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Driving to and being in the mall may be new geo experiences

Monday, October 11th, 2010

This past week two geospatial stories have been featured in the Technology section of The New York Times. Although geospatial users may be accustomed to such announcements, it is noteworthy that they made the same major national newspaper within a week of each other:

 

1) Robotic drivers are being tested by Google’s Prius — drivers who don’t fall asleep at the wheel, get DUIs or speed or get traffic tickets.

 

How it works – LiDAR provides a continuously updated 3D map of the world at centimeter accuracy that extend for more than 230 feet around the car.

Four standard automotive radars with less resolution and greater range, three in front and one in the rear, are added to the LiDAR. A high resolution video camera is situated inside the car next to the rear-view mirror to detect street lights and moving obstacles like pedestrians and bicyclists. The Prius also has a GPS receiver and an inertial motion sensor.

Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic, John Markoff, October 10, 2010, The New York Times (registration required)

 

2) Another interesting article featured in The New York Times in the past week highlighted indoor mapping and geolocation. We have been thinking of indoor geolocation with regard to military and Homeland Security applications, however, according to the article  – “A number of start-up companies are charting the interiors of shopping malls, convention centers and airports to keep mobile phone users from getting lost as they walk from the food court to the restroom. Some of their maps might even be able to locate cans of sardines in a sprawling grocery store.”

 

Finding Your Way Through the Mall or the Airport, With a Cellphone Map, Verne G. Kopytoff, October 11, 2010, The New York Times, (registration required)

Geolocation services help small businesses find customers

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

An article in yesterday’s New York Times highlighted how geolocation services are being used by small businesses to find customers.

 

The article referred to examples from Foursquare – when people used the Foursquare application on their mobile phones within a few blocks of Pacific Catch restaurant that  is running special offers, “a special offer popped up on their mobile phones: check in five times and earn a free shrimp ceviche or a Hawaiian poke. Another special rewarded customers who checked in on Foursquare with a free side of sweet potato fries.”

 

According to the article, these types of offers have helped snag new customers: more than 1,400 people have checked in at Pacific Catch more than 2,800 times.

 

In a conversation recently with FortiusOne’s Sean Gorman, we discussed their new mobile location analytics platform, Appcelerator, built on their GeoIQ platform. Appcelerator addresses the fact that mobile location developers’ customers want to see an ROI on their investment in couponing programs. 

 

A sample scenario was created for the sake of a demo of a mythical corporation named Pizzaland with 14 pizza locations. This business in the San Francisco Bay Area recently started participating in a mobile couponing service. They want to be able to see where those mobile coupons are being serviced, where redeemed, what kind of ROI they’re getting for investing in building this app into a mobile service and then bringing in some additional information that is used in context.

 

The app shows activity before 7 a.m. – people looking for coupons before work (represented as dots on a map); for lunchtime, you can see a lot of activity in the suburbs outside the city and then sit starts to pick up inside the city as they start to go into the city for lunch. The screen shows dots where people look for lunch deals and stays pretty active, then around the dinner hour, dots start to spread back out to the suburbs as people go back home to get dinner, and some people stay in the city.

 

Geolocation Services: Find a Smartphone, Find a Customer by Kermit Patterson, October 6, 2010, The New York Times (registration required)

GPS-stamped photos aid in Gulf oil spill clean up

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Thousands of GPS-stamped photos showing the locations of sensitive habitats and wildlife impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf have helped decision makers determine where to deploy clean-up crews. These ‘geotagged’ photos are served out via the web to multiple Emergency OperationsCenters (EOC) using photo-mapping software from GeoSpatial Experts LLC, as well as geographic information system (GIS) technology

.  – BusinessWire

 

 

 

SketchUp 8 includes access to all of Google’s geospatial data

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Google SketchUp 8 was announced at Google’s user conference 3D Basecamp held in Boulder, Co. last week.

