Posts Tagged ‘gis’

VPRO: Custom Cartography and The Netherlands From Above (Stamen)

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

[Editor's note: My first big project at Stamen is live! Team includes: Geraldine, Eric, Mike, Shawn, Sean, and Zach with Jasper and Frederik at VPRO providing the data. Pretty labels powered by Dymo in zooms 7 to 10, open source auto label power!]

Republished from Stamen.

Working closely with Dutch broadcasting heavies VPRO, yesterday we launched Nederland van Boven (“Netherlands from Above”), an interactive map of the Netherlands to accompany the forthcoming broadcast of a series of shows about this fascinating tiny country. As my friend Ben Cerveny is known to say: “New York started gentrifying in the 1970s, but Amsterdam started gentrifying in the 1790s,” and the opportunity to design custom maps for a country that’s essentially all infrastructure was one that we leapt at gladly.

The show runs in a series of episodes starting later this month, each addressing a different aspect of life in Holland. It starts with mobility, answering questions like “where can I live, if I work in Amsterdam and want to be able to finish the newspaper by the time I get to work on the train?” or “How far can I travel in two hours by public transport from Vlissingen?”

Upcoming episodes will deal with other ways of looking at the environment around you: examining the natural environment by comparing distances from buildings, open space, and the density of wild animals, the landscape of danger by examining rates of lightning strikes, flammable locations and the arrival times of ambulances, and the contours of the air around the country, looking at the density of birds, flght paths of planes and the highest places in the Netherlands.

The cartography for the project is custom-made for VPRO, designed to complement the channel’s rich visual branding. Cities fill in based on a custom compilation we derived using a combination of NaturalEarthData and GeoNames sources, and and at lower zoom levels roads become visible and are drawn using data sourced from OpenStreetMap. On the most detailed zoom all roads are drawn and the arterial streets receive names. With roads come more place labels, now from OpenStreetMap and sized by population. Water bodies (black) are drawn using data from VPRO, as are park lands (black stipple pattern), airports, farm locations, pancake restaurants, neighborhood names, and zipcode shapes (the locations of pancake restaurants being as important to the Dutch as the locations of airports and farms, apparently).

The highlight layers are orange, because that’s the national color of the Netherlands. Also, did you know that carrots are orange because that’s the national color of the Netherlands; “in the 17th century, Dutch growers are thought to have cultivated orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange – who led the the struggle for Dutch independence.” So: orange maps over custom OpenStreetMap cartography, a client who wanted to tell a story and was willing to stretch what it means to design a map, and a country made of canals and land claimed from the sea. Hoera!

Technical bits:

We used open source software, some authored by Stamen, to draw the reference cartography and cache the data files. Web maps are made of small, 256 px by 256 px images, stacked next to each other in a grid and displayed in the browser as a slippy map, allowing the user to pan and zoom. The application logic in Flash allows us to speedily update the map (using the GPU) when the data filters are adjusted. Software utilized includes TileStache, Cascadenik, Dymo, ModestMaps, Mapnik, QGIS, OGR, and GDAL. Much of the data provided by VPRO was generated in ArcGIS in-house and and partners. The place search is powered by the Yahoo! geocoder.

Interact with project »

Calculating bounding box in ArcMap

Monday, July 12th, 2010

xmindimen

[Editor’s note: I keep returning to this technique for calculating a feature’s extent (minimum bounding rectangle) in ArcGIS using the Field Calculator. Thanks William and Jeff!]

Republished in part from ESRI Forums.
Sample Field Calculator code for computing XMIN appears below.

Information about shape properties appears in the “Geometry Object
Model
” diagram (pdf). All four parameters are Xmin, Xmax, Ymin, and Ymax.

dim Output as double
dim pGeom as IGeometry

set pGeom = [shape]
Output = pGeom.Envelope.XMin

Review of new tome for map projections: Lining Up Data in ArcGIS (Vector One)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

lining-up-data-sm[Editor’s note: No PRJ file? No problem. Use this new guide by M. Maher from ESRI Press to learn map projection basics and the ArcGIS commands (versions 9 and 10) that register map data to common coordinate spaces. Read the first chapter and table of contents at ESRI.]

Republished from Vector One.

