You bet Maine is an incubator for geospatial businesses. Map Business Online is incorporated in the state of Maine, just outside of Maine’s largest city, Portland. Our building is located forty miles west of Portland, in Cornish, ME. But Maine has been an incubator for geospatial technology for decades.
Known for lobsters, rocky beaches, and the craziest ex-Governor on the planet, Maine is also an incubator for location-based services, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), GPS devices, and business mapping software. Who knew? It has a significant GIS history with an offshoot community of business intelligence software companies to-boot.
In the very beginning, Maine’s acceptance into the Union as a state was very much map related. The state was added to the United States as part of the Compromise of 1850. The state of Maine offset an additional slave state, preserving the peace for the Union during the decade right before the Civil War. Thanks, Maine!
Roll it forward a hundred years and one David DeLorme, a Yarmouth Maine native, just back home from a tour of duty in Vietnam, convalescing after suffering a serious wound on patrol, decided to go to northern Maine and get some fishing in. In so doing he found the published fishing maps available were completely inadequate for in-vehicle or on-foot navigation. That was all it took. “I can do better than this,” he thought. And he did.
Gathering all the published maps and government-issued maps he could get a hold of, and working with ground-truth of his own making, David created the first Maine Atlas & Gazetteer, launching DeLorme Mapping. Eventually, DeLorme became one of the premier mapping companies in the world, creating the first digital street map database of the whole USA on one Compact Disc – Street Atlas (quickly knocked-off by Microsoft as Streets & Trips.) DeLorme also developed early personal GPS devices for in-vehicle navigation, and especially off-road travel and recreation. Famously, Delorme’s Yarmouth Maine facility boasted the world’s largest rotating globe named Eartha.
Yours truly (me), cut his GIS teeth at DeLorme from 1998 until 2011, where I headed up the business mapping division for a few years. XMap, DeLorme’s professional map making tool, was used by many energy industry field-services organizations to track assets and create compelling and informative map-based data visualizations. A key XMap innovation was enabling team map editing and GIS support for less than $1000.
In 2016, DeLorme was purchased by Garmin Inc., the GPS device giant. Garmin still maintains the Delorme building in Yarmouth, ME. Eartha’s magnificent blue brilliance continues to light up Route 1 for travelers headed North into Maine through Yarmouth.
As DeLorme grew, so did other GIS and map-based companies in the state of Maine. Esri, the big Kahuna of GIS worldwide, opened up an office in Portland Maine in the mid-2000s to take advantage of the growing geospatial talent-base. Esri geospatial software development takes place there in support of a variety of markets around the world. Many of those GIS developers working at Esri Portland are ex-comrades of mine from DeLorme.
Further north in Central Maine at Hallowell, www.BlueMarble.com is a geospatial software development company focused on geodata translation. BlueMarble publishes Global Mapper, an affordable GIS offering 3-D map development and support for Lidar collected point clouds. Once again, ex-Delorme geospatial developers can be found at BlueMarble. Notice a pattern? One geospatial company in an area will beget many more.
Vetro Fiber Map is another Maine-based GIS company servicing the entire USA. Vetro Fiber Map grew out of the need for a map-based visualization and planning tool describing complete telecom fiber networks with a focus on expanded high-speed Internet access for all communities. The tool supports fiber installation contractors, town planners, and consumers as the country seeks to expand Internet access to all rural areas, providing improved healthcare support, access to better-paying jobs, and all the information you can Google. Vetro Fiber Map is the shared brainchild of Will Mitchell, an old DeLorme vendor, who sold MapInfo back in the day.
Moving up the coast of Maine to Camden, a traveler will uncover yet another pocket of geospatial software development. Penn Bay Solutions focuses on internal facility or indoor GIS in addition to classic geographic mapping. Penn Bay caters to federal government opportunities and is a long-time Esri Gold partner. These guys are taking the concepts of location-based services indoors. Think hospital mapping and military installation mapping.
There are plenty more businesses in the State of Maine focused on GIS and business intelligence. Here at Map Business Online, we’ve helped Tyler Technologies to manage shared map intelligence across their internal network. Maine is home to an array of aerial imagery and LiDAR collection and processing companies providing GIS services for businesses and government organizations nationwide. And of course, there are a plethora of small GIS consultants around the state catering to municipal and general business geospatial requirements.
Although Map Business Online is not the first company software company to turn imported address datasets into intensity heat maps or customer visualizations we’ve done a great job making those tools affordable and easy-to-use.
At Map Business Online we get calls every day, from all over North America, from business mapping users seeking a replacement for MapPoint territory mapping or Delorme Street Atlas in-vehicle GPS tracking. We do our best to fulfill the geospatial nd mapping analysis needs with our services or send people in the right direction to get their requirements met. But it’s kind of nice to stop and consider how the State of Maine served as an incubator for the geospatial industry in its own unique way.
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