GeoCarta Has Moved

Feb 28, 2006

Stop Driving The Streets Of Seattle And Get Back To Work

As everyone in the blogosphere knows by now, today Microsoft unveiled a preview version of its Windows Live Local Technology that allows you a "street-side" perspective. I'll admit it, I played around with a little bit, despite the fact that I've got a ton of work to do. Reactions among bloggers ranged from "mind blowing" to "eye candy." I tend towards the eye candy side myself- for now. I'm sure people somewhere are busy coming up with a hundred different uses for it that I'm to busy to even think about.

U.S. Representative Vows To Fight USGS Decision To Close Rolla Office

A done deal is never really a done deal when politicians are involved I guess. The Rolla Daily News reports today that U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) says she is going to ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate the decision by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to close its Rolla mapping center. According to the News, Rep. Emerson also plans to ask the Secretary of Interior to put the consolidation plan on hold until that investigation is complete.

The request for the investigation is the latest attempt to modify the decision to locate the USGS's National Geospatial Technical Operations Center in Denver, Colorado. The consolidation plan calls for the Rolla office to be closed in September. Meeting with a group of USGS employees, Rep. Emerson said that she will attempt to use her position on the on the powerful House Appropriations Committee to try and stall the move.

I'm not a betting man, but if I was, I'd put my money on the USGS moving it's operations to Denver, despite Rep. Emerson's efforts. I'm not alone in my thinking either, the News says that Rolla USGS employees are “hoping for the best but preparing for the worst."

See also:
Budget Cuts May Cost USGS Jobs
USGS Mapping Center Appears Headed To Denver
Investigation Of USGS Move Continues

MapBiz: Autodesk Books Record Quarter

Computer-aided design software publisher Autodesk, Inc. today announced record net revenues for its fiscal fourth quarter which ended January 31, 2006. Autodesk reported net revenues of $417 million, a 17% increase over the fourth quarter of the previous year.

Fourth quarter net income was $83 million, or $0.33 per diluted share on a GAAP basis. Net income in the fourth quarter of the prior year was $66 million, or $0.26 per diluted share on a GAAP basis. The company made its announcement after U.S. markets had closed and its stock closed down about 2%. However, the company's performance exceeded analysts' expectations and the stock was up almost 4% in after-hours trading.

The company said its performance was driven by strong growth in new seats and subscriptions, increasing penetration of its vertical and 3D products and continued strong profitability. Autodesk said that revenues from new seats and emerging businesses represented approximately two-thirds of its total revenues in the fourth quarter.

Executive Chairman Carol Bartz said Autodesk has raised its fiscal 2007 forecast from its November target. "We are very confident about our future...,"” said Ms. Bartz. The company will continue its practice of "retiring" its older software. AutoCAD 2002 will be retired in March, after which Ms. Bartz says the company will launch a new product portfolio with new releases of all the company's major products.

The chairman is optimistic for the long-term. She told Reuters, "I think we (will) have a big run on both sides for a long time. Considering the fact that ultimately the majority of our base should move to 3D, and we are only 10 percent there, that is a huge opportunity."

Maps As Art: Antique Map Exhibit Opens In Myrtle Beach

The Myrtle Beach Sun News reports that the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum will open an exhibit "The Mapmakers' Art: The Bishop Collection of Antique Maps: 1608-1863" today. The exhibit features maps from the collection of George J. Bishop, including Mark Catesby's 1731 work, "A Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands." The exhibit runs through March 26.

The Map Book By Peter Barber

David Walton recently reviewed The Map Book by Peter Barber for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
A passion for maps is the core and inspiration of Peter Barber's wondrous and endlessly ponderable "The Map Book." This hefty anthology, arranged chronologically from 1500 B.C. to 2005, and compiled by the Head of Map Collections at the British Library, is a world to get lost in.

Many worlds to get lost in. For as Barber says, "for map enthusiasts the fascination of maps ironically stems from their necessary lack of truth." He dismisses lightly "the unwritten assumptions that the only aspect of map history worth studying was its mathematical precision."

Maps are projections, not just of a physical landscape but of our beliefs and mental perspective as well. Consider for example any highway map, which ignores features of terrain and focuses exclusively on roadways, junctures, and distances.

Barber's chronological format is easy to browse, fascinating when read in sequence. Each righthand page is a full-color reproduction, usually one portion of a larger map. The left page explains the map's history and significance, headed by a two-line synopsis, and down the left margin its year and a smaller color illustration, usually the full view of the map on a mosaic floor, a shield cover, a tapestry presented to Elizabeth I. Truly amazing are the many forms on which maps have been preserved over the centuries.

Feb 27, 2006

Garmin Prepares To Ramp Up GPS Production

Following a record-setting financial performance in 2005, Garmin Ltd., the leading maker of Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation products for the U.S. consumer market appears to be making plans to increase production. Digitimes Daily IT News reports that the Kansas City-based company has purchased a vacant factory in northern Taiwan to expand the production capacity of its Taiwan subsidiary.

Garmin currently has 14 production lines located near Taipei, with a monthly capacity to produce about 420,000 portable GPS devices. The company recently reported that all its Taiwanese production lines were running at full capacity. The vacant factory reportedly has space to accommodate an additional 14 production lines.

See also:
MapBiz: Garmin Reports Record Revenue
TomTom Takes #2 Spot In Booming GPS Navigation Market
Mapping For The Masses: GPS Market At $22 Billion By 2008

Small Firm Finds Niche Mapping The World's Hotspots

While huge corporations map North America and Europe a tiny Geographic Information System (GIS) firm headquartered in an old farmhouse in Vermont carefully maps Baghdad, Kabul, and other far away locations. The Rutland Herald reports on Jim Anderson and his firm, LeadDog Consulting LLC. Mr. Anderson and his staff prepare maps for Afghanistan, Iran and more than 40 other countries, primarily for the military, and other government agencies.

Mr. Anderson's explained a typical project for the Herald:
"We create sort of a multi-layered product so we'’ll have a layer for streets; we'’ll have a layer for points of interest such as government buildings, embassies, airports and industrial zones," said Anderson, the company'’s founder. "“They'’ll be a separate layer for parks and also a separate layer for water for example."

The digital maps of Iraq and Afghanistan are incorporated into a GPS software format that not only serves as a location finder but allows for the tracking of vehicles or military personal on foot equipped with a portable GPS unit.
LeadDog Consulting is the only commercial provider of GIS maps for Iraq and all its major cities. The firm specilizes in mapping the third world. "It'’s the rest of the world, Mexico, Latin America or the Middle East and we'’re doing more work in Africa as well,"” Mr. Anderson told the Herald. "And these are places where GIS maps have not been traditionally made."”

Feb 26, 2006

Forgeries Seem to Abound

Rhode Island:
According to the East Bay News, a Bristol, Rhode Island architect was arrested last week and charged with forging and providing false documents to public officials. Adam J. Baron, was charged with giving a false document to a public official, forgery and counterfeiting after he allegedly provided false land survey documents to town officials earlier this month.

According to the Kansas City Infozone, the Missouri Attorney General has filed suit against Richard L. Ferguson. The suit alleges that Mr. Ferguson signed and sealed land plats and then filed them with county recorders, despite the fact that his surveyor's license expired at the end of 2001.

The Myrtle Beach Sun News reports that Michael Todd Ball was given three year's probation after pleading guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and lying to federal officials. Mr. Ball was accused of falsifying maps and other documents so developers could build a country club on protected wetlands.

You Can't Get There From Anywhere

The folks in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin are a little unhappy. According to the Chippewa Herald, the latest highway maps prepared by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) left off two interchanges on Highway 29 that serve as major access points for the city.

The city's planner expressed concern because the DOT's official county map becomes a base map for the statewide map. Left as is, drivers on the new Highway 29 could zoom by the city exits or be surprised they even exist. The DOT told the Herald that the maps are being corrected.

