New Ways to Save Lives
[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
New Ways to Save Lives

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! Last week Autodesk launched their Local Government/Public Works Solution, designed to help local governments and public works agencies create, manage and share their CAD, GIS and engineering information in an Oracle environment.

A press day hosted by Autodesk in San Rafael was held to discuss the then-upcoming announcement and outline the Infrastructure Solutions Division's strategy. Read about it 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, New Products, Going on Around the Web, and Upcoming Events.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at Managing Editor

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

New Ways to Save Lives

By Susan Smith

Last week Autodesk launched their Local Government/Public Works Solution, designed to help local governments and public works agencies create, manage and share their CAD, GIS and engineering information in an Oracle environment.

A press day hosted by Autodesk in San Rafael was held to discuss the then-upcoming announcement and outline the Infrastructure Solutions Division's strategy. Chris Bradshaw, vice president of Autodesk's Infrastructure Solution Division spoke about how the infrastructure division represents $1.9 billion in software and services. The division is divided up into four segments: engineering and construction (served the longest - $200 million software), communication and utilities ($600 million software), transportation ($100 million software) and government ($500 million software). (These numbers represent what the Gartner Group has come up with).

In recent years, Autodesk has focused on very scalable solutions to accommodate both large and small customers in both segments.

Infrastructure lifecycle management at Autodesk still touts the same message: “Create manage share.” Bradshaw said that they have been focused on “create” since the beginning of the company, and are now very focused on the manage share side. “MapGuide and the Internet really opened up share, and manage is a pretty new area for us,” he said.

A new opportunity for manage presents itself in emergency response, an area Autodesk has spent the past year working on for CAD/GIS integration for firemen, policeman, and other non-traditional GIS users, who are now using MapGuide and Map3D.

The new set of solutions for the public works market leverages CAD and GIS and maintains the integrity of data, and is fully integrated with Oracle. It is also a cost effective solution out of the box. It includes individual application modules, for example, sewer, water, cadastral, drainage, electricity, roads, and map books for infrastructure data capture and management. These modules are built on Autodesk Map, Autodesk MapGuide, and Autodesk Land Desktop software. The solution is integrated with an Oracle database. The modules can be used as standalone software or can work together.

Evolution to model-based design

GIS users have used models for a long time, but for CAD users it is a relatively new concept, in spite of the fact that 3D CAD has been available for some time. The civil world is not 3D literate; “Most civil design today is developed in lines, arcs and circles,” noted Bradshaw. Last September Autodesk launched a PC based modeling product called Civil 3D, which the company believes has huge ramifications for the entire CAD/GIS industry. If civil engineers can start with the modeling process in CAD then carry it over to GIS, then the entire integration process is made much smoother.

2D to 3D migration

“The biggest challenge is helping our customers learn a new process,” Bradshaw suggested. “Help engineers design in 3D.”

One example of models being used in the civil industry is where GPS sit on top of earth moving equipment, and GPS inside equipment. A model feeds that capability, as digital terrain models have been in object oriented systems. Here you are modeling the landbase. The ROI was so great with this technology that construction companies have transformed engineers' survey data.

Over in the GIS department, there was some kind of RDBMS, and connected to it was a desktop application. “Mainstream PC stuff was about 10 years ahead of CAD. In the 80s and 90s we saw the explosion in both of these worlds,” recalled Bradshaw.

Map 3D has been made smart about talking to Oracle Spatial. Map can still write to Oracle Spatial and read from it, and also write to e:/project (the basic way many engineers still store their work). MapGuide has to go out into the field and into publishing.

Civil 3D is actually a superset of Map 3D, meaning whether you create in one or the other, they both know all about the project you are working on. It is designed for those customers who are thinking about operate manage, where their focus is out to MapGuide, the field, the public. However, there are a lot of contractual issues that will require engineers to continue to store things as t:\project. “I don't think engineers at construction firms or A/E/C firms will begin to store their civil projects on Oracle Spatial. They are not thinking of operate manage,” said Bradshaw.

If they are starting from scratch, the benefits of working out of an RDBMS are greater, for telcom, it's best to have multiple people hitting one model at once. Big database systems do that stuff well. Then you have the ability to query and analyze that you can't do on t:\ project. There is a much richer data mining world in a database.

With the database as central store they can use the same dataset. The challenge is that infrastructure is on a long lifecycle. If you have just finished a big project, nobody is thinking they are going to need the material for awhile, for maybe 10 years. Construction management is involved in a process of doing things with t:\ project. Bradshaw said there probably won't be much change in this market segment for the next ten years.

