This Week’s Hangout is With Gretchen Peterson

This week we’re stepping out of the IDE and getting artistic!

James Fee, renowned cartographer Gretchen Peterson, and Madeline Steele will chat about Gretchen’s new book, Cartographer’s Toolkit, some current events in cartography, and more. We will give free copies of Gretchen’s book to the two viewers who make the best comments during the live broadcast!

You can view the hangout live at; we’ll track your comments on both YouTube and Google+ and respond to them during the show! If you can’t make the live broadcast, the video will be archived on the same YouTube channel. This is the third episode of Hangouts with James Fee: Attitudes across Latitudes, and we go live at 10am, US PST.

That’s right, not only do you get to hear from Gretchen, but you can also win one of two copies of her latest book Cartographer’s Toolkit. I’d wager we are in the enlightened age of cartography so it will be great to hear Gretchen’s views on this.


Google Street View Updates — What’s the Implication?

Google Street View is one of those projects that is awesome and frustrating at the same time. I can’t tell you how often I use it to look up a destination, but so often the imagery is old. I’ve often wondered how often Google is planning on driving every street in the world (quarterly?), but even with older imagery, it’s still a great service.

This brings us to New Orleans, I mentioned the Google Street View imagery almost 4 years ago (crazy huh?). Basically at the time, the Street View images were much more recent than the satellite imagery. Times change though and the street view images were locked back in time. Mayor Landrieu is happy to note the improvement of New Orleans though the Street View pictures.

We invite you to take a look at the updated Street View imagery of Louisiana to see, appreciate, and celebrate the progress in neighborhoods here in New Orleans and across the entire state. And I welcome you to come experience the sights, sounds, and soul of New Orleans for yourself once you’ve gotten a virtual preview to whet your appetite.

Now this brings up an interesting crossroads for Street View. Clearly the project is for navigation and tourism (especially given this) but what about analysis and research? We’ve had Historical Imagery in Google Earth for years, but what about historical Street View? Years ago when I was going for my Masters, I was researching the “conversion” of orange groves in Mesa, AZ into tract housing. I used the Landiscor historical imagery which I guess was what we all did before Google Earth to see the destruction of the orange groves. Today I’d probably use Google Earth, but what about using Street View?

I’d love to see Google offer up this historical Street View imagery as part of Google Maps Engine (does this project change names monthly?). It’s pretty amazing to think how Google has indexed the worlds streets through Street View and I think that’s a hugely valuable service for analysts to have. We all want the most up to date Google Street View images, but future generations will love to see what the world looked like back in 2007-2012.

Real Genius

It doesn’t take a real genius to figure out this is a good idea


Google Buys Another Local Guide Company — We Try And Remember The Last Time We Used Frommer’s

Update: The purchase price was an astonishing low $23 Millon.

Back in the olden days, one used to buy a guidebook before going on a trip. You probably headed down to the local Waldenbooks or B. Dalton and paid a ton of money for a book you’d probably use only a couple times. Well given that both of those book sellers are dead, you probably haven’t bought a guide book in years. I looked back into my Amazon purchase history and I’ve never bought a guide book in almost 20 years of using Amazon, either for myself or as a gift.

Well guidebooks are back in the news.

[Google] is acquiring the Frommer’s travel brand from publicly traded [John Wiley & Sons Inc.] for an undisclosed price in order to bolster its offerings of local reviews around the world. Google is buying the Frommer’s brand of travel guides from publishing house John Wiley & Sons for an undisclosed price, Jeffrey Trachtenberg reports on digits.

In Frommer’s, Google sees an opportunity to broaden its consumer offerings outside of restaurant reviews.

Makes sense right? How do we find reviews of hotels and travel spots? For me it’s Trip Advisor or Yelp, but others just type it into Google Search. Zagat is restaurant reviews and Frommer’s is more destination guides. Combined, Google now has reviews to take on Yelp, Trip Advisor and any other small companies that wouldn’t sell themselves to the borg.

Of course what does it mean to the staff of Frommer’s? At first you are excited you won a gold medal were acquired by one of the best companies to work for, but then you realize no, we got second you are a publisher of paperback books in a company that is trying to kill of the medium. Best of luck guys!

Wait, we got second


Episode 2:: It’s a Mobile GIS Wildfire

Thanks to Dave Bouwman for joining Madeline and me on this week’s hangout. If you missed it, you can watch it below at your convenience.


This Weeks Hangout – Dave Bouwman

Tomorrow at 10am PDT we’ll have another hangout, this time with Dave Bouwman. We’ll be talking about mobile GIS and wildfire mapping. As with before, you can view it live here but we’ll do better tracking comments. Google+ Hangouts are great if you only have 10 people so we have to do it this way since we had over 100 people viewing the stream last time. So comment away and Dave and I will try and address them as they come in.


Computer Maps Are For Nerds

Look, we all have been there. Computers are hard to use and understand. The world is much easier with printed maps.

San Clemente has a new tool designed to make it easier for sheriff’s deputies to organize their response if a San Clemente school or neighborhood is struck by an emergency.

A set of more than 100 maps arrived Tuesday at City Hall. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department installed them in a custom-built cabinet/plotting table in San Clemente Police Services’ command vehicle, which is on duty around the clock.

Oh my! Let’s see out of date printed maps? Check. Custom built cabinet/plotting table made by police chief cousin? Check. What better solution can we think of for police officers who need the latest information? While I did grow up in San Clemente, I can only assume that their Sheriff’s deputies cars don’t have computers in them, right?

“We had an incident about two weeks ago,” said sheriff’s Lt. John Coppock, chief of police services in San Clemente. “We had a parolee who was wanted in connection with a stolen vehicle up in the Shorecliffs area. He ran from the deputies into a neighborhood, going over fences. The sergeant could have gotten a map out for that particular area and used markers to set up perimeter locations for the deputies. It helps them contain and organize the situation.”

Now I can totally understand this, Shorecliffs is no longer the garden spot of San Clemente. But serious, a sergeant is going to go back to the command vehicle and leaf through aerial maps on their custom plotting table? It gets better!

The aerial map of San Clemente High School could have come in handy in September, Coppock said, when a bomb scare forced evacuation of more than 3,000 students. Using the marriage of aerial maps and a database, deputies soon will be able to identify individual classrooms, learn the occupancy of each, plot potential evacuation routes or set up a search, Moore said.

So this custom cabinet/plotting table will have room for Excel spreadsheets! Oh and that HP plotter down at the precinct should have those maps printed off in about 3 hours.

Ben Webb, Digital Map Products’ customer success manager, said the company created the mapping system with the best imagery available and Orange County’s latest parcel information. “For (the Sheriff’s Department), this is going to be the most effective and the most efficient way to help them do their job in a better way.”

The imagery must be good, but this can’t be the most effective way can it? I may have to get into the “custom-built cabinet/plotting table business. In all seriousness, this is what I would have done if I was in the planning meeting for such a “solution”.



The First Hangout:: Esri UC Roundup

If you missed the first hangout, you can experience Steve and me talking about ArcGIS Online, Esri Maps for Office, Clear30, and UAVs. Plus Metalachi!

This was our first one so any feedback is greatly appreciated. One thing we’d like to get figured out is the online chat, it didn’t appear to us in the hangout so that’s one change for the next one.