Posts Tagged ‘gps’

Review of Avenza’s PDF Maps app for iPhone and iPad

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

openwith processing maptools

This app gets the job done: PDF Maps introduces a strongly played set of basic features and later versions promise to add more advanced features like layer visibility and feature attribute query. Professional cartographers can use the app to deliver custom cartography maps that leverage GPS to locate the map-reading customer with the magic blue dot. It’s certainly not an ArcPad, but it works on the iPad and you’ll find it fun to use (and the app price is right).

I quite enjoy Avenza’s new free PDF Maps iOS app, free and available now on the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad. I’ve been testing it for several months using both the beta and  final release versions. I’ve used the app in my neighborhood, on a cross country road trip, and we’ve been using it to ground truth maps at at my day job. I’ve created my own GeoPDFs and used those from USGS and Avenza.

Besides myself, I setup two non-cartographers with an iPad (3g  with gps) and several GeoPDFs depicting neighborhood-level street maps to field check in the Washington DC metro area. They were amazed at how easy it was to locate themselves on the map and make notes by dropping markers they bring back to the office for me to review. Because these particular maps include street labels, they don’t need to switch back and forth to Apple’s provided Google Maps app as they navigate.

The inaugural version is iOS only but the company has had requests for Android, Symbian, Blackberry and even Windows 7 Mobile. Expect an Android version next. Future iterations of the app may introduce a two-tiered, free-basic feature and pay advanced feature parellel versions, which seems reasonable to me. I’m also excited to see if a white-label version becomes available (much like the Flash SWF export out of Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator) that cartographers can use to brand the experience and pre-bundle their maps.

PDF Maps offers the following capabilities:
  • View and load your own custom cartography maps and view them with GPS location
  • Supports both Adobe/ESRI geospatial PDF maps and TerraGo/USGS GeoPDF® files.
  • Access and interact with saved maps without the need for a live network connection
  • Standard GSP app features: Plot way-points, enter attribute data and notes, measure distances and areas
  • Standard iOS interface: Quickly view, zoom and pan maps using gestures (pinch, drag and flick, double tap)
  • HD version for iPad same app as the basic version for iPhone, slightly reworked interface
  • Does not currently support waypoint export, a key feature
  • Does not currently support import of KML and GPX files

To create a GeoPDF, you’ll need ArcGIS 9.3.1+ to export from ArcMap with preserve coordinate system checked. Or use Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator (version 8.2+). You can also download thousands of GeoPDFs from USGS. Even though the USGS files use the TerraGo GeoPDF format specification (versus Adobe + ESRI’s), it will open and render in PDF Maps.app. Avenza also offers dozens of sample GeoPDFs linked from within the app to get you started (click Maps, then +, then From Avenza PDF Maps Library and browse the list).

Adding maps is as simple as dragging them to iTunes or attaching to an email (making it easy to send map updates to your field checker). Clicking on a PDF link on the iPhone or iPad now prompts to open in the app, as seen in the first screenshot above . Once opened in the PDF Maps app, it will take a few seconds to minutes to render, second screenshot above. Once open, several tools are available, the most important of which is simply the “locate me” triangle button on the map map view.

Even though it’s all about the PDF map you’re looking at, the app makes it convenient to open the same view in Maps.app to see Google’s version of reality for cross checking, especially using the satellite map tiles there. This is possible for both the current map view using the tools menu, and to open a specific waypoint marker after clicking it’s location field.

I’ve loaded PDFs with the app that are more than 10 mb of vectors and performance has been good. When the map first loads it will process and prepare several zoom levels of precached tiles. This will make panning and zooming faster during actual map use and is worth the wait.

During precache rendering, you can still use the map, but the parts that will still be loading will be fuzzy for a while. Very large maps (larger than 20 mb, or more than 2000 sq. inches) are slower to render in this version (hey, it’s a mobile phone). For larger areas, I’ve been splitting the exported map into separate files. When multiple maps loaded in, there is a Maps table of contents listing.

