Designed by Julie Waldman, and developed and maintained by DATA Inc., Digital Footsteps is a mobile app and re-usable framework for the travel and hospitality industry. The mobile app is designed to act as a “digital concierge” to drive traffic to local businesses and tourist attractions in the area of a hotel or other facility.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Nice to see Esri has a sense of humor with it’s Happy April Fool’s Day offering – the world’s first “scratch-and-sniff” interactive story map. The map allows you to navigate through a list of scents from around the world. These Datastory ScentMaps are built on Esri’s ArcGIS Online technology.
Scents may be valuable in determining which apartment to rent, or where you might decide to put your next office. I don’t think we need a map to determine which restaurant to eat at, if we get close enough to the location.
Fragments of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are believed to have been found in the Indian Ocean, according to a press conference by Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak. Inmarsat satellite data was instrumental in finding the debris. It is one of those events that baffles technologists, as the plane disappeared mysteriously two weeks ago, off the radar, and even now, the evidence is not conclusive that this debris belongs to the missing airliner.It is further proof that all the technology in the world cannot make sure of our safety and can also be manually turned off if someone has the desire to lose a plane.
Right after the aircraft disappeared, Inmarsat was involved in the search for the plane. Although the main aircraft communications addressing and reporting system (which would usually transmit the plane’s position) was turned off, one of Inmarsat’s satellites continued to pick up a series of automated hourly ‘pings’ from a terminal on the plane, which would normally be used to synchronize timing information.
Inmarsat analyzed these pings and was thereby was able to establish that MH370 continued to fly for at least five hours after the aircraft left Malaysian airspace, and that it had flown along one of two ‘corridors’ – one arcing north and the other south. This was shown in various news reports, but this information was given by the Doppler effect, the change in frequency due to the movement of a satellite in orbit. This gave two predicted paths for the flight – one northerly and one southerly route. Inmarsat engineers came up with this prediction which had never been done before, according to senior vice president of external affairs at Inmarsat, Chris McLaughlin. He said that the technology to track position and speed of the aircraft can be made available on planes for less than a dollar and hour. The plane was reportedly flying at a cruising height above 30,000 feet.
Although this information was given to Malaysian officials by March 12, the Malaysian government did not acknowledge it publicly until March 15, according to the Wall Street Journal. This delay in responding has been sharply criticized in the press and is thought to have contributed to a considerable loss of valuable time in recovering the lost aircraft.
Inmarsat’s engineers continued with their further analysis of the pings and came up with a much more detailed Doppler effect model for the northern and southern paths. They compared these models with the trajectory of other aircraft on similar routes and were able to confirm a matching between Inmarsat’s predicted southerly path with reading from other planes on that same route.
These pings from the satellite coupled with assumptions about the plane’s speed, made it possible for Australia and the US National Transportation Safety Board to narrow down the search area to just 3 per cent of the southern corridor on March 18th.
“We worked out where the last ping was, and we knew that the plane must have run out of fuel before the next automated ping, but we didn’t know what speed the aircraft was flying at – we assumed about 450 knots,” said McLaughlin. “We can’t know when the fuel actually ran out, we can’t know whether the plane plunged or glided, and we can’t know whether the plane at the end of the time in the air was flying more slowly because it was on fumes.”
The analysis was given to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) by Inmarsat this week. So far, the cause of the crash remains unknown.
Holistic City Limited has just announced their latest release of CityCAD, version 2.6.
Several sharp improvements characterize this release as well as stability and performance upgrades:
- New samples have been added to the settings library (different kinds of residential and mixed-use blocks with a variety of detailed building perimeter objects) to make it easier to get up and running quickly.
Dr. Linda Loubert, PH.D from Morgan State University created Women in GIS: Helping Map a Better World, an interactive and crowd-sourced map that features women in making influential impacts using GIS in education, business, non-profits, and government. Thousands of women around the world are geographic information systems professionals.
Women are encouraged to contribute their information to the map, which has been created on Esri’s ArcGIS Online platform.
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 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…)
TomTom (TOM2) has announced a strategic partnership with worldwide indoor mapping leader, Micello Inc., extending the reach of its mapping products to include indoor venues.
