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March 10, 2008
Radar Image from TerraSAR-X Helps Bolivian Flood Relief Efforts
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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!

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Industry News

Radar Image from TerraSAR-X Helps Bolivian Flood Relief Efforts

by Susan Smith

Overnight, a South American city plaza was transformed into a refugee camp for people fleeing the town's flooded outskirts. On February 13th, over 40,000 people were left homeless and 60 killed in severe flooding of the provincial capital city of Trinidad, Bolivia, located in the eastern lowlands in the province of Beni. President Evo Morales declared Bolivia's devastating floods a national disaster, and funding was made immediately available to address the disaster, which his government believes is due to global climate change.

At first, Trinidad was thought to be safe from the flooding because a raised road surrounding it served as a kind of dam. Yet it soon became evident that the road would probably not hold up against the onslaught of rain, and if breached, it could endanger the 90,000 residents of the city. UNOSAT’s Rapid Mapping, Applications and User Relations Unit was tasked with getting a satellite image of the Trinidad floods for emergency response efforts and to protect the local population.

click to enlarge [

Images courtesy of INOSAT
Based at CERN, UNOSAT is a United Nations programme that makes available to the international community satellite imagery and GIS services for dealing with disaster prevention, emergency response and humanitarian relief.

In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami, UNOSAT's website provided relief organizations with necessary information including maps and geographic data such as satellite images (Ikonos, SPOT, LANDSAT or ENVISAT), thematic maps including DEMs, environmental change analyses and land cover.

For the Bolivia floods, UNOSAT contacted Infoterra to find out about acquiring high-resolution radar imagery of the area. Mareike Doepke, communications manager for Infoterra Germany said that only 48 hours after UNOSAT had contacted Infoterra GmbH’s teams in Friedrichshafen, Infoterra delivered a processed, high-resolution radar image acquired by the new German radar satellite TerraSAR-X.

The image was acquired on February 14 and on that same day, downloaded to the ground station and processed under high priority. 48 hours after the initial request on February 15th, the image was delivered to the UNOSAT experts. Already, heavy rainfall had pummeled the road, breached it, causing flooding of the city.

According to the press release, less than another 24 hours later, UNOSAT made a preliminary flood water analysis at scale 1:20.000 publicly available through its website: a valuable source of information not only to UN institutions, but to any other organization preparing emergency relief actions in the area.

The map clearly depicts the flood waters over the affected urban extent of Trinidad. The flood water analysis was conducted with a single TerraSAR-X radar scene recorded on February 14th, enhanced by previously acquired RADARSAT-1 satellite data (8 February 2008, 5 April 2001). Reference:

Although in the time it took to acquire and process the image, the road did breach and parts of the city flooded, the image will prove enormously helpful in emergency response preparations, according to Doepke. The satellite was right there and able to collect the image the next day.

UNOSAT said TerraSAR-X was “the only radar satellite capable of properly detecting floods inside an urban setting like Trinidad.”

click to enlarge [

Images courtesy of INOSAT
“The satellite image helps them to decide which areas are affected the most, where do we expect largest problems, which roads are accessible, which roads flooded, which bridges are still there, where would be a good place to set up camp or an emergency response center where they could coordinate activities,” explained Doepke. “This map shows exactly where the water is and what has been affected and helps agencies approach the response activities in a more targeted way.”

UNOSAT generated the map from the Infoterra imagery, which they made publicly available as soon as they were ready. “Our services end either with the provision of the data as we did here because INOSAT has their own satellite imagery experts who can analyze the floodwater situation,” Doepke said, or for other organizations who don’t have their own satellite imagery experts, Infoterra will process and interpret the imagery for them.

The dramatic climatic events such as Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and earthquakes that we have experienced in recent years are linked to global warming, according to scientists. The warming of the oceans releases more moisture into the air which in turn creates dense rainfall, and unusual climate conditions such as El Nino, which in turn plays a role in flooding, droughts and other events related to climatic change.

