GeoEye Acquires M. J. Harden
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GeoEye Acquires M. J. Harden

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Industry News
GeoEye Acquires M. J. Harden
by Susan Smith

Mark Brender, vice president. communications and marketing for GeoEye and Doug Leibbrandt, general manager of M.J. Harden Associates, Inc. spoke to GISWeekly last week about the acquisition of M. J. Harden Associates Inc. by GeoEye. GeoEye completed the acquisition of M. J. Harden’s outstanding stock on March 15, 2007, and will operate the company as a wholly owned subsidiary.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
This image was taken from 423 miles in space on March 9, 2005 as the IKONOS satellite moved from north to south along the western seaboard of the US at 17,000 mph.While IKONOS can collect at .82-meter ground resolution, this image is 4-meter resolution since the area is so large and the data files would be too big at the highest resolution. Used with permission of GeoEye
Prior to this acquisition, M.J. Harden was owned by GE Oil & Gas. GE Oil & Gas and GE Energy (mentioned in last week’s GISWeekly) are divisions of the infrastructure group within the GE company. Three years ago, the GE company reorganized into six business units. One of those business units was infrastructure, about a $47 billion business unit of which GE Oil & Gas is one of the divisions and GE Energy is the other. In relevance to size, Oil & Gas in 2006 was about a $6 billion division and GE Energy is about a $19 billion business.

GISWeekly: How big a company is M.J. Harden?

Doug Leibbrandt: M. J. Harden is a sixty person company located in Mission KS. We’ve been in business since 1956, providing quality photogrammetry, mapping, and GIS services to customers in the government, local, state and federal, and utility sector as well as private sector. The majority of our staff have four year college degrees in geography, computer science, math and other related fields. The average years of experience of the people who report directly to me is about 13 years so we have people who have been here 35 years, and others with less than a year experience. The domain knowledge and the depth of experience was one of the key attributes that attracted GeoEye to M.J. Harden. We’re a growing company and our sales and revenues have increased 20% annually over the last three years, so we look forward to future growth with GeoEye.

GISWeekly: What was the purchase price?

Doug Leibbrandt: That is not going to be disclosed.

GISWeekly: Will there will be any change in management?

Doug Leibbrandt: Our corporate offices will remain in Mission, KS, near Kansas City, and the management team will remain intact. I will be the general manager and report directly to Matt O’Connell our CEO. My operations manager, Mike Flynn, will remain the operations manager. M. J. Harden will become a GeoEye company but we will still do business under the separate name of M.J. Harden. We have a very strong presence and brand in the Midwest, and we’re starting to get more of a presence across the nation. I think our customer base can expect the same level of great service and offerings, in addition to having complete access to GeoEye’s imaging satellites, products and services.

GISWeekly: What will GeoEye do with the technical capabilities of M.J. Harden?

Mark Brender: M.J. Harden has had decades of successful management of nationwide aerial imagery collection and mapping and GIS capabilities, so we will employ this experience across geospatial activities. M. J. Harden has a particular expertise in providing solutions, for example, in the pipeline and utility industry and has a strong ESRI skill set among its consultants and implementers. We plan to expand M.J. Harden’s technical expertise with other types of sensors, for example, LiDAR, a laser light sensor put in an aircraft to collect terrain data. This is very important for GIS and hydraulic and floodplain modeling and various engineering applications that require very accurate imagery.

Doug Leibbrandt: The LiDAR and imaging capabilities that M.J. Harden brings to the table really expand the corridor management opportunities we see as a growing, emerging market. That will go hand in hand with what GeoEye offers.

GISWeekly: Do you have any customers in common?

Doug Leibbrandt: I’m sure we do, I don’t know who they are at the moment.

Mark Brender: I think satellite imagery and aerial imagery are complementary products. One does not exclude the other, so I don’t see a competition, I see complementary use of imagery. Now GeoEye can offer more robust products and services to a wider range of customers and resellers. For example, M.J. Harden can provide high resolution ortho imagery at six inch or one foot resolution to a city every three years, while GeoEye can provide in the future GeoEye 1 orthoimagery in the interim years so they can keep their landbase current. Another example is GeoEye can provide orthoimagery of a county because counties are quite large while M.J. Harden provides a higher resolution and higher accuracy aerial imagery for the built up or urban areas within the county.

