Flickr and GeoFences

Flickr has added a pretty cool new feature to their API set – Geofences. The idea is based upon the increasing concern over privacy, particularly spatial privacy. In the past versions of the API, one could only make the spatial location available to all or hide it from all. Geofences adds the ability to specify where ‘public’ photos are taken in your stream and where ‘private’ photos are taken. You can then share your ‘private’ fence with different classes of people of your choosing. For instance, you might make photos taken in and around your home in a ‘Family and Friends’ private Geofence and those taken at a public park as a public Geofence. The neat thing is you set the geofence spatially. You draw an area around a place you want to be private and by default any photos taken within that area are private. It’s a fairly cool implementation of privacy and it allows you to change your feelings about place without having to edit a ton of photos to reflect that change. Plus, to be honest, I love the phrase ‘geofence’ ?

Via ArsTechnica

ESRI 2011 UC Live Blog

Esri UC 2011 Live Blog

We’re about to get underway at the 2011 ESRI UC.  We’re getting the opening Rocky-esque montage of GIS in action.  Jack takes the stage and here we go!

Jack starts with a big thank you and appreciation to us all and why we’re all here.  Jack’s a big fan of the f2f interaction, clearly.  He’s saying it’s the largest meeting they’ve ever had – around 15,000 people by the end of the week.  There’s around 14,000 in here right now.  Around 1/3 are here for the first time – great on them!  I’m a little surprised given governmental budgets that many people are here.  That’s a really good sign.  We’re now having our request meet and greet of the people around you.  Met a nice lady from ESRI just now.  Jack started a new process called the Deep Dive process.  Sounds like MBA speak, but I think he’s just saying he’s gone and fully explored a few select projects.  Hope it’s a representative sample 🙂  

Today’s sample – urban planning, well, really any planning; managing land (land information systems); environmental purposes; managing transportation; utilities and communications; building planning – basically he’s covering the normal big hits.  Oh, a mention of visualizations, which is cool.  Jack mentions geobusiness intelligence is an emerging field.  Not sure how that’s much different from geodemographics exactly, but I guess it adds more modeling and analysis.  Have to look into that later.  Given the unfortunate events in Japan in the spring, he’s naturally talking about emergency management and response.  I expect when they have people come up and talk about what they’ve done in the field, we’ll get at least one example from the Tsunami.  Crowd sourcing and engaging citizens (yay!) is getting bigger and bigger.  I still have issues with looking at this as primarily a top down endeavor, but I’m glad they’re talking about it more and more.  Regional and national GIS infrastructures.  Being in a state GIS data infrastructure, this area interests me, particularly the regional.  I wonder how they get around all the politics of interaction?
Continue reading “ESRI 2011 UC Live Blog”

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.

HealthMap

The Globe and Mail has an interesting article today on a site called HealthMap, created by epidemiologists at the Children’s Hospital Boston which uses participatory GIS and other information mined from the Internet to quickly identify potential patterns of disease outbreaks. According to the HealthMap website partners and supporters include Google, NIH, CDC, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Wildlife Conservation Society, International Society for Disease Surveillance and International Society for Travel Medicine which make it quite a large undertaking. Their advanced search options are very robust including being able to turn on and off layers for news feeds for sources such as ProMed, types of diseases, locations, and dates.

“Local Information is The Final Frontier”

That’s a great quote from Google Maps product manager Manik Gupta! What led him to say such a thing is that Google is now opening their map to user input. Users will be able to edit the map to make it better. They’ve already launched the tool in 183 countries who do not have an adequate abundance of “official” data. It’s like the world’s largest Participatory GIS project! If you want to get started editing, head over to Google’s Mapmaker tool and start adding information to Google Maps.

And if you’re curious who’s doing what, you can watch edits in real-ish time via their new Mapmaker Pulse tool. I gotta say, it’s fascinating to watch people digitize in real time around the globe!

Bime and maps

I came across an interesting demo video on YouTube today for a web-based analytics tool named Bime. While I haven’t had a chance to sit down and delve into the web app it seems to offer quite a few geo friendly tools including recognizing geographic data and the ability to create visualizations for both exploring data and presenting your results. This video focuses on their heat and graduated symbol map output options.

Sustainable Seafood App

There are many restaurant apps around that rely on users to input location on their locale or sites they visit to create a national or international database.

The most recent one I have found out about is The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood WATCH Project FishMap which asks users to share information on the locations of restaurants and markets for sustainable seafood. It provides seafood pictures and a list of seafood that is ocean friendly.

According to the Seafood WATCH website, they make
recommendations using science-based, peer reviewed, and ecosystem-based criteria. They state that “Since 1999, we’ve distributed tens of millions of pocket guides, our iPhone application has been downloaded more than 240,000 times, and we have close to 200 partners across North America, including the two largest food service companies in the U.S.”

The downloads and partners are important because voluntary apps are only as useful as the quantity of participants and quality/reliability of the information they enter.

Mapping Facebook

Mapping social networks isn’t anything new, but I find this lovely map of Facebook users in the BBC to be incredibly striking.  First, because it’s obviously beautiful.  Second, because you can use it as a proxy for the digital divide.  The map details connections between friends on Facebook with the bright points at the end being conjoined pairs of friends.  The spidery lines are the connections between those pairs.  It’s pretty striking that it creates a pretty good replica of a map of the Earth.  However, there are clear missing points, most notably lower population and lower wealth places.  China is the really interesting hole because of their restrictions and not because of wealth or population.  It would be really interesting to look at a finer scale map with some demographic data on top of it.  Are there places in even populated areas, such as the US, where Facebook just isn’t that popular?

If Google Maps Were Real

Mashable (perhaps one of the cooler sites I visit each day) has a nifty story about an artist who drew Google Maps icons as if they existed in the real world.  It’s rather interesting to think about these big push pins existing in real life, or a pop-up box over a building.  Take away the surprised looking people and I think we’ll have a pretty good idea of what large scale augmented reality is likely to look in the near future.

The State of Mapping APIs.

Adam DuVander over at O’Reilly has written a decent summation article on the current state of mapping apis in the world.  It’s a short read and highlights some issues, but I think the more important take-away is the lack of cross pollination between geographers and internet mappers.  He doesn’t even discuss ESRI’s api, for instance, and it offers many of the capabilities for which Adam is asking.  There’s simply too much stove piping between the ‘experts’, meaning traditional geospatial experts, and the ‘amateurs’, which are mostly people coming from more traditional computer backgrounds.  Unfortuantely, I fear it might be on the shoulders of the geospatial experts to teach the rest that what we do is important and relevant.  Otherwise we’re libel to see much re-inventing of our spatial wheels… except maybe with added spinners.