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June 21, 2004
Satellite Imagery for Impervious Surface Mapping
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!

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly!Recently, Denver's Wastewater Management Division (WMD) entered into a study with DigitalGlobe of their QuickBird imagery and impervious surface map products in order to streamline WMD's storm water billing operation.

Jeff Blossom, GIS photogrammetry administrator, Wastewater Management Division, explained that stormwater runoff transports any chemicals, wastes, or other pollutants that exist on surfaces such as parking lots, roadways, etc. into the rivers, lakes, reservoirs they drain into, thus polluting these water bodies. Also, stagnant water that does not drain properly can act as breeding grounds for disease, specifically West Nile Virus resulting from mosquitoes.
“We rely on updated imagery to perform our impervious surface mapping, which updates our storm billing database.” Read about it in this week's Industry News.

From June 21-July 1, I will be on vacation in Colorado. GISWeekly will continue to appear in your email mailbox during that time, bringing you timely industry news and topics of interest. Look for these headline stories: Interactive Decision Support for Communities and
Review: Cartographica Extraordinaire--The Historical Map Transformed in the coming weeks. During that time, please refer to
GISCafe for all the latest press releases. I will be checking email sporadically so please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about the publication and I will do my best to get back to you in a timely fashion.

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

Satellite Imagery for Impervious Surface Mapping

By Susan Smith

A technical presentation given at the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Conference May 26-28 in Denver was about a creative use for satellite imagery in the management of a wastewater division's stormwater billing procedures.

Recently, Denver's Wastewater Management Division (WMD) entered into a pilot project with DigitalGlobe of their QuickBird imagery and impervious surface map products in order to streamline WMD's storm water billing operation. In the study, two-foot resolution multispectral QuickBird satellite imagery processed using superior classification techniques produced an impervious surface map that resulted in significant revenue generation over what could be produced using traditional mapping methods.
Jeff Blossom, GIS photogrammetry administrator, Wastewater Management Division, said, “We rely on updated imagery to perform our impervious surface mapping, which updates our storm billing database. Since commercial imagery satellites pass over Denver roughly every four days, and imagery can be delivered in 2-3 weeks, this presents an excellent opportunity to acquire updated imagery on a frequent basis."

According to DigitalGlobe director of civil government applications, Jeff Liedtke, there has been much interest in the impervious surface layer from counties and municipalities. The pilot project with WMD served as a way to verify the utility and accuracy of the product. The impervious surface layer has also recently been delivered to the City of Wheatridge, Colorado.

WMD's customer service group bills all property owners in the City and County of Denver for sanitary sewer use and storm water drainage collection. According to Blossom, stormwater runoff transports any chemicals, wastes, or other pollutants that exist on surfaces such as parking lots, roadways, etc. into the rivers, lakes, reservoirs they drain into, thus polluting these water bodies. Also, stagnant water that does not drain properly can act as breeding grounds for disease, specifically West Nile Virus resulting from mosquitoes.

According to the press release, the storm water drainage bill is calculated by mapping the impervious areas - or surfaces that water does not penetrate, such as concrete and asphalt - contained within a parcel. “We produce the impervious surface map and then we overlay on top of that the customer's parcel layer, that's the customized part. We then derive the amount of impervious surface per parcel, customized for each project,” explained Liedtke.

Once the amount of impervious area contained within a parcel is determined, that property's billing rate is calculated. While many cities that bill for storm water management do so by charging property owners based on average parcel size and landuse, Denver's WMD bills property owners based on actual property size and total impervious surface area contained within the property. Essentially, property owners are billed according to their contribution to storm water runoff.

In May, 2003, WMD initiated a pilot project to determine the value of using high-resolution multispectral (blue, green, red, near infrared) satellite imagery for mapping impervious surfaces in five Denver neighborhoods, including three residential, one commercial, and one industrial neighborhood. DigitalGlobe donated QuickBird imagery collected in April 2003 for the project.

