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In 2010 Hexagon AB of Sweden agreed to purchase Intergraph Corporation for $2.1B USD. The company has long produced GeoMedia, a geographic information system (GIS) software, with most of the innovations and development for that product taking place in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Purchasing Intergraph allowed Hexagon AB to fill a large hole in that company’s capabilities with respect to GIS, one that also allowed it’s Leica Geosystems brand to build upon with unique data collection and GNSS tools.

ERDAS Imagine has also been on the market for a long period of time (Note: I used this product for my own thesis research). With it’s fine image analysis capabilities, ERDAS Imagine is in a high-end image processing field with only a few other players including PCI Geomatics, IDRISI, ENVI etc.

Recently Intergraph and ERDAS announced that they would be working more closely together. This was more formalized last month with the announcement that ERDAS IMAGINE and GeoMedia could now interoperate together. This was a major step for both image processing and GIS communities. It was also part of the discussion yesterday in a Webinar by Casey Adams of Intergraph that I listened to. He proceeded to show how workflows between the two products would interoperate and how workflows could take advantage of these products.

Using the Live Link between GeoMedia and ERDAS Imagine, users could track Map Windows in synchronization between products and the tools in GeoMedia could be placed into the ERDAS IMAGINE workspace for use. This capability essentially connects the GIS to the image analysis capabilities between the products.  

This connection is similar to the capabilities that Esri ArcGIS gains within the Toolbox using ENVI image analysis within that GIS.  And, it is similar to the capabilities that IDRISI’s GIS and image analysis provide together within one streamlined, raster-based product. 

This Intergraph ERDAS announcement and positioning is powerful. Presumeably this will embrace other Intergraph products such as digital airborne cameras, 3D CAD software capabilities and help to provide them with spatial analysis capabilities, thereby rounding out their workflow advantages.  In addition, on the Leica Geosystems side, it could add powerful spatial analysis tools for use with that groups data collection tools including GNSS, laser scanners, surveying tools and lidar products. 

Users should also keep in mind that Autodesk and PBBI recently announced a closer alignment that would build connections between a GIS product and CAD product also. 

The ability to connect to a GIS is an integral and important step today. With so much valuable information being acquired through image analysis hardware, and processed automatically; the capability to extrapolate value from that available data is dependent upon GIS functionality, which also generates useful applications and closes the representation phases of the workflows. 

In terms of industry perspectives, the Intergraph ERDAS connection provides yet another valuable alternative to users of spatial data, but it also builds on the possibilities from hardware generated data. Todays spatial data users want to see these connections because they smooth workflows, add value and increase efficiency. Through increased automation, the trend to greater spatial data use from product data capture to user application is streamlined, better defined and easier to understand and invest in. 

Editors Note: 
— Jeff Thurston is a registered user of the following products: ArcGIS 10, IDRISI, Cartalinx and GeoMedia 6