Geospatial Business Spotlight: The CEDRA Corporation

Company Name:         The CEDRA Corportation

Location:                     1600 Mosley Road, Suite 500, Victor, NY  14564

Website:                      http://www.cedra.com

Employees:                 12

Established:               1985

The CEDRA Corporation offers GIS based software for mapping, civil engineering design and modeling, surveying and database maintenance applications. CEDRA’s AVseriesTM suite of software operates directly within Esri’s GIS software (ArcGIS® 9.x and 10.x), thus eliminating the need to switch back and forth between various software packages. CEDRA software is developed entirely in-house and marketed worldwide to public works agencies, tax assessors, utilities, municipalities and private sector companies.

Complementing CEDRA’s Software Development Division is CEDRA’s Professional Services Division which has performed consulting projects throughout the U.S. and specializes in developing, populating and maintaining GIS databases.   CEDRA’s Professional Services Division offers consulting services to clients for a multitude of applications including CEDRA-specific software solutions or can be totally non-CEDRA software related consulting projects. CEDRA staff is highly proficient in GIS Analysis, Data Capture, Data Conversion, Map Production, Routing and Custom Application Development in toth the desktop and server environments.  As an authorized Esri business partner and reseller, CEDRA has a long history in the use and application of Esri’s GIS suite of software dating back to 1987.

CEDRA’s corporate mission is to provide services and software that improves the efficiency and productiveness of its clients. This goal is achieved by (a) developing software that is production oriented and (b) offering services that enable clients to streamline workflows. CEDRA believes the more automated a workflow can be made, the more efficient a client will be and a higher quality product will be produced. CEDRA offers Expertise, Experience and Commitment when undertaking a project.

Illustrative CEDRA products and services include:

Wayne County E911, Lyons, New York

Under this project CEDRA assisted Wayne County staff in developing the County’s E911 street database. Specifically, the work involved acquiring the NYS Street Address Mapping (SAM) data, extracting the street data for Wayne County, and working with the County in verifying and updating the street center line database for use in the County’s E911 system.

In performing this work, CEDRA staff was on-site at the County’s office performing the work and training County staff in the process. A workflow was developed and adopted by the County. Additionally, a training guide was developed enabling County staff to maintain the street center line data with their own resources.

In addition to establishing the street center line data set, CEDRA assisted the County in developing the EMS, Fire and Police polygon layers which are utilized by the County’s E911 system. Extensive polygon editing and topological verification was performed in developing these three polygon layers.

CEDRA’s Wayne County 911 address maintenance application is based on data from the  NYS street address program and a customized

Heavy Truck, Wide-Load Routing, Albany, New York

This work involved the development of a 3D street network dataset for New York State and a GIS web based routing application tailored for routing heavy and wide-load freight vehicles. With over 200 bridge strikes occurring in New York State annually and over 2,000 nationwide, the need for a routing application specific for freight vehicles was identified by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Using USGS Digital Elevation Model data in conjunction with NYSDOT street, pavement and bridge data, a 3D state-wide street network data set was created with ArcGIS.  The dataset accounted for vertical clearance, posted weight limits, speed limits, and roadway grade.  The NYSDOT data was obtained through the NYS GIS Clearinghouse under its Data Sharing Cooperative program and other sources.

As part of this project, an ArcGIS Server JavaScript web application was developed enabling routes to be generated based upon the 3D street network and user-specified route parameters such height limit, weight limit, desired speed and type of cargo, if appropriate. The web application consisted of a custom user-interface that integrated Esri’s Network Analyst extension with the 3D street network. Routes with turn by turn directions can be exported to Keyhole Markup Language (KML) format providing users the ability to download to mobile navigation devices and used with Google Maps. Furthermore, the application enables the user to generate multiple routes with each route appearing in a different color. The application also provides the user the ability to display various cartographic and orthoimage base maps, including Google-based maps.  This project involved extensive use of Esri’s Spatial Analyst and Network Analyst extensions, the ArcGIS Server software, Esri’s JavaScript API and HTML programming.

The heavy truck / wide-load application includes several NYSDOT data sets available through the NYS GIS Clearinghouse and a customized ESRI server technology application utilizing several extensions.  Users can also export to KML for use in mobile navigation devices.

PECO Application Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

GIS Administrators have long been dealing with how to get their GIS data into CAD environments, be it AutoCAD, Bentley and other CAD systems. One client CEDRA has been working with in this regard is PECO Energy located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

PECO Energy services nearly 1.6 million electric and over 511,000 natural gas customers and is the largest combination utility company in Pennsylvania.  It has a franchise utility service area of 2,100 square miles with a population of 3.8 million people. Much of PECO’s electric and gas data resides in their ArcGIS enterprise GIS while construction drawings are generated and maintained in Bentley CAD.   Having been ArcGIS users for over 10 years,  PECO’s enterprise GIS is extremely robust, up-to-date and contains information which needs to be accessible and be integrated with construction drawings. CEDRA was contracted to develop a solution to seamlessly transfer GIS data to the Bentley CAD environment as to avoid the unnecessary effort and cost of maintaining data in duplicate environments.

To this end,  CEDRA worked with PECO staff to develop a customized application utilizing ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Desktop a custom geoprocessing service and the CEDRA-DxfExport software. The goal of the GIS data transfer is to export the ArcGIS data from the Esri environment preserving point feature symbology, line styles, annotation and layering information into a format that the Bentley system can process.   Another requirement was to minimize the amount of user interaction.

To make the extraction of the GIS data as easy as possible the amount of information required by the user was kept to to the following:

  • Identify the area to be extracted
  • Specify the name of the DXF file to be created
  • Specify the desired output scale
  • Select whether a DXF, PDF or both formats were to be created, and
  • Specify the email address to which a confirmation message of the extraction’s completion should be sent.

Once the user has entered the above,  a Python based geoprocessing service is executed to begin the extraction and generation of the DXF and/or PDF files. Before and after images are below illustrating how the utility ports the same features in a defined geographic footprint from one environment (ArcMap) to another (Bentley).

