[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
October 11, 2004
Integrating Geographic and Non-Geographic Data
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!At one time, integrating GIS or spatial technology with non-geographic data required a huge overhaul of an organization's resources. Orion Technology Inc., a technology consulting and services company and ESRI business partner, has worked with clients throughout North America and around the world over the past 6 years to do this type integration efficiently in a very short period of time. Shafik Jiwani, COO of Orion, described the company's focus: helping organizations integrate their GIS or spatial technology into all facets of their business. Read about OnPoint in this week's Industry News.

Also, a number of GIS vendors are involved in the research, detection and recovery associated with the recent hurricanes and Mt. St. Helens volcano. This week we have Hurricane Watch and Volcano Watch sections within Announcements to consolidate news arising from those efforts.

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

Integrating Geographic and Non-Geographic Data

By Susan Smith

At one time, integrating GIS or spatial technology with non-geographic data required a huge overhaul of an organization's resources. Orion Technology Inc., a technology consulting and services company and ESRI business partner, has worked with clients throughout North America and around the world over the past 6 years to do this type integration efficiently in a very short period of time. Shafik Jiwani, COO of Orion, described the company's focus: helping organizations integrate their GIS or spatial technology into all facets of their business.
What Orion does, according to Jiwani, is provide a number of off-the-shelf web-GIS products as well as customized development solutions. “Our flagship product, OnPoint, is implemented in about 50 organizations across North America, the Middle East and Africa,” said Jiwani.

One of the features of OnPoint is that it allows an organization to integrate data that would typically be residing in other databases. For example, a typical government would have a planning business system that would basically allow planners to maintain their building permit information. They may also have an infrastructure management system and a customer service application. “What OnPoint allows you to do is, through one interface, be able to access not only the geographic data that the organization has, but also the non-geographic data, through a common spatial context,” explained Jiwani. “As soon as you click on a property or a piece of infrastructure you not
only get data that's
residing in your GIS database but you get data that can also connect to the various businesses that you have in a typical organization.”

“Let's say I click on a parcel. When I click on a parcel, I not only get information that resides in the GIS database, but I would also find out all the information the organization has about that parcel. This information may be residing in a permit database or an infrastructure management database, which may be sitting in a customer service application and so forth,” said Jiwani. The configuration of how to connect with these various databases is all done through an administration tool. According to Mr. Jiwani, there is no programming involved from the organization and administration side. The system is completely configurable, and Orion is able to implement a system
within approximately five days.

OnPoint allows an organization to connect with the various business databases within an organization. “At the front end is the OnPoint user experience, at the back end is the OnPoint Administration tool which the semi-technical guy would be using to configure OnPoint,” explains Jiwani.

Orion team members have experience and domain knowledge in land development and registration, property assessment and taxation, surveying and mapping, utility and infrastructure management, and economic development. Customers include local and county governments and some new hydro and oil and gas clients.

“When customers purchase ArcIMS out of box, it may take them awhile to get up and running - and they want to have a robust GIS website,” Jiwani noted. “Our tool sits on top of ArcIMS and empowers it without requiring customizing and programming in ArcIMS. Typically an organization that does ArcIMS development will take anywhere from six to twelve months to do their development. We come in and get them up and running within five days and we make sure there's absolutely no programming to be done by us or by the client themselves. The Administration Tool takes away all the programming, customization and the linking to the various databases.”

The cost of the OnPoint solution is basically as follows: OnPoint on the internet sells for $20,000. The intranet product, called OnPoint Professional, provides more functionality and sells for $40,000. An unlimited number of users can use both products. OnPoint Professional allows users to connect to document management systems, and to generate many types of reports using tools such as Crystal Reports. OnPoint allows users to connect to back end business systems, and also allows users to do some very sophisticated advanced searching not only within their GIS system but also within their business systems.

Orion also markets a back office product called OnPoint BackOffice which allows users to manage GIS data within an ArcGIS environment. “This is used in organizations that have high data maintenance, for example on a street network in a distributed environment,” explained Jiwani. “Typically if planning is managing two or three layers, the engineering department is managing 3 or 4 layers, and the basemaps are being managed by the GIS group. In a distributed environment where you are checking in and checking out data, you're making sure that your ArcInfo and ArcEditor licenses are used in a manner they're supposed to be used. All the things that would be involved in managing
and maintaining a
GIS database-the geodatabase as well as features that may be shapefiles--are handled through our back office product.”


Tele Atlas, and ProMiles(R) Software Development Corporation (PSDC), announced that the two companies are collaborating to bring the power of ProMiles XF(R) and TruckMiles(R) truck routing applications and Tele Atlas' turn-by-turn map data to trucking and logistics companies. Through this expanded agreement, ProMiles will begin incorporating Tele Atlas' turn-by-turn data into its routing and logistics products for street level routing applications.

