ESRI User Conference

With GIS in the forefront, Geography, Our Global Network was the theme of the 20th annual ESRI User Conference, held at the San Diego Convention Center in June. The event is the largest show of its kind in the U.S., and this year drew nearly 10,000 people from 89 countries. The week was packed with important keynote speeches and user meetings. If applause during the speeches could have been metered, observers could have well surmised that many ESRI users consider themselves to be guardians of the environment. These are people passionate about their jobs and their responsibilities of helping protect the world in which we live. The conference reinforced the fact that the name Environmental Systems Research was not chosen by chance, but rather based on rational thought, and to cause people to think.
On the opening day, ESRI President Jack Dangermond inspired listeners with several speeches that highlighted a wide range of successful GIS applications across the globe. These ranged from the use of GIS in India and China to track population movement and crop productivity, to the enabling of the Soil Conservation Service to go from just over 2,000 watershed models to more than 200,000 models, to the first GIS on the Web being offered by the City of Anchorage.
Dangermond reiterated that as society becomes more specialized, wider applications of GIS will be put to use in economics, science, data, technology, research organizations, and institutions. GIS integrates the natural world with human needs and values. In Dangermond's words, "The world is not a machine, but rather a living organism." Whereas the World Wide Web can often overload users with information, Dangermond pointed out that GIS allows users to filter information for a specific purpose, and enables smart choices rather than best guesses. is another success story that involves the contributions of several partners. This new Website pulls together sources such as National Geographic Magazine's new MapMachine Website, and an initiative by the Associated Press called GIS In The Media, as well as a U.S. Geological Survey initiative called Gateway to the Earth, the goal of which is to open natural science to the world. Dangermond predicted that will become the printing press of maps. ESRI operates 250 GIS training centers in 80 countries, and trains 50,000 students a year. Ten thousand schools in North America are using ESRI software to teach students how to apply GIS knowledge in solving geographic challenges.
One of the most exciting new products announced at the conference was ArcSurvey, being developed in cooperation with Leica Geosystems. Scheduled for a beta release at the end of the year, ArcSurvey will offer something that has never existed: a place for surveyors to store their measurements. By including a new geodatabase, ArcSurvey will allow surveyors to manage measurement data, associate measurements, perform COGO computations, store raw data, and exchange data. Because GPS is being used to improve the positional quality of features, users will be able to incrementally improve geometry by adding new measurements. Users will be able to define rules for averaging coordinate values, but a single point can have multiple coordinates. Computations are also stored in the database, and because the history is tracked, everything will be available. The presence of metadata will result in a living database. You can read more about ArcSurvey in the interview with Dangermond on page 24.
The newest release of ArcInfo (8.1) will incorporate ArcView and ArcEditor. A new ArcInfo feature is projections-on-the-fly. Other new products were also featured, including ArcIMS, the new ESRI server product. ArcIMS will import data over the Internet, and opens many new doors for online GIS. The national automobile club, AAA, is using ArcIMS to service 47 million members and AAA's TripTik travel map service.
Other products shown in the Exhibit Hall included:

Compaq displayed its Windows powered Pocket PC operating system. iPAQ H3650 Pocket PC offers a 206 MHz Intel processor and a new operating system so users can access information much quicker. The simple user interface provides information access with a single tap and the color display is useful for viewing rich Internet content. Flexibility is also offered with Compaq Extension Packs which allow users to customize the iPAQ Pocket PC to fit their needs, either business or personal. Another beneficial feature of this system is its functionality with ESRI's ArcPad software. A special promotion is being offered by ESRI which includes this product along with ArcPad software. Also displayed was the 16 MB monochrome version of the Pocket PC, the Compaq Aero 1550, which features the new operating system while maintaining the Aero 1550 form factor. The Aero 1550 also provides a rechargeable battery and easy expansion and customization with the CompactFlash card slot.
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Condor Earth Technologies, Inc. displayed PenMap, a field data collection software that is best described as an electronic plane table in which the user can view maps instantly as measurements from survey instruments, GPS, and laser range finders are plotted on the screen of a pen computer. Features such as instant DTM, raster map overlays, special GIS database input functions and file translation with popular CAD and GIS software make PenMap a robust and versatile field data collection system.
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Convergent Group highlighted its end-to-end services that assist businesses in "Transforming to the Digital Enterprise." Their goal is to develop Internet, intranet and extranet applications that provide decision makers, partners and customers with greater access to online transactions. Much excitement was generated at this booth as a skit was performed by actors portraying Austin Powers and a sidekick to demonstrate their services.
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Datria Systems, Inc. introduced VoCarta, a speech-enabled application that when used with a cellular or landline telephone, communicates directly to back office systems. A technician speaks service ticket information into the phone, the speech is recognized by VoCarta and automatically populates the database with current and accurate information. Datria Systems, Inc. also highlighted VoCarta Field, voice data capture software that accepts voice input, processes it into a structured format and delivers a standard database file that is easily uploaded to any relational or spatial database. It provides a complete set of modular tools that can be used together to create an adaptable system suited to any data input requirement. It also provides special modules for building and editing vocabularies, or sets of words appropriate to the data. Also offered is a complete suite of sensor extensions to surveying and field inspection technologies, such as GPS, laser range finders, digital cameras, DMI, and bar code readers.
