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December 22, 2008
Geospatial Technology Overview – 2008
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!

Welcome to GISWeekly! GISWeekly will be taking a break during the holiday season. We will resume publication January 5, 2009. GISCafe and GISWeekly wishes to extend best wishes and holiday greetings to all readers and supporters this season. See you next year.

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, Top News of the Week, Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances, Announcements, People, New Products, Around the Web and Events Calendar.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Geospatial Technology Overview – 2008

By Susan Smith

This year the geospatial industry has seen some exciting new technologies come on the scene, in the area of geospatial data appliances, computing power, mashups, satellite products, and moving more geospatial content to more devices. Topics such as standardization, interoperability, volunteer geographic information and creating city models dotted the geospatial landscape.

All this growth has been tempered by the downturn in the economy, however, which has affected nearly all industry segments. CEO of Daratech, Inc. Charles Foundyller said that geospatial has enormous potential for providing more consumer related applications, yet in light of the economy, “consumers are pulling back…who is going to invest in consumer related applications?” Foundyller also said that with regard to all technology industries, “I haven’t seen anything more difficult to predict in the 20 years that I’ve been doing this.”

In spite of this view, Foundyller believes there will be growth in the industry, more than likely in the area of infrastructure, while municipal and corporate will likely go down.

Geospatial Data Appliances

Geospatial data appliances such as MarkLogic and Netezza came on the scene this year, responding to the industry demand for more server and data warehouse appliance power. MarkLogic Server, a leading XML Server, includes a unique set of capabilities to “store, manage, enrich, search, navigate, and dynamically deliver content.” Unlike relational database and search hybrid solutions, MarkLogic Server is able to deliver content applications, which meet a broad range of user requirements by fully leveraging the contents’ XML structure.

Netezza, known for its data warehouse appliance, announced Netezza Spatial, a software extension to their appliance which can deliver location-based information at the same blistering rates its business intelligence (BI) customers are accustomed to.

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A global re-insurance company uses location intelligence to enable clients to assess the risk associated with their insurance portfolios and identify sources of risk accumulation across those portfolios.
Data warehouse appliances are a somewhat new concept to the GIS market. What they do is the following: they integrate database software, storage and hardware that’s optimized for analytics, delivering performance that is 10, 20 to 100 times faster than general purpose databases at a price point that tends to be less than 50% for acquisition cost and administrative costs, according to Jonathan Shepherd, general manager of location-based solutions with Netezza.

Visual Fusion Server 3.0

Lansing, MI firm IDV Solutions released Visual Fusion Server 3.0 (VFS), what they refer to as a “visual composite application platform.” According to the press release, “VFS goes beyond typical enterprise mashups to integrate with and extend Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS), connect to any data source or Web service, and empower users to create compelling, interactive, actionable composites of data and services focused on solving real business needs.”

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) has been out for less than a year and is the fastest growing Microsoft server product to be released yet. Scott Caulk, VFS product manager, said that Microsoft has already sold 85 million licenses. “The reason it’s selling so fast is that enterprises are finding it easy to work with and very powerful.”

Cloud Computing

Computing power is greater this year than ever before. Cloud computing enables organizations to take advantage of and provide internet services without having to own infrastructure themselves. This capability alone opens up all kinds of possibilities. When organizations own their own infrastructure, they need hardware and bandwidth that is not always being used, but they still have to pay for it. By using Amazon Cloud services, Microsoft Live Mesh or others, companies can effectively pay for what they use. If the company has a peak period where they need more machines for a set period of time, then automatically new computing resources are spun up just as part of the service that the
cloud computing provider gives them and that’s what they pay for. But the rest of the time when the company has less bandwidth requirements and less processing, they only pay for the actual CPU, bandwidth and disk storage used.

Safe Software entered into a partnership with WeoGeo, a one-stop marketplace for the mapping industry as well as a recognized provider of cloud computing expertise, to bring the powerful data transformation capabilities of FME technology to the cloud. This combined offering will make it easier to bring spatial ETL to a broader audience of users.

