Microsoft is adding 30 Terabytes of data every month to Virtual Earth, including orthophotos, 3D models, and oblique imagery (from Pictometry). This month they are adding imagery from Portugal, as that country wanted them to put orthophotos and DEM on VE. Virtual Earth is being ported over to the gaming industry.
Microsoft projects that a lot of people using SQL Server will move over to SQL Spatial. The new Autodesk FDO provider for SQL Server Spatial will be available in April.
According to Geoff Zeiss, director of technology for Geospatial at Autodesk, there are a lot of parallels between SQL and Oracle, although SQL is considered easier to use.
ESRI’s presence in the infrastructure market dominates the U.S. market but is evident all around the world. Bill Meehan, director of Utility Solutions for ESRI, said that many new contracts are now coming from outside the U.S., in regions such as the Netherlands, Korea, the Middle East and Portugal.
Meehan has written a book on utilities at ESRI, entitled Empowering Electric and Gas Utilities with GIS, a collection of case studies of GIS use over a wide span of utility activities. He’s also working on another book which will focus more on detailing data models and workflows.
Describing the ESRI utility customer base, Meehan says it is “diverse.”
Meeting the challenges of that diverse group requires a particular strategy. Meehan credits ESRI’s business model as a GIS company with helping them to remain a dominant player in the utility market. “We haven’t gotten into vertical applications or domain specific applications. We allow our business partners to do that.”
Just announced for the North American market is Spatial Business Systems’ Strategic/Operational Asset Management application for the simulation of asset management strategies. A full service solutions provider for geospatial technologies, Spatial Business Systems (SBS) supports all major platforms and addresses the full geospatial project lifecycle including: spatial strategy, implementation, data related services, integration, and value added applications.
Dennis Beck, president of SBS, said the company is very active in their support of Oracle Spatial as a platform. They are dedicated to empowering utility, telecommunications and government organizations to unleash the potential of their spatial information. In the past year, SBS has nearly tripled their revenues, doubled in size and established an Asia-Pacific office in Melbourne, Australia.
The Fichtner Group in Stuttgart, Germany, an engineering group that has been in business since the 1920s, developed the Strategic/Operational Asset Management application, according to Beck. Fichtner focuses on utilities and infrastructure, and among their customers are desalination plants in the Middle East, as well as utility organizations throughout Europe. A strategic alliance with Fichtner seemed like the perfect fit for both companies as Fichtner had no presence in North America and Australia, two strong areas for SBS, while SBS needed a presence in Europe and the Middle East. Fichtner has an equity interest in SBS.
Strategic/Operational Asset Management is an integrated application that provides online simulation of financial technical assets and key performance indicators to deliver asset management strategies. In Europe, utilities must compare their asset performance to other utilities in the same category. The product has a customizable framework for unique requirements, such as building U.S. specifications into the German model.
Intergraph discussed the use of their InService outage management system to support SmartGrid operations, used in combination with systems from Siemens for the Texas-based utility ONCOR in advancing their outage management system, where they will integrate power systems analysis and service restoration with a single graphic user interface. ONCOR, the third largest utility in the U.S., will use Intergraph’s InService to provide a geospatial map that is shared by both field personnel and dispatchers using mobile devices, using visualization that displays different views of SCADA, AMI, and other data input. . The implementation will take place over a phased, 18-month period, with the first of three phases going live in May of this year.
GE Energy, known for its purchase of Smallworld and for its more recent partnership with Oracle last year, definitely has its finger on the pulse of industry trends. John Eason director, Utility Solutions for GE Energy, spoke about the transition in geospatial awareness that has grown from CAD use in the 1970s, to AM/FM/GIS in the 1980s, to enterprise GIS in the 1990s. Today, Eason said, “GIS is no longer a monolithic piece of software. Utilities and telecommunications want to spread it across their IT landscape, so that it becomes more of a component of the IT ecosystem.”
The hottest area for GE Energy right now is field force automation, with a focus on crew scheduling and dispatching, optimizing how crews operate in the field, driven by the rising cost of fuel. In relation to Smart Grid, GE products deliver the network information to the Smart Grid and are designing a sensor that sits on top of the electric network.
GE Energy’s focus is on the application side of business. To address this, the company provides business process-focused Office Suites that are pre-integrated GE and partner applications, holistically designed across the Internet, field and desktop applications. All GE’s relevant software products have been packaged into these suites, which will be aptly named Global Transmission Suite, Gas and Liquids Suite, and Electric Office. Electric Office will be released April 22. The price will be calculated on the size of the utility.
Boulder-based Valtus Imagery Services, a division of North West Geomatics Ltd., announced that its database of imagery over the United States is being updated to include 1 and 2 meter imagery of six U.S. states: South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and partial coverage of New Mexico. The additional states extends Valtus U.S. data services to coverage of 15 western states and cover many of the most active energy areas in the U.S.
With a focus on the energy industry, Valtus manages and distributes the largest private database of LiDAR data in North America with over 400,000 kilometers in Western Canada, according to Kenny Waugh, product manager for Valtus. Their database of imagery is publicly available, with a coverage map of Valtus imagery available on their website.
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Weighing only 3 pounds, the GETAC E100 is described by the company to be the lightest rugged tablet PC on the market. Designed with field and customer service in mind, the E100 offers an 8.4 inch TFT SVGA transmissive display with integrated touchscreen panel or an optional Ultra-Bright sunlight readable display and 800 Nit backlit LCD screen with very good readability. It is also considered to be as tough as the heavyweight tablets available and meets the MIL-STD-810F and IP54 standards for durability and is well protected against the elements. With up to five hours of battery life, the E100 is powered by an Intel Stealey 512KB L2 cache processor that operates at 800MHz and offers up to five hours of battery life.
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Infoterra Ltd, a leader in the provision of geospatial products and services, announces that the new version of ERDAS IMAGINE is now available to order by customers in the UK and Ireland.
With an improved surfacing tool, ERDAS IMAGINE 9.2 increases its handling from 500,000 points to more than 50 million points, quickly and efficiently. Promoting classification and productivity, ERDAS IMAGINE 9.2 now includes IMAGINE Subpixel Classification and swift and accurate image segmentation tools in IMAGINE Professional. Additionally, ERDAS IMAGINE now provides ECW support, offering increased interoperability with the recently acquired ER Mapper suite of products. ERDAS IMAGINE 9.2 is expected to begin shipping in late March 2008.