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Mobile apps for tracking Hurricane Isaac

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Hurricane Isaac has shifted its path from threatening Florida and the Republican National Convention and has moved far west, now following a path through the Gulf very similar to the one Hurricane Katrina traveled seven years ago.

It is predicted to be a weaker Category One storm when it makes landfall, with sustained winds of between 74 and 95 miles per hour, yet it’s still said to be a hurricane. The hurricane is prompting the governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to declare emergencies (and in Alabama’s case, the governor to order mandatory coastal evacuations).


Climate change affects coastlines at greater rate than other places on the planet

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Global climate change on the Atlantic coast is in fast-forward mode  — swamping and eroding beaches, wetlands and farm fields, according to scientists. Shorelines from North Carolina to Boston are in a ‘hotspot’ for sea-level rise and will see water levels rise at double the rate of most places on the planet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. What is the cause of this is a double geological activity.


Omaha mobile app for city government

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

A mobile app developed for the city of Omaha, Neb. allows citizens to contribute videos and photos of potholes, fallen tree limbs, or things that pertain to zoning, and can identify or plug in location, etc.

TerraGo brings collaboration to non-GIS experts

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

TerraGo Technologies, maintained by Carahsoft, recently previewed their latest release  Mobile for Android and announced the acquisition of Geosemble, which brings into the fold GeoXray.

Parent company Carahsoft is a government IT solutions provider providing software solutiosn for federal, state and local government agencies. Under the company umbrella are solutions from not only TerraGo, but Adobe and other geospatial intelligence solutions.

Jim Sheen, vice president of products and services for TerraGo , Jessica Sunday, technical account manager and Nathan Jones, vice president of engineering spoke about the recent news in a webinar.

TerraGo’s claim to fame is its unique GeoPDF format, which allows for geospatial information to be accessed and displayed in a PDF format. TerraGo covers collaboration and workflows for deploying GeoPDFs for maps and imagery.

For the enterprise, TerraGo provides a suite of applications that help both small and large enterprises and Fortune 100 companies to produce, access and share geospatial information with anyone, anywhere. These applications are for those who are not GIS experts and don’t have access to GIS software, as well as those who do.

Round trip workflows can be designed with TerraGo that travel from the enterprise to the outside edge of the enterprise. The upcoming TerraGo V6 serves as a platform for geospatial applications and for moving spatially aware information among different users and systems throughout the workflow.

“Field users don’t have to be GIS experts, so that users represent a wide range of different skill sets,” said  Sheen. “We make solutions as simple to use and economical as possible. They can be used online and in a disconnected offline way.”

This is very important when communications are unavailable and in military communications.

“TerraGo Publisher plugs into your existing GIS  to deploy the geospatial assets as GeoPDF maps and imagery,” said Sheen. “So it allows you to take the complexity built into your maps and imagery in the GIS system, simplify it and make it interactive and portable, so it can be used downstream collaboratively.”

PDF maps and imagery can be further extended using  TerraGo  Composer, to build and configure different types of geospatial apps, for example, GeoPDF mapbooks or digital atlases, that can be deployed to the field with either the TerraGo Toolbar or TerraGo Mobile. Toolbar and Mobile enable end users to interact with the maps and imagery, gather  on-the-ground intelligence and collaborate with other users. Once that’s done, in some cases, the end result for the customer is to get data out to the field where the remote workers can collaborate with one another. The field data that has been updated can be entered into the enterprise GIS.

The new version 6 to be available in a couple of months, will contain TerraGo Publisher for ArcGIS, Composer for Acrobat and TerraGo Toolbar.

New enhancements in annotation and geomarking have been added to Toolbar and Composer so end users can use Adobe Reader with Toolbar to add, edit, annotate and add geomarks on any PDF produced directly in the TerraGo system. As you create GeoPDFs they become immediately available.

Geoforms are data entry forms that can be attached and georeferenced to geomarks and annotations. Those forms can be distributed to field workers for field data collection and real time sharing and that data can also be reconsolidated into the enterprise GIS.

Also in the news, TerraGo announced the acquisition of Geosemble Technologies located in Manhattan Beach, Calif.,  founded in 2004. This company is a spin-off from the University of Southern California, where new technology is being developed.  Geosemble’s flagship product is called GeoXray. GeoXray mines and processes content from various sources including new social media and blogs, and can analyze that data by place, time and topic. It is able to  find this information and present it in a way that it is easily consumable. It can reduce the amount of time analysts have to spend sifting through data.