I found a couple continuing quirks with the app and one major missing feature. The app really needs to export the map’s waypoints as CSV, KML, and GPX as an email attachment. I wish repositioning an existing pin was easier. The hit areas on some buttons is small, making it hard to use in a moving car. Sometimes it’s nice to have multiple marker icon labels open, but sometimes that is odd. At any rate, there’s no way to close them all en mass.

Quick and dirty test GeoPDF files:
(using Natural Earth, US Census, and other draft data)

Note: Because of USGS website quirks, it is not possible to directly download a USGS GeoPDF onto your iPhone/iPad in the field. The website doesn’t render properly (something about IE and cookies), and the resulting download file is ZIP format rather than PDF. Not sure why, since the PDF should already be optimized for file size (there’s only a 1.5% file size savings between ZIP and PDF in the Washington D.C. West quad sheet).

Check out more screenshots:

TRAVERSE ME: Warwick campus GPS map (gpsdrawing.com)

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

traverse-me_w1

[Editor's note: One step closer to Johnathan Swift's 1:1 map of the world. "Walking 238 miles with a GPS generates a beautiful, freehand-looking map of college campus." Thanks amproehl!]

Republished from GISdrawing.com.

Traverse Me is a map drawn by walking across campus with a GPS device to invite the viewer to see a different landscape to that which surrounds them. It questions the possibilities of where they are and inspires a personal reading of their movements and explorations of the campus.

I responded to the structure of each location and avoided walking along roads and paths when possible.
The route was recorded with GPS technology and was walked in stages over the 300 hectare site.

Continue reading and view photos at GISdrawing.com . . .

The History of Location Technology (Mashable)

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

[Editor's note: From the homing pigeon to modern GPS turn-by-turn navigation to location "games." Also see this list of fun facts about GPS via @ManoMarks.]

Republished from Mashable.
By Shane Snow.

With the recent rise of location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Loopt, it would appear that location technology is something new. But in fact, humans have been inventing clever ways to locate each other for many thousands of years.

Even the basic technology that makes today’s location-based checkins possible — cellular triangulation and the global positioning satellite system — have their roots in decades old research projects, and the math today’s apps use to pinpoint your locale hasn’t change too much since the days of Copernicus.

The infographic below details the history of location-based technology, from the most primitive to the most advanced.

View the original at Mashable . . .

locationhistory

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 . . .

GPS + MultiPlayer Game = Build digital fort in your back yard (Parallel Kingdom)

Friday, March 19th, 2010

screen-shot-2010-03-14-at-40901-pm

[Editor's note: Amusing take on RPGs mashed up with GPS on a Google Maps tile background. For iPhone and Android devices. Hey, isn't that Madison, Wisconsin?]

Republished from Parallel Kingdom.

Parallel Kingdom is a mobile location based massively multiplayer game that uses your GPS location to place you in a virtual world on top of the real world.

Read more on their site . . .

Top GPS Searches and Places (Telenav)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

[Editor's note: Interesting results from one of the in-car GPS companies. Food, businesses, states, and cities. Pizza, Walmart top the lists. Washington DC makes the top 10 list for metro cities. LA and DC rank tops for rerouting around traffic (those metros top for worst traffic in the US, so no surprise there).]

Republished from TeleNav.

Pizza, Los Angeles, and Walmart Any ideas what the three words have in common? Think about it and we’ll come back to it.

Life is busy. Very busy. Whether you have to rush to pick the kids up after soccer practice or zip to your next meeting, we know getting where you have to go with the least amount of hassle is important to you. And that’s where we come in.

They’re all at the top of a list.

  • The most preferred food of the TeleNav user on the move? You guessed it – pizza. This is based on search data from December 2009. Also on the list Chinese food, hamburgers, American food, and Mexican food. No word on whether New York or Chicago-style is preferred.

Continue reading at TeleNav . . .

On Locational Privacy, and How to Avoid Losing it Forever (EFF)

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

[Editor's note: It's possible to enjoy pervasive GPS and enjoy privacy, too. A congressional subcommittee held a joint hearing titled, “The Collection and Use of Location Information for Commercial Purposes” on Wednesday. Learn more in this white paper from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Thanks GIS User!]

