[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
July 28, 2003
Profile of GIS on Decision Making in Kosovo
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! Our Industry News this week features Shawn Messick, a leading expert in Applied GIS in the field of Humanitarian Relief, and his work in Kosovo. The focus of those efforts was on landmine decision support and prioritization management during the humanitarian emergency in Kosovo from 1999-2001. Messick's work analyzed the impact of GIS based tools on actual decision making in the Kosovo landmine/UXO clearance operations.

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, Awards, Appointments, New Products, Featured Downloads, 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
Email Contact

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Profile of GIS on Decision Making in Kosovo

By Susan Smith

Shawn Messick is a leading expert on Applied GIS in the field of Humanitarian Relief, who, for the past eighteen years, has been involved in the assessment, design and evaluation of all aspects of relief and development programs including disarmament, demobilization, humanitarian mine action (demining) and post-crisis restoration of government functions and social services. His background includes expertise in policy formulation, implementation and coordination of complex, multi-disciplinary, interagency, multi-national and inter-governmental projects involving public, private and community organizations. In addition, Messick is an expert in strategic planning and decision support analysis,
design, evaluation and use of information management systems and geographic information systems for policy analysis, inter-agency coordination and program planning.

Messick is currently working as a Senior Analyst for VVAF's Information Management & Mine Action Programs (iMMAP), assisting the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) with humanitarian relief efforts in Iraq. He was one of seven humanitarian information management officers that iMMAP deployed to Iraq to support the UN Humanitarian Information Center (HIC) for that country. He has worked on post-conflict environments in countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Liberia, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Pakistan and Iraq.

A presentation Messick gave at the ESRI Conference this year, entitled “Did They Use It?” focused on landmine decision support and prioritization management during the humanitarian emergency in Kosovo from 1999-2001. It was a retrospective analysis of the impact of GIS based tools on actual decision making in the Kosovo landmine/UXO clearance operations.

“In Kosovo, we did the original impact analysis and prioritization plan for mine and UXO clearance there, based on a wide range of spatial data sets that were generated by the military and that we generated, we put together a sort of public hazard analysis that they used for setting prioritized clearance,” explained Messick. “After two and a half years they declared victory, and we were clear to standards where a national capacity can manage it. We went back into the datasets to see how well they actually used the system. Many of the methodologies had dealt with looking at information in a GIS and looking at a centrally used epidemiological survival analysis that allowed
us to check time to clearance from the original setup for the mine action program to its closure in December 2001.”

Messick said they could see the country experienced changing priorities which were mirrored in the data, which was largely spatial.

Epidemiologically sourced analysis looks at all the factors that can contribute to the demise of an organism, and why it survives in spite of those factors. In this case the team looked at factors that can contribute to the survival of a minefield or to the demise of a minefield, and why it survived.

Instead of assigning a single priority minefield, the group looked at the map in the GIS to see what other contaminated sites surrounded that minefield and grouped them as a single task, in order to save money and time on setup. Rather than just clearing a high priority task, an organization would clear the medium and low priority tasks surrounding it. “This is definitely a GIS function,” said Messick. “What that showed us was they were using GIS to assemble tasks, to expedite and make clearance more efficient.”

Mine sign
They cleared Kosovo to what the U.N. Mine Action Program call “post-World War II” clearance status, which means Kosovo is far from being completely clear but the public hazard is gone and the remainder can be handled without a massive international presence. “Even today in the Federal Republic of Germany they are still clearing mines,” Messick commented. “In 2000 they cleared 600,000 pieces of ordnance and that's going all the way back to the Franco-Prussian War. That's mostly in these construction sites.”

This project showed that GIS applied in humanitarian type emergency environments could actually be very useful as a decision support tool, not just a mapping tool. The operations managers actively used the GIS to reference information, group areas into tasks, make assignments and keep a steady flow of taskings going to the clearance organizations, and they were also able to make changes in priorities and policies. Terrain features were classified for each contaminated site, which helped to determine which sites would be the easiest to clear.

“The actual project was the first time anyone in the Mine Action community had ever seen a practical application of GIS, that was actually useful, that spurred and coincided with the development of the deployment of what they called the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) which is developed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and is sort of the standard system that is being deployed by the UN to all mine action programs around the world,” Messick said. “Kosovo was the test case--it was version .6.”

IMSMA is based on ESRI ArcView 3.2. On the back end the application runs off Microsoft Access. “ESRI has made a lot of contributions to the program, providing software gratis as a donation to country-wide mine action programs,” according to Messick. “In fact they're giving MapObjects to the Swiss development team so they can develop a standalone program that's based on MapObjects/Visual Basic. It's anticipated that IMSMA version 3 will be released in the next year and a half or so. They are also giving quite a few units of ArcGIS for deployment around the world.”

