June 09, 2003
From GPS to Spatial Analysis
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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! This week's Industry News features an interview with Rick Peters, CEO of Spatial Data.

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

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

From GPS to Spatial Analysis

By Susan Smith

GISWeekly interviewed Spatial Data CEO Rick Peters this week to learn what that midsized company is doing. After an early retirement from AT&T, Peters did 911 consulting for the state of Texas, and got into GIS because he was a pilot and had at that time a “new thing” called GPS. He believed GPS could solve a lot of problems for the public safety sector around issues of rule addressing, and consequently started the company, Public Safety Associates, in 1988, which today is called Spatial Data. Spatial Data is a c-corporation, privately held with stockholders.

RP: I wrote a piece of software that basically took the datastream from the GPS device and put it into a mapping format and then allowed people to do rule addressing a whole lot cheaper than doing it with aerial photos, digitizing and all that stuff. So that's where we got started.

Do you still sell that software?

We still sell some of that original piece of software although now everyone is in that business. I like to keep the company out on the edge of technology. We're always developing new applications for things like risk mitigation for insurance companies, streetlamp management with PDA interfaces, network management with different alarm devices. We like to consider ourselves in the spatial data base management business as opposed to being in the mapping business. To the general businessman when we say 'maps,' his mind goes completely away from what we plan to do. When we talk about spatial analysis then we have a much more enthusiastic audience from that perspective. We talk up the spatial
analysis side. Knowing where things are can be so much more productive than just knowing what they are. We've got a great many customers in the Fortune 100 and 200. We've done a lot of working the telematics industry with all kinds of telematics customers over the years, we also are the creators and publishers of the public safety answering point database, which was the first emergency response database that was used for telematic services. In fact, before ATX Research had their own they used our database, and that's true for everybody that was in the business.

What is the market for your products?

We have currently four market sectors. Telecommunications, which was our bread and butter before telco went bust. We did a lot of cellular analysis as it related to marketing. The RF engineers would lay out a plan for a given city but it wouldn't have anything to do with profitability so we would help the engineers develop their covering plans. Then we would also get the marketing people involved for the rollout so we could compare demographics to the coverage plan, so they could start to turn a profit more quickly by rolling out the system in a way that made sense based on their customer profiles. So that was a very popular product during the build out of the telco sector because it made
it feasible for a lot of smaller cities to come online earlier. You could target the demographics and target your most probable sales first. We also do a network operations center piece of software which is used to monitor companies' networks and their outages and decide who is out of service and when they might be back in service – the big map on the wall deal. We also worked with marketing people on demographics.

The second sector is the public sector, our roots, which is 911 analysis. We published the PSAPPro database and we keep track of all the PSAPs in the country -- when they change boundaries, etc. That information can be leveraged into the telematics industry. We also have a piece of software called Street Light Management System or SLMS 5.0 which is a system that allows municipalities to manage the entire streetlamp environment from inventory to warranties to scheduling crews, to making replacements to doing active analysis of the lifetime of the components on the lamps so you can replace them before they wear out, which saves you a lot of personnel time and dispatching time. It also
manages the work orders so it's a complete system for management of street lamps.

Sector 3 is the telematics sector and we've done work with CoachNet, SAI and all the others in the telematics sector. We also do a lot of alarms.

Sector 4 is the insurance sector – with the RiskMitPro which was originally designed for W.R. Berkeley Cos., parent company for USIG and the fifth largest integrated carrier in the world. The most famous use of our software was during the 9/11 attacks – this company was able to evaluate their entire customer base in New York City and determine their entire loss within just a few minutes, even though the information changed numerous times. Many other companies in the area took much longer. With our capability of drawing on the map and evaluating the losses it was very straightforward. They tell us it saved them millions of dollars, but more than that the spatial concept brought
to underwriting
was entirely new from their perspective. An example would be, an underwriter might be able to evaluate all the risks at 100 Main Street. You take that to an underwriter and they might be able to evaluate Main Street and some other streets they might know but they didn't necessarily know that Main Street intersected with Persimmon Street. They had a huge risk at Persimmon Street, which was right around the corner. When you have this type of broader perception while underwriting the risks, you can be much more accurate.

How did GIS enter into this work?

We laid a grid over it, and thematically shaded the grid based on the total amount of allowed risk per grid. With one look they could see how their risks were distributed and then, of course, we later developed storm tracks and other things to go over the top of it. So they can understand damage and what if scenarios.

Who are some of your top customers?

We do Oracle's western regional sales territory analysis for them every year. They base that on products and potential customers. For Cisco who is our single largest customer, we've created a market analysis program based on fiber optic cable in lit buildings which is like nothing else that's out there in the market.

In terms of large scale applications, we do the most work for Oracle. From a dollar revenue point of view, we sell a lot more MapInfo than anything else. One reason is because we find MapInfo to be a really partner friendly organization. We are also a value added reseller for ESRI and other vendors.

We also train on every major GIS platform, especially Microsoft MapPoint .NET and have a reseller agreement with Microsoft too.

NIMA Geospatial Intelligence Database Integration

The Geospatial Intelligence Database Integration (GIDI) system allows users to share information from existing databases in a Geospatial Intelligence Feature Database (GIFD). The next release meets requirements for Homeland Security (HLS) and the Air Defense Database (ADD). It provides dissemination via two military networks.

See GISWeekly June 2, 2003 “Embracing Geospatial Intelligence -

"GIS Emphasizes How the World Works" for the full story.

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.


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