Republished from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
By Andrew J. Blumberg and Peter Eckersley, August 2009

PDF file

Also available as a PDF
in English and Bulgarian.

Over the next decade, systems which create and store digital records of people’s movements through public space will be woven inextricably into the fabric of everyday life. We are already starting to see such systems now, and there will be many more in the near future.

Here are some examples you might already have used or read about:

  • Monthly transit swipe-cards
  • Electronic tolling devices (FastTrak, EZpass, congestion pricing)
  • Cellphones
  • Services telling you when your friends are nearby
  • Searches on your PDA for services and businesses near your current location
  • Free Wi-Fi with ads for businesses near the network access point you’re using
  • Electronic swipe cards for doors
  • Parking meters you can call to add money to, and which send you a text message when your time is running out

These systems are marvellously innovative, and they promise benefits ranging from increased convenience to transformative new kinds of social interaction.

Unfortunately, these systems pose a dramatic threat to locational privacy.

What is “locational privacy”?

Locational privacy (also known as “location privacy”) is the ability of an individual to move in public space with the expectation that under normal circumstances their location will not be systematically and secretly recorded for later use. The systems discusssed above have the potential to strip away locational privacy from individuals, making it possible for others to ask (and answer) the following sorts of questions by consulting the location databases:

  • Did you go to an anti-war rally on Tuesday?
  • A small meeting to plan the rally the week before?
  • At the house of one “Bob Jackson”?
  • Did you walk into an abortion clinic?
  • Did you see an AIDS counselor?
  • Have you been checking into a motel at lunchtimes?
  • Why was your secretary with you?
  • Did you skip lunch to pitch a new invention to a VC? Which one?
  • Were you the person who anonymously tipped off safety regulators about the rusty machines?
  • Did you and your VP for sales meet with ACME Ltd on Monday?
  • Which church do you attend? Which mosque? Which gay bars?
  • Who is my ex-girlfriend going to dinner with?

Of course, when you leave your home you sacrifice some privacy. Someone might see you enter the clinic on Market Street, or notice that you and your secretary left the Hilton Gardens Inn together. Furthermore, in the world of ten years ago, all of this information could be obtained by people who didn’t like you or didn’t trust you.

But obtaining this information used to be expensive. Your enemies could hire a guy in a trench coat to follow you around,but they had to pay him. Moreover, it was hard to keep the surveillance secret — you had a good chance of noticing your tail ducking into an alley.

In the world of today and tomorrow, this information is quietly collected by ubiquitous devices and applications, and available for analysis to many parties who can query, buy or subpeona it. Or pay a hacker to steal a copy of everyone’s location history.

It is this transformation to a regime in which information about your location is collected pervasively, silently, and cheaply that we’re worried about.

Continue reading at Electronic Frontier Foundation . . .

Geocaching GPS Adventure at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore

Friday, February 19th, 2010

[Editor's note: If your on the East Coast the next couple months and looking to entertain kids (or your inner kid), check out the GPS Adventures geocaching experience at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, just an hour's drive from Washington, DC. Requires modest entrance fee. After Baltimore, the exhibit heads to Redding, California, and then Dayton Ohio.  Thanks Dan!]

Republished from Maryland Science Center.
Video above is “The Thrill is in the Hunt” from the Pacific Science Center.

Opens this Saturday, thru April 18th.
Directions, hours and price »

Get Lost!

GPS Adventures is a life-sized maze exhibition introducing visitors to cutting-edge Global Positioning Systems (GPS) through Geocaching–a family friendly treasure hunting game.  More than three million people around the world are on the hunt for nearly a half million hidden treasures. In addition to hidden booty, these geocachers are finding the real treasure: reconnecting with family, community and nature in a meaningful way.

Exhibit highlights

  • Discover how GPS Technology is changing the way we live
  • Join the global treasure hunt movement known as geocaching
  • Use navigation, memory, and critical thinking to get through the maze

New navigation for a new kind of treasure hunt

GPS technology is changing the way we live.  It can be found in surprising places from cars to cell phones and is the backbone of the global treasure hunting game geocaching.  Get lost in the maze and learn how to find your way using GPS.  Visitors simulate a GPS adventure using a unique stamp card that leads you to your own Treasure City.  By collecting all 4 stamps you can better understand how satellite technology uses plotting to determine your exact location on the planet.

