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January 31, 2011
FME 2011 Addresses 2011 Spatial Data Concerns
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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!

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Industry News

FME 2011 Addresses 2011 Spatial Data Concerns

By Susan Smith

Last week, Safe Software launched a new version of its spatial data transformation platform, FME 2011.

Safe's President Don Murray and vice-president of development Don Lutz travel all over the world talking to customers and have shaped this release to address both customers' greatest concerns and industry advancements. Everything in FME 2011 is designed to empower people in the GIS, CAD and IT technical professions to get more out of their data sets, do more with less, and be able to do this more easily.

With FME 2011, users can read, write, and visualize LiDAR data in a range of industry formats, including LAS, Pointools POD, and XYZ ASCII.

Not surprisingly, one of the main enhancements of Safe Software's FME 2011 release is new functionality for manipulating point cloud data. Many people must deal with lidar point cloud data as part of their daily work, and they don't know how to manage it. The sheer size of this data makes it awkward to deal with.

Other features of the new release: during the authoring phase users can inspect data. Historically users had to wait for the authoring to be over and then they could look at all the data at various stages. Now the whole authoring stage is interactive so rather than make it batch as it was before, when authoring workbench scripts users can stop the transformation process to examine the current state of the data.

There is also new database support, and the ability to inspect point clouds.

Point Clouds

“We learned this year there are more folks having to deal with lidar point cloud data as part of their daily data challenges,” said Lutz. “The point cloud initiative wasn't necessarily on the radar for 2011 but because of the road shows we have been to last year, it came out loud and clear that there was all this lidar data just sitting there. We didn't start this until June. We had to really execute very efficiently to pull this off in a short period of time.”

Users are getting the lidar data and don't know how to manage it. “So we were looking to see if we could use the power of FME with that problem. There are many new tools in 2011 for people to handle and manipulate point cloud data,” said Lutz.

No matter what the data interoperability challenge, FME 2011 delivers extraordinary new data transformation powers to help users unleash their inner Spatial Superhero.

What do GIS professionals want to do with point clouds? Very commonly they want reprojection, said Lutz. They receive a big point cloud, it's in the wrong projection, it's in lat long and they want it in UTM to match their data.

“We can do both horizontal and vertical projections - there were some people that had the z elevation value measured against the wrong model of the earth. And so we can correct that too. That's the main one for us. Also the data volumes are so huge people can't use them, so thinning the data - you can thin it in a number of ways. Just the way point clouds are organized, the reflection count or the return count - you might only want the last one or the first one depending upon what you are doing.”

Pointools is an output that would be of interest to some customers, said Murray. Just cutting a big point cloud into smaller tiles is another way to manage the large data volume, in smaller and easier chunks.

The following are the capabilities offered in FME 2011 for point cloud data:

  • Integrate point clouds with conventional GIS data
  • Restructure point cloud datasets by clipping, thinning, reprojecting, combining, splitting, and creating surface models
  • Read and write point cloud data in a range of industry standard formats, including LAS (multiple versions), Pointools POD, and XYZ ASCII
  • Inspect point clouds

  • Workbench Productivity

    In FME 2011 the productivity of the workbench has been increased and the product is easier to use. New tools have been added so the user can take the authoring and creation of spatial database scripts and during the authoring phase, inspect the data. “Historically you had to wait for the whole thing to be over and then you could look at all the pieces at various stages,” said Murray. “Now we've made the whole authoring stage interactive so rather than make it batch as it was before, when you're doing the authoring of workbench scripts it's truly interactive. If I'm running and I stop and see something I can actually change what's going on and continue executing from

    Database support

    In FME 2011 it is much easier to write arbitrary SQL, go to the database and get values back.

    On the server side, users wanted the ability to have the FME Server trigger data translations or data jobs on a schedule, so Safe built in a scheduling concept. Customers have been scheduling FME to do things but there has never been a built in way to manage that before 2011.

    There is a new evaluation program included with FME 2011 to help prospective users learn how to use the product.

