Planet Geospatial

LiDAR NewsSmithsonian in 3D, Habitat Conservation and More

If you would like stay up on all the latest trends in our fast moving industry you can subscribe to LiDAR News magazine here, and please tell a friend. Continue reading →

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VerySpatialUK Life Expectancy and Spatial Analysis

The UK Pensions Minister has proposed a plan that  estimates life expectancy based on such as home location. In a BBC article, “Pensioners Could Get Life Expectancy Guidance”  the Minister Steve Webb states that life expectancy planning based on data such as how long our grandparents lived is no longer a valid estimate tool. A review of articles in the BBC, Telegraph, The Mirror and  The Guardian reveal that none of the articles mention aggregated spatial data, location based data, or give  an indication of using classic spatial analysis, despite quotes such as ““My idea … is to say to somebody, ‘Look, someone of your generation, living in this part of the country, ……” 

Even one of the few maps used in an article, “How long will you live? Official map shows your life expectancy – and you’ll get a letter when you retire telling you how long you’ve got left ” from the Daily Mail is a very rough map.  The lack of maps isn’t because spatial formats aren’t available. The Office of National Statistics uses the  data for it’s “Ageing in the UK Interactive Mapping Tool” and an interactive map of aging from 1992 -2033. There are some challenges that are outlined in a presentation on “Challenges for Official Statistics Population Ageing: An Overview” by the Population, Health, and Regional Directorate.  Several schools such as, The University of Sheffield Public Health has a GIS Unit which provides choropleth maps of life expectancy for the population of Sheffield.

A fun map of life expectancy in the UK is the historical data site of Life Expectancy Distribution Maps England & Wales – Deaths 1866 – 1920 or the Ancestry version of Deaths from 1837-1915.


North River GeographicArcMap won’t kill off ArcInfo Workstation

If I remember correctly I was in Knoxville and we had gotten the first look at ArcMap 8.0. It’s been too many years ago to care or to count – I just remember sitting there going “Dammit – I spent all this time learning AML and Avenue”. The word being passed around as I remember it was ArcMap was the beginning stages of killing off ArcView 3.x. ArcViewhad made tremendous in roads and had pretty much became the go to standard for all my clients when I worked for TVA. Workstation was safe. I loved workstation. For all it’s command line craziness I knew one thing – if someone said they were using workstation they had a clue as to what they were doing. One of the managers with strong ties back to redlands said during the class “This will kill off workstation”.

As time went on – Workstation on Unix slowly moved to Workstation for NT. ArcMap turned up in the office slowly around 2001 when XP finally appeared. Eventually I opened workstation less and less as coverages were replaced with shapefiles and shapefiles were pushed into a geodatabase. Eventually we moved into SDE which killed off a beautiful workflow we had set up with ArcINFO workstation. We started hearing about pushing maps into 3-D and onto the web. I still hear about pushing maps into 3-D and the web.

For the last year I’ve watched ArcGISOnline creep into everything. It’s not a bad thing – but I don’t really consider it a great thing. Call me your crazy uncle who turns up to thanksgiving late in a rusted out jeep, but I’m still not convinced the data is secure. I will say the same for any “cloud” environment in which you don’t hold the kill switch.

So anyway – I spent the morning reading up on ArcGISPro. Watching videos. I started having flashbacks. ArcWorkstation won’t be replaced. Arcview is safe. Deprecation. Will Arcmap run with workstation….Will ArcGISPro run with Arcmap….

I won’t even get into 3D.

For the record – it may take a few years but I consider this the preliminary announcement for the end ArcGIS for Desktop. The desktop platform has gotten stale. This is it. The next “revolution” will be ArcGISPro. Still with the tiered licensing from what I can figure out. “Hi you’ve just purchased ArcGIS Profesional Basic for Desktop”.

Innovation is great. Getting ESRi into 64bit for the desktop has long been overdue mainly because I still consider Desktop to have too much 80/90′s workstation core at it’s heart. You have to rewrite it to get rid of it. If you are going to rewrite it you might as well start killing off the old product line. Software changes and it’s not a bad thing….but – there’s a lot of “transformational” talk during this video.  Which usually means transforming your budget also.

It’s worth the watch – if only to remember the palm springs demo that was rolled out for years. I do miss the palm springs demo.


Directions MagazineNGA’s InnoVision Poised To Help Agency Deliver ‘Immersive’ Future For GEOINT

LiDAR NewsUsing LiDAR to Measure Snow Pack

In this video the RIEGL LMS-Q1560 Dual Lidar Channel Airborne Mapping System is supporting NASA JPL on snowpack surveying mission in Colorado, USA. Continue reading →

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My Corner of the WebUpgrading your Vagrant box to Ruby 2.0

Bob Roberts:

Sweet, I did not know about the option to package a Vagrant box. Thanks for this.

