Autodesk's Acquisition of c-plan
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Autodesk's Acquisition of c-plan

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! Last week Autodesk announced their acquisition of c-plan, a development partner headquartered in Switzerland, whose horizontal geospatial technology called TOPOBASE will add breadth and significance to Autodesk's Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD) offerings. Hear what ISD VP Chris Bradshaw has to say about this acquisition in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor



Industry News

Autodesk's Acquisition of c-plan
By Susan Smith

Last week Autodesk announced their acquisition of c-plan, a development partner headquartered in Switzerland, whose horizontal geospatial technology called TOPOBASE will add breadth and significance to Autodesk's Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD) offerings.

TOPOBASE is a topology database that creates a data management layer set up specifically for utilities, telecommunications and local governments. On top of TOPOBASE data management technology, c-plan brings to market vertical solutions that are called TOPOBASE Electric, TOPOBASE Gas, etc. which they sell in Central Europe and beyond.

“What we plan to do is to take both the horizontal as well as the vertical solutions and deploy them worldwide, so we'll create vertical solutions for electric utilities, government, and communications that will be branded by Autodesk in the future,” Chris Bradshaw, vice president, ISD, explained of the $18 million acquisition. “With this acquisition we're moving into very specific vertical solutions. These solutions can also be extended by our partners, systems integrators, by development partners. They are themselves extensible and the TOPOBASE technology is extensible.”

Autodesk ISD has not offered global solutions before, said Bradshaw. They had a public works offering designed mainly for North America. “The opportunity we see with the c-plan technology is that with the addition of their horizontal and vertical technology we believe we can now offer a global solution along with Map 3D and Civil 3D that we already ship everywhere in the world,” noted Bradshaw. “I think we have some work to do, but our plan is to adapt these solutions so they are applicable more broadly, so our water solution or electric solution is consistent across the globe.”

When it comes to integrating these types of solutions, Bradshaw said there will be a lot of customization, etc. because it is technology that will be implemented by partners and in some cases by Autodesk directly. It will not be like packaged shrinkwrap software. “Our plan is really to move these solutions into our channel and reseller community, and give to our system integrators to offer them more tools to work with, then to move into these new markets. It's a lot more of a solution than Map 3D all by itself.”

There's not much overlap with Autodesk's existing technology. TOPOBASE is obviously running on a server environment and all this technology is configured to run on Oracle. c-plan is an Oracle reseller, reselling and providing maintenance for Oracle, which Bradshaw noted is a “higher” level of Oracle reseller than Autodesk.

Among Autodesk's strategies is the attempt to raise the quality and the expertise of the company's existing partners as well as look at partners who in the past may not have had as much interest in being an Autodesk partner. Now they may see a new opportunity. “As I travel around the world, everyone is doing things slightly differently but their business problems are very much the same,” Bradshaw remarked. “We really do see an opportunity to provide solutions that today might be classified as custom one-off solutions. There is an opportunity for us to democratize some of the solution space with the c-plan technology and use the strength of our marketing and sales network to push forward into space that's pretty fragmented.”

c-plan is a company of 65 employees with 700 customers and 2,000 users. They have been growing their business very successfully since they started at 20 % growth each year. They have remained very localized, as they haven't had the capital to expand their business the way a company like Autodesk can do.

“We believe we can take the solutions they've developed not only into Europe but into North America or Asia Pacific,” said Bradshaw. “We can't do it immediately because there's development work, translation and localization to be done. They have the right technology framework for creating solutions that we can bring to market in a global sense.” In the solutions space, Autodesk has always focused on a single market. When they bring their public works solution to market in the U.S. for example, they don't set out to bring all solutions to all markets at once. It is done for packaged software but not for solutions.

“Assuming we're successful,” continued Bradshaw, “This will be seen as a big turning point in the ISD strategy for Autodesk because we really have plans to change our approach to bringing solutions to market--not just products like Civil 3D, Map 3D and Mapguide.”

In the c-plan solution, customer geospatial information is stored inside of TOPOBASE inside of Oracle so Map is just a client front end. C-plan also supports some competitors' products such as GeoMedia as well. In this context, Autodesk Map becomes merely a graphics rendering application; it “paints” a picture on the screen, renders the TOPOBASE database, and allows you to do geometric connection and all things you would expect to do in a map environment.

This acquisition isn't about converting an existing user base, rather, the user generally already owns Autodesk products. They use MapGuide to publish all this information out to FieldForce, etc. c-plan's technology was already well integrated with Autodesk's solutions as they are a reselling partner in Switzerland and in Germany. The opportunity is to grow the install base of this technology through Autodesk branding and delivery of the solutions across all of its geographies.