More Geospatial Content for More Devices

The increased computing power available spills over into the handheld market, with consumers demanding more services on their small portable devices. The ubiquity of the cell phone/email/GPS/iPod has vaulted location based technology to a lofty place in the world of platforms, whether it be desktop, handheld device, touch table or enterprise systems.

A flurry of partnerships have ensued, with Google and Microsoft linking arms with the likes of Digital Globe, GeoEye and SPOT Image and many others. Earlier this year, Google entered into an agreement with map maker Tele Atlas which gives Google the right to use the firm's map data on devices including cell phones and gadgets that are based on the Android operating system. The 5-year agreement states that Google will also continue to use Tele Atlas mapping data on Google services such as Google Maps and Google Earth.

Standardization and Volunteer Geographic Information

This trend is a natural lead in to a talk given by Michael Goodchild, PhD, professor of Geography at University of California, Santa Barbara at the GeoWeb 2008 Conference about “data acquisition and management” this summer, which led to a look at the importance of “volunteer geographic information.”

Goodchild said that perhaps what characterizes today’s approach to standardization is the lack of standardization. Goodchild said we are entering an age of “post standardization” where IT makes it possible for places to have alternative names, which allows us to collect a vast amount of information beyond simple names, what he calls “the world of Web 2.0 and the world of bottom up geographic data production.”

Today’s post standardization climate opens up the world of “volunteer geographic information,” volunteered by citizens, user generated content in the specific context of geographic information. Other names for this are collective intelligence and crowd sourcing. What is significant about this content is that it does not come from an authoritative source such as a government agency, but from millions of private citizens who have the capacity to be empowered, either at their desktop or by a handheld GPS or other device, who get no obvious reward and are virtually untrained in geographic information.

All of this has been enabled by search engines, which play an important role in supporting the GeoWeb, according to Goodchild. “They allow us to find things easily and they index an enormous amount of information. In the future I think they’re going to be more involved with indexing geospatial information.”

With this new move toward combining information from different sources to grow the GeoWeb, Goodchild concluded “it’s naïve to assume that geospatial data being handled by the public sector are somehow less trustworthy or accurate than government agencies. In fact, the evidence suggests there is no simple difference in that sense.”

Product in Space

On Saturday, September 6, GeoEye, Inc. announced the successful launch and deployment of GeoEye-1,which owns the distinction of being “the world’s highest resolution, commercial Earth-imaging satellite,” from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 11:50 a.m. (Pacific Time).

GeoEye-1, financed in part by a $500-million NextView contract with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and built by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Gilbert, Ariz., has the highest resolution of any commercial imaging system - 0.41-meters ground resolution black-and-white (panchromatic) images or 16 inches.

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The importance of the GeoEye-1 launch is underscored by the products that the satellite will produce, coupled with how broadly the products will be used in new and emerging markets. GeoEye-1 imagery is now available on the website.

Bentley and Autodesk Interoperability Agreement Announced

A notable announcement made this year was that Bentley and Autodesk agreement to expand interoperability between their portfolios of architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) software. The agreement stated that Autodesk and Bentley will exchange software libraries, including Autodesk RealDWG, which Autodesk uses to read and write in their own products, “to improve the ability to read and write the companies' respective DWG and DGN formats in mixed environments with better accuracy.” As a result, Bentley will be able to work directly with the Autodesk code to read and write DWGs. In the other direction, Bentley has exchanged comparable DGN libraries with Autodesk.

According to Chris Barron, vice president, Corporate Marketing, Bentley, “It’s been acknowledged that Autodesk’s handling of DGN files hasn’t been quite as smooth as our ability with DWG, so I think this will improve the fidelity of Autodesk users’ ability to access DGN files.”

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass concurred in a press conference at AU that Bentley and Autodesk share many customers in common, “they are our largest third party developer.” “We’re willing to share data with any vendor in the industry regardless of size.”

The two companies will also facilitate the work process interoperability between their applications by supporting the reciprocal use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This should improve AEC workflows so that information can be reused by more stakeholders in the AEC process, and project teams will be able to access more software possibilities.

In response to this news, many users in both camps say “it’s about time.”

