Google Maps press event video

I am just beginning to watch the video from today’s press event at Mountain View, and while it apparently ends with a few announcements it begins with a great history of Google Earth/Maps going all the way back to SGI and Keyhole to the process of building (and filling) Google Maps. Take a look to see the history, uses, and future of Googles approach to geo.

U.K. and the summer of GIS

The U.K. is experiencing a summer of GIS with several overlapping large and unique events taking place that use geospatial tools for planning, management, analysis and public outreach. Like many instances of GIS integration for event planning, it might seem as if it happened overnight but in fact took more than five and in some cases ten years of planning and cooperation between many different organizations and agencies.

Olympic Torch and the 2012 Olympics

According to Public Service UK,  The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) Learning Strategy Department has trained all 250,000 police officers and staff in the UK to use geospatial tools for safety operations for the London Olympics and Paralympics. This would be a big enough job, if the London Olympics only took place in London. However, the Olympic Torch Relay travels within an hour of 95% of people in the UK. The training was available through a GIS e-learning module and provides maps and plans of venues and locations for use in operational planning, briefings and deployments.

Transportation is another big area of concern for the upcoming Olympics. The interactive map website, Get Ahead of the Games, is a collaboration between the Mayor of London, National Rail, Department for Transport, Highways Agency, and Transport for London to make planning and travel easier during the Olympics and Paralympics. It includes travel by public transport, National Rail, road and river services.

The Ordnance Survey has documented the creation of the 2012 Olympics siteusing detailed ariel imagery from 2001 through to 2010.  The planning and construction of the London 2012 Games was funded by the National Lottery, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Mayor of London and the London Development Agency. They presented about the “Learning Legacy: Lessons Learned from the London 2012 Games construction project“. A web-based GIS viewer and spatial visualization tool was created to all contractors to access and share information. Over 2 million individual pieces of data were created and are part of the infrastructure planning and continued venue management.

The Queens Diamond Jubilee

The Olympics aren’t the only event that has had an impact on geospatial awareness in the U.K.  this summer. The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) also had to prepare for The Queens Diamond Jubilee, along with routine events such as Wimbledon Tennis, Notting Hill Carnival, and football. According to a presentation entitled “Securing the 2012 Olympics: A Milestone in the UK Policing Improvement Programme”  geospatial planning and integrated situational awareness has been happening behind the scenes for years before being implemented in time for the U.K.’s summer of GIS.

ESRI UK have created interactive map of the over 41,000 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons being lit on Monday, June 4th, throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, along with Commonwealth and UK territories overseas. The beacon chain itself has been used for communication and celebration for hundreds of years making it a very old form of geospatial communication.

Trimble to acquire SketchUp and 3D Warehouse

I am floored! We talk all the time about the use of SketchUp in building out virtual worlds and have just taken for granted that it was tied in to Google’s draw for Earth and Maps. Apparently that was not such a given.

Trimble will be adding SketchUp and the 3D Warehouse to its growing pantheon of applications. There are of course short and long term questions from a users perspective regarding the availability of the free version, the licensing costs for the Pro version, the terms of use/copyright rights for 3D Warehouse content, and of course the direction of the software in the future. On the other hand, I am excited about the potential for a tool with the easy to use UI of SketchUp with a better/tighter coupling with GIS applications. Or, how about the ability to use data from existing Trimble hardware and software to streamline model generation.

The SketchUp acquisition is just the most recent in a line of notable acquisitions that include eCognition for Remote Sensing and PeopleNet for logistics, as well as others that link to SketchUp’s potential such as BIM and StruCAD.

These software trends have been on top of Trimble’s growing GNSS and a related hardware offerings.

Zombie Survival Map

Zombies are cool. Period. That’s a non-debatable, empirical fact of current pop culture. Like any good citizen, it helps to know what to do in the case of a zombie outbreak. Lucky for us all, one of the more geographic minded of us has released the Zombie Survival Map. The map shows location where zombies are likely to exist in red (in other words, population centers) and places that are likely to be zombie free in black/grey. On top of that, the map overlays locations for supplies such as food, shelter, hospitals, and oddly liquor stores. Although the map is obviously kinda silly (never mind the Zombie Outbreak Response Vehicle I have on my truck), it does highly some important base information for any sort of widespread emergency response issues. Similar things are being done by state and local governments to help detail routes for evacuation and emergency response. The map hopes to incorporate user generated data and some point, which will make it even more useful in the case of a natural or man made emergency…. or if the zombies ever do rise up and attack…. whichever 🙂

Via Wired

The Lightsquared Saga Continues

Lightsquared is not prepared to go gently into the night.  They have hired Theodore Olson (among others) to help argue their case.  Olson is most famous for having successfully argued for Bush in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case that settled the 2000 US Presidential election.  In other words, Lightsquared brought out the big guns.  Olson argues that government encouraged Lightsquared to invest in a startup technology then slammed the door in their face when final approval was sought.  I’m not enough of a legal expert to know if Olson’s argument holds water, but it is rather telling a relatively famous attorney would take up the case.

As I’ve said in nearly every post in this ongoing saga…. we’ll keep you abreast of the situation as news becomes available.

Affordable Virtual Reality?

