Archive for the ‘Data source’ Category

Stewart L. Udall, 90, interior secretary was guardian of America’s wild places (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 Matt Schudel. Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stewart L. Udall, who as secretary of the interior in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations launched a series of far-reaching conservation reforms that made him one of the most significant figures in protecting America’s natural environment, died March 20 at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 90 and had complications from a recent fall.

Mr. Udall had served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from Arizona when President John F. Kennedy tapped him for the top job at the Interior Department. Mr. Udall initiated the first White House conference on conservation since the administration of Theodore Roosevelt and stated his credo at the beginning of his tenure: “Nature will take precedence over the needs of the modern man.”

He brought conservation and environmental concerns into the national consciousness and was the guiding force behind landmark legislation that preserved millions of acres of land, expanded the national park system and protected water and land from pollution. From the Cape Cod seashore in Massachusetts to the untamed wilds of Alaska, Mr. Udall left a monumental legacy as a guardian of America’s natural beauty.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Twitter and FourSquare leverage geolocation (TechCrunch)

Friday, March 19th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: In time for SXSW last week, Twitter turned on geolocation (showing where a tweet was sent from along with the tweet) on their site. FourSquare, a popular check-in app, has opened up their API so developers could make use of their user’s firehouse, as well.]

Republished from TechCrunch.

There’s been a lot of hoopla over the past couple of years about Twitter’s so-called “firehose.” Essentially, it’s an open stream of all their data that is provided to developers to use for third-party apps. Foursquare has a firehose of its own, but access to it has been on lock down. Today, for SXSW, Foursquare opened up its firehose a bit more.

Social Great, a service which tracks trending places in cities back on location data, has just gotten access to this firehose of data. This allows them to show in realtime the trending places throughout Austin, Texas, where SXSW is taking place. The service also pulls in data from Gowalla, Brightkite, and GraffitiGeo (Loopt).

As Polaris Ventures EIR Jon Steinberg notes (who helped build Social Great), “the numbers look crazy.” What he means is the check-in data at SXSW. Judging from what I’m seeing on the ground here in Austin, that may be an understatement. Venues routinely have dozens if not hundreds of other Foursquare users at them when they’re trending.

SimpleGeo, one company that has had early access to Foursquare’s firehose, built Vicarious.ly to visualize real-time check-ins around Austin. That data looks fairly insane as well. Most of the check-ins appear to be coming from Foursquare (which saw over 300,000 check-ins on Thursday alone) and Gowalla, but co-founder Joe Stump notes that the battle is too close to call still.

China’s territorial claims (Economist)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

[Editor’s note: Animated and narrated map provides good summary the China’s boundary disputes with it’s neighbors. Check out Natural Earth, free GIS world map data where you will find all the mentioned areas.]

Republished from the Economist.

Suspicions between China and its neighbours bedevil its boundaries to the east, south and west.

Watch video China’s territorial claims »

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Google Public Data Explorer (information aesthetics)

Monday, March 15th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Summary of data visualization web apps with focus on the new Google Public Data Explorer which has a good mix of charting and mapping. Interesting Google has approached the visualization space with their Flash API. Some offer private data but most take a shared-data (public) storage system.]

Republished from Information Aesthetics.

Google Public Data Explorer [google.com] is yet the latest entry in the ongoing race to democratize data access and its representation for lay people. Similar to Many Eyes, Swivel, Tableau Public and many others, Google Public aims to make large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As a unique feature, the charts and maps are able to animate over time, so that any meaningful time-varying data changes become easier to understand. The goal is for students, journalists, policy makers and everyone else to play with the tool to create visualizations of public data, link to them, or embed them in their own webpages. Embedded charts are also updated automatically, so they always show the latest available data.

Continue reading at Information Aesthetics . . .

Natural Earth version 1.1 download + release notes. Free, great world GIS map data:

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

[Editor's note: I'm pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 1.1 of Natural Earth! Three months after our initial launch, the project reaches a major milestone. The download manager will be updated the next couple weeks. In the meantime, please check out the ZIP and release notes below.]

Continue reading and download the data at NaturalEarthData.com . . .

The MODIS 500-m map of global land cover and urban extent (UW-Madison)

Friday, February 26th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: With over half of humanity now living in an urban environment, this exciting new remote sensing dataset can help planners better estimate global urban sprawl. I hope to use this as a foundation to refine  Natural Earth’s urban polygons and mash them up against GeoNames.org features. Thanks Annemarrie!]

