Message from the Editor: Introducing GeoSite from CH2M Hill
Welcome to GISWeekly! Google Earth and Google Maps have revolutionized geography for many people inside and outside the geospatial market. The most profound uses for these tools are coming from developers and geospatial consultants such as CH2M Hill who can utilize Google Earth and Maps to bring geospatial data to their customers via the web. Read about the company’s new product in this week’s Industry News.
The next issue of GISWeekly will be published on the 8th January, 2007. We will take a winter break from December 24 until January 2. We are interested to find out what our readers' favorite technology gifts are, so send your faves to me at giscafe-editor@IBSystems.com and tell why you like them. The staff of GISCafe and GISWeekly extend our best wishes to all of you and your families over this holiday season.
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/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Contracts, People, New Products, Around the Web and Events Calendar.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Introducing GeoSite from CH2M Hill
by Susan Smith
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Google Earth and Google Maps have revolutionized geography for many people inside and outside the geospatial market. The most profound uses for these tools are coming from developers and geospatial consultants such as CH2M Hill who can utilize Google Earth and Maps to bring geospatial data to their customers via the web.
Austin Ivey, GIS consultant for the CH2M Hill Geospatial Solutions Team, is one of the primary architects behind their new product, GeoSite. GeoSite takes advantage of Google Earth and is a highly customizable template for delivering geospatial data with web enabled tools.
CH2M Hill is a $3.8 billion global engineering construction and operations firms with approximately 18,000 employees in offices worldwide, that has been in business since 1946. In 1954, the company got involved in GIS, mapping, photogrammetry, and survey work through their engineering clients. They began to employ experts in those fields, working for engineering clients spread throughout the firm’s 12 business groups. Those business groups are water, power, energy, chemical, transportation, etc.
In 2004, CH2M Hill consolidated all the GIS/mapping/surveying experts that had been spread throughout the 12 business groups into one line of business -- enterprise spatial solutions which functions under the communications & info business group.
Since then the company has grown 500 spatial consultants and architects located primarily in North America and Europe. CH2M Hill is by its own definition, the largest privately held spatial consultant firm in the world. They work with both private and public sector clients.
Strategic Partner Alliance
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CH2M Hill has created a strategic partner alliance comprised of leading technology providers, such as Google, ESRI, Autodesk, Trimble, and most recently eSpatial. They also work with Bentley, Intergraph, and Microsoft. “This allows us to take an agnostic approach towards consulting and technology integration to our clients,” explained Ivey. “It puts us in the position to best align with the business goals of that client with a particular technology or technologies. As part of that effort, we’ve been working with Google to create a number of Google Earth based solutions for our clients which enable clients to better manage their projects.”
Demonstrated was GeoSite, a web based portal for viewing environmental site data. Clients can get the big picture view with Google Earth including 3D views, and more of a detailed microscopic view with Google Maps.
High level capabilities of GeoSite include:
- Available 24/7 because it’s a web-based product.
- Dual Google-powered viewer integration: Google Earth and Google Maps, high level visualization of site data, software required.
- CH2M Hill has developed some code that allows you to watch as your data that is perhaps stored in a database update live in Google Earth.
- You can update your web-based Google map dynamically by changing the elements that are available in the legend.
- You can also view your own high resolution imagery hosted on CH2M Hills’ Google Earth fusion servers. (Google Earth Enterprise Client required) The difference between the Google Earth Pro and Enterprise client is that you need the Enterprise client if you want to view your own data on Google servers. The Google Earth Pro cannot connect to a server.
- Highly customizable.
- Render site-specific facilities in 3D using Google SketchUp
- Assemble tours to allow you to present standardized perspectives of these facilities.
- View detailed site information using GeoSite’s Google Maps-powered portal.
- Launch directly from Google Earth or from your web browser.
- One-stop access to relevant site documentation
- Dynamically update layers directly on the map from the legend
- View customized information windows for relevant components of your site
- Access data query engine directly from map
- Link query engine to database (Oracle or SQL Server) to obtain live information.
Google Earth imagery is optimized on their fusion server. When you fuse the imagery it prebuilds all the imagery at different zoom levels, which makes it possible for users to view it so quickly.
“We really want GeoSite to be viewed as a repeatable solution for different types of clients,” said Ivey. “This is by no means a shrink-wrapped product that we have in a warehouse somewhere, this is an example of an integration effort leveraging the partnerships we have with Google and others to develop this solution.” Pricing “all depends,” as each implementation is an integration effort.
