Vendor aims to ease Internet searches with new software

Core Software Technology this week begins shipping a new version of a software package that gives agencies a single user interface for accessing geospatial information in a hodgepodge of databases.

The new product TerraSoar Release 2.5 replaces Core's ImageNet Plus product which the company created to make it easy for users to access geospatial data and images from databases over the Internet. TerraSoar 2.5 enhances Image-Net Plus by providing a more detailed digital world map as the starting point for searches and by adding more flexibility into the search tools themselves.

Core's product acts like a Web-based hub in that it connects a variety of image and map files stored in different forms without having to revamp different databases to a single standard according to the company. "It puts a familiar face on various disparate databases " said Steve Lutton vice president of technical marketing at Core.

Maps Make It Easy

As part of the new release the product incorporates the Digital Chart of the World - a map produced by the federal government and used in the public domain - to help users zero in more quickly on the specific area for which they need data. ImageNet Plus had incorporated the World Data Bank II which offered only a tenth as much detail according to Core officials.

Also to make TerraSoar 2.5 more inviting to information seekers Core developers have added functions that they hope will make the product seem less cumbersome than its predecessor. Enhancements include a "shopping cart" function that lets users select the data they want to view and "set aside" their choices before the final viewing.

Developers also have upgraded the software's querying function. The upgrade means a user will not have to fill out a new query form each time he wants to conduct a new but slightly different on-line search. Instead he can change a line or two and avoid having to start from scratch.

Core's new product will be made available to federal agencies through integrators and resellers. Clinton Libbey director of business development at Core said he also hopes to have TerraSoar Release 2.5 listed on the General Services Administration schedule.

The product already has been tested by the Environmental Protection Agency the Forest Service and members of the intelligence community.

"I think it's much improved as far as the look and feel of it " said a CIA official who has been testing the new release. He described Core's new product as more user-friendly than its predecessor and more "off the shelf" than similar products including a Global Land Information System developed by the U.S. Geological Survey.

But TerraSoar 2.5 is not expected to save agencies from all the woes of sharing geospatial information. Agencies will have to have their IT shops in order to use the product.

"The ease of implementation has to be balanced with the understanding that performance needs to be tuned in the database sitting behind the program and in the Web server itself " said Matthew D. Syrett the lead GIS/Internet consultant for Palimpsest Consulting in New York.

"Heavy use will potentially cripple [the software] if the back-end database and Web server - hardware and software - are not implemented well " he said.

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