 

The released focuses on the following features: 

 

Some very straightforward access from within the modeling interface for SketchUp to all of Google’s geospatial data. “For an architect, we can give you a very comprehensive site model for any project you’re working on almost anywhere in the world,” said product manager John Bacus. “Obviously some areas have better data coverage than others, but we’re able to give SketchUp modelers direct access to Google’s aerial photography collection. We also have launched a new data service that provides high resolution terrain directly into the SketchUp modeler for almost any location on earth.”

 

Modelers have access to any 3D building models for adjacent buildings to a site they might be working on. Most of these models are coming from other SketchUp users, said Bacus. “For the last four and a half years or so, the SketchUp team has been working on building systems for users to make models of 3D buildings and now we’re able to give those back to the SketchUp modeling community in the form of site models, context models.and we also can give users access to streetview data for use in site reference or directly as photographic texturing for their models.”

 

The Building Maker app which was launched previously, gives people an easy modeling interface for buildng low rez photographically textured 3D buildings in places where Google had collected aerial oblique imagery, a birdseye type of view of a city. “We’re able to drag polygons on top of photography and do a kind of lightweight photogrammetry to figure out the precise dimensions of any building,” said Bacus. “In SketchUp 8 we’ve made that into a kind of feature in the modeler so you can bring up a window inside the main SketchUp interface and make a quick massing model for an existing building. Google will automatically texture it for you and send it back directly into the active SketchUp model in its proper scale and goelocation. For those users who want to start in Building Maker for a model, we also have a way to convert Building Maker models into SketchUp models. We’ve added a couple of new tools that make it easy to take the primitive massing model from Building Maker and add detail to it, clean up some of the messy geometry and add higher quality textures etc. The data is all freely available.”

 

SketchUp 8 also has a whole new set of modeling tools for people with experience in other 3D modeling packages. They include a simple set of Boolean modeling tools, which allow users to do unions and subtractions, trims and splits. The geometry model makes it possible to  now do objects that do volumes, so users can actually report the volume of collections of geometry in the SketchUp model. “If users are doing things like complex concrete form work, we can give them a pretty good first order estimation of the volume of concrete they’re going to need, so they can do a little more analysis on the model in that way,” said Bacus.

 

Location no?

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Not everyone is embracing location based services, according to an article in Sunday’s New York Times.

Matt Galligan, CEO of SimpleGeo, a location technology company that sells technology to companies who build apps, said that sharing location becomes a simple cost-benefit analysis for most people. So for them there must be some kind of incentive to share specific information, like for shoppers receiving points or coupons.

Location services are catching on more quickly with young people, who have grown up posting personal information online, according to the article. “The magic age is people born after 1981,” said Mr. Altman of Loopt. “That’s the cut-off for us where we see a big change in privacy settings and user acceptance.”

According to Forrester Research, only 4 percent of Americans have tried location based services and 1 percent use them weekly. These statistics show that men comprise 80 percent of those users, with 70 percent between the ages of 19 and 35.

Technology Aside, Most People Still Decline to Be Located

, Claire Cain Miller & Jenna Wortham

August 29, 2010, The New York Times (registration required)

 

 

 

Where to eat on the street…Bing Food Cart Finder

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
Street food is a well worn tradition in large cities, and apparently Portland, Ore. is known as “the street food capital of the world.” Bing launched the Bing Food Cart Finder map app, tailored to Portland foodies, helping them easily find what food they want to eat among the myriad choices that the city has to offer.
According to Waggoner Edstrom, the map experience includes details on more than 250 food carts in the Portland area, including editorial reviews, photos and menus.
 
Go to Bing Maps Blog or visit www.bingfoodcarts.com to check out the map app.

Geo Bits & Bytes 8/19/2010

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Benton redesigns website to ease access to property data August 18, 2010, St. Cloud Times.com

 

City continues ‘Access Madison’ program with online GIS August 17, 2010, Madison County Record

 

Putting a Value on Geospatial Information in the UK August 16, 2010, Spatial Source

 

Google Leads, You Pedal by Lionel Beehner, August 10, 2010, The New York Times (registration required)

Google data collection meets with investigation

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

StreetView, Google’s photo-mapping service, was in the news this week as a judge in Spain opened an investigation into whether Google collected data from unsecured wireless networks unlawfully while assembling photographs for StreetView.