How it Works
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As the user, you go to the entry page – provide user name and password, secure an occasion to launch your data, and it launches your data directly into Google Earth, where you start off. You come into the macro level and see your project site. On the right hand side is a screen, and you can see some 3D extruded features there. What does that represent out of your active project, what are those costs to date? That data is live linked to a database, so as your cost information updates and changes, as a manager and decision maker, you can say this project costs me x amount of money. Let me zoom into that project and figure out what is going on.
There is also the ability to take data that you have available in Access or Excel and update it in real time in Google Earth. In the demo, a screen capture of Excel is superimposed over Google Earth. “If you’re an analyst updating data, and a decision maker is also watching the screen, you can see as your data is updated live. Having real time data available to you is advantageous,” noted Ivey.
“Anything you do on Google Earth, you can save back to your server,” said Ivey, in answer to a question about data security. “Google doesn’t see the files that you add.” In a screenshot of a zoom into San Antonio, the imagery is coming from a Google server. “Theoretically, they could see the area that you’re looking at, but as far as the actual data on top of that – the points with values, they can’t see, because that’s behind the organization’s firewall.”
Incorporated into GeoSite is the ability to stream web map services (WMS) directly into the viewer. There are thousands of freely available WMS that you can bring into the viewer using Google Earth Pro or Google Earth Enterprise client. “Once we begin GeoSite implementation for our clients, they may have their own WMS that are private or secure, that they want to view in Google Earth,” said Ivey. “The capability is there to do that as well. A lot environmental managers need to see the topo data in addition to the aerial data that’s standard in Google Earth and can change the opacity of it, so you can see what’s going on underneath it.”
Top News of the Week
Trimble announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire @Road, Inc. of Fremont, Calif. Under the terms of the transaction, Trimble will acquire all of the outstanding shares of @Road for $7.50 per share. @Road shareholders will receive $5.00 per share in cash and the remaining $2.50 per share in consideration will be a mixture of cash and/or Trimble stock to be determined at Trimble's sole discretion.
John Copple, CEO of Sanborn, a leader in geospatial solutions based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, announced a new solution to simplify access to and distribution of geographic data with the Sanborn GEOBOOK® Author software product.
The GEOBOOK Author framework provides a flexible, cost-effective solution that makes it easy to publish and distribute geospatial data. Based on Sanborn's GEOBOOK application, the Author software provides the capability to quickly build GEOBOOKs by embedding interactive maps, text documents, images, and other data visualization controls.
BAE Systems has been named principal teammate to Science Applications International Corp. on a contract to develop an enhanced intelligence capability to provide U.S. Army troops and air crews faster access to geospatial and human intelligence information.
BAE Systems joins prime contractor SAIC on the Geospatial Research, Integration, Development and Support (GRIDS) contract recently awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers' Topographic Engineering Center.
MapInfo Corporation, global provider of location intelligence solutions, and The Rochester Group (TRG), a leading business process consulting and software application development company, announced a strategic alliance to deliver enhanced data integration, data management and custom software for location intelligence solutions across the communications industry
The Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS) is pleased to announce highlights recapping the year’s accomplishments and achievements for Mississippi’s Geospatial Industry Cluster.
EIGS is a statewide cluster of over 30 private companies, 6 university research programs, 4 state agencies, and 8 complementary partner programs working together to research, develop, and market new geospatial products from Mississippi.
Intergraph Corporation announced its participation in the Vigilant Shield exercise, a U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) exercise that is one is a series of national training exercises focusing on national security and emergency response. In conjunction with key U.S. federal, state, and local government agencies, Intergraph is providing situational awareness software tools to help train responders, facilitating preparedness for emergency situations.
1Spatial (formerly known as Laser-Scan) has become a Foundation Sponsor for the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). As part of this move to greatly increase the possibilities for spatial data quality control over the Web, 1Spatial is integrating FDO (Feature Data Objects) with their flagship Radius Studio component-based architecture. FDO was originally authored by Autodesk but is now open source software, granted to the OSGeo as a sub-project of MapGuide Open Source.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has signed an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) with ESRI that will enable the agency to deploy the full spectrum of ESRI geographic information system (GIS) software throughout its organization. The comprehensive agreement provides the department with an easy and cost-effective method to provide enterprise-wide GIS software, professional services, and training to DHS employees. It will enable DHS to expand the use of GIS to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to events as well as secure U.S. borders, enable trade and transportation, and enforce U.S. law.