Operate manage will be more inclined to use RDBMS and facilitate what GIS can do with data.

Which customer segments driving Autodesk to develop these solutions?

Telco utilities are leading the RDBMS solutions and need this change the most. Governments are next. Governments are not totally motivated by ROI and TCO; they are not just focused on efficiency, according to Bradshaw. There is political involvement as well.

Standards and Interoperability

How to work the vision in a heterogeneous environment as well as a homogeneous environment:

We should allow our customers to share that data from disparate systems.

The Importance of Interoperability:
- Interoperability is the ability to share info based on a common open agreed format (similar to human language)
- More engineering and GIS data are made available daily.
- Open GIS consortium
- Autodesk principle member
- Attend all TC and PC meetings of the specifications program
- Specifications programs- abstract specifications , SFO, CRS, GML, OWS.
- Working groups ILM WG, GovWG, OGC Europe
- Implemented various specifications in our products, Map3D, MapGuide, AGDS, FDO
Customers are asking for OGC specifications so they can interoperate.

LandXML Version 1.0 is an industry-driven, open XML data exchange standard that provides interoperability in more than 40 software applications serving the civil engineering, survey and transportation industries. The Industry Consortium, initiated by Autodesk, now has over 225 member companies/government agencies as committed members with over 291 representatives from over 20 countries.

An example is a survey data standard for Land Information New Zealand's Landonline
- World's first online national cadastral system
- Ability to seamlessly transform civil engineering info in a LandXML format to GIS oriented Land GML information.
The Interoperability Initiative, an agreement penned between Oracle, Autodesk, Intergraph, MapInfo and Laserscan, includes the ability to represent text and oriented point features in an Oracle database.

Infrastructure for Enterprise Integration

Jim Farley, senior principal product manager for Server Technologies, Oracle Corporation, spoke about the Infrastructure for Enterprise Integration, giving an overview of Oracle 10g:

Oracle 10g
     Location enabled platform
Delivering solutions to the enterprise
     Autodesk Oracle
     Real world solutions

Enterprise adoption key:
- augmenting or enhancing core
- business processes without disrupting
- exiting workflows is a key to broader mainstream use of location in business
Farley stressed that 10g “adds value without disruption.”

Infrastructure requirements:
general IT geospatial
scalability embrace open standards driving broader community
replication versioning manage all data
high availability support multiple data models (vector, raster, networks)
performance must integrate with existing core business workflows

There is a focus on commodity computing with 10g.

Enterprise grid computing - what is it?
- Improved resource utilization
- Manageability
- Lower cost computing
- It is not the academic grid
- Working smarter not harder
Enterprise grid computing
- Standardize on low cost components
- Consolidate on shared resources
- Automate management operations
- No volumes, just a pool of storage
- Partitions total disk space into uniform sized MB units
- Efficient, online add/remove of disk with automatic load balancing
Oracle began with address geocoding and vector geometry and has now built the platform horizontally to include more functionality that provides georaster network data model persistent topology.

The georaster data type was the biggest piece missing from data types. Oracle 10g stores raster image and grid data, DEM and other grid based data, pyramids, tiling and georeferencing to pixel, 100+ DBA and user methods cropping, mosaicking, etc., scalability is tested with image objects to 1.2 terabyte. It supports solutions in land based asset management, energy exploration, defense, natural resource management and precision farming.

The network data model is the basis for doing things quickly. A data model stores the network graph structure in the database. It explicitly stores and maintains connectivity of the network with attributes at link and node level.

The routing engine offers persistent topology, where there is no redundant storage of data. Data is consistent and topological relationships are easily determined.

Embedded Oracle

Interesting news from Oracle and Autodesk is the embedding of Oracle in Autodesk solutions. Autodesk has been working with Oracle on “invisible” Oracle or personal Oracle, meaning embedded Oracle where they can put a mapping interface on spatial information. Autodesk and Oracle have about 70 overlapping customers. There is value in leveraging location in the enterprise, where you need to manage different types of data, lifecycle data, etc., that will change according to some kind of business process going on around them, and where there is a requirement for scalable access for different users with different roles.

Business objectives for these customers include 1) a desire to increase levels of efficiency. One way to make money in business is not spend so much. 2) a desire to improve quality of service.

The Czech Ministry of Agriculture is an example of where the government needed to be able to assess the eligibility of land for the European Union agricultural support program.

Solution: Oracle Spatial and Autodesk MapGuide. It only took 8 training hours to update users, it was scalable and had integration support with an SAP interface. It also runs on an inexpensive low end Intel server.

