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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 »

shopkick expands to Android just in time for the holiday season

November 19th, 2010 by Susan Smith

shopkick is expanding to the Android platform, effective immediately.

shopkick is a free (and only) app in the Android Market that rewards shoppers for walking into participating retailers, including Best Buy, Macy’s, Inc., Target Corporation, American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., Simon Property Group, Inc. malls, Sports Authority and Wet Seal, Inc., and for interacting with partner brand products HP, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods.

The shopkick app verifies the actual presence of a shopper by detecting a “shopkick Signal” coming from the shopkick transmitter located in each participating store. The user can control privacy because the detection happens on the mobile phone.  Once a shopkick Signal is detected, the app delivers reward points called “kickbucks” to the user — just for walking through the door.

Users can then redeem kickbucks at all partner stores for instant gift card rewards or for Facebook Credits to play games online, song downloads, hotel vouchers, specific products, and can even donate to their favorite charity. 

Press materials say that by Black Friday, more than 1,000 individual stores and over 100 of the country’s largest malls will have fully deployed shopkick’s technology.

Volunteer-geographic information marches through history

November 12th, 2010 by Susan Smith

Recently I’ve been reading a biography of Freya Stark (Passionate Nomad, by Jane Fletcher Geniesse), born in 1903, an explorer who became renowned when she explored the mountainous territory of the mysterious “Assassins” of Persia, who were connected with the feared Druze, the most “effective terrorist group in history.” These Assassins had occupied fortress castles in Syria that they had been forced out of  in 1273, but were still resident in the mountains at the time of Stark’s exploration. Scholars suggest that there are parallels between the Assassins and modern day sects such as the military wing of Hamas in Israel or Osama bin Laden’s Afghani terrorists.

Stark  became the first woman to explore Luristan in western Iran. She also followed ancient frankincense routes to locate a lost Arabian city. Throughout her life, she greatly extended geographical knowledge of remote regions of the Middle East, and won the Royal Geographical Society’s Back Grant for her cartographic accomplishments, among other honors, and provided a valuable resource for Allied Intelligence during World War II.

Not limiting herself to geography, Stark learned multiple Middle Eastern languages and customs of the regions she visited, which helped the military and diplomatic corps and markedly influenced foreign policy.

Stark wrote thirty books on her adventures in the Middle East and captured a time when huge changes were taking place in that region. She became one of Britain’s outstanding authorities on the Middle East.

So here is one of the first volunteer geographic information (VGI) sources – following on heels of such explorers as Sir Richard Francis Burton and Richard Speke who discovered Lake Tanganyika, Sir Lawrence of Arabia, and others of that general time period.

Although Stark’s maps depict land divisions that are no longer relevant, their accuracy and clarity show us the Middle East as it once was, and helps to deepen our understanding of  the history of land and culture that still exist today.

Perhaps their relevancy is as a layer, to be compared with how we collect data today.

Global geospatial news

November 10th, 2010 by Susan Smith

Central Pollution Control Board solicited help from the Indian Space Research Organization to create a GIS in order to address pollution monitoring.


ISRO’s help sought for preparing environmental database October 27, 2010, ThaiIndianNews

The GIS will guide investors to identify locations for investments.

Gujarat govt launches investor facilitation and support tools   November 08, 2010, IndiaInfoLine

Local geospatial news

November 10th, 2010 by Susan Smith

Brilliant use of GIS to show impacts of discrimination, disinvestment & sprawl October 27, 2010, NRDC Switchboard


JCJC forestry students get technology lesson October 28, 2010, Hattiesburg


Apple’s real estate, data center plans grow October 27, 2010, MacWorld

Caxton launches independent research unit Biz, October 27, 2010


News.Lake County GIS Department seeks help to fund aerial photography, October 21, 2010 The News-Herald


Google Claims U.S. Excluded It From Contract The New York Times November 2, 2010


Do Believe the Hype OpEd by Thomas Friedman, November 2, 2010, The New York Times



Geo-enabled browsers predicted to take world by storm

November 9th, 2010 by Susan Smith

ABI Research has come out with their “Location-Enabled Services” study that covers geo-enabled browsers, location-based social networking and micro-blogging, messaging and calendar applications, and location-based advertising.

According to their press release, “Location-Enabled Services (LES) such as location-based social networking (Facebook Places), micro-blogging (Twitter), messaging, calendars, advertising, and geo-browsers (Apple Safari, Google Chrome) are set for strong growth driven by standards such as the W3C’s geo-location API. ABI Research forecasts that 1.7 billion geo-enabled browsers will be in use worldwide by 2016.”

“The location industry is entering a new era. Instead of offering separate applications providing specific stand-alone LBS services, location is increasingly positioned as an enabler of existing mobile services.,” Telematics & Navigation practice director Dominique Bonte said. “The transparent use of location results in new business and indirect monetization models, web/widget and open source development environments, changing value and supply chains, the adoption of alternative positioning technologies, new content sourcing paradigms, and innovative interfaces (Augmented Reality).”
Privacy is a big issue for the LES space, according to ABI. Vendors are concerned about how location data will be used – even if users can delete their location history, companies that mine data may be able to still store, analyze and use this location data for advertising purposes. There is also the concern that it could get into the hands of those with unauthorized access, in much the same way spammers gain access to email addresses and other personal information.

Esri’s “My Place History” app

November 8th, 2010 by Susan Smith

A new app from Esri called “My Place History” allows you to enter addresses of places you’ve lived or spent time and see public health information for those locations. The app uses publicly available data from the EPA Toxic Release Inventory and the NIH’s known chemical database. It also has a heart attack index to show where the most heart attacks occur in the country. Future versions will include additional databases for water quality, lead contamination, cancer, mortality, and poverty. Mapping API provided by ArcGIS API for iOS.

So far, the areas I have lived in that I thought would have more toxic chemical exposure have had less, and the areas I thought would have less, have more!

My Place History

web version

3D printed street maps for the blind

November 2nd, 2010 by Susan Smith

From Lulu-Ann, HaptoRender is working on a renderer that uses OpenStreetMap data to make tactile maps that the blind and visually impaired can use to navigate cities by feel. Made of copper sheet, the 3D printouts would focus on small areas of a city.

HaptoRender Project to create 3D street maps for the blind Shapeways blog

Google sues Interior Department

November 2nd, 2010 by Susan Smith

An article in this morning’s New York Times reports that Google is suing the Department of Interior for violating the Competition in Contracting Act by considering only Microsoft email and collaboration software products for its 88,000 employees, and not Google Apps.

with a suit filed Friday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Google is attempting to block the department from buying any of the Microsoft software until it allows competitive bidding. Google Apps are cloud-based tools. In July, the company came out with Google Apps for government, which passed federal security standards.

Google Claims U.S. Excluded It From Contract The New York Times November 2, 2010

Local GIS news

October 27th, 2010 by Susan Smith

TFCC Partners with ZOS Communications to Offer Location-Based Notification Technology i-Newswire, October 22, 2010


New system helps students feel connected to park October 22, 2010, Winnifred Free Press


Clark County’s plats go online October 22, 2010, News and

 FTC ends Google Street View probe without fines Cnet News





Global GIS news

October 27th, 2010 by Susan Smith

Geographic info system for Tiruchi  October, 24, 2010, The Hindu


Laku lowers cost and raise efficiency October 23, 2010, Borneo Post Online

China’s Mapping Bureau Launches Online Map Service October 22, 2010, Marbridge Consulting 

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