EPA Posts Data for Use in Google Earth, Maps, and Others

The EPA is making a bold and rather inspiring move in making an effort to post their data online for use in Mashups and online Mapping applications. As of Wednesday, they have posted a few hundred of the Superfund sites they have maintained for the last 25 years or so. The article indicates they plan on publishing additional data fairly soon. This is a great move by the EPA that I hope is closely mimicked by other Federal and International agencies.

Electorial Geography Website Launches

Our friend Dr. Ken Martis, who we interviewed back in November on episode 68, sent us this link to the new Electoral Geography website that has just launched. Alexander Kireev seems to be the main person/contact at the site. I haven’t had time to look at the site in depth, but what I have seen is pretty nice. There’s a LOT of good data there for anyone doing anything with elections around the world. They seem to be following a “beg, borrow, or steal” philosophy as far as the data (which I wholly support!), so you might have to do a little massaging to get into a form you can easily use for analysis. The site would be perfect for any comparative studies in the field. It also features an articles section and a forums for discussion. I hope both geographers and political scientists use the site to try to collaborate more.

The site is still in beta and Alexander is encouraging people to send suggestions, so take a look and let them know what you think!

CORRECTION: Alexander Kireev’s co-creator Alexey Sidorenko made a comment pointing out that he is also keenly involved in the electoral geography website. My sincere apologies to Alexey for leaving him out in the original post, especially considering the great work the two of them are doing for the electoral studies field.

How do you want your geospatial weather data

The National Weather Service is seeking input on its geospatial data services, and would like you to offer comments here. They recognize that “While most NWS information is geospatial in nature, the NWS does not yet systematically provide that information in GIS-ready formats.” They are looking for input on what types of weather data, geospatial formats, standards, etc.

If you have a few minutes, and you are a regular user of weather data, head over to their website and let them know what you think.

Via GISuser

New Smithsonian Exhibition on Earth from Space

The National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian is debuting a new exhibit starting today entitled Earth from Space. The exhibit features a gallery of remotely-sensed images of the Earth, as well as showing how remote sensing data is gathered and some of the applications it is utilized for. The exhibit has been getting some news coverage this week ahead of the opening, and some of the previewed images are really amazing. I always love visiting the Air and Space Museum, but it doesn’t look like I’ll get there in the near future. But, if you’re in the Washington, DC area, definitely head over to the museum and check out the exhibit.

Via CNN

UK Intellectual Property Philosophy Should Change, Report Says

Although this isn’t strictly geo based, I think the topic is important enough to anyone with information (A.K.A Data) to mention. The folks over at ars technica have an interesting discussion about a new report released by the Institute for Public Policy Research on Intellectual Property Law. I can’t find a link directly to the report itself, but their summary of what it says is pretty interesting in and of itself. Basically the report says that IP needs to move to a new model that includes consumers in the policy process. Knowledge is both a public good and a private commodity and perhaps we need to be thinking that knowledge is foremost the former rather than foremost the latter. The report was funded by some big IP players in the UK (BBC and the like), which isn’t a huge surprise that they would be interested. What I wonder given our recent talk with Ed over at the Ordinance Survey is how this might impact spatial data in the UK if their suggested model takes hold. Will that data become more of a “public good” as the report suggests?

As dorky as it sounds, this is a really neat time to be both in the political science and geospatial realms. It’s really fascinating to watch these debates play out in the private, public, and governmental arenas.

One Geography to rule them all

GeoConnexion UK (Sept/Oct 2006) has an article on Scotland’s geospatial portal – The Geospatial Project Registry Home Page. While it has been around since 2005, it seems to have had some updates recently (the site says that version 2.0.1 went live in August).

The site offers a great way to find out about projects that are happening in Scotland by searching by keyword, title, area covered, and time among others. My only real critique of the site from my brief interaction was that you get a series of records, presenting detailed projects one at a time. I would have preferred to get a list of projects and then I can choose which projects to click through to see the details.

Either way if you are working in Scotland and you want to see what else is going on in the area be sure to check out the site The Geospatial Project Registry Home Page also available and gisprojects.net.

SensorMap from Microsoft Research

I’ve been waiting awhile to check this out, but Microsoft Research has finally gotten their SensorMap project portal up and running as part of their larger SenseWeb project. Basically, SensorMap lets you bring in real-time data feeds, including video, and link them to the Windows Live Local map plaform. So far, they’ve got some traffic and weather sensors for the Seattle area, and video feeds from interstate highways across the US. I’ve already burned about 20 minutes just checking out traffic video feeds from I-295 in DC, so I can definitely see a lot of work piling up as I find a sudden need to check out the traffic situation in cities far, far away (the feeds don’t seem to be streaming, just snapshots of what’s happening when you click on the icon). They still have a few kinks to work out, but ways to serve up real-time spatial data will continue to develop rapidly in the near term.

One thing I should definitely point out is that you can also add your own sensor data to the SensorMap interface, according to the project website, but we haven’t given this a try yet. If anybody out there does, just let us know.

DHS Mandates Information Sharing

David over at Surveying, Mapping and GIS points out some wording in the 2007 DHS authorization legislation that will create an Information Fusion Center that will coordinate state, local and tribal level information fusion centers (as I read it). As we near the end of the US federal fiscal year we will continue to see more plans for geospatial data and technologies for the coming year. I am curious to see how the geospatial LOB that was announced earlier this year plays out in the 2007 federal budget.

DHS Mandates Information Sharing

Lost some UC audio

Well, we lost one interview out of almost 100, and we only lost half of that. The biggest issue with losing it is that it was a GREAT breakdown of the geodatabase(s) at 9.2. If anyone at ESRI would like to answer our questions again about the geodatabase formats, new and old, let us know and we will do a 5-10 minute phone call.

The hammer for every nail

I am going to jump on a bandwagon, one we are probably all on at some level, and give a mighty ‘hear-hear’ to Adena for pointing out that OpenSource isn’t always the answer, often open standards play as much, if not more of a role in our data oriented industry.  Despite a few slips of the keys or tongues in the past, and our apparent inability to nail down someone from the OGC for an interview (wink-wink, nudge-nudge…the microphone is your friend), I think open standards are huge.  The fact that ESRI let the shapefile specs loose on the world years ago (along with the geodatabase XML schema more recently) has made their vector formats a defacto standard in most of the GIS software packages, open source and proprietary.  Just to toss in my word on Intergraph, I have always been a big fan because of their attempt to take advantage of as many formats as possible (same goes for GDAL)…the opposite side of their breadth of compatability is the fact that there are so many formats for geospatial data. 

Continue reading “The hammer for every nail”