    FME 2011's innovative Inline Inspection lets users pause the transformation process to instantly examine the current state of their data.

    Usability improvements include the following (from press release):

  • Inline inspection: A key innovation in FME 2011, Inline Inspection lets users pause the transformation process to instantly examine the current state (geometry and attributes) of their data. Users can now benefit from this "X-ray vision" to quickly create workspaces with this new superfine feature-level debugging power.
  • Templates: Designed as a starting point for common spatial data transformation tasks, quickstart templates enables users to author new workspaces at lightning speeds. Users can also publish their own workspaces as templates for efficient re-use and sharing with others.
  • Scheduling: With the scheduling tool in FME Server 2011, organizations can centralize and completely automate their recurring data transformation workflows - no human intervention required.
  • XML Innovations: Thanks to the XMLTemplater, validation, styling, metadata, and cataloguing capabilities, FME 2011 decimates the time it takes to work with XML data. Superhuman XML expertise is no longer required!
  • Performance Improvements: FME 2011 delivers on Safe Software's commitment to ensure that every release of FME is faster than the last. Performing data transformations in FME 2011 is now an average of 11% faster than the previous version. “You don't have to buy a bigger machine to run 2011,” Lutz said. The new release is smarter with how it uses memory, so it will use all memory now to get maximum performance. Dynamic memory usage depends upon what resources are available.

  • Format Support

    Besides the new support for cloud data, FME 2011 can read and write Windows Azure, SQL Azure, OGDI and Google Spreadsheet data. FME 2011 has also been updated to let users with work the latest applications and environments; support for Esri ArcGIS 10 and Autodesk FDO 2011 already included.

    Murray and Lutz said that there is a lot of interest in conversions of CAD to GIS. Safe has been doing CAD to GIS conversions since 1993 but haven't promoted it much. They are now making it easier for those users. Approximately 7% of all translations are going from GIS to CAD. Data is constantly flowing back and forth between different departments in an organization. “More and more it's about bringing different systems together so that you continue to use tools you want natively back and forth,” explained Lutz.


    Murray said they are seeing more data stores being defined in the cloud, so they will support Windows, Google and other data in the cloud format.


    FME users are invited to learn more about FME 2011 by participating in two upcoming events:
  • Live "What's Great in FME 2011" webinar hosted by Safe co-founders, Don Murray and Dale Lutz on February 8, 2011
  • FME 2011 World Tour, coming to 25+ cities worldwide this spring

  • To register or for more information, please visit
    Safe FME 2011.

    Top News

    Vast amounts of data, along with instant reports and online maps, are now available through Esri's web-based
    Community Analyst. With this new tool, government agencies, civic organizations, and policy makers can quickly explore the geographic characteristics of any area and develop the right strategies for policies and resource allocation.

    Optech Incorporated, manufacturer of advanced lidar survey instruments, is pleased to announce that with the recent acquisition of Geospatial Systems, Inc. (GSI) they will roll out a comprehensive line of high-performance aerial imaging systems.

    In June 2010, Optech took over the DiMAC camera product line with its patented True Forward Motion Compensation feature. These cameras have proven highly attractive and successful in the airborne survey market worldwide, and are fully integrated into Optech's complete line of ALTM Airborne Laser Terrain Mappers. By combining the DiMAC product line with the GSI range of specialty cameras, Optech now provides a comprehensive range of high-quality cameras for every application.

    ERDAS proudly announces the official release of ERDAS APOLLO 2011, now available for download on the ERDAS website.

    ERDAS APOLLO is an enterprise solution for managing and delivering massive volumes of distributed geospatial data and imagery. This server-based offering is available in three product tiers to suit a wide spectrum of organizations - from those that simply need a very low-cost, remarkably fast image server to those requiring a comprehensive data management system.

    Trimble launched the Trimble Mobile GIS Developer Community. The new site provides a rich and growing selection of developer tools and services, hosted within the Trimble Connected Community (TCC) portal. The online community provides members with access to software tools and services as well as documentation, a developer forum, knowledge base and support resources.

