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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where’s the street map of the Republic of Georgia? Some media outlets are crying foul as Google scrambles to explain why they did not have any maps of the war-torn region. You can get satellite images for sure but the road detail is vacant. So, don’t go searching for detail around Tbilisi or Gori. Miguel Helft, writing in the New York Times, interviews folks at Google who say simply that they never had very good coverage in this region and did not intentionally remove any data.

Not so for Yahoo Maps. Road data on Yahoo does exist but looks no better than the old 1:100,000 Defence Mapping Agency (now NGA) maps so it, too, is somewhat incomplete. Zooming to street level will show that neither Yahoo nor Google has any coverage.

But the winner is Microsoft Virtual Earth. Now, whether this was done recently, only they know for sure, but the road detail is excellent. Perhaps folks from the VE group can chime in here.

I would not put this all on Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. Politically sensitive regions have little detail. Take the disputed region of Kashmir.  It has great satellite imagery (almost too good) but no road data. And the imagery is spotty. For an interesting example, use this link to a KMZ file of Skardu, a small town in Pakistan, very close to the border with India. The imagery is extraordinary but don’t pan away too far or you will lose the higher resolution image.

by Joe Francica on 08/14 at 01:34 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

MAPPS reports (press release) the results of two polls taken at its recent meeting.

Senator John McCain topped Senator Barack Obama by an overwhelming 76% to 24% margin in a poll of MAPPS members conducted July 19-23.
McCain was also the choice in a poll of spouses, guest and others attending the MAPPS 2008 summer meeting. In a poll open to all conference attendees, McCain led Obama by a 64% to 36% margin.

The interpretation:

“The MAPPS members clearly prefer Senator McCain based on his record on business issues, taxes, foreign policy and national defense,” said MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello. “The margin in the poll demonstrates that MAPPS members view the 2008 Presidential election as a clear choice.”

How does this activity, and the choice to publicly not only share but formally release the results fit with its mission and goals?

MAPPS is the most politically active association in the geospatial community. The association features a full time government relations staff in Washington, DC, sponsors the MAPPS Political Action Committee (MAPPS PAC), and hosts a Federal Programs Conference in March of each year in which members of MAPPS visit Capitol Hill for meetings with some 300 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

As a nonprofit, nonpartisan association organized under section 501(c)(6) of the Interal Revenue Code, MAPPS does not endorse any candidate or party. The poll was taken for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement nor an attempt to influence any members, voters or elections.

Per the release, MAPPS took a similar vote in 2004, where members picked Bush. I’m sure this is all on the up and up legally. Is it valuable to members to take and publish results of such polls? Is it valuable to those reading the PR? Is it just a fun way to get MAPPS in the news? (Nothing wrong with that!) Do other professional or industry groups take such polls and publish results?

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/14 at 09:46 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

A paper in Current Biology (fee required) is reviewed in the New York Times. The bottom line: people from the same country tend to clump together in a map of their genetic make up. Thus, in theory: “it should be possible to devise a forensic test to tell which country in Europe an individual probably comes from, said Manfred Kayser, a geneticist at the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.”

The maps are most interesting.

via ScienceBlogs

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/14 at 07:45 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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