Users can discover relevant spatial content through GeoXray and find other content to compose dynamic intelligence apps and reports to collaborate both online and offline.

TerraGo Mobile App for Android, available in coming months, will take the best of Android and the TerraGo Toolbar, with which it shares some functionality.  Any user can use geospatial in connected or offline enviornments. TerraGo Mobile for Android can help with situational awareness, simplifies collaboration and data exchange in the field through geoforms, allowing users to take photos and geotag them.  Users can share both structured and unstructured data with this app.

In summary, TerraGo has been well positioned to move into the mobile and non-GIS expert market, making GIS and geospatial accessible to a broader number of users by extending the reach of GeoPDF. It will be interesting to see where the company goes with the new offerings. With its simple but elegant link to Adobe PDF, coupled with the recent acquisition of Geosemble for data mining,  the possibilities look endless.

London Olympic medals mapped by Esri story map

Monday, August 6th, 2012

According to an Esri story map, which maps the distribution of London Olympics medals worldwide, the most medals have been won by China, U.S., UK and Russia. Check it out:

Story Map of the London Olympic Medals

Esri User Conference 2012 Plenary Morning Session

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Each year the Esri User Conference in San Diego marks some kind of milestone in GIS technology usage and forward thinking. This year the theme of the conference was “GIS opening our world,” which is being achieved by the extensive use of GIS technology permeating all facets of life.  With the advent of the cloud and mobile GIS, the ability to reach more people inside and outside the geospatial field has truly arrived.

This year’s conference kicked off with an opening plenary session with Jack Dangermond talking about the various important uses for GIS, and the presentation of the Special Achievement in GIS Awards. Those who won this award represent 1/10 of 1 percent of Esri’s user base.

Will Rogers and Breece Robertson, director of conservation vision and GIS for the Trust for Public Land were awarded this award this year for their work creating more livable cities.

The President’s Award was awarded to the Environmental Protection Agency. They have been GIS users for three decades, and they have worked in the last three years to integrate science into public policy using GIS.

GIS is getting easier to use and moving to a new platform, Cloud GIS. This allows GIS to be more pervasive, according to Jack, using more measurement, data, computing and faster and more available applications. GIS is also co-evolving with science. There are now 2 ½ billion people connected by devices.

Cloud GIS integrates all types of geospatial information, such as maps, data, imagery, new dimensions of social media and crowd sourced information, sensor information, bringing this all together in an accessible platform. So much can change with this model because it breaks down workflows. Web maps provide the medium for understanding and subsequent better collaboration and sharing.

Eye on Earth, a brainchild of the European Environmental Agency, has been recognized by the Rio+20 United Nations for Sustainable Development delegation as the foundation for organizational environmental data for the entire planet.

ArcGIS Version 10.1, fully cloud enabled, was released a few weeks ago, fully cloud enabled. Esri’s Scott Morehouse envisioned this release as a complete system with servers, cloud parts and desktops closely integrated, as well as a whole plethora of new apps on devices, and a huge amount of content.

Esri has been buying commercial data to build community based systems.

Jack describes the new environment of the cloud, which isn’t that new now, as a new “agile environment unlike the database cans of the 80s, which didn’t make it.

The content inside ArcGIS is growing rapidly. Esri is building base maps by integrating available data, buying commercial data and working with GIS professionals to build community based systems. In the next six months, they will be integrating new imagery from GeoIQ and the merger of GeoEye and DigitalGlobe.

The new imagery to be part of ArcGIS Online will be 30 centimeters for the U.S., 60 centimeters for Europe and 1 meter for the rest of the world.

10.1 has a better desktop with a new generalization, map automation, Mapplex engine for high quality, rule based labeling as part of all desktop products, streamlined, edited, integrated QA/QC tools, editor tracking, advanced analytics in the platform. “With the service pack 1 of this product we will release 64 bit geoprocessing for the desktop,” said Jack. “Core spatial analysis tools are much faster, raster is 30 times faster. This will advance geographic science but also advance new tools for problem solving, particularly in analytics, advanced 3D capabilities also on the analytic side, faster globes, ability to handle bigger datasets, virtual cities, buildings and landscapes.”

