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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fire Eagle, Yahoo's solution for managing how accurately to share one's location, has switched off for good. This news comes from Tom Coates (the Fire Eagle guy) and Gary Gale who also worked at Yahoo for some time. I was a huge fan of Fire Eagle, which launched in 2007. We even did a podcast on it and it's been comvered quite a bit on this blog - either tracking its continued existence or wondering what might take its place.

Fire Eagle was a middleman that allowed users to determine "how much if at all" to fuzz up one's location information for sharing with another app. It was hard to explain and perhaps that's why it never got huge but it was probably ahead of its time.

It also had a really cool name.

- Tom Coates' twitter conversation via Gary's Bloggage

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/19 at 06:45 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The company name DroneMapper jumped out at me from the most recent Professional Surveyor newsletter. It sounded questionable, what with so many restrictions on current use of that technology here in the United States. But, if you look at what the company does, it's not so questionable at all. The company does 3D aerial imagery processing. The company doesn't fly the drones.

 If you are operating inside the United States of America with a COA, Special Airworthiness Certification for UAS, or over Tribal Lands we'd like to hear from you. 

In fact, it was noted in the publication because it signed a contract with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) to provide imagery processing services for the next 5 years (announcement).  

So, think hard when naming your startup! It should turn heads.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/19 at 06:46 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

New draft legislation in the House of Representatives is attempting to restrict the private use of drones, making it a misdemeanor to use a UAV to photograph a person or their property without their explicit permission.

Public space use would be equally limited, according to the "Preserving American Privacy Act of 2013" (PDF), requiring a max altitude of just six feet. Law enforcement bodies would have to obtain a warrant or court order to be able collect information on individuals in a private area. And it bans the use of armed drones in U.S. airspace--which clarifies the debate on targeting U.S. citizens.

That bill from Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) was introduced on Feb 15 per a press release. The key elements:

  • Government-operated UAS must obtain a warrant to collect information that can identify individuals in a private area;
  • Government-operated UAS must obtain a court order and provide public notice beforehand to collect information that can identify individuals in defined public areas;
  • The warrant and court order requirements are subject to exceptions for emergencies, border security, and consent;
  • Private UAS cannot capture visual images or sound recordings of individuals engaging in personal activities in certain circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy;
  • State laws on the use of UAS in the airspace of the state are not preempted;
  • Private and law enforcement UAS cannot use or operate UAS equipped with firearms or explosives in U.S. airspace.

Of course some states are working on their own legislation and come cities, like Charlottesville, WV already have bans in place.

- Fast Company via Geodata Policy

Image courtesy USGS.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/19 at 06:26 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

High school students in the Temecula Valley Unified School District [California] may no longer have to take health or geography classes to graduate.

The school board is considering changing the requirements for those courses. Why? It's not clear, but busy schedules seem to be a factor. Some 10% of students who take band or student government and other electives must take the course outside of school either from another school or online. There's quite an outcry related to cutting health, but research suggests other localdistricts do not require a geography course.


Everything is better with zombies!

Camp Sidney Dew was the site of a first-time training event called Zombie-O that attracted more than 300 Northwest Georgia Council Boy Scouts, Venturers and leaders. The brainchild of Max McAdams, Zombie-O was designed to help Scouts improve their orienteering skills. 

“Basic orienteering skills, learning to use a map and compass, have been an important part of scouting since it was founded,” said McAdams, who also chaired the event. 

O here refers to orienteering. Volunteers were dressed up as zombies to make for a more realistic scenarios and trackers visited controls (just like in real orienteering) to confirm their navitation prowess.

In October and January, an official from the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association met with teachers [at BlackHawk School District, Beaver Couty, PA] to discuss careers in the natural gas industry, educational requirements of employers, and curriculum development.

“We’re basically training our teachers and tasking them with adding pieces to our curriculum that will help prepare our students to join the work force,” [Superintendent Michelle] Miller said. “We want them to be prepared for the changes taking place in Beaver County.”

So, now students can learn about jobs in oil and gas, take safety courses and even GIS as a pathway to careers directly or via college.


The high school launched geospatial technology classes, which will provide students with map-making skills needed by the natural gas industry, as well as other industries.

- Times Online

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/19 at 06:10 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

ComSore which documents use of the Web on a variety of platforms published a 48 page report on last years findings (press release, European and country by country reports, seems to be a slide presentation, registration requried but I gave up after a one round of registration when I was asked again to input personal data...). Here are key bits with regard to mapping per the New York Times.

Removing a favorite app from just one operating system can change the whole dynamic of mobile usage.

Google’s map app for the iPhone, which had been the most used mobile app, lost its No. 1 spot to Facebook after Apple kicked Google’s maps off the iPhone in October. Now, Facebook reaches 76 percent of the smartphone market and accounts for 23 percent of total time spent using apps each month. The next five most used apps are Google’s, which account for 10 percent of time on apps.

Some industries are more affected by the move to mobile than others.

As mobile continues to take share from desktop, some industries have been particularly affected, and they are seeing significant declines in desktop use of their products as a result. They are newspapers, search engines, maps, weather, comparison shopping, directories and instant messenger services.

Local search is far more subtle than it has been in the past.

Social search, based on what users’ friends like, has put Facebook and Google on a “collision course,” comScore said, particularly in searches for local businesses like restaurants.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/19 at 04:54 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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