ESRI 2011 UC Live Blog

Esri UC 2011 Live Blog

We’re about to get underway at the 2011 ESRI UC.  We’re getting the opening Rocky-esque montage of GIS in action.  Jack takes the stage and here we go!

Jack starts with a big thank you and appreciation to us all and why we’re all here.  Jack’s a big fan of the f2f interaction, clearly.  He’s saying it’s the largest meeting they’ve ever had – around 15,000 people by the end of the week.  There’s around 14,000 in here right now.  Around 1/3 are here for the first time – great on them!  I’m a little surprised given governmental budgets that many people are here.  That’s a really good sign.  We’re now having our request meet and greet of the people around you.  Met a nice lady from ESRI just now.  Jack started a new process called the Deep Dive process.  Sounds like MBA speak, but I think he’s just saying he’s gone and fully explored a few select projects.  Hope it’s a representative sample 🙂  

Today’s sample – urban planning, well, really any planning; managing land (land information systems); environmental purposes; managing transportation; utilities and communications; building planning – basically he’s covering the normal big hits.  Oh, a mention of visualizations, which is cool.  Jack mentions geobusiness intelligence is an emerging field.  Not sure how that’s much different from geodemographics exactly, but I guess it adds more modeling and analysis.  Have to look into that later.  Given the unfortunate events in Japan in the spring, he’s naturally talking about emergency management and response.  I expect when they have people come up and talk about what they’ve done in the field, we’ll get at least one example from the Tsunami.  Crowd sourcing and engaging citizens (yay!) is getting bigger and bigger.  I still have issues with looking at this as primarily a top down endeavor, but I’m glad they’re talking about it more and more.  Regional and national GIS infrastructures.  Being in a state GIS data infrastructure, this area interests me, particularly the regional.  I wonder how they get around all the politics of interaction?
Continue reading “ESRI 2011 UC Live Blog”

Multitouch Table on the Cheap

Ok, maybe not ‘cheap’… but a lot less than the Microsoft Surface. Engadget reports about a new product by a company named Merel that has created a multitouch table for a bargain basement $3,995. That’s a steal! It’s got a 3.2ghz Quad Core processor, 720p 32 inch display, and a dedicated Radeon HD video card (a card which I personally find fairly nice).

If you ask me, this is possibly the first brick in tearing down the financial wall keeping surface-esque tables from reaching the house. The key to pushing these out to every home is finding the ‘magic app I can’t live without’.

Emergency Location to the Centimeter

It makes sense that emergency response can be quicker and more efficient if they know exactly where to go. GPS is ok, but being off even 10m can be too much. Australia’s Ergon Energy has teamed with Nokia and Samsung to create a system that’s cheap and versatile enough to find callers down to the centimeter. It involves a series of pole mounted GPS stations in a local area working in conjunction with special chips located in cell phones. Being LBS nuts here at VS, it’s obvious to us the commercial applications of this technology beyond emergency response. Knowing exactly where something is happening down to the centimeter is the last major domain to realizing LBS, I think. Look for this to eventually reach US shores, I would imagine.

Via Engadget

“Local Information is The Final Frontier”

That’s a great quote from Google Maps product manager Manik Gupta! What led him to say such a thing is that Google is now opening their map to user input. Users will be able to edit the map to make it better. They’ve already launched the tool in 183 countries who do not have an adequate abundance of “official” data. It’s like the world’s largest Participatory GIS project! If you want to get started editing, head over to Google’s Mapmaker tool and start adding information to Google Maps.

And if you’re curious who’s doing what, you can watch edits in real-ish time via their new Mapmaker Pulse tool. I gotta say, it’s fascinating to watch people digitize in real time around the globe!

World’s First GLONASS Smartphone

In a world where GPS enabled smartphones are as passe as intermittent wipers on cars and coffee makers with clocks in them, it’s neat to read some exciting new location based technology news. It’s inevitable that phones would begin to launch with alternative location infrastructures than GPS, but I have to say I’m slightly shocked it was this early. Obviously the phone is only available in Russia for now, but there’s nothing inherent to say US phones couldn’t start supporting the system in the future, although that’s highly unlikely anytime soon. What will be interesting is when Europe gets their Galileo system up and running and China gets their Compass system as well. I wouldn’t be shocked to see tri-band phones that support more than just GPS coming in our future.

Getting rid of all Left Turns

Some transportation engineers at NS State University have published a new study that shows left turns aren’t needed.  We can create what are called “superstreets” that allow only right hand turns.  This improves both travel times and safety, not to mention fuel economy.  This isn’t exactly a new idea.  Michigan already has this type of system (hence the “Michigan left” nickname) and it seems to invoke a love/hate relationship with drivers.  UPS implemented a virtual system of no left turns years ago to save fuel and increase safety.  There are a couple of things left out of the news reports on this, however.  A system like this would take more land for roads, not less.  Also, crossing 2-3 lanes of traffic to get to the U-turn can be problematic, I’d imagine, especially in rush hour.  I’d also imagine the British would suggest this problem can be fixed with a good old ’round about’, although they’ve not really caught on in the US.

What do you guys think?  Should left turns be a thing of the past we tell our grandkids about, like Atari and TV tubes, or do left turns make the most sense if you’re going left?

Mapping Facebook

Mapping social networks isn’t anything new, but I find this lovely map of Facebook users in the BBC to be incredibly striking.  First, because it’s obviously beautiful.  Second, because you can use it as a proxy for the digital divide.  The map details connections between friends on Facebook with the bright points at the end being conjoined pairs of friends.  The spidery lines are the connections between those pairs.  It’s pretty striking that it creates a pretty good replica of a map of the Earth.  However, there are clear missing points, most notably lower population and lower wealth places.  China is the really interesting hole because of their restrictions and not because of wealth or population.  It would be really interesting to look at a finer scale map with some demographic data on top of it.  Are there places in even populated areas, such as the US, where Facebook just isn’t that popular?