2007 February 8

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Professional Surveyor Magazine

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Editor's Introduction

This week, I bring you two big stories: the first one is about a deal between SiRF, the largest manufacturer of GPS receiver chip sets, and Skyhook Wireless, developer of a WiFi-based positioning system, to develop a new, hybrid GPS-WiFi positioning system; the second one is about a lawsuit filed by a few professional geospatial groups against the U.S. federal government with regard to contracting regulations for surveying and mapping. Plus, two more conferences and my usual news items from press releases.

Matteo Luccio

SiRF and Skyhook Develop Hybrid GPS-WiFi Positioning System

SiRF Technology Holdings, Inc. is the largest manufacturer of Global Positioning System (GPS) chip sets, subsystems, and software, with annual sales of about $250 million. Skyhook Wireless, Inc. has developed WPS—an alternative, software-only positioning system that leverages a nationwide database of known Wi-Fi access points to calculate the location of any Wi-Fi-enabled device. (I described WPS in detail last April). Today the two companies announced that SiRF has licensed Skyhook's WPS and that they have jointly developed XPS—a hybrid GPS-WiFi positioning system.

XPS will greatly improve the reliability and initial response time of positioning and navigation for mobile devices—cell phones, PDAs, and laptop and notebook computers—in urban areas, thereby boosting location-based services (LBS). The two companies will demonstrate XPS at the 3GSM World Congress 2007, in Barcelona, Spain, February 12-15, using an HTC Artemis phone.

According to a joint Skyhook-SiRF press release, the new system, "is scheduled for release as part of SiRF's Multimode Location Platform later this year" and "will be applied to special client software from SiRF for mobile handsets that synthesizes GPS and Wi-Fi measurements, as well as to SiRF's SiRFLoc Server to enable it to establish precise positioning from these measurements." SiRF, the release also says, "will be offering the new technology to mobile handset makers using SiRF SiRFstarIII GPS chip sets and to wireless carriers using its SiRFLoc Server, a carrier-class, standards-compliant, multimode Assisted-GPS location server that incorporates SiRF's patented multimode technology. Any SiRF-based mobile handset with a Wi-Fi radio subsystem built in will be able to take advantage of this new technology by including the client software."

A majority of all GPS receivers—whether standalone or embedded into other devices—are built around SiRF GPS chip sets. This includes Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom handheld GPS receivers and car navigation systems, Motorola cell phones, and Palm Treo smartphones. Therefore, according to Ted Morgan, Skyhook's founder and president, the deal with SiRF validates his company's technology and gives it access to a huge market, because SiRF will make the technology available to all the wireless carriers. "We bring location to any WiFi-enabled device," says Morgan. "So, if a phone, a laptop, or a handheld has WiFi in it, we can bring turn-by-turn level navigation to that device."

Skyhook's system relies on the wireless routers deployed by individuals and businesses to connect laptops and other mobile devices to the Internet. According to Morgan, Skyhook has mapped the positions of 15,000,000 of these routers, covering about 70 percent of the U.S. population and more than 60 percent of the Canadian population, and it is beginning to expand into Europe and Asia. It is continuously updating its database, using both a fleet of vehicles and the data automatically fed to its servers every time a device uses the system. Skyhook's software is available as a free download from Skyhook, is featured on AOL's instant messaging website, and powers navigation for iRiver's new W10 device.

How XPS Improves on Standalone GPS

GPS provides global and continuous coverage—around the planet and around the clock; it is only minimally affected by atmospheric conditions; it is very accurate and reliable; and it is free of charge to the end user. However, because they require a clear view of the sky, GPS receivers do not work indoors and work poorly under a thick tree canopy and in deep canyons, including "urban canyons." Also, depending on their design and various circumstances, GPS receivers can take up to several minutes to determine their location when first switched on (this is known as time-to-first-fix, or TTFF).

To compensate for these weaknesses, in some high-end applications GPS receivers are paired with inertial navigation systems (INS), which have complementary strengths and weaknesses: they do not need any external signal to operate, but their positional accuracy degrades (drifts) steadily after they have been initialized (that is, have been given their starting position). Therefore, in hybrid solutions, an INS is periodically re-initialized by a GPS receiver and takes over from the GPS receiver whenever it lacks a clear view of the sky (for example, when a vehicle enters a tunnel).

However, INS technology is still too expensive for consumer devices. By contrast, a rapidly increasing percentage of mobile devices now already come equipped with both WiFi and GPS receivers, so the addition of XPS software will add little to their cost.

Some wireless carriers use assisted GPS (A-GPS), in which GPS receivers in cell phones are assisted by the network. In urban areas, where cell phone coverage is not a problem but buildings hide GPS satellites from view, WiFi transmitters are plentiful and still rapidly increasing in number—and XPS makes use of them to compensate for poor GPS signal reception.

Interview with Ted Morgan

I asked Morgan a few questions regarding this announcement.

  1. How long have Skyhook and SiRF been working on this project and what is their division of labor?

    There's been about six months-worth of integration between the two companies. It is all done at the software layer, because our system is purely software. That software could be processes on-board the chip, because these chips are pretty sophisticated, or in the device's real processor. Basically, we're integrating the SiRF positioning algorithms with the Skyhook algorithms, so that, underneath the covers, the device is deciding what the best possible location is at any given time. The apps and the service don't have to know or even care what is being used.

  2. How, exactly, will your technology give you access to the cell phone market?

    It is more at the design stage. When a new phone is coming out—let's say, from Blackberry on the RIM network—and they are adding a SiRF chip to it for location. SiRF says, "Well, if you have WiFi on that device we can provide even better location if you pay for the SiRF hybrid solution." So, now we get baked in from day one.