I hesitated about posting this story, I hope it isn't too widely read. I can just imagine some clever DOT employees deciding that erasing interchanges off road maps might be an inexpensive way to alleviate traffic congestion.

Geospatial Technology Is A Burgeoning Industry

From the Miami Herald:
...The geospatial technology industry is defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as ``an information technology field of practice that acquires, manages, interprets, integrates, displays, analyzes, or otherwise uses data focusing on the geographic, temporal, and spatial context.''

In a nutshell, this technology allows users to map, track, develop tri-dimensional models or simply help you drive your car when you need directions (GPS technology).

The list of occupations that may require geospatial training is a long one and includes cartographers, photogrammetrists, surveyors, civil drafters, electrical drafters, mechanical drafters, and technicians in aerospace engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, environmental engineering.

Also, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, surveying, mapping, soil conservationists, range managers, foresters, geographers, physical scientists, computer scientists, geographical information systems (GIS), analysts, database administrators, geological data technicians, and geological sample test technicians.

Complete article here.
See also: Geography Jobs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Feb 25, 2006

Cellphones May Pose Greater Risk To Airplane's GPS Navigation Than Thought

We've all heard those announcements prior to the flight asking us to turn off our cellphones and other electronic devices. While I always turn off my cellphone, I've always figured that was what I call a "feel good" rule. You know, something that really doesn't do much good, but the government makes us do mainly because it makes us feel safer?

However, in a statement released recently by IEEE Spectrum Magazine, a team of four electrical engineers have stated that their research found that cellphones and other portable electronic devices can interrupt the normal operation of key cockpit instruments, especially Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. GPS navigation is becoming increasingly vital to safe landings.

The team's findings are significant because since December, 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been soliciting comments on proposed regulations that would allow airline passengers to use cellphones during flight. Many passengers do not believe that using portable electronic devices presents a risk to their safety. Over the course of three months in late 2003, the team of electrical engineers tested the spectral environment on 37 different commercial flights over the northeast United States. They found that passengers are using cellphones, on the average, at least once per flight, contrary to current government regulations.

The engineers that performed the study were Bill Strauss, an expert in aircraft electromagnetic compatibility at the Naval Air Warfare Center, two electrical engineering professors at Carnegie Mellon University, and Jay Apt an active pilot and former NASA astronaut.

Thanks to a commenter for further information:
The IEEE Spectrum podcast that this comes from is in their February 06 podcast at

Feb 24, 2006

NOAA Announces Major Contracts For Hydrographic Mapping

Five different firms have been awarded contracts to provide hydrographic mapping services to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The contracts could be worth up to $50 million each, though the actual amount is dependent on congress providing funding. The firms selected for their qualifications are C&C Technologies Inc., SAIC, David Evans and Associates, TerraSond Ltd., and Fugro Pelagos.

NOAA will engage the firm's services for specific projects on an as-needed basis over the next five years. However, one firm has already been engaged for two projects in the Gulf of Mexico. C&C Technologies, Inc. will begin mapping the approaches to Port Fourchon, Louisiana and surveying in the Gulf to support U.S. interests defined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The busy 2005 hurricane season left debris and possibly other obstructions to navigation in the Gulf.

Separately, C&C Technologies was awarded two $3.75 million contracts. The first contract supported a recently completed mapping of the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida. Under the second contract, C&C Technologies will develop a semi-submersible unmanned vehicle. The goal is to apply new technology about the engineering and operation of unmanned vehicles in ocean exploration and mapping. The vehicle will also serve as a test-bed platform for development and evaluation of new instruments and sensors.

See also:
New Craft To Help Survey The Ocean Floor

MapBiz: Trimble Acquires GNSS Applications Firm

Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment maker Trimble, Inc. announced yesterday that it had acquired the intellectual property assets of The XYZs of GPS, Inc. Headquartered in Dickerson, Maryland, The XYZs of GPS develops real-time Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) reference station, integrity monitoring and dynamic positioning software.