WMD was happy to discover that the QuickBird satellite imagery offered significant benefits in terms of cost and delivery time, allowing for quicker mapping, assessment, billing, and revenue generation at a lower cost to division.

The original impervious surface map was created using field techniques (planimetric wheel and tape measure), and digitizing from a light projection system using aerial photo negatives, Blossom said.

Blossom added that outdated images are their biggest limitation to the efficient mapping of impervious surfaces and maintaining their stormwater billing utility databases. The integration of QuickBird imagery into the city of Denver's GIS streamlines the stormwater billing process and keeps databases current. The method also provides a more effective and precise method of identifying properties where changes of impervious areas have occurred, and flags the area. Identifying changed properties (those where a customer may have replaced concrete with grass, for example) has up until the present been done with a visual comparison of existing impervious areas and recently collected images. Now,
using an automated algorithm from DigitalGlobe changed properties throughout the city can be identified within minutes.

WMD's customized approach to the new DigitalGlobe process is as follows: 1) WMD requests a time period for DigitalGlobe to acquire imagery. 2)Imagery is acquired, and WMD supplies DigitalGlobe with base map and DEM information. 3) DigitalGlobe automatically collects impervious from the multi-spectral characteristics of the imagery. 4) DigitalGlobe delivers the impervious map and imagery to WMD.

The two-foot resolution QuickBird data costs roughly one-tenth the amount of six-inch resolution aerial orthophotos, noted Blossom. DigitalGlobe delivered the imagery within two weeks, obviously faster than the four to six months typically required for traditional aerial photography.

WMD has used aerial orthophotos for Denver's impervious surface mapping since 1988. the aerial data is of high resolution and WMD will continue to use it, but Blossom said they plan to add updated QuickBird imagery each year now. They will use the existing aerials to refine data collected with the satellite images.

According to Liedtke, a sophisticated county [meaning one with a GIS department] could manage the impervious surface layer themselves. “A less sophisticated county or municipality could use us and our partner, Carter-Burgess, which actually converts the amount of impervious surface per parcel and then they develop a fee schedule. Then the individual parcels are assessed that fee. We would give them the impervious surface map and they could overlay their own parcels, or we could give them their parcel layer with two more fields in their database and in those fields would be the amount of impervious surface per parcel in square feet and the percentage of imperviousness on their parcel.
The largest percentage of impervious surface on your parcel, the higher the fee.”

The current solution could benefit many other city departments that rely on updated feature mapping, according to Blossom. Perhaps a collaborative, multi-agency acquisition of QuickBird imagery could prove to be more cost effective in the long run.

Excellence Awards

The editors of PC Magazine have chosen the Magellan(R) RoadMate(TM) 700 in-car GPS category as their favorite in their recent review of a portable turn-by-turn vehicle navigation system, recognized as an "Editors' Choice Award" recipient in the publication's May 18, 2004 issue. Magellan RoadMate received kudos for design, accuracy and ease of use.

CMAP's online mapping services were named "Technology of the Year" by the Intelligent Community Forum, a nonprofit group dedicated to leveraging the full potential of broadband communications and information technology for municipalities worldwide.


Municipal Software Corporation, the developer of local government business process automation software, CityView, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Municipal Solutions Group, Inc. (TSX-V:MSM), celebrated their move to the award-winning Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP) with a Grand Opening event on June 4th.

IDELIX® Software Inc. announced they have been granted US Patent # 6,727,910 "Method and System for Inversion of Detail-in- Context Presentations". The patent was issued on April 27,2004, and is directly relevant to a method commonly referred to as the Pliable Display Technology "Undisplace" functionality. IDELIX has 23 additional patents pending in the United States and internationally.

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) welcomed seven new directors, bolstering the depth and strength of the foundation's board. The new members of the USGIF board of directors are:

Jack Dangermond, President, ESRI

Dr. Michael F. Goodchild, Professor of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara

Arthur V. Grant, Vice President, Raytheon

Brig. Gen. Michael G. Lee, USAF (Ret.), Associate Partner, IBM

Timothy W. Milovich, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Questerra, LLC

James A. Myer, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman, Photon Research Associates, Inc.

