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January 28, 2008
Pitney Bowes MapInfo Responds to Natural Risk with Risk Data Suite Release
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Pitney Bowes MapInfo Responds to Natural Risk with Risk Data Suite Release

by Susan Smith

Responding the growing demand by insurance companies for risk data for specific natural disasters, Troy, NY-based Pitney Bowes MapInfo has developed a Risk Data Suite which will be released quarterly with new features. In an interview with Ron Dodson, product manager for the Risk Data Suite at Pitney Bowes MapInfo, Dodson talks about the suite and its recent additions in the form of bundles such as the Wildfire bundle, Fire station bundle and Shoreline bundle.

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RD: The insurance sector spurred us to develop the Risk Data Suite releases such as earthquake information, weather information, both historic and real time. As we move forward with each new release, we try to bring more of those offerings to the market. Within this release we were able to bring out wildfire information, particularly for the California area which has had heavy wildfires this season. The fire station bundle is rolling out state by state and region by region as we go across the U.S. and contains information about each local fire station and department in the U.S., including contact information, county served, type of department and number of stations. Also included are
details about the location of specific personnel and equipment required in a geographical service area.

GW: What do insurance companies use the data for specifically?
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RD: For the most part we have seen this data used internally by customers for analysis, such as how many policies do I have in a particular area, what types of hazards are they exposed to? We also see it being used within the underwriting process so as a customer signs up, when the insurance carrier enters in their address and policy information, the product application is able to go through each one of these different layers, and determines what it is being exposed to, and can be filtered by rules engines. Based on this information, they can go through and process of analysis or terminate a policy. This can be done in the upfront process of signing on a new customer.

GW: Is the wildfire information real time information?

RD: It is more of a risk factor type analysis, using information from various state agencies, particularly in California. It has identified what is the risk for wildfire in that particular location. This is really a pre-emptive type offering for insurance and other entities looking to protect themselves from that type of hazard. It helps to understand the risk or exposure to wildfires for a particular property or location and makes it possible to take steps to protect yourself from that particular property. This is valuable for anyone who wants to minimize their exposure to the risk of wildfires.

GW: Is this also something real estate professionals might use as well?

RD: We see interest and use from across a number of verticals but our primary customers are on the insurance side. We also look across at our other verticals including real estate, retail and communications. All those companies have some kind of location component to them. They need to be able to understand wildfires and distance to fire stations but also the distance to an earthquake fault line. What are the chances of being exposed to that type of hazard? Within the Risk Data Suite is also weather, a critical component to communication companies.

GW: Is the Shoreline bundle relatively new?

RD: It’s a new addition to the Risk Data Suite and is focused primarily along the Gulf and East Coast. It is a component to exposure to what are called “slosh zones,” which involve sea, lake and overland surges from hurricanes and the distance from the coast a particular property might be. From an insurance point of view, there are a number of calculations that take place which include the coast. The Shoreline bundle includes data captured from 270 National Ocean Service (NOS) Navigation Charts and spans more than 80,000 nautical miles used to determine distance to coast calculations for all coastal states on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

Particularly in Florida and the other Gulf coastal areas, they’re able to do a distance calculation with rules set up within their own systems to determine distance and to automatically calculate a rate increase if the property falls within a particular rating territory. It also provides information suggesting that an insurer refuse a particular customer, on the basis of the amount of risk involved in the proximity to shoreline or other location.

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GW: Why did you develop the initial bundles?

RD: The development of the bundles dates back two or three years to when MapInfo moved into the insurance market vertical. Using what we had learned from other markets such as real estate, retail and communications, we learned that data was a key piece to our solutions. We have the software and services to help these companies utilize location intelligence but really we needed to be able to bring in the data element as well to help them make decisions about location against other things such as weather, distances to coast, wildfire, earthquakes, etc.

We had some existing MapInfo products, but wanted to add in weather. With the Risk Data Suite, we brought out a complete new offering to the insurance industry. With the acquisition of MapInfo by Pitney Bowes came the Group 1 portfolio of products which we were able to include in our product suite, such as shoreline and windpool.

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Wildfire information is based on complexity, data acquisition and data compiling. Fire Station information requires that we look at data state by state. as we perform the research, data validation and the cleansing for those processes.

GW: Are you planning to add more to the bundles?

RD: We will continue to come out with new releases of the Risk Data Suite. As we see things such as slosh zones, which will come out in the next couple of releases, we also see the Fire Station information continue to expand. Later this month we will add another two states. We also will see some revisions to some of our existing products based upon market feedback, adding some additional functionality and data components to those particularly weather and windpool information.

