Posts Tagged ‘gps’

Rand McNally Releases Atlases for Kindle, Has Odd Vision for the Future of Maps (Gizmodo)

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

[Editor’s note: Rand McNally introduces their popular US state-by-state road atlas series for the Kindle. Though without a GPS and in gray scale, I have played with a Kindle before and see the allure of the platform in terms of ease of use and portability. I discussed this topic at NACIS Missoula with some fellow cartographers in the context of the new lat-long GIS capabilities of the PDF format I wonder when smart phones like the iPhone that DO have GPS will start surpasing these efforts with such a PDF hack. In fact, there are several native apps for the Phone now featuring marine maps with GPS integration so there is a market out there. Though the iPhone’s display physical dimensions are smaller than the Kindle, it has a higher resolution (pixels per inch) display that it easy to zoom. As to the utility of a road atlas that is NOT Google Maps tiles take the Benchmark (great christmas gifts!) series of western states road atlases, far and away better than Rand McNally or Delorme, which offer integrated relief shading, better road classification, points of interest, and most importantly, landscape maps with land ownership and physiography. Plus, the ability to view maps while not connected to the network is a big plus. Thanks Curt!]

Republished from Gizmodo.

Rand McNally can’t be happy with everyone dropping their bulky atlases for GPS units and nav-enabled phones, so they’re fighting back. But they seem a little confused.

The company is releasing a series of atlases for the Kindle, which will be purchased, delivered and consumed like any other ebook on the platform. The first maps, for Northern California, Southern California, and Washington, will be available for $1.99 each, and like the Rand atlases of your childhood, will probably be exhaustive.

There’s nothing expressly wrong with the concept, and the price could well be worth the utility, but the fact remains that putting static map collections on an ebook reader only accentuates how outmoded they are, and how artificially limited the powerful Kindle is. Regardless, the Kindle’s search function and the carefully indexed maps will provide a workable map solution for that small Kindle-equipped, Google Maps-forswearing slice of the population. [eCoustics]

The eCoustics post:

Rand McNally Road Atlases have been designed to work specifically on the Kindle reader. The digital atlas includes a full, searchable index of every city on the map as well as National Parks and other federal areas. The atlas also features individual overview maps of major National Parks as well as major cities and towns.

“Building on our decades of experience and a tradition of producing the most trusted print maps in the world, we are excited to take the industry lead in delivering easily readable state maps in a truly portable digital format,” said Joel Minster, senior vice president and chief cartographer at Rand McNally. “Our cartographic development team created a map page navigation technique entirely new to the Kindle, letting users easily navigate to the map above or below the current page, not just the page before or after, which is typical of e-book readers. Customers should expect nothing less from Rand McNally than to provide them with the trusted tools they need to discover, map and navigate their world.”

Users can download content directly through their Kindle device or from their computers via Amazon.com. Kindle books include free wireless delivery within a minute of placing an order. Additional Rand McNally state atlases for the Kindle are planned for 2009.

About Rand McNally
From America’s number-one-selling Road Atlas, The Thomas Guide®, FabMAP® and Goode’s World Atlas to StreetFinder® Wireless and IntelliRoute® trucking software, Rand McNally has been an industry leader in the mapping, routing, geographic reference and trip-planning tool marketplace for more than 150 years. With More Roads-Better Directions™, the company’s products are sold in more than 50,000 retail outlets, directly to business, and are distributed to 98% of schools across the U.S. Rand McNally is the premier resource for online travel planning as well as maps and directions. For more information, please visit www.RandMcNally.com, call 800-333-0136 or buy maps and travel gear online at http://store.randmcnally.com/.

KML to Shapefile File Conversion (Zonum)

Friday, December 12th, 2008

[Editor’s note: Useful free tool for converting KML files to Shapefile for use in the GIS. Thanks Mary Kate!]

Republished from Zonum Solutions. Kml2shp file conversion

Need of transferring Google Earth Data to a GIS? Kml2shp transforms KML files into ESRI Shapefiles.

Download. Windows program. No Mac version.