TomTom’s business customers will now be able to use Micello’s pedestrian-friendly indoor maps and venue content with points-of-interest data worldwide.
From the press release: “The indoor mapping functionality means that step-by-step guidance can be integrated into daily life for a wide variety of venues, including shopping malls, airports and retail stores,” said Charles Cautley, Managing Director TomTom Maps. “By partnering with Micello our customers can now develop smarter apps and locations-based services helping users navigate with ease in and out of the car.”
Sherborne Sensors’ Mike Baker (guest writer) examines how field-proven sensor technology lies at the heart of Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) innovation.
Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is an emerging field that provides information on demand about any significant change or damage occurring in a structure. It has been employed for many years in civil infrastructure in various forms, ranging from visual observation and assessment of structural condition, to technology-led approaches involving deployment of an array of sensors that can include accelerometers, inclinometers and strain measurement devices on site. These sensors can be deployed on a permanent basis or moved on and off site each time a fresh set of data is required.
Conventional forms of inspection and monitoring are only as good as their ability to uncover potential issues in a timely manner. One of the major difficulties with SHM instruments for example, is managing the huge volumes of data that sensor arrays generate. Meanwhile, visual inspections and evaluations are insufficient for determining the structural adequacy of bridges or buildings.
With many civil structures throughout the world in urgent need of strengthening, rehabilitation, or replacement, SHM has seen renewed focus. There have been major advances in communications, data transmission and computer processing, which have enabled SHM solutions providing the ability to acquire vast volumes of data in relatively short periods of time and transfer it via high-speed fibre-optic or wireless connections to a central database. Subsequent analysis and modelling of this data can provide critical intelligence for maintenance and management strategies, as well as improved design.
Shoring-up civil structures
The immediacy and sensitivity of SHM enables it to serve a variety of applications. It can allow for short-term verification of new or innovative designs, as well as the early detection of problems and subsequent avoidance of catastrophic failures. When implemented as part of a maintenance strategy, it can assist with the effective allocation of resources, reducing both service disruptions and maintenance costs.
One of the core drivers however, is the growing requirement for refurbishment of critical transport infrastructure. Many owners and operators need timely information to ensure continued safe and economic operation of ageing infrastructure, while the construction and engineering industry faces a mounting challenge to shore-up supporting civil structures. Deterioration can be due to multiple factors, including the corrosion of steel reinforcement and consequent breakdown of concrete, or the fact that some structures may be sound, but have become functionally obsolete – e.g. a bridge that is no longer able to support growing traffic volumes, vehicle sizes and weights.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), one in four bridges in the US is either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. In Canada, more than 40 per cent of operational bridges were built over 30 years ago and have been impacted by the adverse climate and extensive use of de-icing salts. And in the UK, an increasing number of bridges and other structures need to be strengthened to comply with legal minimum requirements specified by European Community legislation. Efforts to reinforce the resilience of key infrastructure to extreme weather events are also ongoing.
Sensors in the loop
The aim of SHM is many fold, including monitoring the in-situ behaviour of a structure accurately and efficiently, to assess its performance under various service loads, to detect damage or deterioration, and to determine its health or condition in a timely manner.
Although a single definition has yet to be universally agreed, SHM describes the confluence of structural monitoring and damage detection, with the physical diagnostic tool being the integration of various sensing devices and ancillary systems. The latter can include data acquisition and processing, communications and networking, and damage detection and modelling software powered by sophisticated algorithms.
Field-proven technologies lie at the heart of SHM innovation. For the past few decades, closed loop sensors have proven to be highly robust, reliable, repeatable and accurate in a variety of applications where extremely precise measurements are required. Such devices include:
- Inclinometers – measure horizontal and vertical angular inclination to very high levels of precision, and output the data in analogue or digital form. In SHM applications, inclinometers are employed to monitor movement over time of bridges, buildings and other large structures. In addition, customised products can offer specific performance specifications to meet exacting requirements.
- Accelerometers – measure acceleration and deceleration of dynamic systems. Low ‘g’ range accelerometers are used within SHM to monitor accelerations induced into bridges and other structures to check design calculations and long-term critical safety. Accelerometers can also be used in the development phase of projects to ensure design calculations correlate with actual measurements in the application.