Avineon, Inc., a successful provider of IT, engineering, geospatial and program management services, announced the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has awarded the company a contract to develop a prototype electronic system for the filing and release of the Notice of Federal Tax Liens (NFTL). The project is two fold as Avineon will assist in developing a logical system design for the full implementation of Electronic Lien (E-Lien) software, as well as support proof of concept software development for a subset of the full system. The new electronic system will streamline processes, reducing cost and time while increasing efficiency.
DigitalGlobe(R), provider of the world's highest resolution commercial satellite imagery and geospatial information products, announced that Steve Milton has joined the company as Vice President of Software and Systems. In his new role Milton will direct DigitalGlobe's software and systems business office, leading the worldwide development of the company's software systems supporting the operations and distribution of geospatial content. Milton will report directly to Jill Smith, Chief Executive Officer of DigitalGlobe.
gvSIG, the Open Source (GNU/GPL license) Geographic Information System developed by the Generalitat Valenciana reaches its version 1.0. With this release, gvSIG presents itself as an integrated GIS + SDI (Spatial Data Infrastructure) client, able to combine data from different local and remote sources (web services) and at the same time include advanced editing, geoprocessing, scripting language support and georeferencing among other features. All the details about this release, as well as the source code and the binary files, can be found in the project web site.
The project is currently funded by the European Union (FEDER funds), which guarantees its continued evolution. Among other pending tasks, a road map of future gvSIG development will be published soon.
Digital Reasoning(R) Systems Inc., the intelligence-software innovator, announced the release of GeoLocator(TM), version 1.0. GeoLocator(TM) is a precision-based tool that extracts populated places from unstructured text, while providing their respective geo-coordinates. GeoLocator(TM) finds locations in a body of unstructured documents.
Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging announces the latest Leica ArcGIS Extensions, Stereo Analyst® for ArcGIS 9.2 and Image Analysis for ArcGIS 9.2. The updated capabilities and enhancements were designed keeping mapping agencies in mind. From the makers of Leica Photogrammetry Suite, Stereo Analyst for ArcGIS is a stereo feature collection and update tool built on the ArcGIS platform.
CARIS is pleased to announce the release of Bathy DataBASE 2.0 for the creation and management of bathymetric surfaces.
Bathy DataBASE was developed to allow hydrographers to overcome obstacles of large bathymetric data sets and data sources. The software allows users to validate, prepare and compile bathymetric data from multiple formats and sources to create products.
SRC, LLC a developer and provider of geographic business intelligence software, announced the release for Version 6.1 for its popular desktop Portfolio geographic business intelligence platform. The enhancements made to the Portfolio Version 6.1 are all accessible through SRC's family of tools; including, Alteryx, Allocate, Solocast, Geonetx and Streetware. Within the release, SRC has updated the platform's Help’ system to support user search capabilities, expanded geography search and expanded rank report limits to 20,000.
Calabash Technologies LLLP has announced its launch of the Calabash World Explorer(TM), a hand-held, digital GPS travel guide that is now available for daily rental to St. Thomas USVI visitors.
The Calabash World Explorer(TM) is different from any other travel guide currently available to tourists. It combines the functionality of a hand-held GPS, audio tour guide, MP3 player, photo viewer, encyclopedia, and a user review form - providing everything a traveler needs to fully experience a destination.
GiveMePower Corporation launched two new ultra-mobile computing solutions for building surveying and inspection, construction area estimating and reporting, and facilities asset and information management - featuring hardware from mobility market leaders Dell and Tablet Kiosk.
Around the Web
Georgia Drops Nearly 500 Communities Off Its Map, by Greg Bluestein, AP. AOL News, December 9, 2006 - A total of 488 communities have been erased from the latest version of Georgia's official map, victims of too few people and too many letters of type.
ESRI Federal User Conference (FedUC)
Date: January 9 - 11, 2007
Place: Washington Convention Center; WA USA
The conference supports those who deploy ESRI software for geoprocessing and analysis, integrated work flows, and intelligent collaboration across government.
Map World Forum 2007
Date: January 22 - 24, 2007
Place: Hyderabad International Convention Centre
MAP WORLD FORUM will be a medium of convergence of various stakeholders of global geospatial community and its integration with end users of geospatial information. Map World Forum will be a combination of activities in the form of seminars, workshops and panel discussions covering technology to policy to user oriented themes at global level.
DGI Europe 2007
Date: January 23 - 25, 2007
Place: QE II Conference Centre
Westminster, London, United Kingdom
DGI (Defence Geospatial Intelligence) is the annual European event for the Military Geospatial Intelligence community, bringing together government, industry, and military leaders together with leading suppliers and industry experts.