Lining Up Data in ArcGIS – a guide to map projections is a new book from ESRI Press. It is authored by Margaret M. Maher. Since I don’t have ArcGIS running in my office I couldn’t try out some of the details provided in the book, nevertheless, I did spend some time running through the book and offer the following comments.

One of the issues that many people encounter with GIS data revolves around projections, coordinates and lining up data with already existing spatial information. I’ve made the mistake myself numerous times, excited to get the data into the system, only to open the map window and finding what I just added from Berlin is placed in Oklahoma, Alberta or the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. How did that happen? Because I never lined up the data properly.

This book is very helpful. It explains how to identify geographic coordinate systems as compared to projected coordinate systems. If you are using ArcMap, then this book will show exactly how to determinine projections and set them. It even provides examples for going to ArcGIS Online, downloading imagery and aligning it properly.

Continue reading at Vector One . . .

“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 . . .

The Accuracy and Precision Revolution: What’s ahead for GIS? (Nighbert via ArcUser)

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

acc_precis_5-lg

[Editor’s note: “As we try to integrate highly resolved data into existing GIS, the errors in legacy data will become more apparent.” Jeff outlines the problem through his experience at the BLM in Oregon. Jeff is also responsible for early “bump mapping” of digital terrain models (DEMs).]

Republished from the ESRI ArcUser Winter 2010.
By Jeffery S. Nighbert, U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The ability to obtain precise information is nothing new. With great patience and skill, mapmakers and land surveyors have long been able to create information with an impressive level of accuracy. However, today the ability to determine and view locations with submeter accuracy is now in the hands of millions of people. Commonly available high-resolution digital terrain and aerial imagery, coupled with GPS-enabled handheld devices, powerful computers, and Web technology, is changing the quality, utility, and expectations of GIS to serve society on a grand scale. This accuracy and precision revolution has raised the bar for GIS quite high. This pervasive capability will be the driver for the next iteration of GIS and the professionals who operate them.

When I say there is a “revolution” going on in GIS, I am referring to the change in the fundamental accuracy and precision kernel of commonly used geographic data brought about by new technologies previously mentioned. For many ArcGIS users, this kernel used to be about 10 meters or 40 feet at a scale of 1:24,000. With today’s technologies (and those in the future), GIS will be using data with 1-meter and submeter accuracy and precision. There are probably GIS departments—in a large city or metro area—where this standard is already in place. However, this level of detail is far from the case in natural resource management agencies such as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or the United States Forest Service. But as lidar, GPS, and high-resolution imagery begin to proliferate standard sources for “ground” locations, GIS professionals will begin to feel the consequences in three areas: data quality, analytic methods, and hardware and software.

Continue reading at ArcUser . . .

What is GeoDesign and why is it important (ESRI + GeoInformatics)

Monday, March 15th, 2010

[Editor’s note: Like mashups, but in ArcGIS and analytical without programming skills. Sounds like CommunityViz but is more generally the “pairing of design and GIS. It unites the art and creativity of design (planning) with the power and science of geospatial technology. As one, GeoDesign can produce more informed, data-based design options and decisions.” This drive will introduce modeling, sketching, and feedback capabilities in ESRI’s ArcGIS Desktop 10, set for release in the second quarter of 2010. Looks like it will rely more on GIS services (web apps and 2) and more validating of resulting feature topology by GIS techs. Recently concluded mini-conference on GeoDesign has streaming video clips. This article is also good. Thanks @geoparadigm and @gisuser.]

Republished from ESRI and GEO Informatics.

What is GeoDesign?
GeoDesign is a set of techniques and enabling technologies for planning built and natural environments in an integrated process, including project conceptualization, analysis, design specification, stakeholder participation and collaboration, design creation, simulation, and evaluation (among other stages). “GeoDesign is a design and planning method which tightly couples the creation of design proposals with impact simulations informed by geographic contexts.” [1] Nascent geodesign technology extends geographic information systems so that in addition to analyzing existing environments and geodata, users can synthesize new environments and modify geodata. Learn more about GeoDesign on Wikipedia.

Read more at ESRI ArcWatch . . .