    The software development kits (SDKs) available to members of the Mobile GIS Developer Community include:
  • The GPS Pathfinder Field Toolkit: Designed for rapid development of standalone GPS-enabled applications for Win32 and Windows Mobile platforms.
  • The MobileGNSS Field and Office Tools: Allows developers to create Esri ArcGIS Mobile applications with GNSS postprocessing capability.

  • Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances

    RapidEye announced that East View Cartographic has signed a distributor agreement with RapidEye and will join its distribution team.

    RapidEye announced that it has signed a one year framework contract with the Institutions and bodies of the European Union through the Joint Research Centre (JRC) for the supply of satellite remote sensing data products and services.

    The contract between RapidEye and the EC Services of the JRC, was signed December 13, 2010 and replaces the former contract with the above mentioned entities which expired in the same month.

    earthmine announced three international distributors of Esri are partnering with earthmine to deliver 3D street level imagery in conjunction with Esri's desktop, web and mobile solutions to customers in Greece, Korea and Singapore. These new earthmine partners join the growing ranks of customers and distributors who are utilizing the 3D street level imagery, software, and services offered by earthmine.

    Urban Mapping, Inc (UMI), the geospatial web and data service provider, and Tableau Software, the business intelligence software company announced they have joined forces to bring elegant mapping to business intelligence users. With Urban Mapping's cartographic styling options and Tableau's controls, customers can now create dramatic geographic visualizations of their data for better intelligence and more informed decision-making.


    Esri software users can sign up to take the Esri Technical Certification Program examinations. The program recognizes people skilled in desktop, developer, and enterprise use of Esri technology. Certifications are currently being offered for
  • ArcGIS Desktop Associate
  • ArcGIS Desktop Professional
  • Web Application Developer Associate
  • Enterprise Geodatabase Management Associate
  • Enterprise Administration Associate

  • Eight more certifications will be added to the program later this year and into 2012.

    To learn more or register for a certification examination, visit
    esri.com/certification. Exams are offered in English and are available at 5,000 locations in 165 countries.

    O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference is where the grassroots and leading-edge developers building location-aware technology intersect with the businesses, marketers, and entrepreneurs seeking out location apps, platforms, and hardware to gain a competitive edge. With the location ecosystem at an exciting and fiercely competitive crossroads, Where 2.0 will explore what's happening now, what's lurking just below the radar, and show you how to leverage location for your business.

    AAM's 3D
    Flood Simulation of Brisbane was used extensively by Australian and Global media during the recent flood crisis in Brisbane. The flood level simulations were produced interactively in 3D. This was a very effective way of communicating the impact of the flood on buildings and infrastructure and it provided a valuable tool in assessing the potential risk for the city in the days leading up to and during the flood peak.


    Trimble announced the launch of the Trimble VRS Now RTK correction data services for Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg delivering centimeter-level positioning for RTK receivers throughout these countries. The Trimble VRS Now service supplies fast, easy-to-use and accurate Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) positioning for a variety of applications including precision agriculture, surveying, construction, asset management, environmental monitoring, disaster prevention and relief, weather services and scientific research.

    The U.S. Census Bureau debuts a reinvented American FactFinder , making online access to 2010 Census data -- and many more statistics -- easier than ever.

    The new American FactFinder offers a fresh look, new tools and easier access to a wide range of Census Bureau statistics. Online , you will find population estimates for 2008 and earlier years and findings from the 2000 Census. When fully implemented, the new FactFinder is projected to have about 250 billion data cells in more than 40,000 tables.

    Postcode Anywhere launches a smarter satnav service this week, which goes beyond simple A-to-B route planning to re-order multiple waypoints into the fastest “optimised” itinerary.

    The feature adds satnav integration to the online routing service RouteOptimiser.com. It enables commercial vehicle drivers to take their optimized routes with them in their TomTom satnav.

    New Products

    ERDAS proudly announces the official release of LPS 2011, now available for download on the ERDAS website.