  3. The hybrid solution consists of the usual SiRF chipset, plus this software that you've jointly developed?


  4. How rapidly do you expect this market to expand?

    This is really the ramp-up year and a single-digit percentage of phones have WiFi in them. However, that will go up rapidly to 10, 15, 20 percent over the next three or four years.

  5. Has the growth in the number of access points flattened out?

    It is actually still growing exponentially, which is amazing. Every time we go back and re-cover an area we'll find more new access points than we even had in the past. We are seeing not only the coverage increasing in the United States, but, as we start the expansion in Europe and Asia, we are seeing the same densities in European cities.

  6. There are several companies out there driving down the streets to collect data. Will there be a shake-out soon?

    I don't think that we are at a level of saturation or near it. Certainly, it is interesting to know that there are four or five companies out there all driving up and down the streets. [There are] folks that are doing it for network monitoring for the wireless carriers, for example, and there's traffic companies. Everyone is doing it for a little bit different purpose. For example, for the mapping folks, maintenance is more in areas where there's changes in roads for construction or new development. So, they have a lot of people in Las Vegas, for example, because there are 50 new roads added there every month. In Massachusetts, however, there's probably not that many new roads, so you don't see them having to go back very often. In our case, we go back and maintain more frequently areas such as college campuses, where you see more population movement. So, everyone has a little bit of a different spin and they are doing some free gathering as well. There's a company that gathers all of the GPS track data from fleets and uses it to look at historical trends in traffic speeds, not just on the main roads but also the secondary roads. It is such a new area of gathering this kind of fleet-on-the-street data. I don't think it is at a point where there is too much that it should be consolidated, but you never know, maybe sometime down the road someone will start a company that is just driving for data companies. I think that right now Navteq would say that their 600 trucks are a proprietary advantage.

  7. What will be the first device to have your hybrid on board?

    We don't have device partners to announce publicly yet. Clearly, both of us have been engaged with several device folks and carriers, but [that is] not a part of this announcement. This is just announcing the availability [of this hybrid]. We will be demonstrating a couple of devices there at the [3GSM] show, though.

  8. When will the first consumer devices be available?

    As you know, the phone device market is not as slow as the car market, but it can be somewhat lengthy. When you get a design, say, this month, you probably will not see it in the consumer market until 2008. It just takes a year for the carriers to place the order, [install it] on their network, and then get it through their distribution channels, etc.

  9. If you already have a device with a SiRF chipset and a WiFi receiver, will you be able to purchase and download the integration software?

    Yes. In fact, if you have any WiFi-enabled device that has GPS in it you can download this hybrid app from us. Not today, but that's part of this whole roll-out. We're going to make it available, so that, if you have one of their early devices and our [software] isn't baked on it, you could download it and add it.

  10. Will it work with any GPS receiver?

    Yes. Today you can download our product for your laptop for free from our website and integrate it into your browser. So you don't even need to have GPS on your laptop. If you have both GPS and WiFi, we can allow you to have them work together. It works great. That's what we are going to be showing in Barcelona.

  11. The potential market sounds huge…

    Yes. It is not only great news for us as a company, but also for the market. It says a number of things: basically, a leading GPS vendor is admitting, "Yes, we have difficulty providing a useable and reliable location in some areas, like indoor wireless and urban canyons. Not only do we recognize that issue, we have integrated what we believe to be the solution to that problem, and that is Skyhook.' So, it validates us, it opens up a huge market for us, because they know all the carriers. This solves not just the urban canyon and indoor problems, but also the big issue they have with time-to-first-fix. If you talk to folks at, say, TomTom and Garmin, they'll tell you that 90 percent of the complaints they get from their customers has to do with the first two minutes of the trip.

  12. Especially if you've just gotten off a plane after flying across the continent…

    Right. So, users expect, bang, just like a website. [They say], "I am going to wait two or three seconds. If I don't get [my position], I'm just not going to use [this application].' So, we help [SiRF] out tremendously with that. Our system also has a lot more flexibility in how it operates in an autonomous mode. What will happen a lot when assisted GPS is deployed on phones is that you actually can't use it when you are using the voice channel to make a call. If you are using driving directions and you get a phone call, you have to kill the application, have your phone call, then start at the beginning and reset your destination, with a new fix and everything. It's a real problem if you roam outside your network. A-GPS doesn't work, because the hardware is different on the roaming partners' towers. So, there are all these issues. Even though A-GPS helps, in reality it isn't quite as easy to use or as functional. We can help [SiRF and the wireless carriers] get around all those issues, because we do not require that constant network connectivity and we can also get a fix in a much quicker time than they can.

  13. What about positioning accuracy? You can use your system to find a pizza parlor, but can you use it to find a manhole cover?

    Eighty-five percent of the time we are within 30 feet. So, it is not going to get you down to the manhole cover, but what it will say is, "The ATM machine is two blocks away, turn right in 400 yards.' So you can do local search, you can do turn-by-turn driving, but getting down to the meter-level accuracy that you are describing is beyond the system at this point.

Geospatial Groups Sue Feds On Contracting Regs

The details of governmental regulations can have a big impact on an entire industry. According to a coalition of professional geospatial industry organizations, the U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council has consistently refused to fully apply to surveying and mapping the qualifications-based selection " (QBS) process mandated by the Brooks Act, which requires federal agencies to award contracts for services to the best qualified bidder, rather than to the lowest one.