Republished from UW-Madison.
Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The MODIS 500-m global map of urban extent was produced by Annemarie Schneider at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in partnership with Mark Friedl at Boston University and the MODIS Land Group. The goal of this project was generate a current, consistent, and seamless circa 2001-2002 map of urban, built-up and settled areas for the Earth’s land surface. This work builds on previous mapping efforts using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data at 1-km spatial resolution (Schneider et al., 2003; 2005), which was included as part of the MODIS Collection 4 (C4) Global Land Cover Product (Friedl et al., 2002). Here we addressed weaknesses in the first map as well as several limitations of contemporary global urban maps by developing a methodology that relies solely on newly released Collection 5 (C5) MODIS 500-m resolution data. Specifically, a supervised decision tree classification algorithm was used to map urban areas using region-specific parameters (see Schneider et al., 2009; 2010 for full details on methodology).

The intended audience for the MODIS 500-m map of urban extent is primarily the academic research community working at regional to global scales on questions related to the geophysical environment; please keep this in mind as you put the data to use.

More about the data »
Download the data »
Note: Email registration required

b. Land cover classes

In the global land cover map, the classes are defined according to the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) 17-class scheme shown in Table 1.

No.

Class name

Description

1

Evergreen Needleleaf Forest

Lands dominated by woody vegetation with a percent cover > 60% and height exceeding 2 meters.  Almost all trees remain green all year. Canopy is never without green foliage.

2

Evergreen Broadleaf Forest

Lands dominated by woody vegetation with a percent cover > 60% and height exceeding 2 meters.  Almost all trees remain green year round. Canopy is never without green foliage.

3

Deciduous Needleleaf Forest

Lands dominated by woody vegetation with a percent cover > 60% and height exceeding 2 meters. Trees shed their leaves during the dry season; e.g. Siberian Larix.

4

Deciduous Broadleaf Forest

Lands dominated by woody vegetation with a percent cover > 60% and height exceeding 2 meters. Consists of broadleaf trees with an annual cycle of leaf-on and leaf-off periods.

5

Mixed Forests

Lands dominated by woody vegetation with a percent cover > 60% and height exceeding 2 meters. Consists of mixtures of either broadleaf or needleleaf trees and in which neither component exceeds 60% of landscape.

6

Closed Shrublands

Lands with woody vegetation with a height less than 2 meters. The total percent cover, including the herbaceous understory, exceeds 60%. The shrub foliage can be either evergreen or deciduous.

7

Open Shrublands

Lands with woody vegetation with a height less than 2 meters, and sparse herbaceous understory. Total percent cover is less than 60%. The shrub foliage can be either evergreen or deciduous.

8

Woody Savannas

Lands with and herbaceous understory, typically graminoids, and with tree and shrub cover between 30-60%. The tree and shrub cover height exceeds 2 meters.

9

Savannas

Lands with an herbaceous understory, typically graminoids, and with tree and shrub cover between 10-30%. The tree and shrub cover height exceeds 2 meters.

10

Grasslands

Lands with herbaceous types of cover, typically graminoids. Tree and shrub cover is less than 10%.

11

Permanent Wetlands

Lands with a permanent mosaic of water and herbaceous or woody vegetation. The vegetation can be present in either salt, brackish, or fresh water. Only wetlands covering extensive areas (i.e., more than 500 km2) will be mapped (e.g., Sud, Okavanga, Everglades).

12

Croplands

Lands where crops comprise > 60% of the total land cover.

13

Urban Areas

See (a) above.

14

Cropland – Natural Vegetation Mosaic

Lands with mosaics of crops and other land cover types in which no component comprises more than 60% of the landscape.

15

Snow and Ice

Lands under snow/ice cover for most of the year.

16

Barren or Sparsely Vegetated

Lands with exposed soil, sand or rocks and has less than 10% vegetated cover during any time of the year.

17

Water Bodies

Oceans, seas, lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Can be either fresh or salt water bodies.  Coded as 0 in the MODIS-based maps.

A tutorial for creating good layer packages (ESRI)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

[Editor's note: The 9.3.1 release of ArcGIS adds the ability to embed GIS data in layer packages for easy sharing. This blog post from ESRI steps thru how to create and leverage layer packages. Natural Earth will soon be available as a layer package!]

Republished from ESRI ArcExplorer blog.

With the release of ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 the ability to create layer packages was introduced. Layer packages encapsulate the data, cartography, and other properties of the layer as it’s authored in ArcMap (or ArcGlobe) into one easily shareable package.

