August 18, 2008
ESRI UC Exhibit Floor – Trends and Vision
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

ESRI UC Exhibit Floor – Trends and Vision

By Susan Smith

The ESRI User Conference as usual, provided an opportunity for vendors to exhibit their latest wares, but what is probably more important about what was showcased was the various trends, many of which were discussed or shown during Monday’s Plenary Session.

Over the past year, various alliances have formed to bring forth some really exciting new technologies. We are seeing some interesting trends: more traction of GIS in industries such as real estate, insurance, and the consumer market. With the fast pace of this growth, companies are acquiring technology such as the ability to integrate remote sensing data and 3D imagery into their datasets. GIS distinguishes itself with the coming of Web GIS, which was discussed at length in Monday’s
Plenary Session. According to ESRI president Jack Dangermond, Web GIS involves harnessing all that is the web with GIS and making it part of the infrastructure. GIS implementations can take place on the desktop, server and in a federated setting. Jack Dangermond offered a view of the future, in which GIS professionals will author and service GIS knowledge, offering high quality maps, 3D visualization, analysis and models, data management workflows, authoritative content, and rich web applications. They will construct libraries of shared GIS services that will reach both GIS professionals and those not
involved with GIS.

The foundation of Web GIS is the geodatabase which organizes and manages geo data. As testament to this vision, datasets are being built out at an extraordinary rate, many of them offering unique perspectives and robustness to accommodate this new Web GIS.


Intermap, the company responsible for NEXTmap, extends their reach with an agreement with Magellan to provide the Magellan Triton and eXplorist handheld GPS with advanced topographic maps, off-road points of interest, and plot waypoints.

Intermap has moved into two areas over the past year: business to GIS, and business to consumer markets, said Kevin Thomas, vice president, Marketing. The AccuTerra product from Intermap is a separate entity of Intermap, that brings the company into the consumer electronics industry with its offroad content. Intermap is also looking at a relationship with Bushnell. The company said that consumer electronics market moves at warp speed and is very exciting.

Intermap’s visualization capability gives the user the ability not only to view accurate geography above ground in the countrywide dataset but also to look underground at the geology of a region. This obviously makes it valuable for utilities with cables located underground.

Another area of interest is wind power. Intermap has received increased interest from customers building new wind farm sites. DEMS allow customers to figure where to put new wind turbines, model where the wind tunnel is, and place the wind farm in relationship to the power grid. It costs $1 million per mile to connect back to the grid.

There are several considerations for the wind farm placement. The European Union mandates that wind turbines can’t have a visual impact on the surrounding landscape, such as towns. Also roads must be built to the wind turbines. By doing a visualization and presenting that to a community planning group, stakeholders can work on community development. Additionally, meters must be properly placed as an improperly placed meter can make a huge difference. By computer animating test meters on specific sites, the testing time can be diminished.

In terms of availability of the national datasets, Western Europe has been on the shelf since March, and 71% of collection for the U.S. has been completed.

In keeping with the trend toward 3D, AccuTerra will move to 3D in the next two years to provide a Google Earth or Virtual Earth experience with 3D rendering. The processing power is not there yet, but is expected within the two year time frame.

Speaking of building out databases,
First American Spatial Solutions (FASS) of First American Corporation reached its 100 million parcel mark on the road to its goal to create a national digital parcel database.

For the company, this is a landmark, as it seemed like a huge challenge when they first started. But in order to ensure every determination they made as insurers, they felt it was imperative to offer completeness, accuracy (U.S. DOQQ Geodetic landbase), and currency, meaning frequent updates. Their goal of “geospatially enabling a parcel database” and selling analytics has been enabled by the purchase of Proxix, a geocoder, earlier this year, and the subsequent dataset from FASS ParcelPoint.

Another significant announcement at ESRI User Conference was First American Proxix Solutions’ agreement with
Pictometry, adding their oblique and ortho imagery database. Pictometry provides geo-referenced aerial image libraries and uses their proprietary technology to capture oblique image libraries. The result of this agreement with First American will combine Pictometry’s 3D like Intelligent Images will parcel mapping technology of First American in a product called Pictometry MatchPoint API.

According to Jim Murray, director, Business to Business Development for Pictometry, 75% of the US dataset has value for democratizing GPS. Now as a result of this relationship, Pictometry can link their data precisely based on the parcel geocodes of First American. With First American’s database, Pictometry can move into areas beyond major cities.

Pictometry also announced their self hosting service for the Pictometry Web Solution suite of products. Pictometry Web Solutions products include Pictometry Online (POL) and Pictometry Simplicity Online (PSOL), both of which are web-based versions of Pictometry’s Electronic Field Study (EFS) software. The imagery is tiled into small chunks to serve out to the web, and delivered from servers in Rochester, NY. This enables the customer to host their own data in a web environment.

Future plans include being able to house and serve Pictometry imagery out from within ESRI Image Server. Also, when I brought up cloud computing, I was told “not yet.”

The big news for
TeleAtlas, of course, is their acquisition by
Tom Tom. This acquisition makes TeleAtlas a wholly owned subsidiary of Tom Tom, which allows it to continue “business as usual,” and makes it part of a holding group that was created for confidentiality purposes.

What the Tom Tom acquisition does for TeleAtlas remains to be seen, but Todd Schmitt, senior marketing manager of TeleAtlas, gave some glimpses of what was to come:

- traffic information, passive, GPS breadcrumb trail, historic speed profiles showing what speed, time of day, and road segment. These tools are expected to aid in routing and navigating.

-Better geocoding

-Contribute to the whole vision of neogeography

-3D display functionality for mobile devices with rich presentation display and highly stylized cartography.

Their next database release will be delivered in Q4 2008 and will include community input. Feedback from customers on changes to maps and ultimately the TeleAtlas database, are implemented through their MapInsight program which is a closed-loop, Web-based change detection system.

“The goal is to have a real time map,” said Schmitt.

NAVTEQ offered rides with their geogaphic analysts in vehicles outfitted with their new multiview camera video system showcasing how NAVTEQ map data is collected -- outside the San Diego Convention Center. Although they were acquired by
Nokia earlier in the year, no products are derived from that acquisition, yet. Presentations at ESRI included topics such as mobile resource management, workforce management, business intelligence, federal, state and local government, and map enhancement products.

ITT Visual Information Solutions is a company with strong image science/image processing background which they have employed to extract information from pixels from their defense customers. According to Lori Thompson, vice president of Marketing and Support services, “GIS people want greater context around geography, and want information out of pixels.” For that reason, the company has changed their approach and created a workflow-based interface that allows users to take advantage of the geospatial information within imagery, and a new tool that allows users to use ITT’s ENVI family of image processing
products to generate information from raster imagery for use in ArcGIS applications through the geodatabase and generate maps with ENVI data and images using ArcMap.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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