Sea Changes and Ripple Effects of 2007

By Directions Staff

_A few weeks ago we asked a number of industry insiders and executives to Directions Magazine to discuss the big sea changes and the ripple effects they saw in 2007, and where they expect those to take us next year. The responses roughly divided into three general categories: GIS, LBS and 3D/BIM.

The responses roughly divided into three general categories: GIS, LBS and 3D/BIM. We share excerpts below. Full responses, if we were unable to include the full text in this article, are available via the "full text" link for each contribution.

If you think our respondents missed something, we invite you to share your thoughts by answering the same question in the comments area.


SJ Camarata currently serves as a director of ESRI, Inc. He also serves on the boards of directors of a number of other companies.
A major theme that occurred in 2007 has been the exceptionally strong growth and emergence of server and Web based GIS in the market, especially in the enterprise arenas. This in turn has helped to drive a plethora of new and innovative uses of GIS both within existing organizations as well as into new organizations.

On the private sector side of the market, many large private corporations are embracing and deploying enterprise wide GIS systems in their organizations both extending the use of GIS throughout the company and through greater integration with IT operations and applications to leverage IT based investments.

People have been saying this for a while now, but it is has never been more true than now - GIS is going mainstream. And it is becoming part of the Web's 'ecosystem.'

GIS use, at all levels (mobile, desktop, Web based, server based, enterprise wide) will grow and continue. GIS will be integrated even further with mainstream IT applications and operations. And greater investments will be made by content focused players in the market (such as Google, Microsoft, Nokia - via their NAVTEQ acquisition, Tele Atlas - via their new ultimate acquirer, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, etc.) in higher quality and greater volumes of content.

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Eddie Pickle is chief operating officer of IONIC Enterprise, now a part of Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging. He leads company initiatives in developing data solutions.
In 2007 we continued to see public and private organizations pile up remote sensing and photogrammetric data at an increasing rate. Despite making huge investments organizations are swimming in unused and rapidly aging data that should be quickly applied to solving their end users' problems. Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging took great strides in solving this problem in 2007, and I believe started an important and ongoing process that will revolutionize the geospatial industry.

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Steven Ramage joined 1Spatial (formerly Laser-Scan) in 2001 from NAVTEQ where he helped set up their wireless and Internet business in EMEA. At 1Spatial he initiated their Oracle program and developed the 1Spatial Community, their international partner network, from a zero base to 30+ organisations. Steven is now Business Development Director for the 1Spatial Group.
In 2007, we have witnessed a surge in activity relating to SDIs or Spatial Data Infrastructures. These are driven by a key event of the year. This took place on 15th May 2007, when INSPIRE [Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE)] came into force.

Its significance will be measured ultimately in how well public sector data are combined to drive cross-administrative boundary infrastructure planning decisions. I choose the somewhat ugly boundary phrase, because the key measure of success will be based on the impact at a regional level. Europe refers to this process not as federalism, but as subsidiarity. Drafting Teams are working diligently on activities to implement INSPIRE principles. In keeping with the current mantra to deploy joined-up thinking, there seems to be a number of areas that INSPIRE must intercept for other EU initiatives. They are Public Sector Information and the Lisbon Strategy.

INSPIRE should create an opportunity to deliver benefit to the European knowledge economy by creating repositories of rules for each of the 34 themes (combining Annex I, II and III) that transcend map sheets and national boundaries. It will be an interesting challenge.

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Dr. Carl Reed is the chief technology officer at the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. He continues to manage the process by which formal OGC Implementation Specifications are developed and adopted by the OGC membership, and he facilitates the Planning Committee meetings and work with the OGC Interoperability Program as a member of the architecture team.
2007 was the year that location, and geography, became cool. By cool, I mean not just millions of consumers using more and more Web-based mapping and location based decision tools but also that key business markets have changed their perceptions regarding the value of digital geography and the importance of location. Further, there is increased understanding that the properties of geography and location are fundamental to almost every individual or business decision.

At an even more fundamental level, there are now a set of Internet standards that mandate standard payload encodings. These Internet standards include extensions to DHCP, PIDF and SIP. While many have never heard of these standards, SIP, for example, is used to establish, modify and terminate multimedia IP sessions including IP telephony, presence and instant messaging. A DHCP packet is transmitted from your IP enabled device every time you connect to the Internet. The point is that location and location payloads are quickly becoming ubiquitous and an integral component of Internet and Web applications - what has become to be known as the Geospatial Web.

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Bob Samborski is the executive director of the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA), a non-profit educational association headquartered in Aurora, Colorado. GITA is dedicated to promoting the advancement and use of geospatial technologies in building, maintaining and protecting infrastructure assets.
I think that the next hurdle for broader use of the technology is more a financial barrier than a technology-related one: that is, the value of implementing geospatial technology must be provable.

