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April 07, 2003
Ruggedized Computers, Part 1
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! This week's GISWeekly will feature the first story in a series on Ruggedized Computers. These computers are playing a vital role in many industries such as military, utilities, public safety, construction, transportation and distribution - anywhere a computer can be subjected to extreme climate conditions or vibration.

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

Ruggedized Computers, Part 1

GISWeekly is publishing a special series on manufacturers of ruggedized computers for the next couple of weeks. Many of these computers are being used by the military in the War in Iraq and GIS industries such as utilities, public safety, construction, transportation and distribution.

During the GITA conference, it became apparent that ruggedized computers were playing a vital role in the GIS industry. On almost every aisle in the exhibit hall was a display of a ruggedized handheld or laptop submerged in water.

This week we will feature WalkAbout Computers and Juniper Systems.

WalkAbout Computers has been manufacturing ruggedized mobile tablet PCs since 1989. Hammerhead XRTs (eXtremely Rugged Tablet) are extremely rugged mobile Tablet PCs built rugged from the inside out. They are a fully sealed housing milled from very hard, light aluminum. They meet MIL-STD-810F specifications and are rated IP67. They are sealed from rain and dust, operate in a wide range of temperatures and can survive a three-foot drop. In test studies a truck has been run over a Hammerhead, and it still works. Obviously they are sought by those who work in harsh environments,
which include
utilities, EMS/public safety, GIS, military, construction, transportation and distribution. Batteries are hot-swappable in the field with no down time.

Hammerhead XRT

Hammerheads have the same functionality as a laptop and more and use Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, so users can run full Windows-based applications. But they also have the benefits of XP Tablet PC Edition such as pen-based functionality, speech recognition, conversion of handwritten notes to text, etc.

David Grainger, CEO, WalkAbout Computers has this to say about the product: "WalkAbout Computers was founded on the concept of an outdoor ruggedized form factor that supports all Windows applications. The obvious choice was the Tablet PC for true mobility in applications such as GIS. Our fifth generation and newest Tablet PC, the Hammerhead XRT, is impervious to heat and cold, water and other harsh conditions. With an IP67 rating, the Hammerhead XRT is of interest for military applications such as for paratroopers jumping out of airplanes and in rugged terrain where a PC screen must be sunlight readable.

The Tablet PC form factor is ideal for rugged applications because there are no hinges to break like on a laptop, notebook or convertible. A Tablet PC is completely self-contained and easy to hold and use while sitting, standing and walking. Bill Gates gave up his personal laptop in favor of a Tablet PC and predicts that 20% of laptop users annually will switch to Tablet PCs, resulting in projected annual sales of 10 million Tablet PCs."

Juniper Systems serves three core markets with applications and market expertise with their ruggedized handheld computer, the Allegro CE. These markets include natural resources, particularly forestry and forest products, agriculture, and mobile GIS. The Allegro CE also serves the markets of land survey, corrosion protection, gas electric and water meter reading, geophysical and others through a complement of OEM businesses.

Features that set the field PCs apart from the competition are as follows:

a)Ergonomic design - The Allegro shape and smooth edges make it easy to hold in either hand and use in the field. The Allegro CE weighs only 1.7 lbs and the battery and PC card compartments are easily accessed.

b)Effiicient Keyboard Layout - The Allegro features a full size keyboard with large keys that can be used with gloved hands. The more commonly used numeric keys are located near the display. The 12 function keys enable you to access hot keys for specialty function within an application.

c)Tough and Rugged- The Allegro meets tough environmental specifications. The case is rugged, shock resistant, dust proof and water proof. The Allegro CE operates in temperatures ranging from -22 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. User Accessible PC Card slot - The PC Card Slot allows you to add data storage and input/output options including bluetooth through the user accessible PC card slot. It is also compatible with compact flash cards.

d)Long Battery Life - A rechargeable NiMH battery pack provides up to 16 hours of battery life on a charge. The battery is user replaceable and it is a standard camcorder battery.

Expansion Pods Provide Sensor Integration - The Allegro CE has optional expansion pods for the integration of external sensors. Currently the Trimble Lassen GPS receiver is available so you can combine GPS positions with your data collection applications. Upcoming expansion pods available in the summer of 2003 include integrated bar code scanner and 802.11 radio.

