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Monday, September 24, 2012

Moustafa Alzantot and Moustafa Youssef at Alexandria University in Egypt have developed an app that crowdsources data from smartphone sensors to construct indoor floorplans automatically. It's called CrowdInside.

It uses a variety of sensors (GPS, wi-fi, accelerometers, etc.) to gather data, but regularly updates the data with a kind of ground truthing. 

The basic technique is dead-reckoning using an accelerometer as a pedometer and the magnetometer as a direction finder. The number of steps in a specific direction give a rough idea of the distance walked. 

The problem, of course, is that dead-reckoning is notoriously susceptible to errors, which build rapidly in time. To get around this, the system needs to be constantly re-calibrated using points at a known location. 

This is the clever part of the system. Alzantot and Youssef start by using the location where GPS data becomes unavailable to determine the entrance to the building. That gives a starting point for the dead-reckoning.

Next, they use the sensor data to spot when the users are in an elevator, using an escalator or simply walking up or down stairs. In each case, the movement produces a unique pattern of acceleration that is different from walking and so makes them easy to spot. 

It's unclear how or if the app will be marketed.

- Tech Review via reader Kevin

The mobile platform company now known as Unwired Planet, which most of us knew as Openwave, is suing Google and Apple for patent infringement including infringement of LBS and related patents in Google Maps, Safari and Apple Maps. it seems Unwired Planet hasn't done too well of late and this is a way to bring in some revenue, per analysts. Microsoft has paid to use some of Openwave's patents in the past.

- MacWorld Australia

MIT researchers have built a wearable sensor system that automatically creates a digital map of the environment through which the wearer is moving. The prototype system, described in a paper slated for the Intelligent Robots and Systems conference in Portugal next month, is envisioned as a tool to help emergency responders coordinate disaster response.

- MIT News

by Adena Schutzberg on 09/24 at 04:54 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Esri Australia 3D GIS expert Len Olyott said the technology [City Engine] had already transformed major cities in China, the US and Europe and could help towns like Toowoomba develop a more sustainable future.

He spoke at the Downs Interest Group for GIS and Remote Sensing (DIGGARS) 2012 forum at the University of Southern Queensland's Toowoomba campus.

- Toowoomba Chronicle

NetWork Kansas officials said Wednesday that the Kansas Economic Gardening Network is taking applications from rural and urban communities to receive assistance that will give selected companies access to a national and regional network of experts in areas such as market research, social media and geographic information systems, or GIS. Through the program, communities can also receive technical assistance for their companies through the Mid-American Manufacturing Technology Center for an additional cost.

Applications are due Oct 12.


The Berkeley County Council [WV] voted 5-0 to eliminate a geographic information system technician position, effective Oct. 5.

Apparently there is not enough work for the person to do. The vote was made public but the individual had not yet been told of her termination. There was no disciplinary action involved.

- Herald-Mail

Griffiss International Airport [Rome, NY] will receive a second federal grant worth $475,200 from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help plan long-term upgrades to the airport.

Among other things, the grant will pay for a "GIS survey."

- Mohawk Valley Biz Journal

At least one borough in Pennsylvania is not using GIS to its fullest extent. Landsdale has but one computer, not on the network, running GIS. The good news: the borough president is a 15 year user of the tech and encouraging wider use.

- The Reporter

by Adena Schutzberg on 09/24 at 04:32 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The big news is the latest Dept of Labor grants for innovative training is that materical created with the grants must be available under Creative Commons licensing! That's the first I've heard of a such a requirement, but it's a nice addition to a current education focus (including by Esri) on Open Education Resrouces (OER). Now onto the grants and how well GIS did:

[On Sept 19] Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced $500 million in grants to community colleges and universities around the country for the development and expansion of innovative training programs. The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, which promotes skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, as well as science, technology, engineering and math careers through partnerships between training providers and local employers. The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

The recipients using the money for geospatial programs include a GIS certificate in Hawaii:


University of Hawaii
Consortium Leader
Total Consortium Award Amount: $12,665,892

Consortium members: Kauai Community College, Hawaii Community College

Courses developed for this proposal — in Business and Accounting, GIS, Food Innovation, Sustainability,
EV/PHEVAutomotive, Water/Wastewater — will be delivered in hybrid/online formats and include the use of innovative technologies for student assessment. These new courses will provide additional training in much needed subjects. The proposal also enhances student services, including adding staffing for prior learning assessment, career counseling, internships and placements, and builds capacity for tracking the impact on students for further education or employment.

Stark State College in Ohio recieved funds, too. While there is no metion of GIS in its proposal, the local paper cites a school news release suggesting GIS was to funded in part. Perhaps those funds are from the Timken Foundation?

According to a news release form Stark State, the $2.76 million from Department of Labor and $500,000 from the Timken Foundation will cover curriculum development for new associate degrees and certificates related to the emerging oil and gas industry, as well as costs associated with creating and supplying training labs for commercial driver’s license, computers, geographic information systems (GIS), geology, valves, and welding.

press release via GIS Pathway

A summer article is republished by UNH news explaining how a new five course geospatial science certificate is now available at the school. Admission requires current matriculation at UNH or a bachelor's degree. The first course launched in August.

The Geospatial Science Graduate Certificate program requires students to take five classes in total: the new Elements of Geospatial Science class; one of four GIS classes offered on campus; one of six Spatial Analysis classes, and two program-approved electives.

- UNH Today via @micastark

- Grad Certificate Website

- Course list

The incoming enrollment at Sault College (Sualt Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada) is up 6% over the year before. GIS is among the popular courses of study and even is among the  "wait listed" programs. It's not clear what that means, but there are 20 such programs at the school this year up from just 10 in 2010.

- Local2

by Adena Schutzberg on 09/24 at 03:06 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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