Jack Dangermond on GeoDesign:
“In January [ESRI hosted] the first GeoDesign Summit. It will bring people from both the GIS and design fields together and have them share their work and get a conversation going. I’m not totally sure what the outcome is going to be, but I’m hoping a new profession or direction will emerge. I think we need this kind of mixing at this point to bring these two fields together; people who design the world with people who design the future. Today, geography lives very well in its world and designers live very well in their world, but there’s not this cross-mixing. I believe the outcome will be much enlightened ways to do development; ways that bring science into how we design things: cities, the environment, highways, everything that we do. Today we certainly see the need for this all the way from global warming to designing more livable and sustainable cities. We need more geographic thinking in the way we make decisions. GeoDesign is an attempt to try to do something about that.”

Read more at GEO Informatics . . .

What does it mean for GIS discipline:
“It is not so much that geodesign is new, but rather that technology has reached a point that allows artists to participate in the geodesign process – without becoming technologists.” (Kirk at GeoThought) It still requires good (accurate, precise) base maps and themes in GIS to enable smart decision making (geodesign) on the desktop and in the cloud (web apps). Instead GIS techs being puck jockeys, the planning folks will be able to use the GIS directly, or it’ll seem that way to them ;) I used to work somewhere where the boss had desktop design apps installed and he could comp out designs, but they still had to be rebuilt to production specs. My guess is the same will be true with GeoDesign for a good bit yet. Meanwhile, focus on core competencies.

Learn more at the ESRI Developers User Conference later this month . . .

Services, Resources and Tools for Mapping Data (Sunlight Foundation)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

[Editor's note: Listing of several dozen free web apps and tutorials, including GeoCommons Maker!, Modest Maps, Color Brewer, Open Layers, and Batch GeoCoder.]

Republished from the Sunlight Foundation.
By Kerry Mitchell on 02/19/10

Services, Resources and Tools for Mapping DataLong ago, putting together a map of data points would be the sole domain of a skilled GIS practitioner employing an application like ArcView. These days, particularly with the advent of Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and OpenStreetMap, et al., there are a multitude of options for an individual to employ in displaying data geographically. Of course, there are, and will always be, technical options that require some level of programming chops. Fortunately, the pool of drop dead easy implementations that anyone can throw together with ease has grown a lot over the last few years. Then, there is the growing middle ground, lying somewhere between easy but rigid and difficult but flexible. Personally, I tend to hover in this netherworld, leveraging existing code, services or tutorials when possible but occasionally finding myself diving into the more technical areas when necessary and learning a lot in the process.

For those of you out there who might be interested in mapping data, I’ve put together a collection of links to a variety of services, code samples, resources and tutorials I’ve found useful in the past. These links range from new services that barely require anything more than a spreadsheet to complicated frameworks that require a great deal of technical knowledge. This is by no means all encompassing and if you happen to have additional links you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Continue reading at the Sunlight Foundation . . .

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 »

Map of big snow storm in DC (Kelso via Wash Post)

Monday, February 8th, 2010

webpromofeb6

I’m still digging out from the big storm this weekend in Washington, DC. I received 24″ at my house, ranged from 14″ to over 30″ in the metro area with heaviest around Columbia, Maryland. I worked during the storm and Laris and I tallied the NWS weather spotter reports of snowfall and used the GIS to krig the a map of average depth from about 50 points (which had to be filtered to remove expired values). Then used Illustrator’s Live Trace functionality to vectorize. Preview above (for the local home page promo which didn’t have room for legend, so directly labeled the contours), full graphic below with explainer of how the storm happened (with Laura and Larry).

gr2010020700205

Mountain Cart and OpenGeo Conferences in 2010

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

In addition to the Association of American Geographers conference here in DC this April, there are two conferences of note over in Europe in late summer (thanks Martin):

September 1 – Sept. 5:
ICA Commission Mountain Cartography
will meet in Romania. Abstracts due by March 1. More info »

September 6 -  Sept. 9: 
FOSS4G in Barcelona.
Abstracts need to be in by April 1. More info »

I’ve attended the mountain cartography conference before and highly recommend it. It’ll be a much smaller affair then the Barcelona conference and include many mountain outings.

The “Free and Open Source Software for GeoSpatial” conference is an:

international ‘gathering of tribes’ of open source geospatial communities, where developers and users show off their latest software and projects.

The spatial industry is undergoing rapid innovations and the open source spatial community is one of the forces driving the change. The FOSS4G conference is more than a melting pot of great ideas it is a catalyst and opportunity to unite behind the many successful geospatial products, standards and protocols.

See you there!