March 10th, 1998
Mapping on the Internet

03/10/98 RMIUG Meeting Minutes - Mapping on the Internet

Tom Bresnahan started the March of the RMIUG started at 7:00 and first called for announcements.

  • Gene Lewis indicated he was putting together a group to discuss Dynamic HTML and JavaScript. Meetings will be held at the Tabor Visual Media offices at 38 South Broadway in Denver. Contact info: lewis@taborvisual.com, http://www.taborvisual.com, phone: 303-871-9192, fax: 303-871-9234.

  • Mike Rabb (mrabb@usvoice.com) invited people to the Colorado ISDN Interest Group.

  • Mike Marsh from the Internet Chamber of Commerce invited people to speak to him if they are interested in having a Boulder Area interest group of the ICC. (http://www.icc.org)

  • Randal Mayer indicated he was interested in forming a Front Page interest group in the Denver Tech Center area. Contact him at randalj@hotmail.com.

Starting the meeting on Mapping on the Internet Bresnahan introduced the first speaker, Joan Blake (jblake@mapquest.com), the Business Development manager from MapQuest.

Joan began by asking how many in the audience had used MapQuest and many raised their hands. She explained the MapQuest is owned by GeoSystems Global in Lancaster, Penna. This company has a 30 year history with technical and cartographic skills in CD and special applications. The MapQuest web site was the first consumer web site, appearing in February 1996. They are committed to free consumer maps that can be put everywhere. They started with a T1 and were getting 30 million page views per month. MapQuest moved to Denver for infrastructure and life style. Now they are drawing 2 million maps per day from about 40 unix servers.

In response to questions, she explained they make money by selling a license fee for mapping applications, and by selling sponsorships and branding. They currently charge $20 CPM (Cost for 1000 ads Per Month). This is GeoCentric advertising, sending banners based on where the client is searching. Click through rates were dependent on the advertising. Joan indicated that an average user spends 16.2 minutes on the MapQuest site, so it's a challenge to create enticing banner ads. She quoted click through rates of .6% to 8% with one GeoCentric ad at 11%. In response to another question on pricing she said MapQuest charges $1500 to setup and from a low of about $6000 a year to $12,500 a year for using MapQuest applications on an individual web site. On updates, Joan said there are 10 levels of maps ranging from continents down to streets. The data is updated regularly from an ARCView data base. Would MapQuest online maps replace paper? No, it's a complimentary use of mapping.

Tom Bresnahan introduced the next speaker, Sol Katz, (skatz@blm.gov), a GIS Specialist/Webmaster from the US Bureau of Land Management. Wearing a distinctive piece of headgear, Sol gave a humorous visual account of different mapping applications which he has cataloged. Examples ranged from the NSDI (National Spatial Data Initiative) to the oldest interactive mapping internet application, XGLIS, using telnet.

The third speaker was Kevin Andrews, kandrew@infonow.com, the chief financial officer from InfoNow. Kevin explained that InfoNow sells a service which focuses on specific business applications requiring maps. Their first site was in July 1996 and was an ATM locator. They provide a lot of work on the back end (server side) for web applications. Companies are using these applications, cost justifiable, to address the question of "where is something" that must be answered to support the customer set. The justification for this is that the applications allow the customer to save money, provide better answers and to collect data about the customers. Kevin gave another example of an automatic Voice Mail application (1-800-345-1518) of a dealer location which is also the same as an internet web application. Kevin noted that these mapping applications were developed in the US market, they are now also moving to other countries and other data suppliers. In response to a question of Voice or Web he noted that Voice is faster since it's not drawing a map, but the internet is becoming an alternative to using a call center. Are phone numbers harvested? No, generally. How big is InfoNow's install base? About 35 large customers, all with customized applications.

The final speaker was Jeff Garland, jgarland@esri.com, a consultant at Environmental Systems Research Institute in Boulder. He talked about their products like ArcView and ArcExplorer, and their Internet mapping technology which includes an ArcView map server, a Map Object Internet Map Server and a GIS data server. Jeff noted that the direction is to a "societal GIS" where everyone interacts with GIS systems. To the question "ActiveX vs Java" Jeff indicated that ESRI is leaning toward ActiveX. On the question about a Common Mapping Data Interchange Jeff answered there is OpenGIS and a trend towards open environments where spatial data base engines will read CAD files, etc. Sol Katz observed that he's seen this common interchange -- "Lot's of them!!" Jeff stated that GIS applications are growing about 20-30% a year and he forecast that GIS will be subsumed into large data base structures as spatial data.

The 4 panelists converged on stage and responded to questions from the audience.

Q: What can you do with a map you get from the internet?
A: BLM data is public domain. Local governments also provide public domain GIS data. MapQuest is a free service, and you can put it on your web site as long as you retain the logo and copyright. InfoNow's data is from commercial systems and its use is control by the owners. In general, check the copyright pages on the web sites.

Q: Did "avoids" get removed from the TripQuest application on MapQuest?
A: No, it was moved to the options.

Q: Is the Analytic Market Saturated?
A: Opinion is that spatial analysis in universities is just not seeing a lot of growth.

Q: Was 16.2 minutes per view on MapQuest viewed as good?
A: Yes, it was considered good consumer reach.

Q: What job skills are required in the mapping area?
A: Most are looking for system integrator skills, 1/2 systems and 1/2 geography.

Q: What about the future of car "computer stuff?"
A: Cost of GPS (Global Positioning System) is coming donw, so maybe. But be aware that GPS has selective availability and can be turned off and does have a bnadwith issue. PDA's and cellular phones will be used more than stuff in cars. It may be an essential part for delivery trucks and rental cars, but maybe not essential in all cars.

The meeting closed at about 9:15. There were approximately 90 attendees.

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