A Look at an Enterprise Level Geospatial IT Platform
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A Look at an Enterprise Level Geospatial IT Platform

Message from the Editor

Welcome to GISWeekly! This week's Industry News features a look at an enterprise level multi-tiered geospatial platform provided by ObjectFX. With emphasis today on GIS and IT, ObjectFX is ahead of the game with its series of spatial components that operates across multiple tiers in an enterprise solution.

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, Alliances/Acquisitions, Announcements, Awards, Appointments, New Products, Featured Downloads, Around the Web, and Calendar.

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

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

A Look at an Enterprise Level Geospatial IT Platform
By Susan Smith

GISWeekly spoke with ObjectFX President and CEO Devine and Chief Technologist George Flannery. What is interesting about this company is that they offer a geospatial enterprise IT solution, and not a GIS mapping solution.

Tim Devine
GF: Our key product is the SpatialFX platform. SpatialFX is a series of spatial components that run across different tiers in an enterprise solution. It encompasses everything from enterprise java beans running in a J2EE based application server; to Java Server Pages, Java Servlets, and Custom Tag Libraries running on the Web Tier; to Java Clients, Java Applets, JavaScript, and DHTML based components running on the client tier. Together, they provide an enterprise level multi-tiered geospatial platform. Within this platform, we provide many key location services such as mapping, geocoding, reverse geocoding, and routing. We also provide a number of additional capabilities such as EDFO, which is our External Data Format Option. EDFO allows you to read a large variety of vector and raster formats, such as VMAP, CIB, ADRG, NITF, etc...

The DOD and intelligence agencies use these SpatialFX components to integrate spatial capabilities into their applications. This allows them to do things like track troop movements, view different war type scenarios or gather intelligence information that includes a visual aspect. On the commercial side, we sell mostly to transportation companies and telcoms. For example, SpatialFX can be used by transportation companies to track and view their fleet operations.

Is your largest customer the government?
TD: Yes. Almost 80 percent of our revenue last year came from the government whether directly through federal government agencies or indirectly through the big top ten systems integrators like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Lockheed, Boeing, etc. A lot of the applications we've supported are in military intelligence and now homeland security, from battlefield visualization to targeting, to tracking Al Qaeda activities, tracking planes, HAZMAT vehicles for the DOE. On the commercial side we do applications for FedEx, and United Airlines uses us to map out no fly zones to optimize air traffic around weather or sporting events. Last year our revenue was up 50 percent from the year before, and we improved profitability 400 percent. We anticipate huge growth again this year. We're more of an IT solution and not a GIS solution, so we can address these disparate databases on different platforms. Because we're component based and very open, we have a lot of APIs allowing us to be really flexible and open. It fits in well with enterprises and complex situations.

Then you would integrate with GIS databases?
GF: With most customers we integrate with multiple data sources. For example, one of the data sources might our own background street network, a second source might be raster satellite image, a third source might be a GIS database, and a fourth source might be a real time GPS feed. So it's a multi-layered spatial view of data from multiple sources, some of them being vector and raster based, some of them being real time GPS based feeds, and some from other GIS databases.

TD: Especially when you're dealing with a battlefield environment, or threat prediction, it's valuable to make it happen in real time with data from different data sources.

So is a large amount of your work with your applications customized for your specific clients?
GF-Yes, we're providing the components and the platform and our customers are customizing those components to make them work seamlessly with their applications, allowing them to look, feel, and act like part of their application. There is a whole set of APIs that enable customers to interact with our components in a variety of ways.

So we do especially well selling directly to a) an organization that has its own development team, or b) working with large integrators who end up writing the code for the final application. We provide the tools, components, and platform for customers to quickly add a spatial aspect to their end application.

TD: We have a few thousand classes already written so people will come and say they like a sub-set and they'll build their application on that. In a matter of two or three days we can train the integrator or customer on our software, and in just a matter of weeks they can have their application written.

It moves pretty quickly.

They can write it themselves, they don't need you to do it for them?
GF - We do have a professional services staff and will write the spatial portions of applications if that is requested. We've done everything from writing the entire application for the customer to working jointly with them on the application, to simply providing training and then some periodic technical support. If our customer knows Java/J2EE they can quickly move forward with our software on their own, once they've had the initial training.

George Flannery
Is there any particular direction you're headed in the future?
GF - We want to continue to leverage our strengths, which are data integration regarding providing dynamic spatial views of multiple complex data sources. We are moving towards more spatial intelligence as far as analyzing and interacting with visual views of data. Continued support for open standards such as OGC and J2EE are also key to us. And, providing more support for our government customers in the intelligence space for things like 3D, information relevance, and knowledge management are also important. And finally, we are focusing on providing these same capabilities to wireless users. The large majority of these capabilities apply to both the commercial and government sectors. When you write software in a component-based fashion it easily becomes very reusable in a wide variety of applications across various markets.

TD: From a software perspective IT has had maybe three generations. The first was really the soup to nuts code development, cradle to grave development, with IBM where they would do everything for you. And the next stage was when companies were doing a lot of their own development and also buying a lot of packages and there's a lot of integration work gluing them altogether. The third generation we see being component-ized; if you're working with components it gives you a lot more flexibility to move more quickly and adapt to change because components are easier to work around rather than having software packages and a lot of different code. Components can be dropped in or out, APIs written; they give you a lot more flexibility.

GF: I'll talk a little about the SpatialFX 3.3 release. We had a couple of major focuses in this release, one of those being increased J2EE capabilities and conformance. One of the things we're trying to do is remain very standard's based, so customers can remain confident they can use our software on any platform in any application server they would like. As such, we don't tie them to any specific development or deployment environment.

With this release we are offering support for a number of new application servers that we haven't supported in the past. Those include the following:

* WebSphere 4.0 & 5.0
* WebLogic 7.0 & 8.1
* Oracle 9iAS 9.0.3
* SunOne AS 7
* Jboss 3.2

We are also providing improved web based deployment capabilities such as

* Strong Web browser support including;
   * Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 & 6.0
   * Netscape Navigator 4.7 to 4.8
   * Netscape 7.0
   * Mozilla 1.01 to 1.2.1
* Web Application Framework Improvements
* New web application examples

There are also other capabilities with the SpatialFX 3.3 release that are targeted at our Government customers. These include items such as:

* NITF and ADRG Raster formats
* M2525B Symbology Additions/New User Manual
* New EDFO Browser API
* Support for OGC Web Map Service (WMS) specification

We provide an application packaging kit (APK) with SpatialFX that lets the user specify their deployment target, run the packaging kit, and everything gets packaged up for them nicely. Then they can simply drop the packaged component such as an EAR or War file, directly into the application server and be confident that it's going to run.

A lot of customers may not know early on in their development cycle which application server they will use for production. So during development they might want to use JBoss, which is a free application server, then later decide to deploy to WebSphere for their production environment. Using the SpatialFX APK, they can very easily deploy SpatialFX components to a variety of application servers without making any coding changes.

You work with ESRI or MapInfo servers, not their applications?
GF: ESRI has their own proprietary back end server and when the customer buys ESRI they're going to be tied to that environment. Instead of providing the GIS server and everything along with it, we provide components and let the customer pick the server. In this way we can work with ESRI customers to enhance what they already have. This provides an open solution for customers who may want to use ESRI along with other complimentary features that we provide.

TD: Most commercial businesses and the government have a lot of different enterprise applications to support. Geospatial data is just another application they want to integrate into their enterprise platform. That is easily done with our software because it is component-ized.


Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping, LLC announced that Planson International Corporation (New Gloucester, Maine, USA), became the first U.S. non-exclusive reseller of Leica Geosystems' new ESRI Extensions software products, Image Analysis™ for ArcGIS and Stereo Analyst® for ArcGIS.

