Virtual Globes session at AAG

Probably the best session I’ve attended here at AAG in Chicago was yesterday afternoon’s “Geography v2.0: Internet-based Virtual Globes”. The presenters included Dave Maguire, head developer at ESRI, and Tim McGrath of Microsoft. There were also 2 papers discussing the use of Google Earth in geography research.

Dave’s talk focused on ArcGISExplorer, ESRI’s virtual globe. Dave referred to ArcGISExplorer, Google Earth, Virtual Earth, NASA’s World Wind and similar applications as “Geographic Exploration Systems” with 5 main components: 1) People; 2) Data; 3) the Server: 4) Web Access; and 5) the Viewer. The key is that these GES focus on the exploitation of geographic information, and Dave stressed the notion of Services Oriented Architecture, a term I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more of. Dave was all set to do a live demo of the beta of ArcGISExplorer, but the conference center did not get the live internet hookup running in time. However, the recorded demo was pretty impressively, and highlighted ESRI’s main focus of integrating various web services with the ArcGISExplorer base data to create a more powerful tool. Some of the feature highlights include: query by location/distance, Drive-time polygons, the client understands projections, the user can load geoprocessing models published via web services to execute GIS functions, the ability to mashup multiple services, and the available .NET developer API. All in all, we can’t wait to try it out.

As far as presentations go, Tim McGrath from Microsoft’s Virtual Earth Business Unit gave a nice rundown on Microsoft’s vision for its mapping applications and discussed the object-oriented approach used to develop its products. He showed a nice demo of some of the Virtual Earth features that we’ve seen, including the Bird’s-Eye view imagery and the recently-debuted Street-Side preview. He demonstrated the AutoLocate feature of Virtual Earth, which uses nearby WiFi hotspots to give your location, as well as the ability to integrate Instant Messenger into the Virtual Earth interface. All in all, Tim’s presentation showed that Microsoft has a long-term vision for their mapping products, and I think we might see some interesting stuff coming up in the future from them.

Public Data Is the Future of Science Outreach

Ogle Earth has an interesting little piece on a project called OBIS-SEAMAP. This project tracks marine mammal, seabird and sea turtle data around the world. The really intersting thing about the site is that they make the exact same data they use available to the general public for download. The more expert GIS users can download an ESRI Shapefile while the general public can download a KML file for use in Google Earth. As Ogle Earth points out, this is a great model for getting the public in general and younger students specifically interested in science and scientific ideas.
I know I would have thought it was the coolest thing in the world when I was in school to be able to track and analyize data in the exact same way as leading scientists in the field. Who am I kidding? I
still think it’s the coolest thing in the world! 🙂

Can’t Decide What Free API to Use?

Batch Geocoding Blog has a nice quick and dirty rundown of the differenences between Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and MapQuest’s APIs. They hit the highpoints of what each offers and fails to offer. Yahoo and MapQuest have some very nice features like geocoding and route-finding that Google doesn’t have. Of course, there’s like a billion and a half hacks out for Google, some of which add this stuff back into Google. So, like most things in life, there’s tradeoffs!

We missed the reception

Yes, that is right.  Even though Sue made it to the Geography 2.0 session, we didn’t make it to the reception.  Instead we went to see Wicked, which we bought tickets for a while back.  I think this will be ok since we will be at the Dev Summit next week and I am sure we will be able to see ArcGIS Explorer in all of its demoed goodness.  Other than that things are still going great.  We got a few great interviews yesterday and we are going to do one last pass through of the exhibit hall today to grab some more folks.  We have had a couple of recording glitches that we will have to iron out before next weekend, but hopefully you will like what you hear in content if not always sound quality 🙂

Well…off to another day of conference going.