New analytic 3D tools for shade analysis come by way of the acquisition of  CityEngine last year. This is rules-based technology now integrated with ArcGIS. Esri will release CityEngine 2012 to create rules based cities in a matter of minutes. This technology is tailor-made for Geodesign with its ability to extrude a building and 3D editing and designing of a building.

10.1 unlocks lidar data. Lidar sees through trees and measures topographic surfaces. By integrating lidar files through LAS files the power to visualize lidar data is unleashed.

10.1 fully integrates image processing. Many common tasks such as classification, high quality visual display, color balancing, full motion video, information from drones or aircraft are all supported.  The following tools are available– full image processing system, automatically rectify new image to image that’s there on the server side, very fast color mosaicking and data management of imagery, open platform and open to partner, Exelis.

10.1 offers authoring and serving, where you can right click, send the data into a package and make it into a service. You can do same thing with analytics and models, and if you don’t have a server you can send it into the cloud.

In 10.1 Esri has re-engineered almost the entire platform to make it easy to use and faster. It also includes many lightweight apps and Linux support equal to that of Windows.

The mobile apps run on all the popular devices, and include rich functionality – editing, field editing, field data collection, that run in the native mode on each of these devices.

10.1 empowers developers with provided runtimes and APIs that run behind the scenes and run on all devices.

10.1 finally supports solution templates, that address common workflows and patterns of different industries such as local governments and utilities, that are open sourced with maps and data models you can download and configure

ArcGIS Online integrates with the entire suite of tools, and will make integration of your own servers and desktops easier to do. You can use cloud servers, and it supports many clients. It is easily configured for your organization.

Jack talks a lot about web maps as a new medium like mashups that can be shared – email it,  look at it from any device, put it in your website, etc.. It supports visualization, pop ups, queries and analytics. ArcGIS now works within Microsoft Office, so that users that use spreadsheets can make a map of them, send the map to ArcGIS Online and make it into a service.

Users who use spreadsheets can make a map of them, and can take that map and send it to ArcGIS Online and make it into a service. They can read the map back into other office environments like Power Point. It is also integrated into Sharepoint.

Bernie Szukalski said there are more Microsoft office users in most offices, who can make their own maps and contribute geospatially at their businesses. ArcGIS Online has an open API. iPads offer a way for executives to stay in touch with vital information. Using ArcGIS online users can deliver GIS to executives and managers who need to make informed decisions.


GeoEye and DigitalGlobe plan to merge

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

In a move that the geospatial industry had been expecting, on Monday, GeoEye announced plans to combine with competitor DigitalGlobe in a deal worth $900 million. This move is in response to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency informing both companies that it plans to curtail funding for its $7.3 billion EnhancedView contract, pieces of which were awarded to both firms in 2010.

The two former competitors provide photos and satellite imagery from satellites that are contracted by the NGA, the products of which are generally sold to federal agencies, the military and other government institutions.


Alliance between Esri and Microsoft announced

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

At the Esri International User Conference held in San Diego today, Esri announced a strategic alliance with Microsoft to assist public and private agencies and communities around the world during disasters. As part of this agreement, Microsoft will display Esri public information maps on its cloud-based Disaster Response Incident Portal, as well as point citizens to the maps via its online outlets, such as MSN and Bing.


Japanese website maps post box locations

Friday, July 20th, 2012

While post offices in the U.S. are closing, in Japan a website called Post Map is mapping the locations of post boxes and addressing issues like post office closures and the privatisation of postal services.

Google Maps is used to provide a crowd-sourced map of post box locations. Citizens can find their nearest post boxes by submitting locations and photographs to the map. If you select a post box then the map sidebar shows you how far it is to the nearest alternative post boxes. This would be good for people new to a neighborhood and for getting up-to-date locations of post boxes as there become fewer of them available.

Marissa Mayer joins Yahoo as CEO

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Yahoo has had a bumpy ride during the past year as far as keeping executives at the helm and boosting revenues. Just last September former Autodesk CEO, Carol Bartz, was ousted from her position as CEO of Yahoo, followed by Scott Thompason who was forced out in May for padding his resume. The interim CEO, Ross Levinsohn, was thought to be next in line for the job.


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