Exploring the Transfrontier - Across Political Boundaries
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Exploring the Transfrontier - Across Political Boundaries

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly!In August, Peace Parks Foundation of South Africa was presented with the prestigious Presidential Award at the 2004 ESRI International User Conference. Professor Willem van Riet, chief executive officer of Peace Parks Foundation, accepted the award from ESRI President Jack Dangermond. Peace Parks Foundation is a leading force in establishing transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs), also known as peace parks, which are large land parcels that cross international boundaries. These peace parks have multiple purposes: one is to employ conservation as a land use option to benefit local people, and another is to enhance relationships between countries sharing boundaries. In part, the goal is to create a pathway for elephants (and other wildlife) to migrate from one park to another which naturally take them across political boundaries. See our interview with Professor van Riet in this week's Industry News.

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, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, New Products, Going on Around the Web, and Upcoming Events.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at Managing Editor

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Exploring the Transfrontier - Across Political Boundaries
By Susan Smith

In August, Peace Parks Foundation of South Africa was presented with the prestigious Presidential Award at the 2004 ESRI International User Conference. Professor Willem van Riet, chief executive officer of Peace Parks Foundation, accepted the award from ESRI President Jack Dangermond. Peace Parks Foundation is a leading force in establishing transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs), also known as peace parks, which are large land parcels that cross international boundaries. These peace parks have multiple purposes: one is to employ conservation as a land use option to benefit local people, and another is to enhance relationships between countries sharing boundaries. In part, the goal is to create a pathway for elephants (and other wildlife) to migrate from one park to another which naturally take them across political boundaries.

GISWeekly interviewed Professor van Riet after he returned to Africa to find out more about the work of Peace Parks, political change and their use of GIS in the planning and conceptualization of peace parks.

How did you get involved in the Peace Parks Foundation of South Africa?

van Riet: As a keen canoeist who represented South Africa for a number of years running, I have explored many of the rivers of the world. This exposure to the wild, combined with my love of nature led me to become a landscape architect by training and further develop my skills for environmental planning.

After completion of my studies, where I earned a BArch in Cape Town, a ML Arch in Pennsylvania and a PhD in Pretoria, I spent twenty years as head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, where I initiated a new direction in environmental planning and environmental impact studies.

My specialist knowledge has benefited conservation in southern Africa over the past 20 years, as I have been involved in the planning, design and development of studies and projects involving a number of national parks. As past vice-president of the Council for Habitat, I paid particular attention to the involvement of communities in the planning of new national parks - an experience that has served the Foundation well when assisting in the establishment of TFCAs.

One of my particular fields of interest and expertise is the development of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). I had previously established a laboratory that had become the leading platform of GIS expertise in southern Africa by the time I joined the Foundation in 2000. This expertise has benefited the Foundation in that it now boasts its own GIS laboratory whose expertise is widely used to assist all those involved in the development and management of TFCAs.

In 1988, the IUCN's Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas identified at least 70 protected areas in 65 countries which straddle national frontiers (Thorsell, 1990) How many of these protected areas are located in South Africa?

van Riet: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) governments have recognised the potential of peace parks to support sustainable economic development, biodiversity conservation and regional peace and stability. One of the specific objectives of the SADC Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement is to "promote the conservation of shared wildlife resources through the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas".

Realising also the enormous tourism potential these areas would offer, the SADC Ministers for Tourism commissioned a detailed TFCA feasibility study, funded by Peace Parks Foundation and the Development Bank of Southern Africa and supported by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. A team contracted by the Foundation visited all SADC countries, except Mauritius and the Seychelles, and consulted the governments regarding the potential TFCAs that would involve their countries, thereby clearly defining the areas, as well as identifying their economic growth and biodiversity conservation potential. In all, 22 areas in SADC were identified. These include the TFCAs already in various stages of development.

Since publication of the study, the number has been adjusted from 22 to 20, as it was established that one of the 22 would not be viable and two of the areas would be developed as one.

Since the Peace Parks was founded in 1997, how has GIS become used in your work?

van Riet: In 2000 I was offered the position of Executive Vice-Chairman of Peace Parks Foundation and with that the Foundation's GIS programme was initiated. Our initial intention and focus was to create 'cartoon-like' maps using rudimentary data for each of the proposed peace parks. This became the weaponry, so-to-speak, which I could take with me to advocate the intention and purpose of each peace park.

