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August 30, 2004
Jack Dangermond on Standards and Interoperability
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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!

Message from the Editor -


Welcome to GISWeekly! "I think we have to be mindful of interoperability at every turn we take so that we offer an open standards based software platform for our customers who expect and demand it." - Jack Dangermond.


Participation in standards organizations has led to the development of ESRI products that actually have standards implemented in them. Read about it in this week's Industry News.


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, New Products, Going on 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


Jack Dangermond on Standards and Interoperability


By Susan Smith


At the ESRI conference I spoke with Jack Dangermond about standards and interoperability specifically, as I wanted to find out more about the evolution of the ArcGIS Data Interoperability Toolkit that was featured and demonstrated at the conference. ESRI's participation in standards organizations has led to the development of the ArcGIS Data Interoperability Toolkit, Geodatabase XML and will continue to be an integral part of product development in years to come.


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ESRI President Jack Dangermond
Mr. Dangermond said that ESRI has put about $300,000 of financial contributions into working on the OGC's Simple Feature Standards, which was the OGC's first standard. “First we were involved at the technical level as a technical member.” The OGC has over 100 member organizations or government agencies, and is principally financed by its members. The more money an organization pays, the more it can participate in any area of interest.


How do standards impact the way ESRI develops products? I asked. “We have membership in 12 or 13 standards organizations; for example, the biggest one is ISO, and they focus on the IT standards,” said Mr. Dangermond. “Another large one is W3C which focuses on the standards of the web. Our focus is to build software products that are standards based, and the first standards that we adopt are the bigger standards that are the general IT and web standards.”


The OGC is focused on unique GIS specific areas. The standards process involves four stages: the first one is thinking about them or talking about them, and a forum like OGC or ISO allows members to talk among themselves. Out of those discussions come ideas that are worth piloting or prototyping, which become Stage Two. OGC takes the initiative of getting sponsorship for somebody to do a pilot and the sponsorship can be a private company or a government agency who is using GIS and they have a problem. The members prototype an idea and it becomes a demonstration of what a standard might look like.


ESRI does not always participate in Stage Two, but after the pilot is done and some loose standards have been formulated, it is put into a draft mode which is Stage Three. Here, ESRI may develop a prototype code and put it in an open source environment for their users to download as it relates to ESRI tools. “Eventually it goes into engineering inside of our tools,” said Dangermond. “The four stages sometimes takes years from when somebody has an idea to when we actually solidify it into a good standard. That exact same process is what we do with web standards and all the other standards. So OGC is actually one of many organizations we work with. Many of these things we
debate within this open community; we agree and disagree; that's the politics of the standards organization.”


ESRI was the chief architect behind the OGC OpenLS standard for location services. “We have some people who were technically capable of being in a leadership position in that area. We certainly see location services as an extension to fundamental GIS so we see it as an application of GIS.”


A product that falls into Stage 4 of OGC is the ArcGIS Data Interoperability Toolkit, “it is it an offshoot of what we've been doing with the OGC,” Dangermond explained. “ESRI products have always been supportive of different data interoperability standards. Back in the early 80s, we implemented many of the government standards when nobody else did. In the late 80s we had maybe 40 or 50 data converters to move either from ArcTools to a standard interoperable format and back or to another proprietary system such as from CAD to GIS, GIS to CAD. These data converters were direct read tools and were in our basic product. But Safe Software has made it a business to read and
write directly and do
conversion with not only with the formats we have traditionally supported but lots more. They can do it because they work with all the other vendors and they also track the standards maybe better than we do. So we asked if we could develop a joint product extension which would extend our capabilities to convert data back and forth between other systems and directly read them, and also support all the standards. We formulated this as well as some advanced tools to build your own translator so that's now implementing many standards and implementing proprietary read write tools inside of our product.”


Proprietary and open standards are implemented directly into ArcGIS Data Interoperability Toolkit, the culmination of 25-30 years' worth of work. “One of the problems with lots of standards efforts is they are good ideas but they're not well engineered, and they fail,” said Dangermond. “So these are proven technologies that are designed to make things work.”


What are some of ESRI's goals in working with standards in the future? “I think we have to be mindful of interoperability at every turn we take so that we offer an open standards based software platform for our customers who expect and demand it. We've done our best at multiple levels over the years to make sure that's happening. And we will continue that same philosophy.” Also demonstrated was ESRI's Geodatabase XML, an open interchange format to allow the exchange of information between geodatabases and other external systems. The complete geodatabase schema and content is published as an XML specification so that users can learn to share data updates between disparate
systems. Dangermond
concluded: “My vision of GIS is that it will be a massive interoperable network with lots of vendors and lots of datasets. It's good for our customers and it's also good for the whole industry.”