BEFORE:  User defined geographic footprint (ArcMap)

AFTER: Using the customized CEDRA “data transfer” utility, the same features/same geographic footprint rendering in Bentley CAD software.

Urban Forestry Management, Edmond, Oklahoma

CEDRA assisted the City of Edmond, OK in the development and deployment of a mobile based application which is being used in the ongoing inventory of the nearly 16,000 trees which are the responsibility of the City to maintain.  Using iPad devices, staff from the Department of Urban Forestry collect a wide range of data on each tree including: species code, diameter, condition of leaves, condition of wood, GPS location and any special notes concerning the tree.  Using a form, Urban Forestry staff can select from a pre-defined list of species codes, capture a GPS location and take a digital image of the tree.  Once the data has been collected, this information is synchronized with the City’s SDE geodatabase nightly.

Cities and urban centers are increasingly using easy-to-deploy/use mobile applications to collect and maintain important data on street features such as trees.  This image illustrates a form designed by CEDRA for Urban Forestry staff in Edmond, OK.

For more information on New York State based CEDRA products and services:

Contact:               Lisa Stone, Marketing Director
                               lstone@cedra.com
                               585-414-6541

2017 NYS Spring GIS Conference Specials

The last couple weeks I’ve been engaged in the following cutting-edge enterprise geospatial issues:  (1) staring at the sky on a daily basis,  (2) monitoring the temperature, and (3)  hoping the remaining snow to melt and the leaves to hold off in budding – both at the same time.  After nearly 33 years in County government and its boiled down to this! Why?  So we can get our aerial photography flown over the next 10-days to support our 2017 countywide base map update.  The heavy snow March 14th really set us back and the window to capture the photography is closing quickly.

So at any rate, its been easy to lose track of upcoming Spring 2017 regional one-day GIS conferences and meetings over the next 4-6 weeks.  Most of the Spring 2017 shows are held in locations accessible via a maximum 2-4 hour drive from furthermost parts of the Empire State, offer a wide range of geospatial topics and presentations, provide excellent networking opportunities among colleagues and industry representatives, and are generally light on the wallet.    For those unable to make or justify the big lift of getting to the uber ESRI conference in San Diego later on in the summer and/or chasing GISP certification credits these venues are for you.

Sounds sweet, right? So consider the following and get your travel approvals in order:

GIS-SIG 26rd Annual Conference, April 11th, Burgundy Basin, Pittsford, NY.  Unfortunately I cannot make GIS-SIG this year as it is one of my most favorite statewide one-day shows.  GIS/SIG provides the premier geospatial professional forum in the Rochester/Genesee Finger Lakes/Western New York region for GIS practitioners focusing on trends and policies relating to new geospatial technologies and current projects.  With a loyal following, the size and content of the GIS/SIG conference is broad enough to often substitute as an annual state conference for many GIS practitioners in the western half of the state. This year’s conference again includes vendor displays and an agenda covering topics such as mobile data collection, drones, 3D GIS, and ESRI software updates, as well as a keynote address from Dr. John R. Schott, founder of the Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Lab at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  Corporate sponsorship keeps the price tag of an individual registration at under $100 for the day which also includes lunch. Online registration is still available and while you are at the GIS/SIG website you can also see the many resources and links GIS/SIG provides to its user community.  This is a great show and if you have the opportunity to attend. Highly recommended.

Long Island GIS (LIGIS)  2017 Spring User Conference, April 26th, SUNY Farmingdale, Farmingdale, NY.  LIGIS meetings and conferences have grown in structure and content over the last few years and this spring’s April 26th meeting will continue to illustrate the improvement among the Long Island GIS stakeholder user community.  Scheduled presentations from government, academia, and industry are on the agenda including topics covering mobile applications, MS4 data collection, 2020 Census Bureau update, and GIS & hydrofracking among others. Located in central Long Island on the SUNY Farmingdale campus, this is a not-to-miss conference on “the Island” for those with limited travel budgets.  Make plans to attend.  Those interested in attending can monitor conference specifics at the LIGIS homepage.

Northeast Arc User Group (NEARC) Meeting, May 15th, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.  Spring NEARC meetings are conveniently located in Amherst, MA which is easily accessible to the Albany Capital District and GIS professionals in eastern New York State.  Unlike GIS – SIG, which is software vendor independent, this show is very much ESRI centric and packed with high quality user presentations. Even though only one day, the show has grown to be so popular that it now competes with the larger multi-day GIS shows and conferences across New England.   Price tag for attending:  $65 which includes lunch.  If you can afford an overnight, activities the evening before downtown Amherst and a hotel room at the UMass conference center make it even more worth your while. (As of the day of this blog post 4/4 the May 15th agenda was still in development; I did submit an abstract!).  Registration will open mid-April.  If your organization is an ESRI shop – this is a Spring show not to miss.

Westchester GIS User Group Meeting, May 11th, Purchase College, Purchase New York. As one of the largest geospatial meetings in New York State, the Westchester GIS User Group Meeting is a free one-day conference held at Purchase College. Made possible by financial support from exhibiting vendors and conference facilities provided by the college, the draft 2017 agenda  features user presentations from County government,  Westchester County municipalities, nonprofits including the Goodlands Project, and ESRI. There is also free conference training: At lunch “Leveraging Suvey123 for Mobile Data Collection” with instructor Larry Spraker and post-conference “Getting Started with How to Build Great Web Apps” with ESRI’s Mark Scott.   Also, sponsors get to present 5-minute “Lightning” talks over the course of the day.  The Purchase College location provides easy one-day access across the metropolitan NYC area, as well as the broader lower Hudson River Valley and southeastern Connecticut. Agenda and other meeting  specifics – including registration – are available from the Westchester County GIS website.

Other Venues:  If you are in the Metro NYC area don’t forget to check the GeoNYC Meetup calendar for ongoing meetings across the city. Subject matter and participation is pretty amazing.  And/or the many other geospatial related Meetups in the region covering big data, data visualization, agriculture mapping, and everything inbetween including drones. A little further removed geographically from the Empire State is the Northeast Geographic Information Society (NEGIS) conference on April 27th in Ashland, MA. You can follow and learn more about NEGIS via their blog.

