DigitalGlobe Acquires GlobeXplorer
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DigitalGlobe Acquires GlobeXplorer

Welcome to GISWeekly! This week’s big news included DigitalGlobe’s acquisition of GlobeXplorer, a leading geographic data integration and publishing company, from Stewart REI Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Stewart Information Services, Corp. 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, Top News of the Week, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Financials, Services, New Products, Around the Web and Events Calendar.

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Industry News
DigitalGlobe Acquires GlobeXplorer
by Susan Smith

This week’s big news included DigitalGlobe’s acquisition of GlobeXplorer, a leading geographic data integration and publishing company, from Stewart REI Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Stewart Information Services, Corp.

Home Reef, Tonga
Images Collected November 24 and December 5, 2006
These are natural color, 60-centimeter (2-foot) high-resolution QuickBird satellite images featuring the formation of a new island in the archipelago. Image courtesy of DigitalGlobe

Chuck Herring, Director, Corporate Communications for DigitalGlobe, said that the combination of the two companies creates the most complete, current provider of high resolution digital earth imagery and products. “We’ve been focused on transforming our company, which focuses on commercial high resolution satellite imagery. For the first years of operation we rolled out our product to the marketplace but focused on the satellite itself, i.e., the capabilities, satellites, spatial resolution, and accuracy. It has been a features marketplace.”

Herring said DigitalGlobe is now viewing itself as a content company. “Two major initiatives have been around coverage and accessibility. This acquisition will accelerate our efforts to have a more complete provider with not only the satellite imagery but the content that GlobeXplorer brings us, such as from the AirPhotoUSA libraries. They have a substantial amount of coverage from not only high resolution aerial but medium resolution satellite imagery. That, coupled with our imagery, accelerates us to become a more complete provider.”

Internet mapping is driving the need for completeness of coverage, Herring said. Customers want to know if their area of concern is covered, is the imagery available and up-to-date. Besides more complete coverage, the combination of DigitalGlobe and GlobeXplorer provides an integrated web-based delivery platform for delivering geospatial information and products.

“The other area that we really focused on is accessibility because what we’ve focused on in initial operations have been traditional users of satellite imagery or aerial imagery who call and ask us if we have a particular area of coverage, and we search the library. This is known as a ‘discreet buying pattern.’ If we don’t have it we let you know when we can catch the satellite to collect your information. It may take weeks or months to get all your areas collected. Once we have collected it we put it on some kind of physical media, DVD or firewire, then it’s up to the end user. Generally we’re dealing with the government or other very savvy users who have the capabilities to take that product, host it, integrate into their workflow. As we move forward we’re finding especially in the commercial realm and many government realms, they don’t have the capability to take all of that data and host it all themselves. What they want is easy access to that data.” Subscriptions can also provide access to imagery and data that you can either host outside your enterprise system or build on top of your application.

Last week DigitalGlobe announced that Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation is building WorldView 2. According to the press release WorldView 2, the third satellite in DigitalGlobe’s constellation of spacecraft, offers the highest collection capacity of Earth imagery, and is the only next generation system to be built independent of U.S. Government financing. WorldView 2 is the third remote-sensing satellite built by Ball Aerospace for DigitalGlobe, and this satellite fits in with DigitalGlobe’s focus on overall capacity and completeness of coverage.

With the growing number and importance of internet mapping and geographic exploration systems and their ensuing search for content, this acquisition of GlobeXplorer by DigitalGlobe is not surprising.

Herring said that because of Google Earth more people are aware of satellite imagery and geospatial content and seek to integrate them into their workflow. “There’s a level they can accomplish within the free internet applications and geospatial content, but many of them need more information -- more coverage, more up-to-date imagery, or they need the actual product for the spectral capabilities, metadata, and the accuracies that come with the core product offering,” Herring pointed out. “We’ve heard from customers across the board is that Google and Microsoft have done for the industry in a year what the industry hasn’t done in a decade.”

This increased awareness has spawned numerous new users such as non-traditional agencies that may not have used geospatial content or satellite imagery before. The U.S. government as well as foreign governments have increased their demand for satellite and aerial imagery, as well as geospatial content. This new range of users also includes organizations in the commercial, civil government, defense and intelligence communities. In response, DigitalGlobe is increasing its coverage and ability to deliver imagery to those non-traditional users, both in the government and the commercial marketplace.

Both DigitalGlobe and GlobeXplorer are privately held, and DigitalGlobe may be looking toward an IPO in two years or sooner if the market warrants it. Also interesting to note is the fact that DigitalGlobe is partnered with Google to provide imagery for Google Earth, while GeoEye is partnered with Microsoft to provide imagery for Microsoft Virtual Earth.

Top News of the Week

1Spatial (formerly known as Laser-Scan) is delighted to announce that their Product Director, Graham Stickler, has been chosen to Chair a new Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) Working Group on Data Quality.

