GISCafe Weekly Review April 8th, 2012

GIS = Providing Location Based Solutions
April 6, 2012  by Matt Sheehan

It seems the blog post we wrote recently entitled “Should we retire the term GIS?” resonated with the geo-community. We thought is worth a follow up post.

First the responses. Below are a few on the comments we received:

“No. I saw this a few months ago (maybe from the same group; maybe not). This came from a location based services firm – so that’s why they want to change it. GIS is still the main term to use, for what I do at least; and folks can still use lots of sub terms if they want.”

“I’ve also heard geospatial technologies (geospatial being duplicative). But GIS includes the concept of analysis, where location does not. Location Based Solutions are applications, while GIS is analysis – how about “Geographic and Location Based Solutions?”)”

“True, I completely agree. GIS is not only a niche term, it is a discipline which occupies the time of people aged 55+ dealing with sub millimeter accuracy, INSPIRE (I prefer to call it EXPIRE), land management and maybe utilities. It has nothing to do with crowd sourcing (OSM), modern technology (mobile apps, SOA, Cloud) or “new” markets (Business GIS, LBS etc.). GIS people are still looking for that “killer app”, but cannot find it. Call it location services, Spatial Business Intelligence or whatever: the people in the industry need to change. We do still need the “55+ sub millimeter” people. Mainly for accuracy and standards.”

“I agree with most of what you have to say except I disagree that the term GIS should be retired. What I’d like to see is the use of specific terms where appropriate (like LBS as you’ve suggested) instead of using GIS as a catch-all for all things spatial. Just my two cents.”

Very interesting. Actually (counter to the first comment above) we have historically been an ESRI focused company. We wrote our first Web based ESRI map viewer (for the US Forest Service) back in 1997. Long, long before the term location based services (LBS) had been coined. Maybe this is at the crux of the discussion. Mobile has made us rethink our mission. We are a company started by geographers. Ok, we have a more diverse group together now, but geography remains at the heart of our work. Our focus is understanding better, and visualizing the space around us.

Geography, space, location, place. With my mobile in hand, I want information about what or who is near me. I want to run analysis based on my current lat/long. Is that handled by a GIS, LBS or other geo-backend? I care little, I just know that my current location is the centre of my focus. Whether I am a public utility worker trying to visualize an underground pipe (layer) and run a network analysis to find the valves which feed the pipe beneath my feet. Or I’m simply trying to see which friends are within a certain distance of my current location. With mobile everything is about location.

We are at the beginning of a geo-sector boom. Its a boom which is driven by mobile, centred on location. Nobody cares about the tags attached to the technology which provides the solutions. Users just want the solutions. And they are location based solutions.

Feel free to let us know your thoughts.

Already this spring there have been wildfires reported in the western states. According to the National Interagency Fire Center<>, more than 82,000 wildfires occurred across 10 million acres in the U.S. last year.

Police tracking cellphones routinely
April 4, 2012  by Susan Smith

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show.

The practice has become big business for cellphone companies, too, with a handful of carriers marketing a catalog of “surveillance fees” to police departments to determine a suspect’s location, trace phone calls and texts or provide other services. Some departments log dozens of traces a month for both emergencies and routine investigations.

-The New York Times, March 31, 2012


Analytics for Google Maps API for Business
April 4, 2012  by Sanjay Gangal

Learn how Analytics for Google Maps API can help you make better maps for your website or software application. This is a demo by Google.

Article source: 

Mathew Lippincott  and Stewart Long gave this presentation at the 2012 Where Conference in San Francisco this week.

Mathew Lippincott  and Stewart Long are founding members of the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS).

Mathew is an artist and designer who has worked in technology education for eight years. He became involved in Grassroots Mapping through materials testing and the design of low-cost balloons and kites. In addition to developing flying machines, he supervises the production of kits and other materials. He is also a founder of Cloacina, Cewas startup. Cloacina is currently developing educational materials with ReCode:Oregon’s Ecological Sanitation Campaign andPNCA’s Collaborative Design MFA Program.

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Ben Milne gave this presentation at the 2012 Where Conference in San Francisco this week.

Ben Milne is a payments outsider and founder of Dwolla, a new payment network based in the heart of the Silicon Prairie. The company continues to disrupt Visa and Mastercard by building useful and innovative online and mobile products on top of its open and low-cost payment network.

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Scott Kveton gave this presentation at the 2012 Where Conference in San Francisco this week.

Scott brings 15 years of experience building technology, developing business strategy and leading engineering teams with companies like, Rulespace, JanRain and now Urban Airship. Urban Airship works with thousands of brands using their leading mobile messaging and monetization platform. Scott was the co-founder of the Open Source Lab helping open source projects like Mozilla, Linux, Apache, Drupal grow into mainstream usage. Scott was an active supporter of open web standards having co-founded the OpenID and Open Web Foundations. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Leah Busque gave this presentation at the 2012 Where Conference in San Francisco this week.

