GIS for Olympic Games traffic management

China TransInfo Technology Corp. announced a couple of days ago that they will be developing an Olympic Games Traffic GIS Application System for Beijing’s Traffic Management Bureau. Although there are already traffic management systems in place apparently, Beijing is looking to be able track and manage street-level traffic in near real-time. Given Beijing’s general traffic problems, much like any densely-populated urban area, I’m wondering how much they can really do to effectively deal with traffic issues, but it is a high-profile example of the increasing use of GIS and geospatial technologies as key components in transportation management. Although the system is being developed specifically for the Olympic Games in Beijing later this summer, the company is planning to expand the system to include all of Beijing’s metropolitan area by October so it looks like plans are to continue to utilize the GIS system for regular traffic management in the long term.

As someone who attended the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, what I would really love to see is an application that could track and manage pedestrian traffic volumes and model the start and end times of events at various venues to minimize human bottlenecks in small areas. I can remember many events where you would just be awash in a sea of people and, since I’m pretty short, all I could do was just follow the flow until it started to break up, and then look around and see where I ended up. I was thinking that some of the work Paul Torrens is doing out at Arizona State in modeling crowd behavior and movement would be great for this kind of thing.

Via Traffic Technology Today

Where Traveler – online travel guide

I think it is safe to say that if you have ever traveled, you have probably seen a Where magazine or guide in the lobby or in the rack of travel documents and brochures of your hotel. It appears that the folks behind Where are taking the online plunge into travel guides with their site Where Traveler. With online city guides for over 50 destinations in the US their site (which is in the standard Beta release) offers the same great content that their hard copy materials offer. I took a look at the guides for Raleigh/Durham (where I grew up), Chicago, and New Orleans. Each city offers a different set of navigation options, so the type of content changes between each city guide. R/D had a short list of options, mostly dining and navigation, while Chi and NOLA added info on entertainment, arts, etc. I have to admit that I always look through the print guides when I visit a new city, but I don’t think they are really written for folks like me since a large majority always seems to focus on local shopping. 🙂

The website interface is fairly straight-forward and pretty much hierarchical, but as a geographer/map loving person I was disappointed by the lack of any maps. There was great information about sights that are in close proximity to major locations or in certain neighborhoods, but only a push pin map to help you find your way. While the website is ok, the iPhone interface was not my cup of tea. With the recent release of Schmap’s far superior iPhone/mobile interface which includes search capabilities, rotate to map, and a much deeper set of information (which admittedly has its own draw backs when you are in a new place without a lot of free time) the Where Traveler mobile site had no chance of living up to my expectations. The need to drill down through the series of hierarchical menus to get to any details turned me off to this web 1.0 site. With the wealth of great mobile web apps that have been created in the last couple of years, it is hard to understand why Where Traveler couldn’t have included something as simple as search on the mobile version. The one thing I did kind of like on the iPhone version was the integration with the Google Maps app, though like the web site it is only used for a single location push pin, no option for looking at all the locations in a given area.

The upshot, the site and mobile app have potential since this is their first attempt (the aforementioned beta) and there is definitely an audience for the Where city guides online. On the flipside, companies like Schmap are doing great things in this space and it always seems that when print moves to online they still move at print pace. Check it out and see what you think at http://www.wheretraveler.com/

Windows 7 Features Revealed!

Looks like Microsoft is really going “hands on” (hehe… I crack myself up!) Check out the list from Gizmodo:

  • There will be a OSX-like dock, though how OS X-like is yet to be seen.
  • Multi-touch gestures in photogalleries like two-finger zoom, flicking, and panning. Think of the photo app on the Microsoft Surface table.
  • Multi-touch paint program where you can draw with 10 fingers (again, think of what you’ve already seen in Surface)
  • Multi-touch piano app
  • In-depth mapping application that pulls from Microsoft’s Live Maps and Microsoft Virtual Earth

It’s that last one that should peek lots of interest ’round here. Combined with the touch technology, I can see a number of potential uses in the geospatial world. Supposedly we’re looking at sometime late next year for a release date, although MS is notorious for having exceptionally fuzzy release dates.

Mobile location apps are poised

Information has begun to roll out about the companies that have received support from the iPhone venture capital funding announced back in January…all two of them so far. Whrrl, a project from Pelago, is one of the first funded via the iPhone VC and is a location based social mapping site that focuses on rating specific locations and events. We talked to Darren Vengroff of Pelago back in Episode 148 if you want to hear about the web and current mobile version of Whrrl. After the interview we asked Darren about a potential iPhone version of their mobile software and he said they were already working on it (clearly). Most likely Whrrl will continue to be free when the App Store opens in the coming weeks, and it is a safe bet that it will not be the only location-based app available.

As we discussed when the Android developers challenge results were announced for the first round selection, there are tons of mobile location based apps that developers are creating. Obtaining location is a relative aspect to these apps as there are different ways to capture location whether from GPS, Skyhook’s wifi location or even pulling from something like FireEagle where location is entered directly. The goal of any of these apps is to move us from space to personalized and socialized place. While Nokia has been an early leader in the mobile mapping arena, it is likely the enthusiast developers building for the new devices like the iPhone or the Android platform that will push what we think of now as location based apps to the next level.

New Poll – Operating Systems

Our question for you this time around in the polls is what desktop Operating System do you prefer to use. I am a multi-OS guy, Windows (2000, XP, Vista, 2003) at work and MacOS X at home and Ubuntu waiting to be installed on a virtual machine. But I am well aware that this is not the norm. I figure the trend will lean towards Windows since that is where the majority of GIS lives, but I am still curious how it will all fall out.

The results of the last poll on your preferred name for user generated content (my favorite) was Social Mapping just edging out Crowd Source and User Generated content. Not terribly surprising given the pummeling it has taken online Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) received no votes, a first in our small sample of polls.

Largest Self-Portrait in the World!

Created with DHL shipping company and the help of GPS! It spans nearly every continent and shows a pretty elaborate path. While this might seem flippant, I think it shows an important intersection of technology and art. Anyone familiar with ancient maps can see the obvious art there, but I can’t say I’ve ever thought of art and GPS in the same sentence before!

Via Gizmodo