“We (Autodesk) see no need to replicate topology models -- we would rather focus on applications that query that data in the model,” said Bradshaw.

Tiberon Fire Department

Part of our visit to Autodesk included a visit to the Tiberon Fire Department, where we met with Ed Lynch, who showed us their truck outfitted with a two-screen Panasonic Toughbook to replace thick binders that took up a great deal of space and were cumbersome to handle. Twelve years ago the department changed over to a digital mapping system. “The payoff has been significant,” claimed Lynch.

The department plans to put Toughbooks in all their trucks. Their first priority was to get the primary first responder vehicle up and running then next, the engines. “Our biggest problem today is being asked to handle a multitude of tasks,” said Lynch. “We have new people to train in just a few short years.”

The impetus for going with the technology was because in California, fire departments are losing 50 percent of their firefighters to retirement. “As they go, a huge database goes out the door,” lamented Lynch. “Our top goals were to harness that information and get it into a usable format. We can't get newcomers to learn a 30-year career in a few years. Now I can train a captain in one hour and make him and others safer.” He said they also had to wait for technology to catch up with their needs, such as the ruggedized computers.

“The old way was to have a command post responsible for coordinating activities,” Lynch explained. “Now we need to get information out into the field, and assign resources, and have reminders of things to key us in; we need information on shutting down utilities such as electrical…”

They are using wireless now, and “AT&T wireless is getting better,” Lynch said. Also they use Autodesk Pre-Plan and Autodesk Pre-Plan Command software applications, which allow the department to turn complex architectural drawings into an easy-to-understand component of tactical and fire attack preplans. According to the press release, “Autodesk Pre-Plan and Autodesk Pre-Plan Command were developed as declutter and cleanup tools that help emergency response professionals prepare floor plans for use in emergency response planning, training, and during emergency situations. These tools enable emergency response professionals to quickly erase layers of unnecessary building data, clearly rename saved layers, and drop in standard or customized police, HAZMAT, locator, and firefighting symbols that first responders rely upon. These are two software components of the Autodesk emergency response solution.”

Autodesk Pre-Plan Command runs on Autodesk Map 2004 software and is sold separately. Built on the AutoCAD 2004 OEM platform, Autodesk Pre-Plan is a low-cost, stand-alone product. Both products are fully DWG compatible.

The department has a district map on the computer with all relational information such as schools, hydrants and maps on it. Any responding company can see the map at the same time if they go to the website. Occupants can also get data on hazardous material here. “We can allow access to outside agencies where needed,” said Lynch. Since most commercial development is done in CAD, Lynch added, “we can use these documents and can add them to our database.” They have two AutoCAD users onsite who can enter the documents and data. “We can get orthophotos, load them into the mapping system, see the fire travel and know how to respond.”

The fire department is standardizing their mapping format so that they have better coordination with the police, water district, and PG&E and is working towards getting everyone to use the same database. One person maintains all the maps at the fire department. “We can't get along without the technology now,” claimed Lynch.

The technology is also being used as a training tool, and shifts can come in and walk through a training session using models of different incident responses, structure fires, wildland fires and insurance information.

Currently, half of the force are trained to use the system. “Five years ago we had to field verify information,” Lynch said. “Now almost every new person coming in is twice as tech savvy.”

The Marin County area is notably very tech rich, and according to Lynch, “There is no reason not to have the best - we live in an affluent area. Autodesk is right here; we're competitive.” Tiberon Fire Department is also the recipient of a Homeland Security technology grant.

Acquisitions /Alliances/Agreements

Mannion Geosystems, experts in ArcSDE system integration and performance management, announced that it has joined the ESRI Business Partner Program. Adding to its existing credentials as a member of the ESRI Authorized Training Program, its new status as a Consultant member of the Business Partner Program marks a milestone in the young company's growth.

Arc Second, Inc., the developer of INDOOR GPS(R) products, announced a major new technology/product partnership with ROMER CimCore. These recent marketing and development efforts from ROMER CimCore and other metrology industry leaders signal the rapidly growing acceptance of INDOOR GPS as the measurement technology of the future.


ORBIMAGE Inc. (“ORBIMAGE”) announced that its OrbView-2 satellite recently passed its seventh successful year of operations with an unprecedented availability rate of over 98%.

Earth Resource Mapping Ltd. announced that their Master Reseller Umweltdata Ges.m.b.H., responsible for much of Central and Eastern Europe, has recently appointed two new resellers to expand the sales and support centres for their core products ER Mapper, ECW image format and Image Web Server.

