North American Oracle Spatial Special Interest Group Meeting Review

By Dr. Christopher Tucker

For the geospatially inclined, Oracle Open World (OOW) began on Sunday, September 18th, with the Independent Oracle User Group (IOUG) North American Oracle Spatial Special Interest Group (NAOSSIG) Meeting at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.The special interest group, newly incorporated into IOUG, was chaired by Bob Denaro of NAVTEQ, one of many organizations which have made a strategic enterprise commitment to the use of Oracle Spatial.

Jim Steiner, Senior Director for Oracle's Server Technologies, was invited to welcome everyone to OOW, an event that had more than 36,000 attendees.Steiner's comments focused on how geospatial (and Oracle Spatial specifically) fit into Oracle's overall "Fusion" vision of seamless application integration through service oriented architecture and standards-based grid and infrastructure services.

All the major geospatial vendors were presenting their "wares" at OOW, and showing their support for Oracle 10g Spatial, including Autodesk, ESRI, Intergraph, IONIC, Leica Geosystems and NAVTEQ.

The IOUG NAOSSIG (yes, perhaps we should come up with a better acronym!) was the first national meeting since the kick-off meeting following the spring GITA meeting in Denver.This latest meeting had three presentations, followed by a great reception overlooking the beautiful Gilded Age atrium of the Palace Hotel.David Shrader, DigitalGlobe's Manager for Database & SAP Systems, discussed the Oracle Spatial-based implementation of their latest NextView infrastructure, including technology from Oracle partner IONIC.Paul Dunne, Assistant Principal Officer of the Ireland DoA Forest Service, presented that organization's Oracle Spatial-based e-government solution for better managing forest lands, including technology from Oracle partner e-Spatial.Jeff Saunders of Farallon Geographics presented the Utah Department of Transportation's Oracle Spatial-based asset management system, using Oracle Spatial's Linear Reference System capabilities, showing how the ArcGIS product line from Oracle partner ESRI can work atop Oracle Spatial.

Bob Denaro briefed the group on the successful regional meetings that had occurred in the Washington, DC, area.And, he mentioned that meetings were soon to come in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Colorado/Rocky Mountains.Anyone interested in leading or participating in such SIG's should definitely get in touch with Denaro, via e-mail or (312) 894-7085.

Oracle Open World had several sessions dedicated to geospatial, as well as "demopods" for Oracle Spatial, GeoRaster, MapViewer, RDF, Triples and Network Data Management, and Oracle Workspace Manager.There offerings were in the midst of sessions and demopods for every conceivable database and application server topic.A user could quickly learn about the latest Oracle Spatial concepts and then turn around and learn about real-time databases, in-memory databases, micro-databases, database replication, failover and recovery management, database performance tuning and a host of other topics critical to enterprise spatial data infrastructure deployments.

Oracle Spatial sessions were different this year, with movement from the product-oriented tracks to industry- and developer-orientation tracks.Oracle exposed broad communities of database administrators, programmers and industry customers to Oracle 10g Spatial.

These included a session introducing Oracle Spatial and MapViewer technologies to BI and datawarehouse customers highlighting their integration with Oracle Warehouse Builder and Oracle Discoverer (BI tools).The session, given by Oracle's Data Warehouse Builder group, showcased an application developer workflow to load, geocode, analyze and visualize this information within the context of a business application.Particular emphasis was placed on using the Oracle Warehouse Builder to extract/transform/load customer address records, using the Oracle Spatial geocoding engine for adding coordinates to those addresses, using the Oracle Discoverer for undertaking business intelligence queries and using MapViewer for map visualization and portal integration.

There was also a session on transportation and logistics, with case studies from San Jose Airport, Belgian Rail and Utah DOT and the use of Oracle Spatial as IT infrastructure for geospatial enabled operational systems.Xavier Lopez from Oracle spoke about database features commonly used in the transportation industry, namely linear reference systems and network data models, and a new street routing engine.

For something completely different, Lopez spoke on Thursday on the new functionality in Oracle10g to manage Resource Description Framework (RDF) data.RDF data management is a W3C standard for managing Web metadata and enabling semantic technology solutions.Lopez explained how applications developers are using RDBMS technology for managing the large amount of RDF data generated to support semantic applications. While this is an emerging area in IT solutions, it was interesting to see that Oracle was staking out a lead role in providing a software infrastructure for (geospatial) semantic solutions.

And, Oracle Spatial was highlighted in multiple utility sessions - a trend which will undoubtedly continue at next year's GITA meeting in Tampa, and at the Second Annual International Spatial User Conference, set for April 27, at the same location.By the way, the Call for Papers for the spring user conference was just issued, and abstracts are due October 15th, 2005! Come on.It's only 200 words!

It was interesting that Larry Ellison's keynote/Q&A addressed Oracle's move to put "deep industry functionality" into both Oracle's core applications and associated "special algorithms into our database." This undoubtedly will lead to some very powerful geospatial products and solutions coming from Oracle over the next several years. And, since they will be fully integrated into Oracle's core enterprise-class products, this means that spatially enabling the entire enterprise (e.g., CRM, ERP, you name it) will be easier than every before.And, without ever touching a GIS.

From the quality of the people, the sessions and the vendors, it seemed clear that Oracle Spatial is where the action is.If your project is at all serious, you better get using Oracle Spatial!

Published Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

Written by Dr. Christopher Tucker

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