GISWeekly: So there’s an advantage for people to be able to do one-stop shopping?

Doug Leibbrandt: Very much so. You’re looking at one organization that can deliver both the large geographic coverage that our new satellite footprint will provide as well as being able to generate as small as two or three inch pixel resolution for those urban areas where there’s keen interest in getting more detail about their landbase and facilities. To be able to integrate that and provide it on a repetitive basis is a real game changer.

GISWeekly: What about the other services that M.J. Harden offers?

Doug Leibbrandt: We have a long history of providing quality photogrammetry and mapping services. We also have been one of the pioneers in the GIS industry, back in the early 90s M.J. Harden was one of the first photogrammetry companies to introduce GIS services to the customer base and we were one of those first companies that took it upon ourselves to educate our customer base: utilities, cities and counties. That capability still exists within M.J. Harden and that is one of the areas we will use to value add to the pixels that GeoEye provides. We want to do more than just offer pixels, we want to provide solutions, we want to provide answers and the depth of knowledge and the strength in our ESRI consultants and implementers will allow us to do that. We’ve got a fair amount of background in mobile technology. We have a product called Hardenware FDC that we brought to market late last year. We will be using that (FDC) and working with our customers who are interested in the mobile technology and taking those GIS processes to the field, along with the photogrammetry We also have a complementary capability where we do a lot of work with the federal government, especially the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. We hope to expand this relationship since GeoEye has a close relationship with that agency. It’s a win win all the way around. We see the capabilities GeoEye has from a commercial/remote sensing standpoint, and M.J. Harden on the commercial side with our domain knowledge and experience, we see that dovetailing and fitting in very nicely.

GISWeekly: What is GeoEye 1 going to be bring to the table?

Mark Brender
- We plan to launch our next generation imaging system, GeoEye 1, later this year. It will have a ground resolution of 41 centimeters or about 16 inches in the panchromatic mode, and 1.65 meter resolution in the multi-spectral mode. The imagery will be able to be pan sharpened so we’ll be able to generate 41 centimeter color imagery. I might add, however, under our current licensing restrictions, we are able to provide commercial customers with imagery at half meter resolution. The most important thing about GeoEye-1 is its collection capability. It will be able to collect in the panchromatic mode 700,00 square kilometers a day, roughly the size of Texas. In the multispectral mode it will be able to collect 350,000 square kilometers every day. Just as important as collection capability, GeoEye-1 will have a map accuracy of less than 3 meters, so we’ll be able to locate an object on the surface of the earth within a few meters of its true location. GeoEye-1 will be a mapping machine in orbit that one government official told us would be ‘revolutionary’.

GISWeekly: Recently satellite imagery and other technology companies have offered imagery for searches for missing persons. Is this going to be something that GeoEye continues to do on a regular basis?

Mark Brender:
In the case of search of missing persons that is not part of our business plan but sometimes it is just the right thing to do. We have gotten so many requests for imagery to support humanitarian causes, that on March 28th we announced the establishment of the GeoEye Foundation. This foundation will provide IKONOS and eventually GeoEye-1 satellite imagery to select universities at no cost, to help foster the growth of a next generation of geospatial technology professionals. A university would submit a request for a grant of imagery, we will have an internal group of employees, the Foundation Employee Advisory Committee, that will evaluate such requests and make an award. We would then provide the imagery over precise areas of the earth at no cost to the requesting faculty, students or university.

GISWeekly: What about in disaster situations where you must act very quickly?

Mark Brender: We will make a determination on a case by case basis whether we will task the satellite for a manmade or a natural disaster (as in the cases of Katrina and the Indian Ocean Tsunami) and then make that imagery available to non-governmental organizations and relief agencies. We will announce soon that we plan to work with the United Nations International Charter for disaster relief. It’s important that our imagery be used to help in this regard. I know that our CEO, Matt O’Connell, is a big supporter of this sort of effort.

Doug Leibbrandt: M.J. Harden also mobilized for Katrina. Basically 24 hours after it hit land, we had aircraft and people down there capturing imagery and providing that to the federal government.