Since then we have built up an extensive database on these protected areas, and developed detailed park zoning and management plans for each of these peace parks. Our intention is to offer spatial tools to the role-players of each peace park to ease their decision-making. We have a very small team, comprising a manager/analyst, remote sensing analyst and land-use planner working together to offer our GIS to all who are involved with establishing transfrontier conservation areas in the Southern African region.

What types of GIS solutions do you use and how?

van Riet: Our solutions lie in the planning and conceptualization of a peace park. By making use of socio-economic and environmental variables from global data sets, we draft map the basics and these are then brain-stormed and used as planning and discussion tools during initial meetings attended by Ministers, park managers and community liaison officers. These maps are always presented by a GIS technician to interactively adapt the datasets and visually manipulate the information during these meetings. The querying and interrogation of the datasets often alleviate time consuming discussions where answers are a mere mouse-click away. These changes are then used to expand datasets, resulting in a data hunt to find the necessary answers.

Shingwedzi River, Limpopo National Park. Photograph added by PPF. Photographer:
Koos van der Lende © Peace Parks Foundation

Once a peace park has been agreed to, the GIS assists in the zoning process, where both environmental and socio-economic data are used to derive sensitivity mapping and appropriate tourism and management zonation takes place. The GIS has also offered practical solutions to some of the infrastructural planning in Limpopo National Park, which is the Mozambique component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Radio communication needed to be established in this very rustic park and a view shed analysis was done using both spatial analytical and 3D analytical tools to derive the best possible site placement for communication antennae. Empowering people directly involved with park management takes place on two levels. The first of which is where the Southern African Wildlife College is used as a base where the Foundation's GIS offer short introductory courses on GIS, Remote Sensing and Global Positioning Systems. The second is where field rangers of the Limpopo National Park have directly been shown the hands-on use of GPS data capture and loading the information into an ArcView 3.2 license we have stationed in the park. We have made extensive use of the 3D visualization tools to sell the various concepts and bring together natural features which more often than not follow topographical features.

What future plans do you have for growing and/or using GIS?

van Riet: The future of our GIS is to derive a transfrontier conservation model in order to monitor and analyse changes which are occurring in and adjacent to our peace parks. The value of bringing on board specialists and expertise from outside is also a prerogative in order to validate and expose more widely the use of modeling these intertwined spatial activities. We have also recently started looking into animal disease distribution and believe that this will be a very valuable tool for the Southern African Development Community. But our aim remains to expose the functionality and interoperability of a GIS, especially in a field such as ours which is webbed together with an array of intertwined disciplines.

Have you seen political tensions change or diminish as a result of those transfrontier borders that have been created?

van Riet: In southern Africa, political change has enabled us to do our work. Our chairperson, Dr Anton Rupert, had discussions with President Chissano of Mozambique about peace parks in southern Africa in the early 1990s. But it was only once apartheid was dismantled and once peace reigned in Mozambique that this discussion could be taken further and that Peace Parks Foundation could be established.

So while it was not thanks to peace parks that peace in southern Africa came about, I do believe that it is playing a major role in forging strong relations across our borders. When you drop fences between countries, it goes without saying that you have to have very good relations between those two countries and that they would need to work together closely on managing the peace park that lies between them. This is done by way of joint ministerial committees, joint management boards and joint management committees. These permanent management committees deal with conservation; safety and security; finance, human resources and legislation; and tourism. Facilitating the process is an international coordinator.

In what areas would you like to create transfrontier borders, yet are so far unable to because of political strife? Do you see any of that changing in the coming years?

Mr George Archibald, Mr KC Kim and Prof Willem van Riet, with the DMZ in the background © Peace Parks Foundation
An international conference to discuss the conservation of Korea's Demilitarized Zone was held in Seoul, Korea from 14 - 19 July 2004.
van Riet: The Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea is the ideal peace park. Because of the way the DMZ was set up, their biodiversity has been remarkably protected. Dr Mandela had met with President Kim Dae Jung in March 2001 to discuss the possibility of making the DMZ a peace park. President Kim Dae Jung reacted positively and encouraged Mandela to continue the dialogue with his counterpart in North Korea, Kim Chong-il. Unfortunately no formal meeting could be arranged with the latter.

An international conference to discuss the conservation of the DMZ was held in Seoul, Korea from 14 - 19 July 2004. While the official outcome of the conference is not yet available, a message of Dr Nelson Mandela, Founding Patron of Peace Parks Foundation was delivered to the conference. As an active participant I demonstrated the possibilities of conserving the DMZ as a peace park and how to go about doing so. I also showed a fly-through to illustrate what the DMZ looks like. Most Koreans have never seen the DMZ and this was therefore a highlight to them. The fly-through was also shown by Korea's national television station.