A $50,000 grant offered by CompassCom Inc., a Mobile Resource Management software solutions company, Sierra Wireless, a global wireless communication solutions provider, and AT&T Wireless, a developer of advanced voice and data solutions to the U.S. state, regional or local government agency that plans to develop the most innovative multi-departmental Mobile Asset Tracking project involving GPS and GIS technology. Eligible agencies include public works, public utilities and related departments. The grant winner will receive $50,000 in software, hardware, wireless data plans and training from the three grant sponsors.

Grant applications will be accepted beginning October 15, 2004, through 5:00 p.m. MST on November 15, 2004. Awards will be announced December 2, 2004.

The Library of Congress and the North Carolina State University Libraries entered into a cooperative agreement to complete a $1.044 million project through the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program on Sept. 30, 2004. The Library of Congress is contributing approximately half the total amount of the project. The NCSU Libraries is partnering with the North Carolina Center for Geographic Information and Analysis on a three-year project to collect and preserve at-risk digital geospatial data resources from state and local government agencies. Although the effort will focus solely on North Carolina, it is expected to serve as a demonstration project
for other states.

The geospatial resources targeted by the NCSU Libraries' project include digitized maps, geographic information systems (GIS) data sets, and remote sensing data resources such as digital aerial photography. A wide range of state and local agencies create these forms of data for use in tax assessment, transportation planning, hazard analysis, health planning, political redistricting, homeland security and utilities management.


Hurricane Watch

Torrential rain and winds exceeding 75mph from Hurricane Jeanne resulted in power outages and disruptions in the Caribbean service areas.GridSense Systems Inc. reports GridSense's LineTrackers™ were initially deployed at utilities in the region in June 2004, in advance of this year's hurricane season, primarily for planning functions like load studies and fault analyses. Feedback from engineers at America's second largest public utility, serving Puerto Rico, indicated that the LineTracker™ system performed beyond their expectations, even under severe storm conditions. The LineTrackers™ captured the peak current and the exact time and location of power outages on the
network during the most severe part of the storm, enabling the utility to more effectively restore service.

Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA), a community-owned utility serving 58,000 customers in central Florida, experienced the advantages of Responder, a GIS-hosted Outage Management System, in quickly restoring power to victims of three devastating hurricanes that have passed over the state of Florida in the last two months.

Ken Beville, GIS manager at KUA, reported, “Responder performed extremely well under these circumstances. We were able to easily visualize the concentration of outages geographically to support better crew dispatch without the guesswork involved in using trouble tickets. Maps enabled us to pinpoint exactly where each customer was located and respond quickly and appropriately.”

Government agencies and private organizations that need assistance in responding to Hurricane Ivan or other recent severe weather events can contact ESRI for temporary keycodes, on-site support, and other assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This assistance is available to any organization with geographic information system (GIS) needs, regardless of its GIS platform. These efforts are being coordinated through an e-mail alias. Send requests for assistance to
Email Contact.

Volcano Watch

In an article entitled
Volcano Research Goes High Tech, by Ed Frauenheim, CNET News.com, (October 1, 2004), it is stated that the most significant technology for monitoring a volcano's vital signs is global positioning technology. However, according to researchers, the volcano isn't necessarily going to erupt where you have the most instruments, so locations other than the one that is erupting are monitored. In addition to the new GPS units and digital seismometers, Mt. St. Helens scientists have older analog seismometers placed on the mountain.

To access NASA volcano images as they become available go to
http://amesnews.arc.nasa.gov/releases/2004/helen/helen.html and

On October 1 in Ottawa, the Honourable Mauril Bélanger, Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, will announce Government of Canada geomatics funding. He will make the announcement on behalf of the Honourable R. John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

This Government of Canada funding comes from a national partnership initiative called GeoConnections. This initiative helps make Canada's geospatial databases, applications and services readily available on-line.

For more information:

Tom Ormsby

Office of the Minister

Natural Resources Canada


(613) 996-2007

Ghyslain Charron

Media Relations

Natural Resources Canada


(613) 992-4447

Industry and government leaders gathered recently in Missoula, Montana to praise the value of Feature Analyst for powering GIS mapping efforts in Homeland Security, Defense and Intelligence, Forestry, and other vital application areas. Declaring in her keynote address that Visual Learning Systems (VLS) technology helps to “protect Montana's border”, Montana Governor Judy Martz explained, “the State of Montana, like many other state and local governments, has made large investments in GIS software, computer hardware, and most importantly geographic data. Tools, such as the VLS software Feature Analyst, can help government agencies address this cost by lowering the
labor hours required to produce and maintain features such as road, buildings, and streams.”