Top News of the Week

Colorado is deploying a Web service that allows emergency management workers to view weather data overlaid on geographic information.

The state is implementing WeatherBug’s GIS Data Services in its Emergency Operations Center and will also work to integrate the capability into a Web-based common operational picture viewer. The latter is intended for use by emergency response workers statewide.

Autodesk, Inc. announced that it has received Oracle's Spatial Excellence "Partnership Award" at the 2007 Oracle Spatial User Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The Oracle Spatial Excellence Awards are given to those leading organizations that have contributed to the advancement of mainstream enterprise solutions using geospatial technology.

ESRI announced the availability of the Job Tracking for ArcGIS Server extension, which helps organizations allocate staffing resources and track the status and progress of jobs from beginning to end.

With Job Tracking for ArcGIS (JTX), geographic information system (GIS) users are able to monitor projects without slowing the production process. Job Tracking for ArcGIS (JTX) automatically records all activities associated with a job, allowing managers to quickly and easily check a job's progress and see how it was completed. This extension is now available for ArcGIS Server.

Alliances/Acquisitions/Agreements

MapInfo Corporation announced an extension of its long-standing partnership with Statistics Canada (STC) to provide customers with one of the industry's first location-enhanced demographic solutions. The Census of the Canadian Population was conducted in May 2006 and the data will be provided by Statistics Canada and MapInfo in a series of eight topic based releases which started in March 2007 and extend until June 2008. Armed with this information, companies can better understand their customers' lifestyle preferences and buying patterns as well as the competitive landscape, enabling them to make insightful marketing decisions.

Trimble and Rosum Corporation announced that they have signed a technology licensing and distribution agreement to combine Rosum's proprietary TV-positioning technology with Trimble's in-market expertise to develop a customer and application ecosystem for location-aware mobile devices in South Korea. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

NAVTEQ announced the final results of the elections made by Traffic.com stockholders and option holders to be received in connection with NAVTEQ's acquisition of Traffic.com. Election results were as follows:
   -- 46.5% and 82.9% of the Traffic.com shares and exchanged options, respectively, elected to receive cash;
   -- 48.7% and 5.2% of the Traffic.com shares and exchanged options, respectively, elected to receive NAVTEQ common stock; and
   -- 4.7% and 11.8% of the Traffic.com shares and exchanged options, respectively, did not make a valid election.

NAVTEQ announced it has chosen Autodesk, Inc. to bring an additional array of tools and technical support to the developer community through the NAVTEQ Network for Developers(TM) site. In providing a web presence that assembles the resources necessary for developers to build innovative applications, NAVTEQ aims to help accelerate the successful creation of superior location-based content for wireless and internet channels.

NAVTEQ announced location-based services (LBS) leader deCarta will provide developers on the NAVTEQ Network for Developers(TM) site with access to a comprehensive environment for rapid application development, tools, people and support they need to build the next generation of location-based applications.

TerraGo Technologies, provider of GeoPDF®, the format for distributing geospatial intelligence in PDF files, has partnered with sales and services organizations in the United States, Europe and southeast Asia to help satisfy customer demand for its software products and services. The company has also hired geospatial industry veteran Jaymes Pardue to expand U.S. company presence west of the Rockies and in the Asia Pacific region.

New domestic channel sales partners include GIS Services, Inc., Tucson, AZ; Western Air Maps, Inc., Overland Park, KS; and Universal Mapping Concepts, Camarillo, CA. International partners are Irish Mapping and GIS Solutions Limited (IMGS) in Dublin, Ireland and Geospatial Enabling Technologies, Ltd. in Greece; Credent Technology Asia with offices in Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia; and International Development Advisory Services (IDAS) providing sales and services for the Caribbean Basin. These companies offer a broad range of expertise in geospatial technologies and services across state and local governments, utilities and other industries.

Announcements

Scientists and engineers from the Department of the Interior's U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA are moving forward in planning a successor to the Landsat 7 satellite mission. With the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) satellite expected to launch in 2011, the two agencies have announced their roles and responsibilities in mission development, subsystems procurement, and on-orbit operations.