I believe that there is a very distinct possibility of the DMZ becoming a peace park.

Acquisitions /Alliances/Agreements

Orion Technology and international engineering and project management services firm AMEC announced a strategic partnership in the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) arena. The partnership will enable the companies to better serve the GIS needs of a broader range of clients in the United States and Canada.

The Italian Agency for Environmental Protection and Technical Services (APAT), in conjunction with Planetek Italia, has developed Cart@net Mutiserver, an interoperable cartographic reference system. Cart@net Mutiserver efficiently services the land information requirements of APAT's 21 regional offices. Built on Earth Resource Mapping's (ERM) Image Web Server technology Cart@net Mutiserver provides a single point of access to different remote GIS services. GIS vector information is sourced from ESRI's(r) ArcIMS(r), as well as MapServer and Geomedia(r). Over 1.2 terabytes of geospatial imagery is held by Image Web Server.

MapInfo Corporation announced that it has acquired all of the shares of privately-held Southbank Systems Limited, a provider of infrastructure management software and services solutions for the public sector in the United Kingdom and the Asia-Pacific region, for approximately GBP11.7 million (approximately $20.8 million) in cash, subject to a working capital adjustment. Southbank Systems is headquartered in Chatham, England, and also has operations in Scotland, Australia and New Zealand

SiVault Systems Inc., provider of products and services to implement secure storage and retrieval of signed documents and signature-based authentication for processing of on-line transactions, signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire Links Point Inc. (LinksPoint). The parties contemplate an exchange of restricted common stock and the terms and conditions of the share purchase agreement are subject to approval of both boards of directors.

CubeWerx, provider of spatial data warehousing and component-based web services products using OpenGIS® Specifications, announces it is expanding its presence in Canada through a reseller partnership with Forte Consulting Ltd. Through this agreement, Forte Consulting will market and resell CubeWerx products to their enterprise customers.

RT Logic, a wholly owned subsidiary of Integral Systems, Inc., (NASDAQ: ISYS) today announced that it was awarded a contract to supply Telemetrix systems to DigitalGlobe, Inc. The contract value exceeds $2.5M, and initial deliveries are scheduled for late 2004.


GeoVantage, Inc. announced the launch of the GeoVantage Rolling Imagery Program (GRIP) throughout the Southeast and Texas. The program is based on a rolling regional schedule, which allows GeoVantage to bundle multiple small imagery orders and offer a cost effective price. By aggregating small orders, GeoVantage can waive minimums traditionally required for custom orders, and pass along price savings to their clients. Smaller organizations can now afford the imagery they need to effectively manage their lands while larger forestry companies benefit from the program's flexibility.

Intermap Technologies Corporation announced that it has received a CAN$2,813,000 (GBP £1,200,000), order for NEXTMap Britain terrain elevation and image data from the Scottish Executive. On behalf of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, the Scottish Executive has purchased a license for data of northern Scotland. The Scottish Executive previously purchased NEXTMap data for southern Scotland in 2003. The data will be merged with the southern data and used in the preparation of a common set of flood plain maps.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced Kommunales Rechenzentrum Niederrhein (KRZN), the data processing center working for local government authorities in the Niederrhein area, has implemented Intergraph geospatial data management solutions to build one of the country's largest municipal geodata warehouses. KRZN provides computer-based information processing for 8,000 Web and desktop users within the 42 city and county municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The KRZN warehouse will contain cadastral and related data on 725,000 land parcels and 770,000 buildings.

IMGS also announced its agreement with UNIGIS International is expanding to include academic credit for the Intergraph online education course, "Introduction to Geographic Information Science (GIS)." With an extended registration deadline of Oct. 15, 2004, this online education course provides a theoretical and hands-on understanding of GIS. Initially, the following five UNIGIS international partners have elected to accredit this course: University of Salzburg (Austria); University of Krakow (Poland); University of Goa (India); University of Amsterdam (Netherlands); and University of Girona (Spain). Students at these universities have the opportunity to earn elective subject credits toward reaching UNIGIS MSc (GISc) degrees. The UNIGIS institutions will also integrate these course materials as an optional component of their MSc degrees.

NASA teams are surveying the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for damage caused by Hurricane Frances. Initial assessments show KSC weathered the storm fairly well. There are no reports of any injured KSC workers, and there does not appear to be damage to the Space Shuttles Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour.