The KML file could contain Points, Paths and Polygons. When creating SHP files the information is separated into thematic layers.

For each shapefile (shp), an attributes table (dbf) and index file (shx) are created.

The kml to shp conversion consists of three steps:

1) Open KML file
2) Choose Shape Type
3) Select output Shapefile name

Optionally, you can change from WGS84 to a local datum and from Lat/Lon to UTM.

Also, Kml2shp can export to AutoCAD (DXF) and GPS (GPX)

kml2Shp is a beta freeware tool. This program doesn’t need to be
installed, just unzip it and run it.

kml2shp.zip contains the executable file (kml2shp.exe) and some bpl files. If you receive a message error about missing bpl files, come back here and get them.

DOWNLOAD

GPS Car Navigation Comic (Sally Forth)

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

[Editor's note: Amusing comic about GPS unit with "Existential Mode".]

Republished from King Features. Sally Forth is by Francesco Marciuliano; drawn by Craig Macintosh.

Indoor Positioning ala Cell Phone Tower Triangulation (GIS User)

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

[Editor's note: First we had GPS, than we got cell phone tower triangulation and outdoor WiFi hotspot triangulation. Next up: indoor triangulation via wireless hotspot locations. I hope this makes it to the iPhone, too!]

Post below from Nokia press release. Originally seen at GISuser (original). Click thru to the press release to see video demonstration of this technology.

Have you ever been in a rush to catch your connecting flight in the airport, without knowing exactly where to head? How about that beautiful Monet painting, still haven’t seen it in the museum and there is only 30 minutes left before the museum closes? Need to find your favourite fashion outlet quickly in a new shopping mall?

Today, you can already use your mobile outside to navigate to your destination – driving or walking. In the future, indoor positioning will make it possible to find your way indoors. Your mobile will show your location inside the building, find the point of interest your searching for and then guide you there. This technology, could even find your friend when it’s time to go home.

How does this work?

The mobile uses the buildings’ WLAN infrastructure to triangulate your position and then indicates where you are on a building map. Nokia prototypes today can show your location – building section and floor level. They allow you to browse the building, find points of interest and you can even share your position with the people you choose, when you want. Today Nokia has Indoor Positioning trials ongoing within 40 buildings worldwide.

In order to enable indoor positioning in buildings, the indoor positioning solution requires a list of available WLAN access points and their approximate location in the building. Based on this list, which often already exist due to network planning, the indoor position is calculated. Nokia is working on and testing algorithms capable of finding your indoor position to within a few meters.

Continue reading at Nokia.com to see video demonstration . . .

Degrees Confluence Project

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

[Editor’s note: Fun project just a little larger in scope than visiting every continent or country or U.S. county. Check out pictures from around the world. All content below from confluence.org. Thanks Mary Ellen!]

The goal of the Degrees Confluence project is to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures, and stories about the visits, will then be posted at the site.

Overview

The project is an organized sampling of the world. There is a confluence within 49 miles (79 km) of you if you’re on the surface of Earth. We’ve discounted confluences in the oceans and some near the poles, but there are still 10,809 to be found.

In our case a degree confluence is the exact spot where an integer degree of latitude and an integer degree of longitude meet, such as 43°00’00″N 72°00’00″W. The project uses the WGS84 datum to define the confluence location.

18 newest confluence visits Newest Confluence Visits RSS feed (view on Google Maps)
The date the confluence is posted to the site is used to determine the newest confluence visits.