This is a significant issue in that lack of articulated financial benefit, or in most cases, the inability to express it, could eventually delay or even stifle geospatial implementations where long term vision is not part of the organizational approach to technology.

Fortunately, there is a flip side to this problem. Where specific benefits from GIT implementations can be identified and quantified, geospatial practitioners are becoming increasingly successful in convincing executives that their geospatial investments not only pay for themselves, but can stimulate additional and often unplanned profit centers.

Ultimately, geospatial practitioners are in competition with their organizational counterparts for these funds, and a clearly articulated, quantifiable statement of the value that a project will bring to the organization is a nice arrow to have in the quiver.

So, expect the impact of a solid ROI analysis on geospatial applications to become increasingly important in the coming year, as the technology continues to expand into more and more organizations and disciplines.

After all, in order to tell the story, you've got to sell the story.

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Dean Stoecker is president and co-founder of SRC, LLC. As an industry veteran, he has held senior-level director and vice president positions with companies such as Dun & Bradstreet, Integration Technologies Inc., Market Statistics and Strategic Mapping Inc.
From my perspective, 'convergence' seems to be the overriding influence in 2007. By this I mean the melding of content, technologies, platforms and even companies. I think it is safe to say it is not about the data, most certainly not about the map and even the platform might only be considered at the stage where answers to everyday business problems are served up. IT is looking for more capabilities in fewer technologies and the winners going forward will likely be those that can provide the appropriate amount of convergence to deliver against these desires.

This continued convergence is important because it signifies increased pressure, primarily from the corporate world, that point solutions risk extinction unless they are integrated into environments that allow for defining, building and deploying 'best practices' for businesses.

Technology providers of all sizes are impacted by the convergence. Some will choose to embrace the idea and others will take the huge risk of ignoring it.

Convergence shows no signs of slowing down and in 2008 we will likely see a heightened pace of consolidation and a corporate exodus from island technologies like GIS. Perhaps 2008 will be the year of "Better and Faster ... even if it's not Cheaper."

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Peter Batty
is widely seen as an industry leader in the rapidly growing field of geospatial and location technologies. He has served as CTO at two of the industry's leading companies, Intergraph and Smallworld.
I would identify a key theme of the year as being the growth in non-traditional forms of geospatial data creation and update. This takes many forms. One is "crowdsourcing" or community generated content. Obviously there are valid concerns about crowdsourced data, but there are interesting parallels like Wikipedia, which has been ranked in multiple studies as being as good as or better than traditional encyclopedias like Britannica, as well as some impressive success stories in the geospatial area already, even though we are in the very early days of this approach.

In addition to "traditional" geospatial data … created by users, we are seeing huge amounts of non-traditional data, one of the simplest examples being geo-referenced photos.

This leads us into non-traditional types of data which don't fit into the crowd-sourcing category. There are many examples of georeferenced imagery being used in innovative ways - including Google's Streetview (which is a simplified version of the rich data provided by Immersive Media), Microsoft Photosynth, MapJack and EveryScape.

I see a combination of all these factors having a profound impact on the industry.

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Allan Doyle is director of technology at the MIT Museum. He's been involved with geo standards and open source since the mid-90's, most recently working on GeoRSS and GeoJSON.
First, Handheld LBS. The events are Apple's launch of the iPhone, Google's release of Android, Google's intent to bid in the 700MHz auction, and Verizon Wireless announcing they are opening up their network. These things are going to fundamentally alter the LBS business for all time. They lay the groundwork for an explosion of pent-up creativity in LBS applications, which I think consumers will eat up. Consumers have shown an appetite for LBS systems in the way they've been buying in-vehicle navigation systems. I think the overwhelmingly positive experience those nav systems have provided paves the way towards rapid uptake of handheld LBS. The key is that the handheld LBS can't be walled-garden, "toy" applications.

Second, Crowdsourcing. Open Street Map (OSM) has hit critical mass. Maybe in the US we're not as aware of OSM as people in other parts of the world are, but crowdsourcing is here to stay. Google now allows user "corrections" of locations, Mass GIS has experimented with corrections of street data. Crowdsourcing is not a slam-dunk, but I think over the next few years, the ability of individuals to contribute to their larger world-view is going to become significant. This is not just about creating street data and other traditional map data. Rather, think more along the lines of Flickr, YouTube, etc. being

Walt Doyle is president and CEO of uLocate Communications. uLocate is the developer and publisher of the world's number one wireless LBS application platform, WHERE and the world's largest Buddy Finder Network, Buddy Beacon.
The biggest event in LBS of 2007 that didn't happen is that the iPhone launched without GPS.

How is it possible that a phone which has been awarded best invention of the year by Time Magazine, has already sold 1.5 million handsets, and captured roughly .1% browser market share on the web and mobile (Windows CE is half that % despite being on over 15 million handsets) not launch with GPS? With a delightful User interface, screen size, and comparatively easy development environment - this device could have spawned an explosion in consumer LBS products in areas such as Buddy Finding, LBS Games, and all of the other interesting applications we all want to see garner mass consumer adoption.

