GISCafe Weekly Review September 25th, 2013

Google Earth Has Changed The World
September 24, 2013  by Ryan Hamilton

As a map geek that has lived through the Google Earth revolution, it amazes me how far we have come in such a short time. The pre Keyhole (2001) world is hard for me to even imagine these days, and not just because I am a map guy. Think about what it took back then to look at an air photo of a place you were planning to visit or look at the terrain and profile of a ride you were thinking about doing; unless you had some great connections it was impossible. Back then, If a hotel advertised a beach front location near downtown you had to take their word, now all we do is enter the address and voila, you can not only see where the hotel is but you can see what it looks like from street view, simply amazing.

Every time I show my children some new place on Google Earth I reflect on how they will never know the pre-Google Earth world. Back then, map data providers could be called cartographers, seeing an air photo of your house was a big deal, and the world just seemed much bigger.

I just traveled quite a distance to come to the Asian Geospatial Forum Conference in Malaysia on the new Dreamliner – 787. Six hours into the flight we had to back track to Anchorage to avoid an emergency landing in Russia, all because our flaps were not working. To accomplish a flapless landing the pilots had to speed up and drop down fast. In three or four minutes we descended about 5000 feet! They warned us, and I quote, “this is a serious but doable approach, remain calm and review the safety brochure.” The ability of the pilots to control or stabilize the aircraft to achieve a safe, albeit rough landing, got me thinking about our Lear jets used to collect interferometric synthetic aperture radar (IFSAR or InSAR) data. Ok, maybe I am a radar geek if that is what I am thinking about in an emergency landing?

In many cases, we fly in remote areas where there is little opportunity for us to deploy ground control, but still need to acquire high resolution data. How is it possible to achieve high resolution data collections without the deployment of in-scene ground control? The answer lies in the stability of our aircraft and our ability to precisely know where our two radar antennae are with respect to the ground we are mapping and our nominal flight trajectory (planned flight path).

TerraGo Vision Platform
September 24, 2013  by Susan Smith

TerraGo Vision Platform

TerraGo has been emerging from an intense period of investment in new technologies, and have more than doubled investment in R&D. They have introduced new products across the whole product line. In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the intelligence community, is the umbrella company of TerraGo. About a year ago TerraGo acquired Geosemble a sister In-Q-Tel company. Geosemble’s product lines such as GeoXRay, MacStrata have been integrated into the TerraGo portfolio.

In the Middle of the Boulder Flood
September 23, 2013  by Ryan Hamilton

The bread and butter of terrain data and DEMs have always been hydrologic modeling. The reason is simple, water follows the rules, it goes downhill and terrain will determine where the water will go, or so I thought…..

As I write this, I am in the middle of an actual flood. Boulder, Colorado is experiencing a 100 year flood event and it has been an eye opening experience to see the difference between a model and the real world.

Our house sits on top of a ridge about 80 feet above flood level and 1200 feet away from the nearest drainage channels. If you evaluated a typical fluvial flood model, our house would be shown as well above flood levels of even a 500 year event. The problem is that the typical fluvial model only works when you focus on the drainage channel as the source of flood. In a pluvial event, where rain comes down faster than the drainage infrastructures can handle, the use of terrain data alone as an input for predicting the water movement is not enough. Not only must you know drainage infrastructure capacity but you need understand geology and the permeability of the soil, as well as the actual soil saturation.

Intergraph Mobile MapWorks launches
September 23, 2013  by Susan Smith

Recalling Intergraph’s long history in hardware, servers and desktop software solutions, this iOS and Android based app may seem like a departure for the company, although it is very much a sign of the times. Intergraph has launched Intergraph Mobile MapWorks, an iOS and Android tablet-based app for viewing, editing and updating field asset information in real-time.  It can be downloaded from Apple’s iTunes and the Google Play app stores. Field asset information can be accessed easily through mobile apps like this one, with very intuitive interfaces. Local government professionals use tablets as a matter of course in their field work, and find this type of application to be a perfect fit.

3 Ways GIS is Powering Civic Engagement Initiatives
September 20, 2013  by Steve Ressler

The following post highlights GovLoop’s latest guide on GIS, The Mapping Revolution: Incorporating Geographic Information Systems in Government. The report features case studies and best practices from the Census Bureau, and United States Department of Agriculture and insights from Esri President, Jack Dangermond. (Download PDF or view online below). This blog post is an excerpt from the section, 7 Ways GIS is Powering Civic Engagement Initiatives.

Mobile programs connect dynamic working environments and increase efficiency by providing real-time information to entire agencies. However, mobile is not just useful inside of an agency, but it is also beneficial for connecting government agencies with citizens.

Monica Pratt, Editor of ArcUser magazine, states that two types of civic engagement apps are emerging. Pratt states, “The first type complements existing government services and makes them more accessible. The second, more intriguing type, encourages people to work closely with government to do things no one had thought of doing before, like rounding up volunteers to clean beaches after a holiday weekend.”

Map Geeks are a Unique Breed
September 20, 2013  by Ryan Hamilton

Map geeks are a unique breed that tend to be equally reliant on both the left and right sides of our brain. Call it indecision to form a self identity or call it a balanced intellect, but we fall somewhere between a pocket protecting engi-nerd and a black turtleneck, beret wearing artist.

My own college background is a perfect illustration. I entered college as a fine arts major, realized I would never move out of my parents house if my income was reliant on my artwork and stumbled across cartography as an art form that had actual job titles associated with it. This mix of opposing characteristics makes for a group of people that are usually smart and funny. Yeah I know the dot coms of the world already exploited the nerds just want to have fun vibe and you will be hard pressed to find many geospatial companies that go as far to push creativity as the Googles of the world, but hey, as a ratio of fun to dollars made, I would say mappers are the top of the heap. I mean come on we have a foosball table and our marketing departments encourage videos like these:



Locata Corporation announced that it has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). This cooperation could ultimately bring completely new capabilities to GPS receivers, including resistance to jamming and spoofing. In the long run, the addition of Locata technology to GPS could finally make precise indoor positioning a reality. Locata’s CEO Nunzio Gambale answered some questions about this announcement:
GISCafe Voice:  What do you think will be the most important development as a result of this agreement?

Locata technology is now evolving at such a rapid rate, and our progress is so solid, that our developments can now start to improve GPS systems as well. In developing the Locata system to work indoors and in GPS occluded environments, we’ve had to find a way to overcome “the devil” – the nemesis of reliable radiopositioning – and it’s called multipath. This is the phenomenon whereby a radio signal bounces around and off objects in cluttered environments like indoor areas. This is a hard problem which has eluded a viable solution for decades, yet we needed to solve it if we wanted to deliver on our indoor positioning vision. So, Locata has had to invent a completely new genus of antenna which allows us to “see” the multipath and deal with it. Remember, this is happening at the speed of light so it’s not a trivial issue. The best way to understand why our claims sound like science fiction is to watch the animation and video of the VRay antenna on our website, here:, which hopefully will show why this antenna is producing results which impossible…

ArcGIS MarketPlace: A Big Hit
September 20, 2013  by Matt Sheehan

This week Esri launched ArcGIS Marketplace; a one stop shop for ArcGIS focused applications. Finally users can discover mobile, Web and desktop GIS applications simply and easily. Esri have made the site intuitive, with excellent search capabilities and categories. Want a GIS application targeted at your industry or sector, ArcGIS Marketplace simplifies the discovery process.

Trimble – Terraflex
Optech - Intergeo

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