July 17, 2006
Location Desktop Analysis with MapInfo Professional v8.5
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| by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to GISWeekly! The most recent version of MapInfo Professional, version 8.5, location desktop analysis environment, has at its heart, a focus on allowing users to benefit from location analysis faster than ever before. Why does that seem necessary? According to Moshe Binyamin, senior product manager, MapInfo, more businesses are thinking about location awareness now as a result of such geographic exploration systems as Google Earth, Microsoft's Virtual Earth and more. Find out about how the new version of MapInfo Pro addresses these new trends in this week's Industry News.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Location Desktop Analysis with MapInfo Professional v8.5
by Susan Smith
The most recent version of MapInfo Professional, version 8.5, location desktop analysis environment, has at its heart, a focus on allowing users to benefit from location analysis faster than ever before. Why does that seem necessary? According to Moshe Binyamin, senior product manager, MapInfo, more businesses are thinking about location awareness now as a result of such geographic exploration systems as Google Earth, Microsoft's Virtual Earth and more. “Customers want to know, how quickly can I begin asking location based questions with my data?” The web services added to MapInfo Professional include high quality street level geocoding, as well as drive time creation
capability, to provide the ability to answer these questions faster than ever before.
New in MapInfo Professional v8.5 is the ability to connect to MapInfo's Envinsa location platform and/or MapMarker in one of three ways:
1) MapInfo hosted online services (EOLS) for geocoding and driving region capabilities using MapInfo Professional v8.5 with an out-of-the-box free trial account.
2) For those who want to own, they can buy Envinsa or MapMarker and host either one in-house.
3) If you already have MapMarker, you can connect it with your latest version of MapInfo Professional.
MapBasic programmability access to Geocoding services is also available. A new MapBasic command now provides access to Envinsa or Map Marker Geocoding service. MapBasic programmatic access to Drive Region generation via Envinsa service is also provided.
Prior to v8.5, MapInfo was always able to read CSV and Excel files, as well as databases like Oracle or SQL Server, and it could bring data into tabular format. “The next challenge after having the tabular data and an area map was, how does one put the two together in an easy and effective way? Until now, there was only the standard 'address matching' capability which requires that the customer has to have up-to-date street data. This 'address matching' capability allows customers to do a type of geocoding, but not to the degree that you can with MapMarker engine which is designed for very advanced and highly accurate location enablement. MapMarker also includes capabilities such as
Soundex (the ability to detect typical spelling errors and still geocode the address) and enables more refined interpolation of locating a street number along a street segment,” explained Binyamin. “With web services, many of these complexities are hidden from customers so they don't have to deal with them. They just need to tell us which fields in the data they just opened represent the location such as street, city, zip code, etc., and we will automatically append the geographic x and y's. These services also offer the option to write back the correct address information to the original data source.”
“Once the data is spatially enabled (i.e. geocoded), one realizes how powerful it is to create driving regions around stores or service centers. For example, once one creates a region representing a five minute driving distance, they are now able to perform a very simple point in polygon type of analysis and generate a list of customers that are within that five minute drive region. It's a one click operation.”
“We want to allow customers to do a lot more with MapInfo Pro, things that require three or more steps. We are looking to simplify. We want to make files more intelligent or produce icons instead of a 2-3 step menu option,” Binyamin said.
Every enhancement in the 8.5 release is in response to customer requests and to also align the customer's needs with new trends, such as the ability to use Google Earth with MapInfo Professional v8.5 and other tools.
As is the case with most users of software, customers don't always know about or use all the functionality that resides in the product, noted Binyamin. “When we see questions about capabilities that are in the product but seem to be obscure, it's an opportunity for us to question ourselves--there's got to be a better way to expose this capability. A lot of work was done in this release to put the capability where customers can quickly find and use it.”
Binyamin said that another development in the past two years that has influenced functionality in MapInfo Professional v8.5 is that the use of raster data has become more popular and more readily available through various sources - the obvious ones being Virtual Earth, Google Earth, and WMS Servers. “State organizations providing raster imagery are popping up left and right. The challenge with raster imagery was the projection of the data itself, obviously. The raster was shot in WGS-84, but if you're working in state plane then you may see your map squint or do something in order for everything to line up. In MapInfo Professional v8.5, we allowed the capability to reproject that
raster data to match your vector data so if your vector data is in state plane, but you want to overlay your aerial imagery that is in a different projection, yet you still want to continue working with state plane, MapInfo now allows you to reproject the raster data on the fly to match your vector data. The same goes for grid data. For continuous surfaces like elevation data that you can download from the USGS site or others, you can now reproject the data to match your map environment. It's just a setting inside the map to say, 'I don't want to change the map projection, I want the raster and grid files to automatically reproject to match my map projection. From that point on, we
automatically do the work for you.”