36°N 56°E preview image 36°N 56°E
7.9 km (4.9 miles) SE of Gīvar, Semnān, Iran
[20-Oct-08]
57°N 15°E preview image 57°N 15°E
2.0 km (1.2 miles) W of Skårtaryd, Kronoberg, Sweden
[20-Oct-08]
56°N 110°E preview image 56°N 110°E
8.3 km (5.2 miles) NW of Kichera, Respublika Buryatiya, Russia
[incomplete] [secondary] [19-Oct-08]
44°N 7°E preview image 44°N 7°E
1.3 km (0.8 miles) E of Rigaud, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France
[19-Oct-08]
52°N 14°E preview image 52°N 14°E
2.9 km (1.8 miles) NE of Märkische Heide-Biebersdorf, Brandenburg, Germany
[secondary] [19-Oct-08]
53°N 6°E preview image 53°N 6°E
1.9 km (1.2 miles) N of Langezwaag, Friesland, Netherlands
[19-Oct-08]
46°N 1°W preview image 46°N 1°W
3.2 km (2.0 miles) NE of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Prée, Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes, France
[19-Oct-08]
55°N 83°E preview image 55°N 83°E
3.7 km (2.3 miles) WSW of Razdol’noye, Novosibirskaya oblast’, Russia
[secondary] [19-Oct-08]
43°N 80°W preview image 43°N 80°W
6.9 km (4.3 miles) NE of Hagersville, ON, Canada
[18-Oct-08]
34°N 106°W preview image 34°N 106°W
9.8 miles (15.8 km) S of Claunch, Socorro, NM, USA
[15-Oct-08]
45°N 123°W preview image 45°N 123°W
3.8 miles (6.1 km) NNE of Salem, OR, USA
[incomplete] [15-Oct-08]
35°N 117°W preview image 35°N 117°W
7.3 miles (11.8 km) N of Barstow, San Bernardino, CA, USA
[15-Oct-08]
53°N 88°E preview image 53°N 88°E
6.0 km (3.7 miles) NNW of Sheregesh, Kemerovskaya oblast’, Russia
[13-Oct-08]
54°N 61°E preview image 54°N 61°E
3.8 km (2.4 miles) ESE of Belyy Klyuch, Chelyabinskaya oblast’, Russia
[12-Oct-08]
57°N 35°E preview image 57°N 35°E
0.9 km (0.6 miles) ENE of Dubrovka, Tverskaya oblast’, Russia
[secondary] [12-Oct-08]
54°N 109°E preview image 54°N 109°E
18.8 km (11.7 miles) N of Angakan, Respublika Buryatiya, Russia
[12-Oct-08]
53°N 108°E preview image 53°N 108°E
15.5 km (9.6 miles) WNW of Turka, Respublika Buryatiya, Russia
[12-Oct-08]
21°N 86°E preview image 21°N 86°E
9.4 km (5.8 miles) ENE of Sukinda, Orissa, India
[11-Oct-08]

Information about a Confluence
Initially, the information in our database about confluences was entered both manually, and by extracting data from various sources. Since then, there have been various updates, both manual and automated, and when someone finds an error and lets us know, we make the correction. Some confluences have been added or changed, where they were in the oceans but a mathematical model shows that they should have a view of land. The altitude listed for a confluence usually comes from a digital elevation model, and may not be accurate. The data used to make the distinction between ‘Water’ and ‘Ice Cap’ may not be accurate, and polar ice caps change over time. If you know of some confluence data that needs correcting, please advise the regional coordinator for the area.

We have two sets of confluence information in our database. For all of the 64,442 possible degree confluences, we have some basic information. For the 24,623 degree confluences that we have “indexed”, we have additional information, such as the nearest town, and we have assigned the confluence to a ‘geographic area’, such as a Country.

Land, Water, Ice
All of the 64,442 possible confluences have been assigned to one of three categories – Land(21,543), Water(38,409), or Ice Cap(4,490). Confluences that are on ‘Land’ are those that our data shows as being located on a continent or an island. The presence of ice doesn’t change that. A confluence on a lake doesn’t change it’s status if the lake freezes over in the winter. A confluence located on a glacier is considered to be on land. Confluences not on ‘Land’ are on ‘Water’, except for areas with permanent ice, which are categorized as ‘Ice Cap’, such as confluences near the North Pole.

Primary vs Secondary
A confluence is primary if:

  1. It meets the criteria outlined in the Poles Problem section.
  2. It is on land, or if on a body of water or on an ice cap, within sight of land, so that on a clear day discernable land features can be recognized.

All other confluences are defined as secondary. They will be accepted if visited but are not part of the primary goals of the project. Note that ANY visited confluence, regardless of whether it is primary or secondary, will be added to the site, even if it is not currently indexed in our database.