In summary, the Kosovo study demonstrated the ability to put together a complete plan to show to donor governments showing what could be achieved with the system and how it was simple enough for others to emulate. “What that resulted in is donor governments agreed to sustain a high level of funding that allowed them to complete the job,” Messick said.

Kosovo White Paper

Next week GISWeekly will cover another presentation by Shawn Messick on the topic of the initial work supporting humanitarian information efforts in Iraq.


Z-force(TM), Inc., the inventor of the file switch, today announced that Sanborn, a photogrammetric mapping and geographic information system (GIS) industry leader, has chosen the Z-force ZX-1000 File Switch to increase the capacity of its storage network and implement a scalable, low-cost NAS infrastructure that can grow incrementally to meet the needs of its rapidly growing business(1). Sanborn is one of several customers who have opted to move to a Z-force-based NAS infrastructure and enjoy very high capacity and performance in an environment that scales incrementally, is easy to manage, and has very low total cost of ownership (TCO).


The MapInfo Corporation Third Quarter FY 2003 Earnings Conference call webcast was held July 22.
call is available for replay.

The 21st annual summer meeting of MAPPS, a national association of private geospatial firms, kicks off on Sunday, July 27 at the Fairmont Princess Hotel in Southampton, Bermuda.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003, marks the 5th anniversary of GIS Day Many people around the world have already registered to host a program, display maps, or visit a classroom. To register your 2003 event go to
www.gisday.com. Registration ensures that your event description is listed and searchable on the Web site. You can also update your listing as new information becomes available at
update event info.

Clark Labs has recently been awarded a contract with the Andes Monitoring and Modeling Unit of Conservation International to develop new, spatially-explicit tools within the IDRISI Kilimanjaro software to aid in the analyses and simulation of Andean land-cover change scenarios and their effect on biodiversity. Dominant land uses in the Andes include deforestation, agro-business, mining, oil exploration, illicit crops, armed conflict, and urbanization.

The FGDC has released a draft of the proposed FGDC to ISO19115 metadata “crosswalk” for public review between July 8, 2003 and September 1, 2003. The purpose of this file is to document proposed equivalency between spatial metadata content elements defined in the FGDC Metadata Standard (FGDC-STD-001-1998) and the ISO-19115 Metadata Standard (ISO 19115:2003(E)). This spreadsheet is intended to facilitate broad public review of the metadata content elements, and proposed logic for "crosswalking" FGDC metadata content into an ISO-compliant metadata implementation.

Visual Learning Systems Inc. (VLS) is pleased to announce that its flagship software product Feature Analyst is now listed on the U.S. Government's General Services Administration (GSA) schedule. Feature Analyst quickly and accurately converts images into maps, and is rapidly revolutionizing the GIS and Image Processing industries. Extensive client testing of Feature Analyst has resulted in technical validation of the software within many organizations, including the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Forest Service.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions and its exclusive partner in India, Rolta India Limited (Rolta), are the principal sponsors of "The Festival of the Great Arc" - the celebration of the survey of the Indian Sub-Continent 200 years ago, led by Col. Lambton and George Everest. The festival is part of a major initiative to promote and create awareness about the benefits of geospatial technology in India, by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Intergraph and Rolta.


Irish company Mapflow has just been awarded a six-figure contract with the European Space Agency to assess the technical and commercial feasibility of installing a revolutionary new tolling system across Europe. The proposed system would use satellite based tracking linked to a black box in every vehicle, with the owner of the vehicle remotely billed according to specific road use, time of the day and distance traveled.

Vertical Mapping Resources, Inc. (VMR), a full service land information firm, received a contract to topographically map approximately 2,000 acres of reservation land in Havasu Lake, Calif., for the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe. The tribe awarded VMR a contract to produce 1”=40' photogrammetric data and digital orthophotography for the 2,000 acre site, as well as high altitude color orthophotos for approximately 40,000 additional acres.


Trimble announced that Nickolas W. Vande Steeg, 60, a senior vice president and operating officer for Parker Hannifin Corporation , the world's leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies with over $6 billion in revenue, has joined the Company's Board of Directors. His addition brings the membership of Trimble's board to seven.

New Products

Thales Navigation introduced MobileMapper(TM), a handheld GPS-based geographic information system (GIS) data collector that sets a new standard for GIS data collection. The product has 2-3 meter accuracy, direct download capability and consumer-like usability, and is less expensive than competing products with similar capabilities, making it more affordable for those who want to use GPS-based data collection for asset management and field mapping. MobileMapper enables users to locate and describe features being mapped and then easily and quickly upload the data to a GIS.

Navigation Technologies has now completed mapping Norway's entire road network, three of the four Nordic countries, with NAVTECH(R) maps of Sweden and Denmark available, and Finland to follow within 6 months. The goal is to map all of western Europe.