- Load cells – transducers used to convert a force into an electrical signal and offer measurement of tension, compression and shear forces. Load cells are available in many physical shapes and forms to suit particular applications and types of loading. The majority of today’s designs employ precision strain gauges as the primary sensing element, whether foil or semiconductor, and feature low deflection and high frequency response characteristics. SHM applications for load cells include bridge lifting/weighing, vehicle/crane load monitoring, and earthquake force monitoring.
Bridging old and new
Improvements in electronics packaging and assembly methods have allowed the sensing devices employed in SHM solutions to become smaller, more cost effective, and so sensitive that there is no longer a need to excite a structure in order to gain vital information about its integrity. By placing the right number of sensors in the appropriate positions on a bridge for example, analysts now have the raw data required via ambient sources such as wind gust loads, foot falls, and traffic flows.
Moreover, advanced algorithms have been developed that allow asset owners and managing authorities to acquire both short and long-term structural integrity assessments that prove essential in taking decisions regarding repairs and upgrades, strengthening projects, financing, insurance, and dispute resolution.
A long-span suspension bridge currently under construction in Asia employs a sensor network that includes Sherborne Sensors’ precision servo inclinometers and accelerometers. This sensor network enables the identification of structural problems at an early stage, prolonging the life of the structure, identifying areas of concern, and improving public safety.
SHM’s benefits have also been clearly demonstrated at a remote steel bridge in the heart of Brazil’s Amazon basin. Supporting freight trains carrying 10% of the world’s iron ore each year, the bridge had been rolling back and forth whenever an ore carrying heavy-laden train was crossing. A horizontal crack had also appeared in one of the supporting concrete girders, with train drivers returning to the mines reporting increasingly violent vibrations as they crossed – despite their cars being empty.
A sensors-based SHM solution was brought in to monitor the bridge over a period of time and, using its data collector devices and advanced analysis techniques, discovered that the crack in the concrete was not the cause. Rather, it was the frequency of the movement of the returning trains coupled with that of the bridge. The solution was simply to reduce the speed of the trains by 20km per hour when they crossed the bridge un-laden, and the vibration was eliminated, without the need for costly engineering works to the bridge.
Using conventional methods, a displacement sensor would have been placed over the crack to measure how it responded to ambient vibration over time. But such a device would not have told the bridge owners why the crack had come about, and whether it had anything to do with the movement in the structure.
In this scenario, an SHM solution takes raw vibration data from field-proven and trusted sensors, and turns it into valuable information enabling analysts to provide a holistic diagnosis of a structure. This ensures asset owners and management authorities are fully-equipped with the knowledge to establish the most appropriate strategy for modifying a structural system to repair current weaknesses, minimise further issues and thus prolong the life of the asset.
As more capable sensors are deployed, the opportunity exists for engineers to find even more efficient and effective ways to acquire data, analyse the vast volumes being stored, identify areas for improvement and most importantly, act on the information provided. Automated SHM for example, brings a number of benefits, such as enabling cost-effective, condition-based maintenance as opposed to conventional schedule-based approaches.
Current commercial monitoring systems suffer from various technological and economic limitations that prevent their widespread adoption. In particular, the fixed wiring used to route from system sensors to the centralised data hub represent one of the greatest limitations since they are physically vulnerable and expensive from an installation and subsequent maintenance standpoint. The introduction of wireless sensor networks in particular is attracting significant interest.
A wireless sensor network consists of ‘nodes’, which can range from a few to several hundred sensors, with each node connected to one or several sensors. This model provides a practical solution for bridging information systems and the physical world. One of the major potential benefits is that often a large number of individual wireless sensors can be monitored using a single display device, or with a wide variety of fixed base stations and hand-held readers that are already available.
Wireless solutions are shown to reduce installation costs and sensor installation times dramatically. They also increase safety levels because they can often be configured remotely or prior to installation, and exchanged easily for calibration and maintenance. Conversely, the more permanent a sensor installation, the more costly the maintenance requirement tends to be. In addition, a solution that combines both wireless data transmission and battery operation, together with low power consumption is preferable.