Herbert F. Satterlee III, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, DigitalGlobe, Inc.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions announced it has been selected by the Geomatik +Vermessung Stadt Zurich (GeoZ) to provide land information management (LIM) solutions that manage the cadastral and mapping data of the City of Zurich's 90 square kilometer area. Zurich is the largest town in Switzerland and has a population of approximately half a million citizens. GeoZ is the local authority responsible for the City's cadastral and construction surveying, GIS and mapping.

ESRI announced the formation of a new Enterprise Solutions team. This will centralize responsibility for enterprise program support within ESRI and provide a new set of services and processes to better support mission critical users. ESRI began rolling out these programs in March 2004.

"Our goal is to be involved earlier in the project life cycle to develop a shared GIS technology strategy," says Steve Grisé, architect for the new Enterprise Solutions team, "and develop a specific plan for services and support to guarantee successful project delivery.

Those who frequent McDonald's may want to go see the feature film “Super Size Me,” which grossly illustrates why the obesity rate in America is so high and how people get addicted to fast food. Perhaps the makers of this film could use what food and beverage market research publisher Packaged Facts and nationally recognized food development company Center for Culinary Development offer in the launch of their new quarterly publication, the "Culinary Trend Mapping(SM) Report."

This new publication offers a unique look at emerging food trends and how consumers view them and chefs use them. Each issue will feature a discussion 12-15 ingredients, dishes, cooking styles, and flavor profiles that appear on CCD's unique 5-stage trend mapping system. Illuminating that discussion are the results of proprietary research conducted to glean insight into consumer attitudes about these trends. The report also examines new and evolving cuisines making news in culinary circles.

Paisley Consulting announced the acquisition of CARD(R)decisions Inc, including their CARD(R)map software for enterprise risk and assurance. The acquisition expands Paisley's global customer base and advances a proven risk management solution with an integrated skills training system that incorporates best practice industry standards. In addition to adding customers in both the public and private sectors already using CARD(R)map software, Paisley Consulting gains exclusive rights to the acclaimed CARD(R)risk and assurance training system which is critical in supporting the long term risk management needs of emerging growth and global organizations.

The preliminary program for the 17th Annual GIS in the Rockies Conference has been posted to the conference web site,
http://GISintheRockies.org . Doug Ort, Program Chair, said, "Because program content is the key to a successful conference, we gave very high priority to developing the program as early as possible." Karen Brandt, Chair of the GIS in the Rockies Board of Directors, added, "The entire Board of Directors has collaborated to develop a top-notch program. GIS professionals in all aspects of the industry and all stages of professional development will find opportunities to learn."

A new USGS website (
http://qfaults.cr.usgs.gov/ ) summarizes geologic, geomorphic, and geographic information on about 2000 Quaternary faults and fold-related faults in the U.S. This online database contains information on faults and associated folds in the United States that are believed to be sources of M>6 earthquakes during the Quaternary time period. The Quaternary period encompasses the past 1.6 million years, and is the period of geologic time that is most relevant to earthquake studies.

The Cadcorp SIS product suite is now able to read ESRI ArcSDE Binary Geometry stored in Oracle, ESRI Personal Geodatabases and Intergraph GeoMedia Access Warehouses, building significantly on the existing database access that Cadcorp SIS users enjoy out-of-the-box.

Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:
ADSK) announced that it is working closely with Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM), the design architect of the first tower to rise on the World Trade Center site, to define optimal technology and collaboration protocols for this highly symbolic and technically complex project. Known for its unparalleled expertise in designing skyscrapers, SOM recognized the need to establish an optimal process for creating, managing, and sharing information on the Freedom Tower project. As a longstanding technology partner to SOM, Autodesk is advising the team on how to best
implement Autodesk(R) Buzzsaw(R) Professional and a range of design software, from AutoCAD(R) to Autodesk(R) Revit(R), to help it realize the highest quality design for America's new civic icon.