Announcements

NovaLIS Technologies has successfully implemented NovaLIS Land Development Office™ in the City of Nampa, Idaho. Nampa is located in the Treasure Valley area in Southwest Idaho and, with a population of over 70,000, it is the second largest city in the state. A destination for new business, Nampa has experienced rapid growth and the City's previous platform was not able to handle the large increase in permit requests.

NAVTEQ, provider of digital map data for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, will be hosting the official judging of its third annual NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge in conjunction with key wireless industry trade shows in North America and Europe. A developer contest created to catalyze growth in the location-based services industry, the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge encourages developers to build location-enabled applications for wireless devices.

VARGIS, LLC celebrated the inauguration of its US geospatial production facility in Frostburg, Maryland on May 6, 2005.

The inauguration is the culmination of dedicated effort and collaboration by VARGIS, Frostburg State University, Allegany County and the State of Maryland. The facility will foster the creation of new high tech jobs for the region and provide a scalable platform for VARGIS' growing geospatial services business.

Galdos Systems will host GML Days 2005 in Vancouver, British Columbia from July 18th to July 22nd. GML Days 2005 will be the fourth annual conference on the OGC Geography Mark-up Language (GML) and Web Services for GIS.

In 2002, about 37 percent of working Pennsylvanians were age 45 or older, an increase from 33 percent in 1998, the U.S. Census Bureau said recently. The share of the Keystone State's workers who were age 65 or older increased slightly over the period, from 3.0 percent to 3.4 percent. The analysis of Pennsylvania's older work force is based on the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) program http://lehd.dsd.census.gov.

The report, A Profile of Older Workers in Pennsylvania [PDF], highlights the age composition of the state's work force, job gains and losses for older workers by industry, industries in which older workers are concentrated and their job stability and earnings.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) announces that the OGC membership has adopted six OpenGIS(R) Specifications. Each of the newly adopted specifications enhances the existing open body of knowledge and furthers the OGC vision of a world where geographic data and services are easily shareable via the variety of networks and devices available today and into the future. All of the newly adopted specifications are or will soon be available online at http://www.opengeospatial.org/specs/?page=specs.



Awards

Avineon, Inc. announced that it received the Supplier Excellence Small Business Supplier of the Year award for 2004 from Harris Corporation's Government Communications Systems Division. Avineon operates a remote processing center in support of Harris' contract with U.S. Census Bureau for the Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing Accuracy Improvement Project (MAF/TIGER Accuracy Improvement Project or MTAIP).

Visual Learning Systems, Inc. (VLS), automated feature extraction technology provider, is proud to present the Best of Feature Analyst award to Native Communities Development Corp. (NCDC). NCDC successfully used Feature Analyst and QuickBird imagery to map the spread of Tamarisk, a non-native invasive vegetation species, along 32 miles of the threatened Arkansas River. Tamarisk trees dry-up water sources by lowering water tables, which presents a serious wildfire threat and impedes wildlife access to the river.



New Products

Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping, LLC announced the availability of Image Analysis™ for ArcGIS 9.0 and Stereo Analyst® for ArcGIS 9.0. These image processing and stereo feature collection tools are designed exclusively for ArcGIS 9.0.

The administrative and postal maps of Italy from GfK MACON have been updated. 8,102 comuni (communities), 104 provinces, 21 regions and 4,825 5-digit postcode districts of Italy have been updated to reflect the latest 2005 status. All areas are marked with official identification numbers and names.

Spatial Insights, Inc. announced the release of CartoUS, a nationwide mapping database, containing over 40 layers of map data. The CartoUS data are sourced from the latest US Census Bureau TIGER files, with enhanced display characteristics and roadway classifications. The data are available by county, state, region, or nationwide, and includes Puerto Rico and the US territories. Spatial Insights also offers the data pre-bundled into census, roadway system, landmark, legislative, school district, and metro area boundary bundles.

ESRI announced that PLTS for ArcGIS 9-Mapping Agency Solution is now shipping. Mapping Agency Solution provides tools to reduce cost and improve the efficiency of creating and maintaining high-quality topographic databases for publishing professional map products and data analysis. PLTS for ArcGIS leverages the object-relational ArcGIS technology to streamline production in a consistent process, enabling national, regional, provincial, and natural resource mapping agencies to do more with fewer resources. Mapping Agency Solution allows for rapid creation and maintenance of topographic datasets ranging from large scale to small scale. It uses topographic geodatabase models, a user-definable knowledge base, single-click editing, attribution, and quality assurance/quality control tools, which combine to offer a tightly integrated production flow.

