Planet Geospatial

Directions MagazineData Mashups can Help Answer the World’s Biggest Questions

GIS LoungeMapping Almost 250 Years of Buildings in Manhattan

Morphocode‘s Urban Layers allows users to drill down and view the history of Manhattan’s buildings by mapping out over 45,000 buildings and symbolizing them by age.  Users can filter buildings by age by interacting with the graph which shows year of construction on the X axis and the number of buildings built [...]

The post Mapping Almost 250 Years of Buildings in Manhattan appeared first on GIS Lounge.

LiDAR NewsEye Focusing Lidar

Imagine being able to point a lidar sensor at a specific region in a scene by simply looking at it with your eyes. Continue reading →

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GIS LoungeSmart Tree Logging with Remote Sensing

Treemetrics is using satellite imagery, UAV, and LiDAR to help forestry managers to map out forests in order to better assess the quality and value of their forests and to cut down on waste.

The post Smart Tree Logging with Remote Sensing appeared first on GIS Lounge.

AnyGeoHERE maps for Android (Beta)

TweetFrom HERE… HERE offers fast, accurate maps that are always ready to use, with or without an internet connection. Search for places, find routes and get turn-by-turn voice guidance wherever you are. Underground, on holiday, or even in the middle … Continue reading

BoundlessQGIS Compared: Visualization

Gretchen PetersonAny GIS professional who’s been paying attention to the professional chatter in recent years will be wondering about QGIS and whether or not it might meet some or all of their needs. QGIS is open source, similar to proprietary GIS software, runs on a variety of operating systems, and has been steadily improving since its debut in 2002. With easy-to-install packages, OpenGeo Suite integration, and reliable support offerings, we obviously see QGIS as a viable alternative to proprietary desktop GIS software such as Esri’s ArcGIS for Desktop.

But will it work for you? The short answer is: most likely yes for visualization of most formats of spatial data, probably for analysis of raster and vector data, probably for geographic data editing, and probably for cartographic publishing.  Those are all very subjective assertions based on my personal experience using QGIS for the past seven months but I have been using proprietary GIS for over fourteen years as an analyst and cartographer and have written a couple of books on the subject.

By all means give QGIS a try: download and install it, drag-and-drop some data into it, and give it a spin. This is definitely a good time to evaluate it and consider adopting it across your organization.

Visualizing spatial data in QGIS

In this first post, I’m going to focus on visualizing spatial data in QGIS. These basic functions are straightforward and easy to do in QGIS:

  1. adding datasets

  2. moving datasets up and down in the layer hierarchy

  3. zooming around the map

  4. selecting features based on simple point-and-click

  5. selecting features based on complex selection criteria

  6. viewing attributes

  7. creating graduated color schemes


Strength: Versatile and efficient format support

In fact, QGIS is an effective means of viewing and exploring spatial data of almost any type. If you have complex data, you might be interested to hear that the newest release of QGIS boasts very fast, multi-threaded, rendering of spatial data that may even make it faster than leading competitors. When I began creating the map shown above, I accidentally added all of the Natural Earth 1:10m Cultural Vectors in triplicate to the project, causing some minor heart-palpitations as I realized it was going to try to render close to 100 vector layers all at once. However, my fears were unfounded as it took only a few seconds for them to render once they were all added. In the realm of visualization, it does most of the other tasks that a GIS professional would expect as well, including support for custom symbol sets (in SVG format). Adding GeoJSON data is simple, just drag a geojson file onto the Layers list. Here, we show a portion of James Fee’s GeoJSON repository of baseball stadiums:


Mixed results: Raster visualization

That said, raster visualization can yield unexpected results depending on what is desired. Some raster datasets have tables that associate bands with RGB values such that specific cell-types are rendered certain colors. Often, landcover datasets will have this kind of structure so that, for example, the raster is rendered with blue for water, green for grass, white for ice, and so on. Unfortunately, QGIS doesn’t yet support rendering based on associated table files for rasters. Another slight irritation is the continuing use of binary ARC/INFO GRID formats by some agencies who distribute raster data to the public. If you have one of these datasets, QGIS can open it but you must point to the w001001.adf file using the raster data import button.

Mixed results: On-the-fly reprojection

One of the most important ways to make GIS user-friendly is to support on-the-fly projection. I still remember when projecting on-the-fly became a part of the software that I used to use. It was the end of 1999, and life was so much easier when multiple datasets from multiple agencies in multiple projections could all be jammed together into a single project, producing a map where all the data layers were in the correct projected space. This was because reprojecting not only added extra steps requiring you to reproject everything into a common coordinate system even if all you wanted to do was visualize the data, it also meant maintaining multiple copies of the same dataset, which contributed to folder clutter and using up of valuable disk space. QGIS supports reprojection on-the-fly but it is an option that must be set in the project properties dialog. Some glitches with projections still seem to occur from time to time. Zooming in, for example, sometimes causes the map to zoom to a different place than expected. However, this unexpected behavior is inconsistent, not a showstopper, and may be fixed soon.


Hidden gem: Context

The other important aspect of visualizing data is having enough underlying context for the data. Country boundaries, city labels, roads, oceans, and other standard map data are crucial. Proprietary GIS software generally contains basemap layers that can easily be turned on and off to support visualization in this manner. QGIS also has this capability, in the form of the OpenLayers plugin, which serves up Google, OpenStreetMap, Bing, and Yahoo basemaps at the click of a button. The OpenLayers plugin is free and installs just like any other QGIS plugin—you search for it in the Plugins menu, press “install,” and make your basemap choice in the Web menu.



While QGIS may need a small amount of improvement when it comes to raster visualization and on-the-fly projection, these aren’t hindrances to a typical visualization workflow and are only mentioned here out of respect for a fair and balanced assessment. By and large, my testing has convinced me that the robust visualization capabilities that QGIS offers provide more than enough impetus for many organizations to make the switch to QGIS. In later posts, I’ll discuss how QGIS performs with respect to analysis, editing, and cartography.

The post QGIS Compared: Visualization appeared first on Boundless.

Directions MagazineBuild Smart Mapping Apps for Windows Desktop, Windows Store, and Windows Phone

Directions MagazineSchneider Electric Named a “Visionary” in Gartner Magic Quadrant Report Analyzing GIS Providers for Utilities

Directions MagazineOGC seeks comment on new working group focused on representing time series spatial observation data

Directions MagazineCEO of Geocove — Emergency Services Mapping Company — Has Advice for Fellow GIS Workers, Entrepreneurs

Directions MagazineRelease of NACMAP Version 5.0 for Business Data Visualization and Mobile Assets Tracking

Directions MagazinePointfuse Software Success at Intergeo

Directions MagazineGGP Systems Launches New Look User Group Meetings

Directions MagazineGriner and Schmitz Inc. Partners with GeoLearn

geomobLDNWelcome new #geomob sponsor Pusher

Big news geomobsters,

I’m delighted to announce Pusher has joined us a sponsor.

Pusher provides tools to enable developers to easily build real time services. Whether you need to integrate real time chat into an app or trigger notifications for one of your users, Pusher has APIs to make it simple. Over 55,000 developers worldwide including majors brands like GitHub, ITV, MailChimp and the Financial Times (and many more) use Pusher. You can learn more over on their blog or the @pusher twitter account

The generous funding from our sponsors pays for the drinks at the pub following the speakers, and in many ways it is the post-talk mixing and mingling that’s the most important part of #geomob. Please make sure you say a hearty thanks to OpenCage Data, KnowWhere Consulting, SplashMaps, Pusher and the BCS at the next #geomob on 4th of November.
If your organisation is interested in becoming a sponsor, please get in touch.

LiDAR NewsTwo New UAS Lidar Systems Announced

The Scout uses the new Velodyne Puck and the Ranger is based on Riegl's VUX-1. Continue reading →

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mousebird consultingDark Sky & Progressive Loading

There's a new Dark Sky for iOS out.  If you're interested in weather apps, I suggest checking it out.

Terrible weather is pretty! is one of my favorite clients (translation: They pay on time), but whenever they ask for something it's going to be hard.  This was no exception.

Tile Loading

Dark Sky has a ton of custom logic in it, not to mention all the custom data they feed it.  But large parts are using standard WhirlyGlobe-Maply.  The tile loading logic, for instance, is all in there.

Let's review.  For the globe, we start loading at level 0 and work our way down.

I will reuse this at least 5 more times.

The app does something funkier when you're zoomed in, but let's ignore that.  This approach works well for the globe, but for one problem:  Animation means frames.

So let's say you're loading 20 frames of animation to show the weather changing over the course of a day.  That means you have to load each tile 20 times.  Sure, you can do it in parallel... but still.  It takes a while.

Progressive Tile Loading

Adam at wanted something better.  "Couldn't we load individual frames" he said?  "Sure", I said.  "Just let me renew my Xanax prescription and we'll give it a try."