Trimble (NASDAQ:TRMB) and LocatioNet, Inc., the developer of an integrated platform for the delivery of location-based services (LBS) in the international wireless market, have entered into a joint marketing agreement to offer fleet and mobile resource management services using Trimble's CrossCheck® Global Positioning System (GPS) mobile device.


Canada's Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness (OCIPEP) has purchased 8,800 square kilometers of one-meter IKONOS satellite imagery to be used for routine disaster risk assessment and emergency preparedness along the Canada-United States border.

The contract, which was negotiated by Space Imaging reseller PhotoSat Information Ltd., (Vancouver, B.C.) will provide imagery and data for eight border areas and towns including the Yukon-Alaska border, the Quebec-Vermont border, Sault Ste. Marie, Sarnia, Windsor and Niagara Falls.

DigitalGlobe announced that its QuickBird satellite images were recently used by the State of Alaska's Forestry Division to help firefighters navigate wildfires. Fires began blazing through forested areas about 80 miles south of Fairbanks on May 26 and have since been contained.

The 60-centimeter resolution black-and-white QuickBird(tm) images, collected in August 2002, show trails and roads, building structures and fire prone vegetation. Firefighters used the images for locational mapping to determine where endangered structures existed, which residents should be evacuated, where emergency personnel should be dispatched and where firelines should be constructed.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions (IMGS) announced that Hydro Ottawa Limited has purchased Intergraph's configurable commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions, G/Electric for geofacilities management and InService(TM), for outage and mobile workforce management. Hydro Ottawa serves approximately 260,000 customers in the Ottawa region and is the third largest electric utility in Ontario. Also IMGS, in collaboration with the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), announced a GeoMedia(R) research grant opportunity for UCGIS members. Furthering UCGIS' longstanding commitment to the geographic sciences and education, the grant is open to any member using or intending to use Intergraph's GeoMedia technology as the foundation for geographic information systems (GIS) research. The GeoMedia research grant will award $5,000 (U.S.) cash funding and a $50,000 software donation in recognition of an exceptional and innovative applied research proposal submitted by a UCGIS member.

Exor Corporation Limited, supplier of integrated highways management software in Bristol, UK, announced that the Welsh Assembly Government has merged eight regional Routine Maintenance Management System (RMMS) databases, originally hosted at the regional Agent (public authority) sites, into a single centralized database accessible by both the Assembly and its Agents. The new, combined database and software is now hosted by Exor on a server at the vendor's facilities, and is accessible by all participants over the Internet.

Training 4 GIS, the training and consultancy arm of The GeoInformation™ Group, has been commissioned by The Intra-governmental Group on Geographic Information (IGGI) to undertake a review of the uptake of OS data and services under the Pilot Pan government Agreement (PPGA).

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) praised the action of Sens. Conrad Burns (R-MT) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) in introducing a bill to eliminate the “raiding” of state funds earmarked to upgrade the nation's emergency 9-1-1 system. The Senators are co-chairs of the Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus.

Webraska Mobile Technologies, the pioneering provider of integrated wireless location announced that the company's LBS software solution is being used by Bell Mobility to deliver the carrier's existing MyFinder location-based services to Western Canada. Bell Mobility customers in Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria and Vancouver can now use MyFinder to receive location-specific information on their digital wireless handsets and eventually their personal digital assistants.

Haestad Methods, provider of water resources modeling software and continuing education, launched UTalkTM, its innovative online discussion group created specifically for university faculty, researchers, and students. Accessible at www.haestad.com/forums, this free forum offers an opportunity for the academic community to ask questions, raise issues, and receive feedback on education, teaching methods and technology, and research-related topics in hydraulics and hydrology.

Haestad Methods also invites water resources professionals from around the world to participate in the online ,a href="http://www.haestad.com/IWRC" target='_blank'>2003 International Water Resources Conference (IWRC), scheduled for July 29-30. IWRC is ideal for engineers, managers, operators, professors, and GIS specialists who want to stay on top of industry developments, learn to implement the latest cost-saving technologies, and network with some of the foremost experts in the water resources field.

