Bring Out Your Maps!

It’s time again to get into calendar-making mode. A new call for maps was issued over on GeoHipster for the 2017 calendar. We had a lot of fun last year seeing the creativity from the worldwide geospatial community and we are looking forward to this year’s batch of maps. We also learned a lot from the process last year, so we’ve refined the guidelines.

vector_hc

This year, we’ve added a student track in which three months are reserved for the work of undergraduate students. It’s our way to support those who are just getting started. We hope it helps in some way.

One thing that jumped out at me last year was that the creativity in our community knows no bounds in terms of technology. Last year’s calendar featured maps made with a full range of proprietary and open-source geospatial tools, graphics software, and even cross-stitch (as in needle and thread).

So keep and eye out. We plan to, once again, have the calendar ready for holiday purchases. And bring out your maps!

 

“Roads to Rome” Project

I got an interesting e-mail the other day informing me about the “Roads to Rome” project. I don’t normally write items that arrive in my inbox, but this had two major hooks for me. First, I used to do a lot of routing analysis earlier in my career. Second, I am a Roman history buff. With these two factors in play, I couldn’t resist.

Image courtesy moovel lab team, Data © OpenStreetMap contributors
Image courtesy moovel lab team, Data © OpenStreetMap contributors

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CartoDB, Location, GIS, and Investors

cartodb_spatial_query

I was happy to read to day that CartoDB closed a $23 million Series B financing round. I’ve been impressed with CartoDB since I first saw it in action at FOSS4G in Denver in 2011. I’ve done a few posts on using the platform, which are starting to get long in the tooth but are still valid. I still find it one of the easiest post-GeoIQ ways to quickly host spatial data and build mapping applications. I probably need to spend a little time getting re-acqainted with the platform.

Today’s news follows the announcement over the summer of additional funding received by Mapbox. Both platforms attempt to tackle the problem of hosting large amounts of geospatial data and making it available for visualization and integration using means that are consistent with modern web technologies and techniques. If one were to draw a functional Venn diagram, it would probably show a lot of overlap, though each platform’s technical implementation is unique.

While it is valid for one to question whether the tech market in general is entering another “bubble” phase, both of these investments and the previous rounds that preceded them for both Mapbox and CartoDB, indicate to me that the tech market still has an interest in location, and perhaps even advanced, GIS-like location analytics, that has not been fully met.

I have often stated that I think industry generally recognizes the value of location, while the value of GIS is not as readily apparent. The continued investment in modern location platforms, despite the existence and availability of mature GIS platforms, does nothing to dissuade me from this observation. For whatever reason, tech industry investors continue to look at what is currently available and opt to continue building something new.

Desktop GIS

I’ve found myself using desktop GIS more and more lately. While I don’t tend to think of myself as an analyst and I’ll never be confused with a cartographer, it is simply not possible to perform GIS software development without making occasional use of desktop GIS. My typical use cases involve data preparation or query verification or similar such tasks to prove out some logic before I commit it to my application code. The screenshot below depicts my default desktop GIS configuration:

Ubuntu_12.04_terminal_fi

Yes, I have come full circle back to command-line GIS. After years of fiddling with the latest Arc/Q-GUI-du-jour, I find myself spending most of my time working with a flashing cursor.

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GEOINT 2015 – A Day In My Life

I spent June 24th at the 2015 GEOINT Symposium. Despite having worked in the field and related areas for years, this was my first time attending this event and I was only able to attend for one day. It was a bit of a whirlwind and my impressions were somewhat superficial. I got to catch up with many old friends and meet some people that I had been wanting to meet.

geoint_square

There’s the old adage that, when building a house, the lot gets cleared and in a very short time, there are walls and a roof. After that, nothing much seems to be happening. In reality, the plumbing and the wiring and all of the internals that make the building useful are being installed. There is progress, but it is less dramatic. That is the feeling I came away with from the GEOINT symposium.

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Thoughts on HERE

When was the last time you bought a CD? Come to think of it, when was the last time you plugged an iPod into your computer and synced music from iTunes?

That’s what I thought.

The fact that HERE may be for sale (publicly, which is somewhat unusual in the world of acquisitions) and that it languishes is really no surprise. (“Reviewing strategic options” is a vaguebooking/subtweeting way of saying “Make us an offer.”) HERE is the CD of navigation. Many years ago, I supported a customer that did a lot of multi-modal transportation analysis. In the pre-OSM world, you had TIGER and a handful of commercial data providers. (Remember ETAK?) This was around the time that in-vehicle navigation was becoming commonplace in personal vehicles. The data in those systems, NavTech, was highly sought after but unavailable in standard GIS formats at the time. After a while, NavTech entered the GIS data realm, and its US product became the flagship commercial data set in the HSIP Gold database; a status it holds to this day. In some government circles, users clamored to get NavTech/Navteq/HERE data for their analysis. The rest of the world, however, has moved on.

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Where Ya Been?

It’s been rather quiet on the blog for a while. Sometimes the posts have to take a back seat to work and other things. This time of year tends to be busy anyway due to the end of the school year and its related activities, but this year has also included one move, construction of a house, and preparations for a second (final) move. In December we sold our house, which I had lived in for nearly 40 years, and moved into temporary quarters while the next house was being built. The sale of the old place was a pretty smooth experience as all of us, especially me, were ready for a change.

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