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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The meeting of the MapServer Foundation scheduled for Saturday in Chicago is coming together. Here are some details for those watching from the sidelines:

The attendee list is posted and includes a sort of “who’s who” of open source GIS people from the U.S., Canada and Europe. And, then there are some other folks with interesting affiliations like a representative from LizardTech and one from, a location-based services provider. If you are counting, I found one woman attending, and she works for Autodesk.

An IRC channel has been set aside for those who want to participate: #geofoundation at

If you want to be up on the latest discussions before the meeting, review the latest discussions on the Foundation website.

There’s a new informal poll regarding naming going on, too.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/31 at 10:55 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

It’s not news that companies include the names of other big names in the same space to give themselves “clout by association.” But it can sure cause confusion. Two situations now in the news are cases in point.

First consider ESRI’s recent release of a beta version of ArcWeb Explorer. (Forget for a moment that the world is poised to hear about ArcGIS Explorer, the 3-D visualization tool billed as the Google Earth killer by some, that’s not expected for a few more weeks/months.) ArcWeb Explorer is designed and named, I must say, to work with ArcWeb Services. That’s right, it’s a tool to sell developers (and their clients) on an ArcWeb Services based solution. It’s not in the same space as the new Yahoo Maps browser, or even the Google Local AJAX browser to which it is being compared. (I compared it to that, too, I admit.) But ArcWeb Services and Google Local and Yahoo Maps are not in the same business space! The former is about selling Web Services, the other two are about making money through advertising. Not only are the technologies different in some spots, the business propositions are completely different. At least that’s the case today.

Second, check out this “for sale” sign for LandVoyage. The release states that the “turnkey online mapping enterprise that competes in the same markets as Google Earth, Yahoo Maps, Microsoft Live Local, and Stewart Title’s GlobeXplorer.” I might buy that LandVoyage competes with GlobeXplorer, but again, those first three are about using mapping to sell advertising. LandVoyage makes money by selling access to maps and tools to manipuate maps to professionals from “engineering, real estate, agriculture, natural resource, oil and gas, recreation, government and GIS industries.”

So, as usual, let the buyer/reader beware!

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/31 at 09:41 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

“My mama always told me, GIS is like a box of politics”
(Sorry, too much coffee this AM!)

Well, not quite. But there are a bunch of things going on right now that affect GIS and mapping. Let’s take a look-see:

1. Next Monday, Congress will hold hearings on “Wartime Executive Power and the NSA’s Surveillance Authority” and will question AG Alberto Gonzales. Translated, that means the illegal domestic spying brouhaha, and the issue of surveillance in general. Polls show that Americans are divided on this kind of surveillance (though it depends on how you ask the question), with implications for LBS and geospatial tracking. Glenn Greenwald has more.

In tonight’s SOTU we will hear a lot more more about surveillance and terrorism but thoughtful Americans will continue to make up their own minds.

2. Google has been in the news lately and I don’t mean for Google Earth. Most recently Google has agreed to curtail information in its search engine to satisfy the Chinese. Previously it had a back and forth on naming of Taiwan, and access to imagery over India and Pakistan. So, the realities of geospatial information in a globalized world? Differential access to information? What are the other issues of this?

Ogle Earth notes a tiff between the way languages are represented on GE. I was struck by the phrase “getting into Google Earth” and people scrambling to get their stuff into GE.

3. USGS RIFs. Don’t know much about this, but Adena has been posting regularly. I just want to know on what basis this decision is made: the science or politics? Where does it leave the National Map?

4. Finally, an interesting dispute on political territoriality between those old enemies, the USA and Canada on David Smith’s surveying blog. Due to global warming (the causes of which are disputed by the Bush administration) the ice is melting enough in Canadian waters for the fabled Northwest Passage to start opening up. The issue is how these new sea lanes are “policed” and who is to do it—Canada or the US?

More next time and do feel free to leave comments!

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/31 at 08:48 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

San Francisco-based GeoVector is behind technology that lets users of specific cell phones point them at “700,000 buildings, retailers, restaurants, banks or historical sites throughout Japan to retrieve information.”

Developed for KDDI in Japan, the service is available for use with CDMA-equipped phones that have both GPS and an integrated compass. That combination, of GPS and compass, is not too popular here in the states.

Mapion developed mapping technology and GeoVector provides the pointing-based and spatial search engine technology. No word on who provides the content, though the GeoVector CEO expects people to be pointing at billboards, restaurants and movie posters soon.  Here’s the press release.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/31 at 07:40 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Military Information Technology reports that the National Security Agency (NSA, also known as “no such agency” and the folks behind the domestic spying program that’s in the news) has ok’d the licensing of a patent it holds for associating a location with a computer. In the business world this is called geotargeting and is offered by companies such as Quova and Digital Envoy.

NSA has operated a Technology Transfer program since 1990, but it was no made public until the first check cleared in 1993. The location patent was granted in September of last year, but to date has not been licensed.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/31 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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