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February 02, 2004
ROI Analysis for Local Governments
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! “Even small cities can afford sound ROI analysis,” according to Brandt Melick, GIS program supervisor for the City of Springfield, Oregon, adding, “My objective is to provide some meaningful information to assist those facing ROI analysis within their organizations.” Melick's presentation was part of a webcast entitled “Building a Rock-solid Business Case” hosted by GITA this week. 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, Alliances/Acquisitions, Announcements, New Products, Going on Around the Web, and Calendar.

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

ROI Analysis for Local Governments

By Susan Smith

This week GITA presented a webcast entitled “Building a Rock-solid Business Case” featuring Brandt Melick, GIS program supervisor for the City of Springfield, Oregon; Bill Meehan, director, Utilities Solutions at ESRI; and Mark Millman, independent consultant, Mark Millman & Associates. The webcast offered some sound advice to an audience of managers who want to make a case to decision-makers for upgrading or implementing a GIS and/or IMS project in their organizations.

Although much of the information was quite basic, there were some moments of profundity and great guidance offered, the emphasis not being on any particular software or GIS configuration, but on business strategies for those who are facing return on investment analysis (ROI).

I picked out one of the three presenters to profile this week that would have broad relevance to GIS professionals. Brandt Melick presented on the topic of calculating ROIs, or cost benefit analysis for local governments, with limited staff and limited financial resources. His mantra was “Even small cities can afford sound ROI analysis.” He added, “My objective is to provide some meaningful information to assist those facing ROI analysis within their organizations.”

He used the case study of the city of Springfield, Oregon, as an example to describe their ROI analysis approach. “At the city of Springfield, we maintain many GIS inventories--we have address points, tax lot polygons, full planimetrics, DTMS, high resolution orthophotography, as well as several other infrastructure inventories. Of those we have the pipe sewer system, surface waterways, detailed street inventory, public works and public safety computer aided dispatch. For the city of Springfield the water and electric inventories are maintained by our local water board. They have CAD maps and work order management systems but have not fully integrated the two, nor have they decided to
their facilities on a common base. We encourage them to use our existing data holdings and look forward to the opportunity to share data with them.”

“For our case, I'll use a recent infrastructure inventory integration project which focuses on piped sewers. Our integration project consisted of integrating all city maintained pipe sewer infrastructure - all of our sanitary and storm sewers --that is about 16,000 segments and about 18,000 nodes --a fairly small system. We faced extensive upfront business system documentation, the arduous task of consolidating all hard copy sewer map sources across the several divisions and the implementation of advanced GI technologies. We anticipated significant time savings across the board, decreased systems administration overhead, enhanced decision support, and significant reduction of the
of sewer map maintenance activities. It was a big project for a small organization like Springfield. We had a lot of integration work to do behind the scenes as well. We faced reconciling our work order management systems' records with our existing CAD and GIS features, developing common spatial behaviors and database domains. We proposed the use of Caice tools to handle view behaviors like symbology annotation as well as spatial data translators to provide truly interoperable solutions to support both our CAD and GIS users with native data formats. We even hope to provide links for future integration with regional enterprise systems.

“We were able to build in hooks for most of the enterprise system and in some cases we're even able to build in transactional components with these other systems to provide functionality beyond our original scope. The essence of our approach to ROI analysis was on what's focused and simplicity-Why did we need to replace the old system? How long could we afford to sustain the old system? What were people doing now that took so long? We were moving from wasteful practice to best practice and this is how we would save time and money. It was no longer an issue of should we do this or everyone else is doing it. We moved the discussion to : here's how much it costs to maintain our maps now
and here's
how much it will cost once we are finished. We calculated costs per day, per year, etc. We accomplished this by focusing on specific infrastructure activities that are required to meet certain program outcomes. We worked with local area experts and stakeholders across the city, borrowed from IT archives from old business system design documentation and business area analysis which our GIS group had worked on in the past. We walked around with engineers, timing our activities and we explained and lobbied along the way, describing the benefits of the new system and describing how we were deriving our cost savings. We wanted everyone to understand that ROI analysis is definitely something you
don't want to be black boxed. It has to be simple and clearly linked to our integration project objectives.