And now WG-Maply can load frames progressively.  That means it'll start at your most important frame and work its way outward.  It'll load depth first, so that first frame looks good everywhere and then work outward to the less important frames.

You can set the frame priorities yourself, change them on the fly, and get feedback on what is properly loaded.  When the user moves, we start loading at the most important frame again, then work on the others.

That Sounds... Complicated

Why yes, voice in my head that may never, ever go away, it is complicated!  It's not all that hard to use, though.  You provide your tile sources as normal and let the loader do its thing.  If you want to tell the user what's going on, there's a callback for that.

Weather apps are the most obvious users here, but anything with animation is fair game.  I'd love to see some data visualization apps using this feature.

GIS LoungeStateFace

Here’s a font collection cartographers and those in GIS might want to download for future use.  StateFace is a sets of icons for the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and one showing the continental United States.  The shapes have been simplified to make them easily usable for instances where [...]

The post StateFace appeared first on GIS Lounge.

Azavea Atlas4 Cartography Color Tips Hue Should Know

Recently attending the NACIS Annual Meeting provided significant inspiration on cartography and visual map design.  This encouraged me to assemble some tips on the thoughtful use of color in cartographic design.

1. Never Use the Default Colors

A frequently mentioned recommendation during the conference was to avoid defaults at all cost.  One specific set of defaults to avoid in mapmaking are the default color schemes (and even classification styles) used for symbolizing data in your maps.  John Nelson made this specific warning during his presentation on 20 Unrequested Map Tips (see tip #3 “Defaults are Evil”).  His map below highlights the worst of the worst of relying on defaults in ArcMap.


Map highlights worst of defaults in ArcMap by John Nelson

Consider using the ColorBrewer web tool (Cynthia Brewer’s collection of beautiful color choices for ramped or categorical  data) as an alternative to Arcmap’s uninspired defaults .  You can even import ColorBrewer schemes directly into ArcMap or other GIS or data analysis software of your choice (GDAL, QGIS, R, TileMill, etc). Happily, a favorite web mapping tool, CartoDB, already includes these lovely schemes.

2. Palette Inspiration

Color selection need not be traditional and stuffy.  Inspire yourself to design a more creative color scheme by browsing some existing color palettes and even create your own. Here are a few I like:




Or browse old maps for inspiration:


Isochronic Distances Map of Travel Time in Days from London, 1914

The above map was used as inspiration for the color palette below


3. Logo or Photo Inspiration

Are you designing a map for a client? Try coordinating their company colors with your map design.  Identify the RBG codes of the colors in a logo or site by using a free eyedropper tool (in your Chrome browser or desktop) or add the Eyedropper tool to your toolbar in ArcMap. Now that you have identified a few of the predominant colors in your logo, decide how they will be used in your cartography (would these colors be suitable for categorical, divergent or sequential data?)  You can simply use these colors for inspiration or you can use a color blender tool like this one or this one to create a range from two colors.  Adjust saturation and transparency to suit your mapped data.  Below is a logo, a ramp and a map created using this method.  I decided to just use a palette made from only the blue in the logo but you can also find a divergent palette using both the red and blue here.

Logo of Inspiration: the Philadelphia Phillies Logo:


A palette created from the primary blue of the logo:


Finally, a map symbolized using the blended color palette:

Find the color palette of the above scheme here.

4. Design for Accessibility

Color deficiency or blindness is an important consideration in cartographic design.  Red to Green color palettes are used frequently when mapping divergent data.  The inability to differentiate these two colors causes significant challenges in interpreting data.  Tip #17 from 20 Unrequested Tips and this fantastic blog post does a great job at describing the shortcomings of some color palettes and makes fantastic (and beautiful) recommendations for accessible colors. When selecting your accessible palette, consult Colorbrewer which has an option to select only colorblind safe palettes.

Other areas of consideration for design accessibility for vision impairment include tactile maps which deserve their own blog post, but I’ll say PATCO’s Tactile Transit Map is worth checking out for inspiration. (Routes and stop amenities are uniquely symbolized using tactile features for easy navigation).


It is important to consider how the colors in your maps communicate and whether it is successful in sharing the correct message.  The book How to Lie with Maps by Mark Monmonier devotes an entire chapter on the misleading use of color in maps.  As a cartographer, you have the power to make creative and thoughtful color choices. Use these tips and guidelines to bring careful color consideration and planning to your maps. This will help you communicate better with a wider audience and help your map stand out in a sea of ArcMap defaults.

geothoughtReaction to Apple Maps announcement

What they announced As predicted by the entire world, Apple announced their new maps application today as part of iOS 6. You can see the keynote presentation of the video here, and Apple's summary information about the Maps app here. Overall my predictions from last week were pretty spot on :) ... they announced that it would have turn by turn directions with voice guidance, real time

The Big Blue ThreadWe Don’t Have to Live with Lead Poisoning

By Crystal McIntyre

As I sit working on this dreary, rainy morning, I think about the things that are not taking place today like soccer games and outside recess at schools.  When the rain comes or the cold weather hits, many activities cease and change. It would be safe to say that outdoor activities slow down during the fall and winter months, including home improvement work; work that is done outdoors, work that is done by skilled professionals and homeowners alike.

Lead Based Paint

Lead Lurks

But what about the months before, when many people complete various projects to make their homes look better? Many people aren’t aware that the positive urge to improve their homes can have unintended but potentially harmful consequences for children.

It all has to do with the fact that many homes in the country—particularly those built before 1978–STILL contain dangerous amounts of lead-based paint. When that paint is disturbed by home renovation or improvement work, it can present a major hazard to pregnant women and especially to children under the age of 6—those children whose brains are still developing, who play on floors and tend to have more frequent hand-to-mouth contact. No caring adult wants to harm children, but that’s exactly what happens when lead-based paint is disturbed and proper steps are not taken to keep children safe.

October is Children’s Health Month, with a special focus on lead poisoning prevention during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (Oct. 19-25).  During this week, many organizations and agencies, including EPA, are asking parents and caregivers to have their children tested, have their homes tested, and get the facts about lead poisoning.

I’m personally asking everyone to be aware that lead is STILL a problem. Lead will continue to be a problem as long as it remains in our homes, schools, yards and playgrounds. We just need to be diligent about what we can do to keep our children safe. The good news is, there’s so much good, free and easily accessible information available to us about lead poisoning, so it’s easy for anyone to start by reading just a little and asking a lot of questions.  Both EPA and the Centers for Disease Control have helpful online information on lead hazards and the effects of lead poisoning.  You can find it at and

It’s never too late to prevent lead poisoning. It IS a preventable disease that currently half a million U.S. children are known to have.  How many more could be exposed? The answer is unknown, but lead does not discriminate. It is a highly toxic and sometimes deadly poison that we can learn about and don’t have to live with.


Crystal McIntyre is EPA Region 7’s Lead-Based Paint Program Coordinator

LiDAR NewsPhysical Reality for King Tut Tomb

During the past hundred years many antiquities have been exposed to too much human presence and unless that is restricted they are going to collapse completely. Continue reading →

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The Map Guy(de)GovHack 2014 post-mortem

UPDATE 20 October 2014: After a bungle on my Amazon EC2 instance, the demo URL on our hackerspace project page is no longer active. I've resurrected this site on my demo server on Rackspace here. Ignore the link on the hackerspace page until that page gets updated (if it will get updated, because I can't do it)

Earlier this month, I attended the GovHack 2014 hackathon, along with thousands of other fellow hackers all across the country. This was my first GovHack, but not my first hackathon. My previous hackathon was RHoK and having no idea how GovHack would turn out, I entered the GovHack event with a RHoK-based mindset of how I would expect this hackathon to turn out.

Bad idea.

I learned very quickly there was a major difference between RHoK and GovHack. Going into RHoK, you have an idea about what solutions you will get to hack on over the weekend as problem owners are present to pitch their ideas to the audience of prospective hackers. With GovHack, you need an idea about what solution you want to hack on over the weekend, all they were going to provide was the various open data and APIs. What on earth are we going to build?

So after losing nearly half the weekend to analysis paralysis, our team (named CreativeDrought, wonder why?) agreed with my suggestion of just building a MapGuide-based mashup of various open datasets, most notably, the VicRoads Crash Stats dataset and related transportation data. I obviously knew MapGuide inside-and-out and its capabilities to have a level of confidence that with the remaining weekend we should still be able to crank out some sort of workable solution. At the very least, we'd have a functional interactive map with some open data on it.

And that's the story of our CrashTest solution in a nutshell. It's a Fusion application, packed to the gills with out-of-the-box functionality from its rich array of widgets (including Google StreetView integration). The main objective of this solution was to allow users to view and analyse crash data, sliced and diced along various age, gender, vehicle type and various socio-economic parameters.

MapGuide's rich out-of-the-box capabilities, Maestro's rapid authoring functionality and GDAL/OGR's ubiquitous data support greatly helped us. I knew with this trio of tools, that we could assemble an application together in the remaining day and a bit left that we had to actually "hack" on something.