The Wireless Tilt System (WTS) developed by Sherborne Sensors for example, is designed to provide structural engineers with a complete measurement solution able to record and log data remotely without the cost and complexity of traditional wired methods. The engineer simply fits the low power inclinometers to strategic points on a given structure or component thus helping to determine range of motion, as well as any structural weaknesses and whether maintenance is required. This simple and cost-effective solution is extremely beneficial, especially when multiple readings must be obtained.
Building business intelligence
Although implementing change in the civil engineering and construction industry takes time, new approaches to SHM can deliver immediate benefits to asset owners, financiers, and public authorities in reducing the risk of litigation, improving public safety, and the sustainability of critical civil transport infrastructure. Using the latest SHM solutions, structural performance detection and monitoring can be performed continuously, on a periodic basis, or in direct response to an event that may have affected the structure.
A variety of innovative structural integrity assessment solutions are being developed that provide the vital information that analysts use to compare the dissipation of vibrations with either the predicted behaviour of the structure given its design and materials, or with baseline measurements captured earlier. Customised servo accelerometers for example, are central to the data collector devices used to capture these baseline measurements and enable users to establish whether a structure transfers loads as designed.
When placed either singly or in an array on bridges or other structures for a period, data collector devices record a structure’s three-dimensional movement in extreme detail. Further successful applications include road deck frequency and mode shape determination; seismic structural monitoring; vertical, lateral and rotational acceleration measurements of decks, cables and bridge towers; and integration with GPS systems to improve deflection frequency response. However, determining the most appropriate sensor technology for the application, and also the interpretation of the data, is where the knowledge and experience of a specialist supplier of sensor technology comes to the fore.
From Federal News Radio —
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has experienced more changes over the past decade than all the other 16 intelligence agencies in the U.S. government.
Geospatial information intelligence was essentially spawned in the technology boom that led to big data, mobility and cloud computing raised the stature and importance of the NGA to both the intelligence and Defense Department Communities.
This was brought out in a recent press release about the NGA’s commitment to GIS at the ESRI Federal GIS Conference in Washington.
“We are no longer doing business as usual. The work around us is changing rapidly, and NGA is changing with it,” said Letitia Long, director of NGA, Tuesday at the ESRI Federal GIS Conference in Washington. “We are transforming from a traditional provider of products, static maps, charts and analytic products into a dynamic content and services provider. As the provider of this dynamic geospatial intelligence, we deliver advanced analysis. We drive integrated intelligence. We are constantly evolving our critical geospatial content and at the same time offering expert services to all of our many customers.”
Part of that transformation is entering phase three of the evolution of geospatial information services (GIS). Phase one according to Long, was all about coordinatino, where users could bring together disconnected data and systems to solve a problem. At this stage the data was still siloed and segmented and there was not much going on with information sharing.
The intelligence community moved into phase two called “connection” during the late 1990s.
Long said this is where the community moved past coordination by connecting the different disciplines and fostering mutual support among them. She said the data still wasn’t integrated, but at least there was collaboration.
The intelligence community, led by NGA, now is in the early stages of phase three, called “integration.” Long said these efforts and capabilities depend on the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE) initiative.
Long said all of these phases are part of a historic shift that NGA and the intel community are going through. She said the intel community could move into phase four over the next five years.
Meanwhile, NGA is leading the way in phase three with four new capabilities launched in the last six months.
All four are dependent on one another and integrated through ICITE.
Long said NGA moved first to open IT standards starting in 2011. This included operating in the cloud and focusing on customer satisfaction and efficiencies.
The second capability is called Map of the World. This is to be the home for all geoint related content, data, knowledge, reporting and analysis. It will provide a seamless, integrated environment for analysts to integrate all their data about anything.
The NGA Map of the World includes classified geospatial content about maritime and air safety and imagery data. Its content also is tailored for DoD and intelligence senior decision makers which differentiates it from other Map type approaches. Intelligence analysts can access the Map of the World through the Globe, a Web portal that will become the entry point for all intelligence data.
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.