In Focus: MSL Develops FatButton(tm) Fire Finder

Mapping Specialists has partnered with the Madison Fire Department to develop an interactive mapping product that allows firefighters to quickly and easily access map data while responding to emergencies. Before this partnership, MFD used hard copy map books that were updated systematically each year. The concept of the FatButton™ evolved when we first spoke with Assistant Chief Jim Keiken. Chief Keiken explained that the department needed a cost effective electronic system that could be deployed to a large fleet of vehicles.

Chief Keiken explained the issue simply – the MFD has large adults trying to use touch screen mapping software with tiny buttons, in a moving vehicle, on bumpy roads. As a result, firefighters cannot search for an address or pan and zoom easily.

“FatButton allows emergency responders to rapidly determine a call’s location which will reduce response times and potentially save lives.”

– Asst. Chief Keiken

To fully understand these problems, we were strapped in a ladder truck and driven down some of Madison’s “finest” roads while trying to use their existing map. The point was clear: few people are able to navigate through standard software or easily use a touch screen while bouncing down the road. First responders need something that is simple, easy-to-use, and affordable for the taxpayers. After assessing the MFD’s needs, we developed an approach given these constraints.

We recommended ESRI’s GIS software, something with which the fire department was familiar. To our advantage, the city has good GIS data, and touch screen ToughBooks – a virtually indestructible laptop – in every vehicle. What they lacked was a clearly designed interactive map that could be searched by address and functional on a touch screen in a moving vehicle.

Assistant Chief Jim Keiken says that “with minimal training most were proficient using FatButton the first try.”

Assistant Chief Jim Keiken says that “with minimal training most were proficient using FatButton the first try.”

Most custom software can cost a few thousand dollars per user, without accounting for developmental costs. To engineer an entirely new software suite is also expensive. Thus, the idea was proposed to use an existing software package that did not have an additional fee for every user. The solution was to re-engineer ESRI technology with customized tools, in the process eliminating an individual seat license.

ESRI products were not designed for touch screens or point-to-point navigation even with embedded customization tools. At their core, much of the functionality existed, although modification was required. We broke the software down into a blank canvas and rebuilt it from scratch with the map being the primary focus. Next we built the tools; there needed to be large, touch screen buttons that are easy to use while being jostled in a truck. Space for large buttons on the program’s window is minimal so we could only build tools a firefighter would need to find a fire, navigate to it, and better visualize the destination and the surrounding area.

The final task was to create a custom, speedy, and accurate address search tool that would allow the user to zoom to the listed address, highlight the location on the map, navigate anywhere on the map, and still be able to zoom back again without retyping the location. FatButton was then compiled to a single install CD so the city could simply install the disk in each vehicle.

The end product is a streamlined, easy-to-use regional map viewer for anyone using a touch screen that can be deployed department-wide at a minimal cost. Most importantly, the map can be maintained by the city. These custom-programming services can now be extended to other clients’ needs as well.


New Services Offered by MSL

Mapping Specialists offers a wide range of product finishing services. Take advantage of these services for a low-cost method to explore new markets or provide custom products from your existing maps. Whether it’s large format printing, laminating, mounting to foam core, or custom framing, Mapping Specialists has the services to meet your needs.

Large Format Printing – With four large format printers available, Mapping Specialists has the equipment to meet all your oversized printing needs. Our ability to print up to 60 inches wide by 11 feet long helps you maximize your graphic presentations. Ask us about the variety of media on which your images can be printed.

Print on Demand – Let us help you manage your inventory by making your large format, low-demand products printable on demand. POD enables you to tap into readily available revenue streams at a fraction of the cost of traditional print runs and at a lower risk. We offer sample plots and store your final files in our systems. Fulfillment is as easy as an e-mail placed to our office. We print, laminate (if requested), and drop ship the order directly to your customer.

