The Care and Feeding of High Resolution Imaging Satellite Companies

  • Daratech Forecast for GIS -- From Now on will Forecast for the “Geospatial” Industry

October 18 - 22, 2004 By Susan Smith
A weekly news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published GIS product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by GISCafe.

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly!The big plum in the area of commercial remote sensing contracts this last month has been the NextView Second Vendor Award awarded by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA, formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, NIMA). The contract went to ORBIMAGE after a competitive selection process lasting six months. The contract, valued at approximately $500 million, was awarded September 30, 2004 and will run through September 30, 2008. NextView ORBIMAGE, as the contract is called, provides ORBIMAGE with long-term revenue commitments and capital for development of OrbView-5 next generation high-resolution imaging satellite.

NextView ORBIMAGE is the last of the NextView contracts from the NGA. Read about commercial high resolution imaging satellite companies and their future in this week's Industry News. Also in the news this week is Daratech's forecast for the GIS industry.

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 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

The Care and Feeding of Commercial High Resolution Imaging Satellite Companies
By Susan Smith

The big plum in the area of commercial remote sensing contracts this last month has been the NextView Second Vendor Award awarded by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA, formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, NIMA). The contract went to ORBIMAGE after a competitive selection process lasting six months. The contract, valued at approximately $500 million, was awarded September 30, 2004 and will run through September 30, 2008. NextView ORBIMAGE, as the contract is called, provides ORBIMAGE with long-term revenue commitments and capital for development of OrbView-5 next generation high-resolution imaging satellite. On October 4, ORBIMAGE released an announcement outlining the financing for OrbView-5, estimating that total project costs for developing, financing and launch insurance costs will be approximately $502 million.

According to the NextView contract, ORBIMAGE will fund its cost share for the project through a combination of an equity offering of $65 million, an issuance of $155 million of senior subordinated indebtedness, and $45 million in cash flow from existing operations. Revenue commitments from the NGA contract will commence following OrbView- 5's in-service date.

According to the press release, ORBIMAGE's principal partners for the development and launch of the OrbView-5 satellite include General Dynamics (formerly Spectrum Astro), Kodak/ITT Industries and Boeing Launch Services. ORBIMAGE's partners for the ground segment include IBM and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates of Canada.

An artist's rendering of ORBIMAGE's planned OrbView-5 satellite. (Image courtesy of General Dynamics Corporation). (PRNewsFoto)
ORBIMAGE's next-generation OrbView-5 satellite system will orbit 660 km above the Earth in a sun-synchronous orbit while collecting imagery at 0.41 meter resolution in the panchromatic (black and white) mode, and 1.64 meter resolution in the multispectral (color) mode. When OrbView-5 joins the company's OrbView-3 satellite in early 2007, the constellation will collect more than 1.2 million square kilometer of imagery per day with a combined revisit period of less than 1.5 days for any geographic target.

Interestingly, the Virginia company emerged from bankruptcy less than a year ago, to snag the contract which is sought after by all commercial remote sensing company in the U.S. These contracts are the lifeblood of commercial remote sensing vendors who have an extremely high “overhead” in building and launching a new satellite and maintaining aging ones. U.S. companies ORBIMAGE, Space Imaging and DigitalGlobe jockey for position in the race for contracts such as NextView to be able to advance their technology to improve collection capacity, improve resolution and provide cutting edge satellite imagery for defense.

These three companies were formed after a U.S. policy directive in March 1994 permitted private ownership of satellites that were previously the sole domain of government agencies. High resolution satellite imagery was expected to have a high demand in the commercial sector; however, commercial satellite imagery providers have found themselves almost totally reliant on government business since the directive. Potential commercial markets for high resolution satellite imagery include, insurance, urban planning and agriculture.


Colorado-based DigitalGlobe is well positioned as the winner of a NextView award on September 30, 2003, of over $500 million. This award has helped fund DigitalGlobe's next generation satellite imaging system, WorldView.

According to the September 30, 2003 press release, DigitalGlobe's list of satellite and launch vehicle partners includes Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp and Boeing Launch Services. In addition to the Space segment partners DigitalGlobe has assembled the industry leaders to work on the Ground segment. BAE SYSTEMS is the lead for the Production Segment development team and also for coproduction. Other partners include Boeing Autometric, AERO-METRIC, EarthData, ESRI, Harris Corp., IBM, and InSequence, offering coproduction, internal business systems, e-commerce solutions, other software components and systems engineering. DigitalGlobe has also teamed with Chantilly, Virg.-based Spot, the American subsidiary of France's Spot Image, as an alternative imagery supplier.

