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Thursday, October 30, 2014

I attended a presentation today by Michael Lee, Cyber Security Research Manager at CFDRC, who explained that the Internet of Things (IoT) opens a new front in cyber security and exposes vulnerabilities to many types of devices and systems.

On the top of his list were supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, those information systems used to manage utility (e.g. power plants and refineries)and transportation (e.g. rail and road) networks. Lee said these systems were developed with a focus on design, not security. And while "physical" security has become a priority, only now is cyber security becoming more important as networks are increasingly managed and connected through the Internet. Smart grid devices like those installed on electrical meters as well as in-home devices like NEST are driving faster adoption of wireless connectivity vulnerable to hacking. As more devices are connected to infrastructure and cities need to monitor and manage utilities and transportation networks with the objective of saving money and optimizing operations, cyber threats will abound.

For Lee's next example, he pointed to how University of Texas students successfully tested a GPS spoofing device to redirect the course of an $80 Million yacht (See article in Network World). The yacht's navigation system merely recognized the devices as just another GPS signal and provided incorrect bearings to the ship's captain making him correct course. In yet a third example, Lee pointed to how a Ford Escape's steering and braking system might be compromised if a hacker tried to send a signal to the car while traveling at unsafe speeds (See article in Forbes). The vulnerability even exists for cars equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems.

These examples have been well documented in the news media. Lee pointed to other potential devices that cyber security could become an issue:

  1. Fitness trackers especially those using Bluetooth that connect to another wireless device
  2. Remote control devices for coffee machines, irrigation systems or home security systems
  3. Healthcare, especially wearable devices that monitor patient information and transmit data to doctors and nurses
  4. Retailers who are now tracking customers indoors to establish buying patterns
  5. Driving behavior like that advertised by Progressive Insurance. While the "Snapshot" device may not be connected to the Internet, the information it collects is sensitive and could be hacked

While cyber security may be off the radar for many geospatial technologists, systems using location technology are becoming prime targets for hackers and their nefarious objectives.

by Joe Francica on 10/30 at 11:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

UWF Quality of Life Map

An update on GIS for Africa's 2014/15 Plans

The session of GIS for Africa's EduCONNECT (2014/2015) started on Oct 13, a bit later than planned due to ebola finding its way to Nigeria.

The EduCONNECT 2014/2015 is focusing on the revitalization of geography education. In our secondary school system, geography is that subject that impacts the education of lands the features, the inhabitants and the phenomena of the earth. Nonetheless, modern geography is an encomprising discipline that foremost understands the earth and all of its human and natural complexities.
UWF Stats and Math Students Create U.S. Quality of Life Map
The  map (right) was made by University of West Florida statistics and mathematics graduate students. The local paper suggests the data collected and analyzed yielded a "quality-of-life study unlike any done before." The course was a hybrid in the sense that some students participated online and others face to face.
Joe Berry Witnesses GIS History in Video
In the 40 years since the development of the digital map, what a map is (and isn’t) has greatly evolved. This presentation describes Joe Berry’s personal journey in geotechnology as a student, professor, consultant, software developer and entrepreneur. The insight is as relevant for the next generation of GIS’ers as it is to GIS cohorts who moved beyond mapping to “thinking with maps” and the boundless opportunities for integrating the new spatial paradigm into science, workplaces and daily lives
The video, recorded at the University of Denver, is 55 minutes.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/30 at 03:34 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

computer vision use in PlacemeterPlacemeter is paying people up to $50 a month for the video feed they supply to the company. The raw film is transmitted to a sensor that turns the feed into aggregated and anonymised data for local businesses, urban planners and advertisers to purchase so that they can get a more accurate measurement of activity within the city.

The Guardian questions whether we should be worried about this year-old startup that for now only operates in New York City. There's interest; the company already has more that $7M in funding, the most recent of which appeared last month. The company analyzes the data (it's not able to identify people) on the fly and does not store the video. Instead, computer vision tools extract pedestrians, cars and busses. Could this be cheaper and more effective than drones, assuming decent geographic coverage?

via Daily Tech News Show

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/29 at 05:23 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Campbell County, WY Penny Tax MapPA Gets a GIS Coordinating Committee

Only three U.S. states (and commonwealths) do not have a geospatial coordinating council. But Pennsylvania soon will should the state bill be signed into law. A local paper has the story.

Campbell County's 1% Tax Map

Campbell County, Wyoming put out a map (right) to show its residents how a new tax was used to fund local projects. It took to 40 hours to build and is a generic map in ArcGIS Online. Here's the last paragraph of the press release.

The One Percent Tax Map can be accessed by going to, next the user would hoover their mouse over the Services button in the ribbon across the top of the page and then select the One Percent Tax Map. This will take the user directly to the interactive map.

Is this an artifact of the actual URL being this crazy mess: Or is this a statement that local governments prefer to point citizens to county homepages? I just love that it says "hoover" rather than "hover"!

Morristown NJ GIS from PropertyPilot

Morristown's new online Google Maps based GIS includes real-time information from the municipality, such as traffic updates, voting districts, emergency services locations and trash collection schedules. I've never heard of PropertyPilot, based in Hoboken, but it's a pretty slick interface. The town likes it so much it's investing in PropertyPilot for a cloud-based software system to manage all municipal business.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/29 at 03:55 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Correction Oct 29: Updated to clarify Satellite vs. Ground Rader. Thanks to reader Robb for pointing out the error.


Baron Services, a weather technology company, captured the explosion of the Antares launch on weather radar.

Baron’s most accurate weather radar technology gives government agencies a unique view preceding the explosion.

Baron meteorologists are trained to keep a close eye on large and small weather events as well as any news event that has scientific implications such as the event in Delaware.

-Kevin Nugent, Meteorologist, Baron Services.

At 5:22pm CDT the unmanned Antares exploded shortly after liftoff. At 5:27pm CDT we can start to see from the nearest radar site in Dover Delaware the debris from the rocket. (Click for larger image)

A short video (click for video) showing the debris from the rocket explosion appearing on reflectivity and moving quickly to the northeast.

h-class data (Click for video) shows the rocket as both biological and unknown returns which is to be expected with h-class data.

Images courtesy of Baron Services.

by Joe Francica on 10/28 at 06:41 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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