Originally posted on Entrepreneurship on Rails:

If you followed the post on setting up Vagrant , you’ve got a nice working environment, hopefully quite close to the environment where your app is running live.

And now you need to upgrade that environment, so you’d like to upgrade your box alongside. In my case, I’m upgrading my app from Ruby 1.9.2 to Ruby 2.0 on Heroku, so I’d like to upgrade my Ubuntu VM too. This post will cover first the upgrade to Ruby 2.0, and then saving the upgraded box.

First we use apt-get to ensure that all of our installed software is up to date.

$ sudo apt-get update

Then we install some prerequisites: the build essentials, ZLib, Git.

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential zlib1g-dev git-core

I don’t want to simply upgrade Ruby, I’d like to go back and forth between the 2 versions while testing the upgrade. There are 2 recommended tools for…

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Dave BouwmanDevSummit and DevMeetup Videos

Just a quick note that the video of the Javascript Unit Testing talk from the Esri 2014 Developer Summit is now up. We gave the talk twice, and while there are two recordings of the talk, the first one had some video and audio issues, so the one below is the one to watch (literally!)

Direct link to video

In this talk I start things off with the “zen of testing”, then David Spriggs talks about using the Intern, followed by Tom Wayson discussing Karma, and I close the talk with Grunt + Jasmine + automation.

Here is a PDF of the slide deck as well – may be useful in discussions with others.

All the tools we discuss in the session are listed in in Tom’s github account.

Speaker Info

DevMeetup Video

I also gave a quick presentation at the Fort Collins Dev Meetup, and recorded a screencast. In it, I talk about the soon-to-be-released-in-beta ArcGIS Open Data project at a high-level, and then demonstrate the front-end developer workflow related to automated linting and unit testing. I then showed some of our integration tests running (using selenium, driven by mocha + wd.js). Finally I talked about some work I’m doing taking “best practices” from the Open Data project and creating yeoman scaffolders to help people start off new projects with all the infrastructure in place. For this demo, I scaffolded and published a (really simple) web app up to github pages in ~2 minutes. As this moves forward I’ll be posting about the scaffolder’s themselves as well as how to create scaffolders.

Direct link to video

Related Posts

In the video I demonstrate a number of the tools and concepts that I’ve written about in these posts…

GIS LoungeOverview of Public Health and GIS

This article provides an overview of the use of GIS as in public health. It includes a short history of its development as a tool in the field, explains how GIS is used, different data sources and how the privacy of sensitive health information is maintained. Examples of current research using GIS within the public health field are also provided.

The post Overview of Public Health and GIS appeared first on GIS Lounge.

LiDAR NewsRiegl Announces Dual User Conferences for 2015

Riegl recently announced that their 2015 User Conference will actually be two conferences. Continue reading →

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All Points BlogCongressman Ruppersberger on Long-term Space Plan, FISA, STEM and UAVs

Congressman C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, (D-MD-2nd), the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence opened his morning address with a discussion of U.S. long-term plans for space. Warning that U.S. spending on space programs has fallen from 80% to near 20% of... Continue reading

All Points BlogGIS Health News Weekly: Medicare in AL, Drug Pricing, HIV Prevention

Mapping Medicare Dollars in Alabama The data are from 2012, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Map by Tableau. I'm seeing that more and more in newspapers! The map below shows payments to Alabama health care providers by ZIP code. You can choose to map either dollar amount... Continue reading

All Points BlogGeoTech Center Cancels 2014 National Geospatial Technology Skills Competition

Scott Jeffrey, Professor and Program Director, Geospatial Applications Program at Community College of Baltimore County, and Assistant Director / Senior Team member at the GeoTech Center, explained on a LinkedIn group that this year's contest was cancelled. We have not been able to... Continue reading

Azavea Atlas2014 Summer of Maps Fellows Announced

We are thrilled to announce the 2014 Summer of Maps fellows and the non-profit organizations they will work with.  Please join me in congratulating:

Tim St. Onge, M.S. Candidate, Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment, Clark University, working with:

  • DataHaven - Analyzing The Relationships Between Neighborhood Indicators In The Greater New Haven And Valley Region

  • Community Design Collaborative – Using Spatial Analysis to Prioritize Design Grants in Philadelphia

Amory Hillengas, Masters of Urban Spatial Analytics, Community and Economic Development concentration, University of Pennslyvania working with:

  • GirlStart - Analysis Of Funding Resources And Program Adoption Of Girlstart In Central Texas

  • City Harvest - Analysis of Retail Food Access in Low Income Communities to Measure Need for and Impact of City Harvest Programming

Jenna Glat, B.A.  in Geography and Spanish, Colgate University, working with:


We are very excited to work with our 2014 Summer of Maps fellows and support them through their work with these nonprofits.