“As our objectives were above all to consolidate the story of the infrastructure mapping activities we decided to focus on as-built work order processing. That is, as as-construct plans are submitted to the city, mapsets across the city were being updated by many map custodians. Staff in our environmental services division were updating their maps while maintenance staff were updating their versions and engineering surveyors were updating yet another set. Much duplicate effort was exhausted by maintaining a myriad of similar but by no means identical set of sewer maps. Taking this one common task of as-built work order processing to maintain a commonly understood vital set of
documents we
developed a unit cost, a cost before and after. We estimated the yearly number of units being processed, and then we calculated our yearly cost. Then we used these numbers to not only show our ROI but to argue urgency, that is, each year we did nothing, was actually a cost. We could avoid significant costs by doing it sooner rather than later.”

Melick's words to the wise were as follows: “Keep it simple and don't over do it. A simple, conservative, easy-to-believe ROI analysis is highly desirable. Always remember your audience. They need to be able to be able to walk around and see what your talking about. They need to be able to feel confident to take it to the next level.”

Melick also recommended focusing on cost savings as opposed to savings on increased efficiencies, as increased efficiencies tend to increase service. For this particular project, about 10 hours of ROI analysis resulted in significant funding--about $100,000 to integrate all their pipe and sewer infrastructure and sufficiently reduce automated mapping, facilities management and GIS systems administration overhead.


VARGIS LLC, geospatial and mapping services and products company, and Infotech Software Solutions, Inc., (ISSI) a Riverside-CA-based GIS and engineering software services company have signed a merger agreement whereby ISSI acquires complete ownership of VARGIS. The acquisition creates a major new resource for GIS and mapping solutions for US government and commercial markets. Following the acquisition, the geospatial product and service offerings of both companies in the US will be consolidated under VARGIS.

DigitalGlobe® and Keyhole© announced a multi-faceted agreement to provide DigitalGlobe's QuickBird satellite imagery and Keyhole's Internet-based 3D earth visualization solutions to customers. By deploying DigitalGlobe's high-resolution imagery in concert with Keyhole's applications for business decision makers, the agreement further accelerates the adoption of DigitalGlobe's satellite imagery by commercial markets, and provides Keyhole customers with coverage and currency of earth imagery.

Calgary-based North West Geomatics Ltd. announced that it has acquired 100% of the outstanding shares of Pixxures Canada, Inc., a online provider of aerial and satellite imagery for Alberta and the continental US. Pixxures Canada Inc. was a wholly owned subsidiary of Pixxures, Inc. of Arvada, Colorado.

Space Imaging has been awarded a contract to continue providing geographic information services (GIS) in support of the operations of the U.S. Forest Service's Regional Office in Vallejo, Calif., its Remote Sensing Laboratory in Sacramento and the 18 national forests throughout California's Region 5. The contract has a maximum potential value of $1,300,000 over three years.

MapMart, provider of online mapping and geospatial database information, announced a partnership with Easy Analytic Software, Inc. (EASI), Bellmawr, New Jersey , to provide their demographic data via the World Wide Web.


ESRI-Denver wishes to thank users who responded to the recent survey regarding the Southwest User Group (SWUG) Conference. The majority preference is to hold the next conference in the Fall of 2004 in Southwest Colorado. The tentative date is October 18-22, 2004, at the Telluride Conference Center in Telluride, Colorado. Scott Bartling of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and Rick Szmajter of the City of Durango have agreed to co-chair the SWUG 2004 Committee. Anyone who would still like to volunteer should contact either Scott or Rick.

SWUG 2004 Committee Co-Chairs

Scott Bartling

phone: 970-622-2336

Email Contact

Rick Szmajter

phone: 970-382-5338

Email Contact

A summary of the SWUG 2004 summary results has been posted on the
ESRI Denver Regional Web Page.

ESRI Canada announced client support for OGC-compliant data sources that will allow users of ESRI software to leverage the capabilities of Web Map Servers (WMS), Web Feature Servers (WFS), and data stored as Geographic Markup Language (GML) files. This client support is available now as free extensions to ESRI products (ArcGIS Desktop and ArcExplorer Java Edition 4.01) and is included in ArcExplorer Web Services Edition, an online application that may be accessed through a web browser.

