Day Three - ESRI Conference 2004 - By Susan Smith
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Day Three - ESRI Conference 2004 - By Susan Smith

New Technologies and Trends Among ESRI Partners

This article will focus on what was seen on the exhibit floor, which was open Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 8:30 pm with a Vendor Night Reception.

The exhibit floor represents the culmination of what exhibitors have been working on all year, and in some cases, for many years. The technologies showcased here are obviously only a few of them. GISWeekly will feature more of them in this week's issue.

As with many GIS technologies, MetaCarta's Geographic Text Search (GTS) has been of particular interest to defense professionals, but is now gaining popularity in the public sector as well.

MetaCarta's product manager John-Henry Gross introduced me to what MetaCarta's GTS actually does-it bridges the gap between GIS and text search platforms. “MetaCarta can take unstructured data and fuse it,” he said. It is the complete integration of back end systems. The unstructured text based information can be anything - it can contain georeferences, it can be from a Documentum document management library, military messages, emails, crime reports-anything that government analysts or other strategists may need to integrate with other data in order to focus intelligence efforts. It has a procedure to "geo-parse" documents and files, extracting any mention of a place. Users can search millions of documents by geography, keyword, and time. GTS uses a patent-pending Natural Language Processing (NLP) to show relationships within structured and unstructured documents.

ESRI and Trimble have entered into a co-marketing agreement to develop and market the Trimble GPS Analyst extension for ArcGIS. The product allows you to work directly with GPS data with ArcGIS inside your own database. One of the big pluses of this product is that GPS Analyst allows the user to differentially correct GPS data inside ArcGIS. This has great potential value for GPS users as differential correction can improve GPS positioning accuracy to as much as 50 centimeters. GPS data can also be brought directly from the field into the geodatabase. Using ArcPad and GPSCorrect, data from the field can be verified and updated. GPS Analyst is also an open extension to ArcObjects.

Thales Navigation showcased its new product, the ruggedized MobileMapper CE GPS, with Windows CE and Bluetooth technology. With a slightly higher accuracy rate than the MobileMapper, the CE mobile handheld device integrates submeter positioning with embedded Windows CE .NET and Bluetooth wireless technology. It has a removable SD memory card, is waterproof, has touch screen technology, field replaceable all-day battery and built-in alphanumeric keypad, offers 14 parallel channels, and has a beacon that will get WASS corrections throughout the US, and external RTCM SC-104 differential correction input. Its open platform enables it to run ArcPad and other applications. It is reasonably priced at $2,195 and with ArcPad, $2,495.

Xplore Technologies has added new features to its ruggedized laptop: sunlight-readable display technology, reduced reflection, enhanced contrast, and a tougher display are among the latest enhancements. Happy customers include utilities, city governments, fire departments and an Air Force base.

For those strategists who need to look at the big picture, Northrop Grumman in partnership with Applied Minds, Inc., has developed a “touch table” designed largely for planners and analysts (it has a real military flavor) who at one time might have gathered around a large rolled out paper map. Now, the Touch Table is a projection tabletop that senses the location of points that are touched so that it can manipulate location of points in real time. It allows users to operate the table by touching its surface, and to manipulate objects in order to provide collaborative input. The projected map image can be something generated by ArcGlobe or another GIS visualization tool. The Touch Table is very obviously geared for those in defense and intelligence work.

Visualizing Greater Value
In this section I will highlight some of the significant acquisitions and agreements announced at the conference, which demonstrate an increasing trend toward providing greater value of geospatial products and services for customers.

There was a noticeable trend of acquisition and partnering among imaging providers and data providers of various types. In Day Two I profiled Tele Atlas' acquisition of GDT which seeks to provide a more robust dataset with both street data and turn-by-turn data, plus U.S. and international coverage, giving their customers what they had already attempted to achieve with separate purchases.

Commercial satellite imagery provider, DigitalGlobe, and DMTI Spatial, a geospatial products and services company, are partnering to offer a co-branded satellite imagery and vector data solution.

Through this partnership, DMTI Spatial will integrate QuickBird 60-centimeter resolution satellite imagery with its road network fabric product, CanMap Streetfiles, to create 1:10,000 Ortho Mosaics of major Canadian Metropolitan Areas. DigitalGlobe and DMTI Spatial will provide the co-branded product to customers through direct sales and reseller channels beginning in September 2004.

Intermap Technologies, creators of the NEXTMap program, have entered a letter of intent to purchase AirPhotoUSA, LLC, a company with a large commercial database of seamless, digital aerial photography for the majority of the population centers of the USA. Along with the purchase comes AirPhotoUSA's customer base which represents a range of industries from real estate to government agencies to utilities.

Intermap builds national databases called NEXTMap, for which they digitally remap entire countries to produce accurate digital topographic maps. They completed NEXTMap Britain, and are working on NEXTMap USA, for which the AirPhotoUSA data will be very valuable. “Many of our customers already purchase a color image layer in conjunction with Intermap's digital elevation data,” explained Brian Bullock, Intermap's CEO. “Our goal is to coordinate data collection and rollout of new elevation data and color image layers on a state-by-state basis with several states available by 2005.” Bullock added that they anticipate having the entire USA mapped in five years.

Because Intermap is a public company, they provide an opportunity for AirPhotoUSA to grow and expand. Although it will be owned by Intermap, AirPhotoUSA will maintain its own culture and staff.

Sanborn, a geographic information system and photogrammetric services industry provider, formed a strategic alliance with Pictometry, a provider of a patented information system and related software that captures georeferenced, digital aerial oblique and orthogonal images.

The agreement will mean that the two companies will market a combined product that will offer each firm's technical expertise in an all in one solution. Sanborn will provide fully mosaicked and color balanced enhancements to Pictometry's orthogonal imagery. Pictometry will market the enhanced orthophotography images to their customer base which includes local, state, and federal government agencies as well as private organizations. Pictometry brings to the table an ease of use that is necessary to police, fire and planning department users who need to view and analyze features within their jurisdictions quickly and easily.

Space Imaging signed an exclusive agreement with International Air Transport Association (IATA) of Montreal, Canada to sell a new family of aviation geospatial products. These products have been produced from Space Imaging's IKONOS satellite, the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) and Landsat satellites.

50 different airlines make up the Board of Directors of IATA, according to Dejan Damjanovic, domain manager, air and marine transportation for Space Imaging. IATA's proprietary geospatial information combined with Space Imaging's multi-source satellite imagery will provide satellite imagery that includes visual representations of ground obstacles, and Airport Mapping Databases that conform to the aviation industry's international standard, and a visual database that goes into a simulator using photorealistic data that can be used for the desktop, flight training devices and full motion simulators. The products offer commercial aviation intelligence to any destination in the world. This is a worldwide arrangement, and agreement allows them to survey any airport in the world.

Space Imaging expects to map 1500-2000 airports annually for commercial purposes. There are plans to take the products to the marine world as well.