Changes in the Confluence type
There are 39,819 confluences that are not “indexed” in our database, because they lie in the oceans, are presumed to not have a view of land (are more than 5 kilometers from land), and are unlikely to be visited. An unindexed confluence is presumed to be Secondary, and will be added to our database if visited.

A Primary confluence would be changed to Secondary if a visit shows that there is no view of land on a clear day. This would include a visit to a confluence on a large lake. A confluence that is Secondary because it is “on the water” and is presumed to have no view of land would be changed to Primary if a visit shows a view of land, but only if it qualifies based on the Poles Problem logic.

Confluences on borders
Confluences exactly on the Northern and Eastern borders of a state, province or country will be included in that state, province or country. Confluences on the Southern and Western borders will be included in the bordering state, province or country.

Historically, borders were defined by a variety of methods, and most that refer to specific coordinates were done long before the WGS84 system was defined. As a result, sometimes the above rule isn’t needed for “border confluences”. For example, the Canada/United States border, from 123°W on the the west coast to 96°W between Manitoba and Minnesota, when viewed using WGS84 coordinates, is actually a line that zig-zags back and forth across the 49th parallel. None of the confluences along the border are actually on the border, so they belong to the province/state in which they are located. If this part of the Canada/United States border was defined as the WGS84 49th parallel, then the above rule would apply, and all these confluences would belong to the United States. See the Canada page for more information.

Poles Problem

If the Earth were a perfect sphere, the north-south distance between adjacent pairs of degrees of latitude (parallels; lines that run east-west) would be the same from the equator to the poles. However, the east-west distance between adjacent pairs of degrees of longitude (meridians; lines that run north-south) varies depending on the latitude, with the maximum distance being at the equator, and the minimum distance being at the poles, where the lines of longitude meet.

Because of the closeness of the degrees of longitude lines towards the poles, we designed a scheme that deals with this skewing of the collection of degree confluences towards the poles. The scheme designates every degree confluence as either Primary or Secondary. While Secondary confluences will be accepted if visited, they are not part of the primary goals of the Degree Confluence Project.

Wow, How Fast Time Flies (Kelso)

Monday, October 20th, 2008

It’s been a year since I launched my site to promote some of the scripting (programming) work I was doing and to list useful plugins for Adobe Illustrator other cartographers and graphic designers. I launched my blog soon after to note websites, graphics, and concepts that attracted my attention. It’s proven a useful notepad to organize these for my reference and to share with others.

Some stats to geek out with:

All-time most popular blog posts:
Meet Toni Mair — Terrain Artist Extraordinaire

Dorling Cartograms – Carbon Atlas – SND Awards

Recent top blog posts:
Anything iPhone and GPS
GPS Kit – New software app for iPhone 3G (Kelso)

iPhone GPS with iTrail and RunKeeper (Kelso)

Mapping and GPS on the iPhone, Part 2

Mapping and GPS on the iPhone

Total blog pageviews: 60,000 since Nov. 29th, 2007.

Total site pageviews (including blog): 87,000 since Oct. 8th, 2007.

Site visitors are from all around the world including 154 countries and all 50 states (please excuse the terrible Google maps. Darker colors = more visitors. “City” views not comprehensive.):

Most visitors use Firefox or Safari (only 25% use Internet Explorer). Windows users account for 70% with most the rest on the Mac, though a couple Wii, Playstation, and iPhone users. Almost everyone has at least a 17″ monitor with over 75% having a larger monitor size up to 1920 x 1200. Most everyone has some version of Flash Player 9 installed. Only 2% are on dialup (though 28% do not list their connection speed). All these stats are from Google Analytics, a very awesome free tool that Google uses to pump their ad sales.

GPS Kit – New software app for iPhone 3G (Kelso)

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

 

Garafa published GPS Kit for the iPhone 3G on August 14th for $10. YouTube demonstration above from Garafa. I’ve spent the weekend experimenting with the app and the accuracy seems comparable to RunKeeper and iTrail which I reviewed last week. However, GPS Kit has better features, though by the time you read this iTrail will have nearly caught up. GPS Kit meets 10 of my 22 criteria for GPS on the iPhone, the same as iTrail but with GPS Kit having a higher price point but with slightly nicer package. 

