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Google AI Project Recreating Historical Streetscapes in 3D

When this caught my eye I got really interested. Google AI is launching a website titled rǝ which reconstructs cities from historical maps and photos. You might have seen the underlying tool last month but this productizes it a bit. What I find compelling about this effort is the output is a 3D city that you can navigate and review by going in back in time to see what a particular area looked like in the past.

Of course, Scottsdale, my town, is not worth attempting this on, but older cities that have seen a ton of change will give some great inside into how neighborhoods have changed over the past century.

Street level view of 3D-reconstructed Chelsea, Manhattan

Just take a look at the image above, it really does give the feel of New York back in the ’40s and earlier. People remember how a neighborhood looked, but recreating it in this method gives others key insights into how development has changed how certain areas of cities look and act.

This tool is probably more aimed at history professors and community activists, but as we grow cities into smarter, cleaner places to live, understanding the past is how we can hope to create a better future. I’d love to see these tools be incorporated into smart city planning efforts. The great part of all this is it is crowdsourced, open-sourced, and worth doing. I’m starting to take a deeper dive into the GitHub repository and look how the output of this project can help plan better cities.

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Chris Tweedie on “10 Utils to make Opensource GIS that little bit easier”

Link – 10 Utils to make Opensource GIS that little bit easier…

In the same vain as my other ArcIMS thread, here are my top 10 utilities (ok so its not really ten) for making my life with OGC apps that little bit easier. If i have missed any which you recommend, please let me know. I have tried to cut the list down to what i think are useful, as there are unfortunately a lot of applications which are not worth the trouble or are incredibly outdated (sorry freegis.org, but the list needs culling guys).

There has been a lot of talk about comparing ESRI software with open source GIS offerings. Chris posts the cream of the crop on his blog so if you are interested in learning more check it out. We are currently playing around with UMN Mapserver and PostGIS on Redhat and I’ve come away quite impressed.

The question is when does playing turn into marketing?

Categories
Thoughts

Chris Tweedie on “10 Utils to make Opensource GIS that little bit easier”

Link – 10 Utils to make Opensource GIS that little bit easier…

In the same vain as my other ArcIMS thread, here are my top 10 utilities (ok so its not really ten) for making my life with OGC apps that little bit easier. If i have missed any which you recommend, please let me know. I have tried to cut the list down to what i think are useful, as there are unfortunately a lot of applications which are not worth the trouble or are incredibly outdated (sorry freegis.org, but the list needs culling guys).

There has been a lot of talk about comparing ESRI software with open source GIS offerings. Chris posts the cream of the crop on his blog so if you are interested in learning more check it out. We are currently playing around with UMN Mapserver and PostGIS on Redhat and I’ve come away quite impressed.

The question is when does playing turn into marketing?

Categories
Thoughts

Howard Butler Wonders if ESRI Understands gPhenomenon

Link – The Google Phenomenon and ESRI’s Dilemma – Hobu, Inc.

In the GIS world, Google (er, Keyhole with Google’s resources rather) has changed the game. If you’re a long-time GIS’er though, you might not think so. In this post I describe stuff that any Open Source developer has experienced – mindshare, hackability, and momentum – and why these are important to both ESRI and Google in the race to be the dominant developer platform for GIS in the near future.

OK, I made up gPhenomenon, but we all know what Howard is talking about. The new server side GIS is now expected to be “hackable” because of Google Maps and their API. I suspect as Howard does that ESRI will open up some sort of ArcWeb Services tools at the User Conference, but the question is how will they be received by the programming community. Howard thinks that the same programmers that are drawn to Google Maps API will be turned off of the “complex GIS” backend of ArcWeb Services and he might be right. I think it is a shame that ESRI will wait until the User Conference to announce such a move, but it shows that they are still in the “old world” mentality of magazines, email newsletters and press releases. The time between the release of Google Maps API and an open ArcWeb Services might be too great to catch up. The example I before was the gMap Workout Tracker and how far it has come in just about two weeks. Another two weeks and who knows what they will accomplish (not to mention who wants to change a backend that late in the game)?