Franson Technology has released Franson GpsTools v2.20, an easy-to-use, cost-efficient way to develop GPS, mapping, and basic GIS applications in Visual Studio. With a rich set of samples and documentation, it's easy for developers who are new to GPS programming to become productive immediately in Windows, Pocket PC, WindowsCE, ActiveX, and .NET.

MWH Soft, a global provider of environmental and water resources applications software, announced the worldwide availability of InfoSWMM Suite for power ArcGIS (ESRI, Redlands, CA) users. The new extension marks a milestone to date in the evolution of the company's flagship urban drainage modeling product, a geocentric software solution for the effective management and operation of stormwater and wastewater collection systems.



Around the Web

A Web of Sensors, Taking Earth's Pulse, William J. Broad, The New York Times, May 10, 2005 (registration required)-- In the wilds of the San Jacinto Mountains, along a steep canyon, scientists are turning 30 acres of pines and hardwoods in California into a futuristic vision of environmental study.

They are linking up more than 100 tiny sensors, robots, cameras and computers, which are beginning to paint an unusually detailed portrait of this lush world, home to more than 30 rare and endangered species.



Upcoming Events

GeoAlberta 2005 Conference
Date: May 9 - 11, 2005
Place: Telus Convention Center Calgary, Alberta, Canada
“Unleash the Energy - Positioning Information and Technology” GeoAlberta 2005, is the fourth annual GeoAlberta conference and will be held in Calgary, Alberta at the Telus Convention Center May 9th to 11th, 2005. Aimed towards new, current and future users of GIS, this conference offers the opportunity for professionals to tap into the power of location-based information by introducing new applications, the latest technologies and forward-thinking methodologies. Attendees work in the Federal, Provincial & Local government, oil and gas industry, environmental services, surveying professionals, the utilities industry, and retail & business professionals as managers, employees, owners and consultants. The 2005 Committee is dedicated to providing participants with a full day of practical workshops, two days of thought-provoking educational sessions, a vendor's exhibition with 30 vendor booths, a map gallery and a not-to-miss vendor casino night. The GeoAlberta Conference is hosted by; GeoEdmonton, GITA Alberta, URISA Alberta and the Alberta Geomatics Group.

SimTecT 2005 Simulation Conference and Exhibition
Date: May 9 - 12, 2005
Place: Darling Harbour Convention Centre Sydney, Australia
This special 10-year anniversary SimTecT simulation conference includes international keynotes, technical and applications papers, workshops, special presentations, exhibition and social program.

ESRI Regional User Conference - Prince George
Date: May 9 - 10, 2005
Place: University of Northern British Columbia 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, Canada
You're invited to attend ESRI Canada's annual User Conference. The conference will provide you with a wealth of GIS technology information and user success stories.

ESRI Regional User Conference - Vernon
Date: May 11 - 12, 2005
Place: Best Western Vernon Lodge & Conference Centre 3914 - 32nd Street, Vernon, BC, Canada
You're invited to attend ESRI Canada's annual User Conference. The conference will provide you with a wealth of GIS technology information and user success stories.

MAC URISA Spring Meeting
Date: May 11, 2005
Place: New Jersey EcoComplex Bordentown, NJ USA
(9:00 am - 2:00 PM) The focus of the May 11th MAC-URISA meeting will be on FEMA's Multi-Hazard Flood Map Modernization Program. In an effort to reduce the damages and costs of flooding, FEMA has embarked on an aggressive 5-year initiative to update the Nation's flood hazard maps. FEMA is developing new DFIRMs (Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps) that use GIS databases to store the digital data used in the map production process, as well as the backup engineering data for the floodplain studies. These databases will provide a standard, systematic method for FEMA to distribute comprehensive details of its flood studies to the public in a digital format. FEMA's vision for Map Modernization entails providing flood maps and data for communities nationwide that are more accurate, easier-to-use, and readily available ( www.fema.gov/fhm/mm_main.shtm). FEMA representatives will present an overview of the national Map Modernization Program and provide updates on regional flood hazard mapping activities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

GEO Brasil 2005
Date: May 30 - June 2, 2005
Place: S©o Paulo, SP, Brazil
GEOBrasil, ExpoGPS/Galileo, GEOIntelligence and GEO Oil and Gas together form the largest and most important and comprehensive set of events connected with geoinformation of Latin America. With the presence of the principal brand names, trade marks and leaders of the market, the event, workshops, courses, conferences and debates present a unique opportunity for total immersion in the principal novelties connected with geotechnologies to be found in the continent.




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