The online version of the latest issue (July/August 2007) of Technology Review has a fairly comprehensive article by Wade Roush about Second Life, virtual globes, social mapping, and the prospects for merging geospatial technologies and virtual world to create a Second Earth. None of the topics is especially new, but Roush does a good job of providing an overview of the various technologies and players. The main focus of the article, though, is to discuss the possibility of a Second Earth or metaverse and how that might come about. Roush starts off with the most obvious possibility, combining Second Life and Google Earth, but notes that both Google Earth and Linden Labs deny they are working on it. All in all, the article offers a nice synthesis of what’s going on in relation to the development of the metaverse and the convergence with geospatial technologies, and some intriguing possibilities for the next step.
I ran across this site today via Digg – Find your local Recycling station! I checked our area and the data is rather mediocre at best. It has the commercial sites but none of the county wide sites that are maintained. Barb works with our county recycling authority, so I’ve had a pretty good chance to get acquainted with the business. Hopefully their data is a little more robust in more urban areas. It’s a great idea that I hope grows and grows!
I am desperately trying to get through all the email that has piled up while we were on the road, and I had to do a quick post about this site that our reader Elaine alerted me to. It’s called Local Harvest, and has a nice Google Maps mashup feature that lets you see where the local farmers’ markets, groceries, co-ops and farmers that sell local foods and produce, including organic, are located. So, if you like to take advantage of local foods and farmers, definitely check out Local Harvest.
I will hopefully be catching up on some other cool things I want to post, some from ISDE5 and the ESRI UC, and a couple of other projects I really like.
Scott Davis is authoring an upcoming book entitled GIS for Web Developers: Adding ‘Where’ to Your Web Applications from the Pragmatic Bookshelf the book will be out either June or October. Davis has been writing and speaking about GIS and web development for a couple of years.
Things the book will cover include
-Find free sources of GIS data on the web
-Browse GIS data using open source desktop viewers
-Manipulate GIS data programmatically
-Store and retrieve data using geographically-enabled databases
-Explore free web toolkits like Google Maps
-Publish and consume web services using OGC interfaces
And you can even buy a ‘beta’ version of the book in PDF now.
A pdf is available that outlines some of the concepts that will probably be in text (links to a pdf)
The Age is reporting that the terrorists plotting to blow up JFK airport in New York may have used Google Earth in their planning. As the article states, less than a month ago, the head of the NGA offered the opinion that the US government should consider censoring satellite photos. Certainly any tool can be used for both good and evil, but hopefully this latest revelation won’t have a negative impact on the emergence of these open tools.
The success of web mapping applications does, of course, have its drawbacks. Case in point – GeoSelector. This new mapping tool from DirectMail.com lets users define a targeted audience for direct mailings based on location and demographics and boasts a database of 220 million consumers in 110 million households. GeoSelector is built on the GoogleMaps platform, and includes added layers such as school and voting districts and census tracts. You can access GeoSelector for free, and once you have your targeted location area, you then order mailing lists based on your selection criteria (you do have to pay for the lists).
Of course, the use of geodemographics for targeted marketing is nothing new, but GeoSelector certainly lowers the bar in terms of getting access to these tools.
I haven’t posted about a Google Maps mashup in awhile, but this one, called Putting Nanotechnology on the Map, offers an interesting perspective on where nanotechnology research hotspots are located in the US, including universities, private companies and government facilities. Some of the centers, like the San Francisco Bay area, are no surprise, but I was kind of amazed by the number of companies and universities that are engaged in nanotechnology research and business in places I wouldn’t necessarily think of, like Montana or Idaho.
Ever wonder how accurate that phrase, “It’s going around” really is? Well now you can figure it out with Who is Sick? This is sort of epidemiology amateur style. Anyone can post their symptoms along with where they’re located. So if you’re feeling a tad under the weather, give the site a shot and see if whatever you have is “going around” in your area.
For those who may not have heard, Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg Virginia has suffered a great tragedy on its campus. Thirty-two people were shot and killed yesterday by what now looks to be a single gunman. I grew up roughly an hour drive from that campus and I spent a lot of time there in high school, so I’m fairly familiar with its layout. However, for those who aren’t as familiar and would like to have some idea of the physical layout of the shootings, the Baltimore Sun has put up a google map detailing the source of the shootings. It’s unfortunate the satellite imagery isn’t very good for the area, so you could easily see how this could happen with the building layout. The campus is extremely beautiful. The oval section between the two shooting sites houses a lovely green quad area that is almost stunning in the fall. Most of the class room buildings face the quad and many of the dorms are behind those row of buildings. Unfortunately it seems what partially makes the campus so beautiful is just the thing that allowed the gunman to do so much damage.
We here at Very Spatial send our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of the victims.
Microsoft has awarded over $1.1 million in grants to winners in their Virtual Earth and SensorMap grant competitions. The SensorMap project include work on Harvard’s CitySense project, which will utilize a network of 100 sensors aroudn Cambridge, Mass. that record various types of data related to local conditions, such as current weather and traffic levels. The data will then be published on the SensorMap platform. There are a number of other interesting projects related to various types of sensors and data collection, as well as dealing with issues of integrating different types of data into the SensorMap platform.
The Virtual Earth winners hint at some of the research priorities Microsoft is interested in, including local search, building 3D models from photos (a winning proposal from Steve Seitz of the University of Washington, one of the people behind PhotoTourism, which is part of the Photosynth project), and utilizing StreetSide imagery to help generate models. Basically, all the winning projects are looking to further refine the ability to representate and navigate 3D virtual representations of the world around us.
I’ve only really touched on a small portion of the winning proposals, so for a full list of winners of these and other Microsoft Research grant programs, head to the Research Funding Opportunities page, and click on the individual grant competitions.