This refusal, the organizations claim, harms the industry's professionalism and endangers the public's health and welfare, because geospatial work involves "considerable variables, contingencies, and unknowns that make price competition very undesirable from a public interest standpoint and make it very difficult for firms to truly engage in competition based on price," according to John Palatiello, executive director of the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS). Furthermore, they claim, it has put geospatial firms in the untenable position of having to either turn down profitable federal contracts or violate state ethics rules, which in many states bar them from winning contracts by submitting the lowest bid.

"The procurement of the services of our members on the basis of competition through qualifications, experience, competence, and past performance, as opposed to initial selection based on price, has been something that MAPPS has stood for throughout its 25 years of existence and that several organizations in the community, including the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), have been advocates of even longer," says Palatiello.

After many years of lobbying in vain for a change in the regulations, the members of the coalition—MAPPS, the Council on Federal Procurement of Architectural and Engineering Services (COFPAES), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)— sued the federal government in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Some initial legal sparring began last summer and culminated in a victory by the professional groups in mid-November, when a judge ruled against the government's attempt to dismiss the case. The first hearing on the case is scheduled to take place tomorrow, February 9. The Government has indicated an interest in a settlement conference, and it is currently being negotiated.

"This is about professionalism," says Palatiello. "It is about protecting public health, welfare, and safety. It is about the quality of services that are provided to the government. And it is about getting the service at a fair and reasonable price for the taxpayer. We are anxious to have our day in court. We are under the impression that we will get a ruling in a matter of weeks and months, not month and years."


"As early as the 1940s," says Palatiello, "ASCE supported qualifications-based selection for [surveying and mapping], and defined them as part of the broad practice of engineering. The effort to assure that the services of this community were included in the Brooks Act was one of the reasons that I was hired [in 1982 by ACSM and ASPRS] and one of the reasons that [those two organizations] started a government affairs program [that year]."

In the late 1960s, the Comptroller General of the United States ruled that federal agencies lacked the statutory authority to award contracts based on factors other than price. In response, in 1972, Congress enacted the Brooks Act, which provides for the selection of firms to perform architect, engineer, and related services "on the basis of demonstrated competence and qualification for the type of professional services required."

"From 1972 to about 1977 everything was fine: government agencies were using the Brooks Act for their surveying and mapping contracts," says Palatiello. Then, in 1977, in response to two bid protests, "the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled that the language of the Brooks Act really did not include surveying and mapping." Following this ruling, the professional societies and trade associations lobbied Congress to clarify the Brooks Act's application to surveying and mapping. According to MAPPS, more than a dozen different provisions of law clarifying QBS' coverage of surveying and mapping have since been enacted—including one in 1988 authored by Representative Jack Brooks (D-Texas), the author of the original legislation—that specifically put the words "surveying and mapping" in the Brooks Act's definition of "architectural and engineering services."

When the 1988 amendment passed, Palatiello explains, the question was raised as to whether it applied to the activities contracted by the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) — which later became the National Intelligence Mapping Agency (NIMA) and then the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Mr. Brooks responded that DMA's work, related to guidance systems on missiles, was not envisioned as being traditionally part of A&E and, therefore, "DMA, for that kind of work, would not have to follow the Brooks Act," says Palatiello. "[So,] DMA did not follow the Brooks Act but all of the other agencies did."

Additionally, since 1972, more than 35 states have enacted "mini-Brooks Acts" providing for QBS on state, and in some instances, local government contracts and the American Bar Association has issued a Model Procurement Code for State and Local Government that includes QBS for architecture and engineering, including surveying and mapping.

In 1994, the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES) proposed to state legislatures a new model law for surveying that includes photogrammetry and GIS within the definition of the practice of surveying. MAPPS and other professional organizations were able to get a "grandfather" provision added to the model law to permit qualified photogrammetrists and other geographic information professionals to be licensed without examination or additional education or experience, according to MAPPS.

"When DMA became NIMA," Palatiello continues, "it underwent a very major transformation. The agency, after discussions with the professional organizations, endorsed QBS. They realized that they needed that kind of procurement process to get the kind of work done that they were moving toward: very high-end, digital, interactive kinds of mapping and GIS. So language was then added to their appropriations bill, to bring DMA, and then NIMA, into the fold. When the regulations to implement that piece of legislation were written, a clause in the FAR, that provided a single agency exception for DMA, became a government-wide exception. We were very concerned that that was 180 degrees opposite of what Congress had intended."

In short, MAPPS contends, while Congress intended to broaden the application of QBS to mapping services, the regulators narrowed it. In April 2005, the FAR Council issued its final determination on public comments it had published the previous year. According to MAPPS, the Council's notice was "replete with errors, misstatements of fact, and inaccurate data" and the FAR Council has "improperly thwarted the will of Congress, and state licensing law, by limiting the types of surveying and mapping contracts procured via the QBS by federal agencies."

Prior Attempts at Resolution

To respond to these events, MAPPS continued to pursue legislation to provide a new, unambiguous statutory definition of surveying and mapping services subject to the Brooks Act. Such legislation, the Services Acquisition Reform Act, won House committee approval in the last Congress. "However," MAPPS claims, "more than 12 provisions of law have been enacted over several years to instruct agencies ' to apply QBS to mapping services generally ' , but these provisions have not resulted in proper implementation in the FAR." In addition, MAPPS and COFPAES filed an appeal of the FAR Council ruling, which the FAR Council rejected.

MAPPS also continued to educate key public officials about the benefits of QBS, published articles in trade publications to espouse the virtues of QBS, and partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on their education programs. The MAPPS staff assists members with technical assistance on GAO bid protests against agency contracts which fail to use QBS.

"After five years of an administrative effort to try to get the regulation put in correctly," Palatiello says, "it finally came to a point that we could not get the FAR Council, or the Office of Federal Procurement Policy which oversees it, to do a legal analysis and get the regulation corrected. So the conclusion of the groups was that we simply needed to litigate this." They sued the U.S. government, "to force the FAR Council to promulgate regulations that accurately and comprehensively provide for federal procurement of architectural and engineering services, including surveying and mapping, to follow the QBS process in the Brooks Act," according to MAPPS.

The Crux of the Litigation

Currently, according to MAPPS, the FAR provides that the Brooks Act applies to surveying, and to those mapping contracts "associated with the research, planning, development, design, construction, or alteration of real property" considered to be architectural and engineering services. However, MAPPS points out, the FAR goes on to say that "mapping services that are not connected to traditionally understood or accepted architectural and engineering activities, are not incidental to such architectural and engineering activities, or have not in themselves traditionally been considered architectural and engineering services" are to be procured pursuant to price competition provisions of the FAR.

"The Brooks Act applies to surveying, and requires QBS for services, [such as mapping]" MAPPS claims "defined in the applicable state licensing law. Over several years, many states have revised surveying licensure laws to include a variety of mapping services, including many that were not considered architectural and engineering services prior to the enactment of the new licensing law. In many state licensing laws, surveying and mapping are indistinguishable. Moreover, more than a dozen state licensing boards have ethics rules that prohibit licensed practitioners from securing work by competitive bidding." However, none of this is reflected in the FAR.

In a ruling, the FAR Council said that it interprets the law to "leave to the contracting officer's discretion the decision whether a specific procurement falls within the Brooks Act" — failing to recognize, MAPPS claims, that, "under the Brooks Act, a contracting officer is required to apply the QBS law to a project in which, under state law, the services are "of an architectural or engineering nature,' including surveying and mapping."

The Importance of QBS

"QBS breeds cooperation between the government agency and the private contractor," says Palatiello, "because there is a meeting of the minds, a negotiation, a partnership that is fostered between the government and the private professional, to define the scope of work, to look at alternative solutions and arrive at a price that is "fair and reasonable to the government,' [as required by the Brooks Act]. The government holds all the cards and if, in a negotiation, a price [is proposed] that the government feels is not "fair and reasonable,' the government is free under the law to terminate the negotiation and go along to the second most qualified firm. [However,] the initial selection of the firm is based on their qualifications, so that the government has some assurance that it is dealing with a firm that has done this [particular type of work] before, knows how to do it, and knows how to address the issues."

"QBS," Palatiello continues, "is an open, competitive process." It was enacted, he explains, as part of the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984, to remedy the abuses due to sole source contracting. "Congress passed major procurement reform legislation that said that, other that in certain extraordinary circumstances, all federal procurement must be let by a competitive process, and the Brooks Act process was defined as a competitive process."

There are various examples of federal programs that are "properly following the Brooks Act," Palatiello points out. Among them:

"Those are all contracts for geospatial and GIS activities that use QBS," he says. "The problem is that we have a handful of agencies that are interpreting what we think is an erroneous provision in the FAR, to the detriment of our community and the public."

State Laws

"The states are increasingly defining photogrammetry and several GIS activities as surveying under state law," says Palatiello, "and require that work be done under the responsible charge of licensed surveyors. MAPPS was the leader in getting the effort started that resulted in [obtaining that a multiorganizational taskforce working with NCEES] at least put in their model law a grandfather provision, so that the members of our community can get licensed. If their specialty is in GIS or photogrammetry, they can get licensed as surveyors, to continue to do what they have been doing and not have to go back to school to learn boundary surveying. The original members of that taskforce were ACSM, ASPRS, ASCE, and MAPPS; later NSGIC and URISA joined that taskforce, particularly as we addressed GIS issues."

"Many of our members have utilized the grandfather provision and have become surveyors," Palatiello continues. "They don't do boundary work, they are bound by professional ethics and they only practice within their area of expertise. But, in states like North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and, most recently, Oregon, you now have to be a surveyor to do photogrammetry and our members have gone in under the grandfather provision, applied, and are now licensed surveyors. And the Brooks Act says if the service being procured is surveying, then you have to follow the Brooks Act. And that's where agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in our view, are not following the law."

I asked Palatiello whether he has any theories or speculation as to the reasons for the FAR Council's resistance. "We experienced institutional bias on the part of some people on the FAR Council," he told me. "If they had their way, the Brooks Act, even for architecture traditional design services, would not be the law of the land. They are just opposed to that kind of procurement process. So, they were not predisposed to clarify another set of services to which it would apply. As a result of that bias against the process from the beginning, we just could not get them to do the legal analysis. Three different times they were actually asked by the head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, to produce a legal analysis, because we submitted a legal analysis, and three times they came back and just obfuscated and did not do the analysis. That's what led us to finally saying our only recourse is to go to court."

I asked him how he defines GIS it and how he thinks the regulations should be revised as the technology changes. He responded that, in the administrative process, MAPPS recommended a definition based on the state law and on the definition of surveying and mapping contained in the Army Corps of Engineers' Engineer Federal Acquisition Regulation supplement. "It has essentially been pretty constant since 1982," he said, referring to the latter, "and the community has long considered that one of the better definitions that anyone has written. Congress has in fact used that definition in a variety of other pieces of legislation over the years. That's what we had recommended go into the FAR to clarify this matter."

