GIS on Inauguration Day

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Industry News
GIS on Inauguration Day

By Susan Smith

On Tuesday, January 20th, President-elect Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States. The official theme for the 2009 Inauguration is “Renewing America’s Promise,“ which reflects the aim of the President-elect and Vice President-elect to reposition America as a “beacon of hope” around the world.

The inauguration is anticipated to be the most widely attended event of the year, with over a million people visiting Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas, to participate in numerous celebratory events. For those GIS professionals who wonder what role geospatial will play in the inauguration, here are some sneak peeks.

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The company PointAbout has partnered with Qorvis, PattonBoggs, and FortiusOne, to create what they call “the ultimate mobile survival guide for the 2009 Inauguration.” The application is called “ Navigating Washington” and can be downloaded for BlackBerry or iPhone. What this application does is aggregates geographic data such as security zones, bridge or road closings, events, public restrooms, etc., plus it offers a geo-enabled polling application called “ Speak Your Mind.” More layers are promised as Inauguration Day draws closer. Layers available in FortiusOne’s GeoCommons application can show up in this application.

This application creates a heat map. The Speak Your Mind application is a way to map out public opinion about the inauguration and possible policies held by the new administration. This is an interesting example of gathering user generated content. When mobile device users cast a “vote” in “Speak Your Mind” their answer can be mapped to a geographical location, which will then give an idea of opinions held across the country.

Of course one person will not be able to access this nifty application, and that is Barack Obama himself, who will have to relinquish his BlackBerry once he takes office. The National Security Office and the FBI consider Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry to be a very high security risk.

“In this day of inevitable investigations, any time you have written documentation of what the president is saying on any particular subject, then in that investigation, these records may be requested and could be obtained,” said Elizabeth A. McNamara, a lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine in New York said in an article in The New York Times. “Then you’ve got the president in the thick of it.”

GIS Behind the Scenes

Imaging technology developed by University of Illinois at Chicago's Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) will help with the daunting task of keeping an eye on the crowds, most of which will be on land supervised by the U.S. Department of the Interior. An EVL "OptIPortal" – a wall-sized display of flat-screen, tiled LCD monitors that offer 40-200 megapixel resolution images powered by supercomputers will provide aerial imagery of the inauguration site.

"All streets but one entering the downtown Mall area enter onto land the Department of Interior is responsible for," said Brian Davis, a contractor to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) who was instrumental in getting the OptIPortal included in the inaugural planning. "Interior will have a huge responsibility for monitoring safety, security, traffic and countless other issues."

For the past six years the USGS, considered the Department of Interior’s mapmaking arm, has worked with EVL on geological projects using a portable version of the OptIPortal, used by scientific groups worldwide. The Interior Department asked that the OptIPortal be shipped to their planning center in Northern Virginia so they could use it for training and preparation for the inauguration.

With a wall display measuring approximately four by eight feet, the Interior's OptIPortal delivers a 35-megapixel image. It is capable of delivering visual data at 220 million pixels of display space across 55 high-resolution tiled screens, according to company literature. The OptIPortal is powered by EVL software called Magic Carpet, that enables the screen to be fed high resolution maps and other information in real time. Magic Carpet is designed to operate on a large group of computers that drive the OptIPortals making it possible for users to interact with the imagery very quickly. The computers are powered by numerous NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 graphics processing units (GPUs). Funding for the EVL research was provided largely by the National Science Foundation.

Maps

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On the About.com website is a map of the 2009 Inaugural Parade Route. The parade will begin at the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building and proceed along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. This event is expected to draw record breaking crowds. The best way to get to the inaugural parade will be by Metrorail.

The Washington Post displays a 2009 inauguration map, that will show information visitors can use to plan their trips downtown. It will be updated as more information becomes available.

Top News of the Week

ERDAS Inc. announces the launch of ERDAS TV, an area on the ERDAS website featuring informative videos that capture development news and other happenings at ERDAS. These movies (or webisodes) are three to eight minutes in length. ERDAS’ YouTube account also features each of these videos, as well as product demonstrations and presentations.

NAVTEQ, a global provider of digital map data for location-based solutions and vehicle navigation, showcased a broad scope of cutting-edge mapping solutions and devices at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The booth featured two distinct demonstration areas: NAVTEQ product and services and an impressive "device wall" featuring a wide range of brand name devices and navigation systems powered by NAVTEQ data. A highlight of the booth was the unveiling of two significant NAVTEQ product offerings: NAVTEQ LocationPoint Advertising and dynamic POI content.

Intermap Technologies announced that its NEXTMap Europe program reached another significant milestone in December by making elevation data for the entire country of France commercially available. For the first time, uniformly accurate 3D digital elevation models and high-resolution orthorectified radar images are available for the largest country (551,695 square kilometers) in the European Union. France joins Germany, Great Britain, and Luxembourg as complete European countries benefitting from Intermap’s elevation models and images. Intermap now offers clients more than 1.2 million square kilometers of European data – representing 50% of the NEXTMap Europe initiative that already includes the above mentioned full country datasets and portions of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and The Netherlands.

The City of Kitchener’s financial and asset management strategies have been advanced significantly as a result of a recent leading-edge system implementation. In early 2008, the City partnered with ESRI Canada, IDS Scheer, SAP Canada Inc. and Loki Innovations (RIVA Modeling) to develop and implement an enterprise-wide infrastructure management system. Azteca’s Cityworks that leverages ESRI technology was selected along with SAP and RIVA software to replace aging financial and asset management systems. The three systems were fully integrated for the first time in history.

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