Homeland Security and Duct Tape

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Homeland Security and Duct Tape

Last week, consumers were encouraged to go out and buy plastic sheeting and duct tape with the express purpose of sealing doors and windows in the event of a chemical or biological weapons attack. Don't get me wrong, I think duct tape is an extremely useful thing to have around. Duct tape and velcro make the world go round. But trying to duct tape yourself into an airtight room in order to avoid being contaminated by some kind of airborne virus makes almost no sense.

When it appeared that consumers were going a little overboard, emptying stores of duct tape and plastic sheeting, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge made the statement, "we just don't want folks sealing up their doors or sealing up their windows." Mr. Ridge went on to say that the emergency supplies should be kept at the ready, but not used. President Bush suggested that citizens prepare themselves with an emergency kit that consisted of a flashlight, bottled water and a can opener. This week, Mr. Ridge announced a $1.2 million “ready” campaign, with a website http://www.ready.gov ; and a toll-free telephone line (800) BE READY-designed to give citizens easy access to information during a crisis.

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the only doctor in the Senate, advised people to play cards or something else they like to do, and "Exercise regularly, eat well and get a good night's rest."

While some of this may sound amusing, the Code Orange alert shed light on the fact that funding for Homeland Security has not been made top priority in the White House, and consequently police departments, fire departments and other emergency-response agencies declare that they have not received adequate funding for communications technology needed to properly respond to a terrorist or other emergency.

On the other hand, the technology exists. Companies such as MapInfo, GE Network Solutions, Intergraph, Bentley, Autodesk, ESRI and many others continue to work hard on providing integrated Homeland Security solutions that are at the ready and hopefully easy to implement. My question is, if the government is not funding emergency response agencies so they can implement life-saving solutions before an emergency, how effectively can these wonderful tools be deployed when and if there is a need for them?

Industry News

New product announcements from Intergraph and Bentley head this week's industry news.

Version 5.1 of the GeoMedia(R) product suite has just been released by Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions. The enhanced GeoMedia suite of products for the desktop and the Web will be available during the first half of 2003. Intergraph is now shipping version 5.1 of GeoMedia and GeoMedia Professional.

Pete Crosbie, GeoMedia product manager for Intergraph, was kind enough to answer some questions I had about the new product release.

The press release states that GeoMedia version 5.1 incorporates many important productivity and usability enhancements that eliminate the need to use separate CAD packages or plotting applications. Can you expand on that?

There are two new toolsets now included as part of GeoMedia functionality that enable spatial data collection and plotting to uniquely address data maintenance and plotting workflows.

For GIS users who are currently capturing spatial data using other CAD packages, this means that GeoMedia Professional has added even more GIS-focused, CAD-like productivity tools that allow them to address those workflows from one software package. This benefits users by eliminating the need to purchase separate CAD packages and also helps them increase software operator productivity and GIS workflow productivity. We've included CAD functionality specifically related to GIS tasks. CAD packages, by definition, contain an abundance of functionality that is not always needed for GIS workflows.

There will be a set of users who will specifically demand a CAD environment for their daily work. CAD integration is extremely important for these users and that's why GeoMedia and GeoMedia Professional continue to interoperate seamlessly with major CAD packages. The data servers still call up data from these packages without any required translation and further, GeoMedia products will display it correctly referenced with other GIS data in other formats. GeoMedia 5.1 also continues to support export to DXF, DGN, and DWG. All of this can be accomplished using a standard RDBMS as the spatial repository.

As to the reference to the plotting applications, this means that many of our customers are using CAD packages for their plotting workflows. GM 5.1 adds a new batch plotting utility, as well as a number of other plotting enhancements, and can now address the great majority of plotting functionality needed without the need for separate CAD packages or CAD plotting utilities.

What specific enhancements in the product are the direct result of user input, or customer demand?

With each new release we work closely with our customers' feedback to determine new functionality needed, so all our enhancements are the result of customer demand either directly or indirectly. Some of the most highly requested enhancements that are incorporated in GeoMedia 5.1 were:

Presentation improvements for plotting to enable higher quality cartography

- the ability to reuse styles across multiple GeoWorkspaces

- batch plotting

- Zoom and pan map information in the layout window

- Export the layout window as a raster file

- Presentation symbology improvements

- Legend placement service for creating legends in layout window

- Support weight ramps in thematic dialog.

- Set the styles for all entries of a thematic.

- Symbol creation tool

- CAD data capture and editing for productivity improvements

- Extend 2 lines to intersection

- Intersection snap

- Insert Circle

Have any of your beta testers tested the Tablet PC support and if so, what have been their findings?

  • Intergraph has performed full testing in-house on the Tablet and GeoMedia is fully compatible with the Tablet PC.

    How does the Oracle support expand interoperability between data sources?

    Intergraph's GeoMedia products don't use any proprietary middleware, or create any non-standard data in an Oracle database that other applications would not recognize. This means that data written to the database by GeoMedia Professional is completely Oracle-compatible. Any triggers or stored procedures that might exist in the database are fully supported. There is no circumvention of database management and security mechanisms. Other applications can come in and read and modify the data without invalidating the data. This allows GeoMedia Professional to be a maintenance application without preventing the applications from accessing and manipulating the data.

    This is not true of other GIS software which stores a lot of the GIS intelligence in middleware applications; causing any modifications to the data in Oracle to be made by the GIS application to avoid invalidating the data for the GIS.

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