As to how he would estimate the damage caused by the federal government's failure to follow the Brooks Act, Palatiello says that "it is hard to put a dollar value on [it], because the procurement opportunities are still out there and the contracting is occurring and the work is getting done, so there is not real injury to our members from that standpoint. ' So the issue here really isn't the work that a company is being denied, as much as the issue of professionalism and resolving this issue with regard to the ethics regulations. We don't want to be in a position where one of our members has their license revoked because they simply competed for a federal contract." To his knowledge, has that ever happened• "To the best of our knowledge, it has not, as of yet."

Geospatial Conferences

Last week I published a compilation of 31 geospatial conferences taking place in the next three months. Reader brought two more to my attention:

March 7-9, Appleton, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Land Information Association Annual Conference

April 16-18, New Orleans, Louisiana: Geospatial Integration for Public Safety Conference

This conference has grown out of URISA's Street Smart and Address Savvy Conference that was held for several years. In 2005, URISA joined with NENA to present a conference that looked at addressing issues in general, and addressing for emergency response in particular. The first GIPSC—which took place 2006 April 10-12 in Nashville, Tennessee and was attended by nearly 300 people—brought together GIS professionals, addressing coordinators, and 9-1-1 and emergency response specialists to one place for opportunities in networking and learning.

News Briefs

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


    1. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) has approached Airborne 1 Corporation, a provider of LiDAR services, rentals, and software worldwide, to provide mapping to monitor gradual landslide movement in the Los Angeles, California, basin.

      LADWP is using air-based LiDAR to provide a rapid assessment of the ground position at slopes before and after the heavy rains. It is also interested in applying air-based LiDAR to projects including large quantities of cut and fill and potentially for power transmission line work. Specific areas to be mapped are North Hollywood, San Fransquito Canyon, and the Hollywood Hills.

      Airborne 1 expects to finish collecting LiDAR data for the designated area in early February.

    2. EarthData has signed a $1 million contract with URS Corporation for aerial LiDAR surveys over the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. Covering 1,600 square miles, the project calls for 1–meter post–spacing LiDAR data, hydrographic breaklines, and 1' contours. The California's Department of Water Resources (DWR) will use these datasets to evaluate levee stability under various flooding scenarios as part of its Delta Risk Management Strategy.

      Key infrastructures—such as highways, railways, and pipelines—also depend on levee stability. The detailed LiDAR elevation data from this project will help DWR identify areas where levees need repair, as well as areas requiring additional levee structures to protect recent urban developments.

      In addition to the levee studies, the LiDAR surveys will benefit Suisun Marsh restoration efforts, another important water management project for the state. Aerial data acquisition for the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta project now is underway. Final datasets will be delivered to URS for independent evaluation by August 1. Other team members on the project include Airborne 1 Corporation and Towill, Inc..

    3. The Atlantic County, New Jersey, government has implemented technology by Pictometry International Corp., a provider of digital, aerial oblique imagery and measuring software, for public safety applications throughout the county and several of its municipalities. Atlantic County is located in southern New Jersey and has a population of more than 271,000 residents in 561 square miles. In New Jersey, where 10 out of 21 counties currently use or are scheduled to receive oblique aerial imaging technology, Pictometry has been selected as the vendor of choice by these ten counties to provide the technology.

      The county has been actively deploying the visual information system to various agencies in the county as well as to county municipalities that are eligible to receive the imaging data and software at no charge as part of the company's countywide licensing agreement.

      The county is continuously expanding the use of its Pictometry system in various agencies and applications, including the Prosecutor's Office, the Medical Examiner, critical infrastructure preplanning, search and rescue, zoning, flood and coastal surge planning for disaster, and other uses. The county has actively integrated Pictometry with its GIS program that utilizes ESRI's ArcView. Using ArcView, county employees can overlay the GIS data on Pictometry images for more enriched and detailed information layers.

    4. CENTREMAPS has selected Cadcorp GeognoSIS.NET, by digital mapping and GIS software developer Cadcorp, to power the new CENTREMAPSlive on-line map service. The software is responsible for all mapping output from the CENTREMAPSlive website, and generates detailed maps from the user's selection through the site's interface, which includes OS MasterMap viewing.

      CENTREMAPSlive provides access to national coverage of digital mapping data from Ordnance Survey, British Geological Survey, Intermap Technologies, and Getmapping. OS MasterMap is stored centrally in a PostgreSQL object-relational database, using the PostGIS spatial database extension. Maps selected by the customer are delivered via the site as PDF documents that use standard PDF extensions to include GIS/CAD-style "layers," making them particularly useful for customers who do not have access to GIS or CAD software. Other "industry-standard' formats, including CSV, DWG, DXF, Open Geospatial Consortium Geography Markup Language (GML), and TIFF, and additional formats are expected to be added in the near future.

      The CENTREMAPSlive on-line mapping service is supported by a nationwide consortium of mapping organisations, including Ordnance Survey, the British Geological Survey, Intermap, and Getmapping. It is designed to provide an easy-to-use interface that enables users to quickly find the maps they want and to then "cut out' and download only the parts they need, in various scales, and in a data format that suits them.

      In particular, the PDF export capabilities provided by GeognoSIS.NET mean that, for the first time, CENTREMAPS customers are able to access and download OS MasterMap data combined with height contours derived from NEXTmap digital terrain models. The additional PDF layering capabilities make it easy for users to switch between the two using standard, free PDF software. This adds an important dimension previously only available to those with GIS or CAD software.

    5. The Sacramento County Department of Water Resources (DWR) has awarded a contract to Merrick & Company, a provider of LiDAR, digital orthoimaging, photogrammetry, and GIS mapping services, to provide LiDAR data, 2-foot contours, bare earth, and building classifications for 389 square miles in a rapidly developing area. The aerial data collection was flown in January and final delivery of data that meets or exceeds FEMA standards is planned for May.

      The population in the Sacramento County area topped 1.3 million people and has seen a 50 percent increase in population from 1980 to 2007. Development has paralleled this growth. The 2007 data will be used by the DWR to map watershed boundaries and contribute to the drainage master planning process. The LIDAR data is used by developers and is also provided to citizens, businesses, and government agencies at no cost.

    6. The Spatial Information and Mapping Centre (SIM-Centre) of Badan Rehabilitasi dan Rekonstrucksi (BRR) NAD-Nias in Aceh Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, is using ESRI GIS software to support the activities of humanitarian agencies rebuilding after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. SIM-Centre is actively building sustainable GIS capacity in the government through the creation of an online data catalog, training local personnel in GIS technology, and creating a spatial data infrastructure (SDI).

      SIM-Centre has standardized with ESRI ArcGIS. It uses ArcCatalog to create metadata, which is then hosted on the online metadata catalog, a free-of-charge service available to all cooperating agencies in the area. Not only does the metadata catalog provide guidance and accessibility to necessary datasets, but it also establishes confidence in the quality of the data, something lacking in the area before the tsunami.

      SIM-Centre has created and supports a GIS user group and GIS consortium to advance the use of GIS in the area. Currently, the GIS consortium is creating a customized training manual for ArcGIS written in Bahasa Indonesian and based on Aceh Province datasets.

      Since the transfer of GIS capacity from United Nations Office of the Resident Coordinator (UNORC) in early 2006, SIM-Centre has trained 115 people on the use of GIS and GPS in the region, filled approximately 750 client requests for GIS data, and printed more than 3,500 maps.

    7. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has purchased high-resolution aerial photography from AirPhotoUSA, a DigitalGlobe company and a provider of aerial information solutions. This is the fourth USGS contract awarded to AirPhotoUSA for off-the-shelf aerial imagery and covers 16 urban areas totaling more than 40,000 square miles. The images will be distributed to federal civil agencies and state and local governments. AirPhotoUSA supplies orthophotography according to USGS's strict standards of resolution and accuracy.

    8. St. John's County, Florida is using Cityworks for asset management and is utilizing the new Cityworks budgeting tool to assist in the county's financial management. Cityworks is made by Azteca Systems, Inc., a provider of GIS-centric asset maintenance management solutions.

      Before using Cityworks, the St. John's County Public Works department worked in a paper environment, where everything related to accounting for assets was documented manually. They wanted to move to a computerized system that would provide a more efficient way of tracking and managing data. After researching several software packages, St. John's chose to employ Cityworks as their asset maintenance management system. Along with the user-friendliness of Cityworks, St. John's County selected Cityworks for its strong GIS-centric approach. The County began implementing Cityworks in 2005 September.

      In addition to using Cityworks for traditional asset management, St. John's County uses Cityworks to assist in their financial management. The Cityworks budgeting tools allow users to track costs associated with assets, making it possible to pinpoint expenses for a single asset over a period of time, track costs in a particular area or region, and plan future year budgets.

    9. Global Knowledge, the largest privately held provider of training, enterprise learning services, and software solutions for information technology (IT) and management professionals, has selected ESRI's BusinessMAP software to help its representatives manage sales calls to clients and prospective clients.

      Global Knowledge chose BusinessMAP software in 2005 after looking at several options available on the market. Global Knowledge has since been using the mapping software to support its sales force. Sales representatives use BusinessMAP to display sales information (stored in Microsoft Excel) on an interactive map.

      The sales force is also able to identify and plot competitor information from various business listings. The ability to integrate these many data sources and to see and analyze the information has helped Global Knowledge to effectively manage its sales force and create more profitable sales territories.

      BusinessMAP is an affordable mapping application that transforms information from databases, contact managers, and spreadsheets into pushpin- and color-filled maps. It turns static data into meaningful maps, providing a better understanding of customers, competition, advertising, and other important business factors for mission-critical decision making.

    10. ESRI has signed an agreement with geoVue, a provider of location optimization tools. ESRI will provide its ArcGIS Server enterprise GIS platform, data, and support to geoVue to develop integrated solutions that capitalize on geographic analysis for multi-location businesses.

      The new application combines ESRI's ArcGIS platform with geoVue Enterprise, a Web services-based platform for retail and franchise site selection, market planning, and sales forecasting. The result is a seamless integration of advanced, powerful geographic analysis, visualization, and data handling capabilities with real-time sales and trade information.

      The companies signed formal business agreements in late 2006 and are completing final developments and release strategies. GeoVue plans to begin rollout of the new solution to key customers in the first quarter of 2007.

    11. GIS & RS Consulting Center GeoGraphic, a longtime sub-distributor in the Republic of Georgia for DATA+, is now a full distributor to further enable the expansion of the GIS market in the country.

      As a DATA+ sub-distributor for nearly ten years, GeoGraphic has established a significant client base that includes several federal government ministries, local municipalities, and international agencies. In addition, GeoGraphic has developed several applications for health care, agriculture, public transportation, and municipal services. The company is also well known for its certified GIS training courses.


    1. Networks In Motion, a wireless navigation and location-based services company, has announced that it will demonstrate a new European versions of its products, including the AtlasBook, FamilyFinder, and AtlasLink, at 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 12-15.

      Major U.S. telecommunications companies, including Verizon and Alltel, and Canadian wireless carrier TELUS are using Networks In Motion's AtlasBook LBS platform to offer location-based, real-time navigation services on GPS-enabled mobile phones. The platform delivers heads-up, voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions with auto-rerouting if a turn is missed, as well as local search of nearly 14 million points of interest and detailed color maps that can be quickly panned and zoomed.