Fellowship Sponsors

We are also enormously grateful to the following organizations for sponsoring the 2014 Summer of Maps Program:



These generous sponsorships have enabled us to continue this very important program.

All Points BlogMunicipal GEOINT: National Security Starts at the Local Level

At the GEOINT Symposium in Tampa, a special session on national security was convened with representation from various sectors of local government. The workshop was led by Maj. Gen. William Reddell, The Adjutant General (TAG) for the State of New Hampshire. He is a member of the National... Continue reading

All Points BlogDNI Deputy Cardillo:  Time to embrace and leverage an evolved and more connected world

Robert Cardillo, the Deputy Director for Intelligence Integration, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) closed out this year's GEOINT 2013* Symposium keynotes midday Thursday, stating that his address was the appropriate bookend to his superior DNI Clapper's opening... Continue reading

North River GeographicFoot Washing and an Address

By day four it was a joke between myself and Laurie.

Laurie: “Are you taking pictures of me?”
Me: “Only your shoulder. If you were to pose elegantly I would get one of you”.


Laurie: “What time will we finish today?”.
Me: “What time do you need us to be finished?”
Laurie: “There is foot washing at church tonight so I must be ready”.

We had almost been in the USVI a month and were just finishing the first study area. It was also the week before Easter. People were getting a bit nervous the closer we got to the Holiday. Holidays in the islands always need a bit of padding on either side – I think this one was turning into the four days of easter. Maybe five. Apparently it is a big deal to go camping also on the beach.

Also the idea of foot washing had me curious. I heard people calling it “Maundy Thursday“. So I asked Laurie what denomination he belonged to and he answered “Church of God.” Being a Chattanooga Native I immediately had to ask “So Have you been to Cleveland TN?”. Cleveland is home of the Church of God headquarters.

Laurie: “No No but I do want to go. We send people to the meeting every year and I haven’t gotten to go…yet”.

Maps are important. Location is everything.

Me: “Laurie do you know where Chattanooga is located? I’m 30 miles from Cleveland”.

He threw down all the bags and hugged me. “God has brought you to the Islands I AM SOOOO HAPPY”.

We finished up that day early and everyone left. We heard the final word of “please don’t work tomorrow”. Except we had one more street to do and that was done quickly and early enough no one noticed as we drove down the street. I think our quickest addressed street was on Good Friday.

It hasn’t quite been a year but I do miss the insanity of the islands.

geoMusingsUsing Virtual Rasters to Generate Contours in QGIS

Every now and again, I am asked to make maps. It’s not my strongest suit, but it sometimes comes with the territory. My latest task, as mentioned in my previous post, involves building support for MBTiles databases into a mobile situational awareness tool. This is done so that the devices can have a persistent local basemap in the field. The need arose to ensure that the basemaps were high contrast to assist with visibility in bright sunlight. Something like this:

One of the requirements was to have topographic-map-like contours to indicate changes in elevation. Existing map services didn’t provide what we needed so it was necessary to build a custom map, which meant generating contour lines. It had been years since I had last done that with Esri tools, but I didn’t have any extension licenses available, so I turned to QGIS to get the job done this time.

My area of interest was a portion of Virginia. Since I couldn’t find any pre-generated contours for the state, I turned to elevation models. There are numerous places to get such data, but I downloaded some DEMs from Radford University since they are already carved up by county. They are perhaps a bit dated, but they sufficed for this particular testing round.

It was easy to find guidance on how to generate contours in QGIS. So I ran the process on a couple of adjacent counties and noticed that the edges didn’t line up, which was not surprising. My first thought was that I would need to merge the DEMs but, luckily, I stumbled across the virtual raster tool in QGIS. This tool provides a nice UI for building a GDAL virtual raster from a series of separate rasters specified by the user. This can be a bit cumbersome to do manually and this GUI tool was a real time saver. It can be found in QGIS Dufour here:

To make my life easier, I moved all of my DEMs into one folder so I could just point the tool at the folder. I filled in the name of the output file and took the defaults for everything else.

