FOSS4G 2017 Recap

It’s been almost two weeks since I returned from FOSS4G 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts (USA), and I wanted to take a little time to regroup and get caught up before settling down to write about it.

It was a busy week, highlighted for me and the Spatial Networks team by the first-ever Fulcrum Live event. Held on the second day of workshops, it was our first user conference for Fulcrum, the mobile data collection platform by Spatial Networks. The event went off without issue, so we are very happy about that.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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Pre-FOSS4G Roundup

I’m getting ready to head out to Denver for the 2011 installment of FOSS4G. It seems like my biggest problem will be figuring out how to clone myself in order to sit in every session. Open-source geospatial is such a vibrant and active area right now that there’s just so much to see and learn.

A couple of things of note (to me) before I head out the door:

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Using Dynamic Non-Spatial Data In GeoCommons

In my previous post, I described how I used a Python script to scrape power outage information from a local web site and convert it into an RSS feed. In this post, I’ll show how I used GeoCommons to visualize the changing information over time.

The process starts by creating a data set in GeoCommmons based on a URL link to the feed created in the previous post. The general process for doing that can be found here in the GeoCommons documentation.

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