Space Imaging

An article in Space News back in March, 2004 stated that the NGA had broken off NextView contract talks with Colorado-based Space Imaging. The end of negotiations marked a significant shift for Space Imaging, as the company was very focused on having a next generation satellite built, and the NextView win was an integral part of their business plan.

Space Imaging still has $36 million worth of work to do on an NGA ClearView contract they won three years ago. (ClearView contracts are for the purchase of current imagery from the current generation of commercial satellites, whereas the NextView contract is about funding the building of a satellite two or three years out.) They launched their IKONOS satellite, the first commercial high resolution satellite, in September 1999, which will operate through 2007.

Although some news reports have expressed concern about the future of Space Imaging as a result of losing the NextView award, according to Gary Napier of Space Imaging, the company has many options at this time and financially is in good shape. Their revenues were in the range of $220 million last year. Only half their revenue comes from U.S. defense contractors; the other half comes from international revenue. Space Imaging sells time on IKONOS and flies over foreign groundstations. The company has 13 groundstations, both government owned and commercial. There are so many other departments in defense to do business with without going through the NGA, said Napier.

Space Imaging has recently sold off its Federal Civil/Commercial Business Solutions unit to a company called Geo360 Corporation that provides mapping and GIS services to federal, state and local customers. Approximately 55 Space Imaging employees will move over to Geo360 with this sale.

Originally, Space Imaging was formed by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to meet the anticipated demand for commercial high resolution satellite imagery.


In a recent article, NGA Director James Clapper, retired U.S. Air Force General, said that the NGA does not plan to help underwrite the construction of any more commercial satellites, making the one just won by ORBIMAGE the last NextView contract. “We would like the industry to be viable as it was originally envisioned,” he said in the article. “We were envisioned as a crucial but not dominant part of the commercial imagery industry.”

Although not as plummy as NextView, just last week, the NGA announced that it will open a competition for another round of contracts under the $500 million ClearView program next spring. ORBIMAGE, DigitalGlobe and Space Imaging all have current contracts that will expire January 31, 2006, and the NGA expects to purchase imagery as long as the satellites are operable.

Non-NGA contracts are generally considered “commercial,” such as those from foreign governments, civilian government agencies and the private sector. Like Space Imaging's, DigitalGlobe's non-U.S. government revenues have definitely grown in the past years. Although those contracts are not necessarily multi-year and multimillion dollar commitments, they could turn out to be numerous and add up to sizable sums in the long run.

Satellite imaging companies are hopeful that by the time NextView has been satisfied, a substantial commercial market will have developed to support the relatively new industry. Time will tell whether the revenue generated from these efforts will be sufficient to help fund the launching of new satellites.


Daratech Forecast for GIS -- From Now on will Forecast for the “Geospatial” Industry

In a press release this week, Daratech, Inc. forecasted total GIS core-business revenue to top $2.02 billion in 2004, an increase of 9.7% over 2003. Core GIS revenue reached $1.84 billion in 2003, up 5.1%, by Daratech estimates. Software, hardware, services and data products are considered core-business revenue.

Daratech also announced that after 15 years of coverage of GIS, it is moving from the term “Geographic Information Systems” to the use of the term “Geospatial” to describe the industry, a term it believes will better encompass the various data types that are used in conjunction with GIS spatial data. According to the press release, “Geospatial data identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or man-made features and boundaries on the earth. This information is gathered from remote sensing, mapping, and surveying and other technologies. Geospatial technologies capture, store, manage, integrate, displays, analyze and otherwise assist in the interpretation of this data in its entire context for better decision-making.

This broader definition recognizes that engineering data from CAD systems, billing information from ERP systems, facilities management and many other types of enterprise content must be brought together with the traditional spatial data from a GIS in order to efficiently make decisions.”

It was my understanding that Daratech really only tracked publicly traded companies, however, that seems not to be the case with GIS, or, uh, Geospatial. Software was the largest source of core-business revenue for 2003 at approximately 64% or two-thirds of the revenue. Revenues from GIS software vendors reached $1.175 billion. Seven companies were listed as the top earners for 2003 - ESRI and Intergraph Corporation accounted for nearly half of the industry's total software revenues, with Autodesk, Inc., IBM's GIS Business Unit, GE Energy, Leica Ecosystems and MapInfo making up the other half.