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DAP Technologies introduced Microflex, its rugged handheld computer. Some of its features include: different memory types for increased data storage, data protection in harsh environments, easy link with Windows environment, rechargeable back-up battery for data protection, backlighted screen with automatic contrast temperature compensation,and two-zone backlighted keyboard for easier data entry in poorly-lit areas.
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DMTI Spatial Inc. displayed its portfolio of Canadian spatial data and software products.DMTI Spatial's solutions are used in applications such as Web-based mapping, route optimization, business site selection, in-vehicle navigation, customer profiling, wireless, and wire line asset management, urban planning, and many other strategic applications. DMTI Spatial is a publisher of precision built street map and routing data, and geocoding software. DMTI Spatial also provides a comprehensive portfolio of spatial data products including transportation and telecommunication data, census demographic data and boundaries, postal geography, topographic maps, and marketing databases.
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Etak, Inc. featured EtakMap Premium, a database that offers directions nationwide in shapefile format for ArcView users. It provides nationwide route-planning capabilities as well as enhanced geocoding and highly accurate road themes. It includes four ESRI ArcView extensions for online geocoding, additional geocoding power, turnkey theme loading, and route-ready preparation of themes. In shapefile format, EtakMap Premium provides the user with highly accurate geocoding, configurable road themes for personalized map display as well as detailed geography such as parks, waterways, and landmarks.
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Informix Corporation announced that they will embed spatial data management technology from ESRI in its fully extensible data and content management platform for e-business applications and services—Foundation.2000. Specifically, ESRI's spatial data management technology will be embedded in the next major release of Informix Dynamic Server.2000, version 9.3. It is expected to ship in Spring 2001. Recognizing the growing adoption of geo-spatial business applications, Informix also announced an agreement in which they will fully integrate ESRI spatial management technology into Informix Foundation.2000. By doing so, Informix will bring together spatial data types and functions with data management on a single, open platform.
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Landata Group, Inc. introduced Landata Topo, digital 7 1/2 minute USGS Topographic Maps that have been scanned at 250 lines per inch or a pixel resolution of eight feet, geo-referenced and converted to WGS 84 latitude and longitude coordinates, and can subsequently be re-projected to any requested projection. These maps are 8-bit color images that have been extracted and merged with adjacent quads so that there is no overlap, thus creating a seamless database. The GSE software allows the user to scan and search a geographic area with ease, while allowing them to export image files. Landata Topo products can be used in a wide variety of industries/applications and are designed to work with most mapping, CAD, and GIS software.
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Leica introduced its GIS DataPRO upgradeable system. It offers a wide variety of DGPS options, the ability to interface with a large number of external sensors, and will track GPS signals in many environments. The system consists of both hardware and software components. The GS50 sensor is comprised of a rugged, handheld terminal with a full QWERTY keyboard, a daylight visible display, and is complemented by an intuitive software package—GIS DataPRO Office software. All these components are powered by ClearTrak technology. Leica also displayed its GS5 Combined GPS/Coast Guard Beacon Sensor, a solution that makes it easy for the user to begin collecting and using real-time GPS measurements accurate to within 2-5 meters. It includes: a real-time DGPS sensor that outputs a variety of NMEA messages (including GGA, GSA, and GSV) directly into the user's mapping package, all necessary batteries and charger, lightweight antenna pole, and a durable backpack.
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Litton/TASC presented Tracking Analyst Integration, a GIS software product. It is an extension to the ArcView application that is produced by ESRI and is a useful tool for viewing real-time information and historical data temporally in a GIS environment. Real-time data can be generated by any number of sources such as: GPS units in AVL systems, ground-based traffic flow sensors, airplane telemetry systems, etc. To handle this variety of input sources, Tracking Analyst provides a specification for connecting real-time data sources. This means that a custom application can be developed to interface the real time feed with this program.
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LizardTech showcased MrSID GeoViewer 2.1., which allows users to display, explore, and work with imagery in MrSID format. Enhancements in this product include faster zooming and panning capabilities, the ability to view, save, and print MrSID metadata and export to TIFF, GeoTIFF, TFW, and TAB formats. The MRSID GeoViewer utilizes Lizard Tech's patented "Selective Decompression" technology to display only the quality and portion of the MrSID image that the user wishes to view. This allows for a more timely real-time display of imagery.
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Navigation Technologies Corporation displayed its NAVSTREETS product which makes high-quality NAVTECH map information available for GIS applications in fleet, utilities, telecommunications, and emergency services. NAVSTREETS street network data will help fleet operators calculate more accurate drive time estimates and make the most of automatic vehicle location (AVL) technologies—both of which assure precise delivery time windows. In addition, dispatchers can optimize routing decisions and schedule the most productive routes. NAVSTREETS users also will benefit from a product that offers a large number of navigable attributes—e.g., turn restrictions, speed categories, lane dividers, exit ramps, functional classes, etc. The result is fewer miles driven on better routes, which results in less fuel used and less wear-and-tear on vehicles.
