Archive for the ‘Data source’ Category

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (The Newberry Library)

Friday, July 30th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: Completed this June, the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries compiles the day-by-day change in county-level administrative boundaries in the United States from 1776 to 2010. Files are available in high-resolution GIS shapefiles and KML with full metadata on legal descriptions, online preview available. Thanks Andy!]

Republished from the Newberry Library.

A project of the William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture at The Newberry Library in Chicago, the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries is a powerful historical research and reference tool in electronic form. The Atlas presents in maps and text complete data about the creation and all subsequent changes (dated to the day) in the size, shape, and location of every county in the fifty United States and the District of Columbia. It also includes non-county areas, unsuccessful authorizations for new counties, changes in county names and organization, and the temporary attachments of non-county areas and unorganized counties to fully functioning counties. The principal sources for these data are the most authoritative available: the session laws of the colonies, territories, and states that created and changed the counties.

What makes this Atlas stand out?

Over a dozen features distinguish the volumes and files of this atlas from other compilations.

  1. All boundary changes in states and counties-unrivaled historical and geographic coverage.
  2. Non-county areas-never before compiled or mapped.
  3. Attachments to operational counties (non-county areas and unorganized counties)-never before compiled or mapped.
  4. Separate map or polygon for every different county configuration-clarity and ease of use.
  5. Based on original research in primary sources-unlike most reference works.
  6. Primary sources cited for every change-unmatched documentation.
  7. Information organized by both date and county-unmatched flexibility.
  8. Locator maps for all county maps-show each county’s location within its state.
  9. Area (sq. mi.) for each county configuration-available nowhere else.
  10. Polygons available in two formats: shapefiles and KMZ-broad applicability.
  11. Interactive map has many options for background-unmatched convenience.
  12. Supplementary bibliography, chronologies, and commentary-unusually complete and thorough data presentation.
  13. Short and Long metadata documents for each state dataset-convenience and completeness.

Digital Products

The Newberry Library makes these data available without charge over the Internet in two digital formats: as shapefiles that users can download for use with geographic information system (GIS) software and as interactive maps, derived from the shapefiles, that users can view and manipulate (e.g., pan, zoom, add or subtract modern boundaries) at the Newberry’s Website

Download the data from Newberry Library . . .

MapQuest Opens Up, Embraces OpenStreetMap

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

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osm_oxford

[Editor’s note: MapQuest made a rare splash earlier this month when it announced it would begin using  OpenStreetMap data in some products. View State of the Map presentation at SlideShare. Images above from separate post showing top the new MapQuest styling of OpenStreetMap data and below the default OSM style. Thanks Katie!]

Republished from MapQuest.

AOL’s MapQuest announced today, at the 4th annual international State of the Map 2010 conference, their plan to be the first major mapping site to embrace and encourage open source mapping at scale.  As part of this initiative, MapQuest just launched their first site that is completely powered by open source data from OpenStreetMap.org!

This new project – open.mapquest.co.uk – was developed using the new MapQuest.com design but using data provided by the OpenStreetMap community.  The main difference between this new site and our existing MapQuest UK site is that the mapping and routing data was created, edited and enhanced by every day people like you.  OpenStreetMap was designed to give the local community the ability to update areas (roads, parks, hiking trails, bike paths, points of interest, etc) that they know in their own neighborhood and around the world, ultimately leading to what we believe will be the best and most accurate mapping experience for all.

AOL also announced today, a $1 million open-source mapping investment fund.  This fund will support the growth of open-source mapping in the United States in the local communities that Patch.com covers.  More information about the AOL grant application process is available by emailing osm@mapquest.com.

Continue reading at MapQuest . . .

“A super sophisticated mashup”: The semantic web’s promise and peril (Nieman Lab)

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

[Editor's note: Journalism, and the web in general, is finally catching up to GIScience and the transition from static paper maps to rich, digital maps that included data attributes (rather than graphically encoded attributes) and, more importantly, linking attributes. From Nieman Report's latest issue focusing on digital journalism.]

Republished from Nieman Journalism Lab.
By Andrew Finlayson
. June 17

In the movie Terminator, humanity started down the path to destruction when a supercomputer called Skynet started to become smarter on its own. I was reminded of that possibility during my research about the semantic web.

Never heard of the semantic web? I don’t blame you. Much of it is still in the lab, the plaything of academics and computer scientists. To hear some of them debate it, the semantic web will evolve, like Skynet, into an all powerful thing that can help us understand our world or create various crises when it starts to develop a form of connected intelligence.

Intrigued? I was. Particularly when I asked computer scientists about how this concept could change journalism in the next five years. The true believers say the semantic web could help journalists report complex ever-changing stories and reach new audiences. The critics doubt the semantic web will be anything but a high-tech fantasy. But even some of the doubters are willing to speculate that computers using pieces of the semantic Web will increasingly report much of the news in the not too distant future.