Understand how satellites pinpoint your position on the globe

Once visitors collect all 4 stamps visitors navigate the maze.  Navigate around impossible obstacles including waterfalls, cliffs and ravines to solve cache puzzles in four environments: city, local park, backcountry and an historic site to find secret codes and gain access to each of the satellite rooms.  Learn about maps, compasses and geography along the way.

Join the community of modern day treasure hunters–geocachers!

Meet Signal Frog—your helpful guide along the way.  Try on the latest outdoor gear and insert yourself into an outdoors-themed magazine cover.  Short, funny videos give an insider peak at the outdoor adventure of geocaching.  Interactive displays throughout the maze help visitors understand exactly how GPS works and how an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS navigation and deciphering clues has become a worldwide phenomenon with families and groups who embark on these 21st century treasure hunts.

Carto Tourism? St. Kitts and Nevis Marine Mapping Project

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

skn_tracks_all_s sdsc_2838 sdsc_1866

[Editor's note: A friend of mine who works for The Nature Conservancy down in the Caribbean put me onto this web log. With mapping ascending as a cultural meme, why not capitalize on the trend by creating meaningful survey expedition "vacations" that partner GIS and cartography professionals with local project coordinators in beautiful locales? Thanks Ruth!]

A team from TNC travels to St. Kitts and Nevis for ten days to collect field data that will be used to create the country’s first detailed map of marine habitats. This work is being funded by USAID to help protect and restore biodiversity in the Caribbean.

Ten Days to Map 260 Sq Kilometers

Most of the time when I tell someone I am traveling to St. Kitts and Nevis, they say Huh? Where? What did you say? I go on explaining that these two sister islands are located near Antigua and Barbuda and I get more intense blank looks. With only 104 sq kilometers of land area, St Kitts and Nevis is the smallest and youngest country in the western hemisphere, home to only 40,000 people. The land and the population may be small, but the people and the culture more than make up for it with their vibrant Caribbean spirit. However, like other small Caribbean countries, these fragile islands, located in one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world, are facing increasing pressures on limited resources, and are coming to an important crossroad in their short history since independence. One road goes down the path of continued unsustainable development, habitat destruction, and overfishing. The other path leads towards a sustainable future and smart growth – complete with well managed and healthy ecosystems, contributing to improvements in human well-being.

Continue reading at St. Kitts and Nevis Marine Mapping blog . . .

‘Augmented reality’ fuses the Web and the world around you (Wash Post)

Friday, November 27th, 2009
yelpwikitude

[Editor's note: Yelp and Wikitude apps are bringing annotated camera view to newer smartphone that have both GPS and compass built in.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
By Rob Pegoraro. Sunday, November 22, 2009

The cameras on some new phones don’t show the world as you’ve known it.

Instead of just viewing the usual landscape of people, places and things on their screens, you see circles, rectangles and icons floating on top of the scenery. Tap one to display a snippet of Internet data about whatever lies behind that tag. As you look around, the view on the phone’s display shifts accordingly, presenting new shortcuts to whatever the Web knows about your surroundings.

The concept goes by the name augmented reality, and it’s been quietly bringing one of the Internet’s hokiest promises to a mainstream audience.

Remember all the hype about virtual reality, in which we’d don headsets to immerse ourselves in some version of the Star Trek holodeck? Augmented reality turns this from a science-fiction idea into something you can experience just by holding a smartphone in front of you at eye level — no goofy goggles or helmets needed.

For that to happen, though, mobile phones had to acquire a few prerequisite capabilities: a fast Internet connection, a high-resolution screen, Global Positioning System reception and a compass. In other words, first the phone had to be able to look up things on the Internet, then it had to be able to show them to you, then it had to find itself on a map, then it had to orient itself in 3-D space.

As a result, “AR” programs didn’t begin to appear on consumer hardware until last year, and many otherwise brainy smartphones still cannot run them — for example, the original iPhone and iPhone 3G and Palm’s Pre and Pixi devices lack compasses.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .