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Thursday, April 27, 2006

“It can point the way, it can’t make decisions.”

Joshua Schwartz of the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission on using GIS for locating housing development.

- Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/27 at 08:12 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

As many expected one way or another, Google has made SketchUp, the 3D design product it acquired from @Last free for personal use. (Now Windows only, but Mac coming soon. A non-free Pro version offers more tools and can be used for commercial work.) The announcement came last night and is covered at by Randall Newton, a CAD industry guru.

As intriquing as the free SketchUp is, the 3D Warehouse is moreso, especially in the hands of Google. The warehouse is where you store your designs for others to find (if they are say doors or windows - perhaps with links with info for purchasing them in the virtual world) or 3D visualizations of homes, buildings to put on Google Earth. The Warehouse allows posters to “tag” their creations for others to find and provides URLs for further information.

This comes as no big shock really. Gary Smith, who’s actually noted in the announcement page, wrote in Directions why Google bought SketchUp: “From Google’s standpoint, the concern might be that someone else would buy @Last Software and they would lose this terrific solution to build 3D content for Google Earth. Now, that can’t happen.” Joe Francica and I saw much the same thing: “What Google, via SketchUp, will do in time is just what these other services mentioned above have done: they’ve captured the creativity, energy and, frankly, free labor of the planet to build content.”

Newton notes that Google doesn’t want to be a CAD company and think it’s telling the truth. It wan’t to manage the world’s information and with this pair of free offerings, its taken another step in that direction.

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/27 at 07:09 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The GITA conference attracted somewhere between 600-800 people this year. The exhibit floor was looking a little light but vendors indicated that many quality people attended. However, with ESRI having their own Electric and Gas User’s Group (EGUG) conference and Intergraph offering their user’s a combined conference this year (not separate GIS and Power and Plant meetings-kind of like the old IGUG…what’s old is new!), plus that fact that GITA offers a separate event for Oil and Gas, the justification for opting to come to the GITA annual event gets a little dicey. Vendors will tell you that they have to be at this event. If that’s the case, then GITA is doing them a disservice by not structuring the event to attract the maximum number of attendees. I’d suggest combining the Oil and Gas events with the annual conference and making certain GITA’s corporate sponsors understand that their user conferences are significantly impacting attendence at the annual event. They are essentially competing with themselves. Budgets are much too slim and attendees have to make a choice. As such, given that users in these industries (telco, gas, electric, water/waste water) rarely make major changes to their operartional GIS environments, having chosen a vendor long ago (it may be a 10 year cycle between evaluting new system purchases or even considering a swap of vendors), they will choose a user’s conference every time.

by Joe Francica on 04/26 at 08:01 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

That’s right. An article about satellite navigation in the Moscow Times discusses, not Glonass - the Russian satellite navigation constellation - but GPS. Apparently, receivers from the rest of the world are dropping in price and becoming more common.

Glonass is not mentioned until the final paragraph, along with a mention that restrictions on locating a place to within less than 30 meters will soon be eased.

The Defense Ministry, keen to further develop the Global Navigation Satellite System, Russia’s answer to GPS, said in March that it would ease restrictions on location determination by year’s end. The industry hopes that will further boost the use of the navigation equipment in the country.

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/26 at 07:43 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

This past week, I’ve been covering both the GITA conference in Tampa and the Information Builders (IBI) User’s Conference in Orlando, moreso the later than the former. While the telcos and utility companies are discussing enterprise GIS, the IBI users are discussing enterprise data analyisis and reporting. The juxtaposition was just too ironic. Here is GITA, an industry association with corporate partners that don’t make a move without geospatial information and IBI whose solutions are all about communicating information throughout the enterprise using dashboard visualization tools, maps included thanks to a strong partnership with ESRI. So, don’t you think its time that the enterprise BI players and the enterprise GIS players got together and dance. Well, they have but it’s kind of like a high school dance where the partners are are sometimes looking at the next attractive person to walk by. IBI indeed has a strong partnership with ESRI, but Business Objects plays with both MapInfo and ESRI; Microstrategy’s preferred partner is MapInfo; COGNOS is unsure who they want to play with; SAS has also had a strong alliance with ESRI; Hyperion thinks they understand the need for geospatial data integration but is a "wallflower" so far. Frankly, and with a bit of self promotion, that is the goal of the Location Intelligence Conference; i.e. to offer a forum for how location technology best integrates with enterprise computing. To be sure it is coming and I’ve been impressed with the efforts of IBI to educate their customers on the benefits of location-based information and they are getting it. We’ll have more in-depth articles soon on some of the success stories.

by Joe Francica on 04/26 at 07:34 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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