit from attending.

      While there is no cost to attend, seating is limited. Pre-registration is required. For a list of seminar locations, dates, and times and to register, visit www.esri.com/92seminar.

    5. Jed Rice, vice president of market development for Skyhook Wireless, provider of the industry's first Wi-Fi-based positioning system, will be a featured panelist at Search Engine Strategies Local Search Conference & Expo, taking place on Thursday, September 28 in Denver, Colorado. Rice's panel, entitled "Coping with Convergence: Local Search Meets Mobile and WiFi" will take place from 1:15 2:30 pm.

      As mobile devices get more powerful and WiFi becomes ubiquitous, search marketers will have increasing opportunities to target searches based on specific locations or as they're on the move. This session looks at current and future opportunities as local search gets even closer to prospective customers.

      Jed Rice is responsible for Loki, the location-aware search and navigation toolbar, and evangelizing WiFi positioning as a development standard in line with GPS. A frequent commentator and speaker, Jed has presented on topics ranging from the impact of auto-location technologies on privacy to the U.S. Congressional Internet Caucus to developing mass-consumer location-based applications at the O'Reilly Where 2.0 conference.


    1. GeoDecisions, a geospatial solutions company, has promoted Stephen A. Ellis to vice president, Miomir Ivanovic to director of intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and Brian J. Smith to director of state government.

      Ellis, based in GeoDecisions' corporate office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is responsible for the daily management and development of information technology (IT) and GIS operations nationally for the commercial and private sectors. Additionally, his duties include managing, executing projects, and developing solutions for the enterprise-wide delivery of spatial information.

      Prior to assuming his new role, Ellis served as GeoDecisions' director of commercial solutions. He holds a bachelor of science in mechanical and electrical engineering technologies from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is a member of the American Society of Highway Engineers, the Virginia Association for Mapping and Land Information Systems Technology Committee, and the Pennsylvania Mapping and Geographic Information Consortium and a Life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

      Based in the firm's Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, office, Ivanovic leads GeoDecisions' ITS initiatives. In this role, he is actively involved in growing the firm's ITS services and business development efforts. With more than 15 years of experience, Ivanovic specializes in multimodal studies, design, and construction management projects.

      Prior to assuming his new position, Ivanovic served as an ITS project manager. A member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Ivanovic holds a bachelor of science in transportation engineering from the University of Sarajevo and a master of science in civil engineering from the University of Wyoming.

      Smith, based in the firm's Newark, Delaware, office, is responsible for directing state-level initiatives nationwide, as well as overseeing the firm's state-level projects. Smith has more than nine years of experience in the development of spatial intranet portals and business-related GIS applications. His areas of expertise include directing needs assessments, performing data conversion and modeling, and overseeing GIS design.

      Prior to assuming his new role, Smith served as a business development manager for state government. He holds a bachelor of science in regional planning with a minor in geography and GIS from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

    2. BAE Systems has named Drew Fisher as commercial sales manager for North America, representing the company's Geospatial eXploitation Products (GXP). Fisher is responsible for managing the sales for SOCET SET and SOCET GXP software in the region.

      Fisher has worked in the commercial geospatial hardware, software, and imagery markets in the United States and Canada for 12 years, through positions at Applanix Corp., Emerge, Space Imaging, EOSAT, and ERM South Inc. His knowledge spans many disciplines—including federal, state, and local government agencies, utilities, telecommunications, environmental sciences, and forestry.

      He holds a bachelor's degree in geography and environmental planning from Towson State University and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. Fisher is assigned to the GXP Tampa, Florida, office.

  5. OTHER

    1. The IDC-Dataquest IT Best Employers Survey 2006 results are out and for the fourth year running, global IT services provider RMSI has moved upward in the spotlighted "Top Twenty" ranking, jumping from last year's fourth place to the runner-up position. RMSI is placed ahead of Indian IT industry leaders such as Infosys, Wipro, and NIIT amongst others.

      In the survey, RMSI is ranked first on the "Dream company to work for" parameter by its employees and ranked fourth best in the industry by the people outside. RMSI was ranked first in the survey's "Employee Satisfaction" rankings. On the salary and job content parameters, while companies such as Infosys and Wipro are placed between 14th to 20th positions, RMSI placed third.

    2. The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) is conducting its 2006 Non-Cash Benefits and Salary Survey. Every three years, MAPPS member firms in the United States engaged in geospatial services submit data confidentially to a third-party research company for compilation. From the 2006 data, a report will be published that provides a comprehensive overview of the major salary data and benefit programs for eight pay levels for positions from entry level technician through middle management. Previous surveys were conducted in 2000 and 2003. The 2006 survey results will be compared to the previous data to show trends in the profession.

      The nation-wide survey gathers data about salaries and employee benefits such as paid time off; health, vision and dental coverage; life insurance; short and long term disability plans; bonus programs; savings plans and much more. The results are reported on a consolidated basis, as well as by size of firm and geographic region. The results give employers the opportunity to compare their benefit package with those of firms of comparable size and geographic location.

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