The entire Empire State GIS community is fortunate enough to be close enough to a range of regional geospatial meetings and conferences which are accessible from most areas of the state and provide many of the same benefits of larger shows and not nearly as expensive.

Safe travels!

Geospatial Business Spotlight: Systems Development Group (SDG)

Systems Development Group (SDG)  provides real property, imaging and GIS-centric software and professional services to government, education and private sector companies. The Company provides clients with the appropriate technologies to cost effectively improve tax payer services while reducing operational costs. Clients achieve operational efficiencies with SDG’s blend of expertise in assessment, imaging, GIS and software administration tools and professional services.  SDG currently collaborates with state, county and local government agencies.

Location:             44 Trenton Road, Utica, New York 13502.

Website:             www.sdgnys.com

Email:                   info@sdgnys.com

Phone:                 (315) 798-1328

Employees:        8

Established:       1991

Flagship Product: Image Mate Online (IMO) Real Property Web Portal

The New York State SDG IMO coverage area. Full County services are rendered in blue.  Individual City or Town services are denoted by pushpins.

Brief History

In the New York State Real Property System ( RPS V3) 1990’s era, NYS challenged SDG by noting it was technologically impossible to display photos during a live RPS V3 session.   SDG knew otherwise from similar projects performed for their parent company (Lanier Business Systems). Code being used to add imaging support to hospital applications was leveraged to build an initial application saving the Towns of Whitestown and New Hartford over $50,000 of previously ear-marked monies for Tyler-CLT Landisc street level imaging projects.

As SDG systems engineers and developers grew more familiar with assessment administration, opportunities arose to assist assessors with the development of line of business valuation software utilities including the Assessment Sales Analysis Program (ASAP)  search engine. A combination of these software tools contributed to the successful NYS Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPTS)  RPSV4  launch.

RPSV4 was originally developed as a client server – “thick” desktop application. However, within a few short years, the internet and web application (browser) paradigm entered the software mainstream. The web quickly became a natural conduit to share real property information with the public and between Government departments and agencies. The next “organic” step forward for SDG was the development of a web portal for real property and assessment information – Image Mate Online (IMO).

IMO quickly gained popularity with NYS Counties and local municipalities throughout the early 2000’s. The State Real Property Tax Administration Technology Improvement Grant Program (RPTATIP) Grant program in 2006 and 2007 helped open the door for many additional County Real Property and Assessment Departments to deploy IMO portals. A large percentage of RPTATIP grant projects included IMO due largely to:

    • Return on Investment (ROI) – The City of Yonkers experienced a 70% reduction in Assessment Office foot and telephone traffic within their first year of IMO operations.
    • Extensibility – Ease of building upon the IMO portal to create “one stop shops” for comprehensive parcel related information.
    • Tight bindings with New York State Real Property and Assessment rules and best practices.
    • Strategic  partnerships, projects and connectivity with “best in class” players including Pictometry, Apex, ESRI, Google, VHB, TerraGo and Sewall
    • Performance and scalability – The Onondaga   IMO site performs over 2 million parcel searches a year. At 20% the size, nearby Seneca County – over 80,000 searches annually.
    • Outpost extends IMO and live RPS data collection services to the field as a low-cost tablet mobile sister service.

Image Mate Online (IMO)

Image Mate Online [IMO] serves as the hub or “portal” for a government’s real property and assessment information. A typical IMO installation is a collaboration between the local government client, the SDG implementation team and contributing strategic partners. By design, IMO is highly extensible and offers connectivity and integration options with related spatial and parcel centric systems.

IMO sites are typically public facing, offering the tax payers easy access to detailed ownership, inventory, improvement, photo, sales, mapping and tax billing information. The application also includes intelligent links to local web mapping viewers and general web mapping services (Google Maps, Bing, etc…). Links to locally or third-party maintained GIS viewers create bridges from parcel specific searches to a full set of infrastructure layers valuable in inter-governmental data sharing.

IMO’s inherent flexibility can also greatly enhance the public’s understanding of and participation in revaluation projects. Having evolved from an imaging and forms processing technology kernel, IMO can serve as a 24×7 pipeline for property “owners and stake holders to interact with the municipality and their contractors while CAMA (Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal) and valuation work is in progress.

IMO services throughout New York State have become a staple for property owners and the professional real property community. IMO is heavily used by financial institutions, realtors, appraiser’s surveyors and developers. Having a robust IMO system available represents a high return on investment in the promotion of economic development. IMO’s greatest use by far is as an easy to use real property information “one stop shop” for the residents in a community.

IMO is a “one stop shop” for a municipality’s parcel centric data. Target parcel selection is supported by the IMO user-interface or via third party CAMA systems, Excel spreadsheets and GIS Web Viewer API links. The IMO Detail Page serves as a portal to display and simplify access to relevant and diverse parcel information and web service resources.

SDG Outpost Field Assessment System

Outpost data collection and inspections are streamlined using state-of-the-art mobile software and tablets. Time consuming post-inspection data entry is eliminated for both tabular assessment data and digital photos. Priority is always given to leveraging the Assessor’s RPS and Image Mate Online systems to provide for a powerful and efficient introduction of mobile technology to the assessment workflow.

A key component of Outpost’s success is building upon existing well-developed Image Mate Online and RPS ecosystems of content, applications and support networks. Outpost represents a mobile extension of proven

SDG IMO web portal services for their clients. With Outpost, the Assessor and field staff have a portable conduit to the entire assessment ecosystem. Outpost is a natural and flexible mobile evolution in the NYS assessment (RPS) software landscape. The Outpost user interface has been developed using the latest mobile software development technologies and has been optimized for tablet use. The Outpost system architecture is both flexible and extensible and as new mobile hardware options become available, the SDG technology team will modify Outpost to incorporate new mobile device capabilities. Likewise, the Outpost front end can be “re-fitted” for future upgrades to New York State assessment systems.

