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Friday, August 31, 2007

The tools are not what I expected. I figured there’d be an online tool with up-to-date basemaps that schools could use to enhance and print off suggsted routes for students. Nope, the DOT offers its own downloadable software program (Windows) and data for I guess anyone to use.

The program called Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP) addresses a state law that “requires each elementary, middle, and junior high school to create a child access routing plan to outline and address community concerns about walking routes.” Further, “completed plan should be submitted annually to your School Board for review and final approval by the School Board Traffic and Safety Committee” and they are to be submitted to the state, too.

What exactly local schools are to do is detailed on teh Base Maps page.  Basically, schools are expected to download an 8.5 x 11 jpeg map. Take an inventory of hazards. Draw a route. Add notes. It seems strange to me you need special software for this. Further, this sounds like a great task for older students/scouts to perform as a community service project.

I wonder how well used the maps are? If they are used in conjuction with say, a walking school bus, or other “walk to school” ideas.

- Salt Lake Tribune

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/31 at 07:12 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I’m certainly of the opinion that Autodesk Location Services tends to be a rather quiet bunch, at least in terms of the media. Good news on that front; back at the beginning of the month the team launched the Points of Interest blog for ” the location-based service (LBS) developer community.” I guess at the time it was not worth making a lot of noise about it!

via Autodesk Labs Blog

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/31 at 07:07 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Jim Parent, a principal search analyst with Stone Temple Consulting, wrote a nice summary of his first Search Engine Strageties (SES) event. That’s a conference for folks who try to optimize search for those who want their webpages found. He offered up this obvious bugaboo related to local search:

One of the presenters pointed out one of the many shortcomings of local search that is easy to fix and fairly obvious, yet hasn’t been done. Why does Google present a map when someone performs a query for “plumber,” “gardener,” roofers,” etc. Nobody drives to these places of business, they all come to you. I have no doubts that sometime in the near future the search engines will be tailoring their local results to the type of business the user is searching for.

That’s a good point. Many have not made the switch to the idea that location-based or local searches are not always about “you” going “there” from “here.” In presentations years ago I’d note that I don’t care about the wind speed in my back yard, I care about it at the beach, where I’d be more likely to fly a kite! Now, that’s not to say that sometimes you want the pizza place that’s arond the corner so you can walk there, but other times you want that pizza to come to you!
- Search Engine Watch

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/31 at 06:44 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I received a good "schooling" yesterday in the difference between radio frequency identification (RFID) and the RF devices used in real-time location systems (RTLS) for indoor positioning. I visited a company called Q-Track that is developing technology to monitor the location of people within a confined area using a radio antenna and an RF tag that a person wears. The radio antenna can receive signals from the tag within about a 10,000 square foot area and, based on an understanding of the RF wavelength, a location accurate to within about 2 or 3 feet can be determined. The "math" to calculate the location is not based on time of arrival nor does it depend on triangulation. It’s one antenna and a single tag that broadcasts a signal from the person wearing the device. My "schooling" came via Dr. Hans Schantz,  chairman and CTO of Q-Track, an expert in ultra-wideband technology.

The cost of Q-Track technology fits somewhere between passive RFID and GPS. The infrastructure for RFID requires extensive use of fixed location readers and cheap tags, but a true position of the object is near impossible to determine. GPS, of course, has problems with indoor location tracking . Q-Track’s tag is about $50 alone but the ability to get an accurate location in real-time is its competitive advantage.

Applications? It is being looked at by a number of government agencies and power companies to track employees. One application by a nuclear power plant wants to monitor a worker’s workflow as they spend time in a radioactive environment. It’s also being tested in caves. Could it have been used in the recent mine disaster in Utah? Although the mine area was certainly bigger than current testing, this is one application that is under serious consideration by Q-Track.

by Joe Francica on 08/30 at 07:58 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Posted today at Directions Magazine:

- The National Land and Water Information Service - Canada’s New Agri-Environmental Web Portal

Interested? We have a feed of articles from Directions Magazine or you can subscribe to e-mail newsletters.

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/30 at 06:54 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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