My prediction for the biggest LBS event in 2008 ... easy ... the iPhone launches with GPS.

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Brady Foust is professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He was the senior founding partner of Matrix Research, a pioneer GIS consulting company and, until his recent retirement, an executive vice president of Proxix Solutions, Inc., specializing in retail site location.
In my opinion, based on over 30 years of geospatial research, implementation and observation, 2007 marks the beginning of rapid rise of the "locative." How we measure "importance" is a key question. Two ways come to mind, sales and "seats." I would argue that both sales and seats of locationally aware hardware and its associated content will dwarf traditional GIS and contemporary LBS in the next few years.

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Bryan Mistele is co-founder, president and CEO of INRIX, the leading provider of traffic information in the U.S.
Indeed, traffic is the new black [coined by Directions' Adena Schutzberg] - an expression that quite clearly epitomizes the demand for and tremendous uptake of traffic services that we have seen take place this past year, as well as the rapidly changing nature of the Location-Based Services (LBS) market overall. Clearly 2007 was the pivotal year for adoption of traffic in the PND, mobile navigation and telematics space.

We have come a long way in one year driven by three major shifts in the market including 1) huge growth in the availability of real-time traffic information from 8,000 miles of roads to now over 50,000 miles and 25 cities to over 100 cities; 2) significant increases in the quality of traffic; and 3) new business models and technology innovations that have made the bundling of traffic with devices more compelling for consumers.

The one theme that will be constant in these solutions is the dependence on dynamic content.

As these next-generation navigation solutions hit the market - the ETA on real-time traffic is now.

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Dale Lutz is vice president of development at Safe Software and co-founder of the company.
The growing importance of BIM (Building Information Modeling) to the GIS industry rates as a significant theme in 2007. This presents both interesting opportunities and new challenges for our industry. For opportunities, BIM opens up a new and better way for organizations to create better simulations and more realistic portrayals of our world. As the technology to support 3D in the GIS market become market mature, people will have vastly superior ways to visualize and understand the world they live in. This will also help address the imminent challenges our industry faces as the majority of the workforce moves toward retirement, taking the deep expertise and knowledge about GIS with them. The timing of BIM's emergence in the market will help our industry better serve new employees to make better decisions based on even more realistic, real world data.

Adding BIM into the vocabulary of our industry is going to have a tremendous impact on our market over the next few years. Support for visualizing and manipulating 3D objects will become commonplace and expected in major desktop GIS packages. People who make BIM will need to become more spatially aware. We're excited to be a part of this amazing journey.

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Gary Smith is a principal of Green Mountain Geographics, and has been working extensively in 3D GIS for about 10 years.
COLLADA (COLLAborative Design Activity) has the potential to significantly affect the spatial data industry and propel GIS into the 3D environment. As we are all painfully aware, exchanging data between software programs is fraught with problems. In 2005, frustrated game industry folks got together to solve this problem. The result is Collada, an XML based schema for the exchange of 3D digital content.

Why is Collada important to the GIS industry? People around the world have created 3D content using many Digital Content Creation (DCC) tools. As Collada catches hold, I envision a large amount of digital data becoming available for inclusion in my GIS. Rumor has it that Collada will be supported in the ArcGIS 9.3 release, expected in the summer of 2008. Already the Google 3D Warehouse has started supporting the download of 3D building models in Collada. As more and more programs support the read and write of Collada files, more data will become available to a much wider audience.

The future is 3D and our audience is going to grow rapidly.

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Geoff Zeiss is director of technology at Autodesk, Inc. He has more than 10 years experience developing enterprise geospatial solutions for the utilities, communications, and public works industries.
One of the most exciting things that is happening in the design software world is the convergence of architectural and engineering design, geospatial technology and 3D simulation. The vision that the design industry is pursuing is to be able to design a structure and experience it before it is built. The business drivers for this transformative technology advance are productivity and efficiency in the construction and facilities management industry, and improving the performance of facilities over their full life-cycle.

The good news is that most, if not all, of the basic geometric data that are required often already exists in precision digital form, as architectural plans in the form of building information models (BIM), CAD drawing files, network infrastructure databases and geospatial vector and raster data.

The objective is to integrate the widest range of precision data - including CAD, geospatial (GIS), 3D modeling, architectural and subterranean utility infrastructure data - to deliver a precise synthetic environment that can be used to exploit the inside (utilities, HVAC systems, furniture, elevators, walls, doors, windows and structural details), outside (aerial utilities, full city blocks of 3D detail, road access), and under (underground water, wastewater, gas, power and telecommunications systems) of an urban location and make this accessible in Web-based 3D visualization engines. We foresee that this will have significant benefits for urban planners, land developers, emergency planners, first responders, and most importantly citizens.

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Published Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Written by Directions Staff

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