Conference Summary - Intergraph’s Geospatial World and Bentley’s BE Conference

By Joe Francica

Conference Summary
The May conference season has hit and Florida was the destination.Directions Magazine was in attendance at two user conferences this month: Intergraph's Geospatial World Conference and Bentley's BE (Bentley Empowered).Both conferences drew an international audience of approximately 1,500 each.Below are brief synopses of each conference.
Intergraph's Geospatial World, Miami, Florida, USA

Executive Summary
The logo may be new, but the message is the same.Intergraph's Mapping and Geospatial Solutions Division has been working the mantra of open systems and interoperability for the past seven years.It is a message repeated to users each year and this conference was no exception.It is a guiding principal at Intergraph and their product development and marketing strategy is based almost entirely on building a mindshare around its ability to deliver an open architecture to make interoperability a reality.As such, the division is no longer focusing entirely on product marketing and has been developing its message to speak more as a solution provider.They have been gradually moving away from touting product superiority based on its technology, a battle they have had trouble winning, and more on delivering integrated solutions for transportation, communications, government, and the military.At the conference, the division made announcements about incremental product releases only; later in the year major product releases will be made.The division has made some changes to its management team, shuffling company veterans into positions in charge of solution centers (see Management Perspective below).

Editor's Commentary: The division's message is clear, the organization seems to have put experienced individuals in place, and the products look solid and competitive.But, quarterly financials reveal a division whose revenue is flat and is projected to be that way through the remainder of the year.There is growing concern from the financial analysts about this situation, and as a public company, the pressure may be mounting from stockholders.In place for a year, new CEO Halsey Wise has a challenge to not just focus the division on its core competencies but must somehow look to new growth sectors.The division's president, Ms.Pulusani believes that growth will come within the same traditional markets that has led the company back to modest profitability and expects to do well internationally, where she believes the division is on a more level playing field with its primary competitor, ESRI.

Management Perspective [Click the links below to listen to the audio portion of each interview]

Product Notes - New Features

  • GeoMedia Professional 5.2
    • New Layout Window provides for enhanced cartographic design and output
    • Map Legend support quick legend generation in the Layout window
    • Generation of an index grid in the Layout window
    • Improved cartographic marginalia and context notations such as scale bar and north arrow.
  • GeoMedia Web Map Professional 5.2
    • Address Geocoding
    • Reverse Geocoding
    • Coordinate Location
    • Feature query on location
    • Route Generation
    • Redlining in JMapView - Support for Java 1.0
    • Native dynamic labeling with conflict detection
    • Integration with LabelEZ from MapText
    • Supports generation of maps in Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG) format.

New Technology

  • GeoMedia Web Map Publisher - The product is a superset of GeoMedia WebMap that simplifies the workflow of going from a project constructed within GeoMedia to a website that enables the visualization of project features.GeoMedia WebMap Publisher is now included as a standard feature of GeoMedia WebMap.Click Here for the Product Overview.
  • Intelliwhere's Mobile Resource Management: TrackForce - a server-based location management solution that supports a rule-based alarm engine to alert command personal to changes in the status of mobile resources.
Bentley's BE Conference - Orlando, Florida, USA

Executive Summary
In his keynote address, Bentley Systems CEO, Greg Bentley, provided an overview of the company's position during the previous year.He said that the company had increased revenues by 13% to $260 Million.Bentley has a balanced revenue stream with 60% derived from owner/operators and 40% from architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms.Specifically in the geospatial market, Mr. Bentley pointed to the company acquisitions it made to strengthen is application offering in the electrical industry and web publishing for e-Government applications.He mentioned a report that indicated that the biggest challenge facing Chief Information Officers (CIOs) was not technology implementation, but training.As such, Mr.Bentley pointed to the Bentley Institute, the company's comprehensive offering of on-site, online, or self-pace guides and course that it supports for technical product understanding and proficiency.

The guest speaker of the event was Colonel Gregg F.Martin, Brigade Commander of the 130th Engineer Brigade, V Corps.Based in Hanau Germany, Col.Martin was responsible for supporting the logistical efforts of troop movements as well as for rebuilding the infrastructure in Iraq.He told the audience that almost no damage was done to the infrastructure during the offensive campaign, but that the majority of work to be done was due to the incredible deterioration and neglect during the Saddam Hussein era.One of his task was to go into one of the poorest neighborhoods of Baghdad, and as his commander told him, "go make a difference." He set about the mission of rebuilding schools and restoring public services, all of which was funded by cash that Saddam had left behind.

His brigade were heavy users of geospatial data and intelligence.The lack of bridges posed a great problem for the logistics of the army's operations and so his engineers determined just how many were needed or were potentially at risk.As such, prior to the war's beginning, he brought into theater every bridge company in the army except one, which remained stationed in Korea.The key to his operations was to operate rapidly and many potentially risky logistical situations had to be understood.His engineers found themselves in combat situations and yet still had to do their job of building or maintaining the roads, bridges, and utilities for their mission.He believed that "GIS was the foundation for all (engineering) planning in Iraq." In speaking with Editor Joe Francica, he said that he has a qualified GIS person on staff with him to prepare the necessary maps required for his operations.At this time, his brigade has rotated back to their base in Germany but would welcome the opportunity to back.He said that the people, by and large, like what the Americans are doing despite some of the things that you hear in the press.