Acquisitions /Alliances/Agreements


NAVTEQ and SmartRoute Systems, Inc., announced a multi-year cross-licensing agreement to integrate SmartRoute's traffic incident data into the NAVTEQ Traffic(TM) solution for certain navigation enabled devices in North America. The agreement also enables SmartRoute to offer its customers traffic data and other information geocoded to NAVTEQ(TM) maps.


Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced that it will grant Haestad Methods software valued at $5 million to colleges and universities with degree programs in civil and environmental engineering.


GGP Systems is helping local authorities improve the accuracy of their computer records through special software that repositions mapped asset locations to match updated Ordnance Survey maps. The development follows a new joint venture with TENET, the company behind the innovative 'MapRite' software. Mapped 'overlay' records stored in GGP's Geographic Information System (GIS) are re-aligned automatically. This saves a considerable amount of time by eliminating tedious manual updating.


SiRF Technology Holdings, Inc. announced the signing of a licensing and co-marketing agreement with SK Telecom Co., Ltd. of Seoul, Korea to enable wider deployment of location based services (LBS) worldwide. Under the terms of the agreement, SiRF and SK Telecom agree to create and jointly market to operators worldwide a new LBS platform based on SiRF's patented, multimode A-GPS SiRFLoc(TM) Server Engine and SiRFLoc Client software. As part of the agreement to support the next generation of LBS applications, SK Telecom will introduce multiple handsets using SiRF's landmark SiRFstarIII(TM) architecture.


Pictometry International Corp. announced that it has secured its first and second letters of intent for new license agreements with prominent aerial imaging and mapping firms for the United Kingdom and Italy.


Simmons Aerofilms will become the exclusive distributor of the Pictometry software and image capture process for the UK and Ireland. Compagnia Generale Ripreseaeree (CGR) Group, a UNI-EN-ISO 9001 certified company with technical innovation in photogrammetry and remote sensing, will become the exclusive distributor of Pictometry solutions for Italy. Under terms of the letters of intent, Pictometry will be working to establish image capture criteria, processing facilities, and software distribution channels for each company in their respective countries. The agreements are subject to approval by the Boards of Directors for all companies.


Datatrac Corporation announced at its 2004 Users Conference that the company has teamed with ESRI to offer Datatrac customers added visibility and increased logistics efficiencies. Datatrac's wireless solutions run on Motorola GPS java-enabled phones, while its Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) application, called GeoTrac, is built on ESRI's ArcIMS GIS server software.


The Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions is pleased to announce that member company Forest One, Inc., in collaboration with the Texas Forest Service, is addressing Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) infestations for the USDA Forest Service using sophisticated software tools and satellite imagery. The project, funded by a USDA Forest Service research grant, will provide an automated, cost-effective and more accurate means of identifying forest mortality and the likelihood of SPB outbreaks.




Announcements


At the Map Asia 2004 conference, Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions is hosting a Vision Seminar, highlighting customer case studies and demonstrating open standards-based solutions for conference attendees. Held Aug. 26-29 in Beijing, China, Map Asia 2004 is themed "Building Asia: Enabling g-Lateral Ties" and will provide a platform for the convergence, sharing and use of geospatial technologies. Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions President, Preetha Pulusani, will open the Vision Seminar at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28 and discuss the current state of the mapping, geospatial and IT industry in Asia. Pulusani will present a case for the importance of a geospatial
infrastructure based on open standards to promote global sustainable development and touch on recent related advancements and investments made in mapping and geospatial technology on the Asian continent.


SiRF Technology, Inc. announced that its SiRFstarIIe/LP GPS technology provides the location platform for Navman's sleek new PiN (Personal Interactive Navigation) device. The PiN is among a growing crop of personal Pocket PC products unveiled this year offering navigation as the principal function -- a development that has expanded the functionality of PDAs from the office to the car.


Cary and Associates of Longmont, Colo., announces the release of a market report "U.S. Federal Procurement of Geotechnology 2003." Geotechnology spending reported to the Federal Procurement Data System by federal agencies exceeded $6 billion for the first time. This represents an increase of nearly eight percent over 2002.


