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Friday, November 07, 2014

International Charter for Space and Major Disaster LogoUK Satellites Tapped to Fight Ebola

For the first time UK satellites are now being used to help respond to the disease after they were activated by the International Charter for Space and Major Disaster.

I appreciate this candor.

Matt Goodman, head of communications at the UK Space Agency, said: "We are not quite sure exactly how all this is going to work, but we're testing out as much as we can and providing data to teams who maybe are working off local maps that are decades old."

The National Center for Geospatial Medicine Tackles Autism

University of Michigan researchers will use a new $1.6 million federal grant to probe potential social and environmental links to autism, collecting location-specific information from tens of thousands of affected individuals and their families nationwide.

...It's the first effort to improve and expand a large national disease registry by adding self-reported patient information that is geographically linked to relevant social and environmental stressors, said Marie Lynn Miranda, SNRE dean and the project's principal investigator.

It's a three year study.

CDC Needs New Visualization Tool

The Centers for Disease Control put out a request for information for  "a single electronic platform that integrates, manages, analyzes, visualizes, reports on and shares key surveillance, epidemiologic, laboratory, and environmental findings during public health investigations and responses." Sounds like GIS huh? Word is the current ebola outbreak prompted the request.

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/07 at 03:23 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, November 06, 2014

I adjudicated Bentley Systems' Year in Infrastructure user awards this year. Annually, Bentley asks users to submit projects for consideration for awards in eighteen categories. As one of several juror we evaluate nearly 70 individual submissions in three of the 18 categories: Government, Waste Water Modeling and Utilities and Communication Networks. We narrow the selection to 3 in each but one huge factor stands out: the GIS Champion on the project is the linchpin to success.

Convoluted Cables

Take Time Warner Cable. It's a huge company that controls a significant amount of the cable TV access to customers in the U.S. The objective of their project was to have a single, centralized, asset repository GIS. Problem was, they had no idea where their assets where located. Prior to the project there were 32 separate design sites most hosting entirely different operating environments … and this, as project manager Lucius Brooker (pictured at right) found out, was the easy part of the problem. Brooker faced enormous corporate head winds that included continuously constrained budgets and a CEO that kept wondering why they were undertaking such a huge endeavor and then threatening to fire him. It was only by his shear tenacity that the project continued to its successful conclusion.

TWC has now standardized on Bentley's communications products on virtualized servers in only six regional centers. IT operations, office space, power management and personnel expenses have all be greatly reduced leading to a total first year ROI of 40% with a three year ROI of 121%. Tax-related asset management questions are now more accurately reported. In addition, with the pending merger with Comcast, due diligence for integrating assets is more quickly assessed.

Go Irish

The Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) has been using GIS for cartographic tasks since the late 70's but ten years ago began to evaluate their long-term needs for spatial information management. Today, the OSi is in the final stage of a six-year project to create a new spatial data infrastructure that will eventually conform to OGC specifications and support the European Union's INSPIRE directive. Senior Operations Manager Andy McGill describes the new model, now called Prime2, as a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that will support both field and office operations.

The OSi began by converting their data using a 1Spatial solution with Bentley Map as the geospatial information system. The project entail converting 80 million cartographic objects to 50 million "real-world" 3D objects now stored in Oracle Spatial. Each object, including roads, buildings, land parcels and utility infrastructure, are uniquely identified by a Geographic Unique Identification codes  or GUID. The project has realized a savings of E 600,000 to operations and staffing. The spatial data warehouse will also support the new postal code system being adopted by the country.

In both cases, the champions of TWC and OSi provided persistence, vision and leadership, qualities recognized time and again in GIS as the keys to successful project management. Both, however, also realize the job ahead of them will continue to require those same characteristics.

Disclosure: Bentley Systems supported travel to the event.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Systems.

by Joe Francica on 11/06 at 10:00 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

OSM GeoWeek GraphicTeaching the Why, Not Just the What, of Geography

Phil Gersmehl of the Michigan Geographic Alliance argues against geotech for "seeing" places and for a higher level understanding of geography for policy makers, educators and students.

Either way, the public image of geography classes—to legislators, administrators, and other "outsiders" reading these briefs—is of a subject that consists of mastering the skill of using technology to find a picture of any place in the world. I could teach that skill in a few days, and one result would be a citizenry less able to use the tools of geographic inquiry to help them understand topics such as migration; communicable diseases (Think Ebola); resource use; international trade; the role of ocean currents in redistributing solar energy; and a host of other physical, biological, economic, and political processes.

Use OSM to Celebrate GeoWeek

OSM and other partners are offering events and projects for GeoWeek.

Map Your Recipe

Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers shares:

Last fall I shared a neat mapping tool called Map Your RecipeMap Your Recipe allows you to enter a recipe to find out where the vegetables in that recipe were first domesticated. This week the developer of Map Your Recipe informed that the site has been updated to include etymology and current crop producers. 

Could be useful for this year's GeoWeek with the theme "Food." Found via Tama Nunnelley on NCGE FB page.

Geography and STEM

AAG president  tackles Geography and STEM in her president's column. She surveyed chairs of geography departments to learn where how they feel they fit into STEM. Bottom line: those who are taking advantage of geography having a STEM designation (most often via physical geography and GIS) are finding opportunities for funding and departmental growth.

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/06 at 03:36 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I never bought into some of the early tourist apps for augmented reality (AR). I could never see anyone holding up their small mobile device in front of their face walking down the street looking for the nearest coffee shop. Impractical and awkward.

For the last two years while attending the Bentley Systems "Year in Infrastructure " event in London, UK, the company demonstrated what I thought was very practical application that combined 3D subsurface utility infrastructure maps with AR visualization. A field inspection worker would use the mobile device camera to view with "real-world" setting but would be presented with the subsurface information about the location and extent of sewer, water, electrical or other objects. See the video below.

However, according to Stephane Cote, a Bentley Fellow, field crews were distrustful of the location-based information. It was a practical skepticism. Objects tend to move in the subsurface. Pipes may be flexible and their location, while appearing to be in a certain place, may have shifted or settled. In a situation where you're about to dig a huge hole with the potential of rupturing a gas line or sever a communications cable are you going to trust the accuracy of a "glitzy" AR app? Perhaps we have a ways to go before we have survey grade confidence in our AR technology.

In yet a second example of technology with great potential but still considered wishful thinking is contextual computing. This example was provided by Mark Smith, a director with Bentley's software development team: 

A maintenance man approaches a building; the building senses his presence and then presents him with the task description he is to undertake. His tablet displays the facility's building information model (BIM), an optimized route to his task and the location of equipment he needs to perform his task as well as supporting documents. A form may be presented to the user as a work order and when the task is completed the information is posted back to a manager's work order management system.

This scenario combines augmented reality, BIM, indoor positioning and navigation, sensor networks, work order management, and the "Internet of things" (IoT), i.e. contextual computing. The pieces are there for this type of scenario to become reality but it may take a while to get there. Still, its this kind of vision that is reshaping how we might perform tasks in the not too distant future. It is this collision of location-based technologies that shows enormous potential.

Disclosure: Bentley Systems funded travel to the Year in Infrastructure Event.

Continue reading...

by Joe Francica on 11/06 at 02:22 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Lake Level ViewerUpdated UK Open Government License

Last week the UK launched Open Government License version 3.0. What's new?

The main change is to the wording of the requirement to publish an attribution statement. This makes it clear that re-users must include any statements specified by information providers at all times, even when they are using information from a number of different sources. 

New Lake Level Viewer From NOAA

A new NOAA online visualization and mapping tool (right), the Lake Level Viewer, will help communities along the U.S. Great Lakes plan for, and adapt to, climate change and changes in lake water levels.

It's very pretty and uses Leaflet and Esri REST services. Here's the announcement from October.

Address New from Ordnance Survey

Today [Oct 31], we have announced that our legacy address products, ADDRESS-POINT, OS MasterMap Address Layer and OS MasterMap Address Layer 2 will be withdrawn from all markets from 31 October 2015. Customers are being migrated to the new flagship AddressBase suite of products – with nearly 600 public sector organisations already changed, and nearly 300 commercial organisations already licensing the data. 

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/05 at 03:47 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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