Open Thread

The long holiday weekend means that we are heading out to visit relatives in western Colorado.

Seems like the perfect excuse to have an open thread. See you guys next week.


GNOCDC Repopulation Map – Now with Google Street View

We’ve just rolled out the latest update to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center (GNOCDC) Repopulation Google Maps application. Thanks to Matt Priour figuring out how to add the Street View imagery to our New Orleans Repopulation Map, you can now not only see where people are coming back to The Crescent City, but the rebuilding efforts from the street level.

Repopulation Indicators for New Orleans

Repopulation NOLA

The map is powerful because you can look at the address counts by block between June 2005 and June 2008 and see how many people are returning to New Orleans. Of course you can pan over to the Lower Ninth Ward and see neighborhoods that are struggling to recover, but overall much of the city has recovered substantially. What is unique about this map is the source of the data. Getting accurate counts of the population of New Orleans has been difficult, but as this Wired article mentions, “Junk Mail to the Rescue”. Now the Google Street View imagery has been very good at helping see the reasons why changes have occurred after Katrina. The aerial imagery of New Orleans was taken on March 2006, near the low point of the recovery. If all you ever use to see the recovery of New Orleans is the Google Maps or Google Earth satellite imagery, you are many of the changes that have occurred more than two years since those images were taken. Even the Google Street View imagery is a year old which can distort realities on the ground. The USPS repopulation data is updated monthly so it is actually the most relevant data in this mashup application.

While some areas are still struggling to recover…

…rebuilding in New Orleans continues

Rebuilding in New Orleans Continues

What the Valassis data is great at documenting the recovery at a macro level, and the Google Street View data helps you analyze the results on a macro level. Being able to visualize the recovery this way gives you a great appreciation for how much work has been accomplished and how much more there has to be done. Unfortunately there was no “Marshal Plan” for the recovery, but progress has been made and hopefully tools such as this Repopulation Map will help further the rebuilding of New Orleans.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with Denice Warren Ross, deputy co-director of the nonprofit Greater New Orleans Community Data Center and Joy Bonaguro on this project. Their vision of how they wanted this data presented to the community was to make it as simple as possible to use. The ability to take data created in ESRI ArcGIS Desktop and serve it from Amazon’s S3 and integrate it with Google’s simple visualization tools (Google Maps and Google Street View) created a map that tells quite a story and is so much more useful than the PDF maps that existed before Katrina.

Also, one thing to keep in mind is August 29th is the 3 year anniversary of Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans. The GNOCDC’s Katrina Index is a great way to see the progress of the recovery of New Orleans, three years later.

Hurricane Gustov continues to head toward the Gulf Coast so everyone please be careful in its path.


ESRI ArcGIS Explorer Build 500 Released

Catching up a little from last week, I missed the news that AGX Build 500 was released. This release isn’t the Build 600 that some have been looking for, but does add the ability to work with the new updated ArcGIS Online, including the premium services (Microsoft Virtual Earth). The update is available from ESRI’s servers.


License Microsoft Virtual Earth Imagery For Your Maps

ESRI and Microsoft announced that Virtual Earth would be available through the ArcGIS Online Premium Service a couple weeks ago and today Microsoft took that announcement one step further.

Starting today you can license Virtual Earth UltraCam (proprietary) aerial photography without having to license the Virtual Earth platform. This is great for offline use, wrapping your own client or creating an interface that allows for deeper zooming than the VE platform does today. You can purchase the photography through 2 vendors – Mapmart and i-Cubed.

Of course ESRI users will probably prefer to use the ArcGIS Online service (given how easy it will be to integrate into your existing projects), but now everyone has the same access and the freedom to use any software (Photoshop, Illustrator, gvSIG, MapInfo, AutoCAD, etc) they wish.

The only caveat is that this is the UltraCam imagery, not everything so you may not have anything available if you live outside of 200+ cities that have coverage. Of course if you do have it available, then there isn’t anything better as UltraCam blows away everything else. Microsoft’s purchase of Vexcel has really been very smart for them and this is what you can do when you own the data. I can buy UltraCam imagery for Tempe, AZ for about $4,000 from MapMart.