Outpost provides for:

  • Improved assessment efficiency and accuracy with enhanced and integrated mobile assessment inspection and data collection tools.
  • Consistency in parcel data collection and verification activities.
  • Digital photo capture support for built in tablet cameras with automated RPS V4 upload.
  • RPS V4 compatibility with upgrades to match changing RPS requirements.
  • GIS and tax map image viewing available from the field.
  • A powerful administration program to plan track inspection activities.
  • Google Maps and GPS support to locate and identify difficult parcels.
  • Real time remote support. The Outpost support team can access, monitor and provide “on tablet” technical assistance during field inspections.
  • Optional integrated Pictometry oblique and ortho aerial imaging services via 4G connections where available.

Outpost supports Android tablet based “paperless” assessment field inspections and data collection projects. Assessment data and photos are auto-synchronized to the muni’s production database via secure wireless connections.  The most common tablets being used are Samsungs  running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and above.

Corporate Position

“We take our local government partnerships and our shared responsibilities to the New York State taxpayers very serious. SDG’s track record, particularly with IMO, has been a continuous evolution driven by a willingness to always be open to the “what if” or “wow would this make a difference” questions and comments from our clients and partners that are out there busting it to improve the lives of New Yorkers. Like in the old westerns, the drumbeat of tight economic times has been playing in the background for longer than many of us care to remember.

 The strongest players (public and private) that we are most inspired to work with, understand the urgency and stay inspired. With the forecast for a continued tight economy, we anticipate the continued acceleration of GIS being at the core and key to “good governance – line of business” services. Great looking maps added allot to presentations over the years. Now we see spatial technology hitting an invaluable higher gear right when NYS and can use it most.”

John Kelly
SDG – President

 

Contact:  John Kelly johnk@sdgnys.com

 

Deep GIS: Mapping What You Touch In the Subways

I’ve recently been communicating with Ebrahim Afshinnekoo who is Project Director for the PathoMap project based at the Weill Cornell Medicine Mason Laboratory in New York City.  Launched in the summer 2013, PathoMap was the first project of its kind, with the intent to comprehensively map and investigate the presence of bacteria and DNA on the surfaces of large urban, metropolitan environments such as New York City. And of course what better venue to collect bacteria samples in NYC than the subway system – the large subterranean behemoth home to 5.5 million riders on an average weekday.

I was drawn to the project in that it involves several common geospatial components the traditional GIS community is routinely involved with such as  data collection/data validation, data analysis, mobile apps, web mapping and visualization. To date, discussion on this geospatial research effort has focused mainly within the Cell Systems (scholarly journal) community, though with little exposure within the traditional NYS GIS community. While both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times published articles on PathoMap in 2015 we’ve seen little work of this nature at statewide conferences or how it can promote similar geospatial analysis across the Empire State. With this in mind, eSpatiallyNewYork initiated this blog entry with the purpose of exposing the PathoMap project, and its subsequent global expansion (MetaSUB) to the larger statewide GIS community.

Data Collection

The molecular profiling initiative launched in the summer of 2013 with the help of undergraduates from Cornell University and Macaulay Honors College – which were soon to be given the appropriate moniker “Swab Squad”.  To create a city-wide profile, the research team first built an Android/iOS  mobile application in collaboration with GIS Cloud to enable real-time entry and loading of sample metadata directly into a database (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Data collection from the project included the “swabbing” of sites and subsequent analysis and data entry of the findings into a mobile app which are dynamically uploaded to the Cloud GIS database. Source: Afshinnekoo et al., 2015

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Geospatial Business Spotlight: Tyler Technologies

Company Name:  Tyler Technologies

Business Unit:    ERP & Schools Division, Transportation Solutions (formerly Versatrans)

Website:               www.tylertech.com

Established:        1966

THE COMPANY

Tyler Technologies, Inc., is a leading provider of end-to-end information management solutions and services for local governments. Tyler partners with clients to empower the public sector — cities, counties, schools and other government entities — to become more efficient, more accessible and more responsive to the needs of citizens. Its mission-critical applications provide the public sector with the ability to streamline and automate operations, resulting in improved productivity, reduced costs and continual process improvement. Tyler’s client base includes more than 14,000 local government offices in all 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and other international locations. Forbes has named Tyler one of “America’s Best Small Companies” eight times, and the company has been included six times on the Barron’s 400 Index, a measure of the most promising companies in America. Tyler provides a broad line of software products in seven main solution areas: appraisal and tax; courts and justice; ERP financial; planning, regulatory and maintenance; public safety; records and documents; and K-12 schools. Tyler has over 400 customers in the State of New York. Customers include large counties such as Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester as well as municipalities such as City of Buffalo, Rochester and Yonkers.

Versatrans started as a transportation planning consulting firm in 1965 and began developing software in 1980. For more than 35 years, Versatrans has developed the leading technology for school professionals to deliver the best service to their districts. In 2008, Versatrans became part of Tyler Technologies, which today employs more than 3,600 professionals. Since that time, the Versatrans® product line has been maintained and supported, and the number of development resources assigned to the product line have nearly doubled. Tyler’s transportation solutions are the software of choice among more than 1,600 school districts and pupil transportation service providers in the United States and Canada. In the State of New York, Tyler transportation solutions are used in over 280 school districts including large school districts such as Buffalo Public Schools, Williamsville Central School District and North Syracuse Central School District, but also in small school districts such as Fort Plain Central School District, Candor Central School District and Broadalbin-Perth Central School District.

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Tyler’s transportation solutions are built to factor together district policies and student information with hazard restrictions and realistic bus speeds. This provides safe and accurate bus stop locations and optimal routes that save money. By geocoding with the latest GIS technology using county maps, and taking into account cross restrictions, hazard zones, predator locations and more, the software picks up students from their exact location and assigns them to the safest stop. The Tyler team is composed of industry transportation professionals such as former directors, trainers, routing experts and drivers which, combined with experienced software engineers, apply their expertise and latest technology to transportation solution products, implementation and support.

Tyler’s transportation solutions include Traversa®, the Versatrans suite and Tyler Drive™.

