Geography of a Recession

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.

California Bill to Blur Schools and Churches

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.

LA Times mapping Los Angeles neighborhoods

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.

Trendwatching predicts Mapmania for 2009

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 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

Jesse’s Jaunt

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

New York Rat Map

Time Magazine online is reporting about New York’s Rat Map online. The project is a tad over a year old. The project features a nice participartory GIS component as residents (and presumablly visitors as well) can report rat infestation issues. Definately one of the most intersting mashups I’ve seen! And a tad icky too 🙂

Crime Tracking in the 21st Century

Ars Technica has a pretty nice summary article on a few crime mapping and mashup sites around the web. We’ve reported one or two of these in the past, but there are a few I hadn’t heard about. It’s interesting to see Toronto releasing all if its homicide information on the web for all to see. It isn’t real accessible for sucking up into a subsequent mashup, but it would be interesting to see someone do the translation. London did a better job this summer by going ahead and linking crime data to the map. This type of stuff is full of potential for participatory GIS type work and more responsive government. If anyone know of any others like this (crime or otherwise), please make note in the comments, as its a particular interest of mine!

Intuit Moves Quickbooks Into the Geospatial World

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.


Episode 172 follow-up

This past weekend we released an episode that was a bit disjointed. When we recorded it I thought I was going to toss it out and record a new episode, because there were so many directions. After listening to it though I realized that it is what the neogeo landscape is like in an academic department, everyone is taking a little piece of, or ignoring, neogeo and focusing on their interpretation of that piece that impacts them.

In the past we have talked about neogeography topics, but we had a fairly organized plan of attack. This time I surprised everyone with the fact that we were recording 🙂 We found our way through the discussion in due course but not without different perspectives. The bit that I found most compelling was Frank’s focus on the issues of neogeo data and how he went straight toward those topics that traditional geographers focus on…how to validate and vet user generated content. The confusion and disjointedness of the episode reflects that there are clearly different perspectives on the topic. Let us know what you think about how those in the traditional geospatial professions, government, and academia are considering the data, tools, and approaches that have come to light in the last few years.

The Candy Map Manifesto

We declare that it is the right of all peoples to acquire and consume as much sugar as is humanly possible in any form imaginable. As the veil begins to thin and we honor our ancestors as is the tradition on October 31 and November 1, it is imperative that spirits are high. In order to ensure maximum intake of the appropriate confectionery delights (aka all of them) I would propose a candy map. The map’s purpose would be to share knowledge of availability, location, and type of candy that is available. With the change of trick-or-treating from an all out assault on sweets to a careful maneuvering of connections and relations that ends in an ever decreasing amount of candy corn and marzipan fruits, the counter intuitive reversal of acquisition of all that is candied needs to be opposed and fought.

I propose that we band together to increase the potential of candy acquisition in 2009 through the use of geographic information and social networking (it’s a little late to start this year). I suggest that next year we combine the strengths of webmapping/mobile mapping and GeoRSS in order to create a realtime map of when different locals celebrate and locations with the best candy and possibly provide a way to vet locations to help parents find places they feel safe taking their children. Yeah, that is it. Maybe not ‘manifesto’ worthy, but I wanted to toss it out there. I will mention that is available if anyone wants to get this started 🙂