Trimble says the purchase will extend its portfolio of infrastructure solutions by providing software that enhances differential GNSS correction systems used in marine aides to navigation, surveying, civil engineering, hydrography, mapping and Geographic Information System (GIS), and scientific applications. "“We believe that The XYZs of GPS software will greatly enhance our infrastructure solutions which are becoming increasingly critical for high precision applications," Jürgen Kliem, general manager of Trimble'’s Survey Division said.

The transaction was an all-cash deal, details of which were not announced. As part of the deal, Dr. Benjamin W. Remondi, president and CEO, and staff of The XYZs of GPS will join Trimble. "Dr. Remondi has been a pioneer in the development of GNSS positioning and its applications. We are extremely pleased to welcome him and his team to Trimble."” Mr. Kliem said.

See also:
MapBiz: GPS Boom Yields Record Earnings For Trimble

For The Road Warrior With A Sweet Tooth

If you find yourself in unfamiliar territory craving something sweet for breakfast, have no fear, now there is a high-tech way to satisfy your cravings. Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation maker TomTom and donut baker, Dunkin Donuts have teamed up to place the location of each and every one of the chain's 4,400 Dunkin' Donuts stores on the GPS unit's map.

And if a few donuts still leave you hungry later in the day, no worry. The deal also calls for all 2,700 Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores to appear on the TomTom as well.

ESA Greenlights New Satellite To Study Climate Change

The European Space Agency announced today that it had received approval from its Member States to build and launch CryoSat-2. CryoSat-2 will monitor the thickness of land ice and sea ice to help explain the connection between the melting of the polar ice and the rise in sea levels and how this is contributing to climate change.

The spacecraft will use the SAR/Interferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL), to obtain accurate measurement of ice surfaces. One of the two antennas will send out radar signals, while both antennas then detect signal echoes from the Earth's surface. By knowing the position of the spacecraft to a very high accuracy – achieved with an onboard ranging instrument called a Doppler Orbitography and Radiopositioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) receiver supplemented by a laser retro-reflector system – the signal return time will reveal the surface altitude.

CryoSat 2 will replace the original CryoSat spacecraft which was destroyed during its October 8, 2005 launch when its rocket malfunctioned.

MapBiz: Garmin Reports Record Revenue

Global Positioning System (GPS) consumer market leader Garmin, Ltd. announced record revenue for last year. The Kansas-based maker of GPS-based navigation units for the consumer and aviation markets recorded total revenue for the 4th quarter of 2005 of $319.3 million, up 45% from the same quarter of 2004. Fueled by what the company called a strong holiday season, earnings per share for the last quarter of 2005 were $0.80, an increase of 82% from the the previous year.

For all of 2005, total revenue was $1.03 billion, up 35% from the $762.5 million the firm earned in 2004. For the year, earnings per share increased 51% to $2.85 from $1.89 in 2004. All per share figures exclude foreign exchange. During 2005 TomTom invaded Garmin's home turf with a large scale media advertising campaign. Despite that, Garmin reports North American revenue increased 29% to $211.4 million.

See also:
TomTom Takes #2 Spot In Booming GPS Navigation Market
Garmin Sues TomTom Maker Over Patents
MapBiz: Garmin Signs More Deals With Automakers
Garmin Makes GPS Available For Mac; Adds GPS To Rental Cars
Santa Expected To Pack Lots Of GPS Receivers In His Sleigh

Feb 19, 2006

Distorted Map & Other Dirty Tricks Cost $15,000

The company that has proposed building an offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound announced this week that it had reached a settlement of its defamation lawsuit against one of its biggest critics. Cape Wind has agreed to accept a $15,000 settlement from John Donelan for fraudulent acts he committed against the company.

