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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In today's Directions on the News podcast, I suggested that the coming of sensors inside of the iPhone 6 and the advent of beacons plus other sensor technology might re-ignite enthusiasm for location-based sensors. This rebirth of sensors might potentially displace radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors that had fallen somewhat into disfavor because of cost. Readers may remember that Wal-mart was an early adopter of RFID technology and had mandated its use by suppliers so that inventory tracking of shipments to Wal-mart warehouses would become more efficient. Suppliers balked at the additional cost to them and Wal-mart has since backed down.

Not so fast! An article in the Wall Street Journal today provided details on how Zara, the Spanish retail fashion chain, was using RFID chips on individual apparel, something Wal-mart had once dreamed of as well. Zara's parent company Inditex SA has combined both its RFID chip and its theft prevention sensor within the same plastic tag. In this way, the chip can be removed at check-out and reused, according to the WSJ article.

Pablo Isla, Inditex's CEO said this about the RFID technology: "It gives us great visibility, knowing exactly where each garment is located," Mr. Isla said. "It really changes how we operate our stores."

The location of each garment ... you need to let that one sink in for a moment. Micro-geography is now possible at the individual item level. And according to Zara, taking regular inventory at the store level, a task that took hours and only feasible every six months, can now be performed more regularly using handheld scanners.

Mapping the store floor has been done manually and attempted digitally using estimates of customer foot traffic as well as an inventory of apparel. But perhaps now we're coming closer to more real-time estimates of sales by floor display that may lead to better store layout and promotions. With that understanding it may be possible to then integrate beacon technology and quickly disseminate promotional information to customers throughout the store.

The integration of these technologies is the tricky part and standardization of location tracking sensors was another issue we discussed in our podcast as well.

by Joe Francica on 09/16 at 12:03 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Google invites everyone to not only search its Map Gallery, but now to add to it. Those with Google Maps Engine or My Maps maps can turning switch sharing to "public" for access by anyone. When launched in February of this year the Map Gallery on included "selected" maps; now it will be a smorgasbord of authoritative and not so authoritative maps. The maps so shared have no attribution information; they are all attributed to Google User (current maps that fit this search criteria). But, the maps are embeddable and linkable. At right: PennFuture's Solar Installation Map of Western Pennsylvania

Also in the announcement was the subtle note that Google Maps Engine Lite is now renamed My Maps. But there was a My Maps before that, right? Anyway, this new My Maps includes the ability to add photos, videos, text, upload spreadsheets as their basis and more. It sounds to me like Google's answer to story maps and other "quick map to share" solutions. Existing My Maps can be updated now or all of them will automatically be updated to the new platform by year's end.

by Adena Schutzberg on 09/16 at 09:50 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 12, 2014

Florida Roadmap to Healthy Living

The Florida state Agriculture Department launched an online map (right) identifying "food deserts" and pockets of residents with nutrition-related health problems to help in response. Florida's Roadmap to Living Healthy is the first use of GIS to identify resource limitations statewide per commissioner Adam Putnam. It's build on ArcGIS Online and a two page PDF explains how to use it. Putnam has been pushing GIS for some time; I met him at the 2004 Esri Fed UC.

California West Nile Cases at All Time High

Orange County leads the state in reported cases, with 61, followed by Los Angeles County with 24 and Fresno County with 23. Here's a PDF map of cases by California county via the state’s West Nile Virus website.

Latest on Obesity in the U.S.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sums up the latest CDC data:

According to the most recent data, two states have adult obesity rates above 35 percent, 20 states have rates at or above 30 percent, 43 states have rates at or above 25 percent and every state is above 20 percent. Mississippi and West Virginia have the highest rates of obesity at 35.1 percent, while Colorado have the lowest rate at 21.3 percent. All 10 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South or Midwest. Northeastern and Western states comprise most of the states with the lowest rates of obesity. Between 2012 and 2013, six states showed statistically significant increases in adult obesity — Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming.

There are interactive temporal maps, too.

Investment in GPS-enhanced Inhalers

Madison, Wisconsin-based Propeller Health makes a small device that fastens to an inhaler and uses GPS to report when and where the inhaler was used. The information is reported to an app, and the data can be accessed by healthcare providers, who might gain insights on how to treat the patient’s condition.

With its second round of funding the company launched in 2010 has now raised $27M in funding to date.

by Adena Schutzberg on 09/12 at 03:03 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mapability ratingUSC Spatial Treasure Hunt

This year marked the first USC GeoScavenge, a Welcome Week event created by the Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI) housed in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

During the Aug. 22 event, students used smartphones equipped with a matrix barcode — or QR — scanner app to navigate their way across campus as they searched for 23 clues placed at different sites.

Using the GeoScavenge Map (accessible on a smartphone via a QR scan) showing the clue locations, participants had one hour to visit as many sites as possible. At the site of each clue, students had to find the QR code, scan it and submit the correct answer to the related question that popped up on their phone.

Map of Accessibility level of European Higher Education Institutions

On the 28th of August, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) celebrated the launch of MapAbility platform, a ground-breaking online map designed to inform disabled students about the accessibility level of European Higher Education Institutions. (image right)

Modern GIS in Port Clinton

Ryan Evarts teaches six grade social studies; at Port Clinton Middle School. They are studying GIS.

“Right now we are working with geography,” Evarts said. “We are learning about Geographic Information Systems. Today we are learning about modern GIS and being able use Google Earth on the iPads, and zoom in on different locations.” ...

“They’re finding different places in the world by using a modern type of topography and maps,” he added.

I wonder if they'll tap into ConnectED and ArcGIS Online. 

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 09/11 at 03:33 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Longview Flood MapsLibrary of Congress Request input for Spatial Search Engine

The “geospatial search engine software solution” would let staff collect data in a variety of formats and sources, including geospatial data sets, digital images, text files, .xml, PDFs and other common file formats, the LOC said in a solicitation on FedBizOpps.

The ultimate goal: a

search engine software that can locate and manage geospatial information in and outside the library system and work with a variety of geographic mapping and analysis tools.

New Flood Maps for Longview Texas in AGOL

The updated maps, which can be found online at, show the differences between the previous maps and the ones approved this past week.
I'm not sure why links like this go the map gallery rather than the specific map.
Surrey BC Open Data
The City of Surrey launched its open data program today [9/9] as part of its commitment to an open, transparent and accessible government. The new Open Data Catalogue comprises more data sets than any other municipality in Canada, and will increase efficiency and productivity for staff and public by making the data available to everyone on the City website.
Surrey uses CKAN and FME behind the scenes.
by Adena Schutzberg on 09/10 at 02:20 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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