Second largest core-business revenue generator was Services, accounting for 24% of total core-business revenues, or $447 million. Hardware has been on the decline as a generator of core-business revenue, accounting for only 4% of total core-business revenues in 2003, or $70 million. Data products accounted for 8% of total core-business revenues.

From the press release: “Industries in the regulated sector of the GIS market accounted for close to half (44%) of total GIS core-business revenues in 2003, or an estimated $815 million. By comparison, the public sector accounted for just over one-fourth (29%) of total revenue, or $533 million, while the private sector contributed 24%, or $437 million.”

Daratech has just released "2004 GIS Markets and Opportunities," available in an online or hardcopy format, available from or email


Group 1 Software, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pitney Bowes Inc. announced that Novelist Technologies is integrating Group 1's data quality technology to provide important value-added functionality within their product offerings. This additional functionality will give Novelist' customers verified and enriched customer data for use in their applications. Novelist, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a leading provider of land information management products to government entities.

Layton Graphics, Inc. announced it has won a contract with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency ("NGA") for a new initiative featuring its MAP2PDF software. This initiative, called eChart, uses geo-registered PDF ("GeoPDF") to provide geospatial intelligence to their customers in the military and intelligence communities. The advantages of distributing data in GeoPDF include: small file sizes for both raster and vector data, COTS geo-referenced PDF, ISO PDF/X attributes for "blind" exchange of print data ensures reliable printing, embedded XML metadata for improved cataloging, search and discovery, and embedded role- based PKI certificates ensure customers receive "trusted" content. Distributing maps in a commercial file format that is ubiquitous and viewable with the free Adobe Reader allows greater access to data for all users.

Bluepulse Pty Ltd, developer of the location based mobile delivery software called bluepulse, has formed a business partnership with AURA Digital Communications Pty Ltd, a specialist in mobile marketing and m-commerce.

ESRI geographic information system (GIS) software and training and Trimble global positioning system (GPS) technology grants are now available to U.S. members of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). ESRI, the GIS leader and developer of spatial solutions for governments, and IAAO announced the Technology Foundation Grant Series Mass Appraisal Grant program at IAAO's 70th Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 31, 2004.


The Open Geospatial Consortium Inc. (OGC) today launched a digital rights management (DRM)-related project aimed at collecting essential information from governments, businesses, and academia. The data gathered through the five-minute survey, available for the next 30 days at, will help to shape the development of open standards to manage digital rights for geospatial data and services.

DRM is a technology for describing, identifying, trading, protecting, monitoring and tracking all forms of rights usages, including management of rights-holder relationships. Geospatial DRM manages all rights, not only the rights applicable to permissions over digital geographic data.

GridSense Systems Inc. increased revenues 36% for the fiscal first quarter when compared to the same period last year. Revenues for the quarter ended September 30, 2004 were CDN$692,000 against revenues of CDN$507,908 for the first quarter of the last fiscal year. Gross margins for this first quarter were 50.6% resulting in a gross profit of CDN$350,152 as compared to 47.20% and CDN$239,833 in the same period last year.

Hard data to back up theories on the popularity of desktop Linux will be available this week with the release of new, up-to-date graphical maps that show where, when, and just how often people are connecting to the Internet with computers running Linux.

Data for the new maps is based on the number of computers running Linspire: The first time one of these machines connects to the Internet, that IP address is converted into map coordinates and a "lightup" (a unique, new desktop or laptop running Linspire) appears in the corresponding location on a satellite photograph of the Earth. Dot colors on the map correspond to how many lightups are in a particular area -- for instance, a yellow lightup means more than 100 people are using desktop Linux in that geographic area. To view the lightup maps, users should visit , a website created to highlight this real-time data and help spread the word about desktop Linux.

iSECUREtrac(TM) Corp. estimates it will record revenues for the third quarter of 2004 of approximately $1.30 million compared to $1.16 million for the second quarter of 2004 and compared to $387,000 for the third quarter of 2003. For the nine months ending September 30, 2004, the Company estimates revenues of $3.4 million compared to $577,000 for the nine months ending September 30, 2003, a 590% revenue increase.