NASA and USGS share responsibility for the LDCM. NASA will procure and/or develop the space segment, consisting of the satellite, instrument, and launch services and will also perform on-orbit satellite checkout. The USGS will develop and implement the ground segment, consisting of the ground receiving station network, a satellite operations facility, and archive and image processing facilities. After launch and check-out, NASA will transfer the satellite to the USGS to perform flight operations, image-data capture and archiving, and product dissemination.

The French 3D "Geoportail," scheduled to open to the general public in late summer 2007, will be based on the SkylineGlobe Enterprise solution from Skyline Software Systems, Inc. It will be the first and only 3D globe that includes high-resolution imagery covering entire France and will include the ability to interactively fly over highly realistic 3D terrain and urban environments.

"Geoportail" is an initiative of the French National Geographical Institute (IGN) and is the reference portal for access to all French state and private sector geographical data, intended for the general public as well as professionals.

Analytical Surveys, Inc. (ASI) announced that on April 2, 2007, the Company received notice from the staff of the Nasdaq Stock Market (the "Staff") that the Nasdaq Listing Qualification Panel has denied the Company's appeal of the Staff's January 18, 2007 decision to delist the common stock of the Company. Accordingly, the Company's common stock will be delisted effective at the open of business on April 4, 2007. The Company's common stock will continue to be traded on the OTC Pink Sheets. Additionally, the Company will seek to establish relationships with market makers and commence trading on the OTC Bulletin Board as soon as practicable. However, there can be no assurance that a market for the Company's shares will develop.

Locus Technologies (Locus), a leader in Web-based environmental data and information management services, announced that it has expanded its hugely popular Web-based LocusFocus ePortal Google™ Maps Mashup  to include U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data. With Locus's portal toolset and Google's Map API (application program interface), users can now look for U.S. EPA Superfund data in a rich map interface and gain instant access to data once hidden away in governmental data silos.

GGP Systems, the UK’s leading provider of geospatial solutions for local government, has received national accreditation for its NGz Gazetteer Management software. The accreditation process tested for the software’s ability to import and export gazetteer data in the new National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG): 2006 Data Transfer format 7.3 through 4 different stages of development. GGP NGz is only the second software package to win accreditation out of 21 considered.

Name Change

Open Spatial, Inc. a geospatial consultancy for utilities and government and supplier of the Munsys® products, announced that it is changing its name to Munsys, Inc. The new name will better reflect the company’s mission as the primary provider of sales, services, and technical support for the Munsys product range.

Contracts

China Public Security Technology, Inc., a public security software solution and real-time Geographic Information System (GIS) solution provider in China, announced that iASPEC, its exclusive contracting partner, has been awarded a $3.8 million contract by Shantou Special Economic Zone for building its emergency Consolidated Command System, with 90% of the value of the contract subcontracted to Bo Hai Wen, a China Public Security subsidiary. The award will be formalized in a contract to be executed by the parties on or before May 15, 2007.

New Products

Spatial Business Systems Inc.
announces Version 2.0 of the Smallworld Integration Server for ESRI, their powerful interoperability solution that integrates ESRI’s ArcGIS 9.2 software products to General Electric’s Smallworld GIS 4.1.

“Since releasing the Smallworld Integration Server for ESRI in 2006 we have had the opportunity to develop a number of significant new enhancements based on feedback from our customers.” said Dennis F. Beck, president, Spatial Business Systems. “We also are able to take advantage of many of the new features included in ArcGIS 9.2 as well as Smallworld 4.1.”

Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) has released a new version of Topcon Tools office software that offers significant enhancements. TPS' version 6.11 of Topcon Tools includes: a post processing/advanced module, high accuracy GIS modules and Design module.

LeadDog Consulting, LLC announced the release of geographic databases of terrain for the planet formerly known as Pluto and now referred to as 134340 Pluto. The recent formal definition of the term “planet” by the International Astronomical Union excluded Pluto from its comfortable 9th planet place in our Solar System and relegated it to a category known as “dwarf planets.”

Around the Web

Russia Challenges the U.S. Monopoly on Satellite Navigation   by Andrew E. Kramer, April 4, 2007, The New York Times --The days of their cold war may have passed, but Russia and the United States are in the midst of another battle — this one a technological fight over the United States monopoly on satellite navigation.


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