June 21, 2004
Satellite Imagery for Impervious Surface Mapping
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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This particular route was traveled by Pony Express riders and again in what came to be known as
The Great American Horse Race of 1976. Ride manager Dave Nicholsen had ridden in the 1976 ride and knew the course. Logistically, it presented some challenges: as a ride manager, he had to design the course with campsites approximately 50 miles apart, set up to accommodate a large number of horses. The terrain lent itself to the use of GPS as it was very flat.

Generally, riders follow trail markers (surveyors' tape ribbons tied to tree branches, spray painted arrows on the ground, etc.) and a map to find their way on these rides. But for this ride, they could carry a map, but the trail was not to be marked as it usually is. Because of the sensitive nature of the historic trails, land agencies would never have allowed trail markings on the route “so we could never have had that ride without GPS,” concluded Karen Chaton, a rider who completed the lion's share of the 2,000 mile course on her two horses, Rocky and Weaver. “Nobody got lost, there weren't any problems, nobody got an advantage, because it takes just as much time to
look at your GPS as it does a map. It took two full months to finish.”

Ride manager Dave Nicholsen had spent over two years assimilating the GPS waypoints for the entire 2,000 miles and had them ready for the riders when they got to camp. The first evening everyone learned how to turn on their GPS, put the batteries in, and how to follow a route. He dumped waypoints into each GPS and away they went. “A lot of people who went to the ride were kind of scared of the technology at first and thought they would never figure it out,” said Chaton, adding: “within the first day they all had it figured out.”

Everyone brought different GPS models, but most were Garmins, according to Chaton, which was useful because the software is compatible.

“Each day we would download the waypoints and when you turn on the GPS and activate a route it points an arrow in the direction you're supposed to go, so if you basically follow the arrow and come to a turn the arrow turns, the GPS also tells you how many miles between each waypoint, so if you're paying attention you can know how far you've gone and start watching for a turn,” reported Chaton. “We had maps also, but it was really easy to follow the GPS and wasn't as scary or high tech as it sounds.”

“Because of where we were riding--in Nebraska and flat states--it's cornfields, and the GPS was accurate. You could tell because our crews would drive the same route and we actually had a lot of 50 mile plus days, some days as long as 54.” Karen Chaton was one of the more technologically astute riders. She could put her GPS data into the topo mapping software and print out realistic maps. “Because I was using my laptop with map software, each night I would download waypoints and the route into my laptop so I
would have the whole trail tracked from St. Joseph all the way to Virginia City. On the map software it measures the distance for you and tells you if you're missing some tracks, like if the GPS quit or got turned off or the battery died you might miss some miles. The software would always pretty much match the GPS recording; it was really accurate.” She used software from Mapsource and Delorme.

Crews drove the rigs from point to point and set up camp for the riders who would come in from their rides, then pack up again the next morning and drive to the next camp.

Since the ride was held mostly on historical trails, there were historical trail markers about every half mile. “We were constantly going by markers that said 'Oregon Trail' or 'Pony Express Trail',” noted Chaton. “Some people didn't have GPS but they found their way with the map. After you ride that many days in a row you get real good at measuring the distance you've gone, so it gets easier.”

A nice feature of the GPS was that you could mark a waypoint right there in camp, then turn the GPS off and stick it in your saddlebag. “If you ever happened to get lost, you have this neat little feature-the Go To button, and you tell it to go to that one waypoint that you've marked.”

Riders who rode the 2001 XP obviously had a different task than the Pony Express riders 140 years before. The Pony Express was assembled during a two month period, with 156 stations, 120 riders, 400 horses and hundreds of employees, all during January and February of 1860. It ran each week in each direction, with an average time of 10 days. The mail averaged almost 250 miles a day.

Photos available here:

Around the Web....

World's First Mobile Phone Virus Created, AOL News, by Lucas Van Grinsven, Reuters, June 16, 2004 -- A group of underground virus writers has showed off what is believed to be the world's first worm that can spread on advanced mobile phones, but security software companies say the virus had no malicious code attached. (Registration required)

3G Rollout: This Time it's for Real Business Week Online, June 21, 2004 -- Third-Generation mobile-phone service is taking off in Europe. The famous 3G technology has finally arrived, with its promise of cheaper voice calls, fast wireless Internet access, and sexy multimedia services such as streaming video clips and online gaming.

Upcoming Events...

Date: June 21 - 23, 2004

Place: Westin Hotel Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

It is our great pleasure to invite you to the 97th Annual Conference of the Canadian Institute of Geomatics (CIG), Geomatics: Powering the Future. This Conference will explore the increasing role of geospatial technology in Canada and how it is moving from innovation to an everyday reality.

Date: June 21, 2004

Place: The Marriott Philadelphia conference rooms 304 & 305, Philadelphia, PA USA

Join us for a breakfast meeting at the Society of Nuclear Medicine Symposium 2004

Date: June 23 - 25, 2004

Place: UCL London, United Kingdom

EOGEO is a workshop for developers of Geospatial data services over the Web. It covers a wide field of applications from Earth Observation and GIS to Internet standards. The common themes are Web based solutions to resource discovery, interoperable data access, distributed data services and data fusion.

Date: June 24, 2004

Place: TechMart Santa Clara San Francisco, CA USA

Whether you are a power user, developer, manager or are new to using MapInfo, MapWorld 2004 is the place to be.

Date: June 28 - 29, 2004

Place: Chicago, IL USA

Discover how GIS technology provides a cost-effective solution for understanding, serving, and growing your customer base by helping you better organize and visualize existing data.

Date: July 12 - 23, 2004

Place: Istanbul, Turkey

"GeoImagery Bridging Continents" is the theme of this conference. The use of ?GEO-IMAGERY? will play an important role in our future professional activities. New technological developments, particularly in computers have significantly influenced the theory and practice of photogrammetry, remote sensing and SIS.

Date: July 25 - 29, 2004

Place: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

GML Days 2004 is the third annual conference on the OGC Geography Markup Language (GML) and Web Services for GIS.

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.


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