The Allegro CE, a handheld computer, does not have the same functionality of a laptop computer. Rather, it compliments the laptop or desktop computer and provides reliable data collection in harsh environments. The features that differentiate a handheld computer from a laptop are the smaller form factor, smaller display, more compact keyboard, longer battery life, and secure data storage that is not dependent on battery or AC power. Allegro CE users collect data on the handheld computer because they can use it all day long, easily carry and use it in field for long periods (typically there are no desks in the field), and depend on absolute security of the data that is collected. Laptops
even if they are rugged; cannot fulfill these unique needs.

Allegro CE is sold to land survey companies, and the company is working on some future expansion pods that will be used in the testing of aircraft for the military.

Juniper Systems has been designing, manufacturing and marketing rugged handheld computers since 1983 for their core markets in natural resources and agriculture. Of course the products have evolved over the years, but their Polycorders (then marketed under the name of Omnidata) were the early pioneers for rugged, portable electronic data recorders. These products were integrated with analog and digital sensors for automatic data acquisition along with handkey data collection.


ESRI and Citrix Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:CTXS) announced that the two companies have entered into a business relationship as part of the Citrix Independent Software Vendor (ISV) program and ESRI's Corporate Alliance Program. Under the terms of the agreement, ESRI can sell the Citrix(R) MetaFrame XP(TM) Presentation Server and other components of the recently-announced Citrix MetaFrame(R) Access Suite with its own leading GIS software throughout the United States. This solution provides GIS customers with improved performance, reliability and security.

Fastrax Ltd., a developer of GPS receivers for optimal utilization of the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), and SAVOX Communications Ltd. designer and manufacturer of hands-free and positioning solutions for demanding use, introduced a new GPS accessory for TETRA terminals.

Nikon Instruments Inc. (NII) announced that its parent company, Nikon Corporation, has reached an agreement to form a strategic joint venture with Trimble Navigation Ltd. for production and worldwide distribution of surveying instruments. The alliance will merge Nikon Corp.'s subsidiary, Nikon Geotecs Co., Ltd., with Trimble in an equal ownership company named Nikon-Trimble Co., Ltd. The joint venture is expected to begin operating on June 1, 2003 and will be headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

Trimble will become the exclusive distributor and service provider of Nikon surveying instruments in the US and Latin America. Accordingly, NII expects to cease distribution and service of surveying products on May 31, 2003.

SPATIALinfo announced an agreement with NetX Engineering Inc., a provider of management services to the cable industry. NetX, a Colorado based company, was founded by John Heslip, well- known industry expert on engineering and technical solutions for the cable industry. The agreement will make it possible for SPATIALinfo to provide NetX with a software solution suite that includes management services, addresses reconciliation and customer audit validation including service level.

A reseller agreement between Navigation Technologies, a provider of digital maps for vehicle navigation, Internet / wireless applications and business solutions, and ESRI, the leader in geographic information system (GIS) software will make NAVTECH(R) digital map data available directly to ESRI customers. The key benefit to ESRI customers is a simplified process for purchasing and accessing NAVTECH map data.

iSECUREtrac(TM) Corp. (BULLETIN BOARD: ISRE) , developer of global positioning systems (GPS) for tracking and monitoring, announced that it has entered into an agreement with Premier Geografix LTD based in Norwich, England. The agreement calls for iSECUREtrac Corp. to provide its state of the art tracNET24 GPS tracking solution to Premier Geografix for distribution in the United Kingdom. For additional information, see the company's public report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Form 8-K.

The GeoConnections Secretariat and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) have announced a joint project to develop framework data for the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI) and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). This collaborative project will involve a continuous piece of geography covering a portion of both Canada and the United States.

Laser-Scan is pleased to announce that it has signed a reseller agreement with independent consulting firm, Theta Systems Limited a technology consulting company providing technical solutions to a wide range of customers. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, the reseller agreement enables Theta Systems Limited to distribute Laser-Scan's latest product, Radius Topology, throughout the Oceanic region.


US Trade and Development Agency has issued a request for proposals to build an NSDI in Thailand. This project is called "Thailand: Feasibility Study for the Development of a National Spatial Data Infrastructure" The Grantee invites submission of qualifications and proposal data (collectively referred to as the "Proposal") from interested U.S. firms which are qualified on the basis of experience and capability to develop a feasibility study for a NSDI plan for Thailand. The U.S. firm selected will be paid in U.S. dollars from a $207,600 grant to the Grantee from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
A detailed Request for Proposals (RFP), which includes requirements for the Proposal, the Terms of Reference, and a background definitional mission report are available from USTDA, at 1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1600, Arlington, VA 22209-3901. Requests for the RFP should be faxed to the IRC, USTDA at 703-875-4009. The solicitation is on

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) has on its docket two future events. First, the 27th annual conference, “Information, Strategy, Vision…Building Performance for a New Age,” April 25-28, 2004 at the Washington State Trade & Convention Center in Seattle, Washington. Topics to be addressed at the conference include mobile and wireless technologies, network operations management, leveraging the Web, e-business, and much more.

Full details about the conference are available at
GITA , or by contacting GITA headquarters at 303-337-0513; e-mail
Email Contact

GITA has issued a call for papers for its 12th Annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference, with the theme “A Toolbox for System Integrity,” scheduled for September 29-October 1, 2003, in Houston, Texas.

The event will focus on how geospatial information technologies can investigate integrity, improve business processes, manage risk, and increase efficiency. The conference is devoted exclusively to the applications of GIS technology for the upstream and downstream aspects of the industry, including exploration and production, land/lease, pipeline, gathering, retail, refining, and marketing.

The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) announced the public release of the OpenGIS(R) Reference Model (ORM). The ORM documents a framework of interoperability for geospatial processing ranging from tightly coupled, real time systems on a single CPU to the "Spatial Web" -- the open environment that enables barrier-free communication of geographic information among users of the World Wide Web.
The ORM provides an overall conceptual framework for building geospatial processing into distributed systems in an incremental and interoperable manner. The ORM is a living document and will be updated periodically as OGC membership continues to advance geoprocessing interoperability. To download the ORM free of charge and to subscribe to future updates, visit
Open GIS Consortium ORM


Leica Geosystems has announced the appointment of industry-veteran Tony Wilson as director of sales in the southwest region. In this position, he will focus his efforts on providing spatial data acquisition products and services that help customers increase their productivity.

The ASPRS Tellers Committee reported that Karen L. Schuckman won the election over Charles Mondello and George Southard to become ASPRS Vice President for 2003. Once she is sworn in as President in 2005, Schuckman will be the fourth woman to hold that office since the Society was founded in 1934. With the installation of officers at the ASPRS Annual Conference in May, Donald T. Lauer moves into the position of president; Russell Congalton becomes president-elect, and Terrence J. Keating becomes past president. Schuckman comes from the private sector of the Society.

New Products

Lizardtech Software announced that Autodesk has incorporated recently-released lossless MrSID(r) technology into Autodesk Inc.'s latest 2004 version of some its software products. The development is the result of market demand for image encoding processes that preserve all of the original fidelity.

ESRI Canada announced the availability of ArcGIS 8.3 in Canada.

Exor Corporation announced that Norfolk County Council, United Kingdom has selected Exor software for use as its corporate Highways Management System (HMS). This announcement follows an extensive and detailed evaluation process of available commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software from a number of potential suppliers.

HPQ) today introduced a six-color printing system for designers who want the flexibility of printing standard and large-format projects at their desktops with the look and feel of professional comps.

Research Systems, Inc. (RSI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eastman Kodak Company, announced the release of a free downloadable plug-in to ESRI's ArcGIS 8.1 and greater. The plug-in allows the ArcGIS user to import ENVI raster (image) files directly into the ArcGIS environment.

The ENVI Raster Format DLL plugs into ArcGIS 8.1 and allows ArcGIS software to access the ENVI raster file format. The ENVI Raster File Format consists of a flat binary file with an associated text header file containing the details needed to interpret the image data.
The DLL is free and is available from the RSI Web site.

YEOMAN Mobile Navigation has unveiled the first consumer service application of Ordnance Survey's revolutionary OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network™ (ITN™) Layer.

After extensive trials the new data was incorporated into a version of YEOMAN's successful TRAVELM8 mobile navigation product and showcased at a recent Ordnance Survey Early Adopter and Interest Group Forum.

ISTAR, a digital cartographic company, has delivered high-resolution color imagery, high-accuracy digital surface models (DSM), and four separate spectral bands (RGB, NIR) of the Grand Canyon in a single on-time, on-budget mission for the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC). The data was commissioned by the GCMRC to monitor the Canyon's ecosystem as well as to manage the Colorado River system.

Because the Grand Canyon's relief characteristics present special mapping problems such as obtaining details and features deep below the canyon walls. Also, shadows and restricted water flow in the dam, plus escarpment edges were difficult to map and were limited to a 10 day window. This was the first time a satisfactory solution or the necessary technology had been found to address these problems according to the GCMRC.

SmartMaps RSP was announced by Universal Map, a provider of geographic information and mapping solutions. This solution is a revenue generating plan that provides the client with an interactive web mapping and data display application for use with its members and participants.

A new ECW Connector(TM) for ArcIMS(R) from Earth Resource Mapping enables seamless gigabyte and terabyte image mosaics to be served from within ArcIMS. The Connector for ArcIMS allows users to serve up huge image mosaics with full color balance at any resolution.

For the Philadelphia market comes a new product line from Rand McNally. The centerpiece of the product is the new Rand McNally 2003 Philadelphia 5-County Street Guide, covering 2,870 square miles of southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.

Softco Engineering Systems Inc. president Barrie Mathews announced the release of StanConvert 5, an upgrade of its AutoCAD Drawing Standards Translator. This new release includes 3 new modules and many other enhancements for users.

GBA Master Series, Inc. (GBAMS;
www.gbams.com) announced their new release of GBA Master Series(TM) suite of integrated infrastructure asset and maintenance management software products, Version 6.61 of the GBA Master Series is the most feature-rich, application and function rich release the company has built in nearly 20 years of software development. With this release, the company integrates the newest ESRI GIS technologies, and expands their transportation related offerings, plus introduces products that extend the benefits of the existing GBA Master Series to more departments and divisions. Deluo Electronics introduced their latest release: Routis™
Mapping Software featuring NavTech® Maps. Routis™ is the ultimate street navigation software for Pocket PC OS. With verbal turn-by-turn directions, bright color map display, and dynamic route calculation, Routis works intelligently to deliver users to their destination smoothly and safely.

Featured Downloads

GISCafe has many popular
Downloads in various categories. Visitors are encouraged to go to the site and add new downloads or update their old ones.

Shift ASSIST for MapInfo has been developed by Spatial ASSIST to assist in the uniform adjustment of spatial datasets to maintain the relative positioning between related datasets. The tools provided with this application will assist in: - Automatic generation of the shift links (ie. The magnitude and direction of the shift between two MapInfo datasets - The batch adjustment of MapInfo tables - Cleansing and Snapping of the shifted data to ensure topological consistency.

Around the Web

Is it Time for A Data Manifesto? John Fisher, President and CEO of DMTI Spatial Inc.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Gartner Sees Rapid Growth in Wireless LAN Use

The number of frequent wireless LAN users in North America will grow from 4.2 million in 2003 to more than 31 million in 2007, the Gartner, Inc. projects. (Source: InformationWeek) -
more info CTIA Daily News

Weather Satellites Can Be Better Used by Warren Leary

Going on in April

2nd SCAR International Antarctic GIS Workshop

Date: April 7 - 11, 2003

Place: Freiburg, Germany

Following the first International Antarctic GIS workshop in Wuhan, China in 2000 the Geospatial Information Group within the Geoscience Standing Scientific Group of SCAR plans on holding a second GI Technical Experts Meeting of SCAR.


Date: April 7 - 10, 2003

Place: Coeur d'Alene Resort Coeur d'Alene, ID USA

9th Annual California GIS Conference 2003

Date: April 9 - 11, 2003

Place: Palm Springs Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA USA

"The Evolving State of GIS" hosted by So Cal URISA and BAAMA (Bay Area Mapping Association)

Avenza Systems Training

Date: April 10 - 11, 2003

Place: Toronto, Canada

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

GIS in Action

Date: April 21 - 23, 2003

Place: Portland, OR USA

For the past eleven years, the Oregon chapter of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) and the Columbia River Region of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) have held a conference dealing with current issues on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from a regional perspective. A full day of workshops will lead off this year's conference followed by two days of plenary and concurrent educational sessions.

Avenza Systems Training

Date: April 24 - 25, 2003

Place: Washington D.C, USA

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

13th Annual Nevada State GIS Conference

Date: April 28 - 30, 2003


Nevada State GIS Conference, Reno, Nevada. This thirteenth annual conference, attracting GIS professionals from throughout the state and eastern California, exhibits the latest GIS technology and features introductory and advanced education sessions. For general information contact the conference committee chair; Sally Kleiner, phone: 775-954-4629, e-mail
Email Contact

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.