GIS Tech News (#23)

23 Oct, 2006 By: Kenneth Wong

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The World at Your Fingertips

Intermap Technologies maps Europe and the United States in 3D -- with unexpected results

In the predawn hours, while most Londoners are sound asleep, fixed-wing airplanes equipped with IFSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) methodically fly overhead at 30,000'. They traverse the airspace in tight strips, as if they were mowing a lawn. The pilots are not on a covert spy mission. They've been commissioned by Intermap Technologies, a geospatial solutions provider, to collect terrain data as part of a project to map Europe in 3D. What these planes are doing in the sky can potentially help drivers on the ground save fuel one day -- a result not even Intermap predicted.

Intermap's plan is to collect the geography of thirteen Western European countries by 2007 -- Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom -- as 3D elevation models. When the project is done, the Bavarian Alps, the Andalusian Mountains and the Rhine and Thames rivers will be merely a mouse-click away. Additionally, by the end of 2008, the company plans to complete U.S. data collection for its NEXTMap USA program.

All About IFSAR

IFSAR was developed by Environmental Research Institute of Michigan for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In February 1997, DoD (the Department of Defense) chose Intermap for the commercialization of IFSAR, in return for royalties on sales and preferred rates for DOD's use of the technology. Read More >>

Modeling Highways in the Sky:
You can't see aviation corridors -- but you can design and analyze them using Autodesk Civil 3D.

by Kenneth Wong

There are highways in the sky. You can't see them, but they're there. At Landrum & Brown, a commercial aviation consultancy, they call them "imaginary surfaces." These surfaces define airspace used by planes for takeoffs and landings.

Frequently, proposed aerial highways intersect with something on the ground -- a freeway overpass, a cell phone tower or a skyscraper, for example. It's up to firms like Landrum & Brown to help airport planners arrange the imaginary surfaces in a sensible pattern that keeps planes away from obstructions while maintaining a highly efficient air traffic flow to airport runways.

What's the difference between surfaces on the ground and surfaces in the air? According to Bob Endres, manager of Landrum & Brown's CAD engineering department: Nothing. "Who cares if it's up in the air or on the ground?" he says. "Something that's above grade can be a mirror image of something below grade."

During a luncheon hosted by Autodesk, Endres watched a demonstration of Autodesk Civil 3D, a civil engineering software package for transportation, site, sewer, storm drain and subdivision projects. "We don't design roads on the ground, but we design roads in the air," observes Endres. Watching the way the software handled corridors, he thought, "I can model an exact flight path with that." That prompted Landrum & Brown to begin using Autodesk Civil 3D for its work. Read More >>

Cadalyst'scomplete list of upcoming events is always available on our Web site. Cadalyst's sister publication, Geospatial Solutions, also offers a full calendar of GIS-related events.

Introducing ArcGIS 9.2 Seminar
Various October and November dates
Various California and Hawaii locations
ESRI will host this no-cost seminar to introduce ArcGIS 9.2 to the GIS community through a series of demonstrations. These demos will cover enhancements and new functionality related to cartography, interoperability, visualization and more. Read more

Product Roadmapping Training Workshop
Various October and November dates
Various locations
Attendees to this workshop will learn how to align their plans for products, technologies and markets with business objectives, strategies and resources. Read more

Land Development Breakthroughs: Best Practices Conference
November 2-3, 2006
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
This conference offers decision team members of all disciplines an opportunity to build relationships and learn about important industry trends. Attendees will share strategic perspectives with their colleagues on issues such as business management, finance, sustainable development, regulatory compliance, and organizational and industry direction. Read more

ESRI California User Group Meetings
Various dates in November
Various California locations
ArcGIS user groups provide a forum for ESRI users to share their experiences, exchange best practices and learn about new technology. User group meetings can benefit both new and experienced users, and each meeting offers a focused, education-based agenda. Read more

Visit the GIS Tech News archives to view current and past issues online.

Get the Code!
Cadalyst's October code from Hot Tip Harry is now available for download. Power programmer Will DeLoach earned $100 for this month's top tip, Re-insert a Block from a File, which replaces all occurrences of a block in a drawing with the block you specify from a file.

Cadalyst's October Web Exclusives Now Live Online!
The latest editions of all your favorite Cadalyst tutorials for AutoCAD and other popular CAD software, CAD Cartoon, Dialog Box (letters from readers) -- plus all the content from the October edition of Cadalyst magazine -- are now live on Check it out!

Cadalyst Daily Update:For all the latest news and new products, subscribe to Cadalyst Daily e-newsletter. Plus, every issue includes a feature you won't find anywhere else – hardware and CAD software reviews, success stories, AutoCAD tips and much more! Here's a sample of what you missed recently:

Click here for links to all the latest articles in Cadalyst magazine and on

Cadalyst's sister publication, Geospatial Solutions, offers a Web site packed with features, news, events and other information for users of geospatial technologies. Check out this latest news from

Leica Geosystems Continues Expansion into Construction Market through Acquisition of Mikrofyn
Leica Geosystems and Hexagon announced the acquisition of Mikrofyn A/S in Denmark, one of Europe's leading suppliers of machine automation and laser leveling and alignment equipment for the building construction and civil engineering industries.

Oce TCS500 Awarded "Highly Recommended" Rating from Industry Source BERTL
Oce's TCS500 large-format color print/copy/scan system for CAD and GIS applications has received a "4-Star, Highly Recommended" rating from BERTL, an independent source of product evaluation reports and comparative analyses.

Questex Media Group Launches GPS World Conference & Expo for Global Positioning, Navigation and Timing Technologies
Questex Media Group has announced the launch of the GPS World Conference & Expo, a new event focused on the business and technology of global positioning, navigation and timing.

Leica Geosystems Introduces New Handheld Laser Distance Measuring Tool for Indoor Applications
The new DISTO A2 laser tool is designed to make fast and accurate distance measurements for a wide range of indoor tasks.