November 29, 2004
GIS Expo in Albuquerque - Focus on Mobile GIS
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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From ESRI-Denver, David Vaillaincourt spoke on "Integrating Field and Office with Mobile GIS."


According to Vaillaincourt, mobile GIS components include:
  • Hardware in the form of lightweight devices or ruggedized PCs
  • GIS software and applications
  • Spatial data
  • GPS
  • Wireless communication network
  • Mobile uses include data collection, validation and maintenance of existing data, and providing relevant information to field personnel - all things that the Doña Ana County project utilized.


    By now we all know the areas where mobile GIS adds value - in reducing redundant data entry, maintaining data integrity, putting information into the hands of those who work in the field and overall savings in time, money, and data integrity.


    But mobile technology is advancing rapidly and products such as software tailored to the field, hardware that is designed for use in the field, improved GPS devices, and greater wireless access are all helping to shape the technology into a must-have for field personnel (also for in-vehicle use) in many disciplines.


    What potential customers need to consider in the way of software includes: user interface, data sources, editing capabilities, analysis functions and deployment cost.


    Hardware considerations include portability, ruggedness, water resistance, screen size, sunlight readability, memory, disk space, GPS, wireless and price. Some of the options available now are Windows mobile devices, Pocket PC, handheld GPS, Tablet PC, and laptop PC.


    ESRI products for mobile GIS include--
    • ArcPad and ArcPad Application Builder-run on handheld unit such as the Pocket PC
    • ArcGIS desktop tool bars facilitating mobile uses
    • MapObjects - Java and Windows

    • Can be served to cell or wireless

    • ArcGIS Engine developer objects used to create custom apps
    • ArcIMS serves data to any wireless client
    • ArcGIS Server offers more complete functionality than IMS.
    • As seen in the D.A.C. story, ArcPad is designed for use strictly in the field, for tasks requiring simple geographic tools such as adding/updating objects in the field, validating on the ground and for use on handheld and mobile systems. It also supports raster and vector data, map navigation - zoom /pan, data querying, simple editing, GPS navigation and /or data capture, and uses custom forms for editing.


      Another case study outlined the use of an ArcPad application developed in North Carolina to track mosquito breeding sites in the southern part of the state. The 'Mosquito Mobile' application, as it was called, was developed with custom forms. Because of the surge in West Nile Virus, particularly in very wet areas, this study undertook the search for areas of intense mosquito breeding. With only six buttons on an IPAQ, users could drop down seven or more custom forms. They could then enter a new site inspection; each site has an inspection and view inspections for each site. The site ID - a ditch stream, low area pond, and water depth and larval density count --were some characteristics
      that could be added to describe the area.


      ArcGIS Desktop has a number of tools and toolbars designed for mobile uses. With it, users can take data from the desktop application out into the field, and also take tools out into the field.


      ArcPad tools for ArcGIS Desktop allow data to the field and back to ArcMap. Their capabilities include: extracting data from the ArcGIS desktop, ability to make edits in the field using ArcPad, and importing edits to ArcGIS. The GPS tools for ArcGIS Desktop capture GPS data in to ArcMap


      Real time GPS in ArcMap features
      • user defined symbol and manipulation
      • store as log files
      • "Disconnected editing," about which we heard at the ESRI UC this past August, requires RDBMS (SDE) or ArcSDE.


        With ArcPad Tools for ArcGIS you can take shapefiles and export them to feature class and vice versa, and take data out of the geodatabase as well as put it in.


        Shapefiles are edited on a handheld and then checked back into the enterprise level geodatabase and personal database.


        ArcGIS Desktop and disconnected editing (only used by people using ArcSDE) creates a version or workspace where you can make changes to data and share with everyone else.


        This version is a 'checkout version' that the user takes from the enterprise geodatabase to their personal geodatabase and can edit, make changes and check it back in. This is all done in the ArcCatalog part of ArcSDE. At this point the audience saw a demo of someone driving to the office in Denver and backing into a parking space. He had a Tablet PC with a GPS attached to it on his truck seat. On the tablet he could see his route to work traced on his ArcMap document. This was simulated because the data for the demo had been previously collected, but you got the general idea.


        ArcGIS Engine, ArcGIS Server and IMS-


        These two products were profiled as they are important to the mobile GIS user community.


        ArcGIS Engine is a new developer tool for custom ESRI applications which uses ArcObjects, the same as the desktop products. It has a read/write API for editing the geodatabase.


        ArcGIS Engine is popular because of its low price tag and the fact that it can be taken out into the field. However, what many users may not realize is that it is still expensive and time consuming to develop the applications.


        A demo ensued that showed someone at a utility checking for rust on water tanks. He made an annotation with his pen on the Tablet PC, then would load it back into ArcMap. It could be converted into text but "most likely they'll take it out in the field again," said Villaincourt. The annotations can be saved as feature classes. You can also redline notes and turn on and off that feature to show the annotations which will then be saved in the geodatabase.


        ArcGIS Server is for more heavyweight applications and includes Tablet PC tools for ArcGIS, an actual toolbar that allows you to
        • do redlining and markup on your tablet, integrate digital ink, create notes, sketch diagrams
        • Tie to geographic location
        • Highlight features
        • Text recognition
        • Stores as annotation features calss
        • Is part of ArcGIS Desktop 9
        • Lastly, ArcIMS distributes geographic data via the internet to a variety of clients, serves images and GIS query results, uses MapObjects, Windows and Java.



          Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements


          IceWEB(TM), Inc., provider of integrated enterprise networking and security solutions, content delivery software, and related professional consulting services, announced that it has entered into a letter of intent to acquire PlanGraphics(TM), Inc. (PNK:PGRA) by way of merger in consideration of an exchange ICEW common shares, for PGRA common shares. The acquisition, which is subject to negotiation and execution of binding definitive documents, satisfaction of certain conditions precedent, approval by the PlanGraphics, Inc. shareholders, and other ordinary and customary closing conditions for a transaction of this type, is anticipated to close before the end of IceWEB's second quarter.


          NavCom Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary of Deere & Company (NYSE:DE), announced that Geo Info Strategies has been named dealer providing NavCom Technology GPS receivers for Cadastral, Topographic Mapping and Integration of GPS sensors in GIS oriented public safety and Risk Management applications.


          Analytical Surveys, Inc. (ASI), a provider of utility-industry data collection, creation and management services for the geographic information system (GIS) markets, commented on recent trading activity in its common stock and the conversion of the Company's senior secured convertible promissory note held by Tonga Partners, L.P.



          Announcements


          Bentley Systems, Incorporated, announced that Reynolds, Smith and Hills, Inc. (RS&H), an architectural, engineering, planning, and environmental services firm based in Jacksonville, Florida., has joined Bentley's Enterprise License Subscription (ELS) program.


          "Help us help you by taking a two-minute survey at
          www.bentley.com/AutoCADusers/retirementsurvey," said Bentley Systems to all AutoCAD users facing Autodesk's forced retirement of their AutoCAD 2000i and AutoCAD LT 2000i products. Bentley will use the survey responses to tailor its upgrade program, which will include special program pricing and services, to the needs of these AutoCAD users.


          For the fifth consecutive year, the Great Place to Work Institute has named McCormick Taylor, a leading consulting firm offering engineering, planning, environmental, and communications and management services, one of the best places to work in Pennsylvania.


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