Digital Cities

As part of Autodesk’s Digital Cities initiative, Autodesk launched its infrastructure modeling offering, LandXplorer, which derives from the acquisition of 3D Geo GmbH of Potsdam, Germany, the privately held maker of intelligent 3D urban modeling software. An out of the box product, LandXplorer allows a city to create a city or infrastructure model in a very short time, according to Doug Eberhard, senior director and industry evangelist for Autodesk. A 3D infrastructure model can be created within 30 minutes. In addition to supporting AutoCAD products, LandXplorer brings in 3ds Max for buildings and texture mapping.

Not only does LandXplorer appear to offer some real value to both CAD and GIS users, Autodesk is hoping that it will alter the mentality of users by allowing them an expanded level of data sharing.


Data appliance computing power from the BI industry, together with the presence of the Visual Fusion Server and cloud computing pack a punch for the geospatial industry going forward. More geospatial content for more devices puts a demand on the industry to produce tools to make the transition from server to desktop to handheld GPS or iPhone easier, for greater visibility of high resolution maps generated from satellite imagery. The addition of “volunteer geographic information” to the mix of disparate data sources adds a new and exciting dimension to how we create, manage and consume data. Standards have become living entities that need to be flexible enough to
accommodate the ever changing complexion of geospatial information. And interoperability between the two top CAD vendors hopefully heralds what is to come for GIS, a recognition of the need to break down barriers between products so that it will no longer matter what software is used to originate information, the data can be used for collaboration on projects without the need for translation. Digital Cities is an exploration into that possibility, with its attempt to bring CAD and GIS data together into one model of one city, demonstrating to stakeholders just what their city could look like, in one year, or in ten.

So yes, it is very difficult to predict the future from where the economy is poised right now, however, the traction that geospatial information has in so many different market areas today suggests that although times are tough, the industry is one of rapid growth and will weather the downturn.

Top News of the Week

ParcelAtlas.com, a new website offering property information lookups and web services access to a nationwide property parcel data set was launched . ISC has joined forces with Boundary Solutions, Inc. to offer property parcel mapping and information services at ParcelAtlas.com. ParcelAtlas.com will provide individual property information lookup, a parcel query web service, and access to parcel map tiles for its subscribers.

With its new high resolution touch screen, big 3.2 megapixel camera, microSD memory card slot and unlocked GPS, the BlackBerry Storm is the perfect mobile platform for GIS. And with the ability to run ESRI ArcGIS Server software, the BlackBerry Storm can perform GIS tasks usually done with a laptop computer with an aircard. View live GIS maps, GPS field map points with digital photos, and track vehicles and personnel using Freeance Mobile software on the BlackBerry Storm to save time, money and resources.

Oblique aerial imagery captured by Pictometry International Corp., a provider of geo-referenced aerial image libraries, is featured in a Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) Proof of Concept project completed earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).

The Proof of Concept focused on expanding emergency call answering capabilities to include an efficient way for emergency responders to answer calls from people using voice, video, text messaging and other increasingly popular consumer technologies. Participants in the project, including prime contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, include the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), L. Robert Kimball & Associates, Texas A&M University, and Columbia University.

Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances

With the recently launched Point2Point personal navigation device, Middle Eastern consumer electronics leader Hügel GmbH and Tele Atlas, a global provider of digital maps and dynamic content for navigation and location-based solutions, are well positioned to meet the growing need for GPS devices in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Global Technology Transfer Group, Inc. (GTT) is pleased to announce an acquisition opportunity in the “Location Aware” Networking space. This opportunity represents an essential patent portfolio, technology, and human capital acquisition. In development for over four years, the technology constitutes a quantum leap forward in Location Aware Systems, displacing global positioning and ancillary systems. The technology directly applies to all terrestrial and airborne wireless devices, allowing all such devices to simply know where they are through normal communications alone.

Intermap Technologies announced that it has entered into a partnership agreement with Lowrance, a provider of outdoor navigation and wholly-owned brand of Navico Holding AS to offer AccuTerra maps for the Brand’s enhanced outdoor GPS devices. Under the terms of the agreement, AccuTerra GPS maps will provide users with detailed roads, trails, terrain, topographic contours, points of interest, and land management maps.

