Several readers I ran into said I should got talk to Sybase. I sort of knew about their SQL Anywhere technology and knew it was about mobile, but I wanted to learn more. It’s basically middleware that sits between your mobile device and your spatial database (name it - from databases to ArcGIS Server). It takes care of syncing (connected or intermittently connected), security, conflicts, etc. The big deal: it knows all about geospatial data and how to deal with it along with non-spatial attributes and it supports all enterprise mobile platforms. Enterprise mobile platforms? Yep, all of them save Android which does not yet have a big pick up in the enterprise; but fear not, Sybase is keeping an eye out for when it becomes a player.
So, with all those devices and all that connectivity, why do we still need to worry about disconnected data collect type apps? After a disaster (hurricane) any local connectivity may be completely gone. Further, with changes in data plan costs, it may be more cost effective (and equally timely) to collect all day and upload at night vs uploading continuously.
When I asked if would know of any apps that use Sybases technology they mentioned a small implementation called The Census and another from a small company that has trucks out putting soda into machines called Pepsi. What the Sybase crew is finding is that while many app developers start out thinking they can build all the syncing and security into their apps when they start they realize it’s a lot of work and they really only know about data collection and geo parts. That’s when many of them call Sybase.
I congratulated the team from CitySourced for their performance onstage at the plenary, and then fired questions at them. How do they use ArcGIS Server in their citizen reporting app? Basically, once a report comes in, it’s ArcGIS server that provides the geographic context: it returns the name of the city/county to which the report is to be sent. How do they make money? By providing services. Any one can access the raw reports, but only those who are clients get them routed directly to their particular system. CitySourced has 10 paying customers now and many looking at the system.
I earthmine’s press release about its integration with ArcGIS 10 and figured it was time for an update from the 3D imaging company. earthmine could be just another one of those companies driving around with camera on their cars, but their custom rigs are special - they capture 3D data and its accuracy. The company shoots on spec, so it doesn’t waste money on data no one will buy. And its customers want specific coverage - just some roads in the county or just the ramps in the airport. Others want more - like a recently announced deal with the PagesJaunes Groupe (French Yellow pages). earthmine will collect the data for you, or you can use their tech. They can host the data or you can. Lots of options and lots of possibilities. So, why would GIS users want to tap earthmine imagery for their GIS implementation?
Two primary reasons - (1) to visualize the point, line and polyon data in a real world 3D environment and (2) to use the imagery to create or update data. With its high accuracy, often the vector information can be updated directly in ArcGIS. Cost? While not as accurate as surveying, earthmine data is typically 1/10 of the price.