Territory joins in worldwide celebration of GIS Day today

The Territory today joins its global counterparts in celebrating Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day under the focus, ‘Discovering the World through GIS’.
GIS Day is a global event held annually to celebrate GIS technology, the innovative technology which uses geography to bring countless benefits to the world. The local observance is spearheaded by the National GIS Technical Steering Committee.

During a recent GIS Radio Report, Public Relations Officer for this year’s GIS Day, Mr. Earl Forbes highlighted the storage capacity of the GIS technology and the benefits it provides in decision making and efficiency aspects.

“GIS is a tool which consists of software, hardware and most importantly people. They all combine to store information which becomes key. We provide a service to the public and if we can find ways of doing so more efficiently then that is a main benefit of having the GIS. It makes us efficient in delivering services to the public,” Mr. Forbes said.

Fellow Public Relations Officer for GIS Day, Mrs. Rozina Norris Gumbs spoke of the benefits that GIS technology provides to its users and its use within the Conservation and Fisheries Department.

“We use GIS to monitor marine eco-systems, fisheries areas, oil spills, coral reef degradation, mangrove replanting areas and to assist students with environmental projects and many other areas,” she explained.

In observance of GIS Day, the National GIS Steering Committee which comprises of 13 Government departments and statutory bodies will visit fourth and fifth form geography classes to help improve students’ knowledge of GIS technology and its applications.

Students will be given exercises to help broaden their geography skills, such as detecting elevation, measuring contour lines, calculating depth and height and visualising the Territory’s geography.

GIS Day provides an opportunity for curious persons to observe GIS applications in action. GIS is a computer-based mapping tool that takes information from a database such as location, streets, parcel number, buildings, water features, and terrain and turns it into visual layers. This technology provides users with the ability to locate geographic features on a map which allows them to better understand a particular location.  This also enables planners and analysts to make more informed decisions about their communities.

GIS is used throughout the world to solve problems related to the environment, health care, land use, business efficiency, education and public safety. This technology can also help businesses place automated teller machines (ATM’s) and restaurants at more convenient locations, allow people to pull maps off the Internet, and help farmers grow more crops with less chemicals.

GIS Day serves to create more public awareness of GIS technology and the important contributions it has made within the fields of science, technology, information, and the humanities. Within the Territory, the National GIS Steering Committee uses GIS Day as an opportunity to demonstrate the use of GIS technology and how it helps to make a difference in our daily lives.

The National GIS Technical Steering Committee

The National GIS Technical Steering Committee consists of 13 government departments and statutory bodies which are:

          o Town & Country Planning Department
          o Conservation & Fisheries Department
          o Land Registry Department
          o Survey Department
          o Environmental Health
          o Royal Virgin Islands Police Force
          o Fire & Rescue Services Department
          o National Parks Trust
          o Public Works Department
          o Water & Sewerage Department
          o Department of Disaster Management
          o Agriculture Department
          o Department of Information Technology

The committee meets every third Thursday to discuss GIS initiatives, GIS education and training, and career building capacities in GIS.

Furuno Acquires eRide, Makes it GPS Nav and Timing Center

Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. (Nishinomiya, Japan) has acquired eRide, the San Francisco-based maker of assisted GPS chips and software. As a subsidiary of Furuno, eRide will become Furuno’s central location for GPS navigation and timing chipset development.
Previously Furuno’s commitment included licensing the eRide technology and also providing capital investment funding. Furuno has now acquired more than 90 percent shareholding of eRide. With the acquisition, eRide sales and procurement functions will be taken over by Furuno, while the eRide division will continue to be dedicated to research and development.

"The market demand for ultra-reliable, high-quality GPS receivers has increased exponentially over the years and GPS applications have spread into many different areas," a Furuno statement said. With eRide as the GPS navigation and timing center, Furuno will be able to continue providing its customers with advanced, dependable market-specific GPS products, the statement said.

eRide, a fabless venture company, was established in 1999 by a group of GPS engineers and professionals engaging in the development, design, and sales of high-sensitivity GPS chipsets. In 2005, Furuno entered into a licensing agreement with eRide. The following year Furuno further strengthened the relationship with eRide by underwriting preferred shares of eRide stock. Furuno’s acquisition of eRide’s high-sensitivity GPS technology, LSI design technology, and other intellectual properties will merge with Furuno’s existing GPS core technology .

