Mobile GIS Hits the Road

Message from the Editor

Welcome to GISWeekly! This week's Mobile GIS seminar in Albuquerque explained how ESRI's ArcPad software suite (supported by ArcGIS 8.3 technology) can be implemented for users in government, utilities, oil and gas, natural resources management, telecommunications, environmental consulting and transportation. Trimble, TeleAtlas and Electronic Data Solutions also demonstrated their mobile GIS products.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Mobile GIS Hits the Road
By Susan Smith

This week I attended a Mobile GIS seminar in Albuquerque, hosted by ESRI and ESRI partners. It appears that this is part of a series of seminars being held throughout the Southwestern U.S. region. The seminar explained how ESRI's ArcPad software suite (supported by ArcGIS 8.3 technology) can be implemented for users in government, utilities, oil and gas, natural resources management, telecommunications, environmental consulting and transportation. Trimble, TeleAtlas and Electronic Data Solutions also demonstrated their mobile GIS products.

What typifies a mobile GIS system, according to Chad Hall, Central U.S. Regional Manager for Trimble Field Solutions, is that it has
  • No cables
  • Memory of ½ Gig
  • Battery life - all day
  • Ruggedness
  • Open system (which in this case means Microsoft-compatible products and the ability to upload data, spreadsheets and workorder management forms). Previously Trimble was a closed system with its own software, but now users can use other software including custom software.
  • World class GPS
Trimble demonstrated its GeoExplorer CE Series which combines a ruggedized Trimble GPS receiver with a handheld computer running Windows CE. The product features an 8-hour-plus battery and 64 Mgs of RAM. The 512 MB non-volatile flash disk allows you to download your data to disk, and is recommended if you need to do a hard reboot in the field. The product is also integrated with Bluetooth technology. The GeoExplorer Series has a microphone speaker allowing you to talk to it and it can talk to you. Trimble will soon be adding voice activation as well.

Hall explained to the audience that Bluetooth was simply wireless communication, allowing Bluetooth enabled devices to talk to each other. This, of course, is not very useful if your office doesn't have Bluetooth enabled devices.

The CPU is a 206MHz Strong Arm 1110 with Windows CE operating system. What comes in the box:
  • CE handheld
  • Support module - power supply
  • USB cable to download files
  • Pouch
  • Stylus
  • AC Power adapter
  • Get Started Guide
Trimble Recon is only about three or four months old, and is known as Trimble's ruggedized IPAQ. The product has no GPS on it although one can be added. It sports a TFT screen display, 2 compact flash slots (Type I and II), Microsoft Windows CE.NET, 400 MHz Intel PXA 250X scale processor, and 15+ hours NiMH battery. Bluetooth cards can also be added.

The Recon works well in cold temperatures down to 22 degrees Fahrenheit. It is water submersible and has been tested to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

The difference between the Recon and TSC-Windows CE device is that the TSC has a keyboard. It also has no GPS but it can be connected to a sensor product if one is needed. This is a good device for those who need to enter a lot of text. The TSC uses the standard pre-installed software that GeoCE and Recon have, but it also has Pocket Internet Explorer, and inbox email client, and a few other features not included in the GeoCe and Recon.

Trimble also makes some other sensor products such as GPS antennas and receivers. The Pathfinder XRS has real time accuracy. Through a beacon it can add positioning to ArcPad and ArcGIS. Pathfinder Pocket is an introductory GPS receiver the size of a computer mouse. It has a small GPS sensor and used with IPAQs. It has a 10-hour battery life, 2.5 meter accuracy, is rugged and lightweight.

GPSCorrect for ArcPad is an extension for ArcPad that provides differential post processing and seamless integration for managing GPS and real time differential GPS(DGPS) settings.

TeleAtlas is described by Executive Account Director of Mobile Resource Management Craig Gooding, as a “data content aggregator.” What that is exactly is a data mapping company, that works with customers and sets them up with partners such as ESRI, Trimble and others to provide network profiles, base maps and real-time applications. TeleAtlas develops data such as an ArcMap Streetmap extension that will include compressed USA street data, cartographic quality maps such as a U.S. map database that traffic attributed, fully attributed, and image attributed data. Their goal is to provide data for every town in the U.S. with 50,000+ population for urban areas, 2,500+ for small towns, and also including some non-urban, rural areas.

The basic attributed network is a highly accurate map database that includes a complete road network with street name and address details, a highway network and geopolitical and postal information, water and parks locations. The sources for this database were TeleAtlas enhanced TIGER files, local government basemaps, postal service and state highway departments.

Features and attributes include seamless data with partitions, enhanced functional road class, geocoding USPS data files, and city centers. The sources for this data are USGS digital orthophotos (DOQs), commercial DOQs and also TA-commissioned DOQs.

The fully attributed network profile looks like this:
  • includes a nationwide map database that enables turn by turn route guidance
  • field collected and verified data of street geometry, street names and addresses
  • current population coverage
The fully attributed network also uses the following sources and methods - comprehensive field survey and feature change detection, and have local contacts.

350,000 traffic location codes are fully linked with meteorologies, road segments, projected traffic (historic data that tells you what traffic is like on a particular day and time). These codes also provide real time linkage to the map and allow dynamic re-routing, pathfinding, route guidance, personal alerts for weather, routes and traffic.

Gooding said that TeleAtlas' methodology encompasses the following:
  • Completeness of location destinations
  • Positional accuracy for AVL and display
  • Navigation attributes for directions
  • Real time linkage for rerouting and personalized notification
Steve Combe of Electronic Data Solutions discussed field data collection and mobile GIS applications. The company develops ArcGIS applications for ArcPad and water resources applications, and focuses on the natural resources industry.

They have developed HydroPlus GIS, an ArcPad 6 Template that integrates water quality probes, GPS receivers, and Windows CE, and gathers positioned tagged water quality data in the field.

Questions from the audience included that of one user who asked if any of the software and hardware demonstrated by the vendors was ever field tested.

Chad Hall of Trimble replied that “we give hardware to customers who let us know how it works, and we take their comments and integrate it into our next release.”

An ESRI spokesperson responded, “ArcPad has been field tested, with the software connected to a GPS unit.”

By the way, ESRI-Denver announced the opening of a new offsite training center at Computer Corner in Albuquerque, NM. To register for any of the courses, go to


Keep an eye out for GISWeekly's CAD/GIS integration stories profiling the solutions offered by various vendors. Reader comments on the topic are also welcome. Write to Email Contact


Cadalyst Acquires Cadence

One of the more notable pieces of news this week was the acquisition of Cadence magazine by Advanstar Communications Inc. , the publishers of Cadalyst magazine. Advanstar plans to integrate Cadence into Cadalyst magazine, creating “the premier source of information for the CAD marketplace,” according to Advanstar Group Publisher Dana Fisher. “We will combine these magazines, news services and web sites under the Cadalyst brand to provide the CAD market's ultimate resource.”

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