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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A great session here at the ESRI Business GeoInfo Summit tackled the use of spatial data to mitigate liability. The first paper by Michael Sullivan of the Liability Management Systems addressed using neural networks to predict how much the manufacturer of a building product (he could not say what) would be likely to pay per census track based on product failures. While in the end he could not tell why the products failed, he could model very well which census tracks were likely to cost money.

Graham Duthie from Anderson (Windows) Corporation followed up with not a story of warranties of windows, but warranties of beach balls. He can’t really talk about windows… The problem was that return rates of beach balls seemed to up in certain areas. Were they really or was it an anomaly? He used some basic state (chi squared, which I’d not seen since college) to tease out the pattern and determine UV activity as the principle issue for failures around the equator.

These seem like straightforward ways to help companies make money/save money – ideally before too many failures. Unfortunately, these ideas, so the experts tell, are not taught in business school and are not widely used in commercial companies.

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/02 at 04:22 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I’m sure this has happened to many of you: someone well meaning hooks up with you and talks careers. You say: “You should talk to x.” Well, a few years ago I hooked up one such person with another acquaintance (it turns out we are all Penn Staters, but from different years) and I learned at the ESRI Business GeoInfo Summit that connection yielded a job with the City of Boston.

On a similar note, I met a very energetic senior from McGill. She’d paid her own way to the event and is still teasing out how she’d like to apply GIS and geography in her career. She’s waiting on hearing from ESRI-DC about a summer internship (note to ESRI-DC: hire her!) but I have no doubt she’ll be presenting at a conference about her work in no time. (Other folks looking for GIS internships might try the non-profit www.eco.org, The Environmental Careers Organization. I got my first job through ECO and can’t say enough about the group.)

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/02 at 04:21 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

GovExec.com has an article that basically places much of the blame for locating challenges during Katrina on the failure of agencies to adopt the National Grid. The article describes the grid this way:

The National Grid is a mapping system based on coordinates provided by satellite imagery.

Sort of, I guess. The home page of the grid, above, does not have a definition (why?) but Wikipedia does:

The United States National Grid, officially known as the United States National Grid for Spatial Addressing (USNG), is a system of geographic grid references commonly used in United States, different from using latitude or longitude. It is similar in design to the national grid reference systems used throughout other nations. The USNG was developed by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and is administered by the Federal Geographic Data Committee.

The big push is that its designed to work with GPS data directly (no converting).

A FEMA press sectretary is quoted in the aticle as noting that FEMA does use the Grid but did not since the responders in the southeast do not use it, but instead use adresses and latitude/longitude. There is some use of the Grid, but other FEMA reps explain its use on a wide scale is still down the road.

- via reader Duane

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/02 at 03:50 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

If you don’t read press releases or were at a conference yesterday you may have missed that VLS was acquired by Overwatch Systems (recently known as Sensor Systems).

Recall that Feature Analyst is a tool to extract vector features from raster data. It received a big welcome when it arrived as an extension to ArcView some years ago. More recently, the company has offered it for other platforms. (I interviewed the execs a few years ago in EOM (PDF of entire issue) Overwatch offers high speed real time tools for exploiting imagery - think mostly military - and you have a good picture.

This is a good match. From what I can tell both technologies are at the top of their respective games and clearly they go well together. Expect to see these folks at GEOINT and similar events. I do hope that the VLS offerings will still be offered in the civilian arena; they are key for everyone from utilities to local governments for exploiting today’s high resolution imagery.

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/02 at 06:59 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 01, 2006

The University of West Florida is advertising a new online GIS certificate program. It’s less expensive for residents of Florida, a bit more if you are in Alabama and even more outside those states.

Of interest: a laptop loaded with GIS and remote sensing “will be issued” to students in the program - for a $300 laptop fee. Also, the univeristy promotes the need for GIS professionals with this quote from GIS.com (and ESRI website):

Across the country, tens of thousands of trained [geospatial] workers are needed to fill positions that are going begging.

The quote is from Emily Stover DeRocco, Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor - but the site doesn’t say that. Too bad the marketing folks decided to cite a corporate website (the univeristy teaches ESRI software) and not the federal government. The press release where she said that is online at the Dept. of Labor. By the way, it’s from 2003.

by Adena Schutzberg on 05/01 at 01:41 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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