Continue reading at Nieman Reports . . .

Yahoo GeoPlanet gains more concordance with other gazetters

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

[Editor’s note: Yahoo has several nifty tools, including Placemaker, all powered off their GeoPlanet gazetteer, freshly updated in v 1.4 to include links back to other place name gazetteers and even Wikipedia articles, so we (and our machines) can know we’re all talking about the same places. Flickr, for instance, stores the geographic tags on photos using GeoPlanet WOEIDs. ]

Republished from Yahoo’s Geo Blog.
By Gary Vicchi.

Back in March at the annual geo-fest that is Where 2.0 in San Jose we released our concordance API as part of Yahoo! GeoPlanet. That initial release allowed conversion between the identifier namespaces of WOEIDs, ISO 3166, FIPS, INSEE, Geonames, JGCD, IATA and ICAO.

Lots of you liked this and asked us to add support for other identifier namespaces as well.

change sign

Robert C. Gallagher once said that change is inevitable – except from a vending machine and that works in the Geo world as well. So in version 1.4 of GeoPlanet which is live right now at http://where.yahooapis.com/v1/ you’ll find additional concordance namespace support for

  • OpenStreetMap place codes
  • Wikipedia place article ids
  • UN/Locode place codes
  • Country Code Top Level Domain codes
  • FAA airport codes
  • US and CA ZIP codes

Continue reading at Yahoo . . .

The postal service as geographic DNS (Orange Cone)

Monday, June 7th, 2010

envelope_-_boonville_address-small

[Editor’s note: The 2010 Census Address Canvassing does this already for 145 million residential address, thus proving the concept could be expanded to include commercial addresses. I’m always curious about the accuracy and precision of geocoders. How about “front door” instead of rooftop (which often just means parcel centroid)! ;) Thanks Michal!]

Republished from Orange Cone.
By Mike Kuniavsky.

I was recently at a bar with a bunch of other technology designers. The conversation turned to the postal service.

Problem: the US Postal Service is in financial trouble

America’s postal service was partially privatized in the 1980s, so it needs to make about as much money as it costs to operate if it’s to survive. It’s having a difficult time doing that and has lost billions of dollars per year for the last several years, borrowing from the federal government to stay afloat. As the second-largest civilian employer in the US after Wal-Mart (that’s a sobering statistic in itself, on several levels), this means that it has quite a bit of overhead, while being at the receiving end of two technologically-induced competitive challenges:

  • Casual letters have largely been replaced by email
  • And package delivery has to compete with FedEx, UPS, DHL

Moreover, these other delivery services don’t necessarily have to honor the post office’s mandated responsibility to deliver mail to anywhere in the US (this is called the “universal service obligation”).

Proposal: the Postal Service should become the geographic DNS….

Here’s what I came up with in the bar: the US Postal Service (USPS) needs to become the equivalent of the Domain Name Service for geographic locations. DNS is the digital service that translates human-readable domain names such as orangecone.com into IP addresses, such as 168.75.111.15. This, more or less, is exactly what the USPS already does, but it’s still tied to the sender writing the actual physical address on the letter. However, as any recipient of a slightly mis-addressed letter that still arrived knows, the service is actually pretty good at figuring out where the letter is going. The USPS is already resolving ambiguous address data into physical locations. It’s been doing it for years.

Continue reading at Orange Cone . . .

Natural Earth updated to version 1.2

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

This update introduces supplementary hydrography features in North America and Europe that quadruple (4x) the number of lakes and rivers there. Many thanks to Tom P. for generalizing the vectors and Preston M. for adding tapering to North America (absent in Europe). In some cases the basic 10m rivers and lakes were modified to fit the new information and that’s been refreshed, as well. The North America data comes from the CEC North America Environmental Atlas. The Europe data extract is kindly provided into the public domain by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), thanks Alfred J! Check out their original, higher resolution Europe data.

On the cultural front, North America gets roads and rails. General 10m detail roads and railroads come from the CEC North America Environmental Atlas. The supplementary roads are donated by XNR Productions and are at 1m scale, thanks Laura M. and Rob!

If you have data or time to contribute, especially to flesh out the new transportation and hydro themes, please contact me at nathaniel@naturalearthdata.com.

Note: We are not committing to building out supplementary level of detail in the rest of the world (we’re not THAT crazy!), but will incorporate such data if you contribute it. As always, we edit these data files but you should too before you publish maps using them. Feed us back corrections.

