2007 January 4

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Professional Surveyor Magazine

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Editor's Introduction

This week, as the new year begins, I put out a few questions to the industry and profile Erin Aigner, who uses GIS to make maps for the New York Times, my newspaper for the past 28 years. I attended a presentation that she gave at the GIS Day event at the University of Oregon (UO) in Eugene, in November, then interviewed her two weeks ago at her desk in the Times's newsroom, where she sits under a wall sign that says "Maps."

Also in this issue, my usual round-up of news from press releases.


2007 Industry Survey

Over the next few weeks I will be polling a wide range of geospatial managers, technicians, and academics about industry trends and their focus for this year. If you are reading this, you most likely qualify to answer my questions, so here are some of them:

  1. What are emerging as the biggest drivers and the narrowest bottlenecks in the delivery of interactive maps and location-based services, including local search, to consumers?
  2. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the pace of development of the NSDI? Are you involved in the process?
  3. Which sector of the geospatial industry do you think will grow the most this year? Why?
  4. How is your company / agency benefiting from the greater availability of satellite imagery?
  5. Have you switched to 3D or begun to use it more? Is it enabling new applications for you?
  6. Are you planning to access large amounts of CAD data from your GIS this year or to migrate CAD data into your GIS?
  7. Have you implemented any open source solutions? Do you plan to do so this year?
  8. Are you satisfied with the coverage, accuracy, update frequency, and cost of commercial street centerline data? Do you expect any major improvements this year? Do you expect to make any major changes in how you acquire this data?
  9. In what ways do you expect geospatial technologies to contribute the most this year to solving global problems, such as climate change?
  10. Which conferences and trade shows do you plan to attend this year? How far in advance do you plan these trips?
  11. What do you expect to be the next really big thing in GIS data or applications — of roughly the same import, say, as the introduction of TIGER files?
  12. What are Europeans doing better with regards to geospatial technology than North Americans?
  13. Has Google Earth become a de-facto standard? If it has, is that good or bad? Why?
  14. What do you expect to be your thorniest legal issues this year? Liability? Copyright? Privacy?
  15. Scientific American, Technology Review, and the New York Times, just to mention a few of my favorite publications, almost never mention GIS specifically, even when talking about GIS-related topics. Why do you think that's the case? Do you expect awareness of GIS to significantly increase this year?

Please specify your position/job title (manager, engineer, technician, professor, etc.) and your company's or agency's sector (public, private, or nonprofit) and niche (hardware manufacturing, software development, field data collection, data analysis, service provision, etc.).

GIS at the New York Times

Every day the New York Times illustrates a few articles with very basic, black and white maps; most are 2 inch x 2 inch and a few are about twice that size. Space and color are at a premium in a daily paper. Every couple of weeks, however, the Times splurges on both to publish large, colorful, analytical maps produced by a very bright and talented young graphics editor with formal training in GIS and cartography—Erin Aigner.

A half-page map of the Middle East in the December 24 issue accompanied an article by Bill Marsh titled "What Surrounds the Iraqi Tinderbox." Besides national boundaries and some relief, it displayed the size of the active and reserve military forces of five of Iraq's neighbors, as well the size of the major religious groupings in each country. The credit named both Aigner and Marsh, illustrating the close working relationship between map-makers and reporters at the paper.

Erin Aigner, at her desk at the New York Times

Read more…

Department of Corrections

My December 21 article on the NSDI gave the wrong link for Automated Geographic Reference Center (AGRC). The proper link is agrc.utah.gov.

News Briefs

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


    1. Autodesk, Inc. has strengthened its relationship with Oracle to provide customers with solutions for the creation and sharing of geospatial data within workgroups and across organizations. Read more…

    2. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Office of Commercial Partnerships Division, has awarded a contract to Applied Geographics, Inc. (AppGeo) to develop a data definitions schema for the Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP). Read more…

    3. Sarasota County, Florida has selected MultiVision USA to provide its new MultiVision 3D Plus advanced oblique imagery solution for use in emergency 911 operations and public safety activities. Read more…

    4. RAND has completed the previously announced acquisition of certain assets and the Autodesk-related business of CAD/CAM Systems Ltd. Read more…

    5. National Survey & Engineering, a division of R.A. Smith & Associates, Inc.—civil engineering, planning, surveying, landscape architecture, GIS and 3D visualization consultants—is providing Green Lake County with address mapping and survey field verification services, enabling it to ensure the validity of address locations for county-wide 911 dispatch and other land information purposes. Read more…

    6. GeoAnalytics Inc., an IT consulting firm that specializes in the planning, design, and implementation of spatial intelligence systems, and SPADAC, a geospatial and predictive analytics firm that delivers analytical and product solutions ranging from risk assessment and resource allocation to opportunity identification and discovery, have formed a strategic partnership.


    1. Pharos Science & Applications, Inc., a provider of real-time, location-based information and services, has launched its first GPS-enabled smartphone. Read more…

    2. TopoSys has introduced the third generation of the airborne laser sensor system 5 Harrier 56/G3. Read more…

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