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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 »

Search engines and social media tracking

October 31st, 2011 by Susan Smith

Last week I read the Wired Cloudline blog Beyond Google’s Reach: Tracking the Global Uprising in Real Time which talked about the search engine Topsy, which is designed to “rank people, not pages,” as Google does. Topsy is an entirely different search engine model than Google, and therefore can pick up and aggregate information from social media in perhaps a different way than Google.

A case was made that suggested that Google did not pick up tweets on the October 15th protest at Occupy Wall Street as efficiently as Topsy.

I decided to look for myself and compare the posts that have been gathered today for both Google and Topsy for Occupy Wall Street. What is interesting is that each are picking up different bits of media –

Topics for Google:
Google is picking up newspaper articles and newscasts, such as “Opinion: Occupy Wall Street is a vigil, not a protest,” New Jersey Star-Ledger, “Occupy Wall Street kitchen slowdown targets squatters,”, “Occupy Wall Street in the Age of Technology”, Huffington Post, “Most Americans Aren’t Occupy Wall Street’s ’99 Percent’ The Atlantic.

Topsy has picked up the following topics in tweets: “Protesters turn their back on @ericcantor during speech at University of Michigan #ows ”
A trustworthy #OWS activist tells me that an influx of homeless and hardened criminals is causing major issues for Zuccotti campers
“Police use bulldozers to break up @OccupyRichmond. #ows ”
“#OWS has spread to 87 countries with 1,039+ distinct events. (and counting) ”

Note that the Google search is producing articles that were published as much as three weeks ago, while the Topsy search is displaying tweets written just 18 minutes ago.

In the realm of tracking events of local or global importance, it would seem that a combination of these two types of searches would be best, so that we have well researched articles side by side with the up-to-the-minute crowdsourced view of the bystander.

On the one hand, in-depth reporting of a body of knowledge on an event is always useful in tracking history and trends, and offering insightful perspectives. What is published in newspapers, magazines and books is thought to have staying power, whereas we are not yet sure how long the impact of a tweet or Facebook post will last.

The veracity of tweets is questionable, and they are posted before anyone has a chance to check whether they come from reliable sources. When several sources convey the same message, however, it can indicate that something is really happening at a given location. Topsy can be important in tracking social movement such as the progress of an uprising or movement of a group of people. There is power in numbers, so the sheer number of people who will protest now using social media may increase because they have more confidence in doing so when they know others are of like mind.

Images of El Hierro Spanish Submarine Volcano Eruption from RapidEye

October 31st, 2011 by Susan Smith

From October 13 and October 23 RapidEye took true color, high-resolution RapidEye satellite images featuring a gigantic stain visible on the surface of Las Calmas Sea resulting from a submarine eruption out of the coast of El Hierro, Spain. The eruption occurred at 1200 meter below sea level at 10.43 local time (09:43 UTC) on October 10, 2011.


Image Taken on October 13th

Read the rest of Images of El Hierro Spanish Submarine Volcano Eruption from RapidEye

New analysis from NOAA shows human-caused climate change a big factor in Mediterranean droughts

October 28th, 2011 by Susan Smith

Check out this worrisome new analysis by NOAA scientists and colleagues at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).:

Winter precipitation trends in the Mediterranean region for the period 1902 - 2010.

Wintertime droughts are increasingly common in the Mediterranean region, and human-caused climate change is partly responsible, according to a new analysis by NOAA scientists and colleagues at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). In the last 20 years, 10 of the driest 12 winters have taken place in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

Read the rest of New analysis from NOAA shows human-caused climate change a big factor in Mediterranean droughts

Occupy Wall Street inspires more than protests: mapping tweets and Facebook pages

October 27th, 2011 by Susan Smith

One month into the Occupy Wall Street protest, the internet is populated with maps depicting activity around the event, not only in the U.S. but in other countries as well. The movement has inspired map makers who may have been headed in another direction, such as Humphrey Flowerdew, who along with his partner, Trung Huynh, both based in London, were originally in business to use their Crafivy to aggregate and map real estate listings.

The Cravify Occupy Wall Street map shows tweets from throughout the world with the hashtags such as #occupywallst, #occupylsx, #occupyrome, #occupytokyo that are frequently updated.

Read the rest of Occupy Wall Street inspires more than protests: mapping tweets and Facebook pages

Autodesk BIM for Infrastructure: Sustainable Cities

October 26th, 2011 by Susan Smith

Sustainable infrastructure is needed to replace the $41 trillion worth of infrastructure that needs to be replaced or retrofitted around the world.

