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Archive for June, 2010

Google Labs launches Fusion Tables

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

page21Google Fusion Tables, a service from Google Labs, is an exciting new development that offers the potential to unlock facts and scientific data that has previously been in databases and spreadsheets which have not been shared easily. Fusion Tables also allows the management of large quantities of  data, and lets users generate design elements and collaborate online.

Fusion Tables was developed by Google engineers who were using sample research data from the Pacific Institute and Circle of Blue, an organization that does front-line reporting on water issues, on the global freshwater crisis. The idea is to build an ecosystem on the Web, according to Alon Halevy, senior Google engineer who led the development team for Fusion Tables.

Users can merge and share data in real time with other contributors whereever they work. They can upload and manage huge databases of information, filter and aggregate relevant data sets without having to be concerned about file formats.

What’s more, data that is stored in Google Docs’ spreadsheets can be thematically mapped and geocoded using Fusion Tables. Developers can use the Fusion Tables API to insert, update, delete and query data programmatically. You can export your data as CSV or KML too.

Fusion Tables tutorial from Circle of Blue

Update from Houma Incident Command Post (ICP), Louisiana

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I got an interesting report from Drew Stephens, Director of the GIS Institute, on his organization’s contribution to GIS at the Houma Incident Command Post (ICP) in Louisiana:

“Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and sinking, the ICP was established in Houma. As you can imagine, GIS was quickly a major component of the response. Beginning April 30, a team of  “GIS Smoke Jumpers” from across the USA deployed to Houma, LA to build and operate an enterprise-class GIS for the ICP. Waypoint Mapping’s Devon Humphrey served as the initial GIS Team Leader and was transferred to serve as Geographic Intelligence Officer for ICP Houma. Drew Stephens of The GIS Institute was named GIS Unit Lead. Mr. Humphrey served as liaison to Incident Command and NIMS-compliant system architect advisor, while Mr. Stephens recruited and managed a team of GIS professionals to operate the GIS Unit, most having 10-20 years GIS experience.

At first, GIS staff & products were primarily serving US Coast Guard task forces on the water, and overflight / plume mapping. The team quickly migrated away from the fragmented skills, flash drives and personal laptops, to a networked drive with a file geodatabase, then to an Enterprise SDE and ArcGIS Server. ArcGIS Mobile figured prominently into the overall design, and by last Friday, The Louisiana National Guard was posting data directly to a server from the field. There are now over 150 layers of base map and operational data served to users of ArcGIS desktop, a browser-based Flex viewer and a Google Earth app. The system, which would have normally taken a year or more to plan and implement, was fully operational in less than two weeks. Map requests were dominating the GIS staff time, so standardized map products were created on a schedule, each following a data deliverable to the team – for example, the twice-daily airborne SLAR imagery would be followed by a map product available from the document management team.
The range and depth of talent was truly remarkable. As the demand for GIS products and services grew, so did the GIS team, and its ability to deliver. Federal and Intelligence assets were put into play against the spill, as were staff. The GIS lab was a common stop by visiting Admirals, Captains, Colonels, and many others. The team had the honor of meeting various members of the Unified Command, including the outgoing Commandant of the Coast Guard (Admiral Thad Allen), Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, Area Command FOSC Admiral Landry, Admiral Watson, Tom Strickland (Chief of Staff for Interior Secretary Salazar), David Hayes (Deputy Secretary of Department of Interior), Jane Lute (Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security), representatives from the State of Louisiana Governor’s Office, Army National Guard, Air Force, US Fish & Wildlife and many others.

There are now many more senior-level administrators who understand the power of GIS! I just returned from 21 days of service, resting and standing-by to go back…
Also, it’s tough to watch the news these days without being swept-up in the anger and blame – please know, that regardless of your take on all of this, there are many hard-working and passionate oil spill responders working really long hours with no time off in support of this ecological disaster.  Thanks for your support!

PS: if you see this by 5:20PM EDT Friday June 4, Drew will be on 880 AM in Asheville, NC and – it will be saved as podcast at the site under Local Edge Radio.”

Drew with US Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp  Drew with US Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp

Drew with US Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp Drew with US Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp

Lt. Gen James Clapper nominated for director of national intelligence position

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

After the September 11 attacks, the position of director of national intelligence was formed. On Saturday, President Obama nominated Lt. Gen. James Clapper, former head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and retired from the Air Force since 1995 after a 32-year career, to the position.

Obama called him one of America’s “most experienced and most respected intelligence professionals.”

Clapper would replace Dennis Blair, who resigned at the end of last month. Obama said he’ll be looking for Clapper “to ensure that we have the most capable and efficient intelligence community possible.”

Below are some news stories written about Clapper:

What Clapper Means For Intel by Colin Clark, DoD Buzz, June 8, 2010

Monday’s intriguing people CNN News, June 7, 2010

Maponics offers School Attendance Zones Boundaries

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010
Maponics continues to pioneer GIS data products and is the first to provide School Attendance Zones Boundaries as part of a comprehensive dataset that includes not only school attendance zones but nationwide school district boundaries and public and private school locations and profiles.

Maponics continues to pioneer GIS data products and is the first to provide School Attendance Zones Boundaries as part of a comprehensive dataset that includes not only school attendance zones but nationwide school district boundaries and public and private school locations and profiles.

A huge undertaking for Maponics is their newly released School Attendance Zones Boundaries. Darrin Clement filled me in on the product which is included in their Maponics School Boundaries product.

“Most people are familiar with the concept of a school district, those areas governed by some local government, usually a school board,” said Clement. “Within a school district there might be multiple elementary schools and so the challenge for people trying to buy a home, they may know that the area in which they are considering buying a home is in a good school district overall. Out of five elementary schools there are only two of them that are good so I make sure I buy a home so my kids can go to that school and those are governed by what are called school attendance zones. That’s what we have now mapped out. Customers in the real estate space are pleased as it will attract new consumers to their websites and is an additional tool in determining what homes to buy.”

In most cases, if a school district has five elementary schools, the households that go to each school are based on location, said Clement.  In most cases the school district has done some level of mapping themselves, so usually Maponics establishes a strong relationship with that school district so they give them that information and then they digitize it.

“From a school district standpoint we have the entire U.S.; from a school attendance zone standpoint, we’ve got about 20 percent of the student population mapped out. We have the information – how many students attend certain schools,” said Clement.

An example is in Miami, where there might be 10 school districts in the county, but within those districts there might be hundreds of school attendance zones. You’ve got different attendance zones for elementary school than middle school than high school and they don’t always overlap properly. “By the time we’re done, there will be about 120,000 school attendance zones, whereas I think there are only 15,000 or so school districts,” said Clement. “And there are cases where it’s a single zone district, in small communities, therefore the district is the attendance zone.”

For Attendance Zones Maponics has put the school location on the rooftop of the school. “By this time next year we’ll have 100 percent of the country covered at the School Attendance Zone level as well,” said Clement.

University of Denver GIS Program
Teledyne Optech

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