    LPS is a powerful, workflow-oriented photogrammetry system for production mapping, including full analytical triangulation, the generation of digital terrain models, orthophoto production, mosaicking, and 3D feature extraction.

    It supports panchromatic, color and multispectral imagery with up to 16 bits per band and hundreds of different coordinate systems and map projections. LPS increases accuracy through state-of-the-art photogrammetric and image processing algorithms for automatic point measurement, triangulation, automatic terrain extraction and subpixel point positioning. Accuracy reports, built-in data quality checks, and editing tools make it easy to maintain unwavering levels of quality.

    FortiusOne announced the release of GeoIQ Acetate, a custom base map built specifically for visualizing data analysis. Acetate adds context to the map by enabling users to layer infrastructure such as roads and place names on top of the data visualization, a capability not found in traditional mapping solutions. Acetate offers individual layers of map labels, roads, colors and typography, providing greater control of how data analysis is visualized on the map.

    CARIS is introducing a revolutionary solution to the problems of converting Digital Nautical Charts (DNC's) to Electronic Nautical Charts (ENC's) and vice versa.

    CARIS, with S-57 Composer 2.2, now offers a DNC Plug-in available through an optional license. The DNC Plug-in has a unique capability of automatically converting, with a first-pass success rate of 80%, DNC to ENC.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced the launch of CropScape, a new cropland exploring service. CropScape provides data users access to a variety of new resources and information, including the 2010 cropland data layer (CDL) just released in conjunction with CropScape.

    Reporting a non-working streetlight just became easier, thanks to a new online tool launched by Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO). Customers noticing a streetlight that is broken or burned out can conveniently visit
    www.NIPSCO.com/StreetlightOut and submit a request to have it fixed. An interactive map identifies all of the streetlights owned or maintained by NIPSCO. So, if a customer does not have the exact pole number, they still will be able to search for the streetlight by address or location.

    SuperGeo Technologies aids SMAP Technologies, an electronic map supplier, in its digital map application of a wide range of fields.

    Providing navigation system, LBS, Internet Map, and GIS projects for applications in various fields, SMAP has confronted some difficulties such as considerable time in managing and categorizing a large sum of data. With the adoption of SuperGIS Desktop, the enterprise can download the data from the server to SuperGIS Desktop and directly digitize or modify the maps and subsequently improve the accessibility and management of digital maps as well as the competitiveness among its counterparts.

    The new self-leveling rotating laser from Topcon Positioning System (TPS) - RL-H4C - is an addition to the popular RL-H series of rotating lasers, meeting increased demands for job site durability, range, accuracy, versatility and cost-effectiveness.

    The new self-leveling rotating laser from Topcon Positioning System (TPS) - RL-H4C - sets a new industry standard for general construction lasers. (Photo: Business Wire)

    Trimble introduced its next generation field device-the Trimble TSC3 controller. As part of Trimble's portfolio of Connected Site survey solutions, the new controller allows surveyors and geospatial professionals to collect, share and deliver data for improved accuracy, efficiency and productivity between the field and office.

    Spatial Energy, a source for digital imagery, data management and services for the energy industry, and Apache Corporation, an oil and gas exploration and production company with operations in the United States, Canada, Egypt, the United Kingdom North Sea, Australia and Argentina, announced the launch of an industry-leading environmental monitoring program to monitor assets globally using remote sensing data and services.

    MapQuest, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL Inc. announced the launch of eight new mapping sites built on open technology and OpenStreetMap (OSM) data. Over the past seven months, MapQuest has launched a total of 18 country- and language-specific “open” sites in nations around the world, illustrating the true global need and benefit of open-source maps. The new sites include:

  • Australia:
  • open.mapquest.com.au (British English)
  • Denmark:
  • open.mapquest.dk (Danish)
  • Ireland:
  • open.mapquest.ie (British English)
  • Mexico:
  • open.mapquest.org.mx (American Latin Spanish)
  • New Zealand:
  • open.mapquest.co.nz (British English)
  • Norway:
  • open.mapquest.no (Norwegian)
  • Singapore:
  • open.mapquest.com.sg (British English)
  • Sweden:
  • open.mapquest.se (Swedish)