URISA is pleased to announce the dates for the 9th Annual Integrating GIS & CAMA Conference, the specialty conference jointly sponsored with the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). The 2005 conference will take place February 15-18 in Savannah, Georgia.

Ecobuild America premieres June 20-23, 2005 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Focused on the needs of the expanding green building market, the unique event combines sustainable building techniques with the technology that supports the entire process from concept, through design, construction and long-term operation.
For information about exhibiting, presenting at, or attending Ecobuild America, call 1-800-996-3863, fax 1-508-790-4750 or visit

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced it has awarded the University of Calgary, Department of Computer Science, Visualization and Interactive Computing Laboratory, an Intergraph Education Grant with a commercial value of more than $2.6 million (U.S.). The software grant includes multiple licenses of GeoMedia(R) Professional, GeoMedia WebMap Professional, GeoMedia Transaction Manager, Dynamo and DynaGEN. The University of Calgary's Department of Computer Science has initiated innovative academic courses and research projects in various areas of computer science. The Computer Science Department, the largest department within the University of Calgary's Faculty of Science, currently has approximately 1200 students.

Adoption of the “ASPRS Lidar Guidelines - Vertical Accuracy Reporting for Lidar Data V1.0” was approved by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Board of Directors in May 2004. This is the first in a series of guidelines to be published by ASPRS covering the emerging technology of lidar and its use in the mapping sciences. Created by the ASPRS Lidar Committee's Working Group on lidar guidelines and standards, the guidelines have undergone a public review process and represent the best practices and reporting methods endorsed by ASPRS when working with lidar-derived elevation data.

Director Chip Groat announced the creation of a National Geospatial Programs Office. The move to transfer The National Map from the Geography Discipline to the Geospatial Information Office (GIO) will allow existing expertise in the field of geography at the USGS to focus attention on geographic research and enhance USGS leadership in both geospatial programs and geographic research.

Photon Research Associates in cooperation with Skyline Software Systems, i-cubed and LeadDog Consulting have created a web-based interactive 3D 'fly-through' of Athens Greece. Go to and navigate to specific venues or follow one of the predefined routes through the city.

The visual terrain data set includes DigitalGlobe 60 centimeter imagery processed by i-cubed, a 25 meter digital elevation model based on ASTER imagery from i-cubed, and vectors extracted by LeadDog. Skyline created the 3D model from this data using its TerraSuite product line.

Image courtesy of DigitalGlobe
DigitalGlobe® announced it has before and after satellite imagery of the Florida Gulf Coast (including Punta Gorda) area that was devastated by Hurricane Charley over the weekend. The 2-foot resolution imagery was collected on August 14, 2004 by QuickBird, the industry's highest resolution imaging satellite owned and operated by DigitalGlobe. New imagery covering disaster areas will be provided upon request. DigitalGlobe is making high-resolution before and after satellite imagery of the Florida Coast, specifically Punta Gorda, available free to the media. The “before” imagery was collected by DigitalGlobe's technologically superior satellite, QuickBird, on March 23, 2004. The “after” imagery was collected on August 14, 2004.

ITT Industries, Inc. (NYSE: ITT) announced it has completed its purchase of the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) business from Eastman Kodak Company for $725 million in cash. The acquisition significantly broadens ITT Industries' well-established space payload and service product offering for U.S. military as well as other government, commercial and scientific customers. The RSS business is a leading supplier of high-resolution satellite imaging systems and information services. The combination of the two businesses will create a full-spectrum satellite payload provider with the latest visible and infrared satellite imaging technology to serve the $6 billion remote sensing market.

The Spatial Technologies Industry Association (STIA) announced that the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) has agreed to be a Cooperating Sponsor of STIA's SPATIAL-TECH 20004 national policy symposium and exhibition. SPATIAL-TECH 2004, which is STIA's annual event to identify, articulate, and champion the interests of the evolving integrated spatial technologies industry, will be held at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Hotel in Orlando, Florida from September 26 to 29, 2004.


PCI Geomatics announced that Dr. Robert Moses, president and CEO of PCI Geomatics has been appointed Vice Chair of the Ontario Centres for Excellence (OCE). Dr. Moses brings a wealth of experience to this new position and a dedication to promoting the geospatial industry as an important technology base in Ontario.

VARGIS, LLC announced that Mr. Ben Davenport has joined the company as a GIS Solutions Architect. This addition expands VARGIS' capabilities in the development, design, and support of GIS database and software solutions. Mr. Davenport, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, brings both government and corporate solutions experience to the VARGIS team. According to Mr. Greg Tilley, President of VARGIS, “We are making strategic additions to our staff to respond to expanding requirements from our clients. We are very pleased to find someone of Ben's caliber to fill this role.”

