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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

John King, the newsman turned GIS expert for CNN during the U.S. presidential primaries, has been adding functionality to his Google election coverage maps. In Tuesday’s Ohio primary specifically, King and anchor Wolf Blitzer were reporting on a lawsuit filed by Barack Obama to keep polling locations open because of the ice storm hitting the state. As King zoomed into Cuyahoga County to highlight the areas hit by the ice storm he was left with a huge hole in his coverage. Where’s the ice, snow? Lacking an integrated live weather feed, King was simply showing a static satellite image of downtown Cleveland. So, while imagery was added to the election coverage, it seems like King wanted even more to describe the situation.

I like what The Weather Channel has done with the integration of live weather and Microsoft Virtual Earth. Will live weather be next in election coverage? It’s coincidental that The Weather Channel is running a series called "When Weather Changed History." In the case of the primaries, weather may very well have been a factor in the primaries. Just watch what happens in November.

by Joe Francica on 03/04 at 08:02 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Google’s new partnership program for local governments, Cities in 3D, announced today, is initially aimed at U.S. local governments (though the rest of world is invited to participate) to encourage the creation and sharing of 3D models of their geographies. While anyone can now upload a model to Google 3D Warehouse, it must meet certain format and other criteria before Google might place it into Google Earth. The partnership program also has some data quality requirements, but allows larger dataset to be delivered. Google presents the program as complementary to the Warehouse. (FAQ)

I spoke with JL Needham, manager of public sector content partnerships, and Bruce Polderman, product manager for 3D content in a phone briefing on Monday. Google, they explained is tackling the 3D model arena in part to get communities involved with planning and other local activities but also to make finding and sharing this spatial data far easier than it is today. Further, they argue, data sharing such as this ensures communities gain the full value of their data.

When speaking with local governments the Google team learned that while only a small percentage have 3D models, many have the building blocks of those models: LiDAR data, building heights, building footprints, etc. Perhaps, Google suggests, this program will be the little push needed to create a model of downtown, if not the entire municipality. And, Needham and Polderman are quick to point out that the models need not be completely rendered to be part of Google Earth. “Gray buildings” are just fine.

The pair also point out that there’s a “tourism” benefit to having such models. It easier for visitors to explore and find where they might stay and which neighborhoods they might like to explore if such models are readily available.

I suggested a program like this for sharing aerial imagery would be valuable. The response was “that’s not an unreasonable expectation,” so stay tuned! Recall that Microsoft offered a program in that vein via TerraServer, but it never seemed to take off. Google, for its part, has been partnering on a one off basis with communities and sometimes states to offer up their imagery in Google Maps and Google Earth. One state GIS coordinator noted to me a few years ago posted his imagery to Google Earth kept a lot of public traffic of his servers, making analytical work move much faster. It’s worth noting that even as this announcement is going live the Virtual Earth for Government blog notes that Portugal just offered up not only imagery, but a new DEM for use in Virtual Earth. The post requests other government (US or outside) who want to post their archived imagery to contact the team.

The Cities in 3D initiative may well be another situation where Google gets there first, makes it easy to participate and provides back something of value to sometimes cash strapped local governments.

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/04 at 09:22 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Atanas Entchev has been trying to tease out pricing for the the new Enterprise License Agreement option for local governments with fewer than 100,000 people via this post.

I can offer another data point, based on what I believe to be use of this program from the Redlands Daily Facts.

The [Redlands, CA] City Council will consider an agreement with Environmental Systems Research Institute for licenses on the Geographic information software the city uses. According to the staff report, the city has acquired its licenses on a piece-by-piece basis in the past. By reaching a three-year agreement with ESRI, the city stands to save at least $100,330 over the next three years. The cost for the agreement is $24,500 per year for the next three years.

Redlands population stands at about 75,000 per the city website (water supply page).

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/04 at 08:29 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

3TIER, a Seattle-based firm, offers what it calls the first global map of wind-power resources. The map is free; a more detailed one, with more details and data will be available for sale to the industry. The online free version is a Google Maps mashup; you need to register to see actual wind speeds.

- Environmental Capital Blog (Wall Street Journal)

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/04 at 06:55 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Tele Atlas was promoted to the Amsterdam stock exchange’s main blue-chip index, the AEX, on Tuesday. The index just turned 25 years old.

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/04 at 06:47 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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