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Monday, May 08, 2006

GIS is really an “everyday” sort of thing. Consider this small article in the Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN). I turns out if you live in the “Zip Codes [sic] that are split between two municipalities or between a city and an unincorporated area” you are more likely not to have paid to register your car in the city. Finding people in that situation will net the city some $54,000 in the coming year. The GIS helps, per the final line of the article:

Henning [deputy administrator in the county clerk’s office] said analysts in her office started reviewing the Memphis area last fall, when city officials called in March alerting them that they could do the work faster using their geographic information system, or GIS.

As an aside, if you do live in Memphis you pay: “a $30 city fee annually to register their vehicles, in addition to the $50 wheel tax and the $24 state registration fee.” Wheel tax? How quaint! When I lived in Pennsylvania few years ago, I believe it was my township that had a “head tax,” which I explained to friends “you had to pay if you had a head.”

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/08 at 07:01 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

At MapInfo’s MapWorld last week, Tom Villani, vice president of global alliances at Microstrategy, warned that you had better start understanding and investing in good BI/LI (business intelligence/location intelligence) solutions lest you get drowned in a data glut. "Data storage is too cheap…no one is throwing out any old data," he said. Villani also said that his company just purchased 4 terabytes of data storage for only $25000. The consequences? Not only will better search tools be needed but a way to filter, refine, and report information to decision makers will be absolutely essential if data warehouse archives remain online indefinitely. Geospatial data will be no exception and ways to mine those data with better tools will be a requirement. Companies like Teradata seem well positioned in the data warehousing market and BI vendors are collaborating with them in ways to access huge volumes of transactions.

by Joe Francica on 05/08 at 01:58 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Speaking at MapInfo’s MapWorld Conference last week, Gail McGiffin, Managing Partner of the underwriting practice at Accenture and formerly with Chubb, said that “In property and casualty space we are data rich and information poor. Information sits in ancient data warehouses…we must get better data into the front office.” She also commented on the fact that the use of legacy systems is not a small problem. “Its not easy to get to a legacy platform,” she said. The insurance companies seem to have a data quality and consistency problem starting with just finding the right data at the time it is needed. A host of challenges arose in the insurance industry when confronted with major natural disasters such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11 in terms of measuring their exposure. However, McGiffen said that it is often the smaller risks that pop out from doing a location intelligence analysis that may expose more risk than the major catastrophic events like a Hurricane Katrina. She also stressed that reusability of data across the enterprise was essential and that bringing data into a centralized data store would be extremely beneficial. She foresees the use of more granular data for getting insights into customer behavior and buying patterns. There will come a time when measuring how hard you hit the breaks or how fast you drive will be monitored by insurance companies in order to do a more thorough job of assessing how to underwrite your specific auto insurance policy. Scary!

by Joe Francica on 05/08 at 01:08 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 05, 2006

Technology columnist Lee Gomes of the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Microsoft will be spending $2 Billion next year on "strategic initiatives" mostly to combat the competition it faces from Google and others. The announcement sent Microsoft’s stock price down 10%. If you have been amused by the steady stream of announcements of each company trying to out duel each other in the mapping portal chess match, it appears that the games may have just begun.

by Joe Francica on 05/05 at 07:28 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Yesterday Microsoft held a press conference from ASPRS in Reno to talk about the plans for the now finalized acquisition of Vexcel. They didn’t say too much (imagine that!) but they did say they’d keep all parts of the company and offered a few tidbits. My colleague Hal Reid and I offer coverage and our thoughts at Directions Magazine.

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/05 at 07:28 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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