What people do with maps in the era of GPS and Web Maps

In the era of GPS and Web Mapping you might think that paper(physical, concrete things you hold in your hands) maps are on their way out. I don’t necessarily agree, paper maps are very useful when you’re away from our friend electricity and are certainly handy in emergencies.

Beyond that I’ve started to notice, perhaps a bit late, that paper maps have started to take on another life as a creative medium. A few post’s back I highlighted AxisMaps where the maps were transformed into a piece of art. And if you leave the house more often than I do, you’ve probably noticed the topographic map stationary sets. Today I found another unique use of maps at CityFabric, where metropolitan areas are screen printed onto tote bags and t-shirts, complete with a pin to highlight a favorite location.

I know there are a lot of neat geographic themed gifts out there, but I think I’d like to hear from our readers and listeners if they have seen, heard, witnessed any novel uses of geographic data (not just gifts or nick-knacks).  I mean it. Find some really weird or unique use of geographic data and send a photo or link in and I’ll compile a post of all the neat stuff you find!

 

Conserving the Night Sky

Is your portion of the night sky polluted by artificial light?  Check out this really slick Google Map interface I found on the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) web site .  For over 22 years, the IDA has been advocating to keep our night sky clean of light pollution.  Their reasons go beyond astronomy purposes and have provided resources for legislation that would both reduce night sky lighting and provide very large amounts of energy savings to the global economy.

Find A Dark Spot Tonight
Click on the image to go directly to map viewer

Data for the map comes from the NGDC, where you can find some links to more interactive maps and other imagery services.

 

Holiday Gift Idea for Your Favorite Cartographer – Typographic Topography

Axis Maps presents a series of maps where all of the features, be they roads, rivers, rails, etc… are converted to text. At a distance it appears to be a “normal” map but on closer inspection the features are really linear iterations of the features name.  Click the image below or the link at the beginning to check them out for yourself.

If you have a carto-fan in your life, this would make a great holiday gift!

ESRI UC 2011 – Jeff’s First Exposition Hall Tour

On Tuesday at the ESRI UC I spent the majority of my day wandering through the many tables and displays set up in the exposition hall.   At first I was overwhelmed by the size of the exhibition hall and the number of exhibitors but as I walked through the displays I became impressed with the number of ingenious ways that society makes use of GIS.

ESRI had a fantastic set up this year with their showcase featuring workstations set up to help with specific skill sets or applications regarding ArcGIS.  Each station was staffed with knowledgeable assistants to help with your questions or comments.  I stopped by the Training and Certification to inquire about ESRI’s new technical certification program.  If you haven’t checked it out lately you should as large changes from their past instructor certification program have taken place.

Finally, I got the urge to enter drawings that many of the vendors were offering.  One such company was offering a large remote controlled helicopter and I couldn’t resist.  That entry led to a conversation with Bill Emison of Merrick & Company.  Bill informed me that Merrick & Company were demonstrating Lidar processing software and gave me the tour of their product Merrick Advanced Remote Sensing Software (MARS).

All I can say is wow! The software processes millions of points super fast!  After my whiplash settled down, Bill showed me some of the software’s capabilities in generating different GIS friendly formats, generating TIN surfaces, classification tools, and filtering abilities.  Merrick & Company provides a free viewer and a 30 day evaluation of the full viewer.  Definitely worth checking out if you make heavy use of Lidar data especially since it exports to so many usable formats.

ESRI EDuc Plenary Session – ArcGIS Online Improvements

At the ESRI Education User Conference Plenary this morning a few things struck me as significant for GIS use in the classroom.  Bern Szukalski reviewed some of the ArcGIS.com revisions that occurred last Wednesday and these are what I thought could enhance the use of GIS in the classroom:

Intelligent Mapping – Essentially pop ups that display data in graphical formats about the feature selected ( fun stuff like pie, bar and line charts).

Time enabled mapping – The ability to connect to time aware services and bring them into the ArcGIS.com mapping environment and have a time slider available.

And what I feel is the most significant advance, “Drag & Drop Mapping” where a text or Excel file can be dragged directly into the mapping environment to add features and their associated data.  Remember creating an Excel sheet with Latitude and Longitude fields, displaying events, and then exporting that event as a layer?  Not anymore, just drag that excel file over the map and drop it!

While the emphasis of the plenary was to enable GIS education, the undertone was that of increasing the capabilities of web mapping and the continued integration of cloud services.  The Pennsylvania State University also announced today for the first time publicly that it will be offering an open course tentatively titled “GEOG 8xx – Cloud/Server GIS“.  Enrollment for this course will be open on November 7th 2011.

Must – Have – Coffee!

Where you live might decide where you get your AM cup of joe (unless you get your fix from a local favorite).  Numbers Run has a neat series of maps that shows the number of store locations (Starbucks Vs. Dunkin Donuts) by zip code.  Living in New England I can already tell you that I don’t need a map to find a Dunkin Donuts.  They’re in every gas station, grocery store, shopping plaza… I think one is going in at the end of the hallway in my department!  To be honest, I’m looking forward to visiting the zip code with the largest number of Starbucks next month for the 2011 ESRI UC in San Diego, CA.

From: Numbers Run.com

 

Animated Maps on Memorial Day Weekend

On this memorial day weekend the History Channel is kicking off a week of Civil War themed shows.  While watching I thought I’d see if there were any interesting maps available on the intertubes.  What did I find? Some wonderful animated maps from the Civil War Trust ! The maps are flash based and progress through some key battles of the war.  The site also provides users historical maps and new digital maps that are static.

Additionally, the site has available BattleApps. The BattleApps are virtual Civil War tour guides for the war or specific battles for the iPhone or iPad.  The apps are location aware and throughout the tour one could view video clips from the national park service and see locations of troops of both the North and South.  Another great example of giving old paper maps a new lease on life with digital innovation!

Fredericksburg Gets Civil War App: MyFoxDC.com

 

On The Line

I’ve been fortunate enough to look over the shoulders of  a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The project titled “On The Line” is an online, interactive history of schooling, housing and civil rights in the city of Hartford, Connecticut that was created by Jack Dougherty of Trinity College.  What makes this online text ‘spatial’ is the series of interactive Google Maps linked to historical redlining documents, as well as view historical photos in Historypin,  and examine historical data in linked map viewers.

The site also provides a series of excellent lesson plans ready for educators to use in the classroom.