MapInfo Corp is bringing geographical or spatial analysis to relational databases and opening its traditionally personal computer-based mapping technology to the server, thin client and Internet world, with the launch of its SpatialWare server technology with SQL extensions. SpatialWare will enable geographically-coded objects that can be anything from a road, a river, a town, a house or garden to a telephone line, to be stored and defined in a relational database. MapInfo’s software enables locations to be geo-coded down to a precise, grid- referenced location. Data can then be overlaid on maps, to enable geographical pattern recognition for decision support-type functions. For example, a query on a police database of all video recorder burglaries in a given town, can be plotted on a map to enable patterns to be spotted, such as the victims all live near a motorway or a river. Traditionally, query data from a server would have to be downloaded to a personal computer to run MapInfo’s software.
By Joanne Wallen
As a result of the company’s acquisition of a business division of Unisys Corp last year, SpatialWare offers extensions to SQL that enable spatial queries, such as give me all the customers living ‘within’ 2 miles of the motorway. MapInfo vice president and general manager of its newly created SpatialWare division Dave McCann says the SQL extensions are among the first to be seen for the emerging SQL 3 standard, which MapInfo is closely involved with specifying. They offer some 20 new verbs for data querying, including the spatial ‘within’ query. The software also enables a collection of geo codes, which may represent the whole of a freeway for example, to be stored as a single object in a database. SpatialWare is written in C, and runs as a layer of middleware on top of an Oracle Corp database. It currently supports the company’s BLOB Binary Large Objects technology, and will support the replacement cartridge technology that plugs in to Oracle’s Universal Server (CI No 3,037). It will also be available from next month, as an Informix Corp Datablade, ready for the launch of Informix’s Universal Server (CI No 2,820). McCann says existing MapInfo users will be able to use SpatialWare as a map repository on the server, enabling maps to be stored and shared among multiple users. The server software currently runs on Sun Microsystems Inc Solaris and Santa Cruz Operation Inc Unix. A Digital Equipment Corp Alpha 64-bit version will be available in April, and a Hewlett-Packard Co HP-UX version is due in June. Windows NT will follow in the autumn. SpatialWare starts at around $25,000 for the server product, and rises based on the number of concurrent users.