ESRI Virtual Campus will present the free live training seminar Working with Geodatabase Precision and Spatial Domain on November 4, 2004, at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. Pacific time. The seminar is designed for database administrators, geographic information system (GIS) analysts, and anyone who needs to add data to a geodatabase.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions and the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community, sponsors of GeoSpatial World 2005 to be held in San Francisco, California, April 26-28, encourage mapping and geospatial professionals to submit presentation proposals before the October 31 deadline. Presentations should be directly applicable to one or more of these industries: utilities; transportation; local and regional government; military and intelligence; national and federal government; photogrammetry and remote sensing; and communications. For detailed information on submitting a presentation proposal and for the online submission form, visit

MapInfo Corporation, a provider of location-intelligence solutions for the enterprise, will hold its fourth quarter and fiscal 2004 conference call on Thursday, October 28, 2004 at 10:00AM (EDT). The conference call will be Webcast live at or The fourth quarter earnings announcement will be issued at 7:00 AM (EDT) on October 28, 2004.


NAVTEQ announced that Christopher B. Galvin, former Chairman and CEO of Motorola, and William L. Kimsey, former Global CEO of Ernst & Young, have been elected to the NAVTEQ Board as Chairman and Director, respectively. NAVTEQ has been focused on adding key business leaders who bring diverse expertise and a unique vantage point to the company.

Excellence Awards

Motoring organization RAC, United Kingdom, has won a prestigious National Customer Service award for the 'best use of technology in customer service', based on its use of Intergraph Public Safety's 'I/CAD' command and control system to improve customer service. The Award also follows RAC's recent number one ranking in the authoritative JD Power and Associates' Roadside Assistance Study, which measured the experience of 23,641 owners and drivers who required roadside assistance. RAC rated first in 22 of the 23 areas of performance measured, including the service provided by its call operator/dispatchers using I/CAD, where it scored 829 points against a roadside assistance industry average of 810.

Avenza Systems Inc., producer of MAPublisher cartographic software, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2004 MAPublisher Map Awards - a competition that showcases the quality and diversity of maps that can be produced with MAPublisher and recognizes and rewards their excellence. Details of each map, the associated images and the notable entries can be found on the Avenza website at .

New Products

ESRI and SAS have integrated SAS®9 software with ESRI's ArcGIS 9 software to provide more information for decision making.

Ubisense unveiled the newest version of its Smart Space platform, a location-based technology that can help reduce workplace facilities costs by 20 to 40 percent. The new version enables accurate real-time location of Ubisense UbiTags, as well as the ability to integrate a variety of different sensor types, such as RFID tags.

While traditional radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is becoming the standard for managing the supply chain, Ubisense Smart Space takes location-based technologies to the next level, enabling automation of a workspace -- and everything in it.

NAVTEQ has added five new attributes to NAVTEQ(TM) maps: enhanced geometry accuracy, speed limit, special speed situation, variable speed signs and number of lanes.

Newly released Pocket Streets 2005 from Microsoft lets you take maps with you on your Windows Mobile™-based Pocket PC or Smartphone.

GfK MACON, a subsidiary of the GfK Group, starts with the EU eastern-enlargement a new generation of its Business software. For the first time all parts of a geo-marketing solution are united in one product.

Also, GfK MACON now provides complete 4-digit postcode areas all over China. Totally attributed in Chinese characters and pinyin!

Research Systems, Inc. (RSI), a wholly owned subsidiary of ITT Industries, announced the release of ENVI Version 4.1. ENVI 4.1 delivers exciting new capabilities, including new spectral processing and information extraction tools, updated support for file formats, enhanced orthorectification capabilities, numerous ease-of-use improvements, and much more.

RSI also announced the planned release date and scope of Image Access Solutions (IAS) Version 2.0 and the recommendation of IAS for Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) NITF Certification.

Leica Geosystems has announced the introduction of a new series of affordable, easy-to-use electronic levels providing error-free, fast, reliable and accurate leveling in a rugged package.

“The SPRINTER 100/100M levels are based on over 15 years of experience in electronic level technology,” said Gene Maynard, construction marketing manager for Leica Geosystems. “They have been designed to offer everything needed in a construction instrument -- a large display, onboard tilt warning sensor, simple and flexible power concept, easy user interface, onboard applications, protection against dust and water and a comfortable interface to office software with an RS232 port.”

TomTom®, a provider of personal navigation systems, announced TomTom Navigator 2004 based on based on Microsoft® Windows® Powered Pocket PCs and palmOne® platforms. With this launch, TomTom offers a comprehensive door-to-door personal navigation system with maps of the entire United States and Canada, as well as customizable points of interest (POI) categories, and an even more improved user interface.