Sadly, we only got as far as putting the data on the map for the most part. Our team spent more time frantically trying to massage various datasets via ogr2ogr/Excel/GoogleDocs into something more usable than actually writing lines of code! Seriously VicRoads? Pseudo-AMG? Thank goodness I found the necessary proj4 string for this cryptic coordinate system so that we could re-project a fair chunk of the VicRoads spatial data into a coordinate system that better reflects the world we want to mash this data up with!

Still, our "solution" should hopefully still open up a lot of "what if" scenarios. Imagine looking at a cluster of accident events, not being able to ascertain any real patterns or correlation and so you then fire up the StreetView widget and lo-and-behold, Google StreetView providing additional insights that a birds-eye view could not. Also imagine the various reporting and number crunching possibilities that are available by tapping into the MapGuide API. Imagine what other useful information you could derive if we had more time to put up additional useful datasets. We didn't get very far on any of the above ideas, so just imagine such possibilities if you will :)

So here's our entry page if you want to have a look. It includes a working demo URL to a Amazon EC2 hosted instance of MapGuide. Getting acquainted with Amazon Web Services and putting MapGuide up there was an interesting exercise and much easier than I thought it would be, though I didn't have enough time to use the AWS credits I redeemed over the weekend to momentarily lift this demo site out of the free usage tier range performance-wise. Still, the site seems to perform respectably well on the free usage tier.

Also on that page is a link to a short video where we talk about the hack. Please excuse the sloppy editing, it was obviously recorded in haste in a race against time. Like the solution and/or the possibilities it can offer? Be sure to vote on our entry page.

Despite the initial setbacks, I was happy with what we produced given the severely depleted time constraints imposed on us. I think we got some nice feedback demo-ing CrashTest in person at the post-mortem event several days later, which is always good to hear. Good job team!

So what do I think could be improved with GovHack?
  • Have a list of hack ideas (by participants who actually have some ideas) up some time before the hackathon starts. This would facilitate team building, letting participants with the skills, but without ideas easily gravitate towards people/teams with the ideas.
  • The mandatory video requirement for each hack entry just doesn't work in its current form. Asking teams to produce their own videos puts lots of unnecessary stress on teams, who not only have to come up with the content for their video, but have to also deal with the logistics of producing said video. I would strongly prefer that teams who can/want to make their own video do so, while other teams can just do a <= 3 minute presentation and have that be recorded by the GovHack organisers. Presentations also lets teams find out how other teams fared over the weekend. While everyone else in the ThoughtWorks Melbourne office was counting down to the end of the hackathon, I was still frantically trying to record my lines and trying not to flub them! I raided the office fridge for whatever free booze that remained just to calm myself down afterwards. I don't want to be in that situation ever again!
  • Finally, the data itself. So many "spatial" datasets as CSV files! So many datasets with no coordinates, but have addresses, horribly formatted addresses, adding even more hoops to geocode them. KML/KMZ may be a decent consumer format, but it is a terrible data source format. If ogr2ogr can't convert your dataset, and requires a manual intervention of QGIS to fix it, then perhaps it's better to use a different spatial data format. Despite my loathing of its limitations, SHP files would've been heavily preferred for all of the above cases. I've made my thoughts known on the GovHack DataRater about the quality of some of these datasets we had to deal with and got plenty of imaginary ponies in the process.
Despite the above points, the event as a whole was a lot of fun. Thanks to the team (Jackie and Felicity) for your data wrangling and video production efforts.

Also thanks to Jordan Wilson-Otto and his flickr photostream where I was able to get some of these photos for this particular post.

Would I be interested in attending the 2015 edition of GovHack? Given I am now armed with 20/20 hindsight, yes I would!

All Points BlogDavid Huff, Pioneer of Retail Geography, Passes

It's with deep sadness that I learned of the passing (obituary) of Dr. David Huff, formerly a professor of business administration at the University of Texas, Austin. Huff passed away on August 30th. David Huff, for those that have studied retail geography and market analysis, knew him... Continue reading

VerySpatialA VerySpatial Podcast – Episode 483

A VerySpatial Podcast
Shownotes – Episode 483
19 October 2014

Main Topic: Our conversation on humanistic perspectives and geospatial technologies

  • Click to directly download MP3
  • Click to directly download AAC
  • Click for the detailed shownotes


  • Lose My Faith by Gypsy Dreams (Tommy Mordecai)

  • News

  • Apple patent application details indoor mapping plans
  • Asia Foundation project will map rapidly-growing city of Ulaanbaatar
  • AutoCAD Map 3D 2015 SP3 now available
  • LinkedIn Economic Graph Challenge

  • Web Corner

  • Measure of America

  • Main topic

  • This week we offer some of our thoughts on incorporating a humanistic perspective in geography, geospatial technologies, and other data-driven fields

  • Events Corner

  • State of the Map: 7-9, November, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • International Conference on the History of Cartography: 12-17 July, Antwerp, Belgium
  • International Cartographic Conference: 23-28 August, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Feature image

    Sean Gillies BlogUnix style spatial ETL with fio cat, collect, and load

    Unix style spatial ETL with fio cat, collect, and load

    In Fiona 1.4.0 I added a fio-cat command to the CLI which works much UNIX cat. It opens one or more vector datastets, concatenating their features and printing them to stdout as a sequence of GeoJSON features.

    $ fio cat docs/data/test_uk.shp | head -n 2
    {"geometry": {"coordinates": [...], "type": "Polygon"}, "id": "0", "properties": {"AREA": 244820.0, "CAT": 232.0, "CNTRY_NAME": "United Kingdom", "FIPS_CNTRY": "UK", "POP_CNTRY": 60270708.0}, "type": "Feature"}
    {"geometry": {"coordinates": [...], "type": "Polygon"}, "id": "1", "properties": {"AREA": 244820.0, "CAT": 232.0, "CNTRY_NAME": "United Kingdom", "FIPS_CNTRY": "UK", "POP_CNTRY": 60270708.0}, "type": "Feature"}

    I’ve replaced most of the coordinates with ellipses to save space in the code block above, something I’ll continue to do in examples below.

    I said that fio-cat concatenates features of multiple files and you can see this by using wc -l.

    $ fio cat docs/data/test_uk.shp | wc -l
    $ fio cat docs/data/test_uk.shp docs/data/test_uk.shp | wc -l

    If you look closely at the output, you’ll see that every GeoJSON feature is a standalone text and each is preceded by an ASCII RS (0x1E) control character. These allow you to cat pretty-printed GeoJSON (using the --indent option) containing newlines that can still be understood as a sequence of texts by other programs. Software like Python’s json module and Node’s underscore-cli will trip over unstripped RS, so you can disable the RS control characters and emit LF delimited sequences of GeoJSON (with no option to pretty print, of course) using --x-json-seq-no-rs.

    To complement fio-cat I’ve written fio-load and fio-collect. They read features from a sequence (RS or LF delimited) and respectively write them to a formatted vector file (such as a Shapefile) or print them as a GeoJSON feature collection.

    Here’s an example of using fio-cat and load together. You should tell fio-load what coordinate reference system to use when writing the output file because that information isn’t carried in the GeoJSON features written by fio-cat.

    $ fio cat docs/data/test_uk.shp \
    | fio load --driver Shapefile --dst_crs EPSG:4326 /tmp/test_uk.shp
    $ ls -l /tmp/test_uk.*
    -rw-r--r--  1 seang  wheel     10 Oct  5 10:09 /tmp/test_uk.cpg
    -rw-r--r--  1 seang  wheel  11377 Oct  5 10:09 /tmp/test_uk.dbf
    -rw-r--r--  1 seang  wheel    143 Oct  5 10:09 /tmp/test_uk.prj
    -rw-r--r--  1 seang  wheel  65156 Oct  5 10:09 /tmp/test_uk.shp
    -rw-r--r--  1 seang  wheel    484 Oct  5 10:09 /tmp/test_uk.shx

    And here’s one of fio-cat and collect.

    $ fio cat docs/data/test_uk.shp | fio collect --indent 4 | head
        "features": [
                "geometry": {
                    "coordinates": [
    $ fio cat docs/data/test_uk.shp | fio collect --indent 4 | tail
                    "CAT": 232.0,
                    "CNTRY_NAME": "United Kingdom",
                    "FIPS_CNTRY": "UK",
                    "POP_CNTRY": 60270708.0
                "type": "Feature"
        "type": "FeatureCollection"

    Does it look like I’ve simply reinvented ogr2ogr? The difference is that with fio-cat and fio-load there’s space in between for programs that process features. The programs could be written in any language. They might use Shapely, they might use Turf. The only requirement is that they read and write sequences of GeoJSON features using stdin and stdout. A nice property of programs like these is that you can sometimes parallelize them cheaply using GNU parallel.

    The fio-buffer program (unreleased) in the example below uses Shapely to calculate a 100 km buffer around features (in Web Mercator, I know!). Parallel doesn’t help in this example because the sequence of features from fio-cat is fairly small, but I want to show you how to tell parallel to watch for RS as a record separator.