1Spatial is pleased to announce that CSI-Piemonte has chosen Radius Topology as the key component to support the implementation of Italy's GIS TopographicDB Specification under the Intesa GIS initiative.

This project will be the first topological geodatabase to support public services in the Piedmont region, structured in accordance with Intesa GIS, Italy's GIS TopographicDB Specification. Regione. CSI-Piemonte is the project leader and their objectives are to design an information system geared towards service integration and interoperability. In order to comply with one of the basic tenets of INSPIRE, and therefore those of Intesa GIS, the solution has to provide the facility for data to be gathered once and used many times. A convenient and efficient data maintenance system for keeping the data current is also essential. Oracle is the master database for storing their data.


GeoLytics has just released an expanded list of new housing, poverty, and employment variables for all estimate years from 2001 to 2010. This data set is an add-on piece to any of our baseline demographic estimates or CensusCD products.

The new Housing, Poverty, and Employment Estimates 2001-2010 from GeoLytics includes 5 groups of demographic estimates; 1) housing – including median home value, median gross rent, plumbing, telephone service, and households with transportation vehicles, 2) family income, 3) poverty indicators, 4) labor and unemployment, and 5) detailed occupation estimates broken out by sex. For the complete list of variables, go to:
Geolytics US Census website,Housing-Poverty-Employment,Data,Variables,Products.asp

DMTI Spatial (DMTI), Canadian provider of Location Intelligence solutions, has announced that HomeZilla, a next-generation real estate website that provides homebuyers with efficient access to information about neighborhoods, has selected DMTI's Neighbourhood and Community Boundaries solution. Linked to all content available on the site, Neighbourhood and Community Boundaries help home buyers pinpoint properties and explore surrounding points of interest within their search area, such as schools, stores, community centers and hospitals.

Trimble announced the keynote speakers for its International User Conference -- Trimble Dimensions 2009. The conference, which will be held February 23-25, 2009 at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, focuses on applying technology to meet the daily needs faced by surveying, engineering, construction, mapping, Geographic Information System (GIS), geospatial and mobile resource management professionals.

Your Success is Our Business. Steven W. Berglund, president and CEO of Trimble, will discuss how vision and innovation has changed the landscape for surveyors, contractors, engineers and geospatial professionals to transform the way work is done. Dr. Robert Kriegel teaches bold, innovative, "out of the box" strategies for keeping ahead of the changes, challenges and competition in today's dynamic marketplace.

Henrik Dahlin of DHL Express Europe will keynote the ESRI Business GIS Summit being held May 4–6, 2009, at the Westin Tabor Center in Denver, Colorado. Dahlin will discuss how geographic information system (GIS) technology has helped the international company improve its bottom-line results, boost customer service ratings, and reduce its impact on the environment.

The GeoInformation Group, publishers of
Cities Revealed aerial photography, is pleased to announce that its training division, Training4GIS, will be hosting the annual Cities Revealed Event on 12 and 13 February 2009 at Madingley Hall, Cambridge. This ninth annual event brings together spatial data users and leading industry experts from across the UK. The agenda reflects many of the key issues and challenges facing today's GI community. With a wealth of engaging topics on offer, the event looks at the most up-to-date geoinformation technology, research and management techniques available. User case studies and practical workshops cover a wide range of themes led by our technical
specialists and also incorporates external industry experts.


GeoSpatial Training Services announced the availability of a new instructor guided, Internet based Virtual GIS Classroom course entitled "Building Web 2.0 Mapping Applications with ArcGIS Server and Google Maps". How fast can you learn to build Web 2.0 mapping applications with ESRI's ArcGIS Server and Google Maps? With our unique combination of hands-on exercises, Flash based lecture materials containing audio, video, code samples, and demonstrations you will be creating next generation web-based GIS applications in a matter of days using the new ArcGIS Server JavaScript API and Google Maps.

