Hangouts with James Fee:: The Internet of Things

Lorenzo Gonzalez; Founder, CEO, Chief Software Architect and Edward Pultar; Geographic Information Scientist, Founder, President of Valarm joined me to talk about the Internet of Things, sensor web, remote environmental monitoring, data acquisition and asset / fleet tracking. We’ll get into how sensors are changing how we get information and how they are being used with geospatial applications. Valarm is an Android app for managing small sensors that connect via bluetooth or USB to android devices.

This Week’s Hangout:: The Internet of Things

We’re back with another hangout. Edward Pultar, Geographic Information Scientist, Founder, President of Valarm joins me to talk about the Internet of Things, sensor web, remote environmental monitoring, data acquisition and asset / fleet tracking (Did we cover everything?).

We go live at 11am PDT (California time people) Thursday July 25th for about an hour. The video will be available on the front page of this blog. Sign up here for a reminder!

OpenGeo Invests in QGIS — Community Benefits

Generally speaking, if there is one place proprietary GIS software excels at it is on the desktop. ArcGIS for Desktop, MapInfo, Intergraph and others have created a huge market for their software which retails for a relatively high cost. Server might be up for grabs, but the desktop is the domain of proprietary software.

Now that isn’t to say that there aren’t good open source desktop choices. QGIS, gvSIG and others have a very vibrant community that wants them to succeed. But I don’t think there is any question that the desktop GIS market is dominated by Esri and others. That’s why I think this news from OpenGeo is very interesting:

We’re happy to announce that we’re investing in the QGIS community to help make this amazing open source project even more successful.

QGIS is the most widely available open source GIS tool with a proven track record and a vibrant community and plugin ecosystem. It’s nothing short of amazing how this community has achieved feature parity, stability, and ease of use relative to proprietary desktop solutions. It offers a truly open alternative that lowers barriers to entry and total cost of ownership, has no license fees, and runs on the operating system of your choice. Not only are we impressed, but we feel it fits perfectly with our mission of extending geospatial open source software to every corner of the world.

Right? Totally makes sense. Esri has for years shown that there is a symbiotic relationship between desktop software and the server. MapBox has linked TileMill and MapBox together to give people an authoring tool that has shown great promise. OpenGeo highlighted three areas they see where they can help improve QGIS. Documentation, integration with the OpenGeo Suite (GeoServer/PostGIS/etc) and GeoGit. It’s a nice simple starting point to improve QGIS and make it much more competitive with Esri. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used QGIS on my MacBook Pro for years, but this office I’m sitting in today has tons of ArcGIS Desktops around and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

So I’m optimistic this can help grow QGIS and make it more of a desktop GIS product that can be deployed in enterprise environments. Competition is what makes great software and if QGIS can embrace new user interface ideas and formats, we’ll see pressure on proprietary vendors to improve as well. I’m always glad to see innovation on the desktop side of GIS and it could be a great year with ArcGIS Pro (or whatever they are calling it) arriving.

ArcGIS for Minecraft

Sorry about the title, I tried ArcMinecraft too but that was even worse.

Earlier this year I mentioned that I thought Minecraft would be a great tool for planning.

So while I was building my Fort out by the sea, he went back to restoring the hillside so it not only looked good, but could support trees, flowers and bushes. We talked about creating a rail line between our two forts and he wanted to make sure it was routed around area’s he wanted to protect.

Seems so simple, for the public they don’t care about BIM or TIN or DEM. They just want to showcase their concerns and move on. Minecraft seems to be a great tool (Yes I know Voxel.js is a great option as well but lets be honest, Minecraft is Minecraft) for accomplishing this but how to get the data in?

A couple weeks ago, Ulf and I had a hangout where we talked about getting OSM and other public data into Minecraft using FME.

So it’s interesting that at the Esri UC, Mansour Raad had a talk on using the ArcGIS Geoprocessing to export data out of ArcGIS into Minecraft. It was awesome stuff and appeared easy to work with. Well he’s blogged about it and you too can follow along and export your GIS data into Minecraft.

One day my son tells me “Hey dad, I think I can build one of your worlds in Minecraft”. What he meant about my world is a GIS world that I render using ArcMap. So I started thinking about this and wondered if I too can do this, but programatically.

Now none of this stuff is productized yet, but if you take a little time and be patient, you can export your worlds into Minecraft and get your kids off your back (bless your heart). Check out the GitHub repository and get crafting (that’s what they kids tell me to say but I feel like their trolling me).

Hangouts with James Fee:: Professional Minecraft GIS

Ulf Månsson, FME extraordinaire, joined me to talk about Safe Software FME, Minecraft and OpenStreetMap integration. We look at his Minecraft world where he takes OSM data, free government data and BIM models to build environments that match the real world. Ulf also give us a look at the FME Workbench model used to create the Minecraft worlds and Dale Lutz was putting up billboards for FME. It’s really cool stuff and we’re probably not far at all away from having Minecraft world downloads of OSM data for everyone to use.

This Week’s Hangout:: Professional Minecraft GIS

So we’re back at the Hangouts with a special one this week. Ulf Månsson, FME extraordinaire, is going to show us some of his Safe Software FME Minecraft and OpenStreetMap integration. We’ll have a live Minecraft server up and running for everyone to connect to and explore OpenStreetMap in Minecraft. To prepare for the hangout, download Minecraft to your computer, connect to our server and play around in an OSM Minecraft world. The connection details to the server will be published on Friday so check back on the block to see everything.

Because of the holiday, we’ll be at a weird time this week, Friday, July 5th at 5PM PDT. As always you can watch along on my blog and I’ll be sure to update this event with the details as we get closer. Go to the Google+ Event page to find out more.