Union County, New Jersey, announced the launch of a Map Viewer tool on its public website as well as access to Web GIS for County staff. These new web-based services, powered by Orion Technology's OnPoint product, represent a new level of GIS sophistication for Union County. For the first time, visitors to Union County's public website can find addresses, intersections, and facilities in the area by manipulating interactive graphical maps. From a clearly labeled initial view, visitors can click different regions of the maps, zooming in to specific areas of interest or performing "quick searches" to take them directly to the information they need.

Contract Awards

ORBIMAGE Inc. announced that the company has been awarded a major contract by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA, formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, NIMA), valued at approximately $500 million. NGA announced on September 30, 2004 that it has selected ORBIMAGE as its NextView second vendor after a competitive selection process conducted over the last six months. The contract, awarded September 30, 2004, runs through September 30, 2008 and will provide ORBIMAGE with both long-term revenue commitments as well as capital for the development of OrbView-5, ORBIMAGE's next-generation high-resolution imaging satellite. The contract, known as NextView ORBIMAGE,
also assures NGA of greater access and priority to high-resolution commercial satellite imagery.

Excellence Awards

Dr. David R. Anderson, a recently-retired USGS senior scientist, has received the highest honor bestowed by The Wildlife Society--the Aldo Leopold Memorial Award and Medal. Anderson earned the 2004 award for his lifelong achievements in estimating wildlife population abundance. He also developed the basis for the management strategies adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for continent-wide waterfowl harvests. His latest work resulted in a book, with long-term USGS colleague Kenneth P. Burnham, on methods for making formal statistical inference from more than a single model. The award was presented at The Wildlife Society's 11th annual conference in Calgary, Alberta, on Sept. 19.

New Products

MapInfo Corporation announced the European launch of Exponare, a powerful web-based location intelligence solution that will enable an organization to deploy location-based information across the entire enterprise to all users, regardless of skill levels. Exponare has been specifically designed to be user friendly and intuitive, with pre-built customizable modules catering to a wide range of users from technical specialists to the general public.

Thales announced the North American availability of its Magellan eXplorist 300. The easy-to-use, bright-blue Magellan eXplorist 300 is the first GPS handheld to deliver the convenience of a built-in nationwide background map, an electronic compass, altimeter, barometer and three-meter accuracy -- all for just $199.

Responding to the wastewater industry's ever-increasing need for powerful GIS-centric solutions, MWH Soft, Inc., a global provider of water resources applications software, announced the worldwide availability of InfoSewer for ArcGIS™ 9 (ESRI, Redlands, CA).

Bentley Systems, Incorporated, announced the release of Bentley Geo Web Publisher 2004 Edition, a high-performance Internet server that enables local or regional governments, utilities, communications providers, and other organizations to cost-effectively develop and deploy customized Internet sites offering public access to spatially indexed content.

QUALCOMM Incorporated, provider of wireless data solutions, announced the commercial release of its T2(TM) Untethered TrailerTRACS(R) Asset Management Solution for private fleets and for-hire carriers. The T2 Untethered TrailerTRACS solution is a stand-alone satellite/cellular system that offers rapid-status visibility into trailer locations and operational events and provides vehicle position reporting for improved fleet utilization and security. Features include sophisticated on-board hardware, advanced power management, complete network services, cargo and door sensors and data integration capabilities using state-of-the-art, multimode communications.

EMS Technologies, Inc. introduced a new tracking and management software system, eNcompass TMS, at the 2004 American Trucking Association's Management Conference and Exhibition.

MuskokaTech; a provider of handheld GPS Navigation and Mapping Software, announced the release of PathAway GPS 3 on the Windows Mobile (formerly Pocket PC) Handheld platform. This version offers all of the same power and functionality of the current version on the Palm OS platform.

TM Property Service Ltd in partnership with Laser-Scan, Attenda, Intergraph, Ordnance Survey GB (O.S) and Oracle, are set to launch 'YourMap', the first commercial service using OS MasterMap® topographic layer in Oracle 9i.

ESRI announced version 2.1 of Job Tracking for ArcGIS (JTX) is now shipping. JTX improves job tracking and work flow management in ArcGIS 9. JTX is a solution-based extension that provides an integration framework for ArcGIS multiuser geodatabase environments.

Around the Web...

In a New York Times (October 1, 2004) article by Ian Urbina entitled
Area Codes, Now Divorced from their Areas, the fact that phone calls now connect people, not places is discussed. Someone with a 212 area code could be calling from Baghdad, rather than New York. “Cellular phones, changing governmental regulations and new Internet technology have torn area codes from geography, allowing people to have phone numbers with area codes distant from where they live.” Interestingly there are those who debate the topic, among them technological pundits, telephone historians and Web preachers.

