Last month, we saw another non-GIS company showing interest in the traditional GIS software, MapInfo, which for many of the GIS professionals has been one of the easy to understand and use GIS software.
Pitney Bowes, a company started in 1902, which has it’s existence and growth rooted firmly in postage and mailing, has lived its company slogan: “Engineering the flow of communication”, up to the hilt. Location intelligence could have been an excellent tool to facilitate their work process. But, MapInfo Inc. as a company could leave quite a good number of screws in the pocket, after the acquisition and merger of operations is over. Their interest in software solutions is relatively new dating, not more than a decade, which was strengthened with the acquisition of Group1 in the year 2004. PB Group 1 software has in its profile the expertise on Business Geographics and we may see some activity in this area. Another view which is floating, about the increased interest in the geospatial companies in the post Google Maps era. However, I do not have much to substantiate this except, the previous buyout of Intergraph by an investor group lead by Hellman & Friedman, a non-GIS investment company. But,I sincerely hope this is true, as this will bring money from mainstream. The same week, last month, GeoEye announced the acquisition of MJ Harden Associates, Inc. from General Electric. This affair is going to be complimentary to both GeoEye and MJ Harden. The existing customers of GeoEye will have access to MJH aerial photographs and GeoEye will further expand the clientèle of MJH into the federal government, where GeoEye is quite strong. Will this lead to GeoEye re-doing their slogan which presently says”GeoEye: World’s largest commercial remote sensing company” into GeoEye: Highest quality geospatial information provider as conveyed by Matthew O’Connel in the press release! If this is the new line on which they are trekking, LiDAR companies should start increasing their visibility.
Coming to the world of 3D, it is an exciting topic, particularly if you talk about the kind of neurons a 3D image is able to stimulate. For a ‘Map’ which is representation of features on the earth surface, 3D is a milestone. While the purpose of map will continue to model the reality, which in our context is earth’s surface and features present on it. 3D maps are required to consideration physiological and psychological aspects to render near real time view. Challenges are not just limited to the effects, which will convey the relative distance between two objects or the environment and their impact on our psychology. There is another important dimension, the data associated with these 3D maps. We would require data which will reflect property of the objects in the 3D map, for the purpose of analysis. Objects property and maybe its behaviour vis-a-vis with the associated objects would be required. An extension of convergence which we see the geo-engineering products talk about today. For an example, if we have a 3D map of a city with demographic, socioeconomic data, infrastructure, utility services… laid out with their properties associated, we hope the system in days to come would tell us what will be the impact on demography with quantifiable change in infrastructure.
In this issue we have few articles, with different approach to the 3D mapping. While one of the articles talk of using high resolution satellite imagery for creating 3D maps, other uses primarily aerial photographs and LIDAR data. The prior one does involve use of on field data capture for height information. Both the process are applicable for creating 3D city maps. But, the method using LiDAR and Aerial Photographs appears to be more acceptable and scalable.3D in geospatial context has covered substantial distance from the goof old days of creating wireframe models using an ASCII input file to 3D urban areas now available for many of the US and European cities over Internet. Thanks to the elephants fighting to prove their dominance over web [Google and Microsoft], we hope soon we will be able to see the cities from Asia in 3D.