    $ fio cat docs/data/test_uk.shp --dst_crs EPSG:3857 \
    > | parallel --pipe --recstart '\x1E' fio buffer 1E+5 \
    > | fio collect --src_crs EPSG:3857 \
    > | geojsonio

    Here’s the result. Unix pipelines, still awesome at the age of 41!

    The other point of this post is that, with the JSON Text Sequence draft apparently going to publication, sequences of GeoJSON features not collected into a GeoJSON feature collection are very close to being a real thing that developers should be supporting.

    The Map Guy(de)MapGuide tidbits: MapGuide Server daemon doesn't start after reboot

    This one will be short and sweet.

    If you have rebooted your Linux server, and for some reason you can no longer start the MapGuide Server as a daemon. You should check that the /var/lock/mgserver directory exists and create it if it doesn't.

    The mgserver process will try to create and lock a file in this directory and will bail out if it can't. This directory is cleared when the Linux server is restarted (at least in my observations). None of the wrapper scripts ( or actually check if the directory exists, so they blindly proceed as though this directory existed.

    We'll patch the script to create this directory if it doesn't exist before running the mgserver daemon. In the meantime, you can edit the file in the MapGuide Linux installation yourself to create the /var/lock/mgserver directory before running the mgserver process.

    LiDAR NewsDay and Night

    Yet despite this most of the Built Environment that we see today was created without the benefit of 3D. Continue reading →

    Click Title to Continue Reading...

    thematic mapping blogCreating 3D terrains with Cesium

    Previously, I’ve used three.js to create 3D terrain maps in the browser (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). It worked great for smaller areas, but three.js doesn’t have built-in support for tiling and advanced LOD algorithms needed to render large terrains. So I decided to take Cesium for a spin.

    Cesium is a JavaScript library for creating 3D globes and 2D maps in the browser without a plugin. Like three.js, it uses WebGL for hardware-accelerated graphics. Cesium allows you to add your own terrain data, and this blog post will show you how.

    Compared to the dying Google Earth plugin, it's quite complicated to get started with Cesium. The source code is well documented and the live coding Sandcastle is great, but there is a lack of tutorials and my development slows down when I have to deal with a lot of math.

    That said, I was able to create an app streaming my own terrain and imagery with a few lines of code. There is also WebGL Earth, a wrapper around Cesium giving you an API similar to well-known Leaflet. I expect to see more functions or wrappers to make stuff like camera positioning easier in the future.

    How can you add your own terrain data to Cesium? 

    First, you need to check if you really need it. You have the option to stream high-resolution terrain data directly from the servers at AGI. It's free to use on public sites under the terms of use. If you want to host the terrain data on your own servers, AGI provides a commercial product - the STK Terrain Server. Give it a try, if you have a budget!

    I was looking for an open source solution, and found out that Cesium supports two terrain formats:
    1. heightmap
    2. quantized-mesh
    The tiled heightmap format is similar to the one I used for three.js. Each tile contains 65 x 65 height values, which overlap their neighbors at their edges to create a seamless terrain. Cesium translates the heightmap tiles into a uniform triangle mesh, as I did in three.js. The downside of this format is the uniform grid, you use the same amount of data to represent both flat and hilly terrain.

    The regular terrain mesh made from heightmap tiles. 

    The quantized-mesh format follows the same tile structure as heightmap tiles, but each tile is better optimised for large-scale terrain rendering. Instead of creating a dense, uniform triangle mesh in the browser, an irregular triangle mesh is pre-rendered for each tile. It's a better representation of the landscape, having less detail in flat areas while increasing the density in steep terrain. The mesh terrain is also more memory efficient and renders faster.

    The irregular terrain mesh from quantized-mesh tiles. Larger triangles have less height variation. 

    Unfortunately, I haven't found any open source tools to create tiles in the quantized-mesh format - please notify me if you know how to do it!

    You can generate heightmap tiles with Cesium Terrain Builder, a great command-line utility by Homme Zwaagstra at the GeoData Institute, University of Southampton.

    I'm using the same elevation data as I did for my three.js maps, but this time in full 10 meter resolution. I'm just clipping the data to my focus area (Jotunheimen) using EPSG:4326, the World Geodetic System (WGS 84).

    gdalwarp -t_srs EPSG:4326 -te 7.2 60.9 9.0 61.7 -co compress=lzw -r bilinear jotunheimen.vrt jotunheimen.tif

    I went for the easy option, and installed Cesium Terrain Builder using the Docker image. First I installed Docker via Homebrew.  I was not able to mount my hard drive with this method, so I downloaded the elevation data from my public Dropbox folder:


    I used the ctb-tile command to generate the tileset:

    ctb-tile --output-dir ./tiles jotunheimen.tif

    The command returned 65 000 tiles down to zoom level 15. I compressed the tiles into one file:

    tar cvzf tiles.tar.gz tiles

    and used the Dropbox uploader to get the tiles back to my hard drive:

    ./ upload tiles.tar.gz tiles.tar.gz

    So I got 65 000 terrain tiles on my server, how can I see the beauty in Cesium? It required some extra work:
    1. First I had to add a missing top level tile that Cesium was expecting. 
    2. Cesium was also looking for a layer.json file which I had to create:

        "tilejson": "2.1.0",
        "format": "heightmap-1.0",
        "version": "1.0.0",
        "scheme": "tms",
        "tiles": ["{z}/{x}/{y}.terrain?v={version}"]

    3. Lastly, I added a .htaccess file to support CORS and gzipped terrain tiles: 

    Then I was ready to go!

    Beautiful terrain rendered with 10 m elevation data from the Norwegian Mapping Authority. Those who know Jotunheimen, will notice Skogadalsbøen by the river and Stølsnostind and Falketind surrounded by glaciers in the background.

    The terrain is a bit blocky (see the mount Falketind to the left), but I'm not sure if this is happening in Cesium Terrain Builder or Cesium itself. The quantized-mesh tiles from AGI gives a better result. 

    I'm not able so show an interactive version, as I'm using detailed aerial imagery from "Norge i bilder", which are not publicly available.

    Ed ParsonsThanks for the memories, Terminal 1

    One of my earliest memories as a child was flying, then still a little glamorous, to Belfast to see my mothers family. This I guess was in the mid 1970’s and was the first time I visited Heathrow’s Terminal 1.

    Terminal 1 in the mid-1970s Photo : Steve Johnson


    Early this month I visited the terminal for the last time, most airlines have already moved across to the new Terminal 2, and the British Airways flight I often take to Dublin is moving to Terminal 5 at the end of the month.

    I took the opportunity to take a few photo’s to record the last days of Terminal 1.

    Thanks for the memories, the long walks, slow moving security lines, the waits for arriving passengers to pass and allow mysterious doors to be opened and for being a gateway to world !

    Click to view slideshow.

    Spatial GalaxyPyQGIS Resources

    Here is a short list of resources available when writing Python code in QGIS. If you know of others, please leave a comment.


    In alphabetical order:


    Example Code

    • Existing plugins can be a great learning tool
    • Code Snippets in the PyQGIS Cookbook


    • Script Runner: Run scripts to automate QGIS tasks
    • Plugin Builder: Create a starter plugin that you can customize to complete your own plugin
    • pb_tool: Tool to compile and deploy your plugins


    ACuriousAnimal7 reasons to use Yeoman’s angular-fullstack generator

    For my next project and, after looking for candidates and reading some hundreds of lines of documentation, I finally choose to work with the so called MEAN stack: mongodb, express, angular and node.

    As with any other technology ecosystem, the great number of frameworks, libraries and tools can make our choice a challenge, and JavaScript is not an exception. But for JavaScript projects we have lot of help and I decide to use the awesome Yeoman tool. Yeoman combines the power of grunt, bower, npm and adds its own salt: the generators.

    Yeoman generators are tasks responsible to build the initial project scaffolding.

    Yeoman offers an extensive set of official generators oriented to create: webapps, backbone app, chrome extension, etc but we can also found a myriad of non oficial generators (yes, because anyone can create a new generator to satisfy his/her needs).

    Within all the generators I chose angular-fullstack to create my MEAN project structure and next are my reasons:

    1. Easy to install

    You require to have node and npm installed on your system. Once you have them installYeoman and the angular-fullstack is as easy as:

    $ npm install -g yo
    $ npm install -g generator-angular-fullstack

    Once installed the generator you simply need to create a new folder and initialise your project:

    $ mkdir my-new-project && cd $_
    $ yo angular-fullstack [app-name]

    2. Creates both client and server scaffoldings

    The generator generates the full stack of your project, both the client and server code. Your project will start well organised and prepared to create an awesome RIA application.

    3. Introduces good practices in the generated code

    Because the generated is made by experienced developers, they applies good practices in code organisation and style programming (like the environment configuration on the server side using node).

    For me, this is one of the most important reasons to use this generator. Anybody knows starting with a new technology is always hard, but it is nothing when you start with four new technologies :)

    4. Server side API prepared to use authentication

    Following best practices the code is prepared so you can easily add security to you API via a node middleware so each request requires authentication of the client side.

    5. Support HTML or jade templating on client side

    You can use any template engine for client side but by default the generator works with HTML and Jade. I don’t really like Jade too much so I always try to use EJS or similar (Warning this last sentence is the author’s opinion).

    6. Support for different CSS preprocessors

    For different opinions there are different alternatives. This way angular-fullstack has support for plain CSS, Stylus, Sass or LESS pre-processors. Choose your preferred.

    7. Commands to scaffold anything

    With theangular-fullstack you can create new end points for the server side or client side components (like routes, controllers, services, filters, directives, …) with a sentences. So, next command:

    yo angular-fullstack:endpoint message
    [?] What will the url of your endpoint to be? /api/messages

    will produce:

    server/api/message/message.model.js  (optional)
    server/api/message/message.socket.js (optional)


    In my opnion, angular-fullstack is a really powerful tool that simplifies our day to day work.

    As always it is not the panacea, it is simply a generic tool to automatize many common tasks. Because of this we can found situations it lacks some feature.

    GIS LoungeSearchable Database of Coordinate Systems

    If you need a consolidated place to search for coordinate systems, is a place to start.  The open source web-service was launch this past March and provides a database of over 6000 coordinate systems used around the world by different GIS datasets.  The coordinate system database is based on the official [...]

    The post Searchable Database of Coordinate Systems appeared first on GIS Lounge.

    LiDAR NewsGold and Lidar

    This financial statement includes a reference to the use of Lidar in the search for gold in Nevada and Utah. The lidar surveys are being used in conjunction with the use of geophysical surveys and on...

    Click Title to Continue Reading...

    GIS CloudGIS Cloud Support Center

    Every good GIS story begins with good GIS tools. Our mission at GIS Cloud is to make your GIS journey as user friendly as possible, helping you every step of the way. There are plenty of materials that are useful, and that perhaps you were not aware are out there specifically created for you.

    Our Support team puts a lot of effort into updating the Manual on a daily basis, so all the new features that are released weekly, are immediately explained for your pursue.

    Developer’s Page

    If you need information that is more developer’s related, check our Developer’s Center that provides you with useful info on leveraging the GIS Cloud platform.


    Video Tutorials

    Explore bunch of video tutorials on our Vimeo Page.

    Live Support

    Click for live help in the bottom right corner that gives you access to online support with our team.

    Direct Contact

    For everything else, contact us directly at: for sales and general queries for ‘how to’ and support questions

    Mapperz - The Mapping News BlogOrdnance Survey Minecraft [Version 2] map of Great Britain [Video]

    Ordnance Survey Minecraft map of Great Britain Video by Leigh Dodds Ordnance Survey Minecraft data is available from (1GB File!) OS...

    Map and GIS News finding blog. With so many Maps and GIS sites online now it is hard to find the good from the not so good. This blog tries to cut the cream and provide you with the newest, fastest, cleanest and most user friendly maps that are available online. News has location and it is mapped.

    Spatially AdjustedSan Francisco Giants to World Series – Again…

    It’s an even year so that means one thing, the San Francisco Giants win the World Series. Terrible we have to wait until Tuesday for Game 1 but it will be here soon.


    LiDAR NewsHigh Accuracy NIST LADAR

    They believe the technology may be useful in diverse fields, including precision machining and assembly, as well as in forensics. Continue reading →

    Click Title to Continue Reading...

    All Points BlogGIS Health News Weekly: Deadly Disease Infographic, Duke Geomedicine Summit, Tracking Ebola by Cell Phone

    Deadly Disease Interactive The Daily Mail's interactive piece looks at the world’s deadlist outbreaks, as well as history’s most dangerous diseases. Ebola Tracking Via Cell Phone The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking the approximate locations of cell phone... Continue reading

    AnyGeoThat awkward moment when Microsoft “borrows” the Ignite name

    TweetOhmy, yep, that awkward moment when Microsoft rips… errrr adopts the Ignite name and brands their own event with it… pretty tacky Microsoft! This via Twitter and Scott Berkun who shared with us details of this interesting Microsoft event… the … Continue reading

    The Big Blue ThreadDon’t Let Your School be Spooked by Creepy Crawlies; Use Integrated Pest Management to Keep from Being Bugged

    By Katie Howard, EPA Region 7 and Erin Bauer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension


    How many hours a day does your child, nephew, niece, or grandchild spend in a school or child care facility?  October is Children’s Health Month here at EPA! It’s also the month of creepy crawlies as we look forward to Halloween. In observance of these two events, we’d like to talk about a   topic that’s important to children’s health and involves those creepy crawlies (spiders and roaches and rats, oh my): Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM has a technical sounding name, but it really just stands for common sense approaches that help keep pests out, which in turn means you don’t have to use pesticides as often.

    Some pests can trigger allergies, while others carry bacteria and transmit diseases. IPM can help manage pests while improving human health and safety and protecting the environment. IPM uses a variety of methods, such as sanitation (keeping things clean), exclusion (keeping pests out), habitat modification (sealing holes), moisture control, mechanical controls (fly swatters or trapping) and low-toxic chemical controls to get rid of pests.

    But the news isn’t all scary! There are experts across the country working hard to help schools and child care facilities start using IPM. Some of the very best of those experts are right here in EPA Region 7. Joining me on this blog post today is Erin Bauer from University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) Extension. Erin tells us a little bit about some of the IPM success stories the specialists at UNL Extension have been working on:


    School IPM 2015 Coalition: Integrated Pest Management

    School IPM 2015 Coalition

    Bringing People Together: As part of an effort called School IPM 2015, we here in Nebraska began a coalition in 2009 consisting of representatives from University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, pest control companies, school districts, Parent Teacher Associations, Nebraska Department of Ag, Winnebago and Omaha tribes, EPA, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and child care organizations. We meet quarterly to discuss current “hot topics,” such as bed bugs, as well as how to implement IPM in the state of Nebraska. During the summer, we hold a half-day meeting where we bring in several speakers, provide lunch, and network. We are always welcoming new members!

    Helping People Get Started: We conducted IPM demonstration projects in Omaha and Lincoln public schools, where we did pest assessments and helped them implement IPM principles. This was an educational experience that benefited everyone involved: the school districts, the pest management professionals who work with the schools, and those of us at UNL Extension. Since the original demonstration projects, the Lincoln and Omaha school districts are developing IPM policies for their districts and working toward IPM Star Certification. We have also helped the Omaha and Winnebago tribal schools start using IPM by conducting walk-throughs, training staff members, and developing IPM policies. Several child care centers in the Lincoln area have also asked us for assistance starting IPM programs. Overall, thousands of children in Nebraska are spending their days in safer environments thanks to IPM!

    Integrated Pest Management Private Eye Game

    Pest Private Eye

    Making IPM Fun: I am pleased to announce thatthe full version of Pest Private Eye and the Case of IPM in Schools (Pest PI), our educational first-person role-playing video game, is available free on our website at Pest PI teaches children and the educators who work with them about pests and how to control them using Integrated Pest Management.Also on the website you’ll find links to online versions of a Teacher’s guide and comic book, a user’s survey, and other resources about pests and IPM.

    Creating IPM Resources: Check out our Integrated Pest Management in Sensitive Environments: a How-To Guide! This manual is an update of our IPM in Schools: a How-To Guide, and we have edited and integrated information to fit not only schools, but other sensitive environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, child care centers, etc. It also has a new chapter on bed bugs, which of course has been a highly-talked about topic over the last few years.

    Integrated Pest Management in Sensitive Environments: a How-To Guide

    Integrated Pest Management in Sensitive Environments: a How-To Guide

    The manual includes chapters about IPM, including monitoring and inspection, treatment strategies, action and injury levels, and how to develop an IPM program. It also has chapters on specific pests that cause problems in structures or on lawns and grounds, such as cockroaches, flies, lice, rodents, and stinging insects.

    Thank you for reading about IPM in schools and child care facilities. If you would like more information about IPM at EPA and UNL, please visit and

    Katie Howard is a program specialist in the Pesticide Section of EPA Region 7’s Water, Wetlands and Pesticide Division. Erin Bauer is an associate with University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension.



    GIS LoungeOptimizing Taxi Rides with HubCab

    A project from MIT called HubCab analyzing 170 million taxi rides has found that sharing rides would reduce trips by 40%.

    The post Optimizing Taxi Rides with HubCab appeared first on GIS Lounge.

    GeoIQ BlogAll Your Open Data Questions — Answered

    Last week the Open Data product engineering team hosted a live training seminar called “Getting Started with ArcGIS Open Data.” We covered the end-user interface as well as data preperation and site layout customization for providers. You can watch a recorded version by following this link. We were asked many terrific questions during the seminar and we’ve posted all those and their answers below. If you have any other questions, please leave a comment below.

