[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
November 29, 2004
GIS Expo in Albuquerque - Focus on Mobile GIS
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! Last Friday's GIS Expo held in Albuquerque drew a full house for the main sessions which included a discussion of the "Elements of the Geodatabase" by ESRI, a presentation by Sally Baxter on Mobile GIS and desert dumping, and an ESRI presentation on integrating field and office with mobile GIS. The afternoon session focused on GIS analysis using ArcGIS 9, using GIS for work order management, and publishing your own GIS data.

From November 29 through December 1, I will be at Autodesk University in Las Vegas. Hope to see many of you there. In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

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
Managing Editor

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

GIS Expo in Albuquerque - Focus on Mobile GIS

by Susan Smith

ArcPad is loaded with the county's parcel basemap, road centerlines, and jurisdictional boundaries so the officers can answer jurisdictional questions by displaying their location on the map.
Last Friday's GIS Expo held in Albuquerque drew a full house for the main sessions which included a discussion of the "Elements of the Geodatabase" by ESRI, a presentation by Sally Baxter on Mobile GIS and desert dumping, and an ESRI presentation on integrating field and office with mobile GIS. The afternoon session focused on GIS analysis using ArcGIS 9, using GIS for work order management, and publishing your own GIS data.

I heard some people say there were fewer exhibits at this expo than in previous years. I wasn't there for the opening, but arrived in time to hear Sally Baxter, GIS manager, Doña Ana County (D.A.C.), New Mexico give her talk "Mobile GIS helps Fight Desert Dumping."

The problem Baxter outlined is common to New Mexico. The dumping of solid waste in arroyos and surrounding areas near transfer stations is a disease that spreads through a beautiful, spare and variable countryside. The trash mutates from black plastic garbage bags that disintegrate in the hot baking sun, with high winds that blow the contents far and wide, leaving flags of black and white plastic fluttering from barbed wire fences and mesquite across the open range. Not to mention the bottles and cans that don't disintegrate and are left to get buried in the sand. The long uninterrupted stretches of desert and varied terrain make it hard to reconcile driving directions, sketched field maps
and aerial photography to GIS.

To combat this growing problem, the County used a mobile grant from ESRI and Trimble to fight desert dumping in Doña Ana County, a county of "a distorted rectangular shape" of over 3800 square miles, 180,000 residents, with four incorporated cities in the area, located in south central New Mexico. Of the 180,000 residents, half live in Las Cruces area, the other half along the Rio Grande. The land boasts mesas, mountains, orchards, communities, airports, museums, crops such as cotton, chile, pecans. "It's a very pretty part of the state," said Baxter. The first thing the County Environmental Services Department did was to hire code enforcement officers dedicated to environmental code
enforcement, and they were the first in the state to do so.

The Department was seeking innovative ways to improve what they do. Begun in the early '90s, the Doña Ana County GIS has matured to a system that contains over 100 unique datasets (with over 175 total, including historical data), is available in many departments, and is customized to facilitate County business.

In 2003, GIS Division staff set a goal for themselves to increase awareness and use of the system by showing coworkers that the system was designed for their use and convenience. The work done garnered them the Special Achievement in GIS Award at the 2004 ESRI User Conference. They were already prepared for what they were about to take on with the fight against desert dumping.

For six months, they used GIS to map locations of illegal dumpsites, determine property ownership, and locate potential responsible parties. The officers needed mobile GIS and used ArcInfo on a ruggedized tablet PC, and ArcGIS on a laptop or ArcPad on a handheld device.

This is what the grant consisted of:
  • Hardware --Trimble GeoXT
  • Software - ArcPad Application Builder
  • ArcPad loaded on the GeoXT
  • ArcPad Studio for in office form creation
  • Trimble GeoXT has submeter GPS rugged design with a TFT--outdoor color touch screen and integrated Bluetooth technology. Some Trimble products allow users to map to survey grade. The TFT outdoor color touch screen was useful because the brighter the sunlight is outside the easier it is to read the screen.

