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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Last week USGS made public its new viewer for The National Map (TMN). It’s build on NGA’s Palanterra 3. I’m confused by the site which says: “Beta URL not ready for wide-distribution until stability testing is completed prior to the end of the calendar year.” Thus, I’ll not include the URL. Another concern: there’s no form to submit suggestions after you test it out. I did contact USGS; I was encouraged to note the upcoming features that are planned (you’ll find them noted on the site…) and to stress that it’s beta. Expect big news on Dec 3, when USGS celebrates the 125th anniversary of the national mapping program.

Today ESRI soft launched a GIS wiki at A tweet prompted Caitlin at GIS Lounge to explore it. Perhaps it will be formally announced on GIS Day? (Wednesday)

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/17 at 02:34 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Yesterday, to start off Geography Awareness Week, the New England chapter of URISA held a one-day, focussed conference on integrating data (website). I did the keynote and I think the key takeaways included:

- Authoritative data is in the eye of the beholder: it’s people’s perception of the quality of the data, not its actual quality, that seems to matter.
- The traditional GIS user pyramind (Doer, User, Viewer) is going on a diet; it’s “middle” (the user/typical desktop user segment) is getting smaller as more users migrate up or down. The reason? Changes in IT rather than changes in geospatial technology.
- That change in shape of the pyramid means a realigment for software providers, users and educators.
- The “GIS driver’s license” (knowing how to run the software) is not necessarily enough in these times to get a job. “More” in terms of IT, database or discipline knowledge separates one from the “dime a dozen” who can run the software

The session on CityStat and 311 (non-emergency city information lines) included speakers from Hartford, CT, Boston and Springfield, MA. All three cities have successful implementations, thought city workers don’t seem to like the accountability CityStats force upon them. Of note to me:

- The decision to makes CityStat and/or 311 data available to the public varies from city to city. The City of Boston offers such data, but has found little use of it by constituent and public interest groups. They hope it will be used more as the city begins to offer the data via services.
- One big plus of 311 is that the call centers can handle a huge percentage of calls that otherwise would go to the departments - especially tax and document questions (how much do I owe? When is it due? How do I get a birth certificate).
- Simply collecting all the data leads to action. In Boston a correlation was found between street light outages and car break ins. Hence, if a light is out, residents shouldn’t park under it! Another lesson residents may learn: report the outage to the city via 311!

A session on permitting and document management was a bit over my head, but I did note:

- It’s not uncommon for GIS staff to be excluded in exploring and choosing a permitting system, which causes integration challenges later.
- In one town automating permitting did not actually speed up the time for permits to be approved - mostly because the processing in the department that handled them stayed the same.

The final session of the day, A Taxonomy of Web Mapping Applications, gave a great state of the art in Web mapping and Web GIS. Of note:

- The Massachusetts Historical Commission’s apps, based on Google Maps for data collection and Maptitude for the Web for browsing the database illustrated how easy to use tools and the ability to tap into data served by others could get workable solutions up and running quickly and relatively easily. The key limitation? No control over data from those outside services.
- The discussion of the beta of MIT’s Whereis? highlighted how to integrate ArcGIS Server with Google Maps. Of note: the Google data was not “good enough” so MIT simply “blocks it out” for the areas of MIT. The beta site gets up to 2000 hits per hour. (Hammered!). It takes just 30 minutes to recreate the MIT tile cache, so those behind it can do clever things - like color the maps for holidays, as they did for Halloween.

About 100 people attended the low cost event in Sturbridge, MA. I continue to advocate for small focussed events. This one was certainly a success.

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/17 at 07:50 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

” Individual invitations with maps is a new, product and service exclusively from Astonishingcards. This revolutionary program will draw a map from the front door of each and every recipient to the front door of the event. In addition, Astonishingcards provides turn by turn driving directions for each person on the invitation list and will help make the holiday party invitations unique and personalized to each guest.”

- press release

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/17 at 07:12 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

My personal favorite BOLer (that’s Buzz Outloud, C|net’s daily tech podcast) Rafe Needleman covers the user generated content site in an article title Crowdsourcing Cartography. PublicEarth launched Monday and is a Google Maps-based POI collection. Michael Rubin, an architect for Netflix is behind it; so the idea is to make a tool for places, akin to what Netflix is for movies. There’s even a recommendations engine, just like Netflix. The business model?

The PublicEarth team wants to make this service the go-to database of unusual places, and to partner with standard booking sites like, OpenTable, and travel solutions like TripIt. Getting traffic from those sites will get people into the system, and then sending booking and ticket traffic out to venues will generate revenue.

Needleman also covers the upcoming MapZen from Cloudmade, a new, easier to use tools to add to and edit OpenStreetMap.

There’s no mention that it’s Geography Awareness Week!

- C|net

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/17 at 06:59 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The EU-funded Sensors Anywhere (SANY) program offers the technical means to allow the free exchange and use of environmental monitoring data regardless of its source. It supports OGC standards. Several pilots are underway tracking air, water and land, with final results to be shared at an event on Nov 19 in Linz, Austria.

- Science Daily

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/17 at 06:50 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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