The three main functions of GPS Kit are:

  • Dashboard
    • See real time information like latitude, longitude, speed, altitude, heading (cardinal direction, degree), and distance
    • User modifiable statistics (including averages) and units
  • Tracks
    • Intelligent data collection intervals: If you move fast, more points, if slow less points.
    • Save your route
    • View on iPhone in app
    • Share with anyone via email in Google Earth (KML) or Google Maps
  • Waypoints
    • Save points of interest 
    • See how far you are from each waypoint. 
    • View on iPhone in app
    • Share with anyone via email in Google Earth (KML) or Google Maps

Features I wish GPS Kit had:

  • Tracks
    • Better way to see live-GPS route tracking (now a several step process)
    • Resume dialog on restart of app after taking call or other interruption ala Distance Meter
    • Screen lock while recording tracks ala iTrail
    • View on live Google map (now just blank screen?) with both satellite, hybrid, and map tiles
    • Save with KML the stats that are currently displayed on screen for that segment of track
    • In KML record GPS accuracy (eg: accurate to 10m, 310m).
    • KML that does not have 3 nodes at each data point
    • Provide altitude readjustment by matching lat/long against SRTM elevations
    • Import tracks via KML or GPX
  • Waypoints
    • View on live Google map (now just blank screen?) with both satellite, hybrid, and map tiles
    • Set custom icon with preset of common icons
    • Import waypoints via KML or GPX
    • Attach photos to location (location is created on capture of photo)
    • See photo waypoints on the map as icons (multiple, not just active photo waypoint)
    • Click on the photo icon in map view get a big view of the photo and edit text description
    • Attach a longer text description to each location, not just the name

Screenshots of GPS Kit:

Other applications on the App Store that provide portions of similar functionality and their prices:

  • iTrail @ $3- in app map of route, plotting of statistics; has a screen lock while recording. Export to GPX and KML. No waypoint support (coming in version 1.3). Read my review.
  • RunKeeper @ $10- Geared more towards fitness activities with stats like “pace”. Needs to upload data to web service (free) to see route on map. Read my review.
  • GPS Tracker @ free – real-time tracking service including lat, long, altitude, speed, heading, and accuracy. Can export to CVS and KML. Requires web service to record and see on map.
  • gSpot @ $2 –  no privacy concerns (not published online for anyone to see as you move with the app on): lat, long, altitude, speed, heading, and accuracy. Can share waypoints via email. Can display waypoints in the iPhone’s mapping application. 
  • PathTracker @ $1 – real time map showing route/track; distance, time, average speed, current location and altitude; save your path and export in GPX and KML. Available in many different languages including Chinese, French, and Spanish.
  • gps Compass @ $2 – real time stats that are user modifiable; multiple languages including German and Japanese. No map.
  • Speedster GPS @ $1 – speed and altitude in real time with history of pervious data points. No map.
  • Distance Meter @ $3- distance, speed, and pace tracker. No map. Altitude and XY shown for current location only.
  • Geopher Lite @ $2 – distance and heading to waypoint. No map. Ability to turn GPS off in certain functions to save battery. 
  • OverHere @ $1 – email waypoint (current location). No map.
  • Altitude @ $1 – altitude with accuracy (but is it Z accuracy or XY accuracy?). No map.
  • Speed @ free – real time speedometer. No map.

All of these applications require an iPhone 3G with GPS for best performance. 

References: 

iPhone Chat.org and iPhoneFreakz.com.

Garmin Risks Getting Lost (WSJ)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

 garmin phone

Reprinted from Wall Street Journal.

Garmin Ltd.’s dream, a satellite-navigation device in everybody’s hand, is getting closer by the day. Unfortunately a lot of those gadgets are cellphones, not the dedicated devices Garmin makes. That is one reason its shares are down about 70% from a high in October. And as the history of technology group Palm Inc. shows, Garmin’s shares may have further to fall. [Editor’s note: Planned phone is different than smartphone / blackberry offerings by Garmin already in the marketplace.]