    Q: Does using ArcGIS Open Data use the hosting organization’s ArcGIS Online Credits?

    A: No. Organizations are never charged any credits for set-up or usage of their sites. The only way credits may be consumed is if you opt to host your data is in ArcGIS Online. Credit usage is based on the size of data stored, not on usage or number of downloads.

    Q: If I am hosting data on my own ArcGIS Server, what is the best way to serve them for use in Open Data?

    A: If you are setting up services with the exclusive purpose of serving them on an Open Data site we recommend you create a single map service then register each individual layer as an item in ArcGIS Online. With a single hosted map service, you can more easily control resource utilization on your server. With each layer registered as an individual item, you have control over metadata related to each layer in ArcGIS Online.

    Q: Can you upload and share data that has no geospatial component?

    A: Yes. Currently Open Data supports tables published in services that run local on ArcGIS for Server, or hosted in ArcGIS Online. You can also upload and share CSV files in ArcGIS Online that are up to 5mb and comma separated.

    Advanced users can leverage Esri’s Open Source Project KOOP to access non-spatial data from other sources, and provide a GeoServices REST API to the data. There are currently connectors for data stored in Github as well as in Socrata see more information here:

    Q: Is it possible to use Open Data to share only within my organization?

    A: Yes and no. You can limit access to your Open Data site to users in your organization with specific privileges, but all the datasets on that are on your site will be publicly available on ArcGIS Online. Additionally administrators of Open Data sites in other organizations can add your Open Data groups to their sites.

    Q: Can image services be shared via Open Data?

    A: No. At this time image services are not supported in the Open Data application. We are working to support imagery in a future release.

    Q: What is the output projection and can it be changed?

    A: The output projection for the map within the Open Data application is Web Mercator (EPSG: 3857), the same projection used within ArcGIS Online maps. The output projection for file downloads and APIs (where applicable) is WGS 84 (EPSG: 4326). At this time output projections cannot be changed. If you would like to provide downloads to users in additional formats, we recommend placing a link in the description text for the dataset.

    Q: If my organization is using a different coordinate system, do we need to re-project it to Web Mercator before using it in Open Data?

    A: No. ArcGIS Open Data handles data reprojection for you in the background.

    Q: Should I re-project my data to Web Mercator before publishing in Open Data?

    A: You do not have to, but it can help. Reprojecting your data to Web Mercator can improve performance when viewing the map in Open Data, since the data needs to be in Web Mercator to be display on the grey basemap. When your data is in a local projection, it is requested from the application in Web Mercator and the server may need additional processing time to reproject the data and provide a valid response.

    Note: Open Data will soon support custom base maps in local projections. In that case, if the projection of the data matches the projection of your basemap there will be no performance loss from reprojection.

    Q: Can one organization have multiple Open Data sites?

    A: Yes. An organization can have as many Open Data sites as they desire. For example a state-level organization could create Open Data sites for each county or a city could create an event-based (e.g. hackathon) site for a weekend and then take it down.

    Q: Is there an Open Data site gallery to let users know which organizations have public Open Data sites?

    A: Yes. There is an Open Data showcase located at that shows handpicked Open Data sites that have been made public. Additionally, you can always visit to download a file describing all Open Data sites that are currently public.

    Q: We need to ensure that our websites are accessible to people with disabilities that may be using screen-reading software. Are the site widgets designed with this in mind or would we have to supply our own HTML/CSS?

    A: At this time, Open Data’s accessibility functions are a work in progress. If you have strict compliance requirements, you would need to supply your own HTML and CSS.

    Q: Do you integrate with other platforms like CKAN?

    A: Yes. All Open Data sites produce a catalog that CKAN can ‘harvest’. To access this catalog simply append /data.json to the end of the URL for your Open Data site. Then, you will need to configure your CKAN instance to read that file. See some information about that here:

    Q: Is there a limit to the number of points displayed on the map?

    A: Yes. Based on your map extent, we send 4-6 requests for data from your server. Depending on the max record count from your server (1-2000 by default) we can display 4-12000 features. If the map cannot render all of the data, we provide a message to zoom in. We are actively refining this experience.

    Q: Are there size limitations with feature services used in Open Data (number of features or file size)?

    A: No. Open Data can support downloading of very large datasets, and the larger the data the slower the download. Progress bars are in place to show that the download is being built, and communicate with the data consumer with the download is ready. While it may take a while to build up the initial download, subsequent downloads can be immediate.

    Q: How often are RSS Feeds updated?

    A: The search RSS feed will be updated each time a new item that meets that search criteria is added to the index. Dataset RSS feeds will be updated each time a new comment is posted on the item page within ArcGIS Online.

    Q: How do you link an image widget to datasets?

    A: You can link an image widget to specific datasets by placing a search URL into the Image Link box. The best way to find that search URL is to conduct a search on your site that brings up the correct layers and the copy the link that is created into your browser’s URL bar.

    Q: Can people from other organizations add my open data to their sites?

    A: Yes. Any Open Data administrator can add any Open Data group to their site regardless of their organization for no additional cost. This is helpful to those who want to create sites that are topic oriented or regional in scope, and allow for federated search across multiple authoritative organizations.

    Q: How can providers share formal metadata with the end users of Open Data sites?

    A: Open Data providers can place a link to the formal metadata in the description box of the ArcGIS Online item. Additional support for metadata will be coming in future versions of ArcGIS Online and the Open Data application.

    Q: How do you change the hover-over field?

    A: The hover over field is set in the map that is published within ArcMap. See here for documentation on making that change:

    Q: Can I use datasets from Open Data in ArcGIS for Desktop?

    A: Yes. You can download a shapefile and load that into ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro or you can search ArcGIS Online from within ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro and add the source item to your map.

    Q: Do you have to be a paying subscriber to use Open Data?

    A: Yes. You must have an ArcGIS Online organizational subscription to publish an Open Data site. ArcGIS Online Subscriptions are included with every license of ArcGIS for Desktop, and annual subscription plans are available for purchase to accommodate more users.

    Note: Trial subscriptions can create Open Data sites, but they cannot make them available to the public.

    Q: Are hidden fields included when users download datasets?

    A: No. Fields that are hidden in ArcMap before a layer is published will neither show up in the Open Data application nor in any downloaded files.

    Caution: Do not hide the ObjectID field as this will cause errors in the Open Data application.

    Gary's BloggageWelcome to B2* … The New Reality Of The Mapping Industry

    Held in the hidden conference centre that nestles unassumingly under the Chartered Accountants of Ireland’s offices, GIS Ireland ticked all the boxes. The conference team had obviously worked hard to ensure that there was a wide range of topics being discussed and managed to avoid the “same people, same talks, same topics” trap that some conferences fall into. The coffee was hot and plentiful and the wifi (almost) stayed up and running all the time.

    The starting point for the talk I have was an article called Today’s Mapping Industry Really Does Need To Please All People, All The Time, which I’d written for GPS Business News in September. As there was an article length limit, I couldn’t go into the detail I think this topic merited, but a conference talk is a different beast. This is what that article morphed into. This is B2*.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.001

    Welcome to B2*; the new reality of the mapping industry …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.003

    So hello, I’m Gary. I’m the co-founder of Malstow Geospatial and small and friendly maps, location and geo consulting company
    based in South West London, which means I’m currently Head of APIs for the Ordnance Survey. In previous corporate roles
    I’ve been head of community maps for HERE and head of geotechnology for Yahoo!

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.004

    … I tweet, a lot, as @vicchi …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.005

    … and I write a map blog at

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.006

    There’s quite a lot of slides in this talk and some of them contain URLs. Rather than try and frantically jot them down, this is the only URL you might want to take note of. It’s where the slides and my notes will be appearing. If you go to this address right now there’s nothing there but tomorrow when I get home, this is where things will automagically appear.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.008

    The starting point for this talk is an article I wrote recently for GPS Business News in response to what I perceived as a growing trend that the mapping industry is in a wonderful and safe position and that everything is awesome … so I did some research of my own and found some wonderfully big looking numbers being tossed around

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.009

    75% of people are using some form of location services on their smartphones, according to Pew Research.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.010

    Markets and Markets value the entire location based services market at $40 billion, albeit in 5 year’s time

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.011

    Berg values just the advertising section of LBS at $15 billion in 4 year’s time
    Obviously we’re in the midst of a mapping and location boom

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.012

    The trivial amounts of $2.76 billion that TomTom paid for TeleAtlas …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.013

    … and the $8.1 billion that Nokia paid for Navteq in 2008 are obviously bargain basement.
    That’s a lot of money and a lot of market share. Surely?

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.015

    Looking at all of these big numbers it seems obvious that if you’re a mapping company the sole path to success is just to license your data and then head to the bar, safe and secure that you’re in an unassailable position.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.017

    Seriously? Really?