The lawsuit centered on actions Mr. Donelan took while Technical and Research Director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group opposed to wind farm. The suit alleged that Mr. Donelan engaged in a number of "dirty tricks" including:
  • Distributing 100,000 fliers of a distorted map that tripled the actual size of the wind farm.
  • Using a faulty "viewshed map"” that greatly exaggerated how many areas of the Cape and Islands would be able to see the wind farm.
  • Sending out a false press release that was made to appear to be from a local company "“announcing"” it would not do business with Cape Wind.
  • Using distorted images of what the wind farm would look like from land on the group's website.
During his deposition for the lawsuit, Mr. Donelan refused to answer over 400 questions, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. So in November of 2005, the judge in the case issued an order stating that it was deemed established that "“Donelan published a defamatory statement about Cape Wind."

The wind farm has been opposed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and other celebrities who own vacation homes on the sound. Cape Wind says that it will donate the $15,000 settlement to Project Prevention, a program that provides assistance to low-income families having difficulty paying rent and energy bills.

Location Technology One Of The Fastest Growing Sectors Of GPS Technology

While manufacturers of both professional and consumer Global Positioning System (GPS) products have attracted attention lately with announcements of record profits, one segment of the market has remained largely overlooked. One of the fastest growing markets for GPS technology today is vehicle tracking and location technology. That is, according to a recently released study by Research and Markets.

More commonly known as Fleet Management, the use of GPS technology by fleet owners and dispatchers for tracking their vehicles is booming. The international market research firm estimates that there are approximately 1.91 million GPS or wireless devices being used for tracking trailers, fleet vehicles, mobile workers and construction equipment, making it one of the fastest growing markets for GPS technology.

Experts say businesses have plans for using GPS for more than just making sure truck drivers don't take unauthorized side trips. In the future, location technology will be integrated with sales terminals providing the ability to take customer authorization on site. Dispatchers and employees will be able to communicate back and forth and even re-route shipments based on customer needs.

While some civil rights advocates and especially unions have expressed concerns about "big brother" watching over workers, it appears that the benefits to businesses are so great that such systems are here to stay.

See also:
Mapping For The Masses: GPS Market At $22 Billion By 2008
GPS Raises More Privacy Concerns

Feb 18, 2006

Researcher Recalls When Technology Developed To Map The Earth Was Applied To The Shroud Of Turin

Interesting article in today's Lawrence Journal-World on how equipment that was designed to map geographic and geological formations was used to study the Shroud of Turin. You may recall that the shroud is believed by some to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

Back in the mid 70's, Pete Schumacher was working for a company created from Kansas University research that had developed the VP-8 image analyzer. The machine converts lights and darks in photographs into a vertical relief “map” that shows shadows and highlights. Schumacher was contacted by two researchers affiliated with Los Alamos National Laboratory who were studying the shroud. They thought the analyzer would be able to distinguish between shades on different parts of the cloth, giving a better picture of the imprint.

The Journal-World reports:

...what Schumacher saw when the researchers put a slide of the shroud under the image analyzer changed his life.

Instead of the usual two-dimensional reading, the shroud produced a three-dimensional view that looked something like a mask of a bearded man. Despite multiple attempts through the years to reproduce the results using other images, Schumacher says the results haven’t been duplicated with anything other than the shroud.

ESRI Publishes New Book: Remote Sensing for GIS Managers

Software maker ESRI announced yesterday that it has published a new book. Remote Sensing for GIS Managers is written for both new and experienced users of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. The book, which contains hundreds of illustrations as well as real-world examples is for GIS professionals that want to become more knowledgeable users of remote-sensing services.

The book covers everything from the basics of remote sensing to the challenges of interpreting, managing, and storing the ever-increasing range of remotely sensed data available today. Remote Sensing for GIS Managers was written by Stan Aronoff and is available from ESRI Press for $69.95.

Washington State DOT Chooses Bentley Software

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has selected Bentley as its primary provider of software for engineering and land surveying practices it was announced today. WSDOT made the choice following a a statewide steering committee review. Integration and interoperability were key factors in choosing the new design platform.

