2007 December 06

This issue sponsored by

Professional Surveyor Magazine

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Editor's Introduction

This week, I profile four companies that provide geographic data and/or services via the Web. I also point you to an ESRI FAQ about support for Windows Vista and to an NPR story about one consequence of GPS-based vehicle navigation. Plus, 34 press releases.

Matteo Luccio

ESRI Support for Windows Vista

According to ESRI, with ArcGIS 9.2 SP 4 it now supports Windows Vista for ArcGIS Desktop. For the details, see this FAQ.

Web-Based GIS

GIS continues to shift from desktops to servers and, from there, it is being made increasingly accessible via the Web to people throughout large organizations and to the public. Four recent announcements provide a snapshot of this transition:

  1. Azteca Systems, Inc., a provider of GIS-centric management solutions, released the Cityworks Metrics Web Service API, an extension toolkit that provides developers a supported Web service to interface external data collection systems for the purpose of generating work orders on equipment and facilities.
  2. The James W. Sewall Company — a provider of geographic information management for municipal government, utilities, forestry, and the natural resource industry — has released a new version of webFRIS 3.6, its web-based geospatial solution for the forest industry. webFRIS is a real-time, enterprise geospatial solution that allows users to access a centralized database via the Web without the need for specialized software or hardware.
  3. Amazon has selected WeoGeo Market — a website that allows people to store, search, and exchange high-resolution CAD and GIS maps — as one of seven finalists for the Amazon Web Services Start-up challenge.
  4. York Region, in Ontario, Canada, selected Latitude Geographics' Geocortex Essentials as the foundation technology for six Web-based planning decision-support applications and views to be used as a regional atlas for planning and monitoring sustainable development of the region.

You can find the complete announcements in the "News Briefs" section, below. I discussed each of these announcements with a representative of each company.

Interview with George Mastakas, Director of Enterprise Services, Azteca Systems

Public works and utilities organizations in charge of infrastructure, Mastakas explains, need to track the work orders that they perform and collect cost data. Traditionally, Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) have included an asset database. "For example, if you are in charge of maintaining waterlines, you would define every single line segment, fire hydrant, and valve inside of this nonspatial, tabular database. So, the ability to do GIS was very minimal, because you would then have to define a GIS layer to represent that, and try to keep the two in synch." For this reason, Azteca developed a GIS-centric CMMS that leverages an ESRI geodatabase directly and allows organizations to track maintenance cycles and create work orders on their infrastructure assets.

Azteca provides both a Web-based server deployment and a desktop client deployment, which provides more geospatial functionality.

A trucking company, Mastakas says, might use the Metric API to track how many miles each vehicle in its fleet is driven each day, while a utility company might use it to monitor messages from a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system about the runtime hours of its pumps. Both companies might then use the Metric API to generate work orders for preventative maintenance that direct work crews to the assets' locations, as stored in a GIS.

Read more…

Interview with J. Randall Cercopely, Business Development Manager, Geospatial Solutions, James W. Sewall Company

James W. Sewall Company is a 127 year-old consulting firm specializing in engineering, forestry, aerial photography, and appraisal work. GIS, Cercopely says, is becoming more of an enterprise process within most organizations. While, in the past, there were few GIS specialists within one enterprise, now, people at all levels of the organization want to get their hands on the data. However, as many companies are finding themselves geographically dispersed, traditional desktop GIS applications make it difficult to share data throughout the organization, and most Web-based systems allow you to edit on your desktop and then post to a Web-map site where information can be viewed only but not edited. By contrast, Sewall's webFRIS "is a centralized, hosted Web-based solution. The data is standardized in a single database application, accessible via the Web. We host the data on our servers, in a secure facility in Atlanta, Georgia."

Companies give their data to Sewall, which then loads it onto its servers, normalizes it, cleans it up, and makes it accessible through the tools that it has built. Each user has a user-ID and a password that determines her or his privileges in the system. One person may have full editing privileges, while someone else may have only reporting capabilities or view-only rights.

Read more…

Interview with Paul Bissett, co-founder and CEO of WeoGeo, Inc.