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.019

    That can’t be right. I wanted to take a look at this unassailable position. Indulge me if you will …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.021

    Firstly, I want to set some context for what today’s mapping industry looks like and why it looks the way it does

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.024

    As a species we’ve been making maps for a while. This isn’t the earliest map but it’s one of the earliest that’s recognisable as a map; it’s of the world as the Babylonians thought of it. Babylon is in the centre of the map and there’s seven triangular islands, 3 of which are missing due to damage, in the “river of bitter water”, or the sea.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.026

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.028

    No-one knows who made the Babylonian map, but we know this map, which goes under the delightful Latin title of Hemispheriu[m] ab aequinoctiali linea, ad circulu[m] Poli Arctici, (literally Hemisphere of the equinoctial line, to the circle of the Arctic pole) was made by Cornelius de Jode in 1593 for an atlas which was published by his father. This is a prime example of a map as art, but this art came at a price. You needed to be wealthy to commission such a map and such a map was often given as a notional gift to the rich and powerful to curry favour or was commissioned by one of the ruling elite. This is maps for rulers. Quite often the map was a blank canvas, waiting to be discovered and filled in, it certainly was the case when Sir Walter Raleigh undertook his voyages of exploration for Queen Elizabeth I and maybe the process by which this happened looked something like this …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.030

    Business marketing terms weren’t around in 1593, at least not that we’d probably recognise today, but I think you could classify de Jode’s map as B2G, business-to-government, as the kings, queens and other members of the ruling elite who either commissioned maps or were the beneficiaries of them were as close to government as you’d get in those days

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.032

    But by the middle of the 20th Century, maps may still have been under governmental control but they were also for the masses as well, with the likes of you and me being able to buy maps and go out and explore the wonders of the countryside or navigate to unfamiliar parts of the country or even beyond, to what was termed, at least when I was growing up, as “abroad” or on the “continent”.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.034

    These sort of maps were designed for the consumer and fall within the purview of what’s now termed business-to-consumer, or B2C

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.036

    While we tend to think of digital maps as a relatively modern invention, maps have been data for a long time, pretty much ever since we stopped engraving them by hand. Though there’s a lot of press coverage about vector maps being the latest thing, maps were vectors that then got converted into rasters. And of course, it you have data, other people may want that data

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.038

    They may even be willing to pay money to license that data, and so we have maps as data and maps as a business-to-business transaction.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.040

    Life was simple. The maps industry knew where it was. We went out and made maps from mapping data. We did this under government authority as B2G, we licensed the data to other businesses as B2B and we sold maps to the public as B2C.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.042

    But all things can, must and do change and the disruptive change to the maps industry started in the mid to late 1980s

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.044

    In 1984 a company called TeleAtlas formed in the Netherlands and the following year another company called Navtech formed in Silicon Valley. Both made rudimentary digital map data and TeleAtlas’s data would form part of ETAK, the first in-car navigation system.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.046

    In 1989 the rollout of the US controlled Global Positioning System starts. These days we know this as GPS.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.048

    In 1991, at Cern in Switzerland a man called Tim Berners-Lee started to link a web of documents together and on this very NeXT cube (formed by Steve Jobs after he’d been ousted from Apple), the first webserver and web site was born and the World Wide Web officially started.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.050

    Up until 2000 there was two sorts of GPS signal – a degraded civilian one and and an accurate military one. This difference stopped in May 2000. As a result GPS starts to become widespread in civilian devices, leading to the explosion of personal satnav devices and the presence of GPS in our smartphones

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.052

    And talking of smartphones, whilst they were first thought of an patented in 1971, mass availability and adoption of these hybrid mobile phone, network enabled computers didn’t really take off until the turn of the Millennium

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.054

    And in 2005 Google finally made their unofficial API for Google Maps, which had launched earlier that year, publicly available and Yahoo! quickly followed with their maps API.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.056

    So with map data, maps APIs, GPS and maps on the web and on our smartphone a decision inversion occurred. Technology decisions which had previously been made by the CTO and then percolated downwards to GI and software engineers, were now being made by those same GI professionals and percolating upwards.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.058

    This was the birth of a new type of business transaction, B2D or business-to-developer. Availability of map data, ease of use of APIs and friendly licensing and terms of use became critical to a mapping organisation’s continued success.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.060

    All of this made me think of a theory about the distribution channels and relationships that mapping organisations have. My theory goes something like this … in order to continue to survive and grow, just having one channel or relationship isn’t enough

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.062

    B2G alone isn’t enough

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.064

    B2B alone isn’t enough

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.066

    B2C alone isn’t enough

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.068

    B2D alone isn’t enough

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.069

    You really need to please all people, all of the time, you need to be B-to-everything, which I’m shortening to B-to-* because it’s shorter to say and sounds vaguely snappier

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.071

    To try and prove my theory I looked at some of the key players in the mapping and mapping data space and tried to categorise them. Would the theory hold for one category, for all of them or maybe there’s some specific category where the theory holds true, albeit in a tenuous way

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.074

    The first category I termed “this is my map data making”, in other words, organisations that actually go out and collect the raw geospatial data that’s the key ingredient in making a map.
    Then there’s “not my map data making”; these organisations make maps but use other company’s map data, usually licensed data.
    And then finally there’s “accidental map data making”; organisations that have ended up creating mapping data almost accidentally or as a beneficial side effect to their main endeavours.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.078

    This is the first category of companies; those that make their own maps

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.081

    First up is Amsterdam based TomTom, the owners of TeleAtlas.

    There’s obviously a B2C offering from TomTom, driven (pun fully intended) by TeleAtlas’ data, as this is what the company is probably best known for.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.082

    The B2C flavour continues with paid apps on two of the main smartphone platforms.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.083

    And on the B2B side there’s licensing TeleAtlas data …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.084

    … as well as a map platform that caters for the B2D side of things, as long as you’re a paying licensee

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.085

    TeleAtlas/TomTom data are the underpinnings for Apple’s maps on iOS and on OS X as well as Google’s maps for those areas where Google hasn’t yet made their own maps as a by product of gathering StreetView data.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.090

    So TomTom’s B2* scorecard looks something like this …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.093

    Then there’s Chicago based Navteq who were acquired by Nokia and now form part of Berlin based HERE.

    There’s a strong B2C presence for HERE, with a consumer maps portal, …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.094

    the default maps app for Windows Phone …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.095

    … a deal with Samsung to provide maps which aren’t Google’s on Android phones and rumours of an equivalent for iOS at some point.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.096

    B2B is also a strong showing for HERE, signing platform deals to run maps for big enterprises …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.097

    including Yahoo …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.098

    and Microsoft’s Bing.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.099

    And finally there’s a B2D presence with a whole suite of developer APIs, some freemium, some tied to NAVTEQ data licensing.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.104

    Here’s HERE’s B2* scorecard …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.107

    Moving away from global mapping providers, let’s take a look at where I’m currently consulting, the UK’s Ordnance Survey, which is probably the oldest mapping agency there is, being in existence since 1792

    As an executive branch of the UK government, the OS is trying hard to cover all the bases.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.108

    There’s the printed consumer maps side of the business which seems to be as British as long summer evenings, weak tea, cricket and warm beer.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.109

    There’s also a strong B2D showing with a variety of APIs, which I’m working hard on expanding and improving.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.110

    And there’s data, loads of data which is licensed to other businesses as well as being made available to central and local government agencies via the UK Public Service Mapping Agreement.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.115

    The Ordnance Survey’s B2* scorecard looks something like this …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.117

    That’s category number 1 dealt with, now let’s look at category number 2, the “not my data” brigade who take mapping data and make maps and services with it under license

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.120

    It probably comes as no surprise that the first in this category is Google, the company that, probably unfairly, seems to be synonymous with web maps and mobile maps. It’s true that Google are slowly making their own base map as a convenient by product to StreetView, but they are also licensees of a staggering amount of data, including TomTom’s.

    Google tries hard to tick all the B2 boxes. There’s a consumer maps site …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.121

    … and mobile maps which are closely integrated with Google’s other core business, that of selling search advertising.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.122

    There’s also a strong developer offering as well, giving “free” (in very inverted commas) access to maps, geocoding and a whole slew of other geospatial services.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.127

    Here’s Google’s B2* scorecard …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.130

    Launched in 1996, next up is MapQuest. 1996 doesn’t seem that long ago but MapQuest is a literal veteran of online and digital maps

    As a TomTom/TeleAtlas licensee, MapQuest has a strong consumer offering, albeit one with some quirks. There’s a consumer map portal, which isn’t powered by TomTom data at all, rather it’s driven entirely by OpenStreetMap.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.131

    MapQuest’s B2C credentials extend to a competitor to Google Maps amongst others being available on iOS, on Android, on Windows Phone and on Amazon’s Kindle Fire as well.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.132

    It looks quite an impressive offering, maps, GPS, traffic notifications and turn by turn navigation …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.133

    … but sadly it’s a US only affair so I can’t download it or try it out as I don’t have a US credit card.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.134

    There’s also a strong B2D showing as well, and MapQuest are unique here in offering two identical sets of developer APIs, one driven by TomTom data and one by OpenStreetMap.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.139

    This is what MapQuest’s B2* scorecard looks like …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.142

    And finally in this category is Apple. The Cupertino based company is a relative latecomer to the maps game, relying on Google for their maps until the launch of Apple Maps in 2012

    It’s fair to say that the first versions of Apple Maps felt rushed. With odd visualisations of melting bridges, showing the wrong location of the Apple Store in Sydney, Australia, marking an entire city as a hospital, misclassifying a nursery as an airport, and identifying the nearest petrol station to be as far as 76 miles away from the user’s location.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.143

    But Apple Maps have iterated rapidly and improved significantly …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.144

    … and thanks to the acquisition of C3, they have a very impressive 3D offering and a captive developer audience in the OS X and iOS operating systems.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.149

    This is Apple’s B2* scorecard …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.151

    And finally there’s the accidental geospatial data companies.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.154

    The best example of which is probably New York’s Foursquare.

