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Winter 2004/2005
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Expanding the Possibilities of Location Information

Japan's Increment P Uses GIS to Drive Its Digital Mapping

Esri Services logoIncrement P Corporation (iPC) is a digital map database supplier and has been a leading force in the Japanese market since its establishment in 1994 as a subsidiary of Pioneer Corporation. iPC has been providing digital map data for many forums, including its primary business clientele—in-vehicle navigation system manufacturers. iPC is the first in the industry to release in-vehicle navigation software for aftermarket sales, as well as to supply map databases for such diverse interfaces as personal computers, mobile phones, and personal digital assistants. Consequently, the company enjoys an overwhelming market share in the industry. Furthermore, not only is iPC involved in selling map data, but it also engages in such service solutions as fleet management and car rental.

iPC's major success in Japan has led to its achievement of another milestone; the international version of the brand City Maps was produced for Pioneer's in-vehicle navigation systems, which have successfully permeated the North American and European markets. City Maps are innovative products that contain accurate and highly detailed information of precise building shapes and names. In addition, City Maps enable more sophisticated search methods.

Forty Years of Motorization

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The image above shows an example of an iPC developer editing building shapes, background lines, and notations with a customized version of ArcObjects.

Interestingly, the birth of City Maps was only 10 years ago. Since 1965, the year of the largest motorization movement in Japan, more people are traveling longer distances as automobile sales have grown. This travel has led to an enormous demand for paper-based maps. It was believed that the map market growth was going to reach a saturation point. However, at that early date, the Pioneer Corporation engineers (who would soon form iPC) foresaw the market would demand more detailed, visual cartographies rather than plain maps with streets drawn as simple lines. The project of creating City Maps for in-vehicle navigation systems was started. Initially, GPS capability was unsatisfactory, and it was difficult to pinpoint a user's location on a navigational display. Currently, however, GPS performance has been improved, and with City Maps' features of footprints and building notations, users can locate their positions instantly. Simply put, the concept of City Maps is the result of extending the possibility of cartography.

To survive in the competitive business of providing map databases, iPC is determined to supply the most current, premium quality map data to clients in a flexible and efficient manner. For this reason, iPC selected ArcSDE and ArcEditor software. Prior to this decision, iPC maintained all of its data separately: road network, point of interest, address, various scaled, and City Maps data. In addition, each type of data was individually administrated by a "mesh," which is a small division of map covering approximately 1.16 by 1.42 km (about 0.72 by 0.88 miles).

However, ArcSDE successfully combined all of these data formats into one, which consequently brought tremendous benefits to the developers. Because boundaries no longer exist between meshes, the possibility of discrepancies and gaps between the neighboring meshes has been eliminated. Most important, one mesh can be modified by several people simultaneously, whereas it was limited to one person previously. This multiuser concurrent editing capability improved the compiling process by approximately 40 percent. (Calculation assumed one person would complete five meshes a day and four people would complete 20 meshes a day.)

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Showing a city map of Los Angeles, California.

In support of these efforts, Esri's Enterprise Technology Strategies team, a new department in Esri's Professional Services Division, has supported iPC's technology strategy and implementation activities to ensure the success of the program. iPC asked Esri to assist with the development of custom tools to support work flow for the large number of editors. Esri Professional Services staff is also working with iPC to develop a strategy for upgrading to ArcGIS 9.x. This strategy includes adding a second data maintenance facility to the ArcGIS environment and related data synchronization activities in Shanghai.

Not only have these solutions led to a more efficient work flow but also to better management. ArcObjects, which is an open customization environment within ArcGIS, recorded every edit that has been made, by whom, when, and how, according to iPC's business rules. Thus, the system makes troubleshooting easier and more reliable whenever an error is found. This saves a great amount of time and effort in tracking down a problem's origin, which removes most of the issues raised in a collaborative work environment. Overall, with all the mentioned benefits, iPC is able to enhance its database quality and facilitate smooth quality assurance activity.

Expansion of iPC's Business

Because of Esri's ArcGIS products and working with Esri's Professional Services, iPC updates and stores data more efficiently and effectively than ever before. The company is also actively pursuing new fields in which to extend the possibilities of GIS in the world. Therefore, iPC is offering City Maps products to GIS solutions and GIS software users in the United States and Europe by collaborating with Esri. iPC will focus its energy and effort on providing City Maps to as many diverse clientele as possible to meet their various needs.

iPC will continue to deliver its map data for diverse platforms so its comprehensive location information and location-based services (LBS) solutions function efficiently and effectively as social infrastructure. In addition to being a facilitator of location information and LBS, the company is in search of new avenues for business by collaborating with Esri in the GIS field.

For more information, contact Maki Motoshige, Increment P Corporation (tel.: 81-3-3491-6691, fax: 81-3-3491-6560, e-mail:, Web:, or Steve Grisť, Esri Enterprise Technology Strategies (tel.: 909-793-2853, extension 1-2494, e-mail:

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