RADARSAT International (RSI) announced that it is open for ENVISAT business. As a member of the SARCOM consortium, RSI distributes worldwide data and downlinks from the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument on board the ENVISAT satellite to clients in North and South America. In addition, RSI produces and provides value-added ENVISAT products for clients and projects worldwide.

DigitalGlobe's QuickBird satellite images were recently used by the State of Alaska's Forestry Division to help firefighters navigate wildfires. Fires began blazing through forested areas about 80 miles south of Fairbanks on May 26 and have since been contained.

Be sure to submit your product and event announcements for the ESRI UC July 7-11 in San Diego to GISCafe


The board of directors of Rand McNally & Company announced that Robert S. Apatoff has been appointed president and chief executive officer of the company, which is a provider of mapping, navigation and travel tools.


Merrick & Company, a LIDAR, digital ortho imaging, photogrammetry and GIS mapping provider, announced a new agreement with the Tallahassee-Leon County Interlocal GIS Organization (TLC GIS) (Tallahassee, Florida) to deliver a countywide digital elevation model (DEM), 2' contours, and spot elevations generated from a LIDAR surface model and aerial photography. This $950,000+ contract follows a successful pilot project that included an analysis of the accuracy of the TLC GIS' existing 1988 and 1996 topographic databases and recommendations for updating this data. The Topographic Data Partners, a group of decision makers representing the City of Tallahassee, Leon County, and other participating local government entities served by the TLC GIS, concluded that Merrick's hybrid LIDAR and softcopy photogrammetry technical approach for capturing the new topographic data meets or exceeds expectations for accuracy and content for all GIS data users in the County. The data will be delivered on CD-ROM as ArcInfo coverages and AutoCAD .dwg files.

Webraska, the pioneering provider of integrated wireless location based services (LBS), telematics applications, navigation and mobile enterprise solutions, announced the success of the "Apontador" mapping and directions website, launched by its joint-venture partner in Brazil. Generating over six million maps and directions per month, the service is powered by the Webraska SmartZone Geospatial PlatformTM. In the months following its launch, the website won the 'Premio Info Exame 2002" and the "Top 3 - IBEST2002" awards, the two most important internet awards in Brazil.

Resource GIS and Imaging Ltd. (RGI) announced that the company has been awarded a contract by Public Works and Government Services Canada for provision of 14,900 square kilometers of one metre resolution satellite imagery from the high resolution IKONOS satellite owned by Space Imaging of Thornton Colorado. The satellite imagery, covering populated areas of Atlantic Canada, will provide the Government of Canada, Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness, up to date and accurate information in times of natural and man-induced disaster situations as well as information on road networks, new development and land use.

Vexcel Corporation has been awarded a contract from JGI (Japan) to develop a processing system to calibrate images collected by PALSAR, Japan's newest synthetic aperture radar sensor to be launched onboard the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS). The calibration process is necessary to ensure accuracy and adherence of the imagery to specifications prior to use. Under this contract, Vexcel will build on its existing calibration processing technology to create a system tailored to meet the specific calibration needs of the PALSAR instrument.

New Products

Officials from NOAA and the U.S. Air Force announced the authorization of a new, digitally encoded distress device called the Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), which will become available for nationwide use beginning July 1, 2003. The device is part of a national awareness campaign unveiled in Washington D.C. to keep outdoor enthusiasts safe and within range of rescue personnel during emergencies.

Matrox Graphics Inc., manufacturer of professional graphics solutions, released its new WHQL-certified driver for Microsoft® Windows® XP and Windows® 2000, for the Matrox Parhelia™ and Millennium P-Series product families.

DeLorme presents TopoBird, a digital remote sensing platform, which merges traditional aerial photography and satellite imagery collection technologies to create detailed color and infrared OrthoMosaics. This efficient aerial platform delivers the benefits of digital multi-spectral space imaging technology at ground resolutions and accuracy typical of traditional aerial mapping.

