The News in Review - Week of March 15, 2004

By Joe Francica

A few noteworthy events caught my attention this week:

1. Navigation Technologies Changes Name to NAVTEQ - Ostensibly, the name change was done to "underscore the company's commitment to its core business and rich history while also reflecting its focus on innovation and growth." The change is aesthetic not semantic, and merely emphasizes pronunciation, not a core business emphasis.I don't understand why they simply did not formalize the name that everybody uses anyway: NAVTECH.They would have been better off pulling a "FedEx." Now, everyone who knows the company will go, "Hey, is NAVTEQ the same company as NAVTECH, or what?" The re-branding will be a nightmare.

Yahoo! Launches SmartView Technology - The additional functionality that is added with this enhancement is very slick with respect to viewing local points of interest (POI) interactively.Yahoo has done a nice job of making the map updates very fast without the constant refreshing of screens that are prominent on some other map portals. Navtech (oops, NAVTEQ) is providing the maps and Telcontar's Drill Down Server is platform driving the display and geocoding.I especially like the "tool tip-like" information that pops up when hovering the mouse over the POI icon.The links to immediately get driving directions and additional information about the POI is extremely helpful.And, if you click the image at right, you will see that I have chosen Roman Hall, an Italian Restaurant in the "Burg" of Trenton -- I highly recommend it the next time you visit the capital of NJ.

GIS Visionary Alan Leidner Joins PlanGraphics
- Kudos to PlanGraphics for snatching the guy who was one of the key people (if not the KEY person) who was instrumental during New York City's response to 9/11.Al Liedner's name is now synonymous with GIS and disaster response.According to PlanGraphic's founder and president, John
Antenucci, "Al really was the father of GIS in New York City." ..."Not only did he play a crucial role in using GIS effectively in the response to the events of 9/11, but his program's string of early successes with GIS applications really laid the foundation for broadening the role of GIS in the City and broadly expanded the public's access to information."

Satellite Image of Madrid, Spain - We are at an interesting cross-roads with remotely-sensed data and news coverage.We seem to be tantalizingly close to demanding "real-time" information for world events for which we want the instantaneous view.Space Imaging, which provided the view at right, sent this image to the press within hours of the terrorist attack on the Atocha railway station, just blocks from the Prado Museum. That's fine, but the image is nearly 7 months old.It's a great image but can't portray the destruction that actually occurred.As with the Keyhole imagery that was all over CNN during the bombing of Baghdad at the beginning of the war in Iraq, they were nice "fly-through" images, and as a former remote-sensing person, I loved it, but the imagery was not three dimensional and not real-time.But there is no doubt that we are walking a deliberate path to real-time remote-sensing.It will be a web services just like what you can get from GlobeXplorer or Keyhole today. And with new sensors being launched that promise sub-centimeter accuracy, there's no telling what kind of gruesome detail you'll be able to see...and the news media will respond with their usual appetite for the titillating images.

Announcing 120 Certified GIS Professionals (GISPs) - URISA has announced more certifications of GIS professionals under the program managed under the auspices of the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) "a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that provides the geographic information systems (GIS) community with a complete certification program." This is a significant step for the GIS professional community and I hope it catches on.My only question is whether the honor system of certification will stick.Part of the certification process asks the applicant to list their accomplishments which, even under committee review, can still be open to fraud.I hope this does not happen.I read today that NIMA will need 7,000 newly trained geospatial professionals within the next three years.We'll need highly qualified people in GIS to do the work.Good luck to GISCI.

Published Friday, March 19th, 2004

Written by Joe Francica

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