The next session of this course will be delivered via the web starting February 12th and ending March 13th. A full course syllabus can be obtained at the
Geospatial Training website

New Products

TeleNav, Inc. announced that has added TeleNav Vehicle Tracker to its portfolio of enterprise mobility services. TeleNav Vehicle Tracker is a GPS-enabled device that is hard-wired or embedded onto a vehicle. It provides companies of all sizes with a hassle-free method for monitoring and managing fleet operations. Once installed, TeleNav Vehicle Tracker powers up and is active without requiring any additional driver interaction or resources.

Avenza Systems Inc., producers of MAPublisher cartographic software for Adobe Illustrator and Geographic Imager spatial tools for Adobe Photoshop is pleased to announce the inclusion of its new MAP Web Author Tool in the newest release of MAPublisher for Adobe Illustrator, version 8.0. The MAPublisher Web Author Tool provides the ability to easily export map documents to intelligent, data-rich Flash SWF files for easy seamless publishing on the Internet and other Flash-based delivery mechanisms using Adobe Flash Player.

McObject announced the release of eXtremeDB 4.0 beta, a major upgrade to its in-memory and on-disk embedded database system for real-time applications. New features in eXtremeDB 4.0 include a fast, new native application programming interface (API) that enhances developer productivity; higher database performance via improved multi-user coordination; and support for the KD-Tree, a database index that is vital to many spatial and pattern-matching applications.

Applanix launched POSPac MMS (Mobile Mapping Suite) 5.2, the latest release of its industry leading Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)-Aided Inertial post-processing software for mobile mapping and surveying applications. New functionality includes full land-based mobile mapping support, making POSPac MMS 5.2 fully capable of processing mobile mapping data obtained from air, sea, and land platforms. POSPac MMS 5.2 now offers customers lowered costs, less complexity, and improved results in the execution of all mobile mapping mission types.

ERDAS announces the release of ERDAS Image Web Server 2009 for Linux and Sun Solaris. ERDAS Image Web Server makes a GIS faster by solving the infrastructure congestion problems caused by large volumes of image data.

This is the inaugural release of ERDAS Image Web Server 2009 on Linux (Red Hat Enterprise 5) and Sun Solaris. Earlier this year, ERDAS Image Web Server 2009 was released on Microsoft Windows 32 and 64 bit platforms. An earlier version of ERDAS Image Web Server was also available for Sun Solaris.

Around the Web

Mr. Obama’s Internet Agenda  December 15, 2008, The New York Times (registration required) - President-elect Barack Obama recently announced an ambitious plan to build up the nation’s Internet infrastructure as part of his proposed economic stimulus package. Upgrading the Internet is a particularly smart kind of stimulus, one that would spread knowledge, promote entrepreneurship and make this country more competitive globally.


Date: January 12 - 15, 2009
Place: Jakarta, Indonesia

PT McElhanney Indonesia (PTMI) will be offering a 2-day Introduction to  MapInfo Professional course, and a 2-day Intermediate MapInfo Professional course in Jakarta, Indonesia. With the "Introduction to MapInfo Professional" course you will learn how to navigate, label and query maps, create thematic maps, use images, geocode address and use basic GIS analysis techniques. 
Date: January 19 - 22, 2009
Place: QEII Conference Centre

London, United Kingdom

DGI 2009 is Europe’s largest annual gathering dedicated to high-level discussion addressing the major challenges of the defence and government geospatial intelligence community. Bringing together Heads of Geospatial Intelligence, GIS, Remote Sensing, Operations, and Imagery and Analysis, the conference provides a unique forum to discuss and debate the development of geospatial intelligence capabilities across the globe.
Date: January 19 - 22, 2009
Place: Prague, Czech Republic

The Symposium will be held in Prague under the auspices of His Magnificence Prof. Dr. Petr FIALA, Ph.D., Rector of the Masaryk University, Brno and under the auspices of the Czech Presidency of the European Union with participation of three ministries of the Czech government - Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and Ministry of Industry and Trade - Fire rescue Service of the Czech republic, general directorate, Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and in close cooperation with the Joint Research Centrum in Ispra, Italy and EC DG’s.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.