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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A few exhibitors caught my attention other than those previously mentioned in other APB blog reports from the ESRI UC:

TomTom (formerly Tele Atlas) is offering custom traffic data to users. What this means is that TomTom is able to offer time-slice and historical traffic data for the previous two years. TomTom’s feedback from users of their portable navigation devices has allowed them to collect a wealth of data. While the information will certainly benefit the consumer market, the field service market (FSM) will profit as well by tying the information to delivery and work order processing. In fact, even more interesting, to me at least, was a solution called TomTom Work designed specifically for the FSM marketplace. I think the solution has been under publicized and its worth taking a look.

Swinging by the earthmine booth, the company was demonstrating a new plugin for ArcGIS that makes their 3D streetview imagery available to that platform. What was cool about the application as the ability to do fairly precise measurements directly on the imagery. In the demo I saw, a user can take measurements of "street furniture" such as sign posts, water hydrants, etc. and even curb heights. Now, while the measurements weren’t engineering grade, they would certainly do for a cursory inspection.

Accela Government Software was showing their Silverlight-based interface for asset management. They’ve done a nice job of simplifying the workflow for asset inspection and reporting. For a more complete report, see my overview from this past February.

GeoEye was demonstrating 3D imagery. Users donned 3D glasses to have a peak into the data. See graphic below:

Rolta was a strong presence on the floor this year and I had a long talk with Ben Eazzetta, president of Rolta’s International Operations. With a strong suite of BI tools and long experience in system integration and top notch Oracle skills, the company is poised to become a serious systems integration player in the U.S. They are already well know for their SI work in the Middle East and Asia but are now making their presence more heard in the U.S. and has beefed up their staff within the last 12 months with professionals "ex" of other GIS companies.

BroadMap is stepping in to support NAVTEQ’s efforts to reach an enterprise GIS market but for the small to mid-size company. They are specializing in high quality boundary files and precise geocoding. Certainly there is need to service the business geographics marketplace with a less expensive data product suite and easier to using mapping product to which they are targeting their MapConnect product line.

Cartopac Field Solutions is being integrated with ArcGIS Server and the company is targeting the oil and gas market as well as the broader field service market (FSM). It’s standard field collection solution works with Oracle and Microsoft SQL in a multuser environment. The company believes there is a resurgence in the tablet PC market and is considering options such as the iPad.

Sybase, another new player at the UC has partnered with Geocove for mobile solutions for such applications as damage assessment and other FSM applications. Sybase is one of those organization that you think about historically for database solutions but their SQL Anywhere product is now more targeted for mobile applications.

I spent a good deal of time getting updates from Intermap Technologies. The big question with Intermap is whether high resolution topographic data (1m vertical average) is resonating in the marketplace. To me, it’s the next big thing after high resolution satellite imagery. Both in the enterprise GIS market as well as the automotive marketplace, I think there is a great deal of potential to utilize 3D topographic information for not only mapping but for safety, power, and fuel efficiency apps.  The NEXTMaps data is 100% complete for the U.S. The company is engaged in projects for E.U. flood models and supports OGC WFS. Intermap has made a huge investment in capturing these data for the U.S. and Europe and to some degree it’s searching for the right opportunities. (full disclosure: author is a stockholder).

by Joe Francica on 07/14 at 10:19 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

ITT VIS is making a set of image processing tools available to be accessed natively within ArcGIS 10. The ITT VIS "toolbox" will deliver new ENVI tools for desktop and server, execute basic image processing functionality within Esri environment and deliver to users a single seamless workflow.The two companies have been working together for the last few years on a tighter integration of their product suites and this year have taken a major milestone toward that effort.

Last year I reported on the data exchange between ENVI EX and ArcGIS but this year’s effort between the two companies, through the magic of Python, makes the product integration much tighter. Richard Cooke, president of ITT VIS, mentioned during the press briefing that the Python interface for ArcGIS10 allows ITT VIS to use their own IDL language and publish any imagery service. The toolbox will be shipping in October with ENVI 4.8. ENVI EX will include tools specifically for GIS users including: Change detection; classification; feature extraction

In other news from ITT VIS, ENVI EX will include tools specifically for GIS users including change detection, classification and feature extraction. ENVI for ArcGIS Server allows image processing analysis within the server environment.

Cooke believes that we are moving away from applications with processing for just shapes and size but utilizing more multispectral data and other imagery types such as LiDAR, the integration of multispectral data with LiDAR data and more use of hyperspectral and synthetic aperture radar (SAR).

The reality of this relationship is that ESRI is the dominant GIS player. Image processing has always been a niche market. Drawing more GIS professionals into image processing is a good thing, not just because of raster-vector integration but because it exposures additional analysis capabilities that would have had to be performed by an entirely separate software solution. The question for most geospatial users looking for such a solution is whether they buy a GIS system with smoother integration with raster data or buy an image processing system that can handle vector data. It seems like this problem is being solved by two major solution providers without the headaches that come with data translation between the two types of geospatial domains.

by Joe Francica on 07/14 at 09:16 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The Trimble device pictured at right (click for larger image) might be described as your "professional" cell phone. Both in disconnected and real-time mode, the Trimble "Yuma" tablet computer runs a full version of ArcGIS, can be used as a portable navigation device, and can call home when necessary. Actually, using a cell network, field data can be directly uploaded in real time, if necessary. It also sports two cameras, both front and back for additional field verification photography. I found the demo very slick, but what’s your opinion? Does this form factor work? Not quite a full size tablet computer, certainly larger then your smartphone, and for those who now need glasses to squint at tiny cell phone screens, the high resolution viewing panel is easy on the eyes.

by Joe Francica on 07/14 at 08:47 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The attendance at the ESRI UC this year was stated to be 15,000, up from last year and reported by Jack Dangermond in the plenary session to be the largest attendance ever. The plenary sessions were indeed packed. The exhibit floor was busier Tuesday than Wednesday with several vendors noticing the difference. Also, the whisper on the floor was that there were fewer exhibitors than in years past. While the exhibit floor looked crowded a few vendors mentioned to me that the juxtaposition between one booth and another had been spaced a little farther apart than expected.

But let’s put it another way…this is the "de facto" GIS conference in the U.S.

by Joe Francica on 07/14 at 08:34 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

My general impression of the Esri UC exhibit floor was that the objective was not only to provide a typical exhibit hall but to showcase specific workflows such as, Public Safety, Defense and GEOINT, Environment and Climate Change. There were large "pavilion’s" set aside for each and although Esri has attempted this in the past, I thought they made more of an effort to differentiate these areas. I sat in on two demos one each in public safety and GEOINT.

The public safety demo was for the Port of Los Angeles and the solution provider was NICE Systems, a first time exhibitor on the show floor. If you are not familiar with NICE, an Israeli-based company, their specialty is building solutions for situation awareness and giving the users a common operational picture. Their demo of the NICE Situator, a solution derived from the recent acquisition of Orsus Situation Management, was slick in that they didn’t talk much about GIS but focused on the network of location-based alerts from video camera’s and triggers associated with secure doors and other areas that would be displayed on one of three monitors. You can get a good feeling for their approach with one of their online demos.

The second demo was provided by NAVTEQ for the GEOINT pavilion and illustrated the "sandbox" approach that Esri is developing to bring in several business partners to solve a particular problem. The demo provided several military scenarios whereby key environment type threats for land, sea, or air were simulated in addition to more specific threats such as for convoy routing or insurgent tracking (see the graphic at right; click for larger image.) What I appreciated about this demo is that its an attempt to get beyond products and talk more about solutions and while the underlying platform was ArcGIS Explorer a customized ribbon interface was developed to give the feeling of a complete system.

by Joe Francica on 07/14 at 06:53 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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