Mayrise Systems has announced an OS MasterMap version of MapNow®, the instant click-to-view mapping system. OS MasterMap is the new Ordnance Survey product that provides seamless countrywide digital mapping with a unique referencing system. MapNow displays maps to pinpoint locations of assets, fault reports and customers and is widely used by technical services and call centres as part of MAYRISE™ management systems.

Around the Web...

Fitting your PC in Your Pocket, New York Times (registration required) by David Pogue, October 14, 2004-- In the last few years, the biggest breakthroughs in personal computing haven't had much to do with personal computers. Instead, many of the most exciting and popular inventions have been designed to let you carry a copy of the data that's on the PC you already have.

What's an iPod, for example, but a $300 portable hard drive containing a copy of your PC's music files? What's a Palm or PocketPC but a $300 data bucket for carrying away a copy of the PC's calendar and address book? And what's a BlackBerry but a $400 mirror image of the PC's e-mail?

Landsat Decision Looms, Asian Surveying and Mapping (ASM), October 13, 2004-- Landsat-5 is now almost 20 years old and well past the end of its design life. The US space agency NASA is slowly getting closer to a decision on the future of the Landsat satellites. Landsat is one of the most popular sources of space-based data in Asia.

Medical RFID Tagging Could Save Lives, Eweek, October 15, 2004 by David Coursey - RFID technology may make a difference for humans in surgery, where chips can be implanted to identify the specific medical appliance that's been installed in a patient.

Companies Profiting from Fear, CNET, by Robert Lemos, October 19, 2004 ---It is still unclear how much funding will go to technology contracts, but Federal agencies are expected to pay $84 billion toward homeland security this year, up from $5 billion in 2000, according to figures from Homeland Security Research, an analysis firm that covers government procurement.

Upcoming Events

AGIC 2004 GIS Education and Training Symposium
Date: October 27 - 29, 2004
Place: Prescott, AZ USA
Experience GIS at its best this fall in the mile-high city of Prescott, Arizona. Three days of workshops, technical demonstrations, and activities presented by national and local professionals will keep you and your staff current on the latest GIS technologies. Explore vendor exhibits and network with GIS professionals from across the State. Learn about current developments and challenges in a quickly changing industry and share your own insights into the world of GIS. Whether you enter the poster contest to show off your latest project, attend the workshops to fine tune your GIS skills, or are looking to keep up to date with old friends, Prescott is the place to be in October.

DIGGARS annual Forum 2004
Date: October 28, 2004
Place: University of Southern Queensland Toowoomba. Harvard Room (Q501). Q Block, Australia

2004 Carolina GITA Annual Conference - "New Developments in Enterprise GIS"
Date: November 4 - 5, 2004
Place: The Citadel Military College Charleston, SC USA
The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) is a nonprofit educational association serving the global geospatial community. Our site has been created with the intent of providing you a variety of information and useful references for your professional and technical needs.

URISA Annual Conference
Date: November 7 - 10, 2004
Place: Reno Hilton Reno, NV USA
Go beyond basic technology and applications and contemplate issues related to designing, managing and applying information technology - at its highest and best use - to improve our urban and regional environments. Join your colleagues, peers, thinkers and doers from around the world at URISA's Annual Conference.

SHRUG - Seven Hills Regional Users Group for GIS Third Annual GIS Workshop
Date: November 15 - 18, 2004
Place: Leon County Civic Center Tallahassee, FL USA
"Mapping Our Future" The GIS sessions and training will range from beginning to advanced to technical.

GeoHealth2004: Surveillance & Intervention
Date: November 23 - 25, 2004
Place: James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel Wellington, New Zealand
The GeoHealth2004: Surveillance & Intervention Programme is also focused on supporting decision-making in public health with specific focus on, surveillance, intervention, planning & policy

Autodesk University 2004
Date: November 30 - December 3, 2004
Place: MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, NV USA
This premier event helps you make the most of your Autodesk investment through hands-on product training, industry-specific breakout sessions, the exhibit hall, networking events, and much, much more!

dataMAP Housing GIS Seminar
Date: November 30, 2004
Place: SIA Offices London, United Kingdom
SIA's dataMAP GIS for housing has a powerful geographical analysis and computerized mapping capability. It also has easy links to word-processors and spreadsheets, and the ability to link to a client's own property management system. Our FREE seminar will run from 9.30am until 2.00pm with lunch and refreshments included and a representative from the Ordnance Survey will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

For the full GISCafe calendar see

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.