A motion has been unanimously passed at the OGC Technical Committee Meeting in San Diego, California, to create a Working Group (WG) with specific focus on spatial data quality. Graham Stickler of 1Spatial was elected Chair of this WG, with Patrick Cunningham, President of Blue Marble Geographics as the Vice-Chair.

MapQuest Business Solutions, a provider of enterprise software for location based services, announced the launch of its MapQuest(R) Advantage API(TM) v5 (AAPI 5.0) platform, which enables businesses to integrate high-powered, location-based technology into their web and wireless applications.

Serving key industries such as real estate, retail, hospitality, healthcare, transportation, insurance and banking, AAPI 5.0 not only introduces much sought-after new features like "grab and pan," aerial imagery and hybrid views, it also provides an overall interface that is much easier to deploy and use. The platform's new AJAX interface allows developers to quickly and easily location-enable their applications.

Trimble introduced its GuideWorx GPS(TM) application, further extending its Trimble Outdoors(TM) suite of GPS-on-cellular applications and demonstrating the company's leading position in the location-based applications space. GuideWorx GPS transforms a mobile phone into a powerful handheld GPS device specifically designed for both on- and off-road navigation. For the first time, consumers can completely manage their outdoor experiences -- from receiving content-rich trip planning information, to on-the-go driving and recreational navigation, along with sharing these experiences online, using one ultra-portable and cost-effective cellular device.

Alliances/Acquisitions/Agreements

Garmin Ltd. announced that it has acquired location based services provider Digital Cyclone Inc. ("DCI") for $45 million in cash. The acquisition is expected to be accretive to Garmin Ltd. earnings in 2007.

DCI has been an early mover in the emerging location based services market offering weather solutions for consumers, outdoor enthusiasts, and pilots on a subscription based model that are delivered to customers in partnership with top national wireless carriers as well as regional carriers. DCI is located in Minnetonka, Minnesota and employs approximately 20 people including management, marketing/sales, and product development.

Pixxures, Inc., a leading provider of aerial mapping, and Web mapping services has been contracted by TLI Solutions, Inc. to provide scanning, georeferencing and orthorectification of historical aerial photography for the Army Corps of Engineers.

This multi-phase project commenced in January of 2005. In total, TLI Solutions will provide Pixxures with over 2,000 historical images of Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS). The enhanced historical imagery and data will support the creation of various GIS layers for environmental projects.

Tele Atlas, global provider of digital maps and dynamic content for navigation and location based solutions, and MCH GeoPoints, a leading compiler of geospatially-enabled institutional databases, announced an agreement to integrate MCH GeoPoints' data within Tele Atlas' digital maps and points of interest (POI) products. Through the agreement, federal, state and local governments and commercial enterprises such as insurance and utility companies will have access to the highly accurate and up-to-date information for their mission-critical, map-based applications.

Intergraph Corporation and Sanborn, a leader in the geospatial industry, announced an agreement for the procurement of four Intergraph Z/I Imaging(R) DMC(R) Digital Mapping Cameras and end-to-end processing capabilities for all Sanborn aerial mapping locations.

Announcements

Intermap Technologies Corp. announced they have joined the effort to search for a missing Adam Air Boeing 737-400 that vanished off radar screens in Indonesia on January 1 with 102 people on board. Radio contact was lost during heavy rain while en route from Surabaya on Java island to Manado on Sulawesi island.

CH2M HILL’s Enterprise Spatial Solutions (ESS) business announced the availability of a white paper issued by IDC focusing on the business’ role in sustainable spatially integrated solutions and consulting. CH2M HILL’s Enterprise Spatial Solutions business is a global practice within the firm’s Enterprise Management Solutions business group.
To access this paper, visit CH2M Hill ESS.

Financials

MapInfo Corporation, global provider of location intelligence solutions, will hold its first quarter fiscal 2007 conference call on Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 4:45 p.m. EST / 1:45 p.m. PST. The conference call will be Webcast live at www.mapinfo.com/investors or www.investorcalendar.com. The first quarter earnings announcement will be issued at 4:00 p.m. EST on February 1, 2007.

An audio replay of the call will be available starting at 6:00 p.m. EST on February 1, 2007 through February 8, 2007. To access the recording, domestic callers may dial into 877-519-4471 and international callers into 973-341-3080 (passcode: 8309693).

Replays of the Webcast are also available for 90 days following the call at Investor Calendar and at MapInfo Investors.

Awards

Last month, GIS and Information Technology Departments across the United States participated in the 3rd annual Freeance Applications Awards Contest. From the numerous, web-based GIS Freeance applications submitted, the following entries received Best Application Awards. Freeance Applications listed below were built in-house using existing databases and ESRI map server resources.

