January 03, 2011
Geospatial Going Forward – 2011
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!

The V8i (SELECTseries 1) versions of Bentley Map, Bentley Descartes, Bentley Geospatial Server, and Bentley Geo Web Publisher add to the V8i portfolio 3D City GIS capabilities. Announced at the same time was the integration of Bentley Map and Safe Software's FME technology.

Known for its aerial imagery and height data, UK-based geospatial company Infoterra has been acquiring high resolution lidar data of big cities in the UK for its new 3D product Skape.

Skape is a geospatial 3D city mapping service product from Infoterra that offers advanced imagery of 3D heighted buildings of the UK's major cities. 99% of the data collected for this product is Infoterra-owned, and the company uses its own dedicated fleet of aircraft to capture fully textured imagery. Skape enables users to manipulate urban landscapes online by combining high resolution 3D textured city models with 2D mapping and terrain data.

Autodesk's Galileo (new version of LandXplorer) will be fully GIS oriented, with layering of utilities and a coordinate environment. Galileo is very focused around the idea of 3D cities, but it can used with windfarms and other projects. It will have graphics capability derived from products in the Media and Entertainment division of Autodesk, as well as from acquired technology and LandXplorer. It will have the ability to manipulate and change information, apply real design principles and associate other metadata with it.

Galileo is on Autodesk Labs.

According to Dale Lutz, the biggest feature of FME 2010 is expanded 3D support, ten times greater than in the previous version. The textures and pictures on the sides of the 3D objects in FME 2009 are now both preserved and created in 2010. For the city of Gavle, Sweden, Safe took some raw 2D data, pictures, orthophotos and building heights to offer a simulated 3D city model in an automated way “that lets them create it in a matter of minutes as opposed to days. They could take that and refine it in another tool such as ArcGIS 10 which is going to have full 3D editing and then they'll have a fast way to achieve full 3D. We think a lot of cities are going to be very interested in
doing this kind of thing,” said Lutz.

The visual simulation universe and augmented reality is now interested in FME, according to Murray, as the technology allows them to build a simulation-ready environment very quickly with drawings, orthophotos, imagery and building heights and DEMs so that you can place things at right elevations.

Indoor Mapping

The urgency of tracking the indoor environment for situational awareness purposes has alerted building owners and government and security entities alike to the need to be able to track a seen and unseen enemy, as well as have the ability to know what existed before a building was damaged or destroyed.

Trimble's indoor mobile mapping solution (TIMMS) translates indoor environments directly into 2D & 3D models of structured interiors. The product is offers a way for building owners, facilities managers, engineers and construction professionals track and manage indoor assets and facilities.

Peter Canter, director Advanced Mapping and Imaging Systems for Applanix, a Trimble Company and wholly owned subsidiary of Trimble, said, “We recognize the general public is getting familiar with mapping and the opportunity that is wide open is learning to do indoors, so therefore we decided to concentrate on that.” Applanix' core competency is in inertial positioning, so it was a natural place to begin. GPS indoors is still relatively new.

The TIMMS unit has wheels, and some of Applanix's computers are inside the cart. Lidar and a spherical camera are also included on the cart, as well as positioning sensors. The unit is designed to be pushed with one hand through interior space and maneuvered in and out of cubicles and small spaces. “100,000 square feet a day is not difficult for us, it depends on the building," said Canter. "We walk at about 1 meter per second and the lidar sees 50 meters in each direction for 360 lidar, and the cameras are 360 degree as well, and everything is georeferenced.”

All of the data TIMMS collects is also available in 3D. The mobile capability allows the user to go into spaces that would normally be difficult to get into. It's possible to use the TIMMS to go behind the desk, into all the cubicles, and into closets.


Carl Bass said at AU that mobile devices are putting pressure on the market. The proliferation of applications and platforms for mobile devices and the popularity of the iPad in 2010 has been phenomenal, and will increase as more computing power and capability become available for such devices.

Products such as Autodesk's MapGuide is on the iPhone and iPad on a browser and can also work off the Android system.

A new mobile location analytics platform has been formed from the partnership of Appcelerator, a platform for developing native mobile, desktop and iPad applications using web technologies and FortiusOne, a location analysis software provider. The resulting Titanium+Geo platform makes it possible for enterprises, marketers and retailers to better understand where, when and how mobile applications are being used. According to press materials, business decision makers can now dynamically measure the impact of location-enabled mobile applications and social media on their company's bottom line.

Esri announced their iPhone app for ArcGIS which attracted more than just Esri users. Since then they have also added BAO and GeoMedicine apps for Windows and iOS systems.

GIS4Mobile, an application created by Ove Lindholt Hansen and Nikolaj Moller Nielsen of Denmark, focuses on the concept of connecting mobile device to office.

With this application “the very minute you have information in the field it is available in office,” said Hansen, emphasizing how important it is to have an online connection.

Volunteered Geographic Information and Authoritative Data Sources

It is difficult to know which came first with this topic - the chicken or the egg.

Michael Goodchild, PhD, professor of Geography at University of California, Santa Barbara since 1998, said at GeoWeb 2008 that, “I think it's naïve to assume that geospatial data being handled by the public sector are somehow less trustworthy or accurate than government agencies. In fact, the evidence suggests there is no simple difference in that sense.”

We have seen some interesting examples of the use of Volunteer Geographic Information (VGI) over the past years. On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and into parts of Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, depositing debris over a broad swath, and resulting in the death of all seven crew members, just prior to the conclusion of its 28th mission, STS-107.

Different pieces of the space shuttle were identified by private citizens in the areas they fell. While fragments of tile and metal fell into the Texas mesquite, emergency responder Jack Colley coordinated a massive hunt of high tech people as well as people on horseback to search for the debris. Fisherman and hunters carrying GPS devices proved immensely helpful as they could record exactly where the pieces landed. Colley said this effort may have saved some lives by identifying where potentially toxic pieces might have fallen.

Eleven years after this event, social media plays a part in involving citizens in contributing geographic data. A company called CitySourced connects citizens to agencies, and any citizen with a GPS device can become a sensor. This information feeds directly into the geodatabase, for routing, geospatial analysis. You can take a photo with a description which is sent to a cloud based platform, and routed to the right agency. The creators of CitySourced are from a social media background and see their application as “a huge opportunity to fill geospatial databases.”

While many public agencies might be worried about getting a lot more reports from citizens on potholes, streetlights, and other local problems, Accela, Inc. has released Accela Automation 7.0.5 and Accela Citizen Access which extend geodatabase editing capability into the hands of non-GIS, field-based professionals and frees up time in the office for data management.

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.

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