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Thursday, June 17, 2010

“A geography teacher not using geospatial technology is like a chem teacher not using the periodic table.”

- ESRI’s Joe Kerski via @geoparadigm @shannonhwhite

I wouldn’t put it that way. I’d say: “A geography teacher not using a map is like a chem teacher not using the periodic table.” That seems more parallel to me.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 08:49 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The “ Bug Battle” is really about bugs (Brightkite won that with the most bugs) but as Kevin C. Tofel points out, the 300 testers involved also provide a nice “review” of the big players: Foursquare, Gowalla, and Brightkite. uTest, the company behind this test offers a detailed pdf of the results.

- GigaOM

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 08:22 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The San Deigo Union Tribune did some investigative work on the GPS monitoring of southern California offenders and the results were not good. The system in use sent out more than 31,000 alerts this spring, creating backlog that dates to March for some unresolved alerts.

- Mercury News

A new and now demonstrated prototype from NASA/JPL uses global and regional real-time data from hundreds of GPS sites to estimate their positions every second, detecting ground motions as small as a few centimeters to predict tsunamis. The app successfully predicted the size of the tsunami triggered by the Feb. 27 magnitude-8.8 Chilean earthquake.

- AP

Want to know where jaguars go to hunt prey vs. eating ranched cattle? So did researchers. They put GPS tracking devices on the cats for three years (2001-2004) in Brazil. The analysis suggests that what jaguars eat depends on several factors including rainfall. High pushes relatives of the crocodile further into the plains and they become a good food source. When rainfall is low ranchers push cattle further from their home turf, making them more easily accessible to the cats.

- press release

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 07:23 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Philadelphia has consolidated IT and GIS across the whole city, meaning it can find where it’s not in use and work to fill in the gaps. Two key ractices to assure this works: (1) required department meetings at least once a month and (2) an enterprise license with ESRI.


Indianapolis’ Mayor’s Action Center has launched a new online complaint system that residents can use to report problems including trash dumping or graffiti. IndyRequest uses GIS so residents can pinpoint issues on a map. Tech? ESRI Flex. I continue to hope for better UIs for many of these local gov apps; this is another that could be more elegant.

- AP

The Macon County Landslide Hazard Maps developed by the North Carolina Geological Survey is now considered a material fact and “as such falls under disclosure requirements when listing or selling property in the county.” Realtors and builders are now trying to figure out how to deal with that disclosure of risk.

- Macon News

The City of Long Beach, California ok’d ” a contract with Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI) to participate in the Community Maps Program and grant ESRI permission to use and publish City of Long Beach geographic data.”


by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The challenge focuses on innovative ideas for disseminating news and information to local communities with digital technologies. Winners receive funding to move their ideas forward. The best known from the geo perspective is Adrian Holovaty’s EveryBlock, now owned by

The largest amount given out, $400k, went to Eric Rodenbeck and his data visualization project CityTracking. Rodenbeck is the founder and creative director of Stamen, a company well-known for its great visualizations and maps. (I am using some of Stamen work in discussing the future of cartography in my class at Penn State this summer.) So what is CityTracking?

To make municipal data easy to understand, CityTracking will allow users to create embeddable data visualizations that are appealing enough to spread virally and that are as easy to share as photos and videos. The dynamic interfaces will be appropriate to each data type, starting with crime and working through 311 calls for service, among others. The creators will use high design standards, making the visuals beautiful as well as useful.

A second visualization tool, Tilemapping, was granted $74,000. It’s from Eric Gunderson of DevelopmentSeed,

To inspire residents to learn about local issues, Tilemapping will help local media create hyper-local, data-filled maps for their websites and blogs. Journalists will be able to tell more textured stories, while residents will be able to draw connections to their physical communities in new ways. The tools will be tested in Washington, D.C. Ushahidi, a 2009 Knight News Challenge winner, used a prototype after the earthquake in Haiti to create maps used to crowdsource reports on places needing aid.

Two other winners, GoMap Riga and LocalWiki, both hope to engage locals in building local news sites. CitySeed uses tagging to create local conversation of ideas. And, a shout out to John Davidow, of my local NPR station, WBUR, who won for a project to develop best practices for covering court cases.

- News Challenge Blog

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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