Furuno is a maker of GPS modules and chipsets for Japan’s automobile industry, especially for in-car navigation systems. Furuno also supplies GPS navigation and timing receivers worldwide for a wide range of applications. Starting out as a marine navigation company, Furuno developed a fish finder in 1948, then became established as a manufacturer in a wide range of marine electronics manufacturing. Over the years, Furuno created the System Products Division which includes the GPS/timing and medical divisions.

Garmin Mobile PC

Garmin Mobile PC

Garmin Mobile PC has just been launched [April 2008]. The following is a user review and discussion of this new GPS navigation software program for laptop PCs, and other Microsoft Windows based computers.

What's included:

There are two packages: Garmin Mobile PC with a GPS receiver, MSRP US$99.99 (on the above pictures), and the GPS navigation software program alone, $59.99, for those who already have a GPS receiver.

Map data:

Garmin version 2009 map data is included (today, April 2008). It is based on Navteq 2007 and some Canadian data is by DMTI. Beside the North American version, there is also a version with map data for Europe.


I was performing the installation on my mobile computer away from home, and I didn't have the product key with me. I don't even know where the product key is - I will have to look for it when I get home. On the back of the CD case there is a sticker with a serial number, but that is not the product key. I skipped the product key entry by simply clicking the "Connect to Garmin GPS receiver":

I did have the Garmin USB GPS with me, but it wasn't connected yet. I wanted to see what would happen if I just use a plain non-Garmin USB GPS receiver.

To use a non-Garmin GPS unit, it is necessary to "activate the product. I will activate later. For now I justed plugged in the Garmin GPS receiver, and within a minute I was able to use the program.

Originally Posted by Marvin Hlavac View Post

EDIT [May 29, 2008]: I didn't undestand this at the time of writing the review, but the following are the facts about product keys:
  • The version which includes Garmin USB GPS20x receiver does not include a product key. The product key is not needed for Garmin Mobile PC to function with the included GPS receiver.
  • The software-only version of Garmin Mobile PC does include a product key (on the inside of the DVD case, on a big green sticker). The product key enables the program to be used with any 3rd party GPS receiver supporting NMEA standard.
  • Users of Garmin Mobile PC w/GPS20x, who wish to use the software with a 'normal' (NMEA) GPS receiver, would need to obtain a product key to enable non-Garmin GPS receivers to function with the program. The only way (I'm aware of) to obtain a product key is by purchasing the program.
Set your destination:

The user interface is intuitive. Buttons appear large enough to be used even with large fingers on a small UMPC touch-screen. However, my mobile setup doesn't use a touch screen, and my monitor is rather large, so I will be looking forward to reading feedback by users with Ultra-Mobile PCs and TabletPCs.

For some reason Garmin did not include OSK (on screen keyboard) with its new Garmin Mobile PC program. Could it be because UMPCs and TabletPCs have their own OSKs? Or is it an oversight due to Garmin thinking only about laptop PC users, but overlooking the needs of others? How do people with touch screens feel about this? The first reaction of CarPC community is a surprise and disappointment.

I love the "Search all cities" function. I would be very hesitant to ever recommend a GPS navigation program to anyone living in and around a large city like Toronto, without the ability to skip entering town in the process of entering destination address. I often may know the street I need to go to, but I may not necessarily know the city. Cross a street around here, and you may be technically in a different city - very confusing .

Enter street number, street name...

...and you will see your destination. You may zoom-in to see it better.

I was on a parking lot, so my GPS position is showing as not being on the road yet (as shown above),

...but once I started to move, all started to look very good .

Routing Preferences:

Optimization of multiple stops

Garmin Mobile PC has a built-in feature which can sort stops (vias) to save travelling time.

Note that is it possible to include or exclude the last stop from the route optimization process.

See the route at the following before-&-after pictures:

Included GPS receiver:

GPS20x is a very small USB GPS receiver that is included in the $99 bundle, but it can be also purchased separately. Garmin's website currently lists GPS20x (sensor only) at MSRP $ 69.99 USD. New GPS receivers these days are all of very good sensitivity to weak satellite signals, in comparison to the older technology of only few years ago. I don't plan on doing any comparison with other GPS units, because I think the technology has advanced to a point that any brand new GPS receiver on the market today is more than good enough for on-road GPS navigation. Suffice to say that GPS20x is not a disappointment by any means. As the above screenshot shows, it currently has a fix on 12 satellites - I see as many as 12 satellites simultaneously only very infrequently in my geographical area, and I've used GPS receivers mounted even on the roof of my vehicle. GPS20x is inside of my truck, and it seems to perform very well.