Lamination – Let Mapping Specialists add value and protection to your products. We offer a wide selection of laminates with our state-of-the-art, 60-inch heat-process laminator. Whether it’s a glossy or matte finish in 1.7 mil, 3 mil, 5 mil, or super-duty 10 mil, the UV resistant laminate protects your print from the elements.

Framing – Put the finishing touches on your on-demand print product by taking advantage of our high-quality custom frames. Choices include oak, pine, rough cedar, or contemporary black all-wood finishes. All frames include your image mounted to a foam-core backing placed behind a glass-grade acrylic for added protection.

Derringer Named GIS Head

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Adam Derringer to MSL’s Manager of GIS Services. Adam hails from suburban Madison and attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he studied Physical Geography and Cartography with an emphasis on GIS/Spatial Analysis, Geology, and Earth Science. Since joining MSL in 2002 as a GIS Specialist, Adam has helped build our GIS program by establishing and maintaining our business partnerships. Adam belongs to WLIA, ILGISA, and EWUG. When he is not working, he can be found climbing, skiing, hiking with the dog or the family, or working on various home projects.



oona-mikeThe following awards were presented at the MSL 2006 Annual Meeting:

Recipient of Mapping Specialists, Ltd. 2006 Leadership Award:

Oona Markielewski
Accounting Manager

Recipient of Onno Brouwer 2006 Excellence in Cartography Award:

Mike Davis

Profile: Manager Travels to South Korea

steveSteve Davies is the marketing manager for MSL. He is a veteran employee, progressing from cartographic technician and cartographer to project manager. – Editor

Every now and then, an opportunity comes your way that opens new doors and allows you to see the world in a completely different light. In early May, I was selected by The Korea Society to participate in the their Korean Studies fall fellowship program. My previous international travel experience included a total of about two weeks in Canada and a few hours of shopping in Mexican border towns. The most excitement I ever had outside the United States was having my bicycle stolen in Saint John, New Brunswick on a bicycle tour in 1984. An excursion to East Asia was never really in my plans, but suddenly, I was going to be spending 10 days in South Korea.

As October arrived, e-mails were exchanged with other participants about what to pack and how to prepare for our trip. Before I knew it, I was boarding the plane. After hooking up and introducing myself to three of my travel companions at Chicago’s O’Hare, we flew 14 hours in the dark, nonstop to Inch’on Airport outside of Seoul. Due to the International Date Line and westward travel, the sun never rose for me that Thursday.

We arrived at 5:00 a.m. and met the rest of our companions, including Mrs. Yong Jin Choi (pron. Chay), Senior Director of the Korean Studies Program for the Korea Society and Brigham Young University Professor Mark Peterson. Shi Hyun Kim, a student at The Korean Academy, also greeted us. Shi Hyan (pron. Shi Hahn) joined our group as a late addition and as the week progressed, added to our understanding of Korea with her local perspective and boundless energy. Even though my body clock was completely discombobulated, the excitement of what awaited us overpowered my exhaustion.

The Unmunsa Nunnery near Daegu, South Korea.

The Unmunsa Nunnery near Daegu, South Korea.

After getting settled in our accommodations, eating breakfast, and taking a short nap (highly recommended by our hosts), we gathered to learn more about each other and what was in store for us the next eight days. The participants of our group were comprised of a mix of people from the educational and trade publishing industries, university academics, and an art museum.

In the following days, we traveled to many historic sites across the country that included the National Museum of Korea in Seoul, the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art (Seoul), Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul), the Early Printing Museum in Cheongju, Haeinsa Temple near Daegu, the granite Buddha grotto at Seokguram, and many of the ancient sites in the southeastern city of Gyeongju. Many of the locations were filled with children on fall field trips. The students were very eager to try out the English they had learned in school. The weather was chamber of commerce perfect the entire trip, sunny and in the low to mid-70s.

Along the way, we spent one night at the Samsung Human Resources Development facility learning about Samsung and their corporate philosophy. In contrast, we were the guests at the Unmunsa Buddhist Nunnery. While there, we practiced a solemn life as we followed their diet and schedule, which included waking up at 3:00 a.m. for their morning Buddhist ceremony. We found out that 108 bows is much more difficult than it sounds. This stop was a highlight of our journey.