With more frequency, satellite imagery and geospatial information are being called upon to help in various aspects of disaster management, whether it be weather tracking, emergency response or other recovery efforts. With each disaster, whether natural or unnatural, systems of response and recovery are improved so that next time, more lives may be saved, more property remains intact, more people can remain in their homeland.

Top News of the Week

NAVTEQ, global provider of digital map data for location-based solutions and vehicle navigation, announced that it will be offering NAVTEQ map data for use with the spatial enhancements in Microsoft SQL Server 2008. NAVTEQ map data used in conjunction with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 provides the opportunity for businesses to incorporate location intelligence into decision making processes enabling the widespread deployment of geographic data and tools in both enterprise and departmental business applications.

Trimble introduced a flexible Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver for Geographic Information System (GIS) data collection and mapping-the GPS Pathfinder(R) ProXRT receiver. The receiver combines a high- performance GPS receiver with Trimble(R) H-Star(TM) technology, OmniSTAR correction capability, and optional GLONASS capability to provide various levels of positioning accuracies-from submeter to decimeter (10 centimeter) accuracy.

On February 14, 2008, California State Assemblymember Jose Solorio introduced a bill, AB1978, to amend Government Code Section 6254.9 of the California Public Records Act (CPRA). As stated in the "Computer Mapping Systems Fact Sheet" issued by his office, the bill seeks to improve the current definition of what constitutes a “computer mapping system.” In fact, the bill distorts the definition of "computer mapping system" further from reality. Moreover, if enacted, this bill would severely weaken the CPRA and reduce the public's access to its governments' records.


Hansa Lufbild, an international Geo-consulting company based in Munster, has signed an agreement with TerraGo Technologies to resell the Map2PDF software in Germany

The agreement, brokered by London-based agency Quarry One Eleven, will see Hansa Luftbild offer the Map2PDF suite of products to their extensive customer base.

Map2PDF software allows both ESRI and Intergraph users to write GIS data to the GeoPDF format and hence allow anyone, irrespective of knowledge or experience of spatial data, to view and update this information in a format they know and understand.

Journey Dynamics, a provider of traffic intelligence, and ITIS Holdings Plc, a provider of vehicle data, have announced a joint partnership which will enable a new generation of traffic speed forecasting applications. Under the agreement, Journey Dynamics incorporates ITIS’ Floating Vehicle Data (FVD) into its traffic intelligence model in order to produce highly accurate traffic speed forecasting using complex analysis of historical traffic information. The partnership will allow Journey Dynamics to sell its traffic intelligence commercially.

Timmons Group, a leader in geospatial consulting services, announced that a business partner agreement with Trimble to resell and distribute selected Mapping & Geographic Information System (GIS) products, including the GPS Pathfinder Pro series receivers, GeoExplorer series of rugged GPS handhelds, rugged Trimble Recon handhelds, and Trimble Recon GPS series systems. Timmons Group will also provide Trimble hardware and software as part of a complete enterprise data management solution for the firm’s
TG LoGIStics product line of solutions, including field-based data management solutions for land records, E-911 addressing, utility inventory and our ArcGIS Server based mobile applications for Land Management agencies serving the Forestry, Natural Resources, Transportation and other State and Local Government applications.

ARCHIBUS, Inc., developer of real estate, infrastructure, and facilities management software, announces it has joined the ESRI Business Partner Program and will be using ESRI's geographic information system (GIS) software in its products.

The first product to grow out of this software development relationship is ARCHIBUS Geospatial Extensions for ESRI, which allows ARCHIBUS and ESRI users to access and integrate geospatial information with facilities data from each other's databases. This "Intuitive Business Transformation (IBT) Environment" utilizes real estate, infrastructure, facilities, and geographic information for better analytics and decision support to improve workflows and business practices.