A true visionary, Leah originated the phrase, “service networking,” a now industry-wide term describing the productive and service power of a web-based social networked community. In the fall of 2008, while trying to figure out how to juggle dinner out with her husband, Kevin, and buying dog food for her 100-pound yellow labrador retriever, Kobe, Leah’s flash of inspiration resulted in her registering the domain name from her iPhone, and mapping the entire business model in her head prior to their meal. Eighteen months later, the company is flourishing, and has expanded and evolved into

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Thomas Goetz gave this presentation at the 2012 Where Conference in San Francisco this week.

Thomas Goetz is the executive editor of WIRED Magazine, and author of the book The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine. Since Goetz joined WIRED in 2001, the magazine has been nominated for 23 National Magazine Awards and has won nine times, including the top award for General Excellence three times. His cover stories at WIRED have been selected for both the Best American Science Writing and the Best Technology Writing anthologies. Goetz holds a Master’s degree in English from the University of Virginia and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Noah Iliinsky gave this presentation at the 2012 Where Conference in San Francisco this week.

Noah Iliinsky is the co-author of Designing Data Visualizations and technical editor of, and a contributor to, Beautiful Visualization, published By O’Reilly Media.

Should We Retire the Term GIS?
April 4, 2012  by Matt Sheehan

The future of mobile is location! ………. The future of computing is mobile!

Two bold statements. We don’t necessarily believe them yet. But one would be foolish to ignore them offhand. What do these have to do with our question: “Should we retire the term GIS”?

GIS deals with location. Why not simply use this universally understood term when we sell our geo-technology solutions .. and drop GIS altogether? As the need for location technology grows, lets begin to use the language all can understand. GIS is a niche term understood by geo-nerds, often in the public sector (nothing like a good generalization).

Article source: 

Philanthropy is making growing use of the latest data visualization tools to analyze and share information. To hear about tools that your organization could utilize, watch this webinar on Mapping Philanthropy: How You Can Use Data Visualization to Do Good.

During this webinar, you would hear the Foundation Center’s George Ford and Jake Garcia discuss visual grantseeking tools and solutions. You would look at how grantseekers can use the interactive maps and charts in Foundation Directory Online – the Foundation Center’s grantseeking database for nonprofits – to identify prospective funders. Next, the webinar turns your attention to several data visualization tools developed by the Foundation Center and other organizations that showcase how the philanthropic community has responded to a variety of issues.

This webinar is appropriate for nonprofits and libraries wanting to know more about data visualization and grantseeking.

The mountains of northeastern Oman are rugged, dry, and as much as 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level. Yet millions of years ago, parts of these mountains were at the bottom of the sea. Actually, they were beneath it.

I interviewed Jason Sims, Director of Marketing at Intergraph at the ASPRS Conference last month. Jason talks about the British Transport Police using the Hexagon products to manage images from 1000’s of cameras installed in London to keep the British Railways and Olympics safe. He proudly proclaims, “Erdas Apollo is a solution helping power the Olympics”.

GeoMedia Smart Client in Action: Australian’s Central Goldfields Shire Council
April 2, 2012  by Mladen Stojic, President of Hexagon Geospatial

Mladen Stojic, Vice President, and Geospatial at Intergraph SG&I

As we recently highlighted on GIS Café, stakeholders across most organizations know the value of geographic information, but often lack the expertise to run a traditional desktop GIS.  In addition, there is a large potential user base between those working with a rigid and technically demanding desktop GIS and a static lightweight browser based GIS.

To bridge this gap, last month we launched GeoMedia Smart Client, which is an enterprise-wide solution that essentially obliterates the growing disparity between static GIS products and the needs of today’s geospatial contributors.

Now, we are excited to showcase an example of GeoMedia Smart Client coming to life.  We just announced that Australia’s Central Goldfields Shire Council (CGSC) recently migrated from an older GIS system to GeoMedia. announces that a new market research report is available in its catalogue: Utility Geographic Information Systems

GIS Tools and Workflow Applications for AEC and Operations: Market Analysis and Forecasts

The electrical grid consists of power generation, transmission, distribution, and customer assets that literally cover the face of the earth. Ultimately, the smart grid is all about awareness of the situation of these assets in order to facilitate optimal performance and effectively anticipate and respond to events that might disrupt performance. A geographic information system (GIS) is the method by which utilities capture, store, manipulate, analyze, and manage geospatially referenced information about these assets. Geodata types relevant to electric utilities might include everything from land-based data, streets, ownership/real estate, vegetation, network topology, GPS location data, census data, and many others.

Esri DevSummit 2012 “10 killer apps”
April 2, 2012  by Susan Smith

In a session entitled “10 killer apps,” at Esri DevSummit 2012 last week in Palm Springs, CA, Mansour Raad @mraad and Sajit Thomas @spatialAgent show 10 new beta apps developed using Esri technology. The demo in this video shows a UAV shark driven by a Flex Mapping app, the shark is filled with helium and being “flown” around the room powered by a cool Flex mapping app.

ITT Exelis

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