Notice that the dialog shows me the GDAL command that I am building with the UI. Advanced users can even edit it here. This is a really nice feature that can help you get comfortable with GDAL. I am not a GDAL expert, nor am I particularly adept with raster operations so I found this to be a huge help and I plan to use it more.

The tool doesn’t change any data; it merely writes a text file so it works very quickly. The resulting virtual raster was done in a few seconds.

With the data now “merged,” I was able to continue with data generation. For my purposes, 10-meter contours were more than sufficient. I generated a shapefile, but any QGIS-supported format is valid as an output. It should be noted that the “Attribute name” choice is not checked by default. Check this if you want to attach the elevation value to each line. Also notice that QGIS is again giving us the relevant GDAL command as we build it. This is very powerful as it gives you the option to use QGIS to prototype GDAL operations and then script them outside of QGIS, if you desire.

This process took a little longer, thanks to Fauquier County, but still finished in about 90 seconds. The resulting contours were contiguous across counties, so my needs were met.

I’m now in the process of styling the map in TileMill so that I can generate the databases. It’s good to occasionally take off my developer hat and put on that of a user. I’ve known for quite a while that QGIS stands toe-to-toe with any other desktop GIS software but this work got me to use some tools that I rarely ever touch. I was impressed with not only the speed, but also how smoothly the work flowed. My pedestrian laptop didn’t engage in nearly the same level of huffing and puffing that it does when I have to use other software. That may be a hidden “win” in that users can extend the useful life of their hardware by using tools that don’t tax it as much while producing the same results.

Azavea AtlasThe United States of Social Media Part II: This Time It’s Partisan

A few months ago, I researched how many state legislators had social media accounts and which social media platforms they were most likely to use.

That post focused on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and found that 46% of all state legislators have an account on at least one of these platforms, with Facebook being the most used of the three. As a follow-up, I decided to look at whether one of the two major parties was more likely to have social media accounts than the other.

My first assumption was that Democrats, being more popular with younger voters, would be more likely to have social media accounts. As I entered more social media data into the Cicero API database, I discovered that Republicans more than held their own on this front. After we entered more data into Cicero I started to believe that Republicans might actually have more social media accounts than Democrats. I readjusted my expectations, but this was all assumption. It made me curious enough, though, to further explore the data and see if either of my hunches might be correct.

As it turns out, the data indicate that in both the upper and lower chambers of state legislatures, Republicans and Democrats hold almost identical patterns in their social media account membership.

Overall, nearly half of all Republicans and Democrats (48% and 47% respectively) have an account with one of the three major social media players that I was studying.

All Social Media Upper Chambers

Image 1

In the upper chambers, 51% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats have at least one account. Nearly 3 in 10 in each party (27% of Republicans and 28% of Democrats) use only one platform. That drops to 2 in 10 (21% of Republicans and 20% of Democrats) when it comes to using two platforms. Only a small number of legislators use all three platforms: 3% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats.

All Social Media Lower Chambers

Image 2

In the lower chambers, the similarities continue. Forty-seven percent of Republicans and 45% of Democrats have at least one social media account. Again, nearly 3 in 10 in both parties (28% of Republicans and 30% of Democrats) have an account with only one platform. That drops to 16% of Republicans and 13% of Democrats using two platforms. Again, only a small number of legislators use all three platforms: 3% of Republicans and 2% of Democrats.

Upper Chambers with Facebook

Image 3

The parties show similar account ownership when it comes to each platform as well. In the upper chambers, 44% of Republicans and 45% of Democrats have Facebook accounts.

Upper Chambers with Facebook

Image 4

While in the lower chambers, 41% of Republicans and 40% of Democrats have Facebook accounts.

Upper Chambers with Twitter

Image 5

The Twitter data tells a similar story: 30% of Republicans and 29% of Democrats in the upper chambers have Twitter accounts.

Lower Chambers with Twitter

Image 6

While in the lower chambers, 20% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats have Twitter accounts.

Upper Chambers with YouTube

Image 7

Only 5% percent of Republicans and Democrats in their states’ upper chambers have YouTube accounts.

Lower Chambers with YouTube

Image 8

In the lower chambers, 7% of Republicans and 3% of of Democrats have YouTube accounts.

The data hammer the same point home: both parties are using social media in almost the exact same fashion. It doesn’t matter if I look at the upper or the lower chambers, or if I tease the data out to specific social media platforms. In just about every circumstance, the results are mind numbingly similar.

We are continuing to add more social media data into the Cicero API Database, and will start tracking sites like Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. My gut tells me that LinkedIn will take over YouTube as the third most used social media account in our data, but then again, I’ve been wrong before.