URISA is pleased to announce the results of its 2004 Board of Directors Election. Cindy Domenico will become President-Elect of the association and Eric Bohard, Shoreh Elhami, and Allen Ibaugh will begin their three-year terms as members of the Board of Directors, at the close of URISA's 42nd Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada this November.

New Products

Leica Geosystems has introduced a new series of accurate, powerful and reliable GPS reference station receivers based on its next-generation System 1200 technology. The GRX1200 and GRX1200Pro incorporate Leica's exclusive 12 L1 + 12 L2 SmartTrack GPS measurement engine.

New maps available from OmniMap of Argentina, Kenya, Greece and more. The August New Map Arrivals listing is now up on at OmniMap's website.

Individuals from Xybernaut as well as Team Xybernaut partners demonstrated wearable technology capabilities including the use of GIS, location-based technologies, WiFi/wireless communications and on-body computing at ESRI. Xybernaut solutions were shown as unique and flexible alternatives to PCs, laptops, Tablet PCs and hand-held/PDAs.

Users in need of comprehensive and current geo-demographic datasets for Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and China can obtain these from Geoscape International at
Thales announced the North American availability of the new Magellan® eXplorist™ 100, the first GPS handheld to give navigators the confidence of knowing where they are within 10 feet for the highest level of accuracy at the low cost of US$99.

ArcGIS™ 9.x users can now enjoy the benefits of EasySVG™, the comprehensive tool for publishing interactive web-maps. QinetiQ have created a new version compatible with the latest release of ArcGIS. Both the Professional and Standard evaluation versions are now available to download at , with installations for existing ArcGIS™ 8.x users and those who have upgraded to 9.x. In addition, EasySVG™ for ArcGIS™ now supports a full range of Unicode characters, enabling map features with attributes that use non-English characters. As a special introductory offer, the price of both versions is being reduced by 20%. This discount is only available on orders processed before October 31st 2004.

DeLorme announced plans to release TopoWorld, a high-performance map resource providing a three-dimensional view of 14.25 meter color satellite imagery, elevation, and vector map data throughout the world. The product will be provided on a portable external hard drive.

Upcoming Events

Western Pennsylvania GIS Conference 2004
Date: August 27, 2004
Place: California University of Pennsylvania CA USA
The Earth Sciences Department at California University of Pennsylvania is hosting the 5th annual Western PA GIS conference. This conference is sponsored by California University of PA, Allegheny County, University of Pittsburgh, URISA-CAC, Thinformation, PA Geographical Society, PASDA, West Liberty State College (WV) and ESRI.

URISA's Sixth Annual GIS in Addressing Conference
Date: August 29 - September 1, 2004
Place: St. Louis, MO USA
The Conference focuses on all aspects of addressing - integration into existing systems, user-friendly information systems, solutions to problems, and newly emerging challenges. This Conference will bring together participants with a rich diversity of experience. Last year's program featured over 50 unique presentations and was enjoyed by almost 200 attendees.

GIM 2004
Date: September 2 - 3, 2004
Place: Zaragoza, Spain
The aim of GIM 2004 is to present innovative research and development contributions in the context of Geographic Information Management. GIM should inspire a fruitful dialogue between developers, users, expert scientists working in this field.

Date: September 2 - 5, 2004
Place: Villach, Austria
The Fourth Annual European GIS Education Seminar

NSGIC 2004 Annual Conference
Date: September 12 - 16, 2004
Place: Hyatt Regency Austin 208 Barton Springs, Austin, TX USA
The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) is an organization of States committed to efficient and effective government through the prudent adoption of geospatial information technologies. Members of NSGIC include delegations of senior state geographic information system managers from across the United States. Other members include representatives from federal agencies, local government, the private sector, academia and other professional organizations.

Images to Decisions: Remote Sensing Foundations for GIS Applications
Date: September 12 - 16, 2004
Place: Kansas City, MO USA
he Fall 2004 ASPRS Specialty Conference "Images to Decisions; Remote Sensing Foundations for GIS Applications" will focus on the integration of remote sensing image data into GIS and Decision Support Systems (DSS). The intended audience is the GIS practitioner who needs information about the extraction and use of data and products derived from airborne and satellite sensors.

IMTA (Americas) 2004 Annual Conference & Trade Show
Date: September 19 - 22, 2004
Place: Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World Lake Buena Vista, FL USA