      Research firm Berg Insight forecasts that revenues from mobile LBS in the European market will grow by 34 percent annually to reach EUR 622 million (approximately $809 million USD) in 2010. In addition, the firm forecasts that there will be 18 million users subscribing to location billing plans and navigation will account for 48 percent of mobile LBS revenues by the same year.

      Networks In Motion's FamilyFinder is an LBS application that enables parents to locate their children while they're away from home using a secure website or mobile phone. AtlasLink is a mobile workforce management solution that provides visibility into field activity, such as stops and locations of team members. AtlasLink lets users log locations, two-way message, record timesheets, and communicate with their team.

      Currently, FamilyFinder is available to customers of a leading national telecommunications company in Canada. FamilyFinder runs on both JAVA and BREW LBS platforms. Using FamilyFinder, parents can locate their children in real-time on an interactive map through their mobile phone or computer. The maps are frequently updated and allow parents to zoom in and out to see their child's location relative to landmarks.

      The "breadcrumb trail" feature allows parents to set the phone to alert them every 15 minutes about the child's location or view a record of where their child has traveled. The "One-Click Geo-Fencing" feature allows parents to set up a boundary within which children should stay. A phone alert notifies parents when their child arrives at or leaves a designated location, such as a school, gym, mall, or home.

    2. MapInfo Corporation, a provider of location intelligence solutions, has released MarketBalance, a custom solution that helps communications companies identify the optimal mix of business market potential and sales resources. The solution is designed to enable businesses to unlock hidden business-to-business market opportunities and increase sales by deploying their sales force more effectively.

      MarketBalance is a two-part sales management tool consisting of MapInfo modeling software and consulting services. The integration of data combined with MapInfo consulting services enables clients to establish specific criteria for an ideal business prospect based on market potential.

      With MapInfo MarketBalance, communications companies can improve their knowledge of business customers and prospects in order to increase business sales. By integrating current customers and prospects with third party, industry-specific data, companies can uncover new or untapped customers as well as the infrastructure and demographics to support new product launches.

      In order to find the best customers, MarketBalance provides the ability to look at the sales territory on a large scale via advanced visualization mapping capabilities to manage sales channels and respond faster to changing market conditions. Companies have the ability to realign the sales force proactively to bring underperforming territory sales to an optimum level.

    3. LeadDog Consulting, a provider of street and road maps, has released detailed city street geographic databases for Manila, the Philippines. LeadDog maps are in use in a wide range of applications from military and government emergency and defense support to commercial fleet management and location-based services.

    4. Digital mapping and GIS software developer Cadcorp has announced that its Cadcorp SIS \0xF1 Spatial Information System now includes support for unlimited ECW (Enhanced Compression Wavelet) data export. Developed by Cadcorp using the latest version of ER Mapper's ECW JPEG2000 Software Developer Kit (SDK), the new exporting capability is available within Cadcorp's flagship desktop GIS product Cadcorp SIS Map Modeller. Map Modeller users will now be able to create highly compressed ECW or JPEG2000 files from any of the wide range of CAD, GIS, and image formats supported by Cadcorp SIS. The new capability is now shipping with Map Modeller Version 6.2 Service Release 4 (SR4).

    5. DMTI Spatial (DMTI), a provider of location intelligence solutions, has launched the Location Hub using the Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery model. This new market offering represents a more practical and strategic approach to enabling location intelligence in the enterprise. SaaS approaches are faster, cheaper, and typically more reliable than on-premise software implementations. Moreover, the Location Hub offering focuses on the client's business processes and the quality of data required to drive profitable business outcomes.

    6. ESRI's Production Line Tool Set (PLTS) for ArcGIS—Mapping Agency Solution 9.2—now includes data models and tools to efficiently collect data compliant with the EuroGeographics specifications for the EuroRegionalMap and EuroGlobalMap projects. This bundled solution is assisting European national mapping and cadastral agencies (NMCAs) in meeting the requirements of the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe (INSPIRE) initiative. INSPIRE is a critical step in the development of the European Spatial Data Infrastructure (ESDI).

      By using Mapping Agency Solution, a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product, participating NMCAs can easily access the same production environment to collect and maintain consistent and high-quality datasets. These agencies can leverage this environment to build contiguous European spatial datasets, which is a key requirement of the INSPIRE initiative. It is hoped that this initiative will facilitate the availability of geographic information for policy making throughout the European Community.

      EuroGeographics is an association that includes 49 European NMCAs from 42 countries. In 2004, EuroGeographics and ESRI collaborated on building a geographic database model to support the creation of the EuroRegionalMap dataset. EuroRegionalMap is a topographically referenced data model at a scale of 1:250,000. It was constructed to ease the implementation of cross-border and Pan-European GIS solutions.

      The success of the EuroRegionalMap product has prompted the inclusion of the new EuroGlobalMap product in Mapping Agency Solution. The EuroGlobalMap data model was created for production at a scale of 1:1 million.

      Mapping Agency Solution is a production environment designed to assist organizations in efficiently producing topographic basemap products. It can be used to create and maintain data for large, intermediate, and small-scale topographic map products.

    7. ESRI has announced the availability of ArcGIS Defense Solutions 9.2. The software consists of ArcGIS Military Analyst and Military Overlay Editor (MOLE). The pair of products assists in command and control, battlefield management, intelligence gathering, mission planning, incident planning and response, search and rescue, and defense and intelligence geospatial analysis.