    As a consumer recommendation site, Foursquare gets things impressively right.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.155

    There’s also two consumer mobile apps, the original Foursquare and the new Swarm, though many people, myself included, think Foursquare isn’t nearly as much fun as it used to be, especially since the gamification elements of checking in and competing to be mayor of a place have been phased out.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.156

    But the side effect of all of this has been a vital part of the mobile location based ecosystem and that’s Foursquare’s places data which power so many of today’s LBS and LBMS offerings.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.157

    This data set, an almost byproduct of their core business, has immense value that is now slowly being licensed and recognised.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.162

    This is Foursquare’s B2* scorecard …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.165

    There’s also an elephant in the room, an obvious omission that I’ve not talked about, and that’s OpenStreetMap. Now I know that OSM is a community and not a company or an organisation but it rightly deserves examining in terms of B2*

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.167

    Since its inception in 2004, OSM has grown and grown. Not just in the amount of the world that’s been mapped, nor just in the amount of mapping data that this has generated (which currently weighs in at just under 500 GB). OSM is probably the definitive exemplar of a crowd sourcing project and it’s now starting to attract some heavyweight business attention, both directly and indirectly through the ecosystem of companies offering and monetising OSM based services.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.168

    In addition to using TomTom data, Apple are also using OSM, albeit from a vintage prior to OSM’s change of licensing from CC-BY-SA to ODbL.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.169

    Foursquare’s maps are OSM based …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.170

    OpenCage are building geo services on OSM data …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.171

    and both Craigslist …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.172

    and Wikipedia are using OSM maps.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.173

    Then there’s MapBox …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.174

    and CartoDb, both building a business on OSM.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.179

    So this is OpenStreetMap’s B2* scorecard …

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.181

    So does my theory of B2* being the new reality for the maps industry make sense? Does it hang together coherently? Obviously I think it does, for several reasons, but also that even if you’re a mapping company that manages to cover all of the bases that B2* currently stands for, that’s not necessarily grounds for congratulating ourselves and resting back on our laurels.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.183

    As some of the early market leaders got acquired, there were fears around uncertainly of map data supply and the explosive growth of the dashboard top satnav box slowed to a trickle, supplanted by free offerings on people’s smartphones. Surely there would be winners and losers and this would affirm my theory of B2*. Maybe. None of the players in this space have gone out of business … yet. But it’s too early to be sure and when disruptive change happens in an industry it happens fast and it’s easy to be complacent and not spot a trend.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.185

    Accuracy always matters for a map, not just for how accurate the map and its data is, but also for where the map is. Consider this for a moment, the duo of TeleAtlas/TomTom and Navteq/HERE have a pedigree steeped in the automotive industry, in satnav and turn-by-turn navigation. Their maps are road heavy, sometimes to the detriment of other forms of transport. The national and cadastral mapping agencies, including Britain’s Ordnance Survey, on the other hand, map everywhere within their territory regardless of whether it’s a road network, a metropolitan or urban area or the remotest and sparsely populated areas. And then there’s OpenStreetMap which maps everything it can, anywhere it can. Accuracy definitely matters and all the organisations I’ve talked about claim to have accurate maps and most of the time these days they have.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.187

    In addition to accuracy, depth also matters but several mapping companies have discovered to their cost that not everyone needs depth. Classic B2B players, such as utility companies and fixed lines communications providers definitely need depth, as do governments, especially when it comes to marking out electoral boundaries or calculating taxation. But not all use cases demand the most detailed map.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.189

    As I mentioned earlier, disruption happens and it happens in such a way that the market leaders often don’t notice. Any company active in the mapping space ignores the encroachment of Google into it’s heartland or the uptake and adoption of OpenStreetMap at their peril.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.191

    All the companies that make their own mapping data, that’s TeleAtlas/TomTom, Navteq/HERE and the Ordnance Survey rightly pride themselves on the accuracy of their map and the depth of their map (in other words how detailed the map is). For a lot of use cases, maybe for emergency service routing, deep and accurate is what you need. But for other use cases, you just need good enough and good enough either comes for free or at a substantial discount.

    Gary Gale - Welcome to B2*.193

    So who wins and who looses. All the companies try hard to tick as many of the B2* boxes as they can. But there will be casualties. Google’s march towards domination seems unstoppable, but any company can make a wrong move or ignore an upstart competitor snapping at their heels. TomTom and HERE rely on big licensing deals to justify the costs of map data acquisition but this is the classic long tail model in action, the head is mined out and the tail is starting to be explored. Those big licensing deals are getting fewer and fewer and come with less revenue. HERE’s deal with Samsung is a clever move which may just be enough for a company which effectively was acquired for $9 billion and is now valued at $6 billion. There’s little doubt in my mind that owning your own mapping data gives you a position of strength and stability that being a licensee just can’t. Of all the companies I’ve mentioned, MapQuest gives me the most concern. They continue to be reliant on licensed data, even though they’ve embraced OpenStreetMap, and licensed data costs continue to rise. I have to wonder if their parent company, AOL, will make a decision that there’s just not enough revenue coming in and will decide to close MapQuest down. For companies lucky enough to continue to own their data, the challenge is no longer to make a map or keep it fresh and accurate. The challenge and the reality is to expose the map and the map data to as many channels as they can. This is what B2* is all about. It means own your data, monetise it, make a balance between free and paid offerings and keep making your map ubiquitous.

    Written and posted from GIS Ireland 2014, Dublin, Ireland (53.34431, -6.24843)

    Another Piece Of Bloggage By Gary

    Self professed ”geek with a life”, geo-blogger, geo-talker and geo-tweeter, Gary works in London and Berlin as Director of Global Community Programs for Nokia’s HERE Maps; he’s a co-founder of WhereCamp EU, the chair of w3gconf and sits on the W3C POI Working Group and the UK Location User Group. A contributor to the Mapstraction mapping API, Gary speaks and presents at a wide range of conferences and events including Where 2.0, State of the Map, AGI GeoCommunity, Geo-Loco, Social-Loco, GeoMob, the BCS GeoSpatial SG and LocBiz. Writing as regularly as possible on location, place, maps and other facets of geography, Gary blogs at and tweets as @vicchi.

    BoundlessPartner Profiles: Agrisoft

    Boundless partners are an important part of spreading the depth and breadth of our software around the world. In this ongoing series, we will be featuring some of our partners and the ways they are expanding the reach of our Spatial IT solutions.

    AgrisoftEstablished in 2002, Agrisoft is an Indonesian consulting firm specializing in integrated spatial solutions using open source software. Agrisoft offers consultancy, integration and training services, product development, and knowledge of clients’ business processes.

    With a population of 250 million people and a booming business community, Indonesia has proved itself to be a growing market for Agrisoft and Boundless. While the market for spatial solutions is still young, Agrisoft encourages the use of spatial software for business by promoting its value and establishing it as a viable solution. OpenGeo Suite provides a complete set of tools for Agrisoft’s clients to build spatially-enabled applications and GeoServer, OpenLayers, and PostGIS have become the preferred solutions among Agrisoft’s clients.

    SIH3: Sistem Informasi Hidrologi Hidrometeorologi & Hidrogeologi

    Tools and expertise from Boundless have enabled Agrisoft to expand and improve on some of their largest projects and they count among their customers the Indonesian Geospatial Information Agency and the Republic of Indonesia Ministry of Agriculture. In a current project for the Republic of Indonesia Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics, Agrisoft is working on the SIH3 Portal, an information system for hydrology, hydrometeorology and hydrogeology. This project makes use of applications built on OpenGeo Suite to browse and explore maps showing different information and Agrisoft is redesigning the graphical user interface using OpenLayers 3.

    Agrisoft continually encourages the use of open source spatial software and looks to Boundless for industry best practices and guidance for their current and prospective customers.

    If you’d like your company to be considered for our international network of partners, please contact us!

    The post Partner Profiles: Agrisoft appeared first on Boundless.