Follow-up to the Tempe GIS Data Request

You might recall the issue where I wanted some GIS data from the City of Tempe Well they finally told me to make a public information request and they’d evaluate my request. Well I got back a response this week:

Dear Mr. Fee:

I have reviewed your public records request for the “complete city of Tempe landbase and utilities in digital DGN format,” and discussed it with our City Attorney, Andrew Ching. He has advised me that, under the state public records law and cases construing the law, cities are permitted to weigh the competing interests of the public’s right to receive records versus the countervailing concerns of privacy, confidentiality, and the best interests of the city. Under federal law, city utilities such as water and sewer lines are considered critical infrastructure, which means that cities may restrict access to such data for homeland security reasons. As such, we generally limit access to utility mapping except for very limited parcels or sections, and not for the entire city. Therefore, your request is denied in part; we will release the complete landbase, but not the utilities.

As an alternative, we would be willing to discuss with you further your proposed educational use of the information. It is my understanding you intend to use this for a class presentation to school children on the power of GIS. If that is still the case, we would be willing to discuss options for how you can present to the class while at the same time we can ensure that sensitive data is not disseminated. Please let me know if you would like to meet and discuss these options.

Wendy Springborn, MBA Engineering Services Administrator City of Tempe

So as you can imagine I took them up on their offer of the Landbase data and I now have the city landbase in Microstation DGN v7. I’d of course love to have unrestricted use of this data, but at this moment I’m in the process of preparing it to be loaded into PostGIS via FME 2010 so that I can start using it. There was no metadata with the CD they gave me, but it was easy enough to figure out the layering system. The quicker I get it unlocked from DGN and into open PostGIS, the easier it will be to work with. Now I just have to make sure I remembered to get my wife a Christmas present.

Twitter Acquires GeoAPI — The New GeoLocation Platform of Choice?

Given what we’ve witnessed since October, 2009 is sure going out with a bang. Google dumps Tele Atlas for their own mapping dataset and then gives away navigation, Microsoft adds street level imagery, Google adds oblique imagery and then gives away a spatial query server and Mapquest adds street level imagery as well. But today Twitter did something that just seems to fit perfectly with just about any mobile application. They went ahead and picked up GeoAPI.

Twitter clearly sees location as important as anything they do (I guess microblogging is something they do as well). Tagging tweets with location is something fairly new to the Twitter API, but with smartphones probably being the primary method of tweeting, location becomes natural with tweeting. We’ve been speculating that we could analyze tweets during “events” and see locations of tweets with information about what is being observed (flooding/fire/babes). Having a richer geo-api will only facilitate this further and could be the real killer crowdsourcing app.

The only pushback I’ve seen on twitter is the location API can be very accurate. I’d love to see them enable something like Fire Eagle where you can have it return a city level geocode rather than a hyperaccurate one. I mean I’m glad everyone knows how often I visit the Apple store, but I’d like @pbissett to wonder just a little.

So I’m sitting here just fantasizing what can be done with the data provided by Twitter and GeoAPI.

Enjoy the Holiday Road

It seems everyone I know is either heading out for the holiday week or getting ready to welcome people into their house. Me? I’ll be here all week blogging, but if you’ll be off the grid I’d like to make sure you have a wonderful holiday and see you in the new year. And those back east I hope shoveling that snow keeps the pounds off. Take it away Lyndsay…

The Google Maps Data API and Google Fusion API News

It seems like not a week goes by (heck sometimes an hour) without Google just dropping a bombshell. Well this time it is a combination of things.

First we’ve got new functionality in the Google Maps Data API. First off you can now perform geospatial and attribution queries on data stored on Google’s MyMap. Now of course this isn’t paleo-type spatial queries, just simple stuff that solve 80% of all queries you’d need to complete. Simple web apps need not fancy complicated APIs and clearly Google is the master of this. So upload your data into Google’s My Maps and then query it to display on a Google Maps application. Simple and sweet.

Second is an update to the Google Fusion Tables API. As the GeoChalkboard blog rightly points out:

Now, obviously Google Docs has been around awhile so uploading your spreadsheet data to this type of application is nothing new, but the compelling thing about Fusion Tables is its integration with the Google Maps API and Google Visualization API. Visualizations are also real time as Fusion Tables automatically updates data as it is updated or corrected. With the Fusion Tables API you can also update or query the database programmatically. Data can also be imported from various data sources including text files and relational database management systems.

The pieces are really coming together here. Not only can you load and work with data, but you can freely visualize it. And not only do it freely, but do it freely in a scalable environment. Let that all sink in for a moment. Google is enabling tools that we pay big money for with APIs that are so simple anyone can use them. Check and mate for some geospatial companies I think. Database + Visualization = GIS eh?

Information running through my brain…

Git Yer ArcGIS 9.3.1 Service Pack 1

Yep, the service pack to the .1 release is here:

UPDATE: Yikes, I left off ArcGIS Military Analyst 9.3.1 Service Pack 1

You can learn more on the “Issues addressed with Service Pack 1” page. I can’t think of any other way to celebrate than dear old Rocky Top…

ArcGIS, you’ll always be home to me…