February 03, 2003
Image Management + Wireless Location-Based Services = Mobile Potential
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on GIScafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by GISCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Message from the Editor

Welcome to GISWeekly! This week's featured industry news story focuses on a partnership made between AirZip and ESRI, for ESRI to resell AirZip Accelerator, designed for fast delivery of large images and other data over a network as part of ESRI's Geography Network. Expect to see more of this type of technology that will enhance functionality of LBS and wireless mobile solutions and services.

Other interesting news includes InfoNetrix's announcement of the publication of its fourth quarterly Business Horizons™ Report of 2002 covering GIS & Mobile Computing Solutions (GMCS) project activity at electric utilities across the United States and Canada. InfoNetrix analysts interviewed managers at nearly 300 utilities and documented their current and planned GMCS project activity.

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, Alliances/Acquisitions, Awards, Announcements, New Products, Downloads, Around the Web, and Calendar.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Ultimately, we would like to include a Letters department at some point in the future. Send your comments to me at

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Image Management + Wireless Location-Based Services = Mobile Potential

Mobile devices and services have had various barriers to their growth but one that really stands out is the management of images. With the increasing potential of mobile devices, wireless location-based services, and web-based GIS applications, it makes sense that image management would be the next step in adding to a whole cloth of mobile flexibility for professionals and consumers.

This week AirZip(tm) Inc., creator of software for securing and speeding networked information, and ESRI, announced an agreement in which ESRI and its partners will resell AirZip Accelerator software as a key component of ESRI's family of GIS solutions, including the flagship ArcGIS and ArcIMS products. According to Doug Keiller, Director of Product Marketing, AirZip Accelerator can deliver media such as maps, graphics and other images up to 800 percent faster than standard delivery solutions using AirZip's patent-pending compression technology.

"Fast image delivery is fundamental to ensuring that we offer the most robust solution possible to
our customers," said Mike Tait, director of Internet services for ESRI. "Not only is this true for emerging web-based GIS applications, but also for the new wireless data solutions, such as location-based services, which require large images like maps to be delivered quickly and efficiently to small devices. With AirZip those maps can not only be large but they can be quickly delivered with layered real-time GIS data for added intelligence and interactivity."

AirZip has 87 customers for AirZip Accelerator and the agreement with ESRI now makes the product potentially available to 300,000 customers worldwide. GISWeekly spoke with Doug Keiller about the new agreement.

Obviously ESRI has been using the accelerator until this point, now what makes this relationship different?

We've only been a partner of ESRI for about a year, and we've moved quickly in working with them. We signed an agreement with them in which AirZip acceleration is being used as part ESRI's Geography Network service. The Geography Network as you know, is a series of web services, many of which are maps. AirZip Accelerator was installed in the Geography Network's ASP to make compressed maps available to any Geography Network user for faster delivery. The two benefits of the Accelerator are: 1) higher productivity - users are able to access more maps in a given amount of time, thus they get more work done. 2) network costs - big customers, such as Homestore.com, a real estate website, have
huge network costs moving maps across their network, and it helps reduce those costs as well.

So we signed Geography Network the beginning of last year, began to move forward with ESRI, became a business partner at that time, then we completed this reseller agreement late last year. What the new agreement does is expands our relationship with ESRI so that ESRI now resells AirZip's boxed product, so we have taken our Accelerator and put it in a box, so you can buy it like other software products and install it on your web server running ArcIMS.

So this reseller agreement means that ESRI can use it with any customer running an ArcIMS server?


What did ESRI do before using AirZip?

ESRI was using standard image compression formats, particularly with web based GIS. With ArcIMS, before AirZip was available they would use .png or gif, or jpeg compressed for browser users and Java client users.

What exactly does your software do?

Two things: We actually take the map image in any format such as .gif image or .png and process it so it becomes smaller even in the same compression format. We'll do color reduction. The image is very legible in the web based application, but it's about 1/4 the original size. This size depends on the image and level of compression you select. The user can control the amount of image processing going on and we offer five levels - no image processing all the way to maximum image processing for the best compression but a little lower quality image.

There is a progression in GIS from workstation and specialized GIS staff toward more of a broad user base. An example is a forestry company in Sweden that uses GIS to manage forestry services, but the users of the applications are field workers not GIS specialists - they need a map that's good enough for them to get the basic information they need. It doesn't have to be extremely detailed, but they need to be able to take layers away or add them. For many ArcIMS applications lots of users are willing to accept lower quality in return for much better compression. Even lower quality is very legible.

The City of Laguna Beach in California have deployed an ArcIMS application publicly so anybody with internet access (such as AOL) can view the general plan of the city, with multiple layers, photos, layered on top with water, sewage, endangered species, trails, habitats, etc. The average public is not interested in the same level of detail that the highly trained GIS user might be. In this way, we enable more users on the system.

What makes Accelerator faster?

Speed is achieved with image processing that includes, among other things, converting the image from a standard compression format to our own format - AZP. So through the image processing and converting it we are able to get the image file size to 1/8th its original size. It's the faster delivery of the image from the ArcIMS server to the user by shrinking the file size to 1/8th its original size. It also works on other servers, it can be any application server.

If the software is on the server and also on the client side, you'll get the maximum benefit but you can also use it without the client side.

What does the user needs to access the Accelerator?

For an end user to take advantage of our highly compressed format they need to have a small piece of client software. It offers plug-and-play acceleration across all networks and devices.

What are your plans for wireless?

AirZip products work great with wireless applications today. We are integrated in to ESRI's new wireless solutions, their LBS solution that they sell to wireless carriers.

We are working with RIA, a partner of ESRI, and see a lot of interest in wireless from ArcIMS customers who have web based solutions.

What are your plans for the future?

A new release of our software which will enable use with ArcGIS users as well as ArcIMS, will be released soon. If you have ArcGIS application where the users are accessing an ArcIMS server as their web service they can take advantage of our software.

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.

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