      ArcGIS Military Analyst provides display and analysis tools to help in defense and intelligence planning. At 9.2, the software includes updated features and new functions. Using ArcGIS Military Analyst is simpler with the addition of a new Options dialog box, expanded coordinate conversion, and data display capabilities. Users and system developers can now improve their custom applications with a new application programming interface (API) and a suite of geoprocessing tools.

      MOLE allows users and developers to create, display, and edit military symbology, including tactical graphics and the location of forces. MOLE provides support for warfighting symbology in accordance with MIL-STD-2525B. With the release of 9.2, MOLE also supports the APP-6A specification of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). MOLE at 9.2 includes many performance and stability enhancements, in addition to expanded capabilities.

      Users of ArcGIS Desktop with an ArcInfo 9.2, ArcEditor 9.2, or ArcView 9.2 license can use ArcGIS Defense Solutions. Alternately, developers who deploy ArcGIS Engine can incorporate the ArcGIS Defense Solutions tools into their custom applications. ArcGIS Defense Solutions are available as a free download to current EDN Program subscribers or to individuals or organizations with ArcGIS Desktop products.

    8. Merrick & Company, a provider of LiDAR, digital ortho-imaging, photogrammetry, and GIS mapping, has announced the free download availability of MARS FreeView, an intuitive viewing application for LiDAR, high-resolution imagery, and GIS datasets, that it produces and sells.

      Merrick Advanced Remote Sensing (MARS) software is a production-quality Windows application specifically designed for processing, analyzing, and managing terrain data. It provides excellent application and visualization performance for massive LiDAR datasets and includes a modular tool suite that is used to manage field collection, data analysis, quality assurance, production, and client deliverable workflows.


    1. The 2007 Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) Conference will take place in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, September 24-27. FOSS4G is the premier conference for the open source geospatial community, providing a place for developers, users, and people new to open source geospatial software to get a full-immersion experience in both established and leading edge geospatial technologies.

    2. The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) will host the second annual Geospatial Career Expo at its Annual Conference 30, slated for March 4-7 in San Antonio, Texas.

      GITA's goal is to give newcomers to the GIS field as well as veteran professionals a place to meet with recruiters from a variety of geospatial companies. There is no admission fee for job seekers to attend this one-day event, which will be held from 1:00-3:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 6.

      The list of companies exhibiting at the job fair is growing daily, and as of today includes: Applied Field Data Systems Inc., EarthData International, ESRI, MapFrame Corporation, Telvent Miner & Miner, and Watershed Concepts.

      The drastically expanded conference will also feature 99 technical paper presentations, 15 half-day seminars, panel discussions, user forums, a keynote presentation by founding executive editor of Hotwired, Howard Rheingold, networking socials, a poster session, and a 100,000-square-foot product and services exhibition.


    1. John E. Boutwell, P.S.M., a veteran surveyor who played a major role in the development of modern Collier County, Florida, will retire from WilsonMiller on March 9 after 37 years of loyal and dedicated service to the firm. Boutwell began his career at WilsonMiller as a field surveyor and worked his way up to Corporate Business Unit Leader of Survey and Mapping, one of 10 Corporate Business Units (CBUs) within WilsonMiller's multidisciplinary operations.

      Building on the solid foundation established by company founder Bob Wilson—one of the pioneers who charted the route for the Tamiami Trail through the Everglades—Boutwell worked tirelessly to uphold and expand the firm's extensive and profitable surveying tradition. Boutwell followed his father, John Wesley Boutwell, into surveying. The family moved from Maryland to Florida in 1960, when the elder Boutwell began working on the initial development of Cape Coral for the Gulf American Land Corporation. He was transferred to Naples in 1962 to manage surveying and mapping tasks for Golden Gate Estates, and the younger Boutwell went to work for Gulf American after graduating from Naples high school in 1966.

      Boutwell was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1968 and served as Staff Sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He joined WilsonMiller when he returned from duty in March of 1970, working as a rodman with survey field crews at Golden Gate Estates. He moved from field work to a management position in 1981 and subsequently became a stockholder, member of the firm's Executive Committee and Board of Directors, Senior Vice President, Corporate Secretary, and leader of the firm's Survey and Mapping business unit.

      He was influential in expanding WilsonMiller's public-sector clientele to include several of Florida's Water Management Districts as well as the state Department of Transportation and Department of Environment Protection. His expertise covers all manner of surveys, including boundary, engineering, and construction layout surveys, and he also has a skilled background in research, computations, quality control, checking, and map finalization.

      Boutwell has seen many changes in the surveying industry over the years, most notably the advent of electronic instrumentation, GPS technology, and other advances. He has also seen Collier County grow from fewer than 40,000 residents in the 1960s to more than 300,000 today. From some of the earliest subdivisions in the county, such as Park Shore, Lakewood, and Foxfire, to modern developments like the new Town of Ave Marie, Boutwell and his team have managed surveys for a multitude of residential, commercial, industrial, and waterfront developments encompassing thousands of acres.

      A licensed Professional Surveyor and Mapper (P.S.M.), Boutwell is a former president of the Collier-Lee County Chapter of the Florida Surveying and Mapping Society (FSMS) and a former director of District 5 of the FSMS, and he has appeared in the International Who's Who of Professionals. He also served as president of the Naples/Golden Gate Rotary Club, which named him Rotarian of the Year in 1999.

  5. OTHER

    1. LiDARXCHANGE, the world's largest consortium of LiDAR sensors and expertise, will be attending and exhibiting at ILMF 2007 in Baltimore, Maryland, February 12 to 13.

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