On the Floor

By Adena Schutzberg

Navigation Components
What's new in components? How about this: a navigation component. What's that? It's the technology that provides turn-by-turn directions and the data to base it on, and a voice to speak them, in one component.That's SimaTech's Navi Engine, built on .NET with data from Tele Atlas, and support for English, German and Danish voice prompts.Since the company can pull from any of Tele Atlas' data sets, components are custom built, when needed, with specific geographies.Many countries are available "off the shelf." The product is geared to those who want to build navigation products or integrate navigation into existing GIS products.

Snowplow Tracking
_With so many booths in the showcase area, it can be tough to grab people's attention.I saw "Snowplow Tracking" and was intrigued.Enterprise Information Systems offers a focused app just for that task.Originally commissioned by a county, the app evolved into a product, which among other things, tracks the plows and provides online status reports of what's been plowed.Other offerings capture data from cameras for asset management. That, I was told, is becoming more common in cities and counties with GASB34 and homeland security needs.Moreover, once data is collected and "brought home," it can be used to inventory signs for one user and sidewalks for another.Like many of the offerings in today's market, the company will sell you the system, collect the data or even deliver the complete database depended on the needs and budget.

Into the Field
_Marshall GIS was showing off its mobile solution, GeoResults Mobile, or what it calls tools to "extend your enterprise to the field." The mobile client, built on ArcEngine, runs on a ruggedized tablet and has a very simple interface.Noted the rep, "most folks don't know GIS and some are not familiar with computers." One of the most popular tools in the interface? "Locate me" which works with an optional GPS.The big excitement at Marshall was how easy it was to port their ArcEngine based solution to ArcGIS Server.Now, it's really up the client which solution makes sense.In the field, or in natural disasters, an ArcEngine based client is likely better since a stable connection may not be available.In more "civilized" areas, a server app may be best. The product has developed a following for utilities and related industries, but there's work on a solution for appraisers, too.

LiDAR Feature Extraction
_Visual Learning Systems, the folks behind Feature Analyst, were showing off their tools (actually a "plug-in toolkit") to extract buildings from LiDAR data.There's no "teaching the system" when it comes to this toolset. The user needs simply to set some parameters, such as how steep a roof to look for, or what type of texture to explore.Then, with the push of a button, 3D buildings are created.For now, they are simple 3D features, but in a future release, they will be complex data types. Those in homeland security and urban warfare are the target audience, though there are many civilian applications, too (think MSN Virtual Earth, etc.).More and more counties, the representative said, have LiDAR data and want to use it.

Please Touch the Terrain
_After seeing the mountains "rise up" on the Northrop Grumman/Applied Minds terrain table on stage, I had to see it up close.I was really intrigued when the presenter from Applied Minds said we could touch it! GIS geeks were like kids (as were the kids who checked it out on family night).The table uses ball-tipped pistons to stretch a rubberized surface into the right shape.The ball tips were about the size of super balls and I wondered if that meant a less accurate (potentially) product.In fact, the image that's projected on the table provides the rest of the data and human brain interpolates it at quite high resolution.The big question at the table? How much? The answer: it's a prototype so it has no value...yet.Even after seeing the rubber cover "rise up" several times, I still felt like I was watching a sci fi movie special effect!

Published Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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