    Bluetooth allowed officers to talk back and forth and field GIS consisted of a handheld computer with GPS receiver (ArcPad). For field mapping they could take part of the desktop GIS they needed with them.

    ArcPad Studio allows custom form creation, drag and drop so that people in the field who are accustomed to writing on something have three screen forms that will walk officers through the type of data they already took. The quality of the forms can be checked, and you can pick 'investigate' or 'revisit.' The forms start off with site data, and then the next form is the materials page, where the officers asked for specific materials they encounter often -- white waste ( washing machines), garbage, trees, metal construction material, mattress, wood, car part. Also there is an input field where there are have control data input "radio buttons" with pick lists.

    GeoXT has an onscreen keyboard with a design that allows you to see what you type in.

    ArcPad allows the scheduling of follow up and activates calendar control. "The more you do in the field the less you have to do in the office," Baxter noted.

    With cursory knowledge of programming, ArcPad users can develop more advanced input forms in ArcPad, Activate or deactivate the GPS, and add site by GPS or by address. Data are uploaded to desktop GIS, and with the data in there, they can map incident locations, and analyze with respect to other data sets.


    The pilot project revealed higher incidences of illegal dumping near transfer stations. Most likely, Baxter said, people would pack up their trash in their truck, find out their transfer station was closed, and, not wanting to haul the trash home, they would dump it nearby.

    The County then took stock of what they needed to do: inform the public of hours of operation of the transfer stations, and determine ownership at the dumpsite using the parcel base.

    "We have a lot of government land in Doña Ana County where people dump trash- we can't make the government clean it up," said Baxter. "The project helped us think about where to build transfer stations and how to get the hours of operation information out to the people."

    What made the project a success? At first many at the county worried about whether it would work or not. It was up to the technology to prove itself, and it did. "As part of ground proposal, I promised to go around to other agencies and show them what we did, but when I got to them the officers (Jerry Ford and Richard Guerra) had already shown them."

    What did D.A.C. learn?
  • Mobile GIS leverages power of county's GIS for field use
  • Savings - vehicle and fuel expense
  • Increased productivity - faster field data collection, eliminate the need to re-enter data back at office
  • More accurate data - more accurate positional information, avoid transposition/typographical errors
  • Code enforcement officers are stakeholders in project
  • "Since we completed this in the spring, the county's hired two more code enforcement officers and budgeted to get them GeoXTs," Baxter reported.

    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.


    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.


    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.

    At its Network Computing '04Q4 (NC04Q4) launch, Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Oracle announced that Oracle(R) Database 10g will be supported on Sun's Solaris 10 Operating System (OS) for Intel Xeon, AMD Opteron and SPARC(R) processor-based architectures. Additionally, the companies are announcing the general availability of Oracle Database 10g for Solaris 9 OS for x86 systems. These business-critical information technology (IT) platforms deliver additional choice for secure, low cost computing options to a broad range of customers and partners.

    Sun Microsystems Inc. announced that it has posted its next version of Java(TM) 2 Platform Standard Edition (J2SE(TM)) to the developer community for early review and developer involvement. Available as part of a new project launched this week on java.net, this marks the first time Sun has made source and binary code bundles for a J2SE release available while it is still under active development.

    Scientists funded by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), used Landsat 5 satellite data to look at changes in wetlands areas in south Florida, particularly south and west of Lake Okeechobee.

    Using satellite data, land-cover change history, computer models, and weather records, the researchers found a link between the losses of wetlands and more severe freezes in some agricultural areas of south Florida. In other areas of the state, changes in land use resulted in slightly warmer conditions. They concluded, based on the study, the conversion of wetlands by itself may be enough of a trigger to enhance damage inflicted upon agriculture in these areas of south Florida during freezes events.

    The Department of the Interior has proposed conducting a scientific study on the use of high flows from Glen Canyon Dam to improve Colorado River natural and cultural resources in Grand Canyon National Park.

