Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lynchburg's Online GIS Receiving Recognition

Lynchburg's newly revamped GIS system is receiving recognition in both the GIS blogosphere and public media. A recent News and Advance article focuses on the new features available in the public viewer including user markup tools, export tools, and links to Google Street View and Bing Maps. A recent post on All Points Blog includes a discussion of the public viewer and the intranet functions available to City staff. The blog post views the application as an indicator of the growing trend of moving from desktop apps to enterprise web GIS. Both applications are hosted and maintained internally by the City, with support provided under contract with the system developer WorldView.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

VGIN Strategic Plan Update - Webinar Wednesday, October 21

The initial public input phase of VGIN's strategic planning effort is drawing to a close. The results of the input to date were presented to the VGIN Advisory Board on October 14. The last Town Hall meeting will be held as an webinar tomorrow to engage the GIS stakeholders in Southwest Virginia. The VGIN Board had a lively discussion on the strategic planning process. The agenda and the presentation can be accessed at the VGIN website.

The Wednesday, October 21st webinar will run from 10:00AM to 12:00PM and can be accessed
here and using the password southwest. Alternatively you can call in on a teleconference number 866.808.8516 with access code 7080539035. While the webinar is intended primarily for Southwest Virginia, folks who could not make one of the other Town Halls are welcome to join in.

Look for a draft strategic plan open for comment in the coming months.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Suggest Places for Google Street View Trike

Google Street View is expanding to places when cars cannot go, like pedestrian malls, college campuses and bike trails, using a tricycle mounted video system. Google will be accepting suggestions for US locations until Wednesday October 28, 2009. The public will then be able to cast their final votes and choose the top locations Google will add to Street View. Any suggestions for Virginia?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Santa Clara County pays $500,000 over records dispute

This news from Santa Clara County, California, is having a mild rippling effect on local and state GIS professionals across the country. "Santa Clara County's move to charge astronomical fees for public access to its electronic maps has backfired in a $500,000 legal settlement. Government watchdogs say it is the largest payment of its kind in a California records disclosure dispute."
While this decision is from the California court system, the issues litigated are common in every state. The full article is available from the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Google Maps – Sleuthing Changes in Data Sources and Geocoding Methods

Google has caused a bit of a stir by dropping Tele Atlas as their US data provider and switching to their own, self-managed dataset. Google has caught some flack in the blogosphere for being less than transparent about their data sources and providing nothing even resembling metadata. Users must discover for themselves what and where is new. The road centerlines have changed, public parkland and campus maps have been added, and in some areas parcel lines are displayed. Also, Google has added a quick link for reporting user suggestions for error corrections and updates.

Looking at my neighborhood it appears that Google is using a mix of parcel addresses and route geocoding to locate addresses. In my area if you search for a correct parcel address the marker is placed within the parcel boundary, as in the first map example. There is an error here in Google Maps. The road marked Gardenwood Ln is actually my unnamed driveway and Gardenwood Ln is the private road to the east. If you search for a correct Gardenwood Ln address the marker is correctly placed within the proper parcel (the second map). However, if you search for a Gardenwood address which is not in the parcel data, the route geocoding places the marker on the incorrect Gardenwood Ln (i.e. my driveway on the third map).

The Gardenwood Ln error seems to have come from the US Census Tiger Data, suggesting Google is using TIGER data as a source, at least for Albemarle. (OpenStreetMap, which uses TIGER data has the same error.) Albemarle County GDS and the VGIN RCL datasets both have the correct Gardenwood Ln. Presumably, Google is using Albemarle GDS parcel data for parcel lines and addresses. I have reported the error to Google but have not yet heard back. Is anyone else finding parcel lines in their locality? Is parcel information available? Comments welcome.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Geo and Social Media

At the National States Geographic Information Network (NSGIC) conference in Cleveland, OH this week, there was much discussion about the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter combining location information in their technology. Twitter announced in August that a lat/long metadata tag based on location of origin would be available soon as an option to people who twitter. The discussion amongst the attendees (state GIS coordinators, federal, MPO, private participants) was at a high level and was not able to make any conclusions on this fast moving technology, other than this: Governments will need to keep abreast of the technology or else get run over by it. Traditionally, government is one of the last to adapt to newer technology and this is not necessarily a bad thing. In a related topic, the term "crowdsourcing" was also a hot subject, with a presentation about OpenStreetMap. Discussion centered on the use of authoritative data and the ever increasing availability of social media location information. I doubt one would want to rely on crowdsourced data to route an emergency vehicle responding to a 911 call. I also doubt that many users of online maps would care as long as they could find their nearest coffee shop. Change is definitely a constant in the field of GIS. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Google Maps Now Self-Manages Address Data, Allows Error Reporting

I saw this post on All Points Blog that Google had dropped Tele Atlas as its addressing data provider for the United States (but not elsewhere) and is now managing these data on its own. Checking out my "favorite" addresses I found some obvious changes. Address points now seem to be located on or near buildings in some areas. Some previous omissions and errors are now corrected. However some new errors were also found; my driveway for instance is incorrectly labeled with the name of the private road to the east. This gave me an opportunity to try another new Google Map feature, Report a Problem, which allows users to suggest edits or changes to their map data. I reported my driveway problem last night and I will let you know if and how it is resolved.

Monday, October 5, 2009

State GIS Apps Win 2009 Governor's Technology Awards

Two state agency GIS applications received recognition at the 11th Annual Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) in Williamsburg. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management, VIPER application won the IT as Efficiency Driver Award.

An Honorable Mention in the same category was given to the Virginia Department of Forestry for its Forest Protection and Mobile Computing (IFRIS-FPMC) Project.

Both applications utilize some of the latest in GIS technology. VIPER uses ArcGIS Server and the FlexViewer. FPMC uses ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Mobile with mobile replication. Congratulations to VDEM and VDOF!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Geospatial Revolution Project from Penn State Public Broadcasting

Need some video to help explain the value of geospatial technologies? Well Penn State Public Broadcasting may be able to help you. Their Geospatial Revolution Project is developing a series of eight video episodes "...about the world of digital mapping and how it is changing the way we think, behave, and interact." You can view the trailer below: