From the Exhibit Floor..

From the Exhibit Floor..

by Susan Smith
GIS is largely about people: coming to the aid of people and people making things happen. This year many outstanding offerings were showcased for emergency response and recovery, health, homeland security, defense, local and state government agencies. Some of the more notable ones are listed here:

Emergency Response

Featured in the Health Showcase at ESRI was the Mobile Telemedicine Vehicle built by Mercedes Benz and UNICAT, now being used by the Loma Linda University Medical Center. This unit is designed to bring critical care to anyone in the country, but Loma Linda's range is basically San Bernadino County. It is equipped with satellite based communications so that care can be delivered without being dependent upon land based communications.

Holding the limelight in that vehicle is AEGIS (Advanced Emergency Geographic Information System), employing ArcWeb Services which has the ability to integrate web services to support transport during emergency incidents. When there are surges of need for medical attention such as in an emergency, emergency care professionals can get up to the minute information on hospital capabilities, weather, traffic, vehicles and other critical information. They can identify traffic conditions, zoom in to any area, find out what hospitals are accepting patients, add live maps and services, locate multiple incidents, secure emergency dispatch information, do data sharing, and check the status of other vehicles, such as rescue helicopters.

The Mobile Unit itself comes equipped with a server, two screens for viewing various layers of data simultaneously. Sensor technology on board also helps in determining whether a patient needs to be treated at a hospital or whether he/she can be treated on site.

Business Analyst Online is now being offered specifically for Health to provide hospitals with presentation quality maps and reports for strategic planning and for marketing applications. This application combines GIS, demographic and consumer data, hospital discharge data, DRG and ICD9 data, and reports and maps via a very easy to use interface that requires minimal training.

State and Local Government

Displayed in the State and Local Government showcase was the Los Angeles City Fire Department, featuring Steve Robinson, a former helicopter pilot who was in a terrible helicopter crash in 1998, which killed all his crew but himself and one other passenger. After the crash, his future with the department was somewhat uncertain; a seizure made it impossible for him to return to flying. On the ground, Robinson began to experiment with a new AeroComputers' UltiChart computer on one of the helicopters. This computer is a basic GPS device that helps a pilot get from point A to point B. But it does more than that. Robinson found it also produced fire perimeter lengths and acreage coverage, which was very valuable information for incident commanders.

Robinson and fellow pilot, Lance Messner, georeferenced fires using the UltiChart by latitude and longitude, and provided the information via radio to the ground commanders who were equipped with GPS. This way they could pinpoint fire locations. The Forest Services and California Department of Forestry became interested because they didn't have the ability to do this.

This launched Robinson into making GIS maps with the UltiChart. These maps were videotaped and shown to the commanders. because the maps were very time consuming to make, Robinson began looking for a better way. Enter Russ Johnson, public safety industry manager at ESRI. The result was that Johnson, Messner and Robinson developed some good base data which included street data, census, topographical maps, etc. and served it up on a server. They then developed a system where the dynamic data collected by the aircraft during an incident was then quickly available to any agency that needed it. A big donation from ESRI, systems integrator CH2MHill and HP, helped make an important public safety solution possible.


This year there were more TouchTables from RGB Systems on the show floor, particularly in the Defense Showcase. The TouchTable self contained hardware and software system uses a high definition LCD mounted on a stand that allows the display to tilt from horizontal to vertical, plus has an electric lift mechanism to adjust height and wheels for portability.

Its software functions include gesture recognition software and translates your hand movements into commands; networking of two or more TouchTables to geographically dispersed teams, the ability to allow you to retell a story by bookmarking locations, imagery and transitions; you can take notes that can be georeferenced; 3D tools allow you to change the viewing perspective to assess terrain and provide fly through or walk through visualizations. Slider and swipe functions allow you to visualize data by using variables like date and time. TouchTable software integrates to other software applications and I saw it integrated with ArcGIS.

The GeoRover from SAIC offers a suite of extensions for the ArcMap component of ArcGIS 8.x/9.x. These extensions simplify the processes of creating, editing, importing and sharing GIS data, while also giving the field data collector the ability to perform real-time or post-collection processing of data from data collection devices. You can also share data with those who don't have GIS in the form of interactive web pages, slide shows and spreadsheets.

Product Announcements

SANZ announced the EarthWhere Pro Series, which is a set of tools designed to integrate EarthWhere into the ESRI geospatial framework. This set of tools will make it easier and faster for ESRI customers to manage large raster images with their datasets. They will be able to do direct provisioning from inside the ArcGIS environment. The Series also includes support for ArcSDE that creates raster data sets that automatically load into ArcSDE. Also EarthWhere Pro for Image Server will be able to provision raster images sources directly to an Imager Server provider. Features of the EarthWhere Pro Series include ActiveIngest, a cataloging engine that can abe configured to automatically catalog metadata, image properties and geographic locations, as well as creating thumbnails.

Information Builders showcased their flagship report writing tool, WebFOCUS which is ported to the platform. Theirs is a server based platform providing bi-directional reporting for the desktop. The company is 31 years old and it is new to the geospatial industry. State and local government customers have asked them to create this type of tool. At the conference they are asked, why is transaction-level data so important? In the IT world, they are asked, why would we put our information on a map?

Servers were big this year, and INLINE Corporation, an ESRI partner, announced the Complete Server ArcGIS. ESRI, in conjunction with INLINE, now provides a totally integrated system of GIS products, operating system software, database software, servers and storage. This system is preconfigured and fully ESRI tested with all ESRI and Microsoft components installed and ready to go.

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