[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
December 13, 2010
Tracking Down Geospatial at Autodesk
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!

Welcome to GISWeekly! This will be the last issue of GISWeekly for 2010. Please join us January 3 for the first issue of 2011, with a look at what geospatial technologies were hot in 2010 and what we can look forward to in 2011. Have a safe and joyous 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,Agreements,Alliances, Announcements, New Products, Around the Web and Events 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
Tracking Down Geospatial at Autodesk

Autodesk has at its core, an engineering nervous system. Its interest is in providing tools for engineers, who at one time or another, run into the need to use or interact with geospatial information. Up until last year, Autodesk had a GIS division, but they disbanded it and now GIS pros like Geoff Zeiss are part of the AEC Solutions division with architects like Phil Bernstein.

The reason for this, according to Zeiss, is that architects needed to be educated about “what's in the world.” They design usually in an abstract space that doesn't have relationship to where a building is placed geographically. That part comes with land planning or city planning. “The fact that we're now in AEC is the best thing that could have happened,” said Zeiss.

Autodesk talks about how GIS is important, yet they do not have a GIS division. Zeiss said that when they did have such a division, they focused on GIS; now they talk to architects. Further evidence that GIS has been absorbed into the company is that one of the company's most successful products, Civil 3D, is built on Map 3D, which is built on AutoCAD, yet a lot of Civil 3D users don't know about the Map 3D capabilities, according to Kevin Breslin, infrastructure solutions manager for IMAGINiT.

Driving architects' interest in GIS is sustainable design, according to Zeiss, and the need to visualize and know where things are in the geographic space that is to be sustainably designed, the environment's characteristics, such as water sources, power sources, and so on.

Building codes developed by city governments are starting to be mandated for sustainable design.

Geospatial information can be integrated into building information modeling, according to Zeiss, and it will become possible to integrate it into other Autodesk products as well. All the projection and coordinate systems acquired by Autodesk are open source.

Zeiss said that what will be “big” will be imagery -- oblique, lidar, photogrammetry, all high resolution data for geospatial. Part of the reason for this is presentation - for 3D cities, mayors and other stakeholders can see the visual impact of a project before it is built. Another reason Zeiss pointed to is the shortage of electrical people, with over 45% of workers retiring over the next 10 years. Most of the younger generation has grown up with video games and technology and appreciates the use of imagery and 3D design tools.

What sounds like a very elementary product is the Labs' offering PhotoFly which can recognize the same feature in different photographs and put together a point cloud. Microsoft DigitalGlobe Clear 30 is going to be flying the whole U.S. every two years. Pictometry is doing 4 inch pixels, plus oblique, unique to them and Pictometry also allows you to measure heights of structures.

“This will change the utility business,” said Zeiss. “The reason is, in the U.S. the geolocation information for most infrastructure is abysmal.”

What this means is all utilities and telcoms will need to resurvey all their data. “The rule of thumb of how much it costs to survey is $100 per feature when sending someone out in a truck,” said Zeiss. “If you can sit in an office with high resolution photogrammetry it can be $10, and someone else claims it can be done for $2.”

“You have to know where things are to at least 1 foot, but if you look at the expenditure required to do it when you send them out in trucks as opposed to using high resolution imagery, it's huge,” Zeiss said.

Laser scanning is a big part of the rebuilding of infrastructure in and outside the U.S. Every one of the 14,000 substations in the U.S. will have to be rehabbed or replaced. Zeiss said currently Russian and U.S. companies are delivering AutoCAD 3D objects, which are more of an estimate of the built environment, not an accurate measure. To have a really accurate model it will be necessary to spend on laser scanning.

The Cloud

What will make possible these computer intensive operations such as high resolution imagery and laser scanning is the cloud, or “infinite computing,” as Autodesk refers to it.

In his keynote, CTO Autodesk Jeff Kowalski said a toolset change may require a mindset change, and infinite computing, is both a toolset change and a mindset change. It allows people to do things they may not have been able to contemplate before. Quoting Einstein, he said: “you can't solve a problem using the same mindset that created the problem.”

Infinite computing allows us to work from everywhere, said Kowalski. “We are never out of touch with our data.”