Traversa

Traversa is Tyler’s integrated, comprehensive transportation management system. Traditionally, transportation software has been offered piecemeal, with different interfaces, different data sources and different requirements for training and installation. Traversa offers a seamless user experience for:

  • Bus routing
  • Activity trips
  • Work order tracking
  • Fleet maintenance
  • Automated vehicle location (AVL)/GPS tracking

In addition to the areas mentioned above, Traversa’s core functionality includes entity management (students, vehicles, employees, etc.), messaging and alerts, planning and reporting. Traversa is a cloud-based service supported by Tyler experts and hosted in Tyler’s SSAE16-certified data center. Tyler’s GIS services department converts a client’s data and helps verify client maps. Tyler’s transportation team provides training and data security and – when needed – disaster recovery.

 

TylerTech1

Traversa Dashboard allows school district transportation personnel to see a comprehensive view of everything they need for routing, planning and fleet maintenance.

Traversa’s technology stack incorporates portions of ESRI’s mapping software and can also interface with third-party data providers to show real-time traffic conditions, construction projects, city planning, evacuation routes, weather and more. A user can select a bus stop and zoom in to inspect the streetscape for possible safety issues. Traversa even helps a user respond to change. If a bridge washes out, he or she can quickly find an alternate path and print the new directions for drivers to use.

TylerTech2

Traversa Routing allows a school transportation router to build daily runs, assign students to stops, generate driver directions, assign vehicles/drivers and more.

Traversa AVL brings all vehicles to one screen for the dispatcher to monitor them in real-time. Users can filter for a specific vehicle, date or time and follow the path of that vehicle. They can also assign geofences for alerts and much more.

TylerTech3

Traversa AVL allows users to view current and historical data related to the location, speed, and direction (N, E, S, W) of the entire fleet of GPS equipped vehicles.

To learn more about Traversa, follow this product overview video.

Tyler Drive

Tyler Drive is an innovative, mobile device designed for the school bus driver.  Mounted on the school bus console, Tyler Drive’s 4G service and cloud-based software closes the gaps in school bus transportation.  It stems the losses caused by outdated timekeeping software and substitute drivers navigating unfamiliar routes. Tyler Drive keeps school buses on course and generates the documentation for reporting and reimbursement.

Tyler6

Tyler Drive Dashboard presents drivers with a comprehensive view of everything they need for their shift.

Through integration with Tyler’s student transportation routing and planning solutions, Tyler Drive is able to provide the most comprehensive and reliable route navigation available. Tyler Drive navigation map highlights the planned route with detailed directions to the next stop. If a road is closed, Tyler Drive can redirect the bus to the planned stop. Driver is presented with turn-by-turn directions and a list of students to pick up or drop off as the bus approaches a stop. If the school bus goes off the planned route Tyler Drive re-routes through the shortest path to the next stop in sequence.

TylerTech5

Tyler Drive live navigation assist the bus driver in getting to all the planned stops, picking up students and dropping them off.

Versatrans Suite

Versatrans is a complete school transportation software suite designed to help school districts efficiently and cost-effectively manage day-to-day transportation needs, transporting students to and from their educational programs on time and on budget.

  • Routing & Planning is a multi-user transportation management system that can effectively handle multiple destinations within the District’s demographics.
  • Versatrans Onscreen® is a GPS fleet tracking solution.
  • Versatrans My Stop™ is a mobile application for parents, guardians and students to know exactly where their bus is and what time it will show up at their stop — all from a smartphone or similar mobile device.
  • Versatrans Fleetvision® is a maintenance software to manage district fleet. It can auto-generate work orders, track inventory and organize employee certifications.
  • Versatrans Triptracker® is web-based field trip software, automates otherwise cumbersome processes like driver selection and personnel approval.
  • Tyler Telematic GPS™ is a hardware solution for school buses providing a complete view of vehicle, driver and engine. Tyler Telematic GPS includes: software expandability, driver scorecard, accident reporting, engine data, real-time alerting and more.

Implementation Services

Tyler’s implementation services include training on software functionality and full map preparation, including entering all district schools with grades, other buildings, walk zones, safe zones, bus stops, bell times and more. Tyler gives many options to keep customer maps current, and when the product receives electronic updates from the original map source, functionality is not affected. Tyler’s maps have the ability to utilize GPS information, draw streets simply and accurately, modify street names, and adjust run times to factors like time of day and school bus speeds. The process is automated to provide both efficiency and safety.

Geotab GPS

Tyler has a long standing relationship with Geotab Inc.; the leader in telematic solutions for heavy-duty vehicles. Tyler has been an authorized reseller for the Geotab hardware since 2010 and its close partnership with Geotab over the years has led to Tyler having the distinction as the only partner to have integrated Geotab data within the K-12 marketplace.

Esri Gold Partner

Tyler is an Esri Gold Tier partner, which enabled Tyler to be an industry-leading provider of geospatial solutions and services. As a Gold Tier partner, Esri recognizes Tyler’s commitment to providing enhanced technical and sales support, collaborative engagement and a national and multinational focus. Multiple Tyler solutions use Esri technology, including suites in school transportation, appraisal and tax, planning, permitting and public safety. Tyler has been an Esri partner for more than a decade.  Tyler’s new K-12 transportation solution, Traversa, is based on Esri technology.

 To find more about Tyler Technologies and their office in Latham, New York, visit their website.

CONTACT

Ted Thien
Sr. Vice President and General Manager, Versatrans
Tyler Technologies, Inc.
23 British American Blvd
Latham, New York 12110
Phone: 800.433.5530 ext. 131840
Email: ted.thien@tylertech.com

Geospatial Business Spotlight: Mapillary

Company Name:                 Mapillary

Website:                              http://www.mapillary.com/

Established:                       2013

THE COMPANY

Mapillary is a new and different approach to Street View. Using computer vision, Mapillary stitches together photos taken with any device to create street-level imagery for extracting geospatial data. By empowering anyone anywhere to easily create street-level imagery, Mapillary aims to create a photo representation of the world. To date, Mapillary’s community has contributed 63 million photos spanning over 900,000 miles across all seven continents.

Mapillary was founded in 2013 by Jan Erik Solem, Johan Gyllenspetz, Yubin Kuang, and Peter Neubauer, who share a vision for putting mapmaking into the hands of people everywhere. Solem, who serves as CEO, previously founded Polar Rose, a facial recognition software that was bought by Apple in 2010.  The company is headquartered in Malmö, Sweden, and has fifteen full-time employees located around the world.   Mapillary’s New York office is based In Brooklyn, NY.

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Mapillary allows community members to create and explore a crowd-sourced, street-level view of the world through its app, which is available for web, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Users can upload photos from their smartphones or other digital cameras and Mapillary then combines the images together geotagging each using GPS metadata. The resulting 3D reconstruction is created using computer vision and the company’s own open source “Structure from Motion” algorithm. Mapping isn’t limited to streets—the community has captured hiking trails, favorite bike routes, and even a stretch of Antarctica. Mapillary integrates with any mapping platform through simple APIs.

Street-level photos can be captured using Mapillary's iPhone app

Street-level photos can be captured using Mapillary’s iPhone app

In addition to creating photo-maps, Mapillary also utilizes computer vision techniques to extract useful data from uploaded images. For instance, the software can recognize symbols on street signs in photos taken in the U.S. or Europe. This capability grew out of the app’s need to blur faces and license plates for privacy purposes, and is now used by groups like city governments for urban planning, land surveys and asset inventory. Using Mapillary with Esri’s ArcGIS platform has helped cities streamline infrastructure updates, from speed limit changes to road surface quality checks.

Mapillary uses computer vision to automatically detect traffic signs and extract geospatial data

Mapillary uses computer vision to automatically detect traffic signs and extract geospatial data

Humanitarian organizations also use Mapillary to further their initiatives. In Haiti, the American Red Cross and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap partnered with Mapillary to help record previously unmapped areas to aid disaster response efforts. Mapillary has also been used by the World Bank and other groups in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, to record infrastructure in flood-prone areas of the city to help plan improvements. The app is ideally suited for these sorts of tasks because it doesn’t require any special equipment beyond a basic smartphone.

Street level imagery is reconstructed by creating point clouds from photos.

Street level imagery is reconstructed by creating point clouds from photos.

Mapillary is free to use for individuals and for non-profit or educational purposes. For commercial solutions, ranging from embedding a photo-map into a webpage to extracting specific data from images, Mapillary has several pricing plans available.

Westchester County GIS is using the Mapillary app to inventory hiking trails in County parks

Westchester County GIS is using the Mapillary app to inventory  hiking trails in Westchester County parks

To find out more about Mapillary, visit their website.

CONTACT: 

hello@mapillary.com
Bredgatan 4, 211 30 Malmo, Sweden
www.mapillary.com

10 Questions: Dale Morris

Dale Morris is one of New York State’s most recognized and senior GIS statesmen.  With a distinguished civil service career spanning 38 years, he has contributed significantly to the NYS GIS community in many capacities to say the least of directing one of the most established GIS programs in the state at Erie County – and its far reaching influence in western New York.  Ten questions seemed like a slight to an individual with such a body of professional work, so the eSpatiallyNewYork editorial team gave him permission to push it to 15 questions. Or something like that.  Enjoy.

eSpatiallynewyork:  How long have you been with Erie County?

Morris:  I’ve been in the Department of Environment and Planning since 1981. Prior to this I worked as a Planner for the Town of Amherst, NY and before that the Erie and Niagara Counties Regional Planning Board. I graduated from Cornell University with a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning in 1977.

eSpatiallynewyork:  When did you start doing GIS work?

Morris:   Working initially as a Planner for Erie County presented  many opportunities for making and using maps. In the 1980s we were still using Mylar, zipatone, and Leroy Lettering Sets for making maps, which is tedious, time consuming, and not easy to change. I began to investigate the world of digital mapping, which was still in its beginnings as a desktop product. I started with the DOS version of MapInfo. I recall how amazed we all were that we could do something as simple as draw the County and municipal boundaries on-screen. Looking back on it now it all seems so rudimentary!  Regardless of how basic it was, my Division became known for our ability to make computer drawn maps. At that time there wasn’t much concern about the database behind the maps- it was enough to be able to draw and edit maps digitally rather than by hand.

As desktop mapping grew in popularity through the 1990s a number of County departments began independently looking into it. This usually resulted in them calling me to ask for advice or data. Of course, this also meant that everyone was using different systems, and at that time it made exchanging data between systems very difficult or impossible. It was a classic case of disjointed silos of data and applications.

A change in County administration in the late 1990s brought new management in our department, and I was challenged to prepare a white paper for moving the County further forward into the digital mapping world. I proposed creating a new County Division that would be empowered to centralize decisions relating to geospatial technology (by then we could use terms like “geospatial” without getting blank stares!). The Office of Geographic Information Services (OGIS) was born in 2001, and I have been the Director since then. So for me personally, my career started with both feet in the urban planning field, then a gradual shift to one foot in planning and one in digital mapping, and then finally both feet in GIS. I do very little “typical” planning anymore, even though OGIS is part of the Planning Division.

While OGIS is an Office within the Department of Environment and Planning, only a portion of our work is related to this department. We work very closely with our IT shop to maintain and operate the County’s GIS technology infrastructure, and with other departments and outside agencies who either use our enterprise GIS technology or who need direct assistance with their mapping needs.

eSpatiallynewyork:  What’s the relationship between your office and Niagara County?

Morris:  We have a formal Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) with Niagara County for GIS Services. The agreement is for a five year period and we are well into the second of these five-year agreements. Erie County hosts Niagara County’s geospatial data and provides on-line mapping services to Niagara County. The two counties are connected by a high-speed microwave link, which operates very well. In essence, Niagara County is simply like any other Erie County department that taps into the Erie County enterprise GIS network. In addition to providing Niagara County this service for a fee, the IMA provides a framework for backup of GIS data between the two counties, and as well defines a GIS “mutual aid” protocol for sharing of GIS resources and staff in the event of an emergency.
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Queensbury Geospatial: A Model for NYS Town Government GIS

Northbound New York State Northway Exit 20 leads to the Town of Queensbury which is the seat of Warren County.  With a 2010 population of 27,901 the town covers nearly 65-square miles including shoreline along Lake George and lands within the Adirondack Park.  Further into town, several of the usual NYS town government program offices are located at 742 Bay Road including staff and resources which support the town’s geographic information system (GIS).

