MapInfo, Oracle Team on Software Mapping Solution

MapInfo, Oracle Team on Software Mapping Solution

By Steve LeSueur, Staff Writer

A new product partnership with Oracle Corp. on a public sector software solution should help the smaller MapInfo Corp. boost its mapping technology business in the government market.

"It's a major coup for MapInfo to have this type of close relationship with Oracle," said Henry Morris, a vice president for International Data Corp., a Framingham, Mass., information technology research firm.

MapInfo and Oracle unveiled their joint Web-based mapping solution earlier this month. It enables governments and businesses to expand their use of mapping applications throughout an enterprise.

Called Internet Spatial Solution on Oracle 8i, the new application brings together MapInfo's mapping software, particularly MapXtreme, with Oracle's spatial and Internet database software.

"The interesting thing about this is that you can get spatial applications inside a general database," said Morris. "This allows you to use GIS information with other data to solve problems that are not inherently geographical."

Company officials said the solution allows government organizations to take geographic and demographic information beyond their traditional uses, applying them to data warehousing, enterprise resource planning and call center applications.

The product already has two customers. The New York City Fire Department will begin implementing the software in June, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to start testing the product's capabilities soon. Company officials did not disclose the value of these contracts.

New York state government agencies and the federal National Imaging and Mapping Agency also have expressed interest in using the mapping software, company officials said.

MapInfo, a publicly traded company based in Troy, N.Y., owns a relatively small piece of the government market for geographic information systems.

It collected about 3.5 percent of the government GIS software market in 1997, compared to 48.2 percent for the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Redlands, Calif., and 24.8 percent for Intergraph Corp., Huntsville, Ala., according to Daratech Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based market research firm.

But the company has sold its mapping software to many city and municipal police departments, including New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis.

Its software is used by more than 50 percent of the law enforcement departments and agencies that use GIS technology, according to a January survey by the National Institute of Justice, a research agency of the Justice Department.

The company reported revenue of $60.6 million in 1998, a 28 percent increase last year's $47.4 million. Its software also has been integrated with from industry giants IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y., and Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.

Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle is one of the leading providers of information management software and consulting services to federal, state and local governments. Oracle reported annual revenue of $7.1 billion for fiscal year 1998, which ended May 31.

MapInfo officials said the widespread use of Oracle in the public and private sector should open up many avenues of new business.

"We've been seeing three new opportunities every day since the April 7 announcement," said Brian Lantz, director, public sector, for MapInfo. Lantz estimated that about 50 percent of these are in the public sector.

Oracle officials have established a dedicated consulting practice to help government and industry customers implement this solution, said Steve Cooperman, executive director for Oracle's spatial solutions group. He declined to estimate the number of potential clients or size of the consulting group.

In the past, the mapping department within an organization would have separate data, separate people and separate applications from the other information services departments.

With the new Web-based software, organizations "can bring the value of spatial technology to the entire enterprise. No longer is it for the privileged few," said Cooperman.

For example, government organizations that maintain large numbers of facilities, vehicles and other assets may use the software to coordinate the management and maintenance of those assets at multiple locations.

The new mapping solution will enable the New York City Fire Department to quickly create maps that help its personnel respond to fires and other emergencies. For example, it will show where important infrastructure and buildings are located, such as underground oil pipelines and schools. The department also will use it to share information and analyze the daily training plans of its units.

At FEMA, officials plan to test the software with portions of its database during actual emergencies this summer. Plans call for installation of a full system in the late fall.

The solution will allow officials who respond to emergencies "to get information more quickly and in a clear format," enabling them to make better decisions, said Ed Corvi, manager of FEMA's Mapping and Analysis Center.

One benefit of the application is that it will make the spatial data easily accessible to all the FEMA departments through intranets, said Corvi. Departments will be able to perform basic mapping functions on their own, freeing up the Mapping and Analysis Center to do more complex GIS work, he said.

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