Layer packages can be shared with other ArcGIS Desktop users, shared on ArcGIS Online (public beta soon), and are also supported in ArcGIS Explorer 900 along with layer files. What’s significant for Explorer users is that now the cartographic capabilities of ArcGIS Desktop can be seen using Explorer. In the past only simple rendering options were available in Explorer for local data sources, now these are expanded to include ArcGIS Desktop cartography via layer files and layer packages.

ArcGIS 9.3.1 was released not long ago, and ArcGIS Explorer 900 is currently in Beta. But since you may want to begin to create layer packages now for use in Explorer 900 when it becomes available we thought we’d cover a few basic pointers on how to create good layer packages.

We began by downloading some data and an ArcMap document (.mxd file) from the USGS. The data we downloaded was from an open file report with data from the Engineering aspects of karst map.

We downloaded the data, started ArcMap, opened the provided map document, and this is where we started. Our goal for this post was to take the karst_polys_polygon layer in the map and share it as a layer package with ArcGIS Explorer 900 users.

You can see the data (from a personal geodatabase) is already symbolized so we have a good start. But there’s a few things we want to do during the process of authoring the layer package that will ensure those we share the layer package with have the best possible experience and that we present the data in the best possible way. We think authoring is a good way to think about this process, and we’ll step you through the basics of what to consider.

Continue reading at ESRI ArcGIS Explorer Blog . . .

GISintersect.com GIS Blog added to blog roll

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Geographic Information Systems – News and Tips by Andreas Forø Tollefsen in Norway. Recent posts include links to global roads and wild places datasets. Read more »

Volunteered Geographic Information Workshop Notes

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

This conference, organized by the USGS, happened last month here in DC, thanks Martin! Special import for crises like Haiti.

Also check out: O’Reilly’s Rethinking Open Data: Lessons learned from the Open Data front lines. Read more »

Lots of online presentations and notes, some listed here:

The main site has full listing and notes from breakout sessions . . .

‘Citizen cartographers’ map the microcosms of the world (Wash Post)

Monday, February 1st, 2010

[Editor's note: The Washington Post's Mike Musgrove covers the OpenStreetMap.org phenomenon during a recent meet-up of MappingDC in the nation's capital.]

Republished from The Washington Post. Sunday, January 31, 2010
By Mike Musgrove

On a cold Sunday morning in Washington, none of the two-dozen scruffy students and techie folks crowded into one side of a bustling cafe noticed as Steve Coast, a 29-year-old British programmer, moseyed in and joined their ranks. They didn’t realize it, but there was the man with a plan to map the world.

They were there to do their part, but that’s the funny thing about being the leader of a large, online movement: Everybody knows your name, but nobody recognizes you.

The citizen cartographers, known as MappingDC, had gathered to help complete Coast’s interactive map of the globe — or at least Washington’s corner of it.

“Maps are expensive and proprietary,” said Coast, sipping on his coffee and explaining the core tenets of the project, called OpenStreetMap. “They should be free.”

Coast had the idea for OpenStreetMap in 2004, when he was a student living in London. Coast had a GPS and a laptop, you see, and he figured that with a little programming magic he could build a map of his local haunts that contained more useful information than any service he could find online.

What’s more, he said, “I figured that if I did that, and he did that, and you did that, then, together, we could put together a jigsaw map of the world.”

Since that day, a few hundred thousand people around the planet have pitched in online to enter information about everything from the name of their local library to an area’s handicap accessibility.

In Germany, the country with some of the project’s most enthusiastic participants, volunteers have very nearly catalogued their country down to the last lamppost. During a recent trip to Atlanta, Coast found that users had paid particular attention to the area’s storm drains, perhaps because of recent floods. In Denver, where he lives, Coast has noticed that users are obsessed with noting every footpath and bike trail.

As with Wikipedia, the premise here is that the collective contributions of an enthusiastic community can create a better service than something a corporate entity could put out on its own.

Sure, Google, with its massive resources, has the wherewithal to hire workers to record the street-level images used in its map service. But “a couple of guys driving a truck down a street don’t viscerally care” about whether they captured your neighborhood’s streets exactly right, said Coast, who was in town to attend a conference by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Remember encyclopedias? The problem with those dead-tree tomes was always that the information printed within could go obsolete the day they were published. It’s always been the same for paper street maps, too. MappingDC and OpenStreetMap project members argue that their map is better because it can be instantly corrected. Again, like Wikipedia, the belief is that the wisdom of the crowd will prevail or fix errors.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .