November 22, 2004
Earth Imaging for Commercial and Civilian Government
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Message from the Editor -


Welcome to GISWeekly! On September 15, 2004, Geo360 signed an asset purchase agreement with Space Imaging (SI) to purchase the North American commercial and civilian government value added products and solutions business unit.


The deal will take another month or so to complete, according to John Grizz Deal. "We're purchasing Space Imaging value added solutions group for North America so SI will be more focused on their traditional customers that have to do with raw imagery and data, both international and national defense. We're taking everything but that."


Read about Geo360's position in the industry 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, Appointments, New Products, 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


Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor




Industry News

by Susan Smith


Earth Imaging for Commercial and Civilian Government



Geo360 Corporation founders Jim Schriever, vice president customer solutions (left) and John R. Grizz Deal, CEO, are joining forces to bring the high tech world of earth imaging to commercial and civilian government users.
On September 15, 2004, Geo360 signed an asset purchase agreement with Space Imaging (SI) to purchase the North American commercial and civilian government value added products and solutions business unit.


The deal will take another month or so to complete, according to John Grizz Deal. "We're purchasing Space Imaging value added solutions group for North America so SI will be more focused on their traditional customers that have to do with raw imagery and data, both international and national defense. We're taking everything but that."


Space Imaging had acquired the former Pacific Meridian Resources (PMR) in 2001 to expand the market for their IKONOS satellite. At the time the PMR assets were bundled with the products, services and employees that is now known as Space Imaging. The Solutions group has since become a self-sustaining organization within Space Imaging, so it made sense to spin it off into its own company.


Geo360 Corporation was formed in 2003 for the sole purpose of acquiring the SI business unit. The company is actually the combination of people from three different companies: Los Alamos National Labs, Pacific Meridian Resources, and Space Imaging. All of the Solutions' assets - staff, customer contacts, technology, equipment and business systems have been acquired from Space Imaging.


Lockheed and Raytheon are investors and owners of Space Imaging, that has enabled the company do automate their ground stations. They have a ground station that operates with a dozen employees as opposed to others from other organizations that involve hundreds of people. Geo360 is purchasing assets from Lockheed and Raytheon.


"Geo360 is focused on the remote sensing sector of geospatial information - we build both systems and we do contract work in remote sensing," explained Deal. We're taking the best of technology that we've acquired out of Los Alamos and the group that became SI in 2001. A lot of our employees worked for the government before. We have both civilian and defense folks involved in this company. Now we're trying to get more the commercial world. Currently, our baseline revenue comes from 75% federal and local government through the traditional federal agencies--providing remotely sensed information products."


There are several areas where Geo360 and Space Imaging will be able to collaborate including teaming on value products and services contracts, and the sale of Space Imaging data within the civilian and commercial markets.


Geo360 focuses on planning and natural resource, agriculture and forestry, transportation and utilities, and risk analysis and mitigation. Deal said that a commercial company has a lot of benefits to offer that the government can't. "All the employees here own part of the company - they get remuneration that you can't get with the government." The company is owned by the employees and private investors.


When asked if Geo360 was affected by the recent NextView contract award to ORBIMAGE, Deal replied, "Not at all." In the past ten years, the government has begun to rely on commercial companies to launch satellites and provide satellite based imagery. The government has outsourced commercial data collection to companies such as ORBIMAGE, Space Imaging and DigitalGlobe, and now civilians can take advantage of the data collection infrastructure and use it to create more advanced information product in non defense areas. "It's the ultimate tech transfer where the government is not subsidizing; they are actually buying at a preferred price on the commercial market, but it allows us to take
advantage of that volume, because if the defense department didn't guarantee a certain level of product purchasing it would be almost prohibitively expensive for civilian agencies and private companies to get access to this data," Deal said.


Because there is competition in the industry, prices have reduced. "You can now buy imagery for less than 25% of what it cost five years ago," said Deal. "Whereas with aerial, it's hard to bring that price down. The transition from film to digital has been great, but you still have to fly. There are fixed costs associated with both satellites and aerials, but with aerial you've got variable costs, such as gasoline, pilot time, etc. Once you have put a satellite up, you're just mining it. The resource is up there, you can amortize, you have a cost over the life of the satellite and you can bring that price down. Whereas with aerial, every time you go up in the sky you have gas, FFA
certifications, all this stuff where costs become an add-on and the fact that they're variable means they're not really known ahead of time. They can't really get a grip on their business case so it's hard to offer discounts. I wouldn't consider aerial a commodity. There are advantages of aerial over satellite. Satellite is in an "synchronous orbit," it follows the sun, so it's not always where you want it to be. An airplane can fly below cloud cover and you can pick any point and they can hover, satellites don't hover. They are locked in an orbit around the planet. You just turn the camera on or off as the camera comes by."


"We are automating extrapolating information from satellite imagery and turning that into products," Deal noted.


None of the Solutions offices will close, and customers and strategic partners will continue to work with their existing points of contact.



Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements


Definiens Imaging announced the signing of a new reseller for its eCognition product suite for Scandinavia and the Baltic region - Brock & Michelsen A/S.


NAVIGON, European mobile GPS navigation systems for dynamic telematics, navigation solutions and driver assistance systems company, announced an OEM agreement with EasyPocketNAV.com, a distributor for portable GPS navigation solutions.


Motorola announced an agreement with QUALCOMM Incorporated to offer its VIAMOTO Location-Based Service (LBS) solution via the BREW distribution system, part of the BREW solution. VIAMOTO is an award-winning software suite of distributed client/server location software that transforms cell phones and other in-vehicle wireless devices into portable navigation systems and local information guides.


NASA and IUCN - The World Conservation Union, the world's largest environmental knowledge network, signed a joint declaration in Bangkok, Thailand, to use NASA satellite data to help in worldwide conservation efforts.


The purpose of the joint declaration is to improve IUCN access to NASA data, technology, images and remote sensing products. IUCN members and commissions will incorporate the data to help improve the quality and effectiveness of environmental decision-making and to improve conservation outcomes.



Announcements


Geodatabase Design Concepts, a new instructor-led training course from ESRI, takes participants through the geodatabase design process, from preliminary planning to schema creation. The course includes a review of the geodatabase as well as a discussion of geographic data concepts such as projections, coordinates, coding schemes, and others.


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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.


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