As an expert in Korean culture, Professor Peterson was our tour guide. His stories, historical accounts, wit, and singing voice kept the trip interesting, fresh, and challenging at all our destinations. Mrs. Choi added her invaluable views as a Korean and all of us owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude for developing the program in which we participated. She related stories of growing up as a child during and after the Korean War.

A fringe benefit of this trip was the way in which our travel group bonded. Everyone got along incredibly well and we all learned a great deal about one another, despite the fact that some work for competing companies. We had discussions that lasted for hours – contributed from our own backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences – and had fun at the karaoke on a couple of nights. Some of us plan to meet again at conferences and also hope to keep in contact via e-mail. One thing that I came away with was not just meeting some colleagues in related fields to mine, but I feel we all made some new friendships as well. I count this trip as one of the best experiences of my life.

– Steve Davies

Steve’s South Korea Diary

10/06/06 morning

I made it!!! It’s about 9:00 on Friday morning (here) so it must be about 7:00 on Thursday night in Wisconsin.


lunchI found the three people easily in Chicago that I was supposed to meet (Karen, Jim, and Laura) – very down to earth kinds of people. After one of the best airline meals I’ve ever seen (rivals Midwest Express), I then slept for about half of the way there. They had one of those electronic maps on the wall that tracks where you are. I fell asleep over the northern Minnesota/Canadian border. I awoke about three hours later over central Alaska. If it had been light out, I could have looked out the window at Denali, but there was nothing to be seen in the middle of the night. I fell asleep again and woke up over the Kamchatka Peninsula – Russia. I then fell asleep again for about another hour. I woke up for good over Sakhalin Island. Suddenly, I had a realization that I was on the other side of the world. It was a weird feeling. At about two hours to go, they served us breakfast. The service overall was excellent.

We landed right on time, got through Customs quickly and I exchanged $200 USD for over 180,000 Won. We met everyone else in the tour group at the airport at Inch’on. They all seem really nice, as do Mark Peterson, the host professor from BYU and Yong Jin Choi, from the New York office of The Korea Society. There are 13 of us total. We have a coach bus all to ourselves. We drove through Seoul and we checked in at our “Silver City” accommodations, the Pederhaus. We are in a retirement home, thus the “silver” reference. We are in a city of about 1.25 million people that did not exist ten years ago. It is a brand new city called Bundang Jeongja-dong. We had another breakfast here and I tried kimchi for the first time. It is different, but very good. There were other assorted cooked veggies and other U.S. type breakfast items. I am supposed to grab a nap so I can meet up with everyone at noon for lunch and then we get to tour the National Museum of Korea in Seoul.

10/6/06 night

Seoul at night

seoul-nightAfter we woke up, ate lunch, and attended a “get to know you” meeting, we went to the National Museum of Korea in Seoul and it was pretty cool. We received an overall history background to give us a good base for some of our upcoming lectures. They also had a map room. We only got a couple of minutes in there, but I took a few pictures.

We went to downtown Seoul to walk for a bit before dinner. It was much different than I expected. I am sure that none of my family would have liked our dinner at all: rice with tripe soup. I ate the veggies and broth and the rice, but I could not bring myself to eat the tripe.




Today was a long day. We started the day with some lectures. The first one gave us more historical perspectives on Korea. That lecture was given by Mark Peterson, our host professor. The next one was on the dispute over the naming of the East Sea vs. the Sea of Japan, by Professor Ki-Suk Lee. Many people might think it would be a boring subject, but to a geographer and historian it was quite interesting. Afterward, we had a filling lunch of fish and rice (along with several veggies and kimchis). The after-lunch lecture was about historical Korean Art that was influenced by trade on the Silk Road, given by Professor Chee-yun Kwon. She showed us many slides of historical art. After that, we loaded up the bus for an hour and a half drive and went to the Tomb of King Sejong. He was an influential king in the 1400’s who was also an inventor and devised the Hangeul (Korean alphabet). The drive back was long as we were stuck in traffic. We went to a much better restaurant than last night for a multiple course Korean dinner. Among the dishes served were various soups, kimchi, salad, meats, fish, rice, and stingray. Yes, I said stingray. It wasn’t bad, but had some bones (cartilage). They serve a sweet rice drink for dessert. It is very good.