You can’t afford one yourself, but you can use the data captured from it.

You cant afford one yourself, but you can use the data captured from it.


CityGML adopted as offical OGC Standard

CityGML has officially become an OGC Standard. This is great news for those of us who are tying to work with and exchange 3D models of buildings and cities. I’m still a CityGML newbie, but the more I look at the standard and learn about it, the more I’m excited about what we’ll be able to do in the future with BIM and GIS. Moving data back and forth between BIM and GIS is almost impossible today, but hopefully this is a huge step forward. You can view the standard at this link (after accepting that wacky OGC license).


EveryBlock Launches Three More Cities

Yesterday Adrian Holovaty announced three new cities on EveryBlock. While I am very happy that they are growing, I’m still nervous that Phoenix might not be added anytime soon. If Craigslist is any gauge, Phoenix will be added some time between Erie, PA and Cedar Rapids, IA.

For those who aren’t familiar with EveryBlock, you want to read this article in the Chicago Tribune from a couple days ago.


County GIS Mapping Websites

Adena blogged about a county mapping site from Morris County, New Jersey (OK, I’ll admit right now I was born in Morristown, NJ; the county seat of Morris County). I had not seen the website before, but this comment from Adena got me curious:

It’s a quite complex app, the kind I’ve not seen implemented in Flash. It must be pretty slick; it was named site of the day by Adobe earlier this year. Do be warned: you may need to read the help to use the site!

Go to the website yourself and take a look. I don’t want to take away anything from the people who implemented it because it is very impressive, but is this the kind of GIS web map site that should be the public face of a county?? My current county has a horrible MapGuide mapping site (you know the classic ActiveX plugin MapGuide thing?) that is difficult for even me to use. Most county websites (no matter if they use ESRI, Autodesk, open source, other1) are very difficult to use, take forever to load, run very slow, require plugins, require reading a manual and frustrate the heck out of me.

Shouldn’t a country web mapping site be simple and easy to use? I would assume the average user of a county website doesn’t have an engineering degree so why not aim these sites at the user level? And we need to be held acountable for accepting them (I’ve been using the Maricopa mapping site for as long as I can remember and I’m pretty sure I’ve never complained to the county, just on this blog). So right now I’m going to contact my county and let them know their website isn’t useful and you should do the same.

Won’t someone please think of the GeoMonkey?

Wont someone please think of the GeoMonkey?

  1. Manifold 


Open Source DoD, ESRI on Google, Fire Eagle flies

I watched the from afar and from what I’ve heard it sounded like it was a great event. Andrew Turner says that open source got quite a bit of play.

In the open-source world, a government supported promotion of its use would have dramatic effects. Looking at the current state of commercial company support for projects such as Apache, Linux, Gnome, OSGeo and more demonstrate that there is clear benefit to be gained. If the government then pushes open-source there would a huge upsurge in the support of projects and communities.

I don’t think there has to be 100% open source, but utilitzing it where it makes sense benefits the taxpayer.

ESRI today was the guest blogger on the Google Geo Developers blog. Sterling did a pretty good job of outlining the ArcGIS JavaScript Extension for Google Maps and how it can be utilized. I’m still waiting for my 9.3 to show up (long story) to actually start implementing ArcGIS Server 9.3 so I have to live through these posts for now.

Yahoo!’s Fire Eagle has left beta and is available to everyone. I don’t think there has been a killer app yet built using Fire Eagle, but the service has the potential to link LBS applications together. I think Yahoo! some really good spatial services (can’t forget about GeoPlanet) and I’d love to see them become more serious about them than their past would reflect.


GeoServer gets a new UI

I’ve always thought of GeoServer as a great way to get introduced to open source web mapping servers because its Admin page was much easer to use than MapServer. It looks like at 2.0, the Admin page will get even better as the GeoServer team announced that the new UI is in the 2.0 alpha release. I can’t wait to see how this develops until the “final” 2.0 release.


You have to like Google’s commitment…

Reminds me of the old USPS motto, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat fire nor gloom of night stays these couriers Googlers from their appointed rounds”.

View Larger Map

Update (2008-08-21): It looks like Google has just pulled down the Street View images of the fire.