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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

As a once practicing geologist, I could not let this day pass without recognizing the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. I had an opportunity to visit one of the more obvious surface features caused by the quake which is located not far from the information center at Point Reyes National Seashore along the Earthquake Trail. For anyone who has studied the 1906 quake, you will typically see a textbook photo of a fenceline that was offset by the displacement caused by the quake along the San Andreas fault. That fenceline can be seen at Point Reyes although I suspect it may have move just a little in the past 100 years.

Last year I also had the good fortune to visit one of the few structures left standing after the 1906 temblor. The San Francisco Mint, called "the Granite Lady" opened for business in 1874 and because of its massively think walls and steel window shutters survived the quake and subsquent fires. This building is literally a fortress and will hopefully be renovated within the next year. Thanks to friend Gil Castle who was the past Mint Executive Director in charge of renovation, I was able to see the Mint’s vaults and classical design. Don’t miss it when it opens to the public.

If you are interested in seeing some of the activities/festivities marking the event, the 1906 Centennial Alliance has created a map showing the various events (Caution…another Google mashup). And be sure not to miss the great resources provided at the USGS website.

by Joe Francica on 04/18 at 10:01 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Why? It’s Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn, gets geospatial. Who is he? He’s charged the Australian Government Information Management Office to investigate spatial e-gov.

Why is he so into spatial? Maybe because he used to be a surveyor. But quotes like this sound like a guy who has been around the block lately:

Imagine combining technologies such as Google Earth with other data on the natural environment and with the built, human-developed or constructed environment - and being able to view, analyse and make decisions based on seeing where health, education, business, or environmental issues are occurring by combining spatial ... information with non-spatial information such as facts and figures.

You get much better government decisions if you can do your analysis in a more strategic way, which you can do if you have that spatial content to your data.

It is other levels of government [besides federal] that, in fact, hold most of the data-sets in this respect.

(He added that it would require an “ambitious” level of co-operation!)

One of the big challenges is between our various departments at a federal level, but then (we have) to take it that step further between different levels of government. Often, it’s local government out on the ground that delivers many of these services.



by Adena Schutzberg on 04/18 at 10:50 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Windows for Devices reports that and have shut down, suggesting the “leaves the portable game console market to Sony’s PSP and the Nintendo DS.” I know the PSP has GPS add-ons and rumor of a future release with embedded GPS. I’ve not seen anything from Nintendo on GPS, however.

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/18 at 10:21 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Our publisher Jane found this long article titled “GETTING THERE: The science of driving directions” in the New Yorker detailing U.S. commerical navigation from its roots in Rand McNally up to Navteq et. al.

A great quote:

“Rand McNally is ‘to maps what Jell-O is to gelatine’” (paraphrased)

-Jim Akerman, the director of the Smith Center for the History of Cartography, at the Newberry Library, in Chicago

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/18 at 06:50 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Monday, April 17, 2006

Well, if you are a Sprint/Nextel customer you can find out. Under a plan announced just last week, Sprint offers the Sprint Family Locator Service for $9.95 per month for up to four registered phones. The service offers the basic information about the location of anyone with a cell phone that is enabled under the plan. A parent can "ping" a phone to determine the whereabouts of the individual and view the location on either the parent’s phone or via the web interface. So, Sprint becomes the first U.S. carrier to offer a personal locator service and I’m sure more will follow.

What I did not see that the service offered was a perimeter alert so that a parent can be notified if a child leaves a certain geographic area; i.e. a "geofencing" feature. Even Wherify’s Wherifone does not offer that feature now but had touted it rather strongly in the past. In speaking with Scott Hotes, CTO of Wavemarket, the provider of the location technology for Sprint, he said they opted instead to offer "safety checks" whereby the service does a daily location check against the family member alerting the parent, for example, if the child is not in the designated location. Hotes said that the check may be time sensitive as well. For example, if a child is not in school by 9:00 a.m. or home by 3:00 p.m. an alert is sent.

Now, this service may seem somewhat specific to certain income group…i.e. a family tha can afford phones for every kid, but as many will observe, if they don’t have one now, the cost will surely decline in the future so that nearly everyone will have a "personal" communication device that is also a PND (personal navigation device). That’s happening at a very rapid pace as this recent press release from ABI Research indicates.

by Joe Francica on 04/17 at 04:53 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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