    Around the Web

    GISCafe Today Blog

    Restaurants Reach Out to Customers With Social Media Elizabeth Olson, January 20, 2011, The New York Times

    Rising Numbers of Mobile Devices Pose Security Threat: Experts at AmityJanuary 17, 2011, Business Standard

    Area-aggregated assessments of perceived environmental attributes may overcome single-source bias in studies of green environments and health: results from a cross-sectional survey in southern Sweden 7th Space Interactive

    Valley geology, historic maps part of Google Earth display Tuesday Newsleader.com

    Manchester Parish Council credits GIS with development January 17, 2011, The Jamaica-Gleaner.com

    Interfering With Flight? Christina Negroni, January 17, 2011, The New York Times

    Radar of worst flooding areas in Queensland, The Weather Channel

    Country's first-ever Geospatial park to be set up in Gujarat January 19, 2011, The Times of India


    Date: February 1 - 3, 2011
    Place: 6 AB, Third Level

    San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA USA

    Join us in San Diego for the DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition. DistribuTECH is the utility industry's leading smart grid conference and exposition, covering automation and control systems, energy efficiency, demand response, renewable energy integration, advanced metering, T&D system operation and reliability, power delivery equipment and water utility technology.
    Date: February 3 - 4, 2011
    Place: Phoenix

    AZ USA

    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.
    Date: February 5 - 10, 2011
    Place: Movenpick Hotel

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    This four-part certified course will ensure you get the most from your time out of the office and address your educational needs. Building on the resounding success of last year's events, this year will continue to raise health and safety awareness for the region, promote best practice and clarify legislation in the Middle East. During the week, occupational health, safety, medical and risk professionals will gather to discuss the latest and business critical challenges that affect the productivity of their employees. With a stronger focus on health, this year's unique program is further enhanced to include a fully certified post-graduate diploma qualification, addressing the
    educational needs of OH&S professionals and also open to graduates in OH&S management.
    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.
    Date: February 8 - 10, 2011
    Place: Redlands, CA USA

    The 2011 Redlands GIS Week consists of a workshop on special time-critical applications of VGI. The event brings together thought-leaders from academia, government, and different industries to advance the integration of VGI or crowd-sourced geodata with traditional GIS technology.
    Date: February 10, 2011
    Place: New Orleans, LA USA

    The StreetMapper 2011 User Conference is designed to attract both existing and potential users of mobile mapping systems. The Conference Programme will feature a range of technical presentations detailing the latest developments in laser scanning and mobile data capture including technical specialists from both 3D Laser Mapping and IGI who are at the frontline of system design and development.
    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.
    Date: February 17 - 18, 2011
    Place: Malaga, Spain

    Next generation satellite services will cater the demands of personal services by bringing the satellite terminals directly to the hands of the user hence providing satellite personal services directly to the user. Technological advances in satellite communications have made it possible to bring such value added satellite services directly to the user by reducing the overall cost as well as addressing many technological challenges such as supporting mobility, having miniaturized antennas and terminal sizes, and providing high data rate links. With the unique broadcast nature and ubiquitous coverage of satellite networks, the synergy between satellite and terrestrial networks provides
    immense opportunities for disseminating wideband multimedia services to a wide range of audiences over large numbers of geographically-dispersed people.
    Date: February 23 - 24, 2011
    Place: Redlands, CA USA

    Professionals from California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Islands are invited to connect with your peers, colleagues, and ESRI contacts. Whatever your industry, position, or level of GIS experience, you’re encouraged to attend this helpful and engaging forum.
    Date: March 1 - 2, 2011
    Place: Horizon Convention Center

    401 South High Street, Muncie, IN 47308 USA

    The Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC) will host the 2011 Indiana GIS Conference March 1-2, 2011 at the Horizon Convention Center in Muncie, Indiana. This event brings together over 300 of Indiana’s leading GIS professionals specializing in all facets of GIS use and development.

    You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.