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Monday, December 31, 2007

We’re taking it easy this week at Directions Media, but that doesn’t mean some of you won’t want to read about geospatial technologies. So, I found a few articles/audio clips that might feed the need.

Ever wonder about TechniGraphics, a contractor for NGA? What’s it’s story? The local paper tells it; ignore references to something called “Google World.”

GPS Goes Mainstream
. Sure it’s not news to us, but Dan Charles at NPR notes why its hot and how one company is using it for autotouring.

The Boston Globe talks to Ron Eastman the fellow behind IDRISI and the package’s many uses. Eastman notes that his company is the only GIS software non-profit.

Ars Technica offers a not-too-techy discussion of new tools from Stanford that allow even novices to create good looking trees for virutal worlds. The tool called Dryad is from the Virtual Worlds research group.

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/31 at 08:29 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The Louisville Kentucky Courier-Journal on Saturday published a map of AVT (all terrain vehicle) fatalities in the region. It’s a Google mashup with blue tear drops noting the age of the victim and the circumstances of the incident. The source of the data appears to be police reports.

There’s a link from the story on the topic to the map - but not vice-versa. Suggestion: add a link to the map back to the story! The story notes that the state tops national stats on ATV deaths most years and likely will again. Also of note: “All the Kentucky ATV drivers involved in the fatal accidents this year ignored at least one of the safety guidelines taught in training courses and listed on stickers voluntarily placed on the machines by manufacturers, an analysis by The Courier-Journal found.”

The map, alas, doesn’t help reveal some key geo information in the article: all the deaths were in rural areas and many were on public roads (riding on public roads is against “safety guidelines”). Suggestion: It’s time to use online mapping tools for more than just “putting dots on the map.” The tools are available (even if it must be done “by hand”) to note rural/urban zones and mark public roads. Those would have been a valuable addition here.

Teachable moment suggestion: Have students explore this map as is. Can they find patterns? What other geo information might be added? Where might they get it? What other information might they want to know about the fatalities that might suggest causality?

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/31 at 07:41 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The Google mashup does just what you’d expect: it finds local businesses and reveals - wait for it - their hours!

The writer at Local Tech Wire (WRAL - Raleigh/Durham, NC) notes it looks pretty good for his known orbit of coffee shops, but points out his favorite mexican places don’t show up in searches for burritos. I searched for “coffee” in “modesto” and learned about the Coffee Family Dental. Also annoying: hours do not seem to be day of the week dependent. I bet that dentist’s office is not open on Sunday, for example. Don’t get me wrong - I’m all for more data in local search; this is just a small step forward, however. I expec this sort of specialty solution (data or service) to be gobbled up by the big guys once its of real value.

You can confirm, edit or flag results - and add listings - if you register.

The service, now beta, is available for the US, Europe and China and boasts iPhone and soon, Android support.

Business model? Unknown. Funding? Self. Data sources? Unknown.

- LocalTechWire

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/31 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

That’s what TechDirt suggests. There’s been much written about how Autodesk’s gray market helped it build its licensed market, but then from what I understand open source CAD is still young. Other markets, like office suites and geospatial are far more robust. It’d be great to get some numbers on users switching from illegally licensed proprietary solutions to open source, but that’s not an easy taks.

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/31 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 28, 2007

This is interesting. Jamaica wants to use GPS-enabled tracking for repeat offenders and persons who have committed petty crimes. It contracted with a Jamaica-owned company (based in California) to build the system, but when the company asked for the national maps from National Land Agency, the country refused to supply them. Says the rep from Jamaica’s Ministry of National Security:

They asked us to supply them with maps from the National Land Agency and we said absolutely not. They have to produce their own maps.

Dilieu Technology, which was hired to biuld the system “has offered to purchase maps from another supplier and host them on a Microsoft virtual earth system or build a data base at cost price for the Government.” It’s unclear how the project will proceed at this point. Further, it’s unclear why the government won’t share the data it has.

- Jamaica Observer

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/28 at 08:51 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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