ORBIMAGE Inc. reported results for its first six months ending June 30, 2004.

Total revenues were $11.76 million and $3.00 million for the six months ended June 30, 2004 and 2003, respectively. Net loss for the six months ended June 30, 2004 and 2003 was $12.81 million and $5.74 million, respectively. Total revenues in the first six months of 2004 reflect the commencement of OrbView-3 operations. Net loss in the first six months of 2004 reflects an increase in operating costs (including depreciation) resulting from the commencement of OrbView-3 operations and from interest expense on our Senior Notes and Senior Subordinated Notes issued on December 31, 2003.

The WebSim Partnership announced that online registration for its "Second Workshop on Web Enabled Modeling and Simulation". The event is scheduled for October 12-15, 2004 at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

The Object Management Group (OMG), Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO), and Web3D Consortium agreed last year to collaborate on open, non-proprietary standards for Modeling and Simulation (M&S) and related technologies, forming the WebSim Partnership.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) (formerly the Open GIS Consortium), NAVTEQ and the Chicago Geospatial Exchange invite those interested in geospatial technologies and telematics to attend "OGC Industry Day - Geospatial Requirements for Telematics" on Monday, 13 September, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM at the Holiday Inn Chicago - Mart Plaza in downtown Chicago. This event will bring together government, industry and academic experts to present, learn about, discuss and demonstrate geospatial information requirements and solutions for Homeland Security, Location Services and Vehicle Services (Telematics). Visit http://www.opengeospatial.org/events/?page=040913 for more details or send email to Email Contact. Seating is limited.

Avenza Systems Inc. announces that live online MAPublisher demos are now available in The United Kingdom and Ireland. Using technology from Glance Networks ( www.glance.net), and adding to similar availability in North America, France and The Netherlands, Avenza has teamed with its local distributor, The XYZ Digital Map Co. Ltd., to make live online MAPublisher demos available to customers in The United Kingdom and Ireland.

DigitalGlobe announced that U.S. civil government customers at the state and local level now have the freedom to use, distribute and modify QuickBird satellite imagery products without penalty. This new civil government licensing model, effective September 17, 2004, represents a pivotal change in the commercial remote sensing industry's traditional treatment of product licensing.


DigitalGlobe has named a new general counsel to its executive team. Bettina Eckerle joins DigitalGlobe as general counsel and secretary from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where she spent five years serving top domestic and international corporate clients in mergers and acquisitions, finances and general corporate matters. Prior to joining Wachtell, Eckerle spent four years as an associate in the corporate department of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. Her legal experience is rounded out by four years in commercial banking, two of which were spent serving the media and telecommunications industries.

Excellence Awards

NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced six institutions were awarded grants to conduct geospatial extension projects.

The six grants were awarded to:

The University of Missouri (Columbia, Mo.) for The Missouri Geospatial Extension Specialist Program, to improve and extend decision-support tools for water management, agricultural efficiency and ecological forecasting, in cooperation with a variety of state partners.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha for Nebraska NativeGEM (Geospatial Extension Model), to improve the decision-support systems, education and work force development of local users, with a focus on Native American tribes in Nebraska.

The University of New Hampshire (Durham, N.H.) for MapCorps, to implement a geospatial technology training and resources center to enhance the geospatial technology capability in the community, specifically targeting youth groups.

The University of Rhode Island (Kingston, R.I.) for Geospatial Information in Rhode Island: Making a Difference in Sustainable Resource Management, focusing on education and work force development for resource and land management.

Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) for The Texas Geospatial Extension Program, to increase geospatial literacy in elementary schools, and improve decision support tools for invasive species and land fragmentation, among other critical issues, across Texas.

Utah State University (Logan, Utah) for On-Target Fellowship Program: Empowering Agents of Change, for training of county extension agents and educators in use of geographic information and existing decision-support tools sponsored by USDA and NASA, and injecting that expertise into state and local programs.
Intermap Technologies recently won a special Gold Prize award at the 20th Congress of International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) in Istanbul, Turkey, for its "DEMs from IFSAR" eLearning training course.

Oracle and Fujitsu Siemens Computers announced that Oracle® Application Server 10g set a new performance world record result for the SPECjAppServer®2002 MultipleNode benchmark. The benchmark was established on Solaris(TM)/SPARC®64V-based PRIMEPOWER(TM) 450/2500 servers of the Fujitsu group of companies (Fujitsu Limited/Asia-Pacific, Fujitsu Computer Systems/North America and Fujitsu Siemens Computers/EMEA) as well as Fujitsu Siemens Computers' openSEAS product suite. Oracle's record result delivered 33 percent higher performance than the previous SPECjAppServer2002 MultipleNode record held by BEA Weblogic*.