Tomorrow we leave this place and head more into Seoul for a night at the Korean Academy.


We had a great day today; lots of walking. After we checked out of the Pederhaus, we traveled to the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. It was organized by the founder of Samsung. There were all sorts of ancient pottery, sculptures, and artwork, some dating from the 5th century, but most from the 11th to 16th century. We ate lunch on the 10th floor of a giant shopping mall restaurant area. Afterward we had a few minutes, so we went to the food market on the ground floor. It was quite interesting. They had baked goods, candy, fresh fruit, meats and fish, and just about anything else you can imagine – all very modern.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

gyeongbokgungWe headed over to Gyeongbokgung Palace where we walked around for about two and a half hours while Mark talked about a lot of the history of the early kingdoms that used the Palace. It was very interesting. Later, we went to a tea room where I had a Cinnamon Punch which was extremely good. Then, we walked the market for an hour. It had just about anything you can imagine. I picked up a couple of souvenirs for the kids and an addition to our kitchenware – some chopsticks.

We then looked around for a place to eat dinner, but every place was either closed or very low on food because of the holiday weekend. You’ll never guess where we ate. Mark said it was a Fall Fellowship first. We ate at McDonald’s. It was basically that or keep searching and after about an hour of looking, we needed to eat so we could get to our lodging for the night.


We had an early start today. We attended a morning session with Shi Hyun’s Taoist Grand Master. Shi Hyun (Mark calls her Sunshine because her name is close to that) is a Korean student that lives in Chattanooga, but, she is here studying for a semester or two. The Grand Master spoke no English, but gave us an instruction for about an hour and 15 minutes in breathing, stretching, and sleeping techniques. Sunshine translated as he spoke. I could really feel how inflexible my body has become. He, on the other hand, was a human pretzel. He could touch his face to his feet in a standing position. He also could lock his hands behind his back, bow forward, and touch his hands to the floor. In the same attempt, mine were straight up in the air.

After that, we ate a bakery breakfast right before we attended a lecture by Monk Hungsun. He was a Buddhist monk who also was the museum curator at their temple. He also spoke little English, so Mark translated for us. It was interesting learning about the Buddhist architecture.

Then, the seminar began which was attended by several principles in the Korean Academy and by a number of Korean students. They evaluated a number of textbooks, most of which someone from the publisher was in our group to represent them. They complimented some things and criticized others. All in all, it was a good session where the Korea Foundation said that they would make better resources, including web info and photos, available to the publishers in order to better and more correctly portray Korean history.

We boarded the bus and headed to Suwon for a really good Korean beef barbeque lunch. Then, we went to the Samsung corporate campus. We had a brief (and somewhat rushed) tour of the current Samsung product line and a history of the company. Afterward, we went to the Samsung HRD facility at Changjokwan, which is located right next to Samsung’s amusement park, Everland. After dinner, we attended a presentation by a rep from Samsung Human Resources Department, who outlined Samsung’s corporate philosophy. They said that the company represents 20% of South Korea’s GDP.

The Internet connection at their complex will not work with our computers. They said that they would have to adapt our computers to work here, so we used the computers in the computer lab provided to contact home.


I was awoken at 5:50 by the sound of a gong in the courtyard. At 6:00, classical music began playing from a speaker in the ceiling. Breakfast in the cafeteria was mostly a traditional Korean breakfast.


We boarded the bus and headed to Cheongju to tour the Early Printing Museum. After a few minutes at the museum, we realized that reporters and camera crews were following us from at least two news stations. They were reporting on our visit to Cheongju. They interviewed Jim and Grace.