This direction actually became much clearer in a later conversation with Callan Carpenter, VP, global subscription and support, who said the biggest new feature of their subscription program is the new features to products offered by Software-as-a Service (SaaS). “We are augmenting the desktop with point functionality from the cloud,” said Carpenter.

CEO Carl Bass noted in a Q&A session: “We're going to have a hybrid computing model. Because of the tablet, there is incredible computing power and you don't need to be connected. You'll continue to have local devices - and the cloud for compute intensive jobs. We don't build out our own cloud, for most of them we are trying to use commoditized resources; if you need an answer within short period of time you pay more; there are some models like this. What if people are able to solve problems they were never able to solve before?

We think the cloud is a choice. Some customers no longer want the local choice, where they need power and resources; they want another choice of deployment. Choice is available to all customers. Pricing models are changing; mobile devices are putting pressure on the market. The way we can use infinite computing is by offering different models for those who only need this software two hours a month.”

A Common Environment and Project Galileo

Paul McRoberts, senior director of the Infrastructure Product Line, quoted a Booz Hamilton study which stated that $41 trillion of construction will be needed in the next 25 years. About half of what is actually needed is going to spent in transportation, power and water. The big driver is $10 trillion in power, $10.2 trillion in transportation and water $10 trillion. Water needs the most help and is more scarce than oil.

A burgeoning problem with all utilities is that they don't know where their assets and they send out trucks to dig somewhere without knowing what assets are in that area. Water, electric and telcoms will all send out trucks without the knowledge of what the other is doing.

Enter the common environment, or database. After putting facilities data into one common database in Calgary, they whittled down their number of trucks from 20 to 2.

The most famous place that has a common database where all infrastructure data is stored is Tokyo. Others include Calgary and Edmonton.

Autodesk's LandXplorer has been a common environment for geospatial and now the new version, Galileo, is poised to take over that role. Galileo puts geospatial and engineering data into a common environment, allowing the user to create a 3D model and include above and underground infrastructure.

It takes 30 minutes to gather information in Galileo, and another 40 minutes to generate data from the GIS environment which can be tax base, building height. Like with everything else at Autodesk the emphasis is more on buildings than on land, so Galileo will be able to take a building sketch in new data, to get an idea of what a new college campus might look like in the context of a city, for example, then do gross levels of analysis around this information. Users can sketch GIS data and put it into Map 3D.

Like the other Autodesk tools that are soon to be offered in the cloud as software-as-a-service, Galileo will be offered as a server-based tool or in a pure cloud environment.

Galileo will be fully GIS oriented, with layering of utilities and a coordinate environment. Galileo is very focused around the idea of 3D cities, but it can used with windfarms and other projects. It will have graphics capability derived from products in the Media and Entertainment division of Autodesk, as well as from acquired technology and LandXplorer. It will have the ability to manipulate and change information, apply real design principles and associate other metadata with it.

Mobile is another area of big concern in geospatial. Currently, MapGuide is on the iPhone and iPad on a browser and can work off the Android system. McRoberts said that people want “field capability but not complexity,” and so MapGuide will be available via mobile devices, to be shared with anyone.

Galileo is scheduled to be on Labs mid December.


A silent underpinning all Autodesk products seems to be Navisworks, which enables users to pull information into Navisworks to see how a project may work going forward.

Peter Thompson, senior director, construction PLG, and Timothy Douglas, senior industry solutions manager, talked about Navisworks, which comprises Navisworks Manage, Freedom, Simulate and Design Review.

Navisworks plays a big role in building information modeling (BIM delivery) but also provides a neutral hub to pull in disparate information and freely distribute models. The benefit of Navisworks to geospatial is that it handles extremely large models - 3D city models, manufacturing, plant, large pieces of equipment, and includes clash detection and 4D analysis.

Navisworks is very much an integrate, analysis, and review tool, according to Douglas. You don't edit in it, you can make comments, but you don't redesign the geometry. “It's particularly good for negotiating many different types of models.”

You can link to geospatial information and take in city models created in LandXplorer and do terrain mapping.


CEO Carl Bass said in a Q&A session at Autodesk University that “Open source was the end of an era of commodization. There is still open source software out there successfully deployed in server based environments, but most of our software doesn't fall into that category.”

After several countries around the globe have standardized on and mandated open source.

According to Zeiss, a member of the Board of Directors of OSGeo, the Open Source initiative that Autodesk launched, the organization is still very active, with 22 chapters internationally. It is available through MapGuide and MapGuide Open Source, and FDO (Feature Data Objects) has really been successful.


Clearly, there is a bigger picture here. The push for sustainable design, for huge demand for revitalizing and rebuilding our infrastructure, 3D cities -- all require greater accuracy and tools, and greater imaging and location based technologies as well as geographic information analysis. With the need for more computing vis-à-vis imagery and analysis computer intensive data, comes the need for cloud computing. Where geospatial at Autodesk may appear to be invisible, it may only be merging with building and infrastructure tools to increase geographic and location awareness over a broader canvas, beyond buildings.

Top News of the Week

Esri has released a mobile geographic information system (GIS) API for the new Microsoft Windows Phone platform. The ArcGIS API for Windows Phone can be used to create interactive applications that combine mapping resources, such as maps, locators, and geoprocessing models, with Windows Phone technologies and frameworks, such as the application bar, controls, and location.

The API is available at no cost from the ArcGIS Resource Center and includes a detailed blog, forum, samples, and support. It is built on the Silverlight framework of the Windows Phone application platform, which includes existing Microsoft tools and technologies such as Visual Studio and Expression Blend. Developers already familiar with Silverlight will be able to create new applications for Windows Phone without a steep learning curve. The ArcGIS API for Windows Phone and the ArcGIS API for Microsoft Silverlight/Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) have the same architecture; therefore, you can reuse application logic in ArcGIS applications built for Windows Phone, Web, and desktop applications.

Esri has released an updated version of its ArcGIS for iOS app. In addition to using the app to discover and explore maps, find places and addresses, and query map layers and data, users can now collect and update geographic information system (GIS) information directly from their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch devices.

The app lets users collect, edit, and update features and attribute information while performing field data collection and inspection. The update is available at no cost from the App Store.


GeoEye, Inc. announced that it has agreed to purchase 100 percent of the stock of SPADAC Inc., a geospatial predictive analytics company, for $46 million in cash and stock. Upon the completion of the acquisition, SPADAC will become a wholly owned subsidiary named GeoEye Analytics. This acquisition will enhance the breadth of GeoEye's information service offerings and expand its customer base into new markets.

NAVTEQ has announced the company's expansion of designated R&D Global Development Centers (GDC) to include operations in Mumbai, India. The center will employ 150 R&D team members and significantly enhance NAVTEQ's R&D capabilities which support Map and Content design and development activities for the global NAVTEQ product portfolio. The center joins the roster of NAVTEQ's other global R&D centers located in the U.S., Germany, UK, Korea, Bosnia and Slovakia.


Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI) has announced its participation in a major demonstration of geospatial capabilities commissioned by the UK's Ministry of Defence (MOD) and managed by Lockheed Martin UK IS&S. PBBI has supported the Common Geospatial Tool Set (CGTS) research project delivery team since 2008, and recently participated in a high-level demonstration of its capabilities in front of over 100 senior representatives from the MOD, the emergency services and the Government.

Maponics announced that the Realtors Property Resource (RPR), a new tool set from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), will include data from the Maponics School Boundaries product. RPR is an online real estate library for NAR'S REALTOR members with valuable datasets such as assessor and recorder data, active and off-market listing data, mortgages, foreclosures and pre-foreclosures, demographics, schools and geographic information.

The recent signing of a comprehensive geographic information system (GIS) site license agreement with Esri allows the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to expand its use of ArcGIS software to a number of mission-critical applications.

"With 135,000 employees and more than 1,600 facilities, a system that collects and analyzes data efficiently is invaluable to our mission. GIS will go a long way toward helping our schools manage an enormous amount of data, and we're thrilled about the initiative," said Ted Brodheim, chief information officer at the New York City Department of Education.

An advanced communication satellite HYLAS (Highly Adaptable Satellite) built by ISRO on a commercial basis in partnership with EADS-Astrium of Europe, was successfully launched today, November 27, 2010 at 00.09 hours Indian Standard Time (IST) by the European Ariane-5 V198 launch vehicle. The launch took place from the Guyana Space Centre at Kourou in French Guyana.