According to Paul McRoberts , vice president of the Infrastructure Product Line Group AEC Solutions at Autodesk, there is only about $22 trillion available to remedy this situation. How is this to be accomplished?

Autodesk’s Infrastructure Design Suite 2012, Autodesk’s BIM for Infrastructure solution, combines the tools needed to plan, design, build and manage infrastructure. Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler, a new product, represents the expansion of Autodesk’s BIM portfolio and is geared around the idea of being able to leverage existing information such as GIS data and any kind of disparate data: lidar data, raster and photogrammetry; and being able to layer this information in and to create a representation of existing conditions. Infrastructure Modeler can compare conceptual models that can be used for new proposals to help customers and stakeholders understand what the future infrastructure is going to look like.

Read the rest of Autodesk BIM for Infrastructure: Sustainable Cities

United Nations-backed meeting on GIS technologies held in Seoul, Korea this week

October 25th, 2011 by Susan Smith

A five-day series of United Nations-backed meeting is being held from October 23-28 in Seoul, Korea for the purpose of improving the management of geospatial information technologies and using them to tackle global socio-economic challenges. Representatives from 90 countries and delegates from dozens of international organizations and civil society numbering approximately 350 are expected to attend.

The use of geospatial information goes beyond national borders, according to the UN Programme on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM). The proliferation of natural disasters has heightened the need for urgent response and quick, accurate and specific geospatial solutions.

Participants will strive to bring countries together to “share their experiences in how to organize their geospatial information infrastructure plan policy priorities and handle privately-sourced information and that produced by national authorities.”

UN-backed meeting considers better use of geospatial technology, UN News Centre

Crowdsourcing, or, 200,000 heads are better than one

October 24th, 2011 by Susan Smith

A think tank is usually comprised of a group of people hand selected to solve a particular problem or to do research on a problem. We don’t usually open up the think tank to just anyone.

Crowdsourcing opens up a question or inquiry or research to everyone, or perhaps to a select special interest group, those who can offer authoritative data. People are drawn to contribute knowledge – whether it be of the pothole status in a given neighborhood, crime rates, weather patterns, or crisis intervention. This knowledge has very often not had a home in the past because there was nowhere to put it, or it might have to be vetted first (made into authoritative geodata) before being committed to the total database of knowledge on the given subject.

Read the rest of Crowdsourcing, or, 200,000 heads are better than one

Mapping and data analysis for both GIS pros and beginners

October 20th, 2011 by Susan Smith

In a recent interview with Philip O’Doherty, CEO eSpatial, he talked about the company’s OnDemand GIS and its ability to provide services to the entire Geospatial and GIS industry – from GIS experts to complete beginners.

Actual Revenue - January, 2011


Welcome to the GISCafe Voice

October 19th, 2011 by Susan Smith

Welcome to our new offering, the  GISCafe Voice. This is a new editorial blog-type content that will provide more timely coverage of breaking news to be posted two-three times per week. The articles will provide rich editorial content on topics important to GIS and geospatial professionals, including conference coverage, coverage of geospatial being used in emergency response and disaster recovery, and new products and trends that shape the industry.

Why the GISCafe Voice at this time?

We’re noticing that as geospatial information and geographic information systems become more pervasive, they are becoming critical in more industries than ever before. They are a part of the defense military and homeland security departments, tracking and identification of weather systems such as hurricanes , tsunamis, floods and earthquakes. Organizations without large GIS departments still need access to GIS information which is possible now with technologies that allow individuals to view, markup and access GIS information on the internet or in the cloud. Crowdsourcing has added another dimension to GIS and geospatial, opening up the technology to anyone who wants to contribute current information about an event, community or disaster.

Read the rest of Welcome to the GISCafe Voice

Real Time Access with Accela Analytics

October 10th, 2011 by Susan Smith

The upcoming version of Accela Analytics government application for the iPad was right on target with the current discussion at Esri User Conference 2011 this year. Although it is not news that GIS maps are now available on all types of devices, Accela offers the next step with analytics for business analysis and management with Accela Analytics. “We are really empowering government workers, decision makers and team leaders so they can have access to data wherever they are,” said public relations director, Paul Davis. “With the forthcoming version of Accela Analytics we have put all those Esri overlay maps in.”

Accela Analytics for the iPad

Accela Mobile 311™ is a native iPhone/iPad app that enables citizens to request services or report incidents to local government, from wherever they are. It connects directly to an agency’s Accela Automation system and routes requests to the appropriate responders. Accela Mobile 311 is available directly from Accela for local governments to brand with their name/logo and offer to their citizens via Apple’s App Store.

Read the rest of Real Time Access with Accela Analytics

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