After lunch, we headed toward Daegu and the nunnery at Unmunsa. It was a couple of hours and the last half an hour was on a winding climb into the mountains. We arrived at the Unmunsa Nunnery and were greeted by five nuns who led us into the temple area. We dropped our bags off in the area where we were to stay. They gave us a brief tour of an area outside the main area where there were gardens and ponds and a few buildings. We went to dinner where you are to take only what you can eat. They even rinse the bowls and drink the water with the food particles in it. We were not required to do that. There was an evening service where they chanted and bowed many times. It made a Catholic Mass look like we just sit around. They took us to an evening tea session where we were able to talk with several of the nuns. They were remarkably talkative and lively. I wasn’t expecting that. We went back to our sleeping area at 8:00 and prepared for bed. We slept on a thin pad on the floor and had a small beanbag kind of pillow. Fortunately, I had my camping and travel pillows with me. The floor was heated so that it was comfortable in the room.


At 3:00 a.m., we were awoken by the sound of a wood block being struck with a stick by a nun who walked through the compound. Then the distant drumming, calling all of the creatures of the land could be heard, followed by the call of the wooden fish being struck calling all of the creatures of the sea, and then the chime calling the creatures of the air. Lastly, the large bell was struck several times. I could feel each of my ribs as I sat up after sleeping on the hard floor. I stretched for about ten minutes and felt a little better. At 3:25 we left our sleeping quarters to walk across the courtyard toward the temple. Nuns were streaming into the temple. We took our places along the left rear of the temple and the service began. A couple of the nuns seemed to be nodding off, but perhaps they were just lost in meditation. The chanting and bowing began. Mark had warned us that at one point they do the Chant of 108 Bows. Figuring that they simply bow 108 times seemed like it shouldn’t be a problem. Then we found out that their bows consisted of starting in a standing position, going straight to a kneel, face to the floor, raise you hands in an upward manner, back to a kneel, and directly to a stand – 108 times. I could not do it as they could without moving my feet. I managed all 108 times, as did a couple of my companions, and I broke a pretty good sweat. The cool air felt good as we left; then on to meditation class. The head nun instructed us in meditation techniques from 4:15 until 5:00. It was quite relaxing, but not in a sleepy way. We had some free time, so we explored the area outside the main compound. I sat under a bridge by a stream for about ten minutes as it began to get as little lighter. I could look down the stream and see the hermitage lights up in the mountains. At 6:00, we had a traditional Korean vegetarian breakfast and then some other touring and observations of classes before we left at 8:00.


We had about an hour to go to Daegu to get to the National Museum of Korea art exhibit, which had a display of North Korean artifacts. We had another hour and a half drive to get to Haeinsa Temple, where the 80,000 wood printing blocks were stored. It was in a National Park and the hike up to the temple was very enjoyable as Mark told many local stories and historical accounts. One was a story of a South Korean Air Force pilot who was ordered to destroy the Temple because North Koreans were reported to be hiding there. He disobeyed the order and was court-marshaled. After the war, it was reversed and he was made a national hero for refusing to destroy a national treasure.

After sampling some traditional Korean rice wine and some appetizers over a discussion about politics, we had dinner nearby in a hotel restaurant and then boarded the bus where I fell asleep for most of the two and a half hour drive to Gyeongju in the southeast of Korea. The hotel turned out to be extremely nice when all we were expecting was dormitory style housing.


Wow, what a good night sleep can do for you, although my right thigh was killing me all day long (those darn 108 bows). We spent the largest part of the day touring early Silla (Sheela) Kingdom (~57 B.C. to 935 A.D.) sites in the area. Many burial mounds, temple areas, buildings, ruins, and pagodas. One of the most impressive was the ruins at Hwangnyongsa. No temples were left, but a huge area had stone footings for many buildings, a huge 3-story temple, and a nine level, possibly 200-250 tall pagoda. The Mongols inadvertently destroyed much of it during their conquest. We then went over to the National Museum of Korea in Gyeongju to see artifacts recovered from several sites as well as a couple of scale models of the Hwangnyongsa – very impressive.