GIS Background

Prior to 2002, Queensbury officials had worked with consultants to establish initial GIS capacity including the creation of ArcIMS applications and investing in multiple ESRI desktop licenses.  In 2002, the town’s GIS initiative changed significantly with the hiring of George Hilton.  Hired as a GIS Specialist and planner, George was brought onboard to build and advance the town’s  GIS program.

Prior to arriving in Queensbury, George had honed his GIS skills while a student at Central Connecticut State University and later in government positions  in the Denver and Kansas City areas as well as three years with Westchester County.  Now, 15-years after his arrival, George oversees a program which can be considered an exemplary NYS municipal government GIS program.

Current Queensbury Geospatial Products and Infrastructure        

George designs, codes and maintains the Town’s Interactive Mapper (Firefox and IE only) and a host of other ArcGIS.com map viewers including Fire and EMS, Planning and Zoning, and Phase II Stormwater Infrastructure.    He also supports emerging mobile mapping and data collection efforts which includes Trimble GPS units with Trimble Positions to collect data and update feature services and Geodatabases in the field.  The town also collects data (hydrant inspections, site inspections) with ArcGIS Collector using feature services and make maps available through ArcGIS Online.

The Town of Queensbury Interactive Mapper includes many locally developed datasets as well as data from other authoritative sources including Warren County, NewYork State and the Adirondack Park Agency.

The Town of Queensbury Interactive Mapper includes many locally developed datasets as well as data from other authoritative sources including Warren County, NewYork State and the Adirondack Park Agency.

Other software components – much of which has been self-taught – George uses inlcludes Sybase (RPS) and SQL Server with ArcSDE as well as ArcGIS Server, ArcSDE, ArcGIS (Advanced), and Spatial Analyst.  The town is currently at ArcGIS Server 10.22 and are testing 10.4 with plans to upgrade very soon.  He also works with QGIS and Global Mapper from time to time.  Global Mapper has been particularly helpful in importing updated USGS topo quads (DRGs) in GeoPDF format into our GIS.

The Queensbury GIS program has grown from primarily providing support to the Planning Department to becoming a very important resource for many departments across town government.  Both the Town Board and Town Supervisor are very supportive of GIS and recognize how much of an important tool GIS has become to the Town.

Parts of the Town of Queensbury is actually within the Adirondack Park and therefore subject to stringent land use regulations. This image highlights zoning districts on the southeastern shore of Lake George – within the park boundaries.

Parts of the Town of Queensbury is actually within the Adirondack Park and therefore subject to stringent land use regulations. This image highlights zoning districts on the southeastern shore of Lake George – within the park boundaries.

George maintains an excellent working relationship with Warren County GIS which is under the direction of Sara Frankenfeld where he obtains  parcel data.  The town creates town-wide datasets (zoning, subdivisions, hydrants, infrastructure, environmental, street centerlines, address points, etc) which are then shared back with the County. Referencing her ongoing GIS work with Queensbury, Sara explains:

“George is great to work with and especially in a rural environment where we don’t have any other full-time GIS staff within our respective local governments, it’s so helpful to have a colleague to bounce things off.  He’s a very good sounding board and when I’m considering starting a new project, I often call to get his thoughts.

 We’ve worked closely together on a number of projects.  We recently worked together to streamline the way e-911 addresses are assigned, and this has been a huge improvement to workflows in both of our offices, as well as in the Real Property office, the zoning/building inspectors departments, and the assessors’ offices

 Our current cooperative project is a NYS Archives LGRMIF grant funded project to make the SAM data, along with information about truss roofed structures (as required by a NYS law that went into effect 1/1/2015), and other relevant data such as hydrant locations, available to first responders via an Android/iOS app”.

George also works closely with several state agencies including the Adirondack Park Agency, NYS Parks and Historic Preservation, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and NYS Information Technology Services (ITS).  Queensbury Town Supervisor John Strough adds:

“Like today’s computers, I do not know how we lived without him. His GIS services have helped us map the town’s infrastructure structures, trail systems, historic places and many other location details that we absolutely need to comply with the needs of today’s municipal world. I am in his office requesting his services almost as often as am in my budget officer’s office, that’s how important GIS services have become to the town.

Broad User Base

The town enjoys a wide user base including ESRI desktop clients in Planning, Water and Sewer, Assessor, and Parks departments though George is commonly called upon to assist in more detailed data creation, analysis, and cartographic products throughout town government.  He also provides training for users in many local, regional and statewide agencies including the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Champlain Watershed Improvement Coalition of New York, and the NY State Conservation District Association at their statewide conference in Auburn and Syracuse.

Additionally, George provides maps and data analysis for many community groups, nonprofits, schools, as well as for other municipalities and quasi-governmental agencies in the area.   Queensbury if one of the few municipalities in the area with a GIS program and is often asked to provide support throughout the area.

Creating More Queensbury GIS Programs

While George brought years of GIS experience to the town when accepting  the job, his ability to advance the town’s GIS program has certainly been augmented by ongoing political and administrative support.  Such combination of experience, competitive salary, technical skills and political support is often hard to replicate –   or even find for that matter –  in small town governments across the Empire State.

The Town of Queensbury GIS program speaks to the importance of educating elected officials in the benefits and  importance of investing – both financially and institutionally –  in the role of geospatial technologies in small town governance.  While the Queensbury GIS solution might be considered a typical for similar-sized communities across the state, it nonetheless can be a model for the GIS community to aspire to and replicate.

Visit the Town of Queensbury website at http://www.queensbury.net or George Hilton directly at GeorgeH@queensbury.net.

 

NYS Local Government GIS Common Core: Part 1

At the 2015 NYGeoCon in Albany, I presented a paper focusing on several GIS applications which often support and justify GIS/geospatial development at the local level.  I refer to these applications and program areas as the “GIS Common Core” and it was my intent to use the presentation as a starting point to expand the discussion further as part of this blog.

