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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Last week, OpenRisk LLC, announced that they received an award for a new Platform as a Service (Paas) solution for the insurance industry that allows access to risk models to underwriters. These geospatial information-based models estimate “the potential financial damage to a portfolio of properties resulting from disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods” according to the executive overview provided by the company. To run these complex catastrophe models, OpenRisk will host their solution on a supercomputer and give access to insurance, reinsurance or brokerage firms via a cloud service. “The idea is to enable the insurance industry to share our supercomputers rather than host the models internally, including the costs of IT support, hardware upgrades and high-cost PhD-level staffing, said Jim Aylward, CEO. More information will be available soon at

by Joe Francica on 06/23 at 10:32 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

There are a variety of winners. These are noteworthy due to their focus on/relationship to  geospatial, though many winners have a geo aspect:

Project: The Public Laboratory Winner: The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, Cambridge, Mass.

Award: $500,000
Project Lead: Jeffrey Warren
Twitter:   @publiclaboratory

To make technology work for communities, The Public Laboratory will create a tool kit and online community for citizen-based, grassroots data gathering and research. The Lab is an expansion of Grassroots Mapping – a project originated at the Center for Future Civic Media at MIT. During the project, residents used helium-filled balloons and digital cameras to generate high-resolution “satellite” maps gauging the extent of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – at a time when there was little public information on the subject. Expanding the tool kit beyond aerial mapping, Public Laboratory will work with communities, both online and offline, to produce information about their surroundings.

Project: SwiftRiver Winner: Ushahidi, Orlando, Fla.

Award: $250,000
Project Lead: David Kobia
Twitter: @ushahidi

As news events unfold, mobile phones and the Internet are flooded with information. Through the SwiftRiver  platform, Ushahidi will attempt to verify this information by parsing it and evaluating sources. Working across email, Twitter, web feeds and text messages, the platform will use a combination of techniques to identify trends and evaluate the information based on the creator’s reputation. The project builds on Ushahidi’s past efforts to verify the crowdsourced information collected in global crisis scenarios like the Kenyan election crisis in 2008 and the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.

- Knight Foundation Blog

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/23 at 05:20 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Changes ahead for the Montana teacher behind the GIS gurus at Big Fork High School's cave club:

In addition to his current sections of high school science, Hans Bodenhamer will teach a GIS elective class at the middle school next year.

I wonder when the middle schoolers will be beheading to White House or Esri UC stage?

- Big Fork Eagle

Pystar Philly, held this Saturday at Azavea’s headquarters in Callowhill, is a workshop event designed specifically to reach out to women interested in learning to develop using the programming language Python.

I'm wondering if there are women only GIS classes. I don't think I've seen any.

- TechPhilly

Young people are the producers of a new website to document and warn others about genocide.

The website - Srebrenica-mapping genocide - was launched by the Sarajevo-based advocacy group Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is funded by the United States and other Western countries as well as several nongovernmental organizations.

Its director, Alma Masic, says that the project seeks to encourage young people to prevent similar violence. 

"We want this website to become part of the alternative educational world and particularly for the future generation in the Balkan region as the future decision makers in this area.  So once when they understand what had happened here in the 1990s, that they, when they come in the position of decision makers again, will do anything that is in their power to prevent such horrible things to ever happening again," she stated.   

- Sophia Echo

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/23 at 04:11 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

While Apple did re-up with Google for mapping (APB coverage), a close look at the disclaimers (full text) for the new operating system reveals a long list of well-known, more obscure and even some crowdsourcing mapping players per MacRumors:

• CoreLogic offers Parcel data which marks boundaries for of properties to provide positional accuracy in location-based solutions. 
• Getchee provides location and market data on China, India and Southeast Asia. 
• Increment P Corp provides location and traffic data for Japan. 
• Localeze provides local business listings. 
• MapData Sciences Pty Ltd. Inc provides mapping data for Australia and New Zealand.
• DMTI provides postal code data for Canada. 
• TomTom offers global TeleAtlas mapping data which is also licensed by Google for their map solution. 
• Urban Mapping provides in-depth neighborhood data such as crime, demographics, school performance, economic indicators and more. 
• Waze offers real-time maps and traffic information based on crowd sourced data. 

The most interesting one on the list is Waze, which is cited: "Map data © 2011 Waze." Note, it's not traffic data, but map data. One of waze's goals is to build its own map the US (as it did in Israel). So, it' could be Apple is using part of the Waze's basemap and/or tapping it for traffic data, too. That'd be a huge bump for the company and may also be the "user generated traffic" app Apple hinted at after the "storing your data" fiasco.

- MacRumors

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/23 at 03:52 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

It seems GM has a patent application [added 6/23/11, originally just said "patent"] for crowdsourcing data from the Volt to be use to improve it, especially the battery. As I noted earlier this month, the Nissan Leaf is already sharing data.

- Slashdot via @timoreilly

A new research project based at University College London (UCL) is giving communities the resources and support to monitor local environmental conditions. The data you gather will help create a clearer picture of air quality at the very local level. This will inform us all and help encourage the Mayor and local councils take effective measures to improve our environment.

It's called Clean Air in London.


- details (pdf) via @mhacklay

Vacant NYC

The city says it cannot afford to count vacant property. We think it can be done for free.

via @frankbergeron

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/23 at 03:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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