    The test is predicated on successful completion of an Environmental Analysis (EA) and issuing of a Finding of No Significant Impact statement -- steps required by the National Environmental Policy Act. An EA is currently undergoing public review, with the comment period closing on Nov. 19, 2004. Further details will be provided in a news release issued on that day.

    ESRI announced the successful deployment of its ArcIMS Open Location Services (OpenLS) connector by ESRI Sweden as part of a major effort to improve TeliaSonera's mapping engine capabilities for
    location-based services across Scandinavia. The ArcIMS OpenLS connector is based on the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc., OpenLS specification.

    Autodesk Inc. announced financial results for its third fiscal quarter ended October 31, 2004. For the third quarter, Autodesk reported net revenues of $300 million, a 28 percent increase over $234 million reported in the third quarter of the prior year. The company separately announced that it has declared a 2-for-1 stock split on its common stock.

    Third quarter net income increased 228 percent over the prior year to $74 million on a GAAP basis. GAAP EPS was $0.60 per diluted share, or $0.30 per diluted share after the effect of the 2-for-1 stock split. GAAP basis net income includes tax benefits of $29 million. GAAP net income also includes a $3 million pre-tax restructuring charge. Excluding these items, pro-forma third quarter net income was $48 million. Pro-forma EPS was $0.38 per diluted share, or $0.19 per diluted share on a split adjusted basis. GAAP basis net income in the third quarter of the prior year was $23 million. GAAP EPS in the third quarter of the prior year was $0.20 per diluted share, or $0.10 on a post-split
    basis. There were no pro-forma adjustments in the prior year.

    LizardTech, Inc., announced the kick-off for the Educational Licensing Program. With the Educational Licensing program, students and faculty will be able to use GeoExpress with MrSID to produce high quality geospatial imagery for research and learning. With the help of Express Server, they will be able to stream raster images across the Internet making them available to other research and student populations around the world. This program offers two educational licensing bundles.

    "Learning ArcGIS 9 Spatial Analyst," a new course from ESRI Virtual Campus, teaches experienced ArcGIS users how to perform complex raster modeling and analysis using ArcGIS Spatial Analyst. Hands-on exercises give participants the opportunity to solve real-world spatial problems while gaining familiarity with the extension and the new ArcGIS 9 geoprocessing environment.

    U.S. Geological Survey and NASA scientists studying Mount St. Helens are using high-tech Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) instrumentation to analyze changes in the surface elevation of the crater, which began deforming in late September 2004. With data derived from LIDAR, scientists can more accurately map -- often in exquisite detail -- the dimensions of the uplift and create better models to forecast volcanic hazards.

    LIDAR, for example, shows that in the two weeks before Oct. 4, the new uplift grew to the height of a 35-story building (110 meters or 360 feet) and the area of 29 football fields (130,000 square meters or 0.05 square miles).

    New Products

    AED-SICAD Aktiengesellschaft has released for delivery the latest version of its new standard application ArcFM(tm) UT with the segment specific applications for electricity, gas and water supply.

    Maptuit Corporation, provider of trucking, tracking and traffic services, announced the availability of a sophisticated geofencing technology available in Maptuit's FleetNav and TrackServ products. For HazMat carriers needing to ensure the security of their assets at all times, Maptuit's geofencing feature sends an alert if their GPS equipped asset deviates from its expected course to help minimize risk of theft or security.

    Orion Technology Inc. announced the launch of OnPoint Lite, a new product based on Orion's flagship OnPoint Standard and OnPoint Professional products. OnPoint Lite presents a slimmed-down version of the OnPoint Standard feature set, offering clients with smaller GIS budgets the opportunity to implement web portals with Orion's recognized interactive mapping technology and deployment using a point-and-click Administration Tool.

    MapInfo announced MapInfo MapMarker v2.0 a new UK address cleaning and geocoding solution designed specifically to work with UK address data and to provide performance and pinpoint geocoding for users across all industries.