“Mass movement” refers to any time the earth moves, i.e. sinkholes, lava flows, also including additional information such as land size and susceptibility as well as traditional sink holes. Although sink holes are primarily focused in Florida, and includes caves, disappearing streams, spring and underground drainage systems, this information will extend to other states, and will include mine collapse and abandoned mines.

GW: What is the role of partners in the development of the Risk Data Suite?

RD: We have developed many products internally but also look to our partner channel for data such as real time weather and crime exposure. WSI, sister company to the Weather Channel, and Cap Index and their crime score information are among our partners. We are also exploring the market for vendors of flood information, which is critical to insurance.

All the products in the Risk Data Suite have been developed with in PB MapInfo product line so they work with all our products including desktop, web based but also our emerging online services. Much of this data will be available online for data consumption on an as needed basis as well as through our historic licensing and purchasing options.

Top News of the Week

Infoterra Ltd, a leader in the provision of geospatial products and services, has supplied the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) with core geospatial information, including climate change, carbon emission and waste recycling data, that features in Google’s innovative UK Carbon Footprint Project.

Research and Markets has announced the addition of "Achieving Business Success with GIS" to their offering.

"Achieving Business Success with GIS" explores the business environment of making GIS technology successful for professional organizations using it. Unlike many other publications in the field, this is not a book about the technology per-se, rather the use of the technology to enhance businesses and provides a business-focused rationale for using spatial technologies to address real business problems.

Adapx introduces Capturx built for ArcGIS Desktop, a fully integrated GIS software solution that digitally enables field mapping with a digital pen and standard paper. The Capturx software platform allows users to seamlessly upload field annotations from paper maps directly into ESRI's ArcGIS software without any manual data entry, making handwritten GIS information instantly available in a digital format and ready to share with colleagues. Field teams no longer have to complete the tedious task of transcription and since data is shared more frequently and at a faster pace, companies benefit from a more effective use of time and resources as well as a significant return
on investment.


Students at colleges and universities across the United States will have web access to high-resolution satellite imagery for use in educational and research projects thanks to a new partnership between SPOT Image Corp. and the AmericaViewSM, Inc. Consortium. SPOT has agreed to make SPOT satellite imagery available via the web to AmericaView academic institutions for education and research purposes at discounted rates.


Praising China for wholeheartedly embracing geographic information system (GIS) technology, ESRI president Jack Dangermond told university students and professors in Beijing yesterday that they're helping turn GIS into one of the most important technologies of our time.

Dangermond traveled to China to help launch GIS educational laboratories at two top universities: Beijing University and Beijing Normal University. The labs will use cutting-edge technologies provided by ESRI's ArcGIS software that will help students learn how to use and apply GIS technology.

ESRI (UK) has signed a £1.7 million contract with leading electricity provider ScottishPower to provide an enterprise-wide Geographic Information System (GIS) based on ESRI’s ArcGIS 9.2 technology.

The new ESRI (UK) ‘Foundation GIS’ platform will enable over 2,000 staff across ScottishPower’s north and south regions and eventually third parties, such as local authorities, to access map-based asset information via the web. This will allow authorized users to logon and view pre-defined ‘layers of data’ at preset scales. As well as ensuring users will have access to the most current data, the shift from a paper-based to electronic system will also significantly reduce distribution costs.

Munsys celebrates 10 years of running on Oracle spatial technologies. For a decade now, the Munsys solution for utilities and local government has been using a central database with pre-defined Oracle spatial data models. Oracle has consistently provided a high performance data repository for the integrated family of Munsys applications.

Halcrow has turned to new laser mapping technology to create a 3D computer model as part of a GBP120 million (US$240 million)regeneration project in Coventry, UK. Developed by Nottingham-based 3D Laser Mapping, the StreetMapper mobile laser system was used, in conjunction with Halcrow Geomatics, to survey a Coventry roundabout and its surrounding area. By mapping the highway with precision from a moving vehicle, StreetMapper eliminated any disruption to normal traffic flows, improved the safety of the workforce and achieved significant project savings.

Due to a fantastic response to a free web demonstration of Geographic Calculator v7.0,
Blue Marble Geographics has opted to add two additional free web demonstrations of Geographic Calculator v7.0. The added presentations will take place on Friday, February 1, and Tuesday, February 5, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. EST. Space is limited, so sign up now
here. Blue Marble’s coordinate conversion technology is used worldwide by thousands of GIS analysts at software companies, universities, oil and gas companies, civil engineering, surveying, technology, enterprise GIS groups, government and military organizations.