New Products

National Scientific Corporation (OTCBB:NSCT) announced a new Wi-Fi enabled version to its IBUS school bus passenger authentication system. This latest product offering allows school districts to more effectively track and identify school bus passengers.

By adding Wi-Fi capability to National Scientific's IBUS product, school districts can easily track students who are riding on their school buses. This new Wi-Fi enabled GPS data logging unit tracks the location of buses and logs students boarding or disembarking from the bus. A series of strategically located Wi-Fi access points are used to securely move that data from the school bus back to the school's online student database

MapInfo Corporation (NASDAQ:
MAPS) announced its expanding role in the healthcare market with CareInsite(TM), an easy-to-use network analysis software solution. CareInsite enables healthplans, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies to evaluate the development of provider networks. With healthcare networks growing quickly in both size and complexity, network managers and planners are finding it increasingly difficult to automate business processes, increase efficiencies and lower costs, creating a huge market need for sophisticated network analysis software.

Just for Fun...

Riding the Pony Express Trail with GPS

Photo by Bill Gore

Kayla Ramsdell and Karen Chaton
Here's a fun recreational story about GPS being used to recapture and ride the Pony Express route from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Virginia City, Nevada on horseback.

In the summer of 2001, a group of about 60 endurance riders rode from Saint Joseph, Missouri on the original Pony Express trail to Virginia City, Nevada in the “2001 XP.” This was an 8-week, 2,000 mile point-to-point, multiday endurance ride. For those of you who aren't familiar with the sport, it is an event where riders cover long distances on horseback, in this case approximately 50 miles per day. At varying points along the way they stop at “vet checks,” where a veterinarian checks out the horses and makes sure they are fit to continue.

This particular route was traveled by Pony Express riders and again in what came to be known as
The Great American Horse Race of 1976. Ride manager Dave Nicholsen had ridden in the 1976 ride and knew the course. Logistically, it presented some challenges: as a ride manager, he had to design the course with campsites approximately 50 miles apart, set up to accommodate a large number of horses. The terrain lent itself to the use of GPS as it was very flat.

Generally, riders follow trail markers (surveyors' tape ribbons tied to tree branches, spray painted arrows on the ground, etc.) and a map to find their way on these rides. But for this ride, they could carry a map, but the trail was not to be marked as it usually is. Because of the sensitive nature of the historic trails, land agencies would never have allowed trail markings on the route “so we could never have had that ride without GPS,” concluded Karen Chaton, a rider who completed the lion's share of the 2,000 mile course on her two horses, Rocky and Weaver. “Nobody got lost, there weren't any problems, nobody got an advantage, because it takes just as much time to
look at your GPS as it does a map. It took two full months to finish.”

Ride manager Dave Nicholsen had spent over two years assimilating the GPS waypoints for the entire 2,000 miles and had them ready for the riders when they got to camp. The first evening everyone learned how to turn on their GPS, put the batteries in, and how to follow a route. He dumped waypoints into each GPS and away they went. “A lot of people who went to the ride were kind of scared of the technology at first and thought they would never figure it out,” said Chaton, adding: “within the first day they all had it figured out.”

Everyone brought different GPS models, but most were Garmins, according to Chaton, which was useful because the software is compatible.

“Each day we would download the waypoints and when you turn on the GPS and activate a route it points an arrow in the direction you're supposed to go, so if you basically follow the arrow and come to a turn the arrow turns, the GPS also tells you how many miles between each waypoint, so if you're paying attention you can know how far you've gone and start watching for a turn,” reported Chaton. “We had maps also, but it was really easy to follow the GPS and wasn't as scary or high tech as it sounds.”