ESRI announced a new Data Interoperability extension for ArcGIS 9.0 Desktop and a Data Delivery extension for ArcIMS 9.0. Jointly developed by ESRI and Safe Software, these extensions eliminate barriers for data sharing by providing state-of-the-art direct data access, data transformation, and export capabilities. This development will allow ArcGIS Desktop and ArcIMS users to easily use and distribute data in many formats.

Tele Atlas, provider of digital map data and location content, will host its Fourth Partner Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is the first time the event will be held in the United States. The company's customers and partners will attend the event along with other leading executives in the car navigation, portable navigation, wireless and location-based services industries. Tele Atlas will present its vision for the industry, showcase current and future products and initiatives and establish a framework among its partners to continue fostering communication, collaboration and innovation now and in the future.

Tadpole Computer, a UNIX(R) platform notebook vendor, announced that the Sun Java(TM) Desktop System from Sun Microsystems, Inc. is now available on Tadpole's latest notebook family, TALIN(R).

Congressman Trent Franks, a Republican from the 2nd District of Arizona, will be the keynote speaker at the MAPPS Winter Meeting on Friday, January 31 at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park (Phoenix), Arizona.

Safe Software Inc., spatial data and transformation technologies company, announced that the next release of its flagship FME product will feature extensive new integrations with ESRI's ArcGIS family of products.

The combination of FME technology with ArcGIS 8.3 and 9.0 shows how Spatial ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) and GIS technologies can complement each other to provide interoperable spatial processing and analysis solutions. This is further evidenced by ESRI's decision to use FME and Safe Software to power the recently announced ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension.

MapInfo Corporation (Nasdaq: MAPS) reported earnings per share of $0.04 on revenue of $28.6 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 ended December 31, 2003. The first quarter revenue represented a 37 percent gain over the $20.9 million reported for the first quarter last year. Net income for the first quarter was $637,000, or $0.04 per share, compared to a loss of $1.9 million, or $0.12 per share, in the same quarter last year.

MapInfo ended the quarter with $35.4 million in cash and investments and generated $1.2 million in cash from operations. Deferred revenue stands at $13.0 million at the end of the quarter, an increase of 33 percent over the quarter ended December 31, 2002.
Antenna specialist Sarantel has been awarded a contract to supply its miniature GPS antenna to high-reliability communications specialist SAVOX for use in its track-mate GPS module. The new track-mate, developed in Finland, provides precise GPS location ability to Nokia's THR880 TETRA terminal.

Marco Polo. Alexander the Great. They were some of history's most prolific explorers, each trekking across sweeping stretches of Europe and Asia in their lifetimes. But these greats of world history had nothing on you, thanks to a new topographic data set from NASA and the National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency (NGA). You now can explore the vast reaches of most of Europe, Asia and numerous islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the comfort of home, without breaking a sweat.

Gathered in just 10 days by NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) in February 2000, the new digital elevation data set showcases some of Earth's most diverse, mysterious and extreme topography. Much of it previously had been very poorly mapped due to persistent cloud cover or inaccessible terrain.

The new data being released comprise more than one-third of the entire SRTM data set.

People around the world will benefit from the release of the SRTM Europe and Asia topographic data sets because they greatly extend our knowledge of this immense region that also is home to most of Earth's citizens," said Dr. John LaBrecque, manager, Solid Earth and Natural Hazards Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington.

Televigation and American Wireless, North American Wireless Master Agent and Distributor, announced that American Wireless will distribute the TeleNav(R) mobile phone-based GPS navigation service -- powered by Televigation -- in the continental U.S. and Hawaii. American Wireless will distribute the TeleNav service through its nationwide network of independent retailers, thus greatly extending the market availability of this revolutionary wireless navigation service.


Dr Hugh Buchanan, External Relations Manager for Scotland with the national mapping agency will fill the position of Ordnance Manager Manager for AGI which represents the interests of the geographic information industry. Based in Edinburgh, Dr Buchanan is part of Ordnance Survey's Public Affairs team. He develops policy relationships with parliamentarians, central government and other key figures in Scotland's public sector.

New Products

PCI Geomatics has completed and is now shipping the newest update of Geomatica to customers around the globe. Geomatica 9 Version 9.1, the company's newest edition of its landmark geospatial software solution, improves on a solid performance reputation for remote sensing, photogrammetry, GIS, and cartography established by its predecessor.

