The buzz in August

The Formula for Geoengineering

Geoengineering is booming, according to a new report from Cambashi, a leading analyst of IT. Geoengineering is a market that combines CAD and GIS with earth sciences, photogrammetry and civil engineering, and core IT disciplines such as project management and database management.

Integration is the key factor in the formula for geoengineering. Using geoengineering applications, users can integrate longitude/latitude data into the CAD environment; adjust, display and produce contours; and implement the data into civil engineering and GIS products back at the office to complete a project.

New technologies, web-based collaborative engineering and design integration are main drivers of the geoengineering market. Expected expenditure on sales and services for this new market is expected to exceed $1.2 billion in 2000, up from $1.07 billion in 1999.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), GPS and the Internet, and aecXML and project-based websites facilitate access to and the sharing of data. Success stories from companies are already showing up in the industry, crediting geoengineering with providing substantial savings in project time scales and costs.

Cambashi lists the leading application providers in this market as Bentley Systems, Autodesk, Smallworld and ESRI.

ACSM On the Move

ACSM finalized the terms of the sale of its Bethesda, Md., headquarters to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Maryland and the District of Columbia in May. ACSM's realtor found a space for sublease in a Gaithersburg, Md., office building about 8 miles from the Bethesda address.

A question on many minds is whether the sale will have any effect on the financial stability of the organization. ACSM Executive Director Curt Sumner said the sale and relocation should prove to be in ACSM's favor. "If this goes through, it's going to save us about $56,000 a year in occupancy costs," Sumner said. He added that the parking costs at the Bethesda office (roughly $5,000 per year) are an expense of the past, since the new location has free parking.

Good luck in your new home, ACSM!

Your Thoughts on Metadata

On June 15, URISA and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) posted a joint survey entitled, "Managing our Knowledge about Metadata" online at The focus of the survey is the importance of standardized metadata and the sharing of knowledge about how to make metadata most useful to all. "The overall purpose of this project will be to assess the applicability of Internet and telecommunications technologies to support knowledge management tools," said Pamela Butler, Project Committee Chair for URISA. "It is the idea that these tools and technologies will draw on and support National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) constituents." URISA and the FGDC will collect responses to the survey for several months and provide a collective summary upon analysis.

Legislation Passed on E-signatures

A near two-year endeavor by businesses to get Congress to allow electronic signatures to seal legal contracts or other transactions has come to an end. Congress approved legislation in June for companies to supply customers with contracts, documents and information online rather than with paper through "snail mail." The U.S. House of Representatives approved a final version of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, or S. 761, by a vote of 426-4. The Senate was expected to do the same in late June. President Clinton had indicated he would sign the bill.

Congressional advocates of the legislation estimate e-commerce to grow to about $1.6 trillion by 2003 from $500 billion in 1999.

"Approval of this legislation will ensure that American businesses and consumers can take advantage of the digital revolution," said Rick Lane, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's director of e-commerce and Internet technology.

Advocates for consumer protection disputed over the House bill, leading to two requirements: electronic transactions must have the consumer's consent and companies must verify that consumers have the proper computer hardware and software to receive materials and access electronic records. Lawmakers did not discuss a more argumentative issue: whether or not consumer consent should be required for their records to be sent to them electronically. Democrats and the Clinton administration want to protect consumers who may not want to receive their records electronically or who are not able to because they do not have Internet access.

No feedback has been heard in the surveying industry regarding the E-signatures legislation. ACSM Executive Director Curt Sumner said, 'It's a pretty hot issue in the sense of liability. There's a certain amount of proprietary information in surveying that could concern many surveyors."

The technology industry had asked for legislation to make digital signatures legal. Electronic contracts are expected to make companies more efficient and reduce costs in paper-intensive industries by utilizing digital records. The E-sign Act will also allow the federal law to preempt state laws governing electronic signatures. The technology to allow for secure e-signatures is still being developed, including encrypted numeric coding devices and fingerprint or iris scans attached to computers that verify a person's identity.

The President said that some minimal ground rules for entering into contracts online are necessary. "Business needs legal certainty that a contract formed and executed online will be no less valid than its pen-and-ink counterpart."

Third party companies, or "licensed certification authorities," will exist to provide and verify the signature link between two or more parties. Consumers will still have the right to receive any documents on paper.