“Because of where we were riding--in Nebraska and flat states--it's cornfields, and the GPS was accurate. You could tell because our crews would drive the same route and we actually had a lot of 50 mile plus days, some days as long as 54.” Karen Chaton was one of the more technologically astute riders. She could put her GPS data into the topo mapping software and print out realistic maps. “Because I was using my laptop with map software, each night I would download waypoints and the route into my laptop so I
would have the whole trail tracked from St. Joseph all the way to Virginia City. On the map software it measures the distance for you and tells you if you're missing some tracks, like if the GPS quit or got turned off or the battery died you might miss some miles. The software would always pretty much match the GPS recording; it was really accurate.” She used software from Mapsource and Delorme.

Crews drove the rigs from point to point and set up camp for the riders who would come in from their rides, then pack up again the next morning and drive to the next camp.

Since the ride was held mostly on historical trails, there were historical trail markers about every half mile. “We were constantly going by markers that said 'Oregon Trail' or 'Pony Express Trail',” noted Chaton. “Some people didn't have GPS but they found their way with the map. After you ride that many days in a row you get real good at measuring the distance you've gone, so it gets easier.”

A nice feature of the GPS was that you could mark a waypoint right there in camp, then turn the GPS off and stick it in your saddlebag. “If you ever happened to get lost, you have this neat little feature-the Go To button, and you tell it to go to that one waypoint that you've marked.”

Riders who rode the 2001 XP obviously had a different task than the Pony Express riders 140 years before. The Pony Express was assembled during a two month period, with 156 stations, 120 riders, 400 horses and hundreds of employees, all during January and February of 1860. It ran each week in each direction, with an average time of 10 days. The mail averaged almost 250 miles a day.

Photos available here:



Around the Web....

World's First Mobile Phone Virus Created, AOL News, by Lucas Van Grinsven, Reuters, June 16, 2004 -- A group of underground virus writers has showed off what is believed to be the world's first worm that can spread on advanced mobile phones, but security software companies say the virus had no malicious code attached. (Registration required)

3G Rollout: This Time it's for Real Business Week Online, June 21, 2004 -- Third-Generation mobile-phone service is taking off in Europe. The famous 3G technology has finally arrived, with its promise of cheaper voice calls, fast wireless Internet access, and sexy multimedia services such as streaming video clips and online gaming.

Upcoming Events...

97th Annual Conference of the Canadian Institue of Geomatics

Date: June 21 - 23, 2004

Place: Westin Hotel Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

It is our great pleasure to invite you to the 97th Annual Conference of the Canadian Institute of Geomatics (CIG), Geomatics: Powering the Future. This Conference will explore the increasing role of geospatial technology in Canada and how it is moving from innovation to an everyday reality.

IDL User's Group Meeting

Date: June 21, 2004

Place: The Marriott Philadelphia conference rooms 304 & 305, Philadelphia, PA USA

Join us for a breakfast meeting at the Society of Nuclear Medicine Symposium 2004

EOGEO 2004

Date: June 23 - 25, 2004

Place: UCL London, United Kingdom

EOGEO is a workshop for developers of Geospatial data services over the Web. It covers a wide field of applications from Earth Observation and GIS to Internet standards. The common themes are Web based solutions to resource discovery, interoperable data access, distributed data services and data fusion.

MapWorld 2004

Date: June 24, 2004

Place: TechMart Santa Clara San Francisco, CA USA

Whether you are a power user, developer, manager or are new to using MapInfo, MapWorld 2004 is the place to be.

ESRI GeoInfo Summit

Date: June 28 - 29, 2004

Place: Chicago, IL USA

Discover how GIS technology provides a cost-effective solution for understanding, serving, and growing your customer base by helping you better organize and visualize existing data.

XXth Congress of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

Date: July 12 - 23, 2004

Place: Istanbul, Turkey

"GeoImagery Bridging Continents" is the theme of this conference. The use of ?GEO-IMAGERY? will play an important role in our future professional activities. New technological developments, particularly in computers have significantly influenced the theory and practice of photogrammetry, remote sensing and SIS.

GML Days 2004

Date: July 25 - 29, 2004

Place: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

GML Days 2004 is the third annual conference on the OGC Geography Markup Language (GML) and Web Services for GIS.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.