MapInfo also looked at what customers do in MapInfo Professional. “It is a location tool but it's also a location intelligence tool - a lot of people do a lot of analysis in the product. They want to see calculated values or drive the appearance of points and lines based on attribute data.” This means that their files should not be just repositories of data but actually repositories of intelligence. With the release of v8.5, we now allow you to store expressions both for attribute data and your geographic style data with the table. For example, if you have data representing total revenue and number of transactions, and you now want to create another column, you can add and
store the average transaction expression within the table, making the value more dynamic like in Microsoft Excel.”
Binyamin said that you can store a lot of other dynamic information as with the table. Plus, the information travels with the browser. Until v8.5, this information could only be saved within a workspace. “Now, as soon as you open the file, that information immediately becomes available to you.”
“We offer the same capability for map object styles through what we call default themes. If I have data that represents city points and I would like to drive the symbol based on the city population, cities with different population ranges will have different symbols. In this case, we provide the ability to store the default theme (a ranged theme for instance) with the table. As soon as you open that table, we automatically look at the default theme expression. If there is one and you asked us to use it (by an application preference setting), we will automatically run the analysis on your table and display the data based on that theme.”
What this does is open a whole area of capability that the data is now not just raw data but there is actually intelligence of it: How do you represent the data? How do you present it on a map and why do you choose this symbol vs. another symbol? It can now be based on some condition that you've defined in your attribute data.
Other improvements also include enhanced redistricter capabilities. v8.5 can optionally calculate percent values based on territory totals. For instance, in a sales territory analysis situation, it is useful to know the percent of direct vs. channel sales for that territory and base it on the total territory sales. Or in the case of the public sector, for a given district, it is useful to know the percent of minority population with respect to the total district population.
Another feature that has been updated to support the latest database technologies is Easy Loader, which resides inside MapInfo Professional (under the tools menu) and allows you to upload data files into Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle. Customers who have their data in other formats including tab files and want to quickly put that data inside the database, can use this utility. “This tool allows a simple, direct way to upload your data into the database so you can create that repository, with a central server that can store your data in a secure and scalable way.” Easy Loader also allows you to upload spatial data to a database that is enabled by MapInfo SpatialWare. MapInfo
SpatialWare extends Microsoft SQL Server and allows it to store and work with spatial information (i.e. lines and regions). Point data can be stored without needing MapInfo Spatial Ware. Easy Loader also works directly with Oracle and Oracle Spatial. Easy Loader by itself doesn't know how to tell the database what to do. Essentially it says to the database, here's a piece of information - please store it for me.
The web services part of MapInfo Professional v8.5 offers:
1) The ability to talk to MapInfo's own web services such as MapMarker or Envinsa
2) Programmability access via MapBasic to any HTTP, XML and FTP enabled service. For example, with MapBasic v8.5 several utilities and source code are included that show this. One example is utility and source code that demonstrate how to connect and bring data from the Yahoo traffic feed. Another utility we include demonstrates access to FTP sites from within MapInfo Professional.
One interesting related trend is GeoRSS feeds, offered by quite a few organizations. GeoRSS is an XML data service that has a geographic tag (i.e. X,Y). An interesting example is www.platial.com. This is a site that allows users to create accounts and enter their favorite locations and accompanying descriptions such as “Record Store Globetrotter” which lists the places one could buy records. We've also seen some entries on www.platial.com with potential business uses such as “Overvalued Housing Markets” or “Portland Crime Map,” Binyamin pointed out.
“In the very near future, we are looking to notify our customers about the availability of a new site where we will be posting a GeoRSS reader utility among other utilities for MapInfo Professional v8.5 users. The new connectivity enhancements we made in v8.5 are exciting and the GeoRSS utility highlights just one of the many ways customers can leverage the new interoperability options we now offer.”
The Google Earth trend has pushed development in another direction. By itself, Binyamin said, “Google Earth will show you the information and provides value if you just want to know where things are, but if you want to ask the next questions such as: “What is the concentration of crime? Or, how many stores are there within a 1,000 foot radius? It isn't designed for that.”