HYLAS35 minutes after its lift-off, HYLAS separated from Ariane-5 launch vehicle after reaching its intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka successfully received radio signals transmitted by HYLAS and the satellite's health is normal.

The Lockheed Martin team designing GeoEye's next-generation, high-resolution imaging satellite, known as GeoEye-2, successfully completed the program's Preliminary Design Review (PDR) three weeks ahead of the planned schedule. The successful PDR completion validated the spacecraft's design maturity, meeting or exceeding all GeoEye standards and program requirements.


Intermap Technologies announced that Todd Oseth has joined the Company, effective December 06, 2010, as its president and chief executive officer. Mr. Oseth has been appointed to drive the monetization of Intermap's valuable NEXTMap database and its associated products and services offerings, advancing Intermap's transition to a customer- and market-driven organization.

New Products

GAF AG, an internationally active geo-information technology and consulting company, is pleased to announce the release of a free trial version of GeoRover- a mobile geological mapping software.

GeoRover is a field mapping software that has been developed on the basis of experience gained from real geological mapping field work. The software integrates GPS navigation, GIS functionality and spatial raster data management in one tool. This allows field mapping experts to work smarter and faster - thus enhancing productivity and improving efficiency significantly.

NAC Geographic Products Inc. announced the release of NACMaps for iPhones - a suite of three tools: NAC Locator, NAC Searcher and NAC Router. NACMaps is a feature enriched Universal Addresses and GPS enhanced Google Maps for all HTML5 enabled mobile web browsers to provide locating, searching and routing services supported with detail street maps, high resolution satellite images and terrain maps as well as 3D street views. You can use the software to obtain the Universal Address of any location on the map or with cellphone internal GPS or a street address, a street intersection, a postcode or a pair of lat/lon coordinates, and use the Universal Addresses to specify locations for retrieving maps, making local business search or getting turn-by-turn driving, walking and biking directions to all locations no matter whether there are street addresses or not in the country.

Nova Spatial | Kart&Datakonsult AB: are pleased to announce the availability of pcMapper Lite - an easy to use map editing application for Android devices. An ideal mobile solution for GIS map data collection or any spatially related tasks such as: planning, field inventory and asset management. Featuring seamless integration with Google Maps, it provides instant reference for any location. The app allows you to capture points, lines and polygon features with attributes. The resulting maps can be exported to KML for visualization and sharing.

NAVTEQ announced the launch of the NAVTEQ Virtual Developer Lab, a remote testing service designed to dramatically reduce the time and resources required to develop, test, monitor and deploy mobile phone applications. The Virtual Developer Lab, powered by DeviceAnywhere, is designed to support the development and pre-commercial testing of location-aware apps that use NAVTEQ maps and content on any mobile operating platform. Additionally, the Virtual Developer Lab helps prepare developers for commercial opportunities with device manufacturers, operators and app stores around the world.

Trimble introduced eCognition version 8.64, an advanced image analysis software suite available for geospatial applications. With the software release, Trimble sets a new standard for native 64-bit object based image analysis-an important technical milestone for the processing of very large image datasets.

Melissa Data, a developer of high performance data quality and address management solutions, announced expanded coverage for their industry-leading GeoCoder Object. Available as a multiplatform API or as part of WebSmart Services, GeoCoder Object now provides accurate location-based information on 95% of all rooftops in the U.S. To deliver the most complete rooftop coverage available, Melissa Data partners with NAVTEQ and TomTom (formerly TeleAtlas). The location intelligence GeoCoder Object can help organizations make informed decisions about risk exposure, tax jurisdictions, sales clustering, marketing segmentation and demographics, new markets, and logistics to name a few.

Telmap announces the launch of Orange Maps V2 at Orange France, a mobile location-based service based on Telmap's Location Companion especially designed to accompanying users throughout their on-the-go experience, going beyond in-car and pedestrian navigation.

Orange Maps navigation will be included on all GPS-enabled devices including iPhone as part of all Origami tariff plans that come with data packages. It will enable users to search for and access up-to-date information from a variety of content providers and to perform pedestrian and mobile navigation.