From Space Imaging comes this IKONOS satellite image of the city center of Monrovia, Liberia.
The image was taken on Nov. 28, 2000. The resolution of this image is 1m.
The 1600-pound IKONOS satellite travels 423 miles above the Earth's surface at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour.

IKONOS satellite image of the city center of Monrovia, Liberia. From Space Imaging

uismedia Lang & Müller announced their new product MapViewSVG Professional. The Extension has the same functionality as the standard Version of MapViewSVG for ArcGIS 8.x. In addition to this functions MapViewSVG Professional offers the possibility to load layers dynamically dependent on their visibility in the map view.

Leica Geosystems announced the introduction of SKI-Pro Version 3.0 GPS post-processing software. This new version incorporates Leica's breakthrough CheckMate continuous ambiguity resolution technology.

ESRI has added the first premium service to MapShop from GlobeXplorer. GlobeXplorer partners with the leading providers of aerial imagery worldwide to provide online access to their imagery. The new GlobeXplorer Premium Imagery Service includes high-resolution aerial imagery of major metropolitan areas in the United States and Europe as well as 3,000 square kilometers in and around Baghdad, Iraq. The addition of this detailed imagery can dramatically enhance the maps created by users of MapShop.

Intergraph Solutions Group (NASDAQ:
INGR) announced the availability of real-time video transmission and enhancement as part of its VIPERS solution. VIPERS, or Video Imagery Processing and Enhancement Real-time System, is a two-way audio, video, imaging and data streaming system. The addition of the new features makes it the first system that allows analysts to view and enhance live video from remote locations, enabling real-time collection and analysis of video intelligence and communication with deployed security or combat forces.

Intergraph Mapping and GeoSpatial Solutions is showcasing open interoperable solutions that enable more accessible data to traditional and non-traditional map users at the international Cambridge Conference, July 21 - 25 in Cambridge, U.K. In the Intergraph booth (number 12), mapping organization leaders and experts from around the world can view interoperability interfaces that provide dynamic access to critical data enterprise wide as well as the latest advances in geospatial, Web mapping and imaging technology.

Byers Engineering SpatialAge® Solutions Division announces the release of SpatialAge Geographical Trouble Analysis System (GTAS), a tool that provides a highly productive visual environment for analyzing outside plant (OSP) trouble histories.

East View Cartographic recently acquired and has made available nationally produced Pakistan topographic maps at the 1:500,000 and 1:1,000,000 scales. Full country coverage is available at both scales, the one million scale set is made up of eleven sheets and the 500k set consists of 26 sheets. Production of the maps was done by the Survey of Pakistan during the period from the mid-1960's through the mid-1990's. The map sets are originals and complete for the country but the supply is limited.

They are multicolor maps with contour lines and heights given in feet and meters. Some of the maps also have hypsometric shading and the projection is international polyconic. They are in English and identify mountain ranges and peaks, cities and towns with population references, pipe and power lines, provincial and district boundaries, hydrographic and bathymetric features, railway lines, telecommunications lines, major roads surfaced and unsurfaced, glaciers, swamp areas, canals, reefs, tidal flows, oil wells and mines, mosques and temples, and other major terrain features. The map sheets include border areas and detail for neighboring countries. Sheet sizes are approximately 24
in.(61 cm.) x 34 in.(86 cm.).

Going on Around the Web

Ocean Surface Topography from Space - Latest Jason-1 Data. The latest image from NASA's Jason-1 satellite is updated every two weeks. Check out the
latest ocean conditions here! (Image courtesy of NASA)
Beyond the Wall - Infrared Surveillance Cams Seismic field sensors. Real-time data maps. Welcome to the new US Border Patrol. By Michael Mechanic, Wired, August, 2003

In the far reaches of the Kalahari Desert, in southern Africa, researcher Louis Liebenberg is deploying what may be the first illiterate computers integrated into a hunter-gatherer society, a group known as the San Bushmen.
Bush Space: Looking Up and Down at the Same Time By Sanford Kwinter, Wired, June 2003

The US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) released a
tender for the build out of wireless networks in Iraq. The tender is for up to three, 24-month licenses split by region. The request for proposal will be announced the week of July 28, and proposals will be due two weeks later, according to the coalition. (Source: AFP)

Writing to the President Now at Easiertofind.com by Matt Richtel, NY Times, July 19, 2003

Going on in July

AGIT Symposium

Date: July 2 - 4, 2003

Place: Salzburg, Austria

15th Symposium and Exposition for Applied Geoinformatics for the German speaking GIS Community. Geo-government Conference on July 3

Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS) Annual Conference

Date: July 3 - 5, 2003

Place: Asilomar, CA USA

6th Annual SCGIS Conference is designed for those who want to discuss and promote local and global conservation of natural and cultural resources through geospatial technologies. Technical sessions, field trip, scholarships available.

ESRI Education User Conference

Date: July 6 - 9, 2003

Place: San Diego, CA USA

Educators from all levels including college and university faculty, administrators, and librarians will have the opportunity to attend presentations and hands-on workshops that illustrate the benefits of geographic information system (GIS) technology. The conference consists of paper presentations, panel discussions, and a showcase that allow participants to learn about their peers applications of GIS in education. In addition, hands-on workshops in the computer labs will provide demonstrations of classroom activities and geographic analysis techniques.

2003 ESRI International User Conference

Da<>e: July 7 - 11, 2003

Place: San Diego, CA USA

Wealth of information from ESRI staff, exhibitors, and business partners, and information about real-world applications of GIS software from the ESRI user community.

Avenza Systems Training

Date: July 10 - 11, 2003

Place: San Diego, CA USA

MAPublisher training using MAPublisher 5.0 on Adobe Illustrator 10 on Windows. Given by Avenza technical and training staff.

Coastal Zone Management Through Time

Date: July 13 - 17, 2003

Place: Baltimore, MD USA

The Coastal Zone conference series is the premier international gathering of ocean and coastal management professionals.

SVG Open 2003 Conference & Exhibition

Date: July 13 - 18, 2003

Place: Vancouver, Canada

At the SVG Open 2003 Conference you will have the opportunity to learn about the SVG standard, how to use it to create effective and compelling Web content, techniques for developing SVG software solutions, and the latest developments from the Worldwide Web Consortium.

Smart Card Alliance July Conference

Date: July 15 - 17, 2003

Place: Arlington, VA USA

Smart Card Alliance will host "Smart Cards in Government 2003" bringing together leaders of the smart card movement within government.

MultiTemp-2003: Seconde International Workshop on the Analysis of Multi-Temporal Remote Sensing Images

Date: July 16 - 18, 2003
Place: European Commission Joint Research Centre Ispra (VA), Italy
The development of effective methodologies for the analysis of multitemporal data is one of the most important and challenging issues that the remote-sensing community should face in the next years. The importance and the timeliness of this issue are directly related to the ever increasing quantity of multi-temporal data provided by the numerous remote-sensing satellites that orbit around our planet. For this reason, the Second International Workshop on the Analysis of Multi-Temporal Remote Sensing Images (MultiTemp-2003) will be organized. Like MultiTemp-2001, it will be a high quality workshop, focusing on the methodological aspects of multi-temporal remote-sensing image analysis and on
their applications.

Laser-Scan Partner and User Conference

Date: July 17 - 18, 2003

Place: Cambridge, United Kingdom

2nd Annual PPGIS Conference

Date: July 20 - 22, 2003

Place: Portland, OR USA

Public Participation GIS refers to a range of topics raised by the intersection of community interests and GIS technology. PPGIS Congress will bring together participants with a rich diversity of experience.

GML DEV DAYS 2003 Conference & Exhibition

Date: July 20 - 24, 2003

Place: Vancouver, Canada

Conference focuses on development, uses and features of Geography Markup Language (GML) and allied technologies to foster awareness and development of the Geo-Web.

Cambridge Conference

Date: July 21 - 25, 2003

Place: St.John's College, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Share ideas on the use of geospatial data in the social and economic development of countries and regions. International gathering hosted by the Ordnance Survey

SatNav 2003

Date: July 22 - 25, 2003

Place: Victoria, Australia
The Australian GPS Society invites you to SatNav 2003 - the 6th International Symposium on Satellite Navigation Technology Including Mobile Positioning and Location Services being held at Hyatt Melbourne, Victoria, Australia from 22-25 July 2003. For further information on the Symposium and FREE Membership to the Australian GPS Society please go to
www.gps-society.org or email
Email Contact

The Vespucci Initiative - Summer School on Geographic Information Science

Date: July 28 - August 8, 2003

Place: Pratolino (Florence), Italy

Celebrating the fifth centenary of Vespucci's discoveries, the Vespucci Initiative recaptures his spirit of multi-disciplinary intellectual enquiry to explore new frontiers of knowledge. To that end it organizes and conducts a range of research and teaching activities, bringing together senior scientists and promising young researchers from around the world. What these researchers have in common is a special interest in the locational aspects of societal challenges. These aspects are being studied and exploited in the emerging field of Geographic Information Science and are being implemented within the GIS, Location Based Systems (LBS) and other industries.

FME Training Toronto

Date: July 28 - 29, 2003

Place: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Learn from the source how to use the core components of the Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) through hands-on training. During our two-day (1/3 lecture, 2/3 exercise and problem solving) training course, attendees learn to unlock the powerful features and functionalities of FME to more effectively manage their data translation and data transformation problems. Questions are encouraged throughout the class and attendees are encouraged to bring their own sample data files.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.