    Leica Geosystems announced the introduction of the TPS800 series of total stations for a variety of surveying and construction applications. The standard TC800 models provide extended-range electronic distance measuring up to 3,000 meters using an infrared laser beam with prisms or reflective targets. The TCR800 models also offer reflectorless measurements up to 200 meters under good light and target visibility conditions using a visible red laser beam.

    Effective immediately, the list price of the IDEAL / Contex Chroma XL 42" scanner drops from $22,900 to $19,900 USD. This price drop means new affordability for professionals who need color accuracy and high performance scanning. The IDEAL / Contex Chroma XL 42" is in demand for CAD, A/E/C, GIS, In-House Repro, Sign, Pre-press, Copy, POP and Display markets and can be used stand-alone or as an integrated component of a customized solution.

    Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop, Second Edition, a new book from ESRI Press, is a comprehensive workbook for ArcGIS 9 Desktop. This book acquaints readers with the principles of a geographic information system (GIS) and explains the mechanics of using ArcGIS 9 Desktop software. The book serves as a classroom text as well as a resource for those learning GIS software on their own.

    Around the Web…

    Online, People Actually (gasp!) Read, by Gregory M. Lamb for the Christian Science Monitor, Last month, people spent 40.2 percent of their time online viewing content, more time than they spent on communication (39.8 percent), commerce (15.8 percent), or search (4.3 percent), according to an Internet Activity Index released Thursday. It was the second straight month that the index had shown content as the highest-rated activity.

    Bill Gates' prediction, written in an article entitled "Content is King," in 1996 has come true: "Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting,"

    A somewhat parallel topic this week, is that of the New York Times article
    Computers as Authors? Literary Luddites Unite! By Daniel Ankst which reports that computers have begun writing novels without us, thanks to programs such as Brutus 1 written by Selmer Bringsjord, a computer scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and David A. Ferrucci, a researcher at I.B.M.

    Upcoming Events

    Autodesk University 2004

    Date: November 30 - December 3, 2004

    Place: MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, NV USA

    This premier event helps you make the most of your Autodesk investment through hands-on product training, industry-specific breakout sessions, the exhibit hall, networking events, and much, much more!

    GEOdiffusion 2004

    Date: December 1 - 3, 2004

    Place: Hotel Palace RoyalQuebec City, Quebec, CN USA

    GEOdiffusion 2004 is the only conference dedicated exclusively to Location-based Intelligence and Web-mapping Solutions. The Event's third Edition will gather nearly 150 attendees including mainly decision makers and executive officers, IT Integrators and GIS users, from both public and private sectors.

    ESRI Mid-Atlantic User Group

    Date: December 1 - 3, 2004

    Place: Hilton Silver SpringSilver Spring, MD USA

    The ESRI Mid-Atlantic User Group (ESRI-MUG) announces its annual GIS conference December 1-3, 2004, at the Hilton Silver Spring, 8727 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD, 20910. The conference hotel is in the heart of downtown Silver Spring and just 2 blocks from the Silver Spring Metro. December 1st will be devoted to three all-day training seminars. On December 2-3, 2004, the conference will feature keynote speakers, vendor exhibits, poster displays, user presentations, and ESRI technical sessions.

    The deadline to submit paper abstracts is August 1, 2004. For more information on the conference or to register, visit the ESRI-MUG web site or contact Brendan Ford, Program Chair, at Brendan.ford@fairfaxcounty.gov or (703) 324-3792.

    For exhibitor information, contact Delaney Meeting and Event Management at (802) 655-7769.

    United States IPv6 Summit 2004

    Date: December 7 - 10, 2004

    Place: Hyatt RegencyReston, VA USA

    A 3-Day Summit on Internet Protocol version 6. The Summit will be in coordination with the Department of Defense's Day of IPv6. Leaders in industry, military, government, academia and research are coming together to discuss the deployment of IPv6 and the future of the "New Internet." There will also be an exhibit hall filled with cutting edge IPv6 technology.

    You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.