The NAVIGON 20 Series is the latest generation of devices to hit the shops. With its 3.5-inch display it is ideal for leisure users and pedestrians who value innovative technology and design. New to the NAVIGON product portfolio are features like the “Active Lane Assistant”, available on all devices from Easy to Premium, and even on the compact, new PNDs. A dynamic travelling animation shows users when they need to change lanes. Thanks to “TMC Routing Info” even traffic jams are no problem. The device identifies obstacles and traffic jams in good time and suggests alternative routes.

Around the Web

GISCafe Today Blog

CSDCs AMANDA Citizen Service Platform Enhances GIS Support, December 9, 2010, Business Wire

Rwanda: Use GIS Technology for National Development - NUR December 9, 2010

Local Government ELA- when the GIS department is not enough ESRI Australia

Satellite images show Azerbaijan annihilates Djulfa cemetery December 12, 2010, Panorama.am


GeoDesign Summit
Date: January 6 - 7, 2011
Place: Esri
Redlands, CA USA

The GeoDesign Summit is an important event for GIS and design professionals across all industries. The Summit is a working event for urban planners, architects, civil engineers, landscape architects, academics, and researchers to learn about and participate in the development of emerging ideas. Attendees will take part in the development of GeoDesign concepts, technologies, and tools that will advance how our global society approaches design. Registration deadline is Friday, December 3, 2010.

Geospatial World Forum
Date: January 18 - 21, 2011
Place: Hyderabad International Convention Centre
Novotel & HICC Complex, Cyberabad Post Office , Hyderabad, India

Geospatial World Forum shall be driven by an objective to provide an appropriate representation of geospatial industry and its relevance in tomorrow’s world and it will embrace in itself, the directions and dimensions for geospatial industry.
ESRI Federal User Conference (FedUC)
Date: January 19 - 21, 2011
Place: Walter E.
Washington Convention Center , Washington, DC USA

Whether you are new to the GIS user community or want to advance your current geospatial projects, the FedUC is the best place to get educated and stay updated. Leaders, decision makers, GIS professionals, and those evaluating GIS are encouraged to attend.

DGI Europe 2011
Date: January 24 - 27, 2011
Place: QEII Conference Centre
London, United Kingdom

Defence Geospatial Intelligence (DGI) is Europe's largest annual gathering dedicated to high-level discussion addressing the major challenges of the defence and government geospatial intelligence community. DGI brings together heads of Geospatial Intelligence, GIS, Remote Sensing, Operations, Mapping, Imagery and Analysis within the Military, Governmental and National Security sectors, and provides a unique forum to discuss and debate the development of geospatial intelligence capabilities across the globe.

GIS Ostrava 2011
Date: January 24 - 26, 2011
Place: VSB – Technical University of Ostrava campus
New Hall building, Ostrava, Czech Republic

The symposium GIS Ostrava 2011 follows three main topics – Advances in Remote Sensing, Advances in Spatial Modelling and Geoinformation Technology Challenges.
MAPublisher Training
Date: February 3 - 4, 2011
Place: Phoenix

Avenza Systems Inc., producers of MAPublisher cartographic software for Adobe Illustrator and Geographic Imager spatial tools for Adobe Photoshop, is pleased to announce the 2011 schedule for its comprehensive 2-day MAPublisher training course. This 2-day class offers in-depth MAPublisher training that will enable MAPublisher users to maximize their use of MAPublisher and fully exploit its features and power.
ILMF 2011
Date: February 7 - 9, 2011
Place: Astor Crowne Plaza
New Orleans, LA USA

The International LIDAR Mapping Forum 2011 (ILMF 2011), the eleventh in a series that has long established itself as the premier LIDAR event, attracts professionals from around the world with one focused objective of sharing information on LIDAR technology and Mobile Mapping Systems.

GSMA Mobile World Congress 2011
Date: February 14 - 17, 2011
Place: Fira de Barcelona

Widely regarded as the mobile industry’s “must attend” of the year, the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress presents a cutting-edge conference agenda that consistently features the industry’s biggest names, the most relevant topics and the most innovative companies who are changing the face of the mobile sector.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.