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!

Signs of Water on Saturn Moon Enceladus!

Nasa is reporting this after that their Cassini probe has discovered what appears to be liquid water errupting “Old Faithful” style from the surface of Enceladus.  As everyone is probably aware, water is the key to life… As the director of the imaging program said, “… we have significantly broadened the diversity of solar system environments where we might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms.”  Pretty exciting news!

New Version of MapGuide Open Source

Autodesk has announced a new version of what used to be Mapserver Enterprise – which was just Mapserver but then combined with Autodesk to be split into Mapserver and Mapserver Enterprise – but has now been renamed MapGuide Open Source (confused yet? I am!) This open source version is hosted by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. The feature set is pretty cool, including an AJAX type viewer, support for a bunch of different file types, a fairly platform independent environment, and what looks like some impressive extensibility features. We at VS haven’t had a chance to play with this product, but I think I’ll move it up on my “to do” list.

Arc Explorer Demo Video

James over at Spatialy Adjusted pointed out that ESRI have published a demo movie of Arc Explorer in action. The file is in Windows Media Format and runs at ever so slightly over a minute ( agree with James – a slightly more universal file format would have been nice). A short demo like this doesn’t show much, but there are a few details that are interesting. They demo doing a bit of spatial analysis. The analysis is clearly written in their model builder stuff you can use in most (if not all) of their current GIS applications, which is handy for non-programmer GIS programmer types (you know who you are!) It’s also pretty evident from the left hand side tool bar the Arc Explorer can add a healthy amount of data from different formats, including Google Earth KMZ files! Look for this product in (I believe) the May timeframe.

Calls for Free Spatial Data in the UK

The Gaurdian has started a campaign to get the UK to publically release spatial data collected with taxpayer money. For those of you unaware, in the UK you pay for publically funded data, which just hampers mapping efforts inside the UK. They’re calling on the British government to follow the US example. I’m sure this is a bit of a hot-button topic amoung GIS professionals in the UK. Here’s hoping our GIS breathern on the otherside of the big pond get a little spatial freedom in the near future!

Trying to Stop Extinction Before It Happens

The BBC has an interesting article about a group trying to pinpoint speicies that might soon be candidates for extinction. The idea is that if you can identify a speicies in trouble before the critical point, you can save more of them (clearly). Apparently this group has identified 20 areas that are prime for human development and thus potential species extinction.

For Our Younger Listeners….. and Frank….

There’s a pretty fancy kids geography newsletter that comes out four times a year.  It has all sorts of neat things to teach kids about geography and geographic concepts.  So sign up your favorite tyke to learn all she or he can about geography.  Remember, GIS experts aren’t born, they’re cultivated over time!
And yes, I did sign up… I figure it never hurts to read material aimed at your own maturity level 🙂

Biggest Image on the Web

IIPImage has what is touted to be the largest image ever posted on the web. The image is a 86400 x 43200 pixel, RGB, 10.7GB uncompressed TIFF, of….. you guessed it! Earth! It should come as no suprise to anyone working in the geospatial community that a large file viewer like this would be used first and foremost for geographic data. It’s pretty fun to zoom around and see the image detail. This could become a pretty useful tool for anyone wanting to display large remote sensing data.

Via Digg.