"For many people this will come as a deeply confusing development," said James E. Katz, a sociologist and director of mobile communication studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. "You delocalize area codes, and it's one less North Star and one less compass point that people have to help orient themselves in an increasingly complicated world."

In “
Tinker with your Computer and Reap the Rewards” (New York Times, October 3, 2004, by James Fallows), the author brings to light some alternative web browsers such as Opera, and Firefox, from Mozilla, and iRider, from Wymea Bay, a small start-up in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Where's the Simplicity in Web Services?, by Martin LaMonica, October 5, 2004, CNET News.com -- A debate is raging over whether the number of specifications based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), defining everything from how to add security to where to send data, has mushroomed out of control. Defenders of advanced Web services specifications say they are needed to ensure that new computing architectures are flexible enough to accommodate both sophisticated and smaller-scale applications. Detractors say that simpler application development methods are good enough.

Upcoming Events


Date: October 12 - 14, 2004

Place: Chelsea Village London, United Kingdom

agi2004 marks the 16th running of the Annual Conference; AGI will also lead the management and organization of the exhibition in the same location. This creates a unique opportunity for cross-over and interaction between exhibitors, delegates, conference speakers and session chairs. With 42 exhibitors showcasing the latest technology and 80 world leading speakers at the conference can you afford not to attend?

GeoInt 2004 Symposium

Date: October 12 - 14, 2004

Place: Sheraton New Orleans New Orleans, LA USA

GEOINT 2004 is the premier event for the Geospatial intelligence community-bringing government, industry, and military leaders together with leading suppliers and industry experts.

6th Annual GeoBusiness Conference 2004

Date: October 14, 2004

Place: RICS Westminster Centre London, United Kingdom

GeoBusiness 2004, sponsored by Ordnance Survey, promises to be a landmark event for anyone with an interest in Store Location Planning, Marketing, Customer Insight, Market Analysis or geographical Information Systems (GIS). Hear leading Industry experts cover the breaking news and emerging technologies that are shaping the future of these disciplines.

Wireless Industry Congress 2004

Date: October 17 - 19, 2004

Place: Ottawa, Canada

David Wood, Sr. VP Marketing for Telcontar will be delivering the following presentation: Trends in Navigation and Implementing Wireless Navigation Services Find out how different companies have created applications targeted at specific wireless carriers, vehicle OEMs or corporate enterprise market segments. See from demonstrations how each has arrived at very different feature sets, architectures, user interfaces and business models. Learn how integration of disparate voice, mapping, real time data feeds, wireless networks and client software and hardware products can be achieved and what key factors to consider as you examine your company's positioning and opportunity in the
location-based services market. Examine how the strengths and weaknesses of each approach will impact the evolution of the navigation market, and explore the business opportunities that could develop as a result.

The 12th Australasian Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Conference

Date: October 18 - 22, 2004

Place: Fremantle Western Australia, Australia

The 12th Australasian Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Conference (ARSPC) will be held at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, Western Australia from Monday 18 October to Friday 22 October 2004. ARSPC is Australia's biennial event for practitioners and allied industries.

GIScience 2004

Date: October 20 - 23, 2004

Place: The Inn and Conference Center University of Maryland , MD USA

GIScience 2004 is the follow-up meeting to the highly successful GIScience 2000 and 2002 conferences with over 300 researchers attending each time. GIScience 2004 will again bring together scientists from academia, industry, and government to analyze progress and to explore new research directions.

SWUG Conference 2004 "Taking GIS to Higher Peaks"

Date: October 20 - 22, 2004

Place: Telluride Conf. Center Telluride, CO USA

The Southwest Users Group (SWUG)conference brings together GIS users from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming to exchange knowledge, discuss new ideas, explore resources, and support the development of diverse GIS interests and education.

GO! Sync (Replicate) Webinar

Date: October 21, 2004

Place: USA

GO! Sync (Replicate), a turnkey solution to replicate ArcSDE, is designed to by ArcGIS developers for ArcGIS departments. By fully adopting the ArcGIS environment, including versioning, it enables organizations to seamlessly replicate data to other departments, regions or third parties. Using the configuration tool in ArcCatalog, replication criteria can be assigned using both spatial and feature restrictions.

AGIC 2004 GIS Education and Training Symposium

Date: October 27 - 29, 2004

Place: Prescott, AZ USA

Experience GIS at its best this fall in the mile-high city of Prescott, Arizona. Three days of workshops, technical demonstrations, and activities presented by national and local professionals will keep you and your staff current on the latest GIS technologies. Explore vendor exhibits and network with GIS professionals from across the State. Learn about current developments and challenges in a quickly changing industry and share your own insights into the world of GIS. Whether you enter the poster contest to show off your latest project, attend the workshops to fine tune your GIS skills, or are looking to keep up to date with old friends, Prescott is the place to be in October.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.