ESRI Answers Questions Submitted by Directions Magazine Readers

By Joe Francica

In a newsletter we published before the ESRI User’s Conference last week, we asked our readers to submit questions to us so that we could seek out the answers during the event. We selected three questions from those submitted. We pursued the answers to these questions in a number of ways and present those answers here. Jack Dangermond, president of ESRI, provided us some information. Additionally, we received information by getting firsthand demonstrations from ESRI technical staff while on the exhibit floor.

1. Has Address Locator (once known as geocoding) been enhanced (speed, accuracy) in ArcGIS 9.2? How? If not, what other options are available for external services?

From Dangermond: Geocoding is about 6-8 times faster at ArcGIS 9.2 (about 1 million matches per hour). Geocoding works with either standard commercial data (i.e. Tele Atlas, NAVTEQ) or a user’s own data on the desktop as well as in a server environment. ESRI also offers geocoding as part of ArcWeb Services using our own technology as well as services from Group 1.

From firsthand demonstrations: Geocoding for ArcGIS has been supplemented with feature level data called address locators. These address locators could be ZIP centroids from a data provider or a custom-built geodatabase with points or areas which would enhance the overall geocoding process. The geocoding process follows a rule base and takes into account the list of address locators that will be used. To facilitate geocoding speed, ArcGIS has an improved indexing scheme that uses the rule base to prioritize the address locators. A simple example of this is the step-wise progression that a geocoder would perform on a database of addresses. The geocoder would first check for a matching point or area file and then progressively step to a less accurate level such as a Census Block centroid. When processing thousands of records, the user would build an index first that might take into account state, county and census tract level attribution as a first pass on the data, as well as other address locators that would serve to refine the geocoding process. When adding new data or new address locators, the index would be rebuilt. There is an API for the rule base and it runs through a standard GUI.

2. Does Google Earth (client/server) have a role for ESRI software users? What is it?

From Dangermond: This will allow our users to publish their maps as services to the Google Earth viewer to be used in “mash up” style visualization. This same visualization and mash up capability will be available using the new free geobrowser, ArcGIS Explorer, at 9.2. At ArcGIS 9.2, ESRI will launch a new global basemap service designed to be a basemap for GIS users. This service will be free for ESRI customers and will feature a series of 2D and 3D maps and images that can be consumed by all ESRI clients (i.e. ArcGIS Desktop, the new Web Map viewer, and ArcGIS Explorer). These basemap services are designed to provide GIS quality images and cartography for direct use in GIS. We see these services as a valuable addition to the ArcGIS platform.

From firsthand demonstrations: Along with the support that ESRI will provide for writing out to KML, an ESRI partner, Spatial Data Logic, has developed a product called Arc2Earth. Arc2Earth facilitates the process of getting all of your feature level data into a KMZ file and saving the user the time-consuming process of having to write out each feature to a different KMZ file. Arc2Earth will also write out labels, renderers and other graphics. Arc2Earth can also adjust for certain reprojection errors that may be encountered in translating from ArcGIS to Google Earth by allowing the user to add an adjustment factor. The user can export the full extent of the map or just the extents of the map window. And Arc2Earth can import other KML or KMZ files that have been created from other sources as well.

3. How will ESRI facilitate growth of standards-based toolsets to establish OGC services on top of an ESRI data store?


From Dangermond: ESRI is strongly committed to OGC support to ensure our platform is open and interoperable. ArcGIS Server 9.2 supports many open API’s (Soap/XML, SQL and all of the leading OGC Standards - WMS, WFS, GML, WCS [not initially, but soon after release], and CWS, etc.) out of the box. This ensures full access to the ArcGIS services including mapping, geoprocessing and data management. At the conference, we will be demonstrating interoperability with other leading GIS and CAD technology to illustrate these capabilities.

From our sources: For a more detailed explanation of ESRI support, we invite you to listen to the 14 minute interview we conducted with Jeanne Foust and Keith Ryden, who are ESRI’s liaisons to the OGC and are responsible for working with other standards bodies as well.

Published Friday, August 18th, 2006

Written by Joe Francica

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