A follow-on to last year's report for federal fiscal years (FY) 2000-2002, this report identifies 73 agencies that purchased a range of geotechnology products and services from 307 companies during FY 2003. Geotechnology is broadly defined to include a number of related fields, such as data conversion and digitizing, satellite and aerial imagery, environmental management and consulting, GIS consulting and application development, mapping services, and professional engineering services.


The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Friday that President Bush has ordered the release of federal disaster funds and emergency resources for Florida to aid people battered by Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley.


LizardTech, Inc. announced that its next generation MrSID® format (MG3) is now being supported in GE Energy's Smallworld(tm) product suite.


ESRI announced that at the recent Norwegian User Conference, Olaf Østensen, chairman of ISO/TC 211, and ESRI President Jack Dangermond opened the Norwegian prototype
portal for geographic information and services. The ISO/TC 211 Geographic Information/Geomatics committee is responsible for the ISO geographic information set of standards. The decision to develop a portal was in response to the Norwegian Parliament's June 2003 white paper Digital Norway, which called for a national portal for geographic information and services.


URISA is pleased to announce the results of its 2004 Board of Directors Election. Cindy Domenico will become President-Elect of the association and Eric Bohard, Shoreh Elhami, and Allen Ibaugh will begin their three-year terms as members of the Board of Directors, at the close of URISA's 42nd Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada this November.


Autodesk, Inc. announced financial results for its second fiscal quarter ended July 31, 2004. For the second quarter, Autodesk reported net revenues of $280 million, a 32 percent increase over $212 million reported in the second quarter of the prior year.


Second quarter net income was $39 million, or $0.31 per diluted share on a GAAP basis, and $42 million, or $0.34 per diluted share on a pro-forma basis. Pro-forma net income excludes a $4 million pre-tax restructuring charge. Net income in the second quarter of the prior year was $33 million, or $0.29 per diluted share on a GAAP basis, and $12.9 million or $0.11 per diluted share on a pro-forma basis. Pro-forma net income in the second quarter of the prior year excluded a one-time tax benefit of $19.7 million related to the favorable resolution of an industry wide issue regarding foreign sales corporations.


Analytical Surveys, Inc. (ASI) announced financial results for its third fiscal quarter and nine months ended June 30, 2004.


Third quarter revenue was $3,340,000 versus $3,753,000 in the third fiscal quarter of 2003. Net earnings available to common shareholders totaled $1,250,000, or $0.67 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $232,000, or $0.28 per diluted share, for the third quarter last year. The Company reported a third quarter loss from operations of $115,000 compared with a loss from operations of $444,000 for the comparable quarter last year. Net income was favorably impacted by a $1,475,000 gain on the early redemption of preferred stock in the third fiscal quarter of 2004.


Strategic Research Institute presents the second Commercial Remote Sensing Conference, September 13 & 14, in Denver.


iSECUREtrac(TM) Corp. reported record revenues for the second quarter of 2004 of just under $1.2 million compared to $924,000 for the first quarter of 2004 and $111,000 for the second quarter of 2003.


For the six months ending June 30, 2004, the Company reported revenues exceeding $2 million compared to $179,000 for the six months ending June 30, 2003. The operating loss for the second quarter 2004 was $942,000 compared to $3.6 million for the first quarter. Net loss for the second quarter ending June 30, 2004 was $2.4 million vs. $3.8 million for the first quarter.


The Florida Farm Bureau (FFB) Insurance Companies, a leading provider of domestic property and casualty insurance in Florida, is using MapInfo technology to provide immediate customer service to Hurricane Charley victims. With more than six million of Florida's 17 million residents directly affected by this Category 4 hurricane, FFB is using MapInfo technology to analyze the thousands of claims it is receiving on a daily basis and more quickly respond to the needs of its policyholders.


The Open GIS Consortium (OGC) has issued a call for sponsors for an OGC Web Services (OWS 3) interoperability initiative, a test bed activity to advance OGC's open framework for interoperability in the geospatial industry. Interested organizations are invited to attend an all day informal planning meeting on 25 August 2004 in Herndon, Virginia.


The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) announced that the former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet will give the opening keynote address at the GEOINT 2004 Symposium. GEOINT 2004 will be held October 12-14, 2004, in New Orleans.




New Products


ESRI announced BusinessMAP 3.5 supports the latest version ofACT!® 2005 contact and customer management product family from Best Software. BusinessMAP, the affordable, easy-to-use database mapping solution for business, transforms database information from ACT! into color-filled maps useful for making better marketing decisions.


ESRI announced that ArcGIS Schematics 2.3 is now available. ArcGIS Schematics is an ArcGIS extension that enables users to generate, visualize, and manipulate diagrams from network data in a geodatabase. The ArcGIS Schematics 2.3 extension is designed to improve the efficiency of creating and working with schematic diagrams using ArcGIS 8.3 and 9 Desktop software.


SpotMeeting.com is an innovative, online location-based singles network launched that allows people to meet each other face-to-face regardless of where they are.


Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of Microsoft(R) Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS Locator, a landmark product that combines the company's first Global Positioning System (GPS) hardware device with the latest version of the best-selling(1) mapping and travel planning software for the United States and Canada. Streets & Trips 2005 with GPS Locator provides real-time GPS tracking and a comprehensive array of maps, driving directions and points of interest to help travelers know exactly where they are and where they are headed at all times.


Cornice Inc. -- an innovator in compact, high-capacity storage -- announced that the Garmin StreetPilot 2620 and 2660 feature the 2.0-gigabyte Cornice Storage Element, enabling these new, small GPS devices to store detailed maps of the entire United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.


Laser-Scan announced the launch of Radius Topology version 2.5. This release contains new functionality developed directly as a response to partner and customer needs.


GeoLeaders announced the release of the new CubeWerx Web Registry Server metadata management solution. This product greatly enhances CubeWerx offerings in the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) market and is one of the first metadata management solutions available in the United States to implement the OpenGIS® Consortium's new Catalog Services Specification. This innovative solution provides “one stop shopping” for resource registration, metadata harvesting, update and discovery for SDI customers in local, state, regional and national markets.


Leica Geosystems announced the introduction of the DISTO Classic5a high-precision laser measuring tool with a totally new ergonomic design, extended measuring range, additional measuring functions, a built-in telescopic viewer and numerous other new features.


CubeWerx announced the release of its CubeWerx® Web Registry Server solution.




Around the Web...


UPS vs. FedEx: Head-to-Head on Wireless CIO, June 2004 - FedEx and UPS are always seeking a competitive edge over one another. And as the two companies are encroaching on each other's primary businesses (UPS on overnight delivery and FedEx on ground delivery), they are concurrently stepping up their wireless deployments as well. The reason: operational efficiency and critical business requirement aimed at shaving costs, increasing reach and doing more with the same resources.


TSCC will Keep Airports in the Loop, Access Control and Security Systems Integration, May 04 - The United States has hundreds of airports, thousands of trucks, and thousands of miles of rail and pipeline to safeguard, not to mention the nation's ports. Any piece of this system can become vulnerable at any point. The mission of the Transportation Security Coordination Center (TSCC) - operated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) - is to gather intelligence and recommend action to mitigate security risks or problems.




Upcoming Events


URISA's Sixth Annual GIS in Addressing Conference

Date: August 29 - September 1, 2004

Place: St. Louis, MO USA

The Conference focuses on all aspects of addressing - integration into existing systems, user-friendly information systems, solutions to problems, and newly emerging challenges. This Conference will bring together participants with a rich diversity of experience. Last year's program featured over 50 unique presentations and was enjoyed by almost 200 attendees.


GIM 2004

Date: September 2 - 3, 2004

Place: Zaragoza, Spain

The aim of GIM 2004 is to present innovative research and development contributions in the context of Geographic Information Management. GIM should inspire a fruitful dialogue between developers, users, expert scientists working in this field.


EUGISES 2004

Date: September 2 - 5, 2004

Place: Villach, Austria

The Fourth Annual European GIS Education Seminar


NSGIC 2004 Annual Conference

Date: September 12 - 16, 2004

Place: Hyatt Regency Austin 208 Barton Springs, Austin, TX USA

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) is an organization of States committed to efficient and effective government through the prudent adoption of geospatial information technologies. Members of NSGIC include delegations of senior state geographic information system managers from across the United States. Other members include representatives from federal agencies, local government, the private sector, academia and other professional organizations.


Images to Decisions: Remote Sensing Foundations for GIS Applications

Date: September 12 - 16, 2004

Place: Kansas City, MO USA

he Fall 2004 ASPRS Specialty Conference "Images to Decisions; Remote Sensing Foundations for GIS Applications" will focus on the integration of remote sensing image data into GIS and Decision Support Systems (DSS). The intended audience is the GIS practitioner who needs information about the extraction and use of data and products derived from airborne and satellite sensors.


IMTA (Americas) 2004 Annual Conference & Trade Show

Date: September 19 - 22, 2004

Place: Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World Lake Buena Vista, FL USA



You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.


To read more news, click here.



-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.