ESRI announced its participation in the launch of Microsoft SQL Server 2008, beginning with Microsoft’s premier launch event in Los Angeles, California, on February 27. ESRI was the only business partner to demonstrate integration with SQL Server 2008 on stage with Microsoft presenters. This support is the result of a close, multiyear collaboration between ESRI and Microsoft in the development of SQL spatial extensions to SQL Server 2008.

During the Microsoft event, ESRI demonstrated ArcGIS software working in concert with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 to perform business site selection analysis. ESRI will continue to participate in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 launch events throughout the United States.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) announces OGC Interoperability Day, an all-day event to be held on March 28 at the Westin St. Louis Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. The demonstration will showcase results from the OGC Web Services 5 (OWS-5) Testbed. OGC Interoperability Day is sponsored by the OGC, Northrop Grumman and the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

Representatives from agencies, organizations and companies are invited to attend OGC Interoperability Day to learn about, witness and discuss the use of OpenGIS(R) Standards that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream information and communications technology. Vendors of GIS and other geoprocessing systems will showcase their products working together on the network, showing the benefits of interoperability enabled by open interfaces and encodings that comply with OGC's OpenGIS Standards. The agenda (see
http://www.opengeospatial.org/event/080328ows5demo ) will include presentations and discussions of Sensor Web Enablement (SWE), Geoprocessing Workflow (GPW), Agile Geography, Compliance Testing (CITE) and other topics.

OGC Interoperability Day is free and open to the public, but attendees must register at the
OGC website.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) announced that Astrium has increased its level of membership in the OGC to become a Principal Member.

Principal Members have authority over the development, release and adoption of OpenGIS(R) Specifications through their voting rights in the OGC Planning Committee (PC). Principal Members also evaluate and provide guidance on market direction and Consortium focus, have approval authority for OGC policies and procedures, and vote to elect members of the OGC Board of Directors.

Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority is using ESRI ArcGIS Server for their enterprise mapping and GIS solution. For developing Web and mobile applications with ArcGIS Server the Water Utility Authority will be using Freeance Web and Freeance Mobile.

The Water Utility Authority was looking for a rapid development platform that would allow them to quickly create both Web GIS applications and Blackberry mobile GIS applications. Freeance Web Release 5 will allow the water utility to create multiple custom Web applications in a plug-and-play environment that will access not only ArcGIS Server but also non GIS databases such as service and customer records. Freeance Mobile uses the same plug-and-play application building tools to push live ArcGIS Server maps and enterprise database records to field personnel using standard Blackberry devices.


Manatron, Inc. announced that it has received a contract from Santa Fe County, New Mexico for its Manatron CAMA solution. The contract includes GIS integration utilizing Sidwell's Parcel Builder, related professional services for the County Assessor's office and four years of annual software maintenance and support.

Tele Atlas, global provider of digital maps and dynamic content for navigation and location based solutions, announced that ASUSTek Computer Inc. (ASUS), Taiwan-based producer of high quality handhelds, will launch its new navigation solutions for personal navigation devices, GPS phones and portable PCs based on Tele Atlas digital maps.

New Products

Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging announces Leica Photogrammetry Suite (LPS) 9.2, streamlining numerous photogrammetry processes to save time and increase productivity.

In this new version, Leica MosaicPro, a component of LPS, quickly mosaics and displays more rasters than ever before, providing enhanced and added tools to simplify the processes. Optimizing efficiency, Leica MosaicPro automatically loads an image and then renders all the surrounding areas. This innovative new feature minimizes load time and decreases overall user management responsibilities. In addition, users may also implement the new undo feature when editing seams during the mosaicking process.

Columbus Geographic Systems (GIS) Ltd ("Columbus") announced the launch of a new personal navigation solution aimed at the active outdoor and off-road enthusiast. This new feature, incorporated into its popular Ranger navigation unit, lets outdoor travelers select points of interest on their personal navigation device (PND), and then guides them to that location.