Ease-of-use: touch-screen vs. keyboard:

My mobile setup uses a keyboard, and a screen which has no touch capability. Garmin Mobile PC may compel me to actually consider upgrading to a touch-screen setup. While this program uses several keyboard shortcuts making it fairly easy to use on a laptop PC, it must be even easier to just touch the big buttons right on the screen.

Those of us using our keyboards, notice the F11 and F12 hotkeys on the above screenshots. Most hotkeys are marked right under various buttons, as also shown on some of the screenshots bellow.

Instead of using hotkeys such as F1, F2, F3, etc, users may easily navigate between various buttons with ArrowRight, ArrowLeft, ArrowUp, and ArrowDown keys on the keyboard. Select your desired button with an arrow key, and then just hit the Enter-key to press the button.

Zoom-in and zoom-out can be performed on a touch-screen by tapping the (+) and (-) areas on the right of the screen. Keyboard users may do the same with a surprising variety of hotkeys: (+) and (-), and (+) and (_), and my most favorite is actually ArrowUp and ArrowDown keys - because the arrow keys are easily accessible on my keyboard. If none of the above is your favorite, you may still use Q-key and P-key to change the zoom level - both Q and P are in the top row of letters on the keyboard - Q is the first, and P is the last, so it may be easy to remember. The programmer who put all these hotkeys in must understand people love to play with zoom ! Did I forget to say you may also mouse-click the (+) and (-) on the right-side of map to zoom in and out?

Garmin Online (TM):

Ducati, a user of Garmin Mobile PC, writes:

Originally Posted by Ducati View Post

One of the best features is the free Garmin Online.

- By tapping "Weather" tab you can check local weather information based on current location or enter another location.

- By tapping "hotels.com" tab you can check hotel/lodging prices based on current location or enter another location. This will show you closest to farthest with direction arrow, distance, and price.

- By tapping "Fuel Prices" you can check current fuel prices based on current location or enter another location. This will show you closest to farthest with direction arrow, distance, and price. You can choose from low, medium, high grade gasoline or diesel. I went around the area to check on listed prices and it was exactly right.

- By tapping "Flight Status" you can get flight info based on current location or enter another location. You can pick from "Check Flight Number", "Departures", or "Arrivals" to get detailed information.

All you need to do is connect via WiFi, Network Card, tethered PDA or Cell Phone.

I tethered an EDGE T-Mobile cell phone and it pulled up information very quickly this is not a slow moving feature. All of these features work very well and display the information clear and easy to read, very cool!

It is possible to download free files of vehicles to be used instead of the default arrow icon.

Read the following user discussion on the topic: Changing your vehicle indicator icon in Garmin Mobile PC.


  • Buy in USA
  • Buy Garmin Mobile PC - This is the software program, and it includes maps of USA and Canada. Buy it if you already have a compatible GPS receiver that works with your laptop, or if you wish to buy a USB GPS or Bluetooth GPS other than the ones offered in the Garmin packages bellow.
  • Buy Garmin Mobile PC 20x -This package includes the software program (with USA/Canada map) and also a USB GPS receiver.
  • Buy Garmin Mobile PC 10x - This package includes the software program (USA and Canada map) and also a Bluetooth GPS receiver.
  • Buy in UK
  • Buy Garmin Mobile PC - This is the software program, and it contains map data for most of Europe. Buy it if you already have a compatible GPS receiver that works with your laptop, or if you wish to buy a different GPS for your laptop.
  • Buy Garmin Mobile PC 20x -This package includes the software (with maps of Europe) program and also a USB GPS receiver.

Garmin nRoute alternative?

Well, I'll try to be more specific.

First, nRoute works, but the user interface is horrid. Keyboard shortcuts are e.g. Ctrl+character. Why? It's not like we are entering text and need to use modifier keys. Why press Ctrl+N instead of only N? When driving this is a major distraction.

And the rendering is both slow and ugly. I get faster response on the same tiny little Asus Eee using google maps. And the maps look better. At least I can tell the difference between different types of paths.

Here is an example:

And using http://ja.is/kort (yellow pages app), which uses the same data as the garmin map:

This map is smoother/faster/looks better in a browser, than a dedicated Garmin GPS application. If only I could cache ja.is tiles and connect them to GPS.


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