Included in MapInfo Professional v8.5 is a utility that allows customers to export their map analysis images and automatically geolocate them inside the Google Earth environment. This is a one click utility. “We also offer the ability to export points, lines and region objects, so customers who want to export out vector data such as trade areas along with attribute information into Google Earth, can do so with v8.5,” noted Binyamin. “We first made the tool available on our website. It's called the MapInfo Link Utility for Google Earth. It's now a built in tool that ships with MapInfo Professional v8.5.”
Top News of the Week
Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) announced that it has completed the acquisition of
. Based in Campbell, Calif., GeoViz.com, Inc. () is a leading provider of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) tools targeted at command, control, communications, and computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR); test and evaluation; modeling and simulation; and embedded training market segments.
The Osmose Mapping Center, an online service provided by Osmose Utilities Services, has standardized its map-maintenance operation on the ArcFM Solution and MultiSpeak data model from Miner & Miner, a Telvent company. The Osmose Mapping Center provides electric utilities with web-based access to facility maps which are hosted by Osmose on an ESRI ArcGIS® geographic information system (GIS). The service gives utilities access to high-quality maps and professional mapping services without financial investments in GIS software or an on-site mapping department.
ESRI announced the release of its printed sourcebooks, Community Sourcebook of ZIP Code Demographics and Community Sourcebook of County Demographics. These new sourcebooks contain posthurricane population findings along with updates and projections for demographic data such as population, age distribution, and income. Spending potential indexes are also included for 20 categories such as financial services, home improvement, entertainment, home furnishings, apparel, automotive aftermarket, health insurance, pets, and pet supplies.
Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. announced it is providing new dynamic content -- fuel prices, weather conditions and forecasts, and traffic information -- on all mobile phones equipped with Garmin Mobile -- a subscription-based, feature-rich application delivering maps, directions, and turn-by-turn navigation on mobile phones. This new real-time content will be available at no additional fee to Garmin Mobile users beginning in July. Garmin Mobile is currently available on select Sprint and Nextel mobile phones.
@Road, Inc., a global provider of next-generation solutions for Mobile Resource Management (“MRM”), announced that it entered into an Asset Sale and Purchase Agreement dated July 7, 2006 by and between @Road and MobileAria, Inc., a Delaware corporation, pursuant to which @Road will, subject to the terms thereof, purchase substantially all the assets of MobileAria (the “Purchase”). Under the terms of the agreement, @Road will pay cash consideration of $11.4 million for the acquired assets and will assume certain liabilities of MobileAria.
NAVTEQ, a global provider of digital map data for location-based solutions and vehicle navigation, announced a new product licensing agreement with LandSonar(TM). LandSonar is a leading supplier of network delivered predictive traffic products.
This relationship provides NAVTEQ with rights to the LandSonar Predictive Speed (LPS(TM)) product, which offers predictions of speed with broad coverage of the US continental road network. In concert with NAVTEQ's quality map data, LPS offers the capability for more accurate route planning and improved trip time estimation.
ESRI announced the recent implementation of an ESRI-based GIS at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH). Now, when an abused person calls the hotline, she quickly receives helpful information about nearby resources because ESRI's ArcWeb Services is at work. Information technology consulting firm Catapult Systems designed and developed the new call center application with ArcWeb Services.
PublicRoutes.com announced the addition of local and private bus lines to the company's unique public transportation Web resource serving the entire New York metro area. Now users can access schedule and fare information for all bus routes serving the Tri-State area in addition to subway, AirTrain, ferries, and commuter rail (LIRR and MetroNorth) directions directly from PublicRoutes.com's newly launched directions-based portal.
Genasys is pleased to announce the availability of distribution and first line support for the GenaMap Product Suite in sub-Saharan Africa through South Africa-based GIS-Mart.
SecuraCom GPS, LLC of Florida announced the successful deployment of their state-of-the-art vehicle tracking and fleet management system in Maui . With rising fuel prices and increasing competition in the transport industry, trucking companies see the benefit of a real-time tracking and fleet management solution as a way to increase profitability and reduce maintenance and down times.
GeoDecisions recently implemented the Instream Comprehensive Evaluation (ICE) system for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). ICE is an integrated streams and lakes management system designed to help PADEP employees more easily share and evaluate stream and lake assessment information in Pennsylvania.
