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Pitney Bowes Software Risk Data Suite Wildfire Bundle launched for insurance sector

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Already this spring there have been wildfires reported in the western states. According to the National Interagency Fire Center<http://www.nifc.gov/>, more than 82,000 wildfires occurred across 10 million acres in the U.S. last year.

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Police tracking cellphones routinely

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show.

The practice has become big business for cellphone companies, too, with a handful of carriers marketing a catalog of “surveillance fees” to police departments to determine a suspect’s location, trace phone calls and texts or provide other services. Some departments log dozens of traces a month for both emergencies and routine investigations.

-The New York Times, March 31, 2012

 

More on pothole crowdsourcing info – the City of Boston

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The City of Boston and a company called Innocentive recently teamed up to develop a smartphone app that allows drivers in the city to help track and predict where potholes develop. Much like the one developed by CitySourced, the Street Bump app keeps track of bumps while driving, as well as their location, and then sends this  data on to the city so that it can address repairs quicker and hopefully, more efficiently.

-crowdsourcing.org

There’s an app for that – from CitySourced

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Residents of Longview, TX (reported on earlier this week – “There’s an app for that – citizen pothole reporting”) with smartphones can get a new mobile app called “CitySend“ created by CitySourced (didn’t credit that company in the first blog) to inform public works officials of their public issues. The mobile app, unveiled by Longview GIS Manager Justin Cure, allows users to take photos, record video and audio of a problem, and automatically provide GPS coordinates. After the report is submitted, users can track all reported problems on a map as well.

There’s an app for that – citizen pothole reporting

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

This week,  a smartphone app will be made available to the citizens in Longview, Texas, where pictures and video can help the city address issues such as potholes that need repairing. Starting yesterday, citizens could log on to their smartphones, take a photo or video of a pothole or other problem in the city, note location and send it to the city.

Need to report a pothole – there’s an app for that

-KLTV News

John Snow’s 1854 Cholera Map comes to life with the CartoDB platform

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

John Snow created a map of a cholera outbreak in the district of Soho, London in 1854, which helped to convince authorities that the disease was caused by water ( in particular, it originated from one pump in Broad Street). The CartoDB platform allows you to map data and develop location aware applications very easily. This example of John Snow’s Cholera Map of London presented with CartoDB demonstrates how CartoDB can quickly combine different data types, then display them on a map.

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Going where no GPS has gone before

Monday, November 21st, 2011

In November a gathering of 150 GPS engineers convened in Stanford at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center to discuss the $110 billion GPS market for military and commercial aviation systems, consumer mapping services in cars and automated agricultural machines, among other related industries at the fifth annual Stanford University symposium on Position, Navigation and Time.

A big topic on the table is that GPS is no longer the only navigation and tracking system on the planet any more. According to a November article in Wired, there are four things threatening the future of GPS:

  • Next-generation mobile broadband services angling for a piece of the electromagnetic spectrum relied upon by GPS
  • Cheap GPS jammers flooding the highways, thanks to consumers worried about invasive police and employers surveillance;
  • Cosmic events, like solar storms
  • Future location technology that will ultimately push those services to places where GPS hasn’t been able to go.

What’s on the horizon is the new mobile broadband company, Lightsquared, that has been said to threaten GPS signals with interference from a neighboring spectrum. Lightsquared appears at first like it will solve a lot of problems to broadband, by offering cable – like bandwidth to mobile customers through LTE, a next generation wireless service. What’s more, the Obama administration has endorsed Lightsquared – which resides in the same spectrum that runs GPS, which is lower power and gets interference easily.

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Search engines and social media tracking

Monday, October 31st, 2011

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,” NYPOST.com, “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 http://t.co/tyuLvH8b #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. http://t.co/nMJW5RJw #ows ”
“#OWS has spread to 87 countries with 1,039+ distinct events. (and counting) http://t.co/wcgGqOks ”

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.

NGA noted as instrumental in finding Osama bin Laden

Friday, May 6th, 2011

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency gets written up in the mainstream press for its role in the locating and killing of Osama bin Laden.

 

The Little Known Agency that Helped Kill bin Laden May 5, 2011, The Atlantic

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