Howard then takes ESRI to task for not understanding the open source community. I’m not really involved (yet) with it, but I’m not sure that it really is that important to their business model (beyond interoperability and perception). Google sure doesn’t really care about open source as most of their tools are not, but business reality forces them to work with the community and the perception is that they do it very well. Howard uses the Directions Magazine open source article from a about a month ago to illustrate his point of ESRI not understanding their users or community. I don’t think ESRI could have played that article any worse as the first response was poorly thought out and then to retract it only made it worse. I’ve talked at great lengths on this blog about how blogging can help companies talk better with their users and it would appear that ESRI needs to take that to heart. ESRI doesn’t have to fear open source anymore than Microsoft fears Open Office. ESRI employees are going to make “bad posts” in the future for sure, but removing them will only draw attention to them. The best thing about putting your foot in your mouth is that you can easily remove it. Better yet, blog about it.

Categories
Thoughts

Howard Butler Wonders if ESRI Understands gPhenomenon

Link – The Google Phenomenon and ESRI’s Dilemma – Hobu, Inc.

In the GIS world, Google (er, Keyhole with Google’s resources rather) has changed the game. If you’re a long-time GIS’er though, you might not think so. In this post I describe stuff that any Open Source developer has experienced – mindshare, hackability, and momentum – and why these are important to both ESRI and Google in the race to be the dominant developer platform for GIS in the near future.

OK, I made up gPhenomenon, but we all know what Howard is talking about. The new server side GIS is now expected to be “hackable” because of Google Maps and their API. I suspect as Howard does that ESRI will open up some sort of ArcWeb Services tools at the User Conference, but the question is how will they be received by the programming community. Howard thinks that the same programmers that are drawn to Google Maps API will be turned off of the “complex GIS” backend of ArcWeb Services and he might be right. I think it is a shame that ESRI will wait until the User Conference to announce such a move, but it shows that they are still in the “old world” mentality of magazines, email newsletters and press releases. The time between the release of Google Maps API and an open ArcWeb Services might be too great to catch up. The example I before was the gMap Workout Tracker and how far it has come in just about two weeks. Another two weeks and who knows what they will accomplish (not to mention who wants to change a backend that late in the game)?

Howard then takes ESRI to task for not understanding the open source community. I’m not really involved (yet) with it, but I’m not sure that it really is that important to their business model (beyond interoperability and perception). Google sure doesn’t really care about open source as most of their tools are not, but business reality forces them to work with the community and the perception is that they do it very well. Howard uses the Directions Magazine open source article from a about a month ago to illustrate his point of ESRI not understanding their users or community. I don’t think ESRI could have played that article any worse as the first response was poorly thought out and then to retract it only made it worse. I’ve talked at great lengths on this blog about how blogging can help companies talk better with their users and it would appear that ESRI needs to take that to heart. ESRI doesn’t have to fear open source anymore than Microsoft fears Open Office. ESRI employees are going to make “bad posts” in the future for sure, but removing them will only draw attention to them. The best thing about putting your foot in your mouth is that you can easily remove it. Better yet, blog about it.

Categories
Thoughts

The Cost of ESRI Products Causes Potential Users to Turn Elsewhere

Link: Guns, Germs, and Steel and GMaps Census (dead link).

“A quick word on GIS software: ESRI’s ArcGIS is the industry standard, but it can be a challenge to learn and costs way too much. My wife, who does some GIS in her research at the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, has recently become a big fan of another software called Maptitude. It’s extremely intuitive and an order of magnitude cheaper than ArcGIS.”

I posted about this a couple weeks ago as well as my posts about opening up ArcWeb Services to more users. People want to use ESRI products, but the first word out of their mouths is always it costs too much and in many cases it does. ArcExplorer is about the only free tool that ESRI offers to get into GIS. Compared to products such as Google Earth and the many open source GIS tools, it is very weak and not worth mentioning.

It appears that most users are willing to spend about $500 for a professional GIS system, but their choices are very limited.

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More Python Goodness

Link: OSGIS Hacks Workshop Materials

Materials from our “Open Source Python GIS Hacks” workshop are now available for download.

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a couple days but Howard Butler has posted materials from his and Sean Gillies workshop at the Open Source GIS Conference. There is a ton of good material in there so if you want to see how Python works in the “real world”, now is your chance.