Platform Product Notes

Bhupinder Singh, Vice President of Platform development provided an update on MicroStation V8 and the trends shaping product enhancements.Some of the key technology trends the company was using as a driver for this version of their flagship product was Open Standards.Singh said that the move by Autodesk to force a proprietary, closed file format, DWF, was counterproductive for the industry.He said that users were telling him that Open Standards were crucial for business development.Some of the other trends were related to XML, Web Services, and Smart Clients. Bentley is engaged with Adobe to make the portable document format, PDF, more compatible with computer aided design document files.PDF Composer is included with V8 which will allow DGN files to print to the PDF format and preserve the level and reference structures of MicroStation files including hyperlinks, digital signatures, and bookmarks.MicroStation V8 also contains the following enhancements:
  • Change tracking for revision control
  • Drawing Aids - Annotation and multi-snaps (AccuSnap and AccuDraw)
  • 2D - Base Geometry, Curves, B-Splines
  • 3D - Surface meshes, feature modeling, and photo-realistic rendering
  • The DWG core technology now supports users who want to work natively with DWG files, DGN files, or any mix of the two.

New Technology
  • ArcGIS Connector - Central to Bentley's message for its Geospatial customers was the announcement of ArcGIS Connector. According to Bentley, this product will support user-initiated or event-driven interoperability between Bentley's ProjectWise (with the Geospatial Management extension) and the ESRI ArcSDE Geodatabase.It will adhere to geodatabase versioning and follow a post and extract paradigm.Users can extract Geodatabase content into MicroStation GeoGraphics DGN files as well as post back to a Geodatabase from DGN.Where conflicts arise in automatic posting, the commit is rolled back to permit an ArcMap administrator to resolve conflicts.ProjectWise refers to Bentley's server based solution to manage files and metadata.
  • Geospatial Management - a main theme running throughout the conference was understanding the "spatially-enabled management environment." As companies and organizations add to the volume of map and GIS project files, it becomes increasingly necessary to establish a paradigm for content management.Bentley's Geospatial Management edition extends ProjectWise to provide a context for the plethora of files, images, maps and other content generated by organizations that employ both GIS and AEC teams.

BE Awards of Excellence

Each year, Bentley Systems nominates projects in which its user's have been engaged over the past year for one of their "Awards of Excellence" in a specific discipline.In Geospatial, thirty-one projects were nominated in five categories.Directions Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Joe Francica, was one of the adjudicators along with Carey Mann and Styli Camateros, vice presidents of Bentley, and Matt Ball, Editor of GEOWorld Magazine.The projects represented a diverse cross section of applications that were submitted from local governments, federal agencies, utilities, engineering firms, and research laboratories.Greg Bentley, CEO, commented that he always enjoys being involved with these projects because they have a conclusion, a finished result.The awards were announced at a dinner in their honor and hosted by Alan Farkas of Farkas Berkowitz & Company, a Washington-based management consulting firm. They winners in each category are as follows:
  • AEC - GIS Vision: Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council - Environmental Protection Management
  • Extreme Mapping: City of Toronto - 3D Topographic Mapping
  • Integrated City: Gdansk Development Agency - Urban Planning, Gdansk Municipal GIS
  • New Technology Adoption: City of Helsinki - 3D Helsinki
  • Managed Environment: Proyecto de Administracion de Tierras de Honduras - Sistema Unificado de Registros - SURE
See more about the award winners in a separate article HERE.

Geospatial Research Seminar
Bentley held an all-day Geospatial Research Seminar in which they invited a slate of academics to discuss the convergence and interoperability of CAD and GIS.Dr.Peter van Oosterom, Delft University, provided the foundation for discussion of the session by highlighting problems with the formal semantics of the two disciplines as well as that of shared data management issues.Dr.Vincent Tao from York University discussed the problems related to conversion from a CAD system to GIS.He illustrated some of the challenges when dealing with very high density of information such as that from "point clouds" that are collected using LIDAR technology for representing the urban landscape of buildings and other features.Dr.Daniel Sui of Texas A&M University discussed how visualization in a "Virtual Geographic Environment," or VGE, could be the bridge between CAD and GIS.Dr. Roberto Lattuda of the City University of London presented a paper on "Three-Dimensional Representations and data structure in GIS and AEC. Dr.Rod Thompson of the University of Queensland, Australia, proposed that 3D topology was fundamental for 3D spatial analysis; and Dr. Thomas Bittner of the University of Leipzig presented additional views on semantics and ontology.

Finally, Arnold Steinfort of Bentley hosted a round table discussion with all members of the seminar to further address geospatial lifecycle management.He suggested that "gaps" existed between four primary disciplines of the project lifecycle data capture, production management, analysis and publishing.Styli Camateros, vice president of Bentley suggested that we should "attack the differences between systems at the integration level and that technology can solve the gaps between these two systems." The academic participants of this seminar determined to take all issues under further review and to author a book on the issues of CAD and GIS integration that they intended to publish before the end of the 2004.

Published Friday, May 28th, 2004

Written by Joe Francica

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