MAPSearch has released a complete, GIS- compatible dataset covering the energy infrastructure of Mexico for use in evaluating new opportunities in this evolving market. Users can access previously unavailable information in order to evaluate international business development opportunities, regional gas supply/demand scenarios and competitor activities. The Mexico Dataset includes map-able information on all aspects of the petroleum energy infrastructure including natural gas, crude and refined product pipelines, oil and gas fields, refineries, compressor stations and pipeline interconnections. In addition, the dataset provides industrial parks, hydrocarbon fired power plants as well as country and state boundaries, railroad lines, railroad stations, railroad stops, roads, hydrology, major cites, ports, and 1km digital elevation model data.

This summer, TrafficGauge Inc., a company committed to reducing wasted time and unnecessary stress on the road, hopes to change the way Seattle drivers receive traffic updates as they introduce the first real-time mobile traffic map right to the driver's seat. TrafficGauge(TM) Mobile Traffic Map was launched to help commuters make better drive-time choices to outsmart freeway traffic. TrafficGauge can be purchased by visiting the website at http://www.trafficgauge.com/.

Haestad Methods announced the release of WaterGEMS(R) version 2.0 for ArcGIS(TM), fortifying the company's position as a leading developer of geospatial water resources management software for the global engineering community. Fully integrated with ESRI's ArcGIS 8.3 geodatabase technology, version 2.0 allows water utilities to seamlessly link their water modeling and GIS data through a centralized data management platform, enabling them to streamline the workflow between engineers and GIS professionals.

Tripod Data Systems (TDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Trimble , today announced the addition of Bluetooth(R) wireless technology to the TDS Recon(TM) handheld computer made for extreme outdoor and industrial environments. Bluetooth wireless technology is an international standard for personal-area networks using low-power radio signals with a range of 30 feet. Using a Socket Communications CompactFlash(R) card with Bluetooth wireless technology, the Recon handheld computer can now communicate without cables to Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, computers, printers, networks and other devices.

Red Hen Systems, Inc., the leading provider of spatial multimedia solutions, announced today the release of VMS Mobile(TM), an add-on video module for their flagship products, MediaMapper(R) and MediaMapper ELITE. Users equipped with an off-the-shelf digital video camera and GPS receiver can quickly and easily collect the field data necessary -- without cables -- to build digital, interactive maps using spatially referenced video. Digital photographs, audio files, and text documents can also be linked to their location, enabling users to build robust, information-packed maps with remarkable ground-truthing richness, detail, and accuracy.

IDEAL.com, a provider of wide-format imaging solutions, has begun signing dealers to the NEW IDEAL/Contex Authorized Dealer Program. The IDEAL launch of the Contex program is significant, because it not only includes all products and benefits of the Contex Dealer Program, but also includes products and benefits available only to IDEAL's resellers. IDEAL's unique products include software solutions that are designed to improve the scanning process, as well as complete document management systems and online PlanRooms.

GE Network Solutions, a leading supplier of innovative technology solutions, announced the availability of its Smallworld Spatial Intelligence™ 2.0 software. The software application allows users to add clear meaning to corporate business information by analyzing it in association with the network infrastructure model and visualizing the results in a mapped or tabular format that can be shared throughout the enterprise.

Featured Downloads

GISCafe has many popular Downloads in various categories. Visitors are encouraged to go to the site and add new downloads or update their old ones.

GIS Demo Software

Vehicle Tracking Applet Demo from ObjectFX This demo features a very thin Java applet that allows you to track and interact with two vehicle "accounts". Each presently operates via recorded historical tracking data stored in a relational database. This tracking data was acquired from real time GPS positional feeds.

