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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Today, Dec 3, USGS celebrates 125 Years of Topographic Mapping. You may have seen or heard about an exhibit by that name at this year’s ESRI User Conference (press release). The actual party occurs from 1-3 EST today in Reston.

Besides the “looking back” there are announcements of new products (press release). The long awaited digital topo program, initially launched in beta in June as “Digital Maps–Beta” (APB coverage), is now called simply US Topo. The big difference is that the US Topos include the hydro and contour layers. These join the previously delivered layers available in the beta maps: NAIP imagery layers, Census transportation layers, geographic names, and collar info.

US Topo maps in the USGS store now number more than 748; they are all in Kansas, the first US Topo state. They join the 14,116 “Digital Maps–Beta” maps from 17 states (without hydro/contour, though in time the “betas” will be replaced with US Topo versions). Both the betas and the US Topos are now available from the USGS Store for free download in GeoPDF format. Detailed coverage and planned production details are available on the status page.

The navigation to the map you want continues to be a rather clumsy Google Maps implementation. I do appreciate a “show US Topo and Digital Maps - Beta” button which allows visitors to quickly determine which form is available for which areas. After zooming in to an area of interest, you place a marker within the area of interest. Then you click on the marker to learn which maps are available that cover the area (including name, data, coverage[7.5x7.5, 1x2, 30x60] and file size). I downloaded a US Topo of Beeler Kansas (17 Mb). It looked fine in Apple’s Preview but I could not manipulate layers without the extra GeoPDF tools from TerraGo. So, I went to find out if those are yet available for Macs. (Short answer: no.)

Long answer: The USGS points visitors to download additional tools aka TerraGo Desktop, from TerraGo. That software was previously known as the GeoPDF Toolbar. Per TerraGo: “this free solution enables users to view, manipulate and update maps and images within an Adobe Reader environment. Users can measure length and area, change coordinate displays, search for attributes and view layers.”

I’m not sure why USGS sends visitors to this general page of TerraGo products from the About GeoPDF Maps pdf instead of to the TerraGo desktop page. The TerraGo Desktop page, confusingly, has a graphic of another TerraGo product, “Collaboration Suite.” Also confusing: there are references to the old GeoPDF Toolbar in the text describing TerraGo Desktop. And, to add to the confusion: there’s a link on the page for “Purchase” which generates an e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Where is the download the free add-on the USGS suggests?

Perhaps what I need is the TerraGo Toolbar. USGS has an “ad” for that on the “locator” map page. That’s similarly “advertised” on the TerraGo solutions page as a free download. That link leads me to a form into which I am asked for name and e-mail (Why? So TerraGo can contact me? So the USGS can contact me? I’d really like to know!) where I can download, that’s right, TerraGo Desktop - which is Windows only.

I do hope USGS and TerraGo decide on the final name of this Windows-only “toolbar” and make it easier to find and download.

Today also marks the official launch of the new National Map viewer (the Palentara based Beta I noted last month - which USGS soft-launched). It’s available from The National Map website viewer page.

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/03 at 02:44 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I alas made just a token appearance (to help with registration) and saw some great presentations in the first set. Lots of good links/comments in Twitter coverage: #ISB09.

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/03 at 11:16 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I actually heard about this “big launch” last night at Ignite Spatial Boston. Microsoft hosted it at the New England Research and Development Center (NERD). Among the snazzy apps (click arrow icon for “more apps” to find them): ways to track Tweets and other datasets. Also launched: the Microsoft answer to StreetView. Oh, and the new stuff is Silverlight only.

- PC World

- ReadWriteWeb

- C|net

- VentureBeat

- ArsTechnica

Washington Post

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/03 at 06:26 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Global Voices is running a series on this topic (ICT = Information and communication technologies). The first installment from Oct explored citizen-coordinated initiatives. The second installment, released today addresses early warning systems including the use of geospatial technologies.

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/03 at 06:13 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

With so much action in nav on cell phones and a drop in sales for PNDs, there’s been little talk about in-car systems. But the quiet has been broken as Nissan announces new pricing for in-car systems (even on its lowest end cars): from just $400 complete with a 5” screen.

- Slashgear

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/03 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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