Palm’s personal-digital assistants were ubiquitous in the late 1990s. Its challenge came when cellphone markets boomed, and cellphone makers turned their phones into PDAs. Since people didn’t want to carry two devices, they chose their phone.

Continue reading at Wall Street Journal . . . 

They Know Where You Are: Photos That Find Themselves (Washington Post)

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

[Editor's note: Two articles by Rob Pegararo, the Washington Post's tech guru today on using GPS with photos. The first on how to accomplish this with a standard digital camera that does not come with GPS. The second talks about the software and social websites that utilize the GPS coordinates embedded in the photo's EXIF data.]

From the Washington Post article:

By Rob Pegoraro; Thursday, July 31, 2008; Page D01.

Your computer knows what you did last weekend — but that’s okay because most of your other gadgets do, too. Your browser remembers your Web reading list, your cellphone saved your calls, and your MP3 player can recite the songs you heard.And most of us seem content to have all this sentient machinery memorizing our daily routines, so long as all the data stay with us. A little surveillance of ourselves can be fine if we, and nobody else, get to see the results.

Your digital camera may be the next gadget to upgrade its self-awareness. It already records when you take photos, and now it can inform you where you shot them as well. You won’t have to remember where you photographed each vacation shot; your photos will tell you.

This feat comes courtesy of a $129.99 device called the Eye-Fi Explore. It slips into a camera’s SD card slot like any other memory unit, but this two-gigabyte card includes a WiFi receiver that connects to a database of wireless networks to determine the location of your pictures.

Continue reading at WashingtonPost.com . . .

From Rob’s “Faster Forward” Blog:

The first time I inspected a photo “geotagged” with the Eye-Fi Explore card and saw that Eye-Fi’s software had not only placed the picture on the map within maybe 30 feet of the spot where I’d pressed the camera’s button, but also the copy uploaded to Flickr was tagged with the appropriate city and state, I thought “cool!”

But when I told my editor about this successful test, her reaction was more along the lines of “that’s kind of creepy.”

Technologies that do things you’ve never seen done before can be like that. As I wrote in today’s column, I found the Eye-Fi’s auto-location abilities more fascinating than frightening, but I can see how others might disagree. I was surprised, however, to see such limited support for geotagging in photo-album programs and the more than 20 picture-sharing sites Eye-Fi supports, including such popular sites as Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, Kodak Gallery and Photobucket. Many of these applications either ignore the latitude and longitude coordinates Eye-Fi adds to the “EXIF” tags of photo files or don’t provide a clickable map in response to them. I expect this to change before too long.

Continue reading at WashingtonPost.com . . .

Privacy and GeoTagging Photos with GPS-enabled iPhone

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

flickr geotag example map

Being able to record where a photo is taken one of the key features of the new iPhone. Not only does the phone capture a great picture but there is no residual “Now where was I”. You can instantly see where the photo was taken on a detailed map. This is great for geocoding when surveying, but what are the social implications?

Do you want to share this level of detailed personal information?

Why wouldn’t you? Consider this:

Upload a week’s worth of photos.

  • One taken on the way into work of that cute gal you always see at your metro station
  • Another in your office for a coworker’s going away party
  • Another taken at your favorite dance club
  • Another taken at the great brunch place you go to on Saturdays and
  • Another of the pile of laundry you’ve been ignoring all week

Normally you are adding captions and keywords that someone who already knows you can piece together and perhaps guess or already knows where all these physical places are. But you’ve gate-keeped based on “you need to know me and know enough about me” to get it.

Up until now, you’ve controlled the information flow based on how much you tag the photo in the context of how well your online “friends” know you.

Related links: adding GPS locations to photos when you don’t have a GPS (one) (two) (three) (four) (five).

GPS tagged photos are game changing

Now someone who doesn’t know anything about you, and with whom you might NOT want to share that level of personal information, can instantly become your first stalker. They know exactly where you live, exactly where you work, exactly how you get to work, and exactly where you relax and have let down your guard.

