Harvey and Fulcrum Community

There was a time in my consulting career where I was providing GIS software and database support to the US federal critical infrastructure protection community. Part of that work involved ‘event response,’ which most often took the form of natural disasters. I never deployed, but a lot of my co-workers did.

Ground truth was always the biggest problem. We were always trying to get a sense of what conditions were like on the ground with as little latency as we could manage. With the technology of the 2003 – 2007 time frame, that was a significant challenge. Whether notepads or spreadsheets or custom data collection extensions deployed on ToughBooks, we tried just about everything we could think of. Some of my co-workers even managed a forward-deployed ArcIMS server to try to get anything useful out of the affected areas after Katrina.

Fast-forward to 2017 and we’re dealing with the unprecedented aftermath of Harvey in the Houston, Texas area. I find myself in the fortunate position of working for a company, Spatial Networks, that has a technology I wish we had back then. In addition to the technology, the company has the will to open it up and put it in the hands of whomever needs it.

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A Busy Day for Releases

3 April 2012 was a busy day for releases/announcements in the geospatial field:

PostGIS 2.0 – This long-anticipated major version of PostGIS was announced with advanced features such as raster, topology, and 3D/4D indexing. Many have been using 2.0 for a while but the official release gives top-cover to organizations, such as some government agencies, that are not allowed to take systems “production” using software that is technically in beta.

CartoDB v1 – I’ve blogged about CartoDB before and it’s an intriguing platform for hosting geospatial data and applications. It uses PostGIS 2.0 as its storage engine and exposes a lot of PostGIS capability through its API. It’s a pretty elegant way to build interactive mapping applications. It’s support of GeoJSON makes it easy to integrate with a number of mapping libraries

GraffitiMapper – This is a location-based application built by Spatial Networks on their Fulcrum platform. It’s a great example of a specialized crowd-sourcing application. In this case, capturing graffiti using location as a potential indicator of other activity. It also really showcases the flexibility of Fulcrum. The app is currently only available for iOS but rumor has it Android is in the works.

All-in-all, it was pretty exciting day. Congratulations to everyone involved in all of these releases.

Well, my toy box is now overflowing so it’s time to start playing.