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Archive for July, 2009

Preparing for the ESRI User Conference

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

The ESRI User Conference 2009 held in San Diego July 13-17 is already in full swing with pre-conference technical sessions. On Monday afternoon, June 13, the plenary session will be available on the UC website. for those who are unable to attend the event.

Additionally, the Q&A with Jack Dangermond addresses a lot of questions that readers might have about the upcoming ArcGIS 9.4 release and much more.

This year, social networking sites are also offered as ways to interact while at the conference.

ASTER expands earth coverage to 99%

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

What caught the attention of our readers the last week of June was the announcement that NASA and Japan released the most complete topographic map of the earth. My sense is that since the topographic map can and will be used by so many professionals in so many industries – energy exploration, natural resources, engineering, environmental, firefighting, city planning, local and state governments – it has gained the attention of so many.

Further, the data set, which was developed by NASA and the Japanese  Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry, was created using the Japanese Airborne Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument aboard Terra, which gathered 1.3 million individual stereo pair images that is available to users without charge. Prior to this topographic map, the most comprehensive publicly available topographic data set was provided by NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.

The new DEM picks up areas that haven’t been modeled before, such as some deserts and steep mountainous terrains.

It will be interesting to see what products will be derived from this extensive data set.

What You Might Get When Calling 911

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Last month cell phone tower programming errors were responsible for misrouting 911 calls from lost hiker Megumi Yamamoto in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, NM.
The problem was quickly corrected, however, the hiker’s calls went to a non-emergency, administrative line in the Santa Fe County Emerrgency Communications Center. Since the calls were not going through the 911 emergency dispatch line, emergency responders were unable to track her location. Ultimately, her call was transferred to a state police emergency dispatcher and a rescue effort was started. The transfer to the state police dispatcher took place about 6 minutes after the first 911 call.
Ironically, the rescue state police helicopter crashed shortly after picking Yamamoto up, killing her and another crew member. The pilot survived, and the crash is under investigation.

What’s at

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, the White House issued a press release announcing, a portal whose purpose it is “to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.” The site offers some tools for transportation and the U.S. Census Bureau, National Weather Service, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office datasets, Energy Informatin Administration datasets and more. The concept behind it is to allow the American people better access and use of government-generated data, which the government hopes will result in more interaction and new ideas from citizenry.

Hopefully this data will be available via popular search engines, which will certainly make its use more widespread. At this time, however, the site appears to be most useful to government agencies requiring information from other government agencies. is part of President Obama’s Open Government initiative.

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