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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A small BC company bumped up the number of paid gigs with its UAV based imagery collection from 10 in 2008 to 35 in 2009. The hand launchable UAV carries its own GIS (per the article) and produces 8 in pixel imagery.

- Salmon Arm Observer

...Thomson Reuters for the first time this season will incorporate satellite imagery of mall parking lots when making its calculations of shopper traffic and holiday-sales volumes. The company is using images provided by Remote Sensing Metrics of parking lots at more than 200 U.S. malls to count the number of occupied and empty spaces.

Thomson Reuters used the images to determine that shopper traffic at those malls was 5.8% higher last Saturday than it was in the same Saturday in November 2009 and 11.8% higher than the same Saturday in 2008.

- Wall Street Journal
- more details at Smart Money

Bill McKibben helped launch 350 EARTH, the first global art show for the climate. Some great imagery and an intro by the artist at Alternet. The effort includes “major public art installations in over a dozen locations across the planet that will be photographed by satellites 400 miles above the Earth’s surface starting today and through November 27 as part of a planetary scale art project.”


by Adena Schutzberg on 11/24 at 06:32 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Foursquare Boasts 4.5 Million Users, Opens West Coast Office

- Mashable

Yelp offering location-based mobile rewards

- San Francisco Chronicle

JiWire Acquires Nearby Now

- press release

Interview with Josh Williams, co-founder of Gowalla

- Fast Company

Think Local. Act Global. How Google Places Fails the Tourism Industry

- Search Engine Land

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/24 at 06:25 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I fear Esri’s “fun for Thanksgiving” map of where turkeys are safest, in the local paper, will get a mixed review in Redlands this morning. The map was produced as a PR effort. The version online in the Press Enterprise, which shows just California, appears to be scanned from the print version of the paper. I guess the turkeys get the last laugh - if turkeys do laugh.

Happy Thanksgiving!

- Press Enterprise

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/24 at 06:13 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Google Maps to unveil cyclist directions feature in Canada

- Metro News

Google celebrates African Map Maker contributors. GPS Biz News calls Google “shameless.”

- GPS Business News

The Guardian Blog uses Fusion Tables to map incidents between North and South Korea.

- Guardian Data Blog

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/24 at 06:03 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Since Tuesday’s podcast was about the expansion of user input into geodatasets, the news Tuesday afternoon that OpenStreetMap’s founder Steve Coast has joined Microsoft’s Bing Mobile Team seemed serendipitous. But, that was not the only news about OSM: Microsoft will provide imagery to that crowdsourced mapping project.

James Fee was the first out of the gate with this prediction about the future on his blog:

Between the OSM mappers, MapQuest, Microsoft and all the others who are part of the open project; I see no way OSM doesn’t become the dominate [dominant] mapping data source for all users moving forward.  And you know who wins, everyone who wants free and open data. 

That’s bold. And, he may be right. But, I’m not as convinced. Why will Microsoft’s participation in OSM matter so much? First off, what is its participation? For now, per the Bing Maps blog here’s what we know:

As a Principal Architect for Bing Mobile, Steve will help develop better mapping experiences for our customers and partners, and lead efforts to engage with OpenStreetMap and other open source and open data projects.  As a first step in this engagement, we plan to enable access to Bing’s global orthorectified aerial imagery, as a backdrop of OSM editors. Also, Microsoft is working on new tools to better enable contributions to OSM.

Those two first steps are good ones. That imagery can be "traced" by folks anywhere in the world to help fill out and enhance the basemap. And, as many have found, the tools for editing OSM (Potlatch and JOSM) can be cranky. I’ve heard the ArcGIS extension for ArcGIS can be a challenge, for some, too.

But can Microsoft’s efforts activate a larger active community than OpenStreetMap, Cloudmade, and most recently AOL have? Will those individuals have the passion worldwide to do the work that’s been done so well in Germany and the UK (two countries were AOL uses OSM data in MapQuest)? Can Microsoft as a company rally the volunteer troops? Do you recall Microsoft’s last misguided crowdsourced effort? The Windows 7 launch parties? (See The Guardian coverage, but I just recall all the laughs I heard on Buzz Out Loud.) How about its effort to pay users to use Bing as a search tool? No, to date, Microsoft has not inspired the kind of loyalty and devotion and respect as some other players.

While some continue to "hate on" Google for its MapMaker efforts (GPS Business News noted its disapproval this week), others think that the MapMaker data is in fact the source for Google’s US datasets (SlashGeo offered that incorrect assumption). While there are always naysayers about Esri, I continue to be impressed by how many organizations are lining up to fill its Community Maps Program (map of them).

I think one or two more tools are needed for OSM to the coverage and quality required to be useful worldwide. One tool/technology needs to provide passive data capture. A company like waze, for example, that can encourage users to simply switch on their phone and be tracked would be a nice addition. So, too, would a company with a tool to integrate and quickly conflate all the data that come in. The reason that TomTom (Tele Atlas) and Nokia (NAVTEQ) are now "poo-pooed" is simply because their datasets are dated. Why are they dated? Because they are vetted, which takes time. The company that can provide that quick but "good enough" filter to to pull the mix of data from its various sources and pump it back out to users will win. I don’t think OSM has all the data inputs needed, nor the paid and unpaid staff needed, nor the smart software needed to win this competition. Not yet anyway, but clearly their backers are slowly adding to their dowry.

And, one final thought. I’ve seen many very smart, successful and well-known geospatial practitioners join big important companies with big plans and big ideas. And, I’ve seen them work hard, bang their heads against the wall, and ultimately leave for the next opportunity. And, I’ve seen other very smart geospatial practitioners do their work at small companies, have some sway in those companies, and have impacts on our industry that many of us cannot even identify.  I do wish Steve Coast, as I did the many to whom I refer here, the best of luck in his new position.

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/24 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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