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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Geographic Exploration System (GES) is a new buzzword, in case you hadn’t noticed. The term, in its recent incarnation, seems to date back to ESRI announcing ArcGIS Explorer last summer in San Diego and last fall in Warsaw. More recently GeoWorld editor Matt Ball tackles the topic in a feature called, “Digital Reality: Comparing Geographic Exploration Systems.” In it, he distinguishes this class of products as offering “the ability to visualize the globe in three dimensions.”

Ball includes a series of products in his comparison: Skyline’s Terra Suite, GeoFusion’s GeoPlayer and GeoMatix Toolkit, NASA’s World Wind, GeoTango’s GlobeView (recently acquired by Microsoft), Carbon Tools Gaia, and ESRI’s ArcGIS Explorer. Google Earth, of course, fits in this group, too.

The interesting thing to remember here is that these are all client/server solutions, true systems. Ideally, you download an app and run it on your local machine and tap into data served up by one or more providers (via open or proprietary standards, or a mix) on the Internet. So, while these are all 3D viewers, the ability to visualize the entire globe is really up to those providing the data. And, of course, if you are planning to be offline, you’d better download the data you’ll need when disconnected.

Google Earth is giving everyone the idea that all viewers must “come with” oodles and oodles of high resolution data when in fact, some come with basically none and send you out to find it. When comparing Google Local/Earth and Live Local many reviews go into great depth about the data available, as they should. Some geographic data still costs money and we as well as the consumer level user need to know that. ESRI wants users to know that; that’s how it hopes to leverage ArcWeb Services, which of course, includes data and services.

One historical note. If I recall correctly, in about 1992 ArcView (good old desktop ArcView 1, I think) was described as a Geographic Exploration System. It was 2D and accessed existing ESRI formatted data from its sample CDs, your existing GIS implementation or from data you purchased (including Directions Magazine founder Scott Elliott’s 15 CD Wessex data). Times have changed…

Interestingly, ESRI’s website does not appear to include the term “Geographic Exploration System.” In fact, “geographic exploration” is only found on K-12 and library pages, where I should add, it most certainly belongs.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/07 at 06:54 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I can’t say I have all the details here, but this just sounds weird.

In Georgia, a representative to the General Assembly has proposed a bill that would encourage the use of GPS-enabled phones and “how’s my driving” bumper stickers for teens who’ve committed certain traffic violations. Judges would propse the program and parents would pick up the tab and ideally, monitor the young driver.

Only these offenses would prompt the tracking: “hit and run, leaving the scene of an accident, fleeing an officer with a car, driving under the influence or illegal drug possession in a car.”

“The leading cause of death for teens is auto accidents,” said Maria Strollo, a lobbyist for Teen Arrive Alive, a group promoting young driver safety.

Teen Arrive Alive is allied with uLocate System for tracking and mapping.

Frankly, I’d simply take away the keys for any of these offenses until the teen reached the age of majority. End of story.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/07 at 05:59 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

A Boston Univeristy College of Communications survey of 523 adults across the U.S. finds that while we may want privacy when it comes to government or corporate “suveillence” monitoring of family members, person to person surveillence, is no big deal.

Survey research from Boston University graduate students shows that Americans are more willing to engage in surveillance of loved ones than one might expect given our love for independence. Half of Americans are comfortable with being electronically monitored by a loved one for safety or health reasons. Nearly a third—32%—say it is likely they will use a tracking device to monitor a loved one in the future.

The technologies here includes kid tracking and elder tracking tools, as well as video and audio devices. Most are aimed at tracking for health and safety purposes.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/07 at 05:51 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

OnStar has offered to date turn by turn directions via an advisor, someone “on the phone.” In the next few years the system will change a bit. The driver will contact OnStar with a destination and the advisor will send turn by turn directions to the vehicle and disconnect. OnStar does not include a graphics screen, so this will be voice only, it seems. Says the OnStar president, “We know the frustration of cost and usability of the screen GPS systems. This should be another opportunity to differentiate GM vehicles and OnStar in the competitive marketplace.” The cost will be between the “basic” and “premium” packages, that is between $199 and $399 per year.

That’s interesting in light of VW’s push to put Google Earth in the driver’s seat, so to speak. There are new graphics available of that system, first announced at CES in January and noted here.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/07 at 05:38 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Monday, February 06, 2006

Rarely do three CAD stories hit at one time that give me pause, but that happened today.

First off, Intergraph bought Alias. Didn’t Autodesk just buy Alias? Yes, Autodesk bought the one in Canada, Intergraph bought the one in the UK. The former does 3D graphics for mechnical and entertainment visualization and the latter, pipe design. Those more familiar with Intergraph than I have suggested that perhaps its time for Intergraph to focus more energy on power/process aka “pipes.” Or as a friend at Bentley used to say, “if it goes into or come out of a pipe, I’m in charge of it.”

Second, Daratech, the folks who make up (sorry!) tease out the stats on the CAD (and at one time GIS market) have given a technology grant to a small innovative company Matereality, of Ithaca, NY, to further its work on storing materials with design data. Gee and I thought the company only took in money, not gave it out… No word on the size of grant, however.

Third, Bentley has acquried Cook-Hurlbert of Texas, a “provider of engineering design software for electric and gas distribution networks.” You may remember the name from GITA, if you attend that event. The company, as I recall, worked with many GIS systems including ESRI and SmallWorld. The press release notes that the acquisition is inline with the Haestad acquistion of a few years ago. I confess that I’ve not seen as much on the GIS front from Heastad as I would have liked. Recall that Haestad, in addition to its expertise in water infrastructure, also offered GIS Connect, connecting AutoCAD to ArcGIS.  On the other hand, Cook and Hurlbert “have accepted senior positions with the Bentley Geospatial vertical organization” which might whip things up a bit.

Plug: I got all this news from TenLinks Daily. Yes, I used to work there. Yes I still get the newsletter and if you need to keep up with CAD, you should, too.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/06 at 01:20 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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