The GeoInformation Group, publishers of
Cities Revealed aerial photography, have expanded its staff to include a new Client Account Manager and a Technical Contract Liaison. Both positions were created to meet new and existing client communication and management requirements.

James Wilson has joined the company as Client Account Manager from Cambridge City Council where, as GIS & Graphics Officer, he was responsible for managing and analyzing the authority’s geographic data and contributing to Conservation Area Appraisals, Green Belt studies, Area Action Plans, Open Space strategies and event mapping.

Andrea Trayner has joined The GeoInformation Group as Technical Contract Liaison. She is responsible for post-sales relationships and communications to clients who have commissioned a Cities Revealed survey or dataset.

Digital mapping and GIS software developer Cadcorp has announced two new appointments within its UK sales and support team.

Fergus Craig has been appointed as account manager for commercial business in the UK and Ireland. Fergus is a graduate of Kingston University and holds a B.Sc. honors degree in GIS with Business Management. He joins Cadcorp from Map Mechanics where he worked as a sales consultant.

Mike Larkin has been appointed as GIS technical specialist within Cadcorp’s pre-sales team. Mike studied GIS at the Manchester Metropolitan University and joins Cadcorp from Aligned Assets Limited.

Andrew Harrison, business development manager for The Schneider Corporation, was recently elected to the Indiana Geographic Information Council’s Board of Directors for a three year term which will run from January 2008 through December 2010.

WilsonMiller has appointed Project Manager Michael D. Coles, GISP, to the role of Lower Southwest Florida Regional Manager of GIS. WilsonMiller’s GIS Business Unit uses specialized hardware and software to develop applications and model, integrate, manage, analyze, and present spatial data to solve complex problems and support decision-making.

New Products

Digital mapping and GIS software developer Cadcorp has announced that its Cadcorp SIS – Spatial Information System product suite now includes a dedicated manager application for Ordnance Survey (OS) MasterMap Address Layer 2.

Delivered with Cadcorp SIS Map Modeller at no extra cost, the Cadcorp SIS OS MasterMap Address Layer 2 Manager is a standalone wizard-driven application that takes OS Address Layer 2 gzip and/or gml files and loads the Address Layer features into either an industry-standard database (spatial or non-spatial), or a Cadcorp data format. Support is provided for Oracle, PostGIS, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access. The capability complements support already provided by Cadcorp for the OS MasterMap Topography and Integrated Transport Network™(ITN) Layers.

CARIS announced the worldwide availability of S-57 Composer, the next-generation desktop software application for electronic chart production.

S-57 Composer represents the future in desktop production of S-57 Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC), Additional Military Layers (AML) and Inland ENC. The successor to the long-trusted CARIS HOM ENC and HOM AML products, S-57 Composer delivers a highly intuitive workflow for creation of any official or customized product.

TatukGIS is pleased to announce support for vector data created by the ESRI ArcSDE and Personal Geodatabase.

The following TatukGIS products now support ArcSDE and Personal Geodatabase layers:

• GIS Developer Kernel .NET (.NET WinForms SDK)

• GIS Developer Kernel ActiveX (OCX based SDK)

• GIS Developer Kernel VCL (Delphi/C++ VCL SDK)

• GIS Internet Server (ASP.NET GIS server)

• GIS Editor (desktop application)

Avenza Systems Inc., producers of MAPublisher cartographic software for Adobe Illustrator and Geographic Imager spatial tools for Adobe Photoshop is pleased to announce the release of MAPublisher 7.6 for Adobe Illustrator. MAPublisher 7.6 is the latest version of this powerful mapmaking software used to produce high quality maps from GIS data.

MAPublisher 7.6 for Adobe Illustrator is a full product update that is free of charge to all current MAPublisher Maintenance Program subscribers and replaces the current shipping version of MAPublisher, version 7.5, for all new customers using Adobe Illustrator CS2 or CS3.

Upcoming Events

January 31 - February 1, 2008
Place: ExecuTrain 210 Spear

San Francisco, USA
Participants will learn how to easily create thematic maps of their own data and display spatial trends in information.