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Orbital Imaging Corporation (ORBIMAGE) highlighted its participation as a charter partner for ESRI's newly introduced Geography Network Internet initiative. The Geography Network, located at, is a global marketplace for geographic data and services. ORBIMAGE will offer its OrbView Cities high-resolution digital imagery through, enabling Geography Network users to immediately access OrbView Cities high-resolution digital imagery of major urban areas around the world, totaling more than 125 cities by the end of the year. ESRI' s Geography Network provides the infrastructure needed to facilitate the exchange of geographic information between data providers, service providers and users around the world. Content may be provided in the form of raw data, imagery (e.g., OrbView Cities), or maps.
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Safe Software showcased SpatialDirect, a Web-based system that enables enterprises to deliver data to end users over the Internet-intranet in user-selected data formats and projections. SpatialDirect empowers end users by allowing them to select the data format and projection that best meets their needs. It can be integrated with third party applications or deployed as a turnkey solution. Also showcased was the FME Suite, a complete data access solution for reading, writing, and transforming spatial data. FME Suite has six member products to satisfy many data access needs: Universal Translator, stand-alone data translation software; Universal Viewer, a useful utility for quickly viewing data stored in diverse format types—shows attributes and geometries; Workbench, a graphical interface for developing custom translations—includes feature and attribute mapping from source to target; Plug-in Developer Kit API, an API for adding new data formats and processing capabilities to the FME Core. Once added to the FME core, these facilities become available to all FME applications; Objects API, an API for adding data reading, writing, and processing capabilities to applications; Themes for ArcView, an ArcView Extension that gives users direct read and view access to supported data formats.
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Space Imaging displayed additions to its CARTERRA product line. CARTERRA Precision Plus is a useful product for urban cadastre and other mapping and GIS applications requiring the highest positional accuracy. This product is produced with ground control and digital elevation models. It has a standard error (RMSE) of 1-meter, suitable for mapping at 1:2,500 scale. CARTERRA Precision is an ideal product for urban mapping, cadastral mapping, and GIS applications requiring high positional accuracy. This product is produced using ground control and digital elevation models, has a standard of 2-meters, suitable for mapping at 1:5,000 scale. CARTERRA Pro is suitable for city and local governments, telecommunications and utilities customers with applications such as transportation and infrastructure planning, economic development, and site evaluations. It has a standard error of 5-meters, suitable for mapping at 1:10,000 scale. CARTERRA Map is useful for state, provincial and regional governments, agriculture and utilities applications such as infrastructure planning and resource management. It has a standard error of 6-meters, suitable for mapping at 1:25,000 scale. CARTERRA Reference products are suited for large area mapping and GIS applications requiring a lesser degree of positional accuracy. This product may be of interest to regional government agencies, media, real estate, insurance and other commercial markets. It has a standard error of 12-meters, suitable for mapping at 1:50,000 scale. CARTERRA Geo is a geometrically-correct product which has a standard error of 25-meters, excluding effects of terrain displacement. The correction process removes image distortions introduced by the collection geometry and re-samples the imagery to a uniform ground sample distance and a specified map projection. Orders may be filled with multiple source images which are not mosaicked, tonal variation between scenes may be evident. Space Imaging's imagery comes from many sources including: DAIS-1- Sub-Meter Aerial, Carterra Five-Meter Resolution, Carterra 20 and 180-meter resolution color space imagery, Carterra 25-Meter Resolution, and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Imagery.
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Techni Graphics Systems, Inc. introduced PlatFinder, a new document management application to retrieve and view scanned images of plats and deeds. It is also capable of finding all plats, deeds, and linked documents along a road or utility easement, and of performing radial searches for all survey plats within a specified distance. PlatFinder can be integrated with the user's existing Website and plats can be integrated with a GIS. PlatFinder can provide access to a single office or across an enterprise and is able to retrieve necessary documents, print them out, and e-mail them to associates.
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Trimble introduced its TerraSync Software. The software gives GIS professionals the convenience of using their Pocket PC or preferred handheld device running Microsoft Windows CE with a Trimble GPS receiver to collect and update data in the field. The software adds a new level of flexibility to GIS data collection and maintenance for the GIS professional. The user has full control over selecting the Pocket PC device that best suits their data collection needs, whether the primary considerations are power, memory, price, ruggedness, or screen size. Its graphical interface, user-friendly screens, status displays, and touch screen interaction make it simple to record GPS positions, collect important attribute information and update the GIS data instantly. It also features real-time GPS capabilities, enhanced navigation screens, and advanced map display—including background maps for the project area.
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ZEH Graphic Systems, Inc. displayed Plot Express, a suite of plotting software that interprets, translates, and rasterizes plot files, and then spools these processed files to various hardcopy devices. It provides an extensive range of capabilities including submitting plots, monitoring the entire system, process workload balancing across servers, plot load balancing between like devices, and job accounting for project groups and departments. Plot Express is a client/server- based system that can transform off-the-shelf UNIX computers into a network-shared, plotting resource.
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