New Products

Trimble introduced a new ultra-low power miniature Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver -- the Lassen® iQ module for mobile devices. With major advancements in performance, sensitivity and power consumption, the Lassen iQ module enables system integrators to easily add GPS capability to mobile devices at a very economical price.

iSECUREtrac(TM) Corp. recently deployed GPS tracking systems with law enforcement agencies in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Oregon, Texas, Georgia, and Virginia.

It may be the end of a nightmare for some now that TrafficGauge Inc. has launched the first real-time mobile traffic map for Los Angeles and Orange County. The TrafficGauge(TM) Mobile Traffic Map will help drivers outsmart traffic congestion.

Blue Marble Geographics announced the release of a new version of the coordinate conversion library, GeoCalc.Net. This fully object-oriented version of Blue Marble's coordinate conversion libraries was created to meet the needs of cutting-edge Windows programmers.

Around the Web...

XML: Too Much of a Good Thing? By David Becker, CNET News.com, September 7, 2004--It's hard to find an industry or interest that isn't taking advantage of the fast-growing standard for Web services and data exchange. While some industry observers worry proliferation has gone too far, potentially creating new instances of the interoperability problems that XML was meant to solve, proponents say the explosion of schemas is a testament to the format's success.

Helping Frequent Flyers Redeem Miles for Tickets, Online, By Joe Sharkey, New York Times, September 7, 2004-- Soon it will be easier to find out what is available in the murky realm of frequent flier travel redemption. This is not to say that airlines are suddenly tossing rows and rows of free seats into the mileage lottery. But because of new technology, it will be more convenient to go online, view the options and claim a seat.

Airline's Interest in Mile High WiFi Dives, CNET News.com by Andy McCue, December 7, 2004 - British Airways has backed off from plans to install in-flight Wi-Fi broadband connectivity on its planes, claiming the technology is still too immature and expensive.

Upcoming Events

NSGIC 2004 Annual Conference
Date: September 12 - 16, 2004
Place: Hyatt Regency Austin
208 Barton Springs, Austin, TX USA
The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) is an organization of States committed to efficient and effective government through the prudent adoption of geospatial information technologies. Members of NSGIC include delegations of senior state geographic information system managers from across the United States. Other members include representatives from federal agencies, local government, the private sector, academia and other professional organizations.

Images to Decisions: Remote Sensing Foundations for GIS Applications
Date: September 12 - 16, 2004
Date: Kansas City, MO USA
he Fall 2004 ASPRS Specialty Conference "Images to Decisions; Remote Sensing Foundations for GIS Applications" will focus on the integration of remote sensing image data into GIS and Decision Support Systems (DSS). The intended audience is the GIS practitioner who needs information about the extraction and use of data and products derived from airborne and satellite sensors.

IMTA (Americas) 2004 Annual Conference & Trade Show
Date: September 19 - 22, 2004
Date: Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World
Lake Buena Vista, FL USA

Commercial Remote Sensing Industry Conference
Date: September 13 - 14, 2004
Place: Adam's Mark Denver Hotel
Denver, CO USA
At this premier meeting ground for the commercial remote sensing industry (CRSI), attendees will hear from key players within the remote sensing industry regarding best practices and insights to give you a competitive edge in this growing and vital industry. Networking opportunities with industry experts along with presentations from experienced industry executives will be a conference feature, enabling you to heighten market awareness and strengthen relationships.

Date: September 26 - 29, 2004
Place: Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan Resort
Orlando, FL USA
The program for SPATIAL-TECH 2004 was developed by key geospatial players from industry; federal, state, and local government; and Congress. The purpose of this year's symposium is to create a powerful exchange of ideas and learning experience with public and private sector leaders who will provide insightful commentary on issues of critical importance to the future of the geospatial technologies industry and the nation. SPATIAL-TECH 2004 is focused on advancing the understanding of the geospatial technologies industry and its essential role in homeland security.

GeoSolutions 2004
Date: September 29 - 30, 2004
Place: Birmingham, NEC, United Kingdom
GeoSolutions 2004 is where Geographic Information (GI) and business meet. GeoSolutions 2004 is an established event for organisations, who want to benefit from the efficiencies and innovations that GI and spatial management can deliver.