For dinner we went to the Hilton for their buffet which was a mix of western and Korean dishes and also some Koreanized western dishes. We stuffed ourselves and used knives and forks to eat with. After that, we went to the bath house which was incredibly large. They must have had about ten whirlpool areas (indoor and outdoor), wet and dry saunas, and chilling pools. Not sure how we’d do, we got ready and went to the karaoke on the basement level of the hotel. It turned out to be a series of rooms just big enough for a group of about eight to ten people, and it was perfect for our group. There were eight of us who went (Jeff, Jonathan, Mark, Jim, Shi Hyun, Karen, Laura, and I). We had a great time. I scored a 99 on my rendition of Let It Be. Most of the songs became group songs. Jeff was an absolute scream with his air guitar and his thanking “everyone for coming out tonight”. These really are a great group of people.


Wow, what a short night of sleep will take away from you. I stayed up late last night catching up on some e-mails home. Morning came much too soon. I skipped breakfast in the restaurant, settling instead for a granola bar.


We left at 8:30 and headed out to the coast of the East Sea. The sight of racks of squid drying out greeted us. We were viewing the rock outcrop where King Munmu-Wang is entombed. Mark, Jeff, and Jonathan decided to go for a swim while we walked along the shore. They appeared to heading for the island, but the rocky outcrops in the water surrounding the main rocks forced them to abandon their attempt. We stopped at the pagodas at Gameunsa about a mile inland as we left on our way to the granite Buddha grotto at Seokguram. Once there, we were surrounded by hundreds of 6th and 7th graders all wanting to try out their basic English phrases. It was like swimming in a stream. The half-mile hike each way did not deter them from surrounding us. The bus almost left without me as I emerged from the mass of kids. Then we went to the temple at Bulguksa – more kids everywhere.


After leaving there, we went to lunch. Then we headed to the Yangdong Village of Wolseong. Mark had spent some time studying there with students. It is an example of a Confucian village. It was quite simple with some modern conveniences, but not a lot. We met with the lineage elder who Mark translated for. Afterward, we went to the Confucian Academy. It was similar in design to the Buddhist Temples, but was in much worse shape. We made the hour long drive back to the hotel where we ate at their Korean buffet, went for another soak in the bath house and went for one more night of karaoke.



I got pretty good sleep on our last night in Gyeongju. We headed to one more tomb, which was on the way out of town. We also went to the city market in Gyeongju. It was a crowded place with many interesting and unusual foods (by western standards) available for purchase. We ate lunch and then began the trip to Seoul. The drive back to Seoul was about 5 or 6 hours long. Mark told some more very interesting stories and then asked for any questions. Several excellent discussions followed. We also gave them our feedback on our favorite and least favorite things about the trip. We arrived in Seoul at about 6:00 and had an hour to get ready for dinner with Professor Lee from the Korean Academy. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 10:30. A few people went out for a little while, but I just didn’t have any energy left to go anywhere. I repacked for the trip home and crashed.


I had two Sundays this week. We saw the first group off to the airport at 7:15. Jim, Karen, and I left on the 9:20 shuttle. We got to the airport at about 10:50. Since our planes didn’t leave until 4:30, we shopped a little and talked for a while. We went through security and Customs at about 1:00 when we found out that they had some better restaurants in the gate areas. Jim and I split two Korean dishes, while Karen decided to reacquaint herself with some western food. Karen, Jim and I parted at 4:00 when we went to board out two separate planes. They served dinner soon after taking off and then I fell asleep, but only for about two hours. I was awake the rest of the flight. Mark and I had planned to get together in San Francisco, but the time overlap wasn’t enough for me to get through security and make my flight, or so I thought. Once I got through the gate, they delayed my flight for 45 minutes. I had lunch in San Francisco and then slept for almost the entire flight to Chicago. I easily made my connection home for Madison.

– Steve Davies

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