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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rachel Frana ’15 is using GIS mapping technology to help food pantry network director Rebecca Whitlow, left, and DMARC executive director Sarai Rice, right, identify underserved areas of Des Moines.GIS at Central College, Pella, IA

Central College featured Rachel Frana, a senior environmental studies major,  who is using GIS to map the locations and demographic data of over 8,000 families served by Des Moines Area Religious Council pantries in a recent storyAt right: Rachel Frana ’15 is using GIS mapping technology to help food pantry network director Rebecca Whitlow, left, and DMARC executive director Sarai Rice, right, identify underserved areas of Des Moines.

That's great. This bit of the article is interesting. It's been updated since publication.

GIS at Central College

Central is one of few schools that require GIS instruction and experience for all environmental science majors. Frana was introduced to GIS in a course with Anya Butt, associate professor of biology. Frana said learning GIS is difficult, but she finds it interesting because the technology is useful in so many real-life applications. Butt also created an advanced GIS course for Frana and four other interested students at Central.

I appreciate the student's candor. And, I like that all environment science majors take GIS as a required course. What other schools require GIS for that major or others?

Linking Education and Community Challenges in Logan, UT

The is a great way to engage students in authentic learning. It's built on a model from the University of Oregon. The effort at Utah State is called Logan-USU Community Bridge Initiative:

Ten Utah State University classes will each look into one of six topics next semester in the pilot phase of the Logan-USU Community Bridge Initiative, which seeks to make use of local expertise to tackle community problems.

Among the problems noted, is one technology: story maps.

...the city’s trees, current and potential recycling programs, neighborhood improvement, the city after school program, GIS-based story maps and air quality.

I agree it's a great tool to tackle any of those issues. 

Meanwhile, in Finland

Geography and geo-media are hot topics in Finland and will soon be better represented in the K-12 curriculum.

These education leaders believe Geography and the use of geo-media must be central to a core curriculum in school education.

After training, and using the SPACIT curriculum, teachers will develop course plans.

In Finland, teachers will prepare new local curricula based on this core curriculum by the beginning of school year 2016–2017.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/20 at 06:17 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Today, CSR, a company primarily known for their GPS chip technology, has announced a software development kit (SDK) for Android to integrate the SiRFusion library into  mobile apps running Android 4.4 or later for indoor positioning.

According to Dave Huntingford, director of product management of CSR, the company recognized about four years ago while the challenge for outdoor positioning using their technology was mostly solved, indoor was the next frontier. So, CSR began focusing on the problem by utilizing technology already embedded within mobile devices  and that would not require the installation of additional infrastructure to buildings. These technologies included the Wi-Fi radio and the micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) sensors such as the gyroscope and accelerometer. The result was to obtain approximately 5 meter location accuracy.

Here's how it works. Upon the detection of Wi-Fi access points within a building, the SDK is designed to capture their SSID or MAC address, determine their location and store the points in a database.  Trilateration of Wi-Fi access points is one method to determine position. Limitations include variations in signal strength and number of access points available. MEMS sensors provide short-term, inertial measurements such as dead reckoning. The mobile device can detect, for example, the number of footsteps by the user.

According the the CSR press release from today:

The system automatically crowd-sources a venue’s indoor Wi-Fi signatures as consumers walk through the location, and it has also been architected to accommodate future proximity and location technologies such as Bluetooth® Smart beacons, Wi-Fi Round Trip Time (RTT), and Indoor Messaging System (IMES).

So, as Huntingford explained, the quest for ever-better positioning is never ending, hence the need for an architecture that is flexible enough to accommodate new technology coming online. The SDK will be released in the first quarter 2015; incorporation of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology will probably be available by Q2 2015.

by Joe Francica on 11/20 at 05:15 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Palo Alto Permit MapFiji's Sugar Cane GIS

Fuji's Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar, Voreqe Bainimarama launched the Sugar Cane Industry WebGIS Portal last week.

The digitisation of cane farms and the capturing of all data in the WebGIS portal will enable access a number of features including geographical location of cane farm, cane access road used by each cane farm and area under cane. The WebGIS Project will enable the Fiji Sugar Corporation and sugar industry to view and analyse the performance of individual growers, sectors and sugar mills

Palo Alto Permit Applications Viewer

The City of Palo Alto has partnered with Buildingeye to launch a new interactive online tool that allows citizens & business owners to see what new planning applications are proposed for their neighborhood, as well as view a description and map.

I see OpenLayers, Leaflet and MapQuest OSM tiles! (right)

Horse Map Needs Work

Village Council members delayed initial approval Tuesday of [PDF] a color-coded map of horse trails in Wellington [FL] and are expected to consider the matter again early next year.

Councilman Matt Willhite raised concerns this week about the clarity of the map and its colors for the various paths.

The plan is to put the map into a digital mapping form. It's not clear what the source of the current PDF is.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/19 at 03:38 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Recall that back in 2011 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) fined Raphael Pirker, an aerial photographer, $10,000 for operating his Ritewing Zephyr over the University of Virginia campus. An administrative law judge with the National Transportation Safety Board heard an appeal and sided with the pilot. And, for a time, many thought UAS pilots were off the hook a bit. 

But today, the decision was updated by a four-member safety board to which the FAA appealed. The board stated that the craft is a type of aircraft that falls under existing rules including safety rules. The case now heads back to the administrative law judge to decide if it was operated recklessly.

- FAA Statement

- ABC News

- The Hill

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/18 at 12:02 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Open logoMapzen is an open source tool and services provider, not an app company. But this week it released an app. Why? To eat its own dogfood. (I've always loved that metaphor.)

We decided to make mapping app entirely from open source software and open data as a demonstration of the current state of open source mobile mapping and how it stacks up against its closed counterparts.

So what is it? First off, it's built on OpenStreetMap. And...

We named the app Open, because that’s what it’s supposed to be. It's not really that open yet—currently it’s available for use in North and South America, but we’re adding support for more places over the coming weeks. It's also only available for Android because you know, open platform. If you don’t feel like reading any amazing insights into how and why we built it, you can stop reading and go download it in the Google play store here, or if you prefer sideloading apps, the APK is here.

What's it do?

  • Show a map
  • Find you on that map
  • Find things around you
  • Get you to those things

- Mapzen blog

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/18 at 11:33 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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