A big part of my research for about a decade now has been exploring the development of immersive virtual landscapes, and how evolving technologies continue to make impressive strides toward creating compelling and believable virtual worlds. One of the issues that has always been at the forefront is the cost of virtual reality hardware, whether it was early attempts at head-mounted displays or immersive rooms, such as CAVE environments. These technologies can give you amazing simulations, but most users can’t afford to buy the hardware, let alone have the space to set up multi-walled immersive environments. Now, virtual reality technology is increasingly moving toward a consumer experience, with 3D TV’s, smartphone VR and augmented reality apps, and interface devices like Microsoft’s Kinect and even Sony’s Playstation VITA with Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities.

Here’s a cool project that I had to share as well. Earlier this month, USC researchers participating in the Off-the-Shelf Virtual Reality Workshop, held in conjunction with IEEE Virtual Reality 2012 and organized by the Mixed Reality lab at USC, debuted FOV2GO, a portable fold-out smartphone viewer for iPhone and Android (sadly no Windows Phone love) that turns the screen into a 3-D virtual reality system. The viewer is made of cardboard and is easily assembled to look like an old-school ViewMaster, and you insert your smartphone into the FOV2GO and look through the eyepieces for a stereo 3D effect. To create your own 3D virtual environments to explore, there are downloadable software tools that are part of the project as well. I’d really like to use the FOV2GO in my class, so I’ll have to find out if they’ll be available in larger numbers.

This short YouTube video illustrates the FOV2GO in action:

Panoramic View of Angel Falls, Venezuela

We’ve featured AirPano before on the site, but a set they’ve put up just took my breath away.  They have a wonderful 360 degree air panoramic of Angel Falls in Venezuela.  You can see these falls from the base on up to the top of the waterfall.  The waterfall drops water nearly a half a mile to the ground.  It’s just amazing.  I really liked being able to start at the bast of the fall and virtually travel up via helicopter to the top.  If you’re really interested in some of the details of the shoot, the link also has a bit of a pholoblog of the shoot and the area.

Unfortunately most of us won’t have the opportunity to see majestic sites like this in person, so effort
s like the AirPano project can really help us see our amazing world in ways never before possible.  Not everything on the site is geographic (the ‘being a sandwich‘ one is kinda quirky), but the vast majority cover sites around the globe.  Take some time to explore what they have – I think you’ll be blown away by the sites.

Lightsquared Pretty Much Out Of The Fight

Lightsquared, who last month received a conditional waiver from the FCC on its products, looks like it might be in trouble as the FCC has withdrawn that waiver.  Obviously the FCC acted in response to concerns over GPS interference.  This officially ‘kills’ Lightsquared’s proposed solution to rolling out a 4G-LTE network over the spectrum it owns, baring some sort of miracle intervention from who knows where.

However, I think they’ve made an interesting counter argument to the GPS interference test results – the GPS industry is too big to fail.  What they’re effectively arguing is that industrial GPS manufacturers use equipment that over listens to signals, meaning it’s paying attention to a portion of the spectrum upon they never were licensed to listen.

I’m not personally knowledgeable enough about spectrum use in general (and GPS spectrum use in particular) to know if the argument holds any water.  I do think it’s interesting the FCC chose – wisely in my opinion – to preference navigation over cell communications.  However, I believe more knowledgeable heads than mine should certainly investigate Lightsquared’s claims.  The license of the spectrum really only works if everyone obeys the virtual fences properly.  That’s true whether GPS is encroaching on Lightsquared’s territory as Lightsquared believes or whether Lightsquared is encroaching on GPS territory as testing has suggested.

Data Fusion Contest

The 2012 IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest is up and running and something that you should think about participating in. While with ever increasing spatial and spectral resolutions in the variety of imagery and elevation data available now-a-days has reduced the need for certain data fusion products, it is also creating new opportunities to fuse the new data options. This year’s contest is based on data made available by Astrium, Digital Globe, and the USGS CLICK.

The Data Fusion Contest is designed to investigate the potential of multi-modal/multi-temporal fusion of very high spatial resolution imagery. This year, participants will download three different sets of images (optical, SAR, and LIDAR) over the downtown of San Francisco and each participant will get to choose their own research topic to work with.

The contest is open to everyone and the deadline for submission (of the paper) is May 1, 2012. The entry details and prize list are available on the contest website.

Good Luck!

A Truly Mobile App Market

Web Map Solutions, a mobile application development company, recently posted their “Hot Topics in Mobile GIS” in which they reflect on the development trends they see in the applications they have developed or are developing for clients. Their list includes applications such as cultural resource management, genealogy, political campaigning, and mining. This list would be an accurate reflection of overall trends in mobile web applications. One of the hottest is related to true mobile applications – one’s developed for the automobile industry.

The Wall Street Journal has a recent article on the mobile app market, “Mobile Hot Spots: Web Radio, Apps Move to the Dashboard“. They say that mobile apps such a huge growth market that car manufacturers are setting up mobile and spatial app shops in Silicon Valley to be more integrated into the development process.

According to ReadWriteMobile, a web channel devoted to the mobile application industry, the projected growth of the mobile web app market is over $100 Billion by 2015. Of course, they have an interest in seeing that market increase but the spatial application market seems to be growing as more and more people expect it as a matter of course during their every day routines.

 

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