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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

While here in the U.S. Nokia phones are not really a player, elsewhere they are: Nokia’s Ovi Maps has had 11m downloads since its launch in February. Now comes more goodies to add to its voice-based turn by turn directions:

Qype integration - it’s like Yelp

Expedia integration - travel, reservation tools

Time Out integration - professional reviews of restaurants, films, etc.

- recombu

Geodelic closed a $7 million Series B financing round led by MK Capital, with previous investors Clearstone Ventures Partners and Shasta Ventures also contributing. Formerly dubbed Sherpa, the free Geodelic application “learns a subscriber’s favorite types of locations and preferences over time, promising an increasingly customized user experience that recommends relevant retailers, restaurants and attractions according to one’s likes, dislikes and behavioral patterns.”

- Fierce Mobile

comScore reports that “about 14% of mobile subscribers visited a mapping site on their smartphone or mobile device in April. That is more than 33 million consumers logging on to the mobile web for mapping information, good information for local businesses to have going forward.”

- Biz Report

Foursquare tapped a handful of investors for $20 million. Existing backers Union Square Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures re-upped, with a new investor Andreessen Horowitz.

- Paid Content

Business Insider that notes that we are now in the phase in LBS beyond first movers and imatators; we are now in the phase of aggregators. The article lists three services that aggregate check-ins for a number of services.

- Business Insider via SFGate

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/30 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Scientists have released one of the most precise maps of the Earth’s gravity build on data collected by Europe’s Goce satellite. There’s an ESA video hosted by the BBC but it has no audio, no legend and a Xerox ad longer than the animation!


An advanced infrared sensor designed to improve weather forecasting around the world has been delivered for integration and testing on the precursor satellite to the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). The Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), a key sensor for the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP), was delivered June 18 by Northrop Grumman Corporation’s subcontractor ITT to a Ball Aerospace facility in Boulder, Colo.

- press release

A DoD asset is now scanning the gulf for oil. The EPA’s ASPECT Aircraft uses infrared technology to take photos of and locate oil. Two weeks ago the scanning technology was adjusted to look for oil on water rather than contaminants on land.

The ASPECT plane goes out twice a day, taking pictures and sending back coordinates of possible oil spots.  Those coordinates are then given to skimmers who can go directly to the site and begin clean up. The tool has not yet been authorized by the Coast Guard use by EPA but a local Congressman is working on it.


by Adena Schutzberg on 06/30 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

North Carolina is testing a program already in the works in Utah: growing biofuel plans on the DOT’s rights of way. N.C. State University is doing the research, while the DOT maintains the crops. Where does GIS come in? It’s used to find suitable locations to grow crops on NCDOT rights of way.

- Citizen-Times

Steve Henry of the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (MN) urges property owners to avoid the use of chlorum near lakes. He’s an expert on lakeshores and wants to keep pesticides out of the local lakes. He spoke to the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) which met in Ottertail at the community center. Among the tools to protect lakes: deep rooted plants and GIS:

“We now have a GIS specialist in house,” he said, “with data on lakeshore. We can tell property owners if they have enough vegetation in order to prevent runoff.”

Without property landscaping with native plants with deep roots, phosphorus runoff after rainfall can make lakes and rivers green and lead to excessive aquatic plant growth. Impairment of a lake for swimming is another adverse effect.

- Fergus Falls Journal

Washington State is having trouble with seafood companies harvesting on private lands without a lease. Among the tools to prevent this in the future are effective maps and surveys. Also on the docket: a GIS database to help identify encroachment.

Last summer, DNR officials began doing an inventory assessment of tidelands. They also started development of a geographic information system tool where the state can identify potential use and ownership conflicts. Once potential encroachments are identified, DNR officials can “put boots on the ground,” as [spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources Aaron] Toso says, to take a closer look to see whether there are any trespass issues. That GIS tool is nearing completion, he said.

