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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Uber may be taking on Google and Amazon

 
September 2nd, 2014 by Susan Smith
Five-year-old Uber, a company whose expertise is in getting you from one location to another, wants to add the service of how to deliver goods to people’s homes also.

Corner Store items can be delivered within the shaded areas.

Recently Uber announced Uber Corner Store, a pilot program which is a service that would enable Uber users in the Washington D.C. region to order grocery or pharmacy items such as toothpaste delivered from local stores, much like some mom-and-pop stores used to make home deliveries. The pilot is expected to only last for a few weeks, but signals what the long term vision of the company is. This would put Uber at more than a location company to a bonafide logistics company.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s idea of the Corner Store could position the company in direct competition with the two superpowers Google and Amazon, who have been going after that same-day delivery market for a number of years.  The on-demand economy is growing and both companies have their version of instant gratification for that economy. The other part of that is to keep shoppers engaged in their one service so they don’t shop elsewhere. Google has added new retailers to its Shopping Express offering. Amazon expanded it’s Get It Today service to six new locations.

Uber  has not figured out a way to make this service earn money, and currently the service is free for customers. Uber has an advantage in that it has been in the forefront of educating users to treat their smartphones like “remote controls” so that they can get anything by using an app or just touching a button on their mobile device.

Read the rest of Uber may be taking on Google and Amazon

Special Coverage: Online GIS Courses Change the Face of Geospatial Education

 
August 28th, 2014 by Susan Smith

The face of GIS and Geospatial education has changed dramatically over the past few years, with online courses being offered in numerous subjects, ranging from GIS fundamentals to Spatial Analytics and Geodesign. What is more phenomenal is that these courses reach out to all corners of the earth, making a GIS/geospatial education a possibility for almost everyone on the planet.

Screenshot from a Washington College lecture

Screenshot from a Washington College lecture

Read the rest of Special Coverage: Online GIS Courses Change the Face of Geospatial Education

NASA needs help from citizen science

 
August 26th, 2014 by Susan Smith

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

 
August 14th, 2014 by Susan Smith

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.

Read the rest of Police boxes still found in the UK mapped

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 launched from Vandenberg today

 
August 13th, 2014 by Susan Smith

Today DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Colorado, announced the successful launch of WorldView-3, the company’s sixth and highly advanced high-resolution, super-spectral commercial satellite. From Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the satellite launched on a Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket at 11:10 PDT.DigitalGlobeflight

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From the President’s Cup to Interactive Recreation Map with ArcGIS Online

 
August 11th, 2014 by Susan Smith

In a technical session entitled “ArcGIS Online and Social Media,” two interesting speakers spoke about the use of ArcGIS Online and the use of social media to facilitate operations during an international golf tournament in a community and create an interactive map of a popular recreational region. Brandon Brown, GIS administrator, from City of Dublin, Ohio, spoke at the Esri User Conference 2014 on the topic, “Presidential GIS – ArcGIS Online’s Role in the 2013 President’s Cup.”

Read the rest of From the President’s Cup to Interactive Recreation Map with ArcGIS Online

New indepth coverage for September: Satellite Imaging

 
August 7th, 2014 by Susan Smith

During the week of September 15th, GISCafe Voice will run a special feature blog on the topic, “Satellite Imaging.”

Geospatial3 Read the rest of New indepth coverage for September: Satellite Imaging

MapPoint for location intelligence discontinued

 
August 7th, 2014 by Susan Smith

Microsoft’s flagship mapping product, MapPoint, will be discontinued, along with AutoRoute, Streets & Trips December 31, 2014. Online support will be available for the latter product through July 14, 2015. The MapPoint product offered offline routing and basic business analytics. There were problems with its delivery, it appears, as it was on a two-year upgrade cycle rather than the more frequent updates offered by competing software packages.

There has not been much press or an official announcement from Microsoft, only mentioned on the official Microsoft landing pages for MapPoint and Streets & Trips (via Neowin). Microsoft has decided to discontinue Microsoft AutoRoute, Microsoft Streets & Trips and Microsoft MapPoint.

Read the rest of MapPoint for location intelligence discontinued

Citizen data can change the world

 
August 1st, 2014 by Susan Smith

Tierney O’Dea Booker, spatial journalist in Support of Citizen Science, with USC Spatial Sciences Institute, gave a fascinating presentation at Esri UC 2014 in San Diego on how citizens can become involved in science, and contribute to data on sensitive projects. Her talk was entitled “Drones, Pigs, Maps and Oil.” Before coming to USC Spatial Sciences Institute, Booker was with NBC working with anchorman Tom Brokaw, and worked with Medic Mobile developing health technology for mobile phones.

droneonfarm

“The most effective way to get involved in science is to do science,” said Booker. She got interested in data journalism while with Medic Mobile, and in spatial data through Ushahidi.

Read the rest of Citizen data can change the world

Traisr for web-based asset-management launched

 
July 30th, 2014 by Susan Smith

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 Read the rest of Traisr for web-based asset-management launched

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