From time to time, researchers find the project they are working on has a few surprises in store, often calling for some lateral thinking or even a whole new approach.
Morocco - 1924
The sweltering heat was almost unbearable for Lieutenant Reneaume, commanding officer of the French Army's fourth topographic survey brigade, charged with compiling a map of Meknes, Morocco, way back in the early 1920s. This long and painstaking task was assigned to four lieutenants and two NCOs, each gathering data for part of the map on his own, with just the sun and a few local guides for assistance. At the time, Morocco was under French administration and the French Army was responsible for compiling topographic maps. Without the aid of aerial photos, the soldiers tirelessly recorded data in the field by hand. The climate made conditions difficult and the work called for a meticulous approach and sound judgement, qualities the lieutenant and his men were certainly not lacking. Little did they know that 80 years later their maps would be updated using advanced satellite techniques.
Today, innovations using georeferencing of all kinds of data herald a revolution in the application of digital maps and geographic information systems (GIS). Developments in the arena of spatial relational technology are currently rapid enough to leave your head spinning faster than a globe off its axis!
Having embraced an outlook of collaboration, rather than competition, map data suppliers, MapIT positions itself as a spatial data vendor to companies using GIS technology in their product development. A group of leading companies in this industry have a common vision for the use of geospatial data and to this end MapIT has crafted a Licensed Partner programme based on the common requirement for highly accurate mapping data.
MapIT managing director, Ray Wilkinson believes that a co-operative approach has made the company the first stop for geospatial information and GIS-related apps. This reasoning has heralded the introduction of the partnership programme benefiting both MapIT and geodata organisations. These GIS operators now have the facility to unreservedly use MapIT's map sets in the creation of applications their clients need further along the development cycle. "After examining the use of GIS and spatial data applications, our decision to cooperate rather than compete with geodata developers has proved to be a solid framework for improving the quality of spatial data. This unified environment streamlines access to a single port of call for a benchmark standard of data and curbs the unnecessary wrestling for marketshare. Our systems are integrated and operate on any platform and in this way we can focus on providing best-of spatial data and companies specialising in the integration of this information into mainstream business, can focus on that which they do best. The bottom line - GIS technicians, practitioners and managers now have the tools for improving the quality of GIS-enabled solutions which in turn benefits their clients down the line," states Wilkinson.
MapIT recently signed licensed partner agreements with five organisations working in this field, including Open Spacial, Gisco, Data World, Intermap and most recenty, Geospace.
For those operators in the business of building and configuring business solutions that integrate GIS into the decision-making platforms of everyday business, they have seen the value of this model. Now relieved of the time-consuming and sophisticated analyses of cartographic data, they can concentrate on the application of GIS technology to business infrastructure as licensed specialists.
Willy Govender, CEO of Data World, was forthright in his response to being asked what the licensed partner programme has meant to his IT-based company. Data World builds IT solutions to largely support public sector and government agencies. "We understood our vulnerability and the consequences of ignoring the use of MapIT's data. As a licensed partner we can now place maximum emphasis on our core focus; that of building complex business systems that are Web-enabled, multitiered and enterprise-based. Our experience in the integration of ICT systems into GIS-based solutions positioned us an ideal candidate for this programme," concludes Govender.
For others, this spirit of scientific cooperation has meant a higher level of performance and an increased degree of technical maturity. E-map vendors, Intermap, have signed up believing in the all important two-way exchange of ideas and innovations. The signing of the LP agreement marks the start of a new business model in this industry. The company knows that MapIT's geometric specifications are very stringent and the production processes are exacting and work-intensive. They can now reap the benefit of concentrating on their core business.
Open Spatial Solutions (OSS) which also specialises in this field, is providing improved decision-making capability to a range of clients including Johannesburg Water, Kempton Park Local Council, Venn Diagnostics, City of Windhoek, Senwes, NWK, Middelburg Municipality, National Department of Education and the Northern Cape Provincial Government. Open Spatial, with the help of MapIT mapsets, has successfully completed a number of national projects as well as some in Australia and Namibia.
For more information contact Map Integration Technologies, 012 345 8020, www.map-it.co.za