Potential buyers and sellers of proprietary geographic data have to list/find relevant data files, sort out IP and security issues, negotiate prices, transfer files across firewalls, and track the complex genealogy of derivative products. WeoGeo, according to Bissett, addresses all of these challenges. "We don't want to be a Web vendor so much as a Web enabler," says Bissett. "So, we built a site that allows providers to upload their content. We will manage the hosting or listing of that content in a way that allows other users or buyers an easy mechanism to discover it, customize it, and acquire it. It is not Google Earth, where you can zoom in to the Grand Canyon and see layers that someone else has put on top. What we want our providers to offer and we are facilitating is orthophotos of the Grand Canyon itself, perhaps combined with DEMs or some other topographic information. Users can then acquire these files and bring them into their own GIS or other spatial analysis tools that allow them to create a derivative product. Ours is a business-to-business exchange between buyers and sellers of quantitative mapping products for further derivative use. Consider us like an auto trader or an eBay."

Read more…

Interview with Steven Myhill-Jones, President & CEO, Latitude Geographics Group Ltd.

Latitude Geographics' GeoCortex product — which is now about 95 percent of what the company does — is a suite of products and services that organizations can use to deliver Web-based mapping using ESRI's ArcIMS and ArcGIS Server. "In broad strokes, we are one of the ArcIMS aftermarket companies," says Myhill-Jones. "We started out in 2000, hosting ESRI's ArcIMS. Then, very quickly we discovered that people don't want a host, but they liked our viewer. So we made the transition to being more of a software company."

"We capitalize on eliminating inefficiencies. Setting up an ArcIMS site used to be a $20,000 to $30,000 job. By developing a viewer technology that is all set up with a configuration file through the GUI, we've got it down to a couple of hours and clients can often do it themselves. Our focus has always been on developing horizontal-type capabilities, just for making life easier for people around ArcIMS."

Read more…

Briefly Noted

Yesterday, NPR's evening news program, All Things Considered, had a story about a town in England that wished that someone would wipe it off the (digital) map — so that truckers would stop using its narrow streets as a shortcut. To listen to the story, click here.

News Briefs

Please note: I have neither edited nor verified the content of these press releases.


    1. Sacramento Suburban Water District Improves Workflow with Cityworks

    2. ITT Wins Contract for Next-Generation GPS Command and Control Systems

    3. Indonesian Department of Health to Deploy Cadcorp SIS-based GIS.

    4. BAE Systems Successfully Completes In-Country Commissioning Of Airborne Reconnaissance System in Oman

    5. 1Spatial Aids VISTA's Drive Towards Streetworks Reduction

    6. Real Time 3D Scanning of Noel Storm Damage Aids Real Time Weather Channel Coverage

    7. Topcon GIS Technology Used to Map Areas of two California Fires

    8. SP AusNet Engages Geomatic Technologies to Conduct An Asset Survey Across Their Entire Electricity Distribution Network

    9. DigitalGlobe's Worldview-1 Reaches Full Operational Capability with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

    10. Intelligentz and Ubisense Partner to Deliver CartMotion Retail Application

    11. WeoGeo Announces It Is A Finalist in Amazon Start-Up Challenge

    12. York Region Selects Geocortex Essentials for its Atlas Plus Project


    1. ESRI Announces Support for the Spatial Enhancements of SQL Server 2008

    2. TNTmips Integrates Geotagged Photos into Geospatial Analysis

    3. TatukGIS Products Supporting Oracle Spatial/Locator Database

    4. GRASS GIS Releases Version 6.2.3

    5. Delorme Introduces Topo Usa 7.0 With Updated Maps, Unrivaled Aerial Imagery and GPS Features

    6. Telvent Launches Smart Grid Solution Suite

    7. QCoherent Software Announces the Release of LP360/Classify Version 1.5.1, the LIDAR Extension for ArcGIS

    8. Azteca Systems Releases Cityworks Metrics API

    9. James W. Sewall Company Releases New Version of webFRIS


    1. MAPPS Releases Preliminary Schedule for 2008 Winter Conference

    2. GeoDecisions Celebrates GIS Day with National Educational Outreach Initiative

    3. E-learning Course on KML

    4. Call for Presentations Announced for URISA's 46th Annual Conference Program

    5. Established Premier Event for the LiDAR Industry


    1. GITA Adds Intergraph Executive to Board of Directors

    2. Infotech Expands the Sales Team

    3. ESRI's New Director of Product Management to Expand Enterprise GIS Strategies

    4. Valtus Imagery Services Launches New Customer Solutions Group Led by Tammy Peterson

  5. OTHER

    1. Experian Wins AGI Award for Innovation and Best Practice (Private Sector) 2007

    2. Networks In Motion Drives More than Half of LBS Wireless Carrier Revenue in Q3 Study

    3. Hemisphere GPS Awarded Two New GPS Technology Patents

    4. Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging India Pvt. Ltd. Opening

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Matteo Luccio, Editor
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