Something to consider as an adult and perhaps lock-down if your child has a GPS-enabled cell phone.

Of course, if you’re on a tourist trip and taking pictures of Yellowstone and the Statue of Liberty and are never going to be there again it’s perfectly fine to include the full GPS coordinates since that doesn’t disclose personal information and you’ll not routinely passing by there again. However, if you visit Aunt Mildred in Brooklyn on the same trip you might want to limit access to her home’s location.

I’m invincible, right? What do I care?

Consider the following two situations:

  • I was at a friend’s house party on Friday and took a few pictures and was about to post them when it hit me: I’m potentially compromising her safety, not just my own. If I post those GPS enabled photos some random person could view the photo (hey, it’s up on Flickr for anyone to browse) and know which front door to be waiting at. Skechadellic, dude!
  • I have a swimming hole I’d like to keep on the down-low but when I go out there I take a few shots with my camera to remember the scene. If I post those on Flickr with the GPS coordinates suddenly anyone that views my the photo tagged “My secret swimming hole” can see it placed exactly on that blue map polygon and route directly to it. Not so secret after all. Oops!

So it turns out Flickr has a way to moderate this to an extent. There is a setting to control this, sort of. Screenshot below:

flickr geotags

Notice how I do NOT have this option checked. But my GPS information is still being read in and placed on my account map somehow. Bad!

User Solution 1

The best, fail-proof option is to not record the GPS information when the photo was taken. But then you loose that information for your personal record. The iPhone asks the first time a GPS enabled application is launched if you want to allow it access to the GPS. Press “Don’t Allow” and you’re set.

But once you have enabled the camera to know the location you can’t disable it until the phone is turned completely off and restarted, less than convenient and oh so easy to forget about. You can go to the General Settings area of the phone and turn Location Service on and off without restarting the phone, however.

iphone use current location

User Solution 2

There should be a middle way when uploading and displaying on photo sharing sites like Flickr. This way you retrain full GPS location for your private records but only let out an approximate public location for everyone else.

For the Mac you can download PhotoInfoEditor to edit the precision of the GPS coordinates stored in the EXIF information for the photo (or a duplicate targeted for public upload). I had a devil of a time finding this app as most simply report the GPS coordinates; they do not allow them to be edited. If someone knows of a comparable app on the PC please email me.

Notice in the screenshot below that I have stripped the latitude and longitude to display to the hundredth (39.35° N). You could just as well scramble the coordinates down to the 4th or 5th decimal position when in the city and still be in the right neighborhood but no longer be at the right building. Photosets can be batched adjusted.

This puts the photo in the rough vicinity of the actual location but does not reveal the actual location

. photo info editor screenshot

When you do this before uploading to Flickr or Picasa you can have the benefit of placing your photos on a map with some accuracy but just not with a high precision. In other words, don’t zoom too far into the map or the photo locations become inaccurate. But zoomed out they are perfectly acceptable.

How can software be improved?

On upload / display of the photos in a social photo site:

  • Group permissions for viewing Placename tags and GPS coordinates on map with default being NOT to show the geographic location but to apply limits of precision with individual photo exceptions as detailed next:
  • On / off toggle for Placename tags per photo
  • On / off toggle for GPS coordinates per photo
  • Placename precision (country, state, county, town, neighborhood) from Yahoo or Google geocoder as a slider control per photo
  • GPS precision (exact, 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile, 5 miles, 10 miles, 20 miles, 60 miles) for latitude and longitude as a slider per photo

The GPS precision needs to take into consideration that the number of earth miles at each degree of latitude changes. Simply chopping of decimal places is a crude solution. A more elegant solution would be to add a random ± X decimal degrees to the actual location at the target precision. Even though the iPhone GPS can get you down to 10 meter accuracy, sometimes you don’t want to be that precise.

I’ve already spoken to the developer at AirMe which is my favorite app on the iPhone for uploading to Flickr and he seems interested in making the required upgrades to his application. Please help spread the word to other developers!