Directions MagazineSmall Sats and Commercial Remote Sensing: A conversation with Rob Zitz, Vice President, Leidos

All Points BlogADM William McRaven, Commander JSOC: “No such thing as a local problem”

Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander, United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM), United States Navy began the Thursday morning keynotes at the GEOINT Symposium by stating that "as we have global impacts, we have to have global perspective." As of last week, Special Operation... Continue reading

Between the PolesMobile scanning interiors of buildings with automatic feature extraction for energy performance modeling

DSC03408abAt the SPAR International conference Avideh Zakhor from the University of California Berkeley gave an enthralling presentation about her research on capturing optical and thermal point clouds of the insides of buildings using a portable backpack containing a collection of sensors.   Her team has also developed analytical software tools for generating floor plans, distinguishing rooms, identifying staircases, texture mapping surfaces, identifying windows, finding heat sources such as computers and human occupants, identifying lights, and even estimating plug load lower consumption - all automatically. The software her team has developed can generate input in the form of an IDF file for the Department of Energy's EnergyPlus energy performance analysis program. Avideh said that soon it will also be able to generate a gbXML file, which can be consumed by almost all building energy performance analysis software.

Man portable system
The "man portable system" her team has developed is a 32 pound backback with a collection of sensors.  There are sensors for accurately tracking the six degrees of spatial freedom which determine the location and orientation of the backpack in addition to sensors for recording optical and thermal point clouds. The operator walks through the building going into all rooms, halls, stairwells and other human accessible spaces. With the backback this is a much faster process than capturing indoor spaces with static laser scanners. For example, Avideh's team was able to scan Union Station in Washington DC in a matter of hours. A comparable static scan takes days.
Automated feature extraction
DSC03415abThe resulting georeferenced data is then offloaded from the backpack and analyzed to generate different 3D data products including optical and thermal 3D point clouds, a colourized 3D point cloud, surface texture map,  and triangulated mesh surfaces.  Two different triangulated surfaces are generated for different applications - a very detailed surface and a much simpler model of spaces and walls. Using these data products the software automates feature extraction. It can distinguish  windows, staircases, and individual rooms and generate a floorplan.  Surface textures can be added to create a 3D photorealtistic rendering.  DSC03421abBy analyzing both the optical and thermal point clouds the software tools can identify heat sources including computers and human occupants and can even identify lights and estimate power plug loads.
Building energy performance modeling
DSC03418abUsi‎ng the results of the automated feature extraction the software tools can be used to generate the input required for a building energy performance audit. Currently the tools are able to generate input in the form of an IDF file for the Department of Energy's Energyplus whole building energy simulation program.   Avideh said that soon it will be possible to generate an gbXML file, which can be consumed by most building energy performance analysis applications including IESVE and Green Building Studio.  This clearly has the potential to convert what is now a slow, manual, expensive process into a fast, repeatable, affordable process.

LiDAR NewsKey Takeaways from SPAR 2014 #spar2014

There wasn't a standout new company or product on the show floor. Continue reading →

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Directions MagazineUSGS Webinar: Using The National Map Services to Enable your Web and Mobile Mapping Efforts

Directions MagazineBoeing and root9B Partner to Offer In-depth Cybersecurity Training

Directions MagazineData for the future – “Will sensors determine the digital infrastructure?”

Directions MagazineUSGIF Names Roberta “Bobbi” Lenczowski as the 2013 Arthur C. Lundahl - Thomas C. Finnie Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Directions MagazineCongressman Ruppersberger: GEO-INT Prepared Remarks

All Points BlogGIS Education News Weekly: IEEE Award, Crime on Campus, Polar Geospatial Bootcamp

Awards Spatial Data Structures Prompt Award Hanan Samet, a Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, has been named the 2014 recipient of the IEEE Computer Society's prestigious W. Wallace McDowell Award for his contributions to spatial... Continue reading

Directions MagazineDigital Storytelling Made Easy: StoryMap.js

All Points BlogNGA Evolves Mission to Next Phase of Intelligence: Immersion

In her keynote address at the GEOINT Symposium, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Director Letitia Long continued to refine and define her vision for the preeminent government geospatial technology agency. It's a vision that began in 2010 with identifying the needs of the... Continue reading

Directions MagazineSuperior Public Bike System with SuperGIS Desktop 3.2

Directions MagazineSuperior Public Bike System with SuperGIS Desktop 3.2

North River GeographicApril Georgia URISA Workshops to benefit Joe Bless.

From the email grab bag! It’s too late for one of the workshops – not too late for the other. It’s never ever too late to donate.

Dear Georgia URISA members and friends,

In an effort to raise some much needed funding for Joe and his family, Georgia URISA is presenting two workshops to benefit the Bless family.  Building an Address Repository Using the FGDC Standard workshop will be held April 16th.  GITA SE has now donated a second workshop, Using AutoCAD Data in ArcGIS.   For both, we were able to get everything donated in terms of licensing, instructor time and classroom space, so 100% of the funds raised for this workshop will go directly to the Bless family to help them get through the challenges that they are now facing.   Special thanks go to Sara Yurman and Tripp Corbin for agreeing to teach the classes pro bono,  Natalie Culpepper for donating classroom space at the ESRI offices in Alpharetta, and Keri Brennan for donating the URISA workshop license for us to use at no cost.  This has all come together in a short period of time so that we can provide assistance in a timely manner to Joe.  Please take this opportunity to leverage some great training at an affordable cost while helping out one of our colleagues in his time of need.

A fund is also set up for you to give directly to the Bless family.  Here is the link to the donation page:  Every dollar helps them to buy clothes for their children, food, and to repair the house so that they can move back home.  If you would rather to donate time, then rest assured that construction helpers are not going out of style any time soon.   Contact me at, and I can connect you with their friend who is the contractor for the repairs.  

Visit for more info!

GIS LoungeFirst Satellite Images from Sentinel-1A

Launched on April 3 and reaching operational altitude on April 11, the first images captured by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-1A satellite have been made public. The first of five satellites planned for the Sentinel group, Sentintel-1A will be tasked with gathering all-weather, day and night radar images.  Imagery and data collected from the […]

The post First Satellite Images from Sentinel-1A appeared first on GIS Lounge.

AnyGeoU.S. Post Celebrates Earth Day With Sea Surface Temperatures Forever Stamp

TweetOn April 22, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Global: Sea Surface Temperatures Forever international price stamp. The $1.15 stamp can be used to mail a one-ounce letter to any country to which First-Class Mail International service is available. … Continue reading

Directions MagazineCounty of New Castle, Delaware Launches GIS Web Viewer Developed by geographIT

Between the PolesBridging the generation gap for spatially-enabled asset management

DSC03331abI've blogged many times about the aging workforce challenge facing many industries.  At the SPAR International conference Wayne Rodieck of Anadarko Petroleum outlined what this means to the oil and gas industry and how he is uing IT to bridge the generation gap.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is projecting that by 2020 the U.S. will surpas Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer.  US oil and gas production, driven by technologies that are unlocking light tight oil and shale  gas resources, is rising dramatically.  Since 2008 the U.S. oil and gas industry has increased production by 25%.  This expansion has created 1.7 milllion new jobs. 

DSC03328abMost of these have been filled by young workers with no or little experience in oil and gas, but better acquainted with IT technology than the experienced workers who are on the verge of retirement.  As with other industries oil and gas is faced with the challenge of knowledge transfer to enable younger workers to be as productive as possible and to avoid a massive decline in productivity as the older generation retires.

Dr Apostol Panayotov of UC Denver described an online spatially-enabled asset information system at Anadarko that is designed to be accessible to both generations.  DSC03330ab It provides a web-based user interface designed to serve up information about equipment on oil and gas facility sites including visual photographs, facility attributes and accurate geolocation.  It is based around point clouds captured by scanning valves, pumping stations, and other oil and gas pipeline infrastructure, but it hides the point cloud behind an intuituve user interface that relies on smart digital photographs of faciltiies.  Clicking on a particular piece of equipment such as a valve, tank, or catwalk in a digital photograph links the user to information about that picece of equipment including geolocation and dimensions, information that is derived from a point cloud.

Wayne described a simple use case which explains what he sees as the critical advantage of this approach.  There is an emergency and at 2:30 am he has to send a young, inexperienced worker out to a site where there are a 120 valves to turn off one of them.  He feels confident that by providing the young worker access to this online system which includes accurate geolocaton that he go to the right site and turn off the right valve.  Equally important the intuitive photograph-based used interface will not put off the experienced workers who are less comfortable with IT systems.

GIS LoungeCall for Translators: gvSIG

The developers of open source GIS software gvSIG have issued a call for translators. gvSIG is a freely downloadable GIS software package written in Java that is available for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows platforms.  gvSIG is available in a multitude of languages: Spanish, English UK, English USA, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Portuguese-Brazilian, Russian, Chinese, Serbian, Swahili, […]

The post Call for Translators: gvSIG appeared first on GIS Lounge.

It's All About DataFME International User Conference 2014: A Top Ten List

David Letterman 600Wis retiring.

FME has a ListBuilder transformer.

You can probably see where this is headed.

Top 10 Signs You Need To Attend the FME International User Conference 2014

10.       Your data QA policy includes the term “YOLO”.

9.         You think the CAT reader needs a drop-down list to select “Grumpy”, “Nyan”, or the default value of “In A Shark Costume Chasing A Duck While Riding A Roomba”.

8.         Your annual budget for mapping includes a line item for crayons.


Peace, Love and Topology.

7.         You don’t cringe when someone says “I’ll send you my coordinates” and it has nothing—NOTHING!—at all to do with actual coordinates.

6.         Lasers belong on sharks, not vehicles.

5.         You think Mapnik is some 60s fringe movement of hippie cartographers.

4.         You’re pretty sure that Bob Marley invented raster.

3.         You think SQL refers to Sharknado 2: The Second One.

2.         You ♥ XML.

1.         SPORKS. ‘Nuff said.

For some actual reasons to attend the conference – the first one in five years – click play!

Our agenda is looking amazing, with keynotes on the future of spatial from Esri, open source experts Boundless, Autodesk, Hexagon, and Google. Users from all over the world will be sharing their expertise in five session tracks, and all of the details are on the conference website.

Register today, and we’ll see you in Vancouver!

Got some suggestions of your own for this list? Add them in comments! (And thanks to the FME Evangelist for his contributions.)

The post FME International User Conference 2014: A Top Ten List appeared first on Safe Software Blog.

Between the PolesJane Goodall MOOC course on community mapping

According to Wired UK, Jane Goodall has launched a massive open online course (MOOC) based around digital mapping for communities.  The course is being offered through Roots and Shoots, a community action and learning program run by the Jane Goodall Institute.  The course is intended to provide young young people with the skills to map their local communities.

The Big Blue ThreadMarch Madness and Dancing… Did you know……?

By Jim Callier

The NCAA basketball tournaments just concluded.  None of our local schools made it very far in the “big” dance, although a shout-out does need to go to the Central Missouri State University Mules men’s team for winning the NCAA Division II Championship.  In this spirit, I want to pose a couple of interesting intercollegiate sports questions to introduce one of our Region’s noteworthy institutions.  Below are three questions relevant to the geographic area of EPA Region 7.

1) Player and Coach, Chauncey E.  Archiquette, is credited by Dr. James A. Naismith, originator of basketball, for introducing the zone defense into the game.  Can you tell me the school associated with Mr. Archiquette?

2) Milton P. Allen, the son of Forrest C. (Phog) Allen, famous University of Kansas basketball coach, coached basketball at what school in EPA Region 7?

3) Can you name the school whose gridiron team lost only 3 homes games in a 34 year period of time? (Hint:  approximately 1898 to 1932).

So, how did you do with these three questions?  The answer to the questions is “Haskell”, currently referred to as “Haskell Indian Nations University.”

EPA and Haskell have a special relationship dating back a number of years.

Since its inception, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mission has been focused on the protection of human health and the environment.  The EPA Region 7 (EPA R7) recognizes that participation from all citizens is essential to support effective environmental policies, problem solving, and sustainable practices. In an effort to encourage student participation and study in the field of environmental science, a partnership was established, in the form of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between EPA R7 and Haskell.  The purpose of this MOA is to formalize and strengthen the relationship between EPA and Haskell while enhancing their educational programs/activities and increasing their institutional awareness of the environment through training and consultation.  Through this partnership, students from Haskell have worked at EPA R7 as part of the intern program, and many of these students have gone on to become employees of the agency after graduation.

Last year, Amber Tucker blogged twice about a special environmental conference at Haskell focused on mercury deposition and mercury in fish tissue, where students and scientists learned about these issues facing their communities.

For more than 130 years, American Indians and Alaska Natives have been sending their children to Haskell, and Haskell has responded by offering innovative curricula oriented toward Native American cultures.  Today, Haskell has an average enrollment of over 1000 students each semester, with multi-tribal student representation from rural, reservation, ranchero, village, pueblo, and urban settings.  The Haskell campus spans over 320 acres in Southeast Lawrence, KS, and is home to 12 structures on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Haskell Memorial Football Stadium.  Haskell offers baccalaureate degrees in Indigenous and American Indian Studies, Business Administration, Elementary Education and Environmental Science.