NAVTEQ has been selected to provide U.S. street map data to HopStop.com. The agreement between HopStop and American Digital Cartography, Inc. (ADCi), a leading authorized distributor for NAVTEQ, allows HopStop to use NAVTEQ data within HopStop's Web Site and Web Services for the purpose of allowing users to obtain subway, bus and walking directions in major U.S. cities.
HP awarded 25 schools in the United States and Canada a total of more than $2 million in mobile technology, cash and professional development.
Part of the company's 2006 HP Technology for Teaching grant program, these "leadership" grants were presented to 15 K-12 public schools and 10 two- and four-year colleges and universities. These schools received grants in 2004-2005 and were invited to apply for additional investment support.
The board of directors of IDELIX Software Inc. announced that they have named Philip Attfield as the company's new CEO. He will be operating from the IDELIX U.S. office.
David Mudrick has been named the new president and chief executive officer of Topcon America Corporation. He assumed this new position as head of the management holding company for Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) and Topcon Medical Systems (TMS) on June 29.
ESRI announced that Guenther Pichler has joined the company as business development manager for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Group.
Pichler has more than 22 years of experience in the GIS industry and comes to ESRI from the Open Geospatial Consortium (Europe) Limited (OGCE), the European arm of the OGC, where he served as director of business development. In that role, he contributed to establishing the European organization as well as running its day-to-day business.
geoVue, a location intelligence software provider, is pleased to announce the release of marketVue Portal v.2.0, the latest version of its powerful Web Services-based platform for market planning, site selection and sales forecasting. Retail, franchise, and commercial development clients can access geoVue's location intelligence software applications iSITE (site selection and trade area analysis) and iPREDICT (sales forecasting), through the marketVue Portal. The marketVue Portal can also be seamlessly integrated with third-party data and clients' proprietary applications.
LeadDog Consulting, LLC announced the release of geographic databases of city streets for the U.A.E. cities: Abu Dubai, Dubai, Sharjah, Ra's Al-Khayman, Umm Al Qaywayn, and Ajman, Fujairad to support asset-tracking, government, military, and commercial GIS applications. Designed to help companies track their assets and provide accurate base level mapping, LeadDog's product provides numerous vector layers and attributes such as:
- Streets at 1:10,000 scale
- Street names
- Street classifications
- Extensive Points of Interest (government ministry offices, banks, hotels, etc
- Park, Water, and Landmark polygons
Overwatch Systems, a leader in automated feature extraction (AFE) software, announced the release of VLS ' Feature Analyst 4.1 for ERDAS IMAGINE. Feature Analyst 4.1 includes the much-anticipated capability of Feature Modeler and the Feature Model Library, which allows for enterprise wide development and sharing of AFE models and workflows.
Crutchfield, integrated marketer of consumer electronics products, has launched an interactive online demo that brings the safety and convenience of today's newest GPS navigation devices to life. Crutchfield's interactive online demo, called
Navigate Your Life
, offers information, facts and tips about today's GPS devices.
Crutchfield partnered with Tele Atlas, a leading provider of geographic content, to create the interactive online demo and to illustrate how the latest GPS devices are portable, affordable, easy-to-use and loaded with added functionality.
MapText's premier cartographic labeling software, Label-EZ 4.8, now offers the ability to output the fully symbolized features and the placed labels into Adobe Illustrator CS2. A post-editing plugin called Label-Edit is provided to users for easy map finishing. Label-Edit is also available for Adobe Illustrator 9, 10, and CS1.
Around the Web
Smart money eyes climate change
, by Martin LaMonica, July 10, 2006, CNET News.com
- Companies in a range of industries are starting to figure in the business impact of climate changes stemming from global warming, according to experts.
eWEEK Labs Bakeoff: Linux Versus .Net Stacks
, Jim Rapoza, July 9, 2006, Eweek
-Review: Linux and .Net zealots can both take away positives from eWEEK Labs testing of various application stacks, but a mix-and-match approach wins the day. Bottom line: Linux and .Net better learn to play nice.
Techniques for Successful Site Selection
, by Dan Primavera, July 10, 2006, Real Estate Business Online - The challenge of site selection for any industry sector is to place locations in close proximity to profitable customers and prospects. Site selection techniques can range from "kicking the dirt" to sophisticated modeling applications.
Date: July 17 - 21, 2006
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