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ARCHIVED  November 1, 1995

GIS industry puts area on map

Northern Colorado has emerged as a centerpiece for one of the nation’s most promising new technologies.

Geographic information systems, which reveal relationships among geographically referenced data, support 45 businesses statewide, with annual revenues of $94.5 million, according to a survey by GIS World Inc., the Fort Collins-based publisher of several GIS magazines.

Many of those companies hail from Larimer and Weld counties, where GIS firms spun off from work done for federal natural-resource departments and research done at Colorado State University.

These locally based GIS companies and consultants provide products and services for customers and clients all over the world.

“Because 80 percent of all data can be geographically related, GIS uses are limited only by your imagination,´ said Mike Fields, vice president of marketing – North America, for Genasys II Inc., a GIS software developer and manufacturer in Fort Collins.

Nora Sherwood, editor of Business Geographics magazine, said annual growth in the GIS industry has averaged 5 percent. GIS software has experienced annual growth of 20 percent.

GIS was developed in Canada in the mid- and late 1960s to analyze maps in a way that would help solve problems in agricultural rehabilitation and land use.

The technology began with traditional maps, Mylar overlays and magic markers. Each overlay contained specific information, such as the location of electric utility lines or areas with poor soil.

Advances in computer technology were applied to the concept of layers of information tied to a physical location (latitude/longitude, for example) in, on, or above the earth. Software was developed that allowed the layers to “think.”

GIS can be used in a variety of ways:

” Businesses use GIS for marketing, locating new retail stores and restaurants, and logistics.

” Development of remote sensing and global positioning systems, which use orbiting satellites, makes it possible to apply GIS to route trucks or airplanes for efficient scheduling.

” Farmers are beginning to use GIS for crop management.

” Epidemiologists use GIS to study and map disease.

” The Department of Defense used GIS to develop and carry out strategy and tactics in the Gulf War.

GIS companies fall into three broad categories: software development and/or manufacture, data providers or vendors, and consultants.

Software development

Genasys II Inc. develops, manufactures and resells GIS software. Now privately owned by an Australian GIS firm, Genasys II began as a spinoff from software developed at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Fort Collins.

Genasys’ software, among other things, helps Federal Express Corp. coordinate international flights that need to land in Memphis, Tenn., within minutes of each other in order to maintain delivery schedules.

Engineers at Genasys are able to develop software 24 hours a day. At the end of the day in Fort Collins, work is sent via computer modem to Genasys’ home office in Australia. Genasys engineers in Australia then continue the development process during their work day “down under.” When the Australian engineers are ready to go home, they send the results back to Fort Collins, where the process continues.

Data vendor

Harrison Resource Corp. was begun by Craig Harrison, a real estate broker specializing in water rights and farm and ranch land.

Harrison built a large 3-D map model of the Front Range. In the course of his brokerage business, he assembled geographically oriented information. Imitating the early pioneers of GIS, he incorporated the information onto Mylar overlays that were then placed over the map in order to visually identify areas with development potential.

The concept of the model was assembled into a computerized GIS database to allow the overlays to “think.” Harrison’s company now markets 11 datasets that contain 120 layers of information covering the entire state of Colorado.

Consultant

Dr. Joseph Berry, Berry and Associates, is a leading consultant, educator and author in GIS. Although Berry’s emphasis is in natural resource and environmental applications, he is know for his ability to communicate the theory and application of GIS to both novices and professionals.

He writes a column titled “Beyond Mapping” for GIS World magazine that explores the concepts and emerging issues of this field.

A sampling of GIS firms

Genasys II Inc.

1201 S. Lemay Ave., Fort Collins

CEO: Carl N. Reed

Employees: 42

Year founded: 1976

1994 revenue: $17,077,505

Services/products: Software company specializing in designing, developing and supporting integrated GIS solutions.

ESC (Electrical Systems Consultants Inc.)

212 W. Mulberry St., Fort Collins

CEO: Jim Siano

Employees: 50

Year founded: 1978

1994 revenue: $3.5 million

Services/products: Provider of services and training for GIS applications in local government, oil and gas, mining, transportation, utilities and engineering.

GIS World Inc.

155 E. Boardwalk, Suite 250, Fort Collins

CEO: H.D. Parker

Employees: 42

Year founded: 1988

1994 revenue: N/A

Services/products: Founder and publisher of GIS World magazine (20,000 circulation worldwide), Business Geographics magazine (22,000 circulation worldwide), founder of GIS Europe, GIS Asia/Pacific.

CADI (Computer Assisted Development Inc.)

1635 Blue Spruce Drive, Suite 101, Fort Collins

CEO: Tom S. Sheng

Employees: 20

Year founded: 1987

1994 revenue: $925,460

Services/products: Complete decision support system via consulting, training, and software customizing in natural resource management, environmental protection/conservation, planning, zoning and public works.

Harrison Resource Corp.

760 Whalers Way, Suite A-200, Fort Collins

CEO: Craig Harrison

Employees: 8

Year founded: 1982

1994 revenue: N/A

Services/products: Training and support services for Harrison Datasets – GIS data for Colorado with 120 layers in 11 sets, including demographics, environmental hazards, general reference, hydrology, boundaries, natural resource, physical features, topographic, and transportation data.

Red Hen Systems

800 Stockton, Suite 2, Fort Collins

CEO: Neil Havermale

Employees: 5

Year founded: 1986

1994 revenue: N/A

Services/products: Developer of software and hardware tools for agricultural applications of GIS technology.

GIS Innovative Solutions Inc.

2000 S. College Ave., Suite 300, Fort Collins

CEO: N/A

Employees: 4

Year founded: 1992

1994 revenue: $500,000

Services/products: Consulting firm that focuses on responsible implementation and application of GIS technology in natural resource management.

Note: Companies were identified with the help of Donald F. Hemenway Jr., editor of GIS World, and Dr. Joseph K. Berry and Associates, GIS consultant

Northern Colorado has emerged as a centerpiece for one of the nation’s most promising new technologies.

Geographic information systems, which reveal relationships among geographically referenced data, support 45 businesses statewide, with annual revenues of $94.5 million, according to a survey by GIS World Inc., the Fort Collins-based publisher of several GIS magazines.

Many of those companies hail from Larimer and Weld counties, where GIS firms spun off from work done for federal natural-resource departments and research done at Colorado State University.

These locally based GIS companies and consultants provide products and services for customers and clients all over the world.

“Because 80 percent of…

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