GPS Industries Inc. (GPSI) (OTCBB:GPSN), (Germany: Berlin and Frankfurt WKN#: 252179), developer and provider of global positioning (GPS) golf course and sports solutions announced that it will be introducing a new color handheld GPS mobile display unit, forming the broadest product line the industry has to offer. The new unit will debut at the 2004 PGA Merchandise Show being held in Orlando, Florida on January 29 - February 1, 2004.

On-board motion detection, remote temperature sensing, low battery detection, external antenna capability, and optional line power are among the features now available on AXONN's battery operated AXTracker GPS telemetry device. AXTracker operates with the Globalstar satellite network, which is currently enabled in North America and the Middle East. Additional regions are planned in the near future.

CubeWerx, a company devoted to the development and commercialization of interoperable technologies for the storage, management and distribution of geospatial data on the Internet, announced that it will soon release software extensions that allow ESRI® ArcGIS® 8 and MapInfo Professional® 7 GIS desktop users to fully leverage all the capabilities of OGC-compliant Web Map Servers.

Going on Around the Web...

Tracks of Dinosaur-Era Mammal Found AOL News (subscription only) January 27, 2004--Rare fossilized tracks of a small mammal dating to the age of dinosaurs have been found at the Fossil Trace Golf Course west of Denver. The tracks were left by a rat-sized mammal that hopped across the mud 68 million years ago.

Roaming the Red Planet NASA site -- new content on M2K4.

Upcoming Events...

GIS Ostrava 2004
Date: January 26 - 28, 2004

Place: Ostrava-Poruba, Czech Republic

This year marks the First International Symposium at GIS Ostrava 2004. Since 1994, this meeting has been organized every year and has developed into one of the most important GI/GIT conferences in the Czech Republic. Conference subtitle is "Mobile and Internet Technologies."

2004 SMAC Biennial Conference

Date: January 28 - 30, 2004

Place: Columbia, SC USA

Registration and detailed information will go out in December 2003 Registration: $150.00 - Entire Conference (Advanced Registration) $75.00 - Single Day (Advanced Registration) Student $35.00 - No meals (must provide copy of current Student ID)

Map India 2004

Date: January 28 - 30, 2004

Place: Hotel Taj Palace New Delhi, India

Map India 2004 is the 7th Annual International Conference and Exhibition in the field of geographic information technologies like GIS, GPS, Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing. Responding to the needs of the industry, the research community and every individual's right to Geospatial information, this year again, Map India aims to provide a platform for the convergence, sharing and use of technologies and experiences in the Geospatial domain.

University Consortium for GIS Winter Meeting

Date: February 5 - 6, 2004

Place: Washington, D.C., USA

This year's congressional program will be dedicated to the theme of homeland security. The Policy and Legislation Committee has selected seven presentations from a large number of outstanding proposals, for this event to showcase the role of GI Science in addressing various homeland security issues. These presentations will report homeland security research activities at a number of member institutions that are supported by federal funding. The Congressional program will be followed by briefings to UCGIS delegates by federal agencies involved in GI Science. Discussion will center on grant opportunities in federal governments to support GI Science research.

International Lidar Mapping Forum (ILMF2004)

Date: February 9 - 10, 2004

Place: USA

Contact Person: Andy Bogle
Email Contact 713-785-6820

FME Training Course

Date: February 12 - 13, 2004

Place: Honolulu, HI USA

Join our two-day (1/3 lecture, 2/3 exercise and problem solving) course and learn to unlock the powerful features of FME to more effectively manage your data translation and data transformation challenges. FME Training can help open up a whole new world of possibilities for you. Questions are encouraged throughout the class and attendees are encouraged to bring their own sample data files.

A|E|C Systems...Technology for Design & Construction

Date: February 17 - 19, 2004

Place: Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL USA

The former A/E/C SYSTEMS International and Computers for Construction have been combined to form a reinvented, revitalized and refocused single event, A|E|C Systems...Technology for Design & Construction.

IT/GIS in Public Works URISA Conference

Date: February 25 - 27, 2004

Place: Charlotte, NC USA

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.