-”>The Olympian

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/30 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Clearing just 4% of forested land in parts of the Amazon can significantly raise the risk of contracting malaria in local communities, according to a study published today in Emerging Infectious Diseases.
“Adjusting for population, access to care, and district size, we found that malaria risk increased ≈50% in health districts when 4% of the area underwent deforestation in 1997–2000,” write Sarah Olson of the University of Wisconsin, USA, and colleagues.

The study and the work it built on use satellite imagery to determine the deforestation.

- Emerging Health Threats Forum

The State of New York recently released its maps of cancer diagnoses in the state after some controversy about the wisdom of sharing that information (APB coverage: 1, 2). Now comes the question: Would this be a good idea in Asia? FutureGov got one answer from Dr Fawzi Amin, Assistant Undersecretary for Training & Planning, Ministry of Health, Bahrain:

...cancer maps would be most useful for big countries with populations living in isolated areas. “With a small country like Bahrain, however, which has a population that moves in dynamic ways, it would be difficult to relate cause with any disease, especially cancer, which has several etiological causes.”

Amin points to a recent case in Bahrain when a Member of Parliament accused an oil refinery in his area of being responsible for a rise in the incidences of certain cancer type. “He said the refinery was causing cancer in his area without considering age distribution as a causal factor of that type of cancer. This is just one risk of linking the geographical area with the incidence of chronic diseases.”

That frankly sounds like the issues raised with the New York maps: that most people would jump to conclusions with raw data maps.

- FutureGov

In June the Office of Management and Budget got two initiatives up and running. One is a “Do Not Pay List” which is exactly what it appears to be: a list of people and if they are entitled to payment. If you are dead, you are not, for example. The other is a map-based fraud identification tool developed by ESRI. From the OMB blog:

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB) has deployed a cutting-edge fraud mapping tool that leverages the latest technologies in data capture and analytics to identify potential fraud and error. As frequent readers of this blog will know, I am a huge fan of data and am really impressed by this tool. It gathers enormous quantities of information – in real time – and then analyzes the data and helps connect the dots to identify indicators of possible fraud or error.

The RATB has pioneered and refined the tool, and today, we are starting to roll it out for use across government. We are doing it first at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a natural place to start since Medicare and Medicaid combined had about $65 billion in improper payments in FY 2009 – including about $47 billion in Medicare alone. This will help to meet the President’s goal of cutting the improper payment rate in Medicare in half by 2012.

- Fierce Health IT
- OMB Blog
- Fact Sheet on the Fraud Mapping Tool (pdf)

HIV/AIDS data for the Middle East has been hard to come by, but a new study, gathering existing data suggests some patterns. The report, characterizing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa, is a joint effort of the World Bank, the UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to UNAIDS, about 412,000 people were living with HIV in MENA by the end of 2008, up from 270,000 in 2001. The report said most new infections were from within commercial sex and drug-taking populations.

The report divides the MENA region into two categories according to HIV prevalence: the “subregion with considerable prevalence” (Djibouti, Somalia, Southern Sudan); and the Core MENA region, where HIV prevalence is described as “very limited” (the rest of MENA countries).

Sadly, the existing data is not a good basis for a strategy to tackle HIV/AIDS:

Experts said that despite all the information from different sources that the new report brings together, the region still does not have enough data to form a coherent strategy to tackle HIV/AIDS. The report conceded that the MENA region “continues to be viewed as the anomaly in the HIV/AIDS world map”.

“This is because we have not invested enough in building the right surveillance systems, so we don’t have systems that actually detect and follow up on this issue,” Hind Khatib, regional director of UNAIDS, told IRIN.

- IRIN Global

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/30 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The Autorite de la Concurrence put out a statement today in response to a compaint from Navx, a French mapping platform company, that Google would not take its ads. The verdict from the anti-trust regulator: Google had to put the company’s AdWords ads into its listings. The AdWords policies “were put in place by Google in a way that lacked objectivity and transparency and could lead to the discriminatory treatment” of competitors, it said. Navx provides speed camera points and gas prices to companies, including TomTom.

Google must restore the listing within 5 days and clarify its AdWords procedures.

- BusinessWeek

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/30 at 05:42 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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