 

This may be a continuing chapter in the story of “Who Owns Data?” A representative of Google was ordered to appear before the judge, Raquel Fernandino, in early October over a lawsuit filed by a Spanish association of Internet users. The summons was issued last month, but made public only this week.

Street View has been in the news in other European countries that have strict privacy laws, including Germany and Switzerland, causing regulatory and legal problems for Google. In Hamburg this May, a judge opened a criminal investigation of Google over its collection of data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in Germany.

Google Sued in Spain Over Data Collecting by Raphael Minder, August, 17, 2010, The New York Times (registration required)

The value of new media

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Some time ago I was at a technology conference where journalists were seated in classroom seating, listening to a day’s worth of speakers. Next to me was a blogger/twitterer, one of the new breed of reporters who may or may not get paid for writing what they write about the technology industry.

We each had our notebook computers in front of us, and each of us were taking notes. He leaned over several times as he continued to type as I listened, and he asked, “what did he say?”

I didn’t want to stop listening to the speaker in order to tell him, so I whispered, I’ll tell you afterwards. I had notes on what the speaker had said, and was tempted to say, you can read my notes.

It turned out the young twitterer was tweeting while he was at the event, so he had to keep at it or else…or else what?

The event raised several questions for me: what is the value of twittering, how can you provide useful information to those following a tweet if you can’t stay tuned into the event you’re attending? And really, who is reading it? Wouldn’t they prefer to read something that has been considered, thought about, and edited so that the writer’s perceptions are clear and concise, rather than a stream-of-consciousness type of entry?

Recently I was following the progress of the Tevis Cup Endurance Ride held in Auburn, Calif. on Twitter. I loved looking at the tweets to hear who reached certain vet checks along the way, who had had accidents or had to be pulled from the ride. I’m sure that was useful to relatives at home who were glued to their screens, waiting to see if their loved ones had made it the next leg of the journey. There were also live charts that weren’t on Twitter to tell you when your rider had reached a vet check and when they had left.

Also, tweets while at conferences are extremely valuable, as they can offer updates on events that you might miss otherwise – a change of room number, a cancellation, a new event that you should attend, etc.

I know that some people enjoy getting tweets when they’re shopping, but as I’m not a big shopper, I haven’t plugged into that usage.

In those instances, and I’m sure there are many others, I see the new media as very useful. But I’m really concerned about tweeting about what is right in front of you at a conference, keeping a constant stream going, when you are really unable to multi-task unless you stop to listen to the speaker.

It would seem that perhaps blogging would be a better choice, save it for later, when you have had a chance to digest the content a little, and the importance of it.

At one conference I heard a participant say that today’s journalism is not about editing, it’s about just putting content out there, never mind the accuracy, that can be caught up with later.

For those of us who write and edit for a living, accuracy is of utmost importance. Thankfully, after a conference, we see a spike in readership to our newsletters, blogs, videos and our website in general — which signals me that professionals still want to hear the whole story, not in blips and blobs but in its entirety….so they can get a sense of the focus of the event and where it might lead in the future.

We’re starting to see books of blogs, such as Julie and Julia, made into a feature film, but will we also begin to see books of tweets?

Clapper’s nomination meets with opposition

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

James R. Clapper Jr., former Under U.S. Secretary of Defense (intelligence) and former head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, is in the news as his nomination to become Obama administration’s new intelligence director has met with opposition from Sen. John McCain.

 

Clapper, who has had 47 years of service in the area of intelligence, has spoken at various geospatial and GIS conferences, among them GEOINT.

He was nominated by President Barrack Obama on June 5, 2010 to serve as the United States Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

AP source: Intelligence nominee has smooth session Las Vegas Sun

McCain Holding Up on Intel Nominee New York Times blog

McCain blocking spy-chief nominee Philadelphia Inquirer

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