Digital Map Products (DMP) announced that LoopNet, Inc., which operates the largest online commercial real estate marketplace, has chosen DMP's ParcelStream web service to incorporate parcel data into the LoopNet.com platform. LoopNet customers can now view property boundary lines -- a critical piece of information for anyone researching real estate online in all market areas where the parcel data is available.

Optech Incorporated, a manufacturer of advanced lidar survey instruments, announced that Maptek has enabled direct file import functionality of ILRIS-3D open format IXF point cloud data into their I-Site Studio product.

ILRIS-3D is a fully portable, laser-based ranging and imaging system for the commercial survey, engineering, mining and industrial markets. A compact and highly integrated instrument with digital image capture and sophisticated software tools, ILRIS-3D is a 21st-century solution that addresses the needs of commercial users.

Blue Marble Geographics has released an update to their flagship developer toolkit, GeoCalc, the world's most comprehensive coordinate conversion engine. Found under the hood of the popular Geographic Calculator software, GeoCalc supports over 12,000 coordinate system transformations, along with pre-defined linear and angular units, ellipsoids, geodetic datums and coordinate systems. Blue Marble’s coordinate conversion technology is used worldwide by thousands of GIS analysts at software companies, universities, oil and gas companies, civil engineering, surveying, technology, enterprise GIS groups, government and military organizations.

Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging announces ERDAS IMAGINE® 9.2, the new release of the industry’s leading and most complete collection of software tools designed to manipulate, process and understand imagery.

Offering numerous new capabilities and enhanced features, ERDAS IMAGINE 9.2 further solidifies this product as the world’s foremost remote sensing solution, vital to providing the most accurate and comprehensive geospatial information. With an improved surfacing tool, ERDAS IMAGINE 9.2 increases its handling from 500,000 points to more than 50 million points, quickly and efficiently.

Around the Web

Five new programs at Niagara College The Welland Tribune - People wanting to enhance their education in wine-making, lasers, emergency co-ordination, geographic and geospatial systems, and environmental concerns now have the opportunity with the addition of four new post-graduate programs at Niagara College.

Upcoming Events

Date: March 12 - 14, 2008
Place: Perth Convention Exhibition Centre

Western Australia, Australia
WALIS Forum is one of the premier GIS events in Australia, attracting over 650 participants from a diverse range of professions.

Held every 18 months, the Forum provides an opportunity to address issues related to the collection, management and application of geographic or spatial information. The Forum is open to everyone, however, is targeted to people working with geographic information (GI) or those who would like to find out how they can harness GI to improve their business.

Date: March 15 - 18, 2008
Place: Wyndham Hotel and Palm Springs

Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA USA
The 2008 ESRI Worldwide Business Partner Conference (BPC) will be held March 15–18, 2008, in Palm Springs, California. Jack Dangermond, ESRI president and CEO, will share with you the future of GIS business and technology that will help you drive your business. You'll gain insight into ESRI's products, services, data, and technology innovations.
Date: March 17 - 19, 2008
Place: Houston, TX USA
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials sponsors the annual GIS for Transportation Symposium. It is a chance for persons in government and private industry who are interested in the use of GIS for transportation purposes to get together and share experiences, see state-of-art software, and learn more about this field. The Symposium annually attracts over 400 Symposium registrants in addition to the 50 exhibitors in the technology hall.
Date: March 31 - April 3, 2008
Place: Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

Washington, DC USA
A key objective of the 6th Annual U.S. Missile Defense Conference is to ensure that the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Team maintains critical relationships, communication channels, and strategic direction as the BMDS continues its development and global deployment.
Date: April 5 - 8, 2008
Place: University of Redlands

Redlands, CA USA
The University of Redlands School of Business invites you to participate in the 2008 Spatial Analysis for Business Conference organized by the University of Redlands in partnership with the Small Business Administration and ESRI.

This conference brings together noted experts in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), researchers, and business professionals to create a unique learning experience. The conference will consist of refereed paper and panel presentations, workshops, hands-on GIS tutorials and key note speakers.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.

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