Maryland Department of Planning Bundles Property Data With QGIS

This past week, I got an e-mail from Jim Cannistra, Director of Data Planning Services and the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP), alerting me to a new product available from MDP called FINDER Quantum. This product bundles Maryland property data and related products with QGIS software to provide users with a fully-functional, free-standing system for interacting with the data. It is designed to replace an older, custom software product, capitalizing on an industry-standard open-source system.

From the MDP site, the bundled data includes:

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Early Bird Registration for FOSS4G-NA Closes Soon

David Bitner sent out a reminder that Early Bird reagistration for the FOSS4G North Americaconference closes on 1 April 2013. After that, the price goes up by $50 US. You can register online at EventBrite.

The preliminary program (PDF) for this year’s event looks exceptional, building upon and potentially exceeding the outstanding quality of FOSS4G-NA 2012. I’ll be sorry to miss the conference this year but will be looking forward to its social media exhaust.

Image by s shepherd schizoform on flickr CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

FOSS4G North America

It’s rather fitting that the second plenary talk on Wednesday had to do with “firehose” applications since the FOSS4G North America (FOSS4GNA) conference was something of a firehose in itself. Despite the fact that the event was smaller than the worldwide event in Denver back in October, I came away with the same “full brain” feeling.

It feels like I never leave this place.

Of course, given the recent production release of PostGIS 2.0, that was kind of the big story for this event. I attended a number of PostGIS/PostgreSQL-related sessions and came away with lots of new information. I especially enjoyed Paul Ramsey’s “what’s new” talk on Wednesday. One thing I enjoy about his talks (here and in Denver) is that he’s not afraid to throw sample SQL up on the screen. It’s one thing to hear about a new feature but it’s another thing entirely to see a concrete example. Some may find the idea of raw SQL in a presentation abhorrent but it worked for me. Continue reading “FOSS4G North America”

DC/MD/VA Area Geo-Event Scene Getting More Active

There was a time only a few years ago when, if you lived in the DC/MD/VA area, planning your geo-conference schedule for the year went something like this: Register for the ESRI FedUC and then start booking plane tickets for everything else. That is no longer the case with more events occurring in the area. Here’s a round-up of a few events that are on my 2012 schedule so far:

You can never have too many of these...

ESRI Federal GIS Conference (formerly known as the Federal User Conference): 22 – 24 February. This is probably one of the longest-running and largest events in the area. This year features another DevGeo session, focusing on developing applications with the various ESRI tools. Last year was the first time it was done at a FedUC and the room was packed all day. This conference is obviously an ESRI show but the last few years have included unofficial, after-hours gatherings of people working with a wide range of geospatial tools. Even if you are not an ESRI user, there may be something going on in the vicinity that would be worthwhile. Continue reading “DC/MD/VA Area Geo-Event Scene Getting More Active”

FOSS4G North America to Be Held In Washington, DC

I’m quite happy to see (HT, Glenn Letham) that OSGEO is inaugurating an annual FOSS4G North America conference this year in Washington, DC on April 10-12, 2012.

DC is an appropriate place for this event because of the presence or arguably the single largest user of geospatial technology, the US Federal Government. I’m happy to see that Michael Byrne is the keynote speaker as the FCC National Broadband Map has been a great success story in the use of open-source geospatial tools at the Federal level. I’ve been seeing more activity within the Federal Government recently but there’s still a long way to go.

I know a lot of people in this area that couldn’t make it out to Denver last year for FOSS4G. I hope many of them come to this edition to see the state of the art in open-source geospatial tools. I know this conference is targeted to North America as a whole but, if you are in the DC area and active with geospatial technology, FOSS4G North America should be on your calendar.

CartoDB + Leaflet = Easy

One of the biggest sources of buzz at FOSS4G was CartoDB. It is a hosted solution from Vizzuality that uses PostGIS to allow you to store your spatial data online. I got a beta account a couple of weeks ago but life (i.e. paying work) kept getting in the way but I finally got to play with it recently.

One of the things that intrigued me is that, similar to Google Fusion Tables, CartoDB exposes a SQL interface through a RESTful API (I’m still not sure if the term “API” applies to REST but it’s a convenient shorthand). Essentially, CartoDB exposes PostgreSQL SQL and the spatial SQL extensions of PostGIS. Once your data is loaded, you can query it and return the results as either CartoDB’s JSON syntax, KML or GeoJSON.

With this information, I set out to build a simple application to query property data and display the results on a map in a browser. In addition to CartoDB, I elected to use the Leaflet Javascript library to accomplish the mapping (although I also experimented with OpenLayers). Displaying and styling GeoJSON in Leaflet is very straightforward and this task gave me and excuse to get a little more comfortable with it.

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FOSS4G Quick Hits

I had the distinct pleasure of attending my first FOSS4G conference in Denver last week. Having not attended one previously, I can only rely on the opinions of others that this has been the best FOSS4G yet. For me, this was best geospatial conference I have attended. I’ll probably blog in more detail about some of the things I saw but here are my high-level observations:

It's time to refresh your thinking about open-source geospatial tools.

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