In 2008, Sue posted about the U.S. Department of Energy‘s National Renewable Energy Laboratory Atlas that was in development. I ran across the completed NREL FTP site with geospatial toolkits and GIS data by the NREL GIS team. They analyze wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and other energy resources and provide corresponding GIS data. This includes a beta version of their MapSearch of maps created by the team. I had the honor of attending (sitting in the audience) a surprisingly tense and exciting National Middle School Science Bowl many years ago, so it was interesting to find out that NREL manages the National Middle School Science Bowl for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.
In this week’s podcast I tossed out a term, spatial media, to try to clarify our conversation. The discussion was partially prompted by the V1 article titled “Have Social Media and Mapping Linked with GIS-CAD and Geospatial Technologies?” My take on the article’s title was completely different from the article itself, which brought about, for me at least, the question of what is social media and is it a one size fits all term? I hear social media and I think blogs, podcasts, facebook, twitter…basically a medium for discourse or at least discussion. The article, Frank, and Sue (to some extent) saw it more as a spatial data perspective where we are creating location based content (check-ins, location descriptions, location capture whether active or passive). For me this moves into a different area.
Apparently Dennis Quaid was wrong… the gulf stream is not slowing down as some climate change models (and over the top eco-adventure movies) predict. Apparently the belief this might happen is a victim of the age old measurement error. Initial measurements suggested the slow down. It turns out over a longer period of time, there is no slow down, just an awful lot of variability from year to year. Scientists are continuing to monitor the flow in attempt to collect more data to confirm these latest findings. On top of that, they hope to figure out what causes the variability, which in and of itself is rather puzzling.
As an aside, what I find fascinating is the sheer magnitude of these sorts of issues. We’re talking attempts to understand and predict phenomena on a global scale and time scales approaching geologic time. That’s a seriously challenging task and more power to all the scientists out there trying to tackle it head on!
Looks like you’ll have to get in line with the other 1,100 or so towns that have applied. Apparently there is a LOT of demand for 1gb fibre network. The map at the link shows the spatial distribution of the towns that applied. It shouldn’t be any huge surprise that the coasts seem to have the most interest. Either way, Google will pick a couple of winning towns by the end of the year. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care if it hits my town, but the odds don’t look particularly great for anyplace. For me, it shows how much desire we have in the US for faster and cheaper connections speeds m0re than anything else.
Ars Technica is reporting about a bill introduced by a California legislator about a month ago making it a crime to not blur out government buildings, including schools and churches. The bill would make the punishment for non-compliance $250,000 per day and a minimum of a year of jail time for the company’s executive officers. The idea behind this is the normal fears that these buildings could be targeted by terrorists for attack. The article is fairly biased against the bill and I think its safe to say we at Very Spatial wouldn’t be big proponents if we lived there. The odds are this bill will die out of the gate, but I think it does require some longer term strategy on data providers. There needs to be some sort of guidelines published, possiblly at the national level, as to what constitutes a “safe” and “unsafe” risk with arial photography. Otherwise, if data providers have to take all the local provisions and regulations into account it would become a nightmare patchwork of rules and regulations.
As part of the Data Desk section of the L.A. Times website, the paper is unveiling a project to map the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, California. As described in an article discussing the mapping project, the purpose is to create a map that reporters can use as a reference for consistent information on the naming of L.A.’s many neighborhoods and landmarks. However, the paper’s attempts to draw lines and define boundaries for these local areas is adding controversy to the project, as numerous questions and comments about how and where neighborhoods are being demarcated are being raised by L.A. residents. That input from the communities, however, is exactly what the LA Times is looking for: “Los Angeles is a city that remakes itself constantly, so drawing boundaries for communities can be perilous. City officials are happy to designate community names, but have never been willing to set borders. But we at The Times are preparing to do just that, and we’d like to invite your help.”
The project actually involves quite a bit of mapping and database work. The base map began with US Census tracts as the initial boundaries, and then began adjusting the tract boundaries to reflect their information on neighborhood boundaries. Population data associated with the census tracts was also readjusted. The interactive map that has been made available was built with free and open source software including OpenLayers, Django, and PostgreSQL.
We received an email from long time VerySpatial friend Michelle about the release of the full library of Landsat data. We touched on the fact that Landsat 7 was freely available a while back, however you can now access the full 35+ years of Landsat 1 through 7. To access this data head over to the USGS Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis) or the EarthExplorer. If nothing else, the USGS just made remote sensing class projects so much easier.
Earlier this week another US agency, the Census Bureau, posted the 2008 TIGER/Line Shapefiles for road networks and addresses. This is a very large dataset that is broken into many pieces, but I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet. For the most part the data is generally used is small areas where only one or two pieces are needed. However, some folks may need to have access to larger areas, so if anyone goes through the process of joining the data or creating a web service of the data let us know so we can point everyone to it.
Intuit is announcing a new geo-demographic feature at the Adobe Max Conference. It’s to be built on Flash (grrr), but it will allow even the most basic Quickbooks user to tap into geodeomgraphic information and their sales information. The app is a sort of mashup, as the Quickbooks data lies on the user’s machine, but the base and demographic data lives on Intuit’s servers. This is pretty exciting, as it takes a fairly high end analytical tool and puts it in the hands of even the most novice of users.
While looking through the new apps feed for the iPhone this morning I came across the OSMTrack app. OSMTrack is an application that allows you to use the iPhone 3G’s GPS to capture tracks and waypoints and upload them directly from the iPhone to the OpenStreetMap servers. Other than heading over and registering for an OpenStreetMap account if you do not have one, and entering the information under Settings on the iPhone, you are ready to go once you have downloaded the app. The interface appears straightforward though I haven’t had a chance to take it out for a trip yet to test it. If it is as simple as it appears I will definitely be submitting WV data to OSM in the near future.
Ars Technica is reporting about a new layer for marine sanctuaries being added to Google Earth. To me, this is a perfect example of some of the issues Jesse, Sue, and I discussed in the podcast on data. More and more data – and much of it exceptionally scientifically rich, like this one – is making its way to the public via delivery mechanisms like Google Earth. Sites like Google Earth Outreach will help people find new sources of information and the platform can help people understand some of these complex issues more fully. If you’re interested in marine life specifically, or even a good example for distributing scientific data, then check out this new layer in Google Earth!