Is Intergraph's New GeoMedia Smart Client for You?

April 9, 2012

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Intergraph announced GeoMedia Smart Client at the end of February (press release). Directions Magazine interviewed Amy Zeller, product marketing manager, and Georg Hammerer, product line executive, to learn more about the product, its positioning and its development.

Directions Magazine (DM): GeoMedia Smart Client, Intergraph’s newest geospatial product, is not just a client. What is it? Can you answer by “filling in the blanks,” parentheses, in Geoffrey Moore’s elevator pitch template?

Amy Zeller and Georg Hammerer (AZ/GH):

  1. For (organizations that want to easily deploy geospatial workflows to a larger number of internal users)
  2. Who are dissatisfied with (no middle ground between the complexity and expense of desktop GIS and the static nature of Web-based map solutions)
  3. Our product is a (Web editing and workflow optimization solution)
  4. That provides (highly-focused and geospatially-enabled workflows to an untapped user base)
  5. Unlike (traditional GIS desktop or server solutions)
  6. Our product (enables rapid workflow configuration and implementation, and the abiltiy for users to be guided step-by-step through geospatially-based tasks and processes)
DM: The product comes in three different tiers: Essentials, Advantage and Professional 2012. What are the differences? Can you give an example of the type of organization that would select each one and what problem it might solve for each?


GeoMedia Smart Client Essentials
This entry-level product enables support for an unlimited number of users at an organization to perform basic Smart Client functions, including vector redlining functionality, viewing raster and vector maps, analyzing and querying data and printing.  Intelligent geo-caching ensures high performance and continuation over unreliable networks.  Vector database support includes direct read capability for ORACLE and Microsoft SQL Server 2008.
An organization that would use the Essentials product would be a municipal Property Records and Taxation department, where the clerk would directly answer property information requests. Requests could be, for example, who is living where, parcel ownership, what is the land use definition, etc.  The clerk simply needs to view, analyze, query and print attributive and spatial content based on predefined queries.   The clerk may also be required to place some redlines for printing, measuring or place dimensioning.

Figure 1: Redlining enables users to annotate the map and create markups, similar to marking up a paper map with a red pen.
GeoMedia Smart Client Advantage
This product incorporates the Workflow Manager - Runtime module, which enables customers to utilize pre-defined business workflows.  At this level, users can also capture or edit spatial and attribute data on the Web client, and push any changes back to the database.
An organization that would use the Advantage product would be an infrastructure company, such as a traditional utility company like water/wastewater.  Users within this type of organization would need to conduct geospatial-based business processes like asset management, land use assessment, capturing new structures, and other jobs that require data capture.  These jobs would very likely happen in the field, and would require synchronizing changes in a centralized database.
GeoMedia Smart Client Professional
Workflow Manager – Editor is included in the highest product tier, and enables customers to create their own workflows or modify existing ones, themselves.  A 3-day training course will teach experts at the organization how to make new workflows or modify existing ones themselves.
Examples of departments (within any organization) that would use the Professional product would be the IT or GIS department, which needs to maintain the workflows or create new ones.
DM: Are existing GeoMedia and GeoMedia WebMap users expected to transition to SmartClient? Do you think users of non-Hexagon technologies should look at SmartClient? What might be of particular interest?

AZ/GH: Although it can be used as a standalone solution, GeoMedia Smart Client is complemented by other Intergraph geospatial products and we are keen to transition customers to this new and powerful Web editing and workflow optimization solution.  It is greatly enhanced when used in conjunction with GeoMedia WebMap to provide broader access to various types of data and OGC Web services. Integrating GeoMedia WebMap enables Smart Client to use OGC Web services (WMS, WFS) and expands direct file support by 40 formats.
Many organizations running various GIS solutions are particularly interested in harmonizing on an open and flexible integration platform. With GeoMedia Smart Client, users have the flexibility to continue to perform their expert work with their existing software, and use the Smart Client solution to bring the full value of geospatial data to an unlimited number of users, in an optimized and harmonized way.
DM: Our sense is that much of the functionality in Smart Client existed within the Intergraph and ERDAS portfolios. Is that right? Was anything new developed? What were the challenges of bringing all the parts together?
AZ/GH: The new approach (and therefore the new development) was to bring all the necessary functionality to a Web application and integrate it into easy-to-configure workflows. While based on modern core components, we did not try to move the “old” desktop or browser stuff to a smart Web application.  Development of this technology really began over 10 years ago, and its first incarnation was a product known as ResPublica.  Now, Smart Client is already running on more than 25,000 clients.
The challenge was to bring the “known” functionality of mature desktop products to a full Web approach.  Said in another way, to bring Web deployment (e.g. simply using standard Web services via http) in a way that non-GIS experts could use it. This only works if you offer very intuitive functionality (e.g. easy-to-use construction aids in combination with smart snapping) that is easily integrated as part of configurable workflows.
On the administration side of the product, the challenge was enabling the full support of an enterprise system based on standards, capable of providing management of several “customers” out of one harmonized solution’s equipment. Specifically, we mean the support of our larger customers and those that provide SaaS solutions to many other organizations.  For example, one European customer is serving 450 municipalities with Smart Client.  Our customer runs a very large database that encompasses all system users and ensures cost-effective data management.  The Smart Client solution manages access policy and ensures that the different municipality customers only have access to authorized parts of the data and information.  This same thing would apply to a large utility company with several departments.
Figure 2: GeoMedia Smart Client supports high-quality, true-to-scale printing (including rotated views) and plotting in A4 to A0 formats (Letter to E size).
DM: The upper tiers (Advantage and Professional) are all about using and creating workflows. What does that focus say about the maturity of technology and/or the geospatial user community?
AZ/GH: Geospatial data is becoming readily available across organizations today.  It may be captured by the organization or provided by various providers.   To get the maximum value out of this data, the greatest number of end users in the organization must integrate it into their daily business processes.   This goes beyond GIS experts or individuals only casually viewing online maps.  GeoMedia Smart Client engages the non-GIS experts in the organization who can use the workflow approach, ultimately honing their expertise.  This is the consequential next step to the DYNAMIC GIS.

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