Escambia County Florida was awarded for having the Most Customized Interfaces. Escambia County has built 12 different applications since purchasing Freeance just last summer. Of these 12 different Freeance applications each of the five County Commissioners has their own customized site. Two of the specific applications entered were a facilities management site and the other a flood mapping application. The facilities management application allows users to enter the web site through a login, create new locations of facilities or update existing locations with the Freeance markup tools. These markup features are exported into a data file that is incorporated into the main GIS database.

Services

TeleNav unveiled the first mobile phone-based GPS navigation service with intelligent traffic notification and rerouting functionality at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Sprint customers using TeleNav GPS Navigator, a turn-by-turn, GPS-enabled voice and on-screen navigation service, will have access to TeleNav Traffic(TM), a new capability that regularly monitors traffic and proactively alerts users of slowdowns and incidents along their routes. With just one click, TeleNav Traffic will reroute users in order to minimize travel time, taking into account the latest traffic conditions.

New Products

NAVTEQ, a global provider of digital maps for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, is announcing it will be demonstrating the capability to deliver its traffic solutions over HD Radio(TM) systems.

The primary features of HD Radio include the additional bandwidth and the reliability of digital transmission; in the near future, NAVTEQ expects to be taking advantage of the bandwidth by offering content beyond traffic data. Currently, NAVTEQ Traffic can be delivered over satellite networks, mobile cellular networks, analog FM radio networks (RDS) and soon Internet and HD Radio systems.

Microsoft Corp. announced that it will begin to update the Virtual Earth(TM) online mapping platform with new, more detailed U.S. imagery under an agreement with GlobeXplorer LLC, a leading global provider of aerial and satellite images. The deal is part of Microsoft's ongoing efforts to bring consumers the most up-to-date content and help them easily explore broader geographic areas through the Live Search Map Service, which is powered by Virtual Earth.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS), in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is pleased to announce the upcoming release of the TerraLook data product. TerraLook consists of a collection of JPEG images created from ASTER images from the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center and Landsat Orthorectified images from the USGS EROS archive.

Edgetech America, Inc. is pleased to announce its MapSpeller™ for ArcGIS® extension. The extension is for all ArcGIS Desktop users who want to avoid the embarrassment, delays and costs of typos on their maps. Before printing, MapSpeller quickly checks for, and suggests corrections to, spelling errors in and around GIS maps using patent-pending processes. Simple to install and easy to use, MapSpeller is an ingenious and effective tool that will quickly pay for itself by saving users the cost of expensive reprints.

Around the Web


Open source leader leaving Novell for Google, Stephen Shankland, CNET News.com Jeremy Allison, a high-profile open-source programmer, has resigned from Novell because of objections over its patent deal with Microsoft and is moving to Google.

Upcoming Events

Second Annual ESRI Asia-Pacific User Conference
Date: January 18 - 19, 2007
Place: Taj Palace Hotel Convention Centre
NewDelhi, India
ESRI India invites you to the Second ESRI Asia-Pacific User Conference on the 18th and 19th of January, 2007 at Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, India. The User conference brings together both individual and organizational users of ESRI Geographic Information Systems and Services. GIS usage has expanded to various new areas, ESRI has been at the forefront in this arena.
   
MAPPS Winter Conference 2007
Date: January 21 - 25, 2007
Place: Naples Grande Resort & Club
FL USA
Conventional vertical imagery for photogrammetric mapping has been a mainstay of the profession for decades. While cameras, sensors, plotters and software have evolved, the vertical photograph has been a constant.
   
Map World Forum 2007
Date: January 22 - 25, 2007
Place: Hyderabad International Convention Centre
Hydrabad, India
MAP WORLD FORUM will be a medium of convergence of various stakeholders of global geospatial community and its integration with end users of geospatial information. Map World Forum will be a combination of activities in the form of seminars, workshops and panel discussions covering technology to policy to user oriented themes at global level.
   
DGI Europe 2007
Date: January 23 - 25, 2007 
Place: QE II Conference Centre
Westminster, London, United Kingdom 
DGI (Defence Geospatial Intelligence) is the annual European event for the Military Geospatial Intelligence community, bringing together government, industry, and military leaders together with leading suppliers and industry experts.
   
GIS Integration Strategy and Direction
Date: February 7, 2007 
Place: via WebEx
USA
Accela’s free Webinars (online seminars) offer valuable information for everyone from current customers to interested prospects. In addition to live Webinars, some events will be recorded and posted online for viewing at your convenience. Minimum requirements to attend are an Internet connection and phone line.
ILMF 2007
Date: February 12 - 13, 2007
Place: Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel
Baltimore, MD USA
The International LIDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) has become the premier event for the LIDAR industry. This "Summit" is the gathering of industry leaders, pioneers, experts from government, academia, and professionals from myriad industries looking to invest in, and benefit from, LIDAR technology and services.