We feel that minority colleges serve an integral part to their specific cultures and communities. They fulfill a vital role in maintaining and preserving irreplaceable languages and cultural traditions, in offering a high-quality college education to younger students, and in providing job training and other career-building programs to adults and senior citizens. Haskell clearly offers a rich resource to provide the required institutional framework to address the problem of under representation of American Indians/Alaska Natives in science, technologies, engineering and mathematics fields. Additionally, it provides a platform for EPA to aid in the development of an environmentally-conscious campus through direct consultation and training.


Haskell University, Lawrence, KS


Jim Callier is Chief of the Resource Conservation and Pollution Prevention Section at EPA in Kansas City and has thirty years of experience working at EPA, primarily in Region 7. Jim has both working and management experience in many of EPA’s programs including hazardous and solid waste, brownfields, and pollution prevention. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri at Rolla with a B.S. Degree in Geological Engineering and is a Registered Professional Geologist in the State of Missouri.

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Unfortunately we are German based and the travel cost will probably be higher than my monthly pocket money but maybe one of you would like to attend the FOSS4G conference from the 8th to 13th of September in beautiful Portland (Oregon). FOSS4G is the annual event of Open Source Geospatial Foundation.

FOSS4G Portland 2014

FOSS4G in Portland


Until the 15th of April you were able to submit papers and talks (link still available today) but looking at the schedule for the workshops it is a very broad field of topics. Until now there are approx. 45 workshops available e.g.:

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The whole conference will take place at the Portland State University and the Oregon Convention Center will last for 5 days. Mike Bostock will be a keynote speaker. Looking at his “portfolio” this might be an unorthodox choice as he is affiliated with the NY Times but he is also the creator of D3.js which ís one of the hottest javascript libraries availbale in the geo-visualisation industry and he also invented topoJSON which is a advanced version of geoJSON.

additional information

The prices range from 100$ for a half-day workshop event until 750$ for the full conference. You might register on a special site (link). Sponsors are:


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cartodb_150x53 azavea

Will you attend?!

The post FOSS4G is coming appeared first on

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OpenGeoThoughts from State of the Map US 2014

Gretchen PetersonThe State of the Map US 2014 conference, a two-day conference covering all things OpenStreetMap, was held this past weekend in Washington DC. It was nice to attend as part of the Boundless contingent and meet — in person — tons of people whom I had only heretofore known via the internets.

Aside from the inspiration provided by the gorgeous weather and the cherry blossoms, there was also inspiration in abundance at the conference for cartographers. Every cartographer should become familiar with OpenStreetMap data if they aren’t already. It’s a bit of a bear to work with because it is in a different structure than we are normally used to (nodes and ways mean anything to you?) but you’ll see the benefits if you download a state-wide or city-wide extract from one of several sites (such as geofabrik or Metro Extracts) and start using it in your map-making medium of choice. The dataset provides a comprehensive collection of roads, buildings and building types, points of interest, and so on. And it’s free!

There were many talks I didn’t get to see because there were two concurrent tracks, but the ones that I attended focused heavily on tools that for using OpenStreetMap data, including GeoGit, TileMill, Esri, QGIS, and PostGIS. However, there were still some cartographic takeaways.

  • Kate Watkins, Seth Fitzsimmons and Alan McConchie told us that a great way to build a stylistically cohesive basemap is to focus on three main hues, along with variations on those hues.

  • In that same talk we saw some great examples of labels that break all the rules: the leading and kerning (that’s line spacing and character spacing, basically) are decreased to negative values and the halos are very large and black. Of course this is the opposite of what most texts will recommend but it just proves that breaking the rules once in a while can make for some neat cartographic effects.

  • Eric Theise showed us that applying some of the devices of experimental film to maps, such as perception distortion, can be a creative way to get people thinking. Eric and I were discussing this later on in the day when he mentioned that he thought it would be interesting to have a map that taunted you if you tried to click on a feature to find out more about it. Something like, “You’d like to know what this building is, wouldn’t you?!”

  • Kevin Bullock told a great story about a map of India that was produced in the 1800s with crude tools, took 70 years to complete, and astonishingly accurate despite these and other limitations. And you thought your map products took a long time to produce!

  • Our own Jeff Johnson rounded out the weekend with a more technical talk that examined the ways in which GeoGit could lead to a more distributed and decentralized architecture for OSM.

There was a lot more material covered, of course, and these points focused just on the cartography aspect of OpenStreetMap use. All the talks are now posted on the schedule part of the conference website so definitely take the time to watch them!

If you’re still curious about State of the Map, I recommend this great recap from Peter Batty which provides more details about the event and reviews other issues in the OpenStreetMap community including vector tiles, licensing, passive crowdsourcing, geocoding and more.

The post Thoughts from State of the Map US 2014 appeared first on Boundless.