Download new or updated files »
(54.11 MB) version 1.2.0

(below) Rivers and lakes in North America. On the left the version 1.1 hydro features. On the right in color are the new, supplemental version 1.2 hydro features, 4x the density of features at the same 10m linework generalization.

northamerica_extra_10m_hydro

(below) Rivers and lakes in Europe. On the left the version 1.1 hydro features. On the right in color are the new, supplemental version 1.2 hydro features, 4x the density of features at the same 10m linework generalization.

europe_hydro_extra_10m

(below) Highways (red and blue) and ferry routes in North America.

northamerica_10m_roads_base

(below) Supplemental road detail in North America. Slightly different feature class scheme and data vintage.

northamerica_10m_roads_extra

(below) Railroads in North America.

northamerica_10m_railroads_base

Natural Earth 1.1 update + 1.2 preview

Friday, March 26th, 2010

The 60+ individual themes that received edits in the 1.1 update of Natural Earth are now available for ala cart downloading on the NaturalEarthData.com site. The 110m country boundary lines theme is now available in 1.1 (somehow it was left out of the original release). The combo 110m-cultural download has been updated to include that missing file. In case you’re wondering, there is no 50m country boundary lines update, even though the 50m admin-0 polygons were updated as their boundaries did not change, only the attribute tables were updated to version 1.1.

Jill finished editing ~1,900 or half of the 10m admin-1 polygon data attributes for name and thematic codes for the larger, more populous countries. We’ll start merging that with the new, topologically valid linework in April.

Tom got a cache of old hand drawn relief and is busy nudging it in Photoshop to align to Natural Earth drains.

Preston finished adding tapers to the North America drains. Those will go live on the site in early April and will quadruple (4x) the amount of hydrological data there. We’re about 50% done with Europe.

If you have a few hours to help out, please drop me a line at nathaniel@kelsocartography.com.

Google Maps Elevation Web Services (Google)

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: A free, sans-API key solution from the web mapping giant for showing elevation (point or along custom path) for Google Maps Mashups either in the v3 API directly or separately as a stand-alone web service. And it returns JSON :) Thanks @lagerratrobe!]

Republished from Google.

The Google Elevation web service provides you a simple interface to query locations on the earth for elevation data. Additionally, you may request sampled elevation data along paths, allowing you to calculate elevation changes along routes.

The Elevation service provides elevation data for all locations on the surface of the earth, including depth locations on the ocean floor (which return negative values). In those cases where Google does not possess exact elevation measurements at the precise location you request, the service will interpolate and return an averaged value using the four nearest locations.

With the Elevation service, you can develop hiking and biking applications, mobile positioning applications, or low resolution surveying applications.

Check the documentation out over at Google . . .

US National Parks added to Natural Earth, free GIS data shapefiles

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

[Editor’s note: Thanks to Tom’s efforts, we continue to expand Natural Earth coverage this week by adding U.S. National Parks to the 1:10,000,000 scale set. Do you have a few hours to spare? We’d like to add National Forests, large state parks, and wilderness areas to our Parks and Protected Areas theme.]

Republished from NaturalEarthData.com.

Includes the 392 authorized National Park Service units in the United States of America. The data does not include affiliated areas and unauthorized park units. Park units over 100,000 acres (~40,000 hectares) appear as areas, park units under 100,000 acres as points, and linear parks, including rivers, trails, and seashores, as lines. There are a few exceptions to this rule.

Many parks are comprised of scattered, non-contiguous land parcels. Not all of these are shown, especially in urban areas and the northeastern US. Dots generally indicate the center of the largest parcel or the parcel where the visitor center is located.

(above) Units in the southern United States include Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Stones River National Battlefield, Andrew Johnson National Historic Park, the Obed Wild and Scenic River, and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Ge the data at Natural Earth . . .

Edgar Wayburn, 103, dies; No. 1 protector of U.S. wilderness (Wash Post)

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

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[Editor’s note: We continue to expand Natural Earth coverage this week by adding U.S. National Parks. Do you have a few hours to spare? We’d like to add National Forests, large state parks, and wilderness areas.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
By Emma Brown. Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Edgar Wayburn, 103, a physician and five-time Sierra Club president who is credited with protecting more wilderness and parkland than any other American citizen, died March 5 at his home in San Francisco. No cause of death was reported.

As a volunteer conservationist for more than 50 years, he was a behind-the-scenes force for wilderness protection who never earned the widespread renown of contemporaries such as the outspoken environmental activist David Brower and photographer Ansel Adams. Dr. Wayburn maintained a full-time medical practice, working evenings and weekends to stave off post-World War II development in California’s coastal hills and later to protect millions of acres in Alaska.

“Edgar Wayburn has helped to preserve the most breathtaking examples of the American landscape,” President Bill Clinton said in 1999, when he presented Dr. Wayburn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .