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Business in Vancouver: Galdos Systems maps out far-sighted business plan

Business in Vancouver June 27-July 3, 2006; issue 870

Galdos Systems maps out far-sighted business plan

Vancouver company pioneering convergence of web and geographic intelligence for use by mining and other resource sector enterprises

Bob Mackin

A Vancouver company is putting itself on the map as a leader among the movement to make the confusion of map folding obsolete.

Galdos Systems' president and CEO Ron Lake said the company he founded in 1998 is focused on the automated flow of geographic information via the Internet. Lake originally opened Galdos as a distributed systems consultancy, but decided early on to explore geographic information.

He developed XML (extensible markup language) grammar for online radio broadcasting applications, but did not pursue it further.

“That gave me the idea of developing a similar grammar for geographic information,” he said.

The development of Geography Markup Language grew out of his interest in XML and led to the initial creation of the language for encoding geographic information in 1999.

Lake estimates the investment has been $1 million. The company has grown from a single employee to 22, thanks to interest from companies like Oracle and Mapinfo. Another eight staff are about to be hired.

Much of Galdos’ work has been in conjunction with fellow members of Open Geospatial Consortium.

“Our customer base has grown from that initial R&D project to a number of blue chip organizations around the world,” Lake said.

It’s useful for media companies and governments alike.

“You need data, and that data comes from many jurisdictions," he said. "Our technology provides the plumbing, if you want, to automatically flow that info, validate it and help integrate it so it can be used in some downstream application.”

Real-time access to geographic data is becoming the hottest property on the Internet for mobile dispatch, vehicle tracking and environmental monitoring. The killer app is Google Earth, a free program that allows users to see the world through satellite photography.

Galdos has raised $1 million in new financing from various projects, including the B.C. Integrated Land Management Bureau's Terrain Resource Information Management system for use by mining and forestry companies.

Galdos and Tenet Defence Ltd. provide the United Kingdom's defence ministry with an interface for nautical charts, weather information and ship locations. Shell and Galdos developed the Co-ordinate Reference System, based on Galdos’ Indicio Web Registry Service, to help oil and gas companies gauge drilling and exploration projects. Galdos’ clientele includes military contractors BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman and Saudi Arabia's Arriyadh Development Agency.

Lake said he chose Galdos for the company moniker after a famous Spanish author from the late 19th century. He said the director of Spain’s Institute for National Geography was honoured by the use of the name.

“You don’t really have to explain that much anymore what geographic information is and why it might be useful to people. There’s a much broader understanding previous to the emergence of Google Earth. [Keyhole] was a small company not much bigger than us, and Google bought it and transformed the visibility of it.”

Employed widely by media outlets during the 2003 U.S. military invasion of Iraq, Keyhole's platform gives users the ability to zero-in from space via satellite imagery to a single city block.

Galdos is hosting the world’s first conference on the convergence of the Web and geographic data July 24 to 28 at Vancouver’s Morris J. Wosk Centre. Senior Microsoft and Google experts, along with representatives of government agencies and departments are attending.

Galdos has hosted two previous OGC meetings in Vancouver and smaller GML workshops. This one is dubbed GeoWeb, which aptly describes the commercial and consumer-oriented data services' convergence, Lake said.

Read the article on their website: Business in Vancouver.