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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Flickr is a website on which to post photos. The basic services (host your own page, post images, post captions and tags, get comments, notify groups of posted images, etc.) are free. Mappr takes Flickr one step further. By examining the tags, Mappr “geocodes” images on a US map. (There’s a bit of Canada and some big cities, too, according to the docs.) Of particular interest to me was the “level of confidence” noted for each image. An image with Red Rocks, concert, etc. yielded a complete confidence of it being in Morrison, Colorado. A photo of a church with minimalist info “Arch detail of a York church” provided low confidence it was in York, PA. The general methodology of geocoding is documented here.

Unlike the very smart document version of this technology from MetaCarta, this service is interesting because of its open, free form coding and its openness to the public. Flickr is free and Mappr has been free and available to the public since January 10.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/10 at 07:56 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

RFID Journal is reporting that Congress is considering the tracking of Congressional members in the event of an emergency. I suspect they mean a terrorist attack, not just when their kids get sick at school. But I want to know how they will differentiate the two. According to the article:

“The House is seeking a real-time geographic information system (GIS) that would not only provide a 3-D graphical display of the buildings but also show the current position of all individuals within and around the buildings during an emergency. The system should also be able to indicate which individuals have left the buildings and are now in safe locations.

This obviously raises many privacy concern issues that I wonder how will be sorted out.

But on the technology side, it is a classic example of where RFID is going. It is inherently a “location-based” problem, not just an inventory management problem, and will further push our technology sector to come up with some part of the solution.

See the article here

by Joe Francica on 02/10 at 04:40 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

School districts in California get some of their funding based on student attendance. So, it makes sense a school would want to gather accurate information. And, since schools are always short on cash, a donation to the school to test a new technology to monitor attendance seems reasonable. Brittan Elementary School District took up an offer from InCom to have its students wear RFID based “ID tags.” Sensors are placed over doorways to classrooms and the data is beamed to teacher’s PDAs. There were sensors of the bathrooms, too, but they’ve been removed.

While there appear to have been some measure of public discourse before the trial of the system began, a number of parents have pulled their children from the testing and are furious the school would allow such a thing. The company’s technology, interestingly, was designed by two California teachers.

The interesting twist to this story, featured in Wired is that the system can track those without tags, that is, “intruders.” I suppose that means when someone walks under a doorway the sensor can “see them” and then “looks for” an RFID tag? If none is found, then what? An alarm goes off somewhere?

The company website is pretty thin and does not mention how “intruders” are found.  I suppose if all publicity is good publicity, the company should be fairly happy. The outrage certainly does reflect the current feelings about RFID for many people worldwide.

Update (2/17): It seems InCom has pulled out of the trial.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/10 at 04:03 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Google debuted its mapping portal this week and entered the fray that will now spark much debate about who has the better mapping interface: MapQuest, Yahoo, Microsoft or Google. Directions has learned that Telcontar is powering the backend map server. Telcontar also counts Ask Jeeves as a customer as well.

The mapping display is fast, no doubt and the tiling that occurs during redraw is unusual if you’re used to looking at the other mapping portals.  Check out the Google maps at http://maps.google.com

by Joe Francica on 02/10 at 06:58 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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