The crew over on the Google Earth Enterprise have a new version to announce – 3.2. The fellows over at Google have had a pretty busy week, what with the big OS announcement, not to mention the offical launch of much of their product line, so it’d be easy to miss this in the diluge of information. However, this new version adds a lot of functionality to their product and it’s well worth checking out the blog for more information. Look for a good interview with Dylan, the project lead on GEE, in a near future episode!
Google labs has launched a neat new feature called City Tours. The idea is similar to other sites (like Microsoft’s BING!) in that you can enter in a destination and the site will give you a bunch of things to do there. What’s nice is you get it all laid out on Google Maps, with travel times by foot and the estimated visit time. The site tries to give you a couple of days worth of stuff, but it only has so much material in its databases. That’s why the feature includes some crowd sourcing so the public can add more attractions. I punched in San Diego for our upcoming UC trip and found a couple of places that might be worth checking out!
As many long-time listeners will know, I exceptionally intersted in broadband adoption world-wide. The US has long been behind the ball on broadband adoption and this latest report does nothing to reverse that trend. The US is ranked 20th, behind even places like Singapore, Denmark, and even Estonia, all places I’m sure most Americans wouldn’t peg as being so technologically advanced relative to the US. What is exceptionally intersting about this study is that they claim past reports have been using the wrong metric; that in fact the household is the better study unit rather than per capita.
I saw this cool interactive flash map from NPR yesterday, and it brought back memories of the time our lab spent working on the mapping portion of planning for one of those transmission lines that actually got built.
In addition to the standard transmission lines, there are also maps related to wind and solar power and proposed transmission line that would carry electricity from those sources, and interactive graphics for each US state and what energy sources its electricity comes from. Some of the figures might surprise you, although our continued reliance on coal in many states to fuel electricity generation comes out pretty strongly.
Mike from MapCruzin sent us this comment based on our December 2007 post on the MapEcos project, in order to let us know about a project he’s working on called ToxicRisk. Our comment system apparently didn’t want to play nice, so I thought I’d post Mike’s comment in full below, so that you can read more about the ToxicRisk mapping project and the US Toxic Release Inventory:
“Two weeks ago we launched ToxicRisk. It is based on Google Maps, as is
MapEcos, but uses the most recent Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) 2007 data
released March 19, 2009 by EPA rather than older 2005 data. We wanted to
make the maps as easy to use and fast as possible so my son Aran did all of
the program in house. He has released some of this programming to the
public domain and you can access it at CPAN.
The New York Times has a nice interactive map (flash based) of unemployement rates by county. It shows that areas with housing booms, lots of manufacturing, and high existing unemployment got hit the hardest this last year, which isn’t a huge suprise. However, you can use the map to see some regionalization to this stuff.
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.
Yes, I am finally back online after a week with limited internet and then a brief bout of cold/flu. I was going over this year’s predictions on all sorts of tech sights, and the list at Trendwatching.com had “Mapmania” as their number 5 consumer trend for the new year. Big surprise for most of us, I know, but I just had to post this quote from their entry-
Will 2009 be the year in which all things ‘contextual’, ‘app’, ‘local’, ‘urban’, ‘tags’, ‘lidar’, ‘smartphone’, ‘convenience’, ‘Cell ID’, ‘spontaneity’, ‘infolust’, and ‘GPS’ come together in one orgasmic celebration of map-based tracking, finding, knowing and connecting?
And I say Yes!, let the Mapmania begin!
Via Poynter Online
I am trying out Instamapper’s GPS Tracking app for the iPhone on my trip across the state today. So once I hit the road the dot should follow me along every minute or so. It isn’t quite like following Santa’s progress tomorrow, but it may amuse a few of you
UPDATE: The app seems to work as suggested. The web back end took a couple of minutes to work my way through to download the results (available as KML, GPX, CSV…) but it all worked well. As with any iPhone app it has to be running in the foreground to work, but you can still use the iPod functionality in the background (which will also keep the iPhone from going to sleep). If you have a Blackberry or Android device you may want to check out their clients.
GPS tracking powered by InstaMapper.com