January 31 - February 4, 2008
Place: Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa

Rancho Mirage, CA USA
The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) is the only national association of firms in the surveying, spatial data and geographic information systems field in the United States. MAPPS member firms are engaged in surveying, photogrammetry, satellite and airborne remote sensing, aerial photography, hydrography, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS and GIS data collection and conversion services. Our associate members include firms that provide products and services to our member firms, as well as other firms world-wide.
February 6 - 8, 2008
Place: Doubletree Hotel Sacramento

2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA USA
Join your colleagues for this year’s California Regional User Group Conference to explore the latest software solutions and industry trends. Network with GIS professionals, meet with ESRI staff, and gain real-world insight, strategies, and skills critical to your field.
February 6 - 8, 2008
Place: India Expo Centre, Expo XXI

Noida, U.P., India
Map India, the most successful series of conferences on geospatial technologies held in India since 1998, is poised to enter a new period beginning 2008. As India strives to achieve the outlined goals of overall social and economic development in its 60th year of Independence, Map India too aims to take the development and penetration of geospatial information technologies to an unprecedented level, not just in India but in the entire South Asian region.

February 7 - 8, 2008
Place: India Expo Centre

Greater Noida, India
LOCATION INDIA, a B2B platform in the field of Fleet Management, Navigation and Location Based Services, has been designed to provide an opportunity for the industry to come together on a single platform to discuss business, network and benefit from research, analysis and debate on critical market trends and issues.
February 11 - 14, 2008
Place: Barcelona

Welcome to the The 3GSM World Congress is the world’s leading mobile communications conference, forum and exhibition. Held annually since 1994, the event has attracted over 70,000 visitors from 175 countries, more than 1500 exhibitors and 2000 media and press representatives. The 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona promises to continue its dominance of the industry calendar as a crucial week of networking and learning. Whether you are exhibiting or visiting we hope that it proves to be a valuable and productive experience for your organisation.
Geo-Science and Technology: Utilization of Geo-space as solution for Energy and Environment (GTEE-2008)
February 12 - 14, 2008
Place: Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

Kolkata, India
This conference will throw light on the latest developments in excavation technologies, current practices for the utilization of geo-space and effective usage of existing underground space around the world regarding new strategies for further research and development. It will also act as a platform and will provide an opportunity for sharing the latest global know-how among the participants.
February 18 - 20, 2008
Place: Belgrade Fair

Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro
The Conference will be organized with the goal to present the latest international and national knowledge, experience and achievements in the field of cadastre, concept of the national spatial data infrastructures, geo-informatics, building industry and environment area. The main topic is “Recent Problems in Geodesy and Related Fields with International Importance”. The Conference Director will invite prominent international experts and professors to participate with introduction presentations.
February 19 - 20, 2008
Place: Hyatt Regency Downtown

Indianapolis, , IN USA
Mark your calendars for the 2008 Indiana GIS Conference. Professional development opportunities abound, with exciting sessions, technology discussions, forums, student poster competitions and more!
February 20 - 22, 2008
Place: Washington Convention Center

Washington, DC USA
Learn from your colleagues about successful GIS applications in many government agencies that can provide new ideas and inspiration.

Be a part of this once-a-year gathering where you can connect with other federal GIS users and increase your GIS knowledge.

What You'll Experience

  • Attend presentations given by GIS professionals from around the country.
  • See state-of-the-art hardware and software solutions at the GIS Solutions EXPO.
  • Build relationships with your peers and ESRI staff.
  • Experiment with new techniques.
  • Get updated on industry trends.

    February 21 - 22, 2008
    Place: Adam’s Mark Hotel

    Denver, CO USA
    The ILMF is the premier event for the LIDAR industry attracting professionals from all over the world. This 8th annual summit is the focal gathering of industry leaders, pioneers, experts from government, academia and professionals from industries looking to invest in and benefit from LIDAR technology and services.
    February 22 - 25, 2008
    Place: Houston Marriott Westchase

    Houston, TX USA
    Be a part of the annual gathering of petroleum GIS users February 25-27, 2008 to discuss your recent challenges and GIS technology solutions.

    Be inspired as you learn from your colleagues about successful GIS applications in petroleum and pipeline businesses.
    February 24 - 27, 2008
    Place: Marriott Tampa Waterside Hotel & Marina

    Tampa, FL USA
    The Utility Management Conference™ was formerly called the Joint Management Conference.The 2008 Conference, Tomorrow's Water, Today's Issues, will offer a multitude of beneficial workshops, sessions, and panels that convey innovative tools, explore successful techniques, and share emerging solutions for addressing today's water and wastewater needs and future challenges.

    You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.