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Archive for the ‘GPS’ Category

NASA needs help from citizen science

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

A recent CNN report announced thatNASA is asking for the help of citizens in viewing hundreds of thousands of images taken from space over the years, from the 1960s Mercury missions to the present images snapped from the International Space Station.

North Korea is barely lit when juxtaposed with neighboring South Korea and China.
North Korea is barely lit when juxtaposed with neighboring South Korea and China.

Via The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, NASA is making these images available for citizens to examine.

NASA says the hope is that the images “could help save energy, contribute to better human health and safety and improve our understanding of atmospheric chemistry. But scientists need your help to make that happen.”

The catalog contains more than 1.8 million photos, about 1.3 million of them from the space station and roughly 30% of them taken at night.

 Photos: International Space Station
NASA gets rare view of black hole
NASA tests supersonic parachute for Mars

Tyson on deep space exploration

The CNN report said that before 2003, night images from the space station could be blurry, even with high-speed film and manual tracking, because the station moves at about 17,500 mph. In that same year, astronaut Don Pettit used a drill and assorted parts he found on the station to cobble together a “barn-door tracker,” a lower-tech predecessor to the European Space Agency’s NightPod, which was installed at the space station nine years later.

According to the report, NightPod’s motorized tripod compensates for the space station’s speed, providing what NASA scientist William Stefanov says are the highest-resolution night images from orbit. Satellites collect data more regularly, but the photos tend to be lower resolution. “Now the pictures are clear, but their location may not be, which limits their usefulness,” the NASA news release says.

Citizen science has a better handle on location than the night images from the space station and satellite imagery. The Complutense University of Madrid is spearheading efforts to get citizen input and organize the photos.  They have broken down the  the images into three components requiring different levels of participation:

1. Dark skies. This is the easiest project, as it requires no scientific expertise. “Anyone can help” by sorting the images into the categories: cities, stars or other objects, said Alejandro Sanchez, doctoral student at Complutense.

“Without the help of citizens, it is almost impossible to use these images scientifically. Algorithms cannot distinguish between stars, cities and other objects, such as the moon. Humans are much more efficient for complex image analysis,” he said.

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Police boxes still found in the UK mapped

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

One might not think too much about the historic police boxes that look like American telephone booths that used to dot the UK landscape. Now, only a handful of them are left. Here is a map of all the original ones currently known, as well as replicas of originals.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 11.19.37 AM

I’m wondering if the renewed interest in this now defunct form of 911 is as a result of the popular “Dr. Who” PBS series, in which the infamous Doctor goes into his “Tardis” which is in fact, a replica of a 1929 police box.

That’s where the resemblance ends, however, as the Tardis is “much bigger inside than it is outside” with all forms of technology for fighting evil forces within its four walls.

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Traisr for web-based asset-management launched

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

In an interview with Brian Berdel, CIO of McMahon Associates, Inc., a national Philadelphia-based engineering firm, he talked about the new release of their Traisr web-based infrastructure asset-management application that relies on a GIS to help users track, manage, maintain and report on vital assets — on the road or off. It is already being used by municipalities along the east coast. McMahon Associates officially launched Traisr at the Esri User Conference two weeks ago in San Diego.

workcentrlReport (more…)

From the Exhibit Floor: Esri UC 2014

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

The Exhibit Floor reveals industry trends, as vendors respond to requests of their customers with timely products and services. The emphasis at Esri UC 2014 was on data and apps, reflecting the trends discussed in Monday’s Plenary session. Global data, the mining of crowdsourcing data, spatial analytics to business users, the launch of WorldView-3 that will open up worlds of data previously unable to be explored – are just a few of the exciting areas covered in the exhibits and special vendor presentations.

TomTom Traffic

TomTom Traffic

This year marked the 22nd Esri conference for veteran company TomTom, which derived originally from the company GDT and later TeleAtlas. According to John Cassidy, vice president of sales and James Pardue, licensing, TomTom’s focus has evolved from the original interest in making Census data better back in the GDT days, to spatial navigation in the present day. Hardware, analytical, navigation and spatial are the primary areas of their business.

