Interview with Mike Sanderson, CEO, 1Spatial

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Industry News
Interview with Mike Sanderson, CEO, 1Spatial
by Susan Smith

Early in July, 1Spatial announced the acquisition of Proteus Solutions Limited and IME UK Limited to form the company 1Spatial Ireland and 1Spatial Scotland. 1Spatial has been working successfully with these companies for many years.

Mike Sanderson CEO of 1Spatial, spoke with GISWeekly about the acquisition.

GW: What was behind the decision to acquire Proteus and IME?

MS: We’ve been working with both IME and Proteus on projects, particularly the Irish Land Registry, now known as the Property Records Agency for two or three years. We’ve been doing data management inside Oracle, merging and sticking together the land registry records with the topographic mapping. Proteus in Ireland and IME have been writing the front end user applications, using Autodesk Map and MapGuide. We have been project managing that entire project. The three companies work together well and the project has won several awards, currently well recognized in the Irish IT world as being a big success. The Land Registry of Ireland reports into the Ministry of Finance and the ministers have been doing very well with the exercise. We’ve got AGI awards and other awards for that activity.

Increasingly across the world there is a need to start to create spatial data infrastructures merging lots of data sets together for new purposes. There is lots of decision making going on using data sets that weren’t collected for that purpose in the first place. That’s in essence what we’re doing at Land Registry so that skills that we brought into the company complimented that activity. We’ll be doing lots more of that in the near future. The company numbers have gone from 80 to 100 so we’re quite excited by the fact we’ve been able to strengthen and broaden the depth of the organization and we’ve now been able to create country operations specifically in Ireland and Scotland, so we’re really excited about the skills base that in effect we now have.

GW: How does this really change since you’re worked together for so many years, how does the acquisition change what you’re able to do?

MS: Basically it allows us to really focus on creating spatial data infrastructures, whereas previously we were doing slightly different things. IME and Proteus were writing applications and doing a lot of consultancy work, particularly for local government and utilities. We just wanted to bring that domain knowledge into helping us create spatial data infrastructures.

GW: Are you creating spatial data infrastructures that are for national purposes, for UK, Ireland, Scotland?

MS: That’s exactly the object.

GW: Who have your customers been primarily to date?

MS: Irish Land Registry which brought the teams together. The other customers we’re starting to do these things with are Transport for London. With the Olympic 2012 coming to London there’s lots of activity to bring together datasets for the London area, which currently consists of 33 separate municipalities. We’re also engaged in similar work with the highways authority which covers the entire country, and using Radius Studio to do that work. The business function expertise or domain expertise that we started to acquire with IME and Proteus is key in those activities. Traditionally, 1Spatial has had lots of domain expertise in national mapping agencies but only recently started to acquire that expertise in markets outside of detailed topographic mapping agencies.

We’re not building applications so if these guys have applications built in MapInfo, Geomedia, Autodesk, ESRI, it’s not an issue they can continue using them.

For the Ordnance Survey GB, we have national loads of the dataset. If it’s over 400 GB and we serve up the data, we manage their change only update processors. In effect, we can’t take a new national load of the detailed topographic data and make it available in a reasonable space of time. It takes several working weeks to load the entire database into a form where it can be served up. We’ve moved to just taking the changes and updating the database with the changes. Just concentrating on the change makes the problem manageable. The databases coming out of national mapping agencies now have lots of intelligence, they are not just point and line databases. They’re coming out as polygonized databases like TIGER. The situation is slightly different in Europe, than in North America.

What we’re really good at is the data management and the business processes related to certain key functional areas such as land management and cadastre. More importantly, we’re heavily into the highways activities in terms of bringing together what’s happened over recent time. There are lots different views of the network even within an organization. The road network will have been put together with a business process view for maintenance of the service, such as being put together on the basis of the street furniture such as street lighting, on the same network. We use our tools by increasing domain knowledge to bring those together as one view. These datasets are big and require a lot of automation. If you allow human beings to physically touch this stuff, it takes too long. Also you and I would look at the same dataset and even with the same business rules, might interpret them differently and come up with a different view of the same information. If we put together a business rule that we both agree on, we can let the computer loose on it and it will produce a consistent result.

GW: Are there new markets you see yourselves moving into as a result of this acquisition?

The new markets we’re interested in are really the federal level decision making. Europe will become a federal entity, it might not happen in my lifetime, but it’s certainly going that way. Which means the municipalities data and national mapping agencies data need to all be drawn together into a new regional administration view of the world and that’s where the spatial data infrastructure’s are being created in Europe. There’s an EEC directive called INSPIRE which is about two months old that has committed each member state in the EU to spend on the order of �10 million over the next decade on creating these datasets. That’s the marketplace that were interested in going after, that’s the toolset that we believe we’ve got in place to play a big role in that.

GW: Are you creating datasets and pulling in data from Intermap, TeleAtlas or other sources?

MS: We are creating datasets, in the sense that I might have six or seven sources of data pulled from TeleAtlas and national mapping agencies and we’ll pull those together and create new datasets out of them because we want to do different things than the originators of the data. We might also be commenting on business workflow processes back to the originators of the data about the currency of their data, but not changing it. Certainly within the new dataset we’ve created it may well be different form the original. We’re able to take point and line data and polygonize it automatically so that gives us a chance to make the data model significantly richer.

GW: Do your customers ask you to create datasets?

MS: We’ll maintain certain datasets for sure, but we’re helping customers with the tools. For example, for Transport for London we’re taking the road networks from the 33 London boroughs which have been put together over a long period of time. They’ve got things related to map paradigms built into their data, so we’re having to take out the sheet edges, take out duplicates, basically match up the large linear truck roads that are going through several London boroughs. I can perceive a time where Transport for London and other regional agencies will start to say to the suppliers of their data, please supply data according to these rules. Rather than them correcting the data and changing it for their own purpose, they’ll push the supply chain back out to the originators of the data. In terms of the marketplace, that’s how I see us growing.

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