by Susan Smith

Wednesday at ESRI UC gave me a chance to concurrent activities going on the past three days, namely, the "Survey and GIS Summit, Bridging the Gap 2003," headed up by Mike Weir, Surveying Industry Manager for ESRI. From Sunday through Tuesday, a group of 280 attendees consisting of 45% surveyors, 45% GISers, 6% engineers and 6% educators gathered to find out the benefit of integrating survey data and GIS.

2003 marks the inaugural session of this survey conference, spearheaded by the release of ESRI's Survey Analyst, a new product that addresses the need to "bridge the gap between survey and GIS." Of course, the theme of the Survey Conference was exactly that, and the goal, to bring more surveyors into GIS.

Why does a gap exist between surveyors and GIS professionals?

"A small survey firm is already so busy they don't have time to look at new technology," explained Mike Weir. "They already have a revenue stream. Also, the technology just wasn't there. These people work in a CAD drawing world, very different from the geospatial world."

However, the idea that they can put their precise survey measurements into a database, compute coordinates, and link this to GIS maps was very exciting for many. The quality of GIS can also be greatly improved by linking precise survey locations to GIS features.

On Sunday, the event went from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., kicking off with an introductory plenary by Mike Weir and keynote by Univ. Professor Dr. Ing Holger Magel, President of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) and Director of the Institute of Geodesy, GIS and Land Management in Germany. This was followed by a keynote by Dr. Eric Anderson, Senior Research Geographer for the USGS and President of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping.

Sessions included topics such as "Surveying and GIS in Tribal Governments," "Surveying and GIS in Utilities," and "Surveying and GIS in the Private Sector." URISA, the Ordnance Survey, ASCM also were in attendance and gave presentations.

"This happened because we've been developing Survey Analyst," explained Weir. "We also demonstrated other products such as Mobile Matrix from Tadpole-Cartesia, UCLID's IcoMap and others that are geared to the needs of surveyors."

Attendees spent all day Monday in the plenary sessions listening to Jack Dangermond's keynote and the product demonstrations that followed. A meeting was held to form a Survey SIG which attracted 76 people. "People were excited that the SIGS could affect technology at ESRI," stressed Weir.

"Survey Analyst serves two goals: one, it can bring survey data into the geodatabase; two, it can manage those survey measurements in the database," Weir claimed "Also, what you build over time with this product is a Survey Information System, like a GIS, where data is stored and can be used many times, updated and added to."

Some of the more popular sessions included "ArcGIS Extensions: Survey Analyst: an Introduction," and "NCEES Model Law Presentation and Current Issues Discussion."

Plans are already in the works to run the Summit for four days next year. "We'll focus on our partners, refine Survey Analyst, and may add GPS," suggested Weir.

Survey and GIS Summit presentations will be available for download at Bridging the Gap after July 25, 2003.

Many product announcements were made recently and the ESRI conference was an opportunity to see those products demonstrated. In June, Avenza Systems Inc. announced the release of MAPublisher 5.0 for Macromedia FreeHand, mapmaking software to produce quality maps from GIS data. New functionality includes support for FreeHand MX, Apple Mac OS X and import of MicroStation Design (DGN) files. Some of the many features of that new release include:

  • Convert between DMS and decimal degrees
  • Create GeoTiffs and other geo-referenced raster images
  • Store map projections in already projected files after import
  • 'Sticky' selection menus remember last menu selection
Sanborn demonstrated a product line called CityCenters, off-the-shelf datasets that cover major downtown areas of 27 cities. These datasets cover the downtown areas of primary U.S. cities, and include Sanborn fire insurance maps, color digital orthophoto imagery, 3D models of buildings and surrounding terrain and smart geographic information. Smart geographic information includes street centerlines with street names, building specific data, links to site specific photographs and meets National Map Accuracy Standards.

Cities included so far are Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, New York, Jersey City, Philadelphia, Washington, D. C., Minneapolis, Dallas and many more.

The GeoExplorer series from Trimble continues to be updated -- the GeoExplorer CE series of GPS handheld receivers now feature a new advanced color display and 64 MB of memory. The improved visibility on this product will allow users to be able to see screens better in the outdoors, and also run more software programs faster with larger data files and images.

The Trimble GeoExplorer CE series' new color display uses Thin Film Transistor (TFT) technology with 16 bit (65,536) color and a multi-stage backlight. It has more processing power and storage capacity. Larger datasets, maps and background imagery can be used on the product with the advantage of a clearer and crisper display of full color raster images and vector maps in virtually all types of outdoor conditions.

The journey around the exhibit floor reveals connections not immediately evident at the first of the week. ArcWeb Services has seemed an interesting idea but to date, there has not been an imagery library in the offering of spatial data. Today I learned of two companies entering into agreements to broaden the library of ArcWeb Services, for both developers and desktop users.

For those not familiar with ArcWeb Services, as I understand it, it evolved out of the Geography Network concept. However, it differs from GN in that GN allows users from outside to post data and sometimes to pull their data off the network if it is outdated.

ArcWeb Services is more streamlined and specific than GN; the service is comprised of spatial data and GIS functionality delivered over the Internet. The applications therein can be delivered to custom web applications via ArcWeb for Developers or to the ArcGIS desktop. A new version of ArcWeb Services for Developers is now available to subscribers that includes vector and raster basemaps, census demographics, topographic maps, national elevation data, and more. Users can include a selection of the functionality in their applications without having to host the data or develop applications themselves. If you have a subscription to the Services, you'll be able to access the Services freely. In order to see if you have any use for this product, you can get a 30-day trial subscription for free to check out the extent of its worth.

This could be useful for those who don't want to host large datasets, yet want to have around the clock access to them.

GlobeXplorer, a distributor of online aerial and satellite imagery, partnered with ESRI to provide its Citipix aerial imagery archive as an ArcWeb service. Citipix "Digital Ortho" annual subscription web service has over 300 terabytes online, and is georeferenced and orthorectified. Upon purchase of the Citipix ArcWeb service, it will be added as a layer in the user's ArcGIS or ArcExplorer software. Free content updates are available throughout the licensing term.

Additionally, Geographic Data Technology, Inc. (GDT), announced a partnership with ESRI to provide a suite of Internet-based services through ESRI's ArcWeb(SM) Services.

GDT's Dynamap(R)/2000 and Dynamap/Transportation street and address database with ESRI software and tools provide map display, vehicle routing, location finder services, and demographic reports to developers and customers who want to add a spatial component to Web sites without significant investment of resources or infrastructure.

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