“Everyone wants global data,” said Cassidy. “TomTom is heavily invested in the crowdsourcing model.”

Cassidy said that in 2013, 6 billion pieces of information per day were processed by TomTom. In 2014, already 9 billion pieces of information per day have been processed. Their focus has become quality accuracy and quality control.

“Real world users are more valuable,” said Cassidy. “A lot information is gathered using smartphones.”

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GIS companies embrace integration with Building Information Modeling workflows and field layout

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Since last year,  traditional GIS positioning companies such as TopCon, are getting into the act of providing integration of Building Information Modeling workflows and field layout with their recent collaboration with Autodesk.  This collaboration involves an Autodesk BIM 360 app for iPad to make it easier to locate BIM coordinates precisely on a construction site. Designed for general contractors and MEP professionals, the app controls a robotic total station and the LN-100 3D positioning system from Topcon. As-built data can be fed back into the design model via BIM 360 for quality assurance. Topcon was traditionally considered a geospatial company but they have extended their reach into many other industry segments now, including the area of BIM.

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New partnership between Esri and UNISDR promises to build more resilient cities

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Esri and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) have entered into a partnership to build more resilient communities with geospatial technology.

Announced at the Abu Dhabi Ascent conference on Sunday, May 4, the goal if for the two organizations to develop a cooperative program aimed at growing the global community of resilient cities through GIS science and capabilities. This is modeled after the support that Esri is giving to President Obama’s Climate Data Initiative and resilience in the U.S. The partnership with UNISDR will provide support, service and capabialities on a global scale for UNISDR’s existing Making Cities Resilient campaign by providing resources aimed at helping communities advance from planning to implementation.

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PolicyMap Release is a One-Stop Shop for a Variety of Data

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Maggie McCullough, President of PolicyMap, talked about the latest release of their product. The company has been around since 2007, and today’s release is a significant update, as not much has changed in the product since its inception.

PolicyMap 3-Layer Map

PolicyMap is a one-stop-shop for a huge variety of public and commercial data (15,000 datasets), as well as the tools to map this data.

“PolicyMap is an online tool that allows anyone, particularly non-experts, the ability to easily make data rich maps on the web,” said McCullough. “Our customers are not GIS specialists or analysts. They tend to be public policy analysts and the end user who is really looking to understand data in a particular geography for specific purposes. So when we launched in 2007 we learned what people want to do with maps and the kinds of data they want access to. We have grown the business to include a lot of public users. We offer a lot for free, have a lot of government agencies, commercial organizations, a growing number of universities and non-profits.” (more…)

Esri’s Geotrigger Service now available

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Esri announced its cloud-based Geotrigger Service is now available, making it easier for developers to add location awareness and messaging to their iPhone and Android apps. With the Geotrigger Software Development Kit (SDK), mobile apps can send custom messages when a user enters or leaves locations specified by the application developer.

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Google Goes to Antarctica

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

For those Antarctic enthusiasts, Google has been exploring Antarctica with its special Street View backpack carrying a special Trekker camera. It persuaded researchers at the Polar Geospatial Center to carry the trekker, a 42 pound backpack with 15 lenses. Starting with easy to obtain images using , Google has now added a range of hard to reach places.

Imagery courtesy of Google Street View Imagery

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Smartphones will have location-based sensor fusion as standard

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Location-based sensor fusion will become a standard feature in as smartphones embrace constant, ubiquitous location, according to ABI Research’s report, “Location-based Sensor Fusion: Companies, Technologies, and Revenue Opportunities”. The report outlines how sensor fusion will evolve to support indoor location and the companies best placed to succeed in this space. Location-based sensor fusion will pave the way for the use of the “quantified self, ambient intelligence,” as well as provide huge potential around advertising and retail.

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