Around the Web

GPS Drawing Traces of individual journeys around Landform Ueda, designed by architect and author Charles Jencks. The 3,000sq m (32,000sq ft) area is at Scotland's National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

1814 Lewis & Clark Map Zoom in on the expedition route, as depicted just eight years after the U.S. explorers returned from the unknown West.

Baghdad Before the Bombs Photos, video, a map, and more from National Geographic magazine show a city on the brink of a battering.

Oracle's Campaign to Take Over PeopleSoft Heats Up NY Times, by Laurie Flynn and Andrew Ross Sorkin, June 19, 2003

In print: National Geographic, January 2003, “Dreamweavers” by Cathy Newman, talks about the textiles of the future. At start-up company Sensatex in New York City, company president Jeff Wolf is working on a T-shirt with conductive fibers that feed into a small transmitter, capable of monitoring vital signs. He also has a prototype that looks like an ordinary T-shirt with several ports for connectors that look like phone jacks. In the future, the idea is that GPS signals, video and light can be incorporated into the shirt.

Going on in June

TUGIS 2003: Reflections on the Past & Solutions for the Present
Date: June 2 - 3, 2003
Place: Towson University USA
Register by May 2nd in order to receive the "Early Bird" discount.

Emerging Technology Summit II: Spatial Web Services
Date: June 5 - 6, 2003
Place: Sheraton Premiere at Tyson's Corner Vienna, VA USA
Attend this interactive 1.5-day summit and see how leading-edge organizations in government and industry are breaking down barriers to data sharing and application in today's geoprocessing systems through the use of interoperable Web services.

SmartTalk Events
Date: June 5, 2003
Place: USA
Privacy and Secure ID Systems teleconference
FME Training
Date: June 12 - 13, 2003
Place: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Whether your a beginner or experienced FME user, GIS professional, or developer, our hands on course and professional training materials will show you how to get the most out of FME. Register early, space is limited!

FME Training Session
Date: June 12 - 13, 2003
Place: USA
Learn from the source how to use the core components of FME through hands-on training.

TerraScan User Event
Date: June 16 - 20, 2003
Place: Los Angeles, CA USA
An all-tutorial training session Airborne 1 Corporation and Terrasolid will be hosting a TerraScan User Event from June 16-20, 2003 in Los Angeles, CA. The event will consist of five seminars given by Arttu Soininen, Terrasolid's main software developer. The seminars will take place at a computer laboratory at the Department of Geography of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). e-mail us at Email Contact **Register before Friday, May 23rd, 2003 and get 10% off total registration costs.**

Pennsylvania GIS Conference 2003
Date: June 24 - 25, 2003
Place: Harrisburg Hilton Harrisburg, PA USA
With keynote speaker U.S. Representative Curt Weldon: Representative Weldon is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Chairman of the Military Procurement Subcommittee, and a member of the House Science Committee. The 2003 Pennsylvania GIS Conference will be held on June 24-25 at the Harrisburg Hilton and Whitaker Center in downtown Harrisburg. The combined Hilton and Whitaker Center venue will provide a refreshing change of pace for this year's event. In addition to all of the conference activities, the Harrisburg Senators will be at home on City Island to play the Erie Seawolves, Restaurant Row will be in full swing, Pride of the Susquehanna will be plying the river, and the Whitaker Center IMAX will have a full schedule of spectacular features. Check back often for updated details!

11th Annual Pennsylvania GIS Conference
Date: June 24 - 25, 2003
Place: Harrisburg, PA USA
"Spatial Preparedness--are we ready?"

2003 GenaWare Annual Symposium
Date: June 25 - 26, 2003
Place: Durham, NC USA
Official launch and showcase of Ware2, workshops and seminars. Register today at http://events.genaware.com/ for this great networking & learning opportunity!

Leveraging the GSA IT-70 Schedule to Capture State and Local Business
Date: June 26, 2003
Place: Herndon , VA USA
Holding a GSA IT Schedule Contract has never offered so many opportunities for business with the public sector and this Technology Seminar is the only forum dedicated solely to the explanation of this new rule from all perspectives.