While some of the GIS Common Core program areas are not new to the discussion, several factors have contributed to elevating these day-to-day GIS functional areas to the mainstay of local government geospatial efforts.  Though these factors and opportunities vary greatly across the state, some of the more obvious reasons why “GIS Common Core” applications are becoming the foundation of local government programs include:

  • Improved large-scale spatial data integration across key business applications (assessment-inspections-permitting-public safety-utilities)
  • Better address standardization as a result of E911 implementation
  • Significant improvements on the integration between GIS and AutoCAD technologies
  • Establishing capacity to fulfill ongoing/permanent regulatory and reporting requirements (MS4)
  • Broad deployment of software programs in which using/collecting/maintaining X,Y data is implicit and available by default; GIS/geospatial is often no longer considered an “optional” feature
  • Leveraging flexible, easy-to-use browser-based applications which are accessible in a wide range of environments, particularly in the growing government mobile work force.  A work force which expects maps anywhere anytime.
GIS Common Core application areas in local government

“GIS Common Core” application areas in New York State local governments

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Relative vs. Absolute Accuracy Revisited

I recently attended a presentation by Dr. Wende Mix, Associate Professor, Geography and Planning Department at SUNY Buffalo State entitled “Field Data Collection Using Smart Phones, Tablets, and GPS Devices:  A Case Study Though the presentation focused on using mobile devices for field data collection, augmented with high resolution aerial imagery,   Dr. Mix inadvertently helped revisit a debate on the long standing geospatial issue of relative accuracy vs. absolute accuracy. While relative mapping accuracy issues are certainly pertinent as part of the emerging Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and crowd sourcing data collection movements, Dr. Mix’s presentation highlights street feature data collection which was once the mapping domain reserved only for surveying and engineering disciplines.

So how do mobile devices intersect with spatial accuracy?  If at all?   Tons of geospatial data being collected with mobile devices (particularly by the growing Smart Phone market), data of varying scales and accuracies by personnel with varying degrees of training and expertise.  But at the end of the day, with all the disparate data combined, the data mash-up stills supports most decision making needs.  Quite a difference from the efforts of New York State Association of Professional Land Surveyors (NYSAPLS) which for years lobbied that similar street feature mapping across the state could legally only be done by licensed surveyors.  So does spatial data accuracy matter anymore?

Of course it does, though an easier answer is that data is normally collected of sufficient accuracy to support specific business needs.    But perhaps the best way to illustrate how this new market of mobile devices plays into the relative accuracy vs. absolute accuracy discussion, one first needs to consider the body of geospatial data development since the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Early Data Development:  With many early government GIS programs getting started with public domain U.S. Geological Survey  1:100000 (+/- 166’)  Digital Line Graph (DLG) or 1:24000 (+/- 40’)  digital files, widespread use of the technology, particularly within the engineering communities and urban environments, was slow to take hold because the data was considered too generalized and “not accurate” enough. Beyond the human resources needed to manually digitize and convert hardcopy manuscripts, much of the first generation of geospatial data was cheap to acquire and develop.  The trade-off was that the geospatial data was of limited accuracy and content due largely to the generalized nature of the source documentation.

However, as data accuracy improved through photogrammetric projects creating many urban and metropolitan land bases at larger and more accurate scales (1”=200’  & 1”=100’), including a wide range of planimetric datasets such as building footprints, edge of pavement, hydrology, bridges and even stone walls – so did the associated data development costs.   However, the increased accuracy and completeness of the data resulted in a much broader acceptance and use within the engineering community.   And certainly some of this increased user acceptance was also a result of the growing inner-operability between GIS and AutoCAD software packages.  Improved  GPS technology (as well as with “Selective Availability” being discontinued in 2000) also gave government and industry additional tools to further push the limits of high accuracy feature mapping, though as a whole, industry mapping costs remained high.  And cadastral programs continued to mature making large scale digital tax map datasets available providing even more reference and content to both hardcopy and online mapping efforts.  Overall, particularly in the urban environment, higher accuracy datasets with features being mapped a higher degree of positional accuracy,  were slowly replacing the more generalized first generation land bases.

Referencing Data Collected in the Field:   With many urban and even rural land bases now created and available online as a service and augmented by a variety of high resolution aerial imagery services, a large portion of data collected by mobile devices can now be easily referenced and spatially edited to its right relative location. (And as an added benefit, normally at a lower data development cost.)  Most mobile devices now include cameras, so including a picture of the selected feature adds even greater context to its relative location.  Using desktop tools, fire hydrants can be moved to their right relative X,Y location in front of the proper house.  Catch basins can be spatially adjusted to register in their right relative locations on street corners, street signs in their right relative location in the right-of-way, or the locations of underground storage tanks or septic fields moved to their right relative location on the proper tax parcel.  Overall, an industry witnessing an increased body of geospatial data that is not absolute accurate, but relatively accurate and ultimately more useful to a larger community of users – including the public works and engineering disciplines.   (It is noted that some workflows and business models may limit or not include resources for the editing of data; thus requiring high accuracy data capture in the field).

Dr. Mix’s presentation unintentionally illustrated how far we’ve come in context of building and using relative accurate geospatial datasets.  The content of her presentation was both typical and timely as much of the work across the state with mobile devices is being used with public infrastructure and street feature mapping.  While non-survey grade GPS units initially introduced some of these very same issues, the new mobile devices, and in particular Smart Phones, are game changers in context of affordability and ease-of-use.   It is to be seen long term how Smart Phone data collection will impact the low-end GPS hardware market.  (Any Google search on “GPS vs. Smart Phone Data Collection” will provide a long list of opinions on the matter.)

There is no question absolute (or near) accuracy – and its high price tag in data acquisition – is still mandatory for engineering and design/build projects.  But for nearly all other business needs, relative accurate and complete datasets will continue to augment design/build projects and support government and industry decision making.    All said “everything happens somewhere – and it is increasingly being mapped in its right relative location”.