WSDOT had been a long-time user of Bentley's MicroStation. Jon Bauer, computer-aided engineering manager for WSDOT said that made choosing Bentley's Inroads a natural progression. WSDOT will gradually transition to InRoads. Ultimately the agency anticipates that there will be between 150 and 200 users statewide. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

Feb 17, 2006

Beware The Software License Police

Fierce competition and a mature software market mean software publishers are increasing licensing audits to make sure their customers have bought enough software licenses. That is according to Robert Scott, an attorney in Dallas, writing for

Mr. Scott says that approximately 40% of all medium-to-large U.S. businesses will face an external software audit by the end of 2006. Penalties for copyright infringement can run as highs as $150,000 per violation.

To make sure you stay legal, and more importantly, can prove it if audited, Mr. Scott advises companies to compile and record proofs-of-purchase, consistently monitor networks and build software license compliance into everyday business processes.

If you're not going to stay legal, then you'd better treat your employees well. Most software audits are the result of a software piracy report received from a disgruntled employee.

Budget Cuts May Cost USGS Jobs

From the San Francisco Examiner:
A federal shift in funding for the U.S. Geological Survey will likely mean reduced jobs in the western region.

The USGS will shift its focus in 2007 toward geologic hazards, particularly in coastal regions, and away from the minerals research program. Proposed cuts of $22.9 million could translate into employee buyouts and early retirements for as many as 361 full-time workers, many in the agency’s mineral resources program, according to the Federal Times.

“A significant number of people in the minerals program are in the western region,” Cole said. “It would likely affect operations out here, but to what degree, I don’t know.”

The team studies the quality, quantity and availability of mineral resources in the United States.

Already, the USGS has offered similar buyouts to employees in the past two years, particularly in the Menlo Park mapmaking division. Paper-based cartography is being phased out as the USGS mapping system goes digital.

But so far, no local employees have taken the buyouts, and there are no plans to institute layoffs, according to Cole.

The USGS 2007 budget is projected to be $944.8 million
See also:
USGS To Subcontract New Topographic Maps
Outsourcing USGS
USGS Outsourcing Plans On Hold

GIS Center Opened To Serve Niche Market

Many utility companies have found Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to be a valuable tool for managing resources and operating more efficiently. However, many of the country's small utility companies simply don't have the resources or expertise to invest in GIS. To meet this need, Osmose Utilities Services today announced the opening of the Osmose Mapping Center.

Chief Technology Officer Mark Brule says, "The Osmose Mapping Center was developed specifically for smaller utilities. We've worked with hundreds of different electric cooperatives for literally decades, and we've seen up close the many challenges they face when it comes to maintaining accurate maps of their outside assets. The Osmose Mapping Center addresses these common challenges."

The Osmose Mapping Center is designed to give small utility companies the advantages of GIS technology without having to buy the equipment and hire new employees. Utility companies that sign up for the service simply send their work orders and as-built drawings to the mapping technicians at Osmose. GIS technicians enter the new information and create a GIS database representation of the assets. Software validations are run to make sure connectivity is properly represented in the database. The utility company can then access continuously-updated map data over the internet.

GIS is becoming a common feature in larger businesses and governments. GIS firms looking for continued growth opportunities might consider following Osmose's example and look for niches where they can use their expertise to serve smaller clients whose size make establishing their own GIS department cost-prohibitive.

Feb 16, 2006

Scientist Use Remote Sensing To Uncover Ancient Maya Ruins

Using space- and aircraft-based "remote-sensing" technology, a team of NASA and University of New Hampshire scientists have uncovered ruins from the ancient Maya culture that have been hidden in the rainforests of Central America for more than 1,000 years.

Looks Can Be Deceiving
"“From the air, everything but the tops of very few surviving pyramids are hidden by the tree canopy," NASA archaeologist Tom Sever explains, "On the ground, the 60- to 100-foot trees and dense undergrowth can obscure objects as close as 10 feet away. Explorers can stumble right through an ancient city that once housed thousands -– and never even realize it."

Remote Sensing Allows Researchers To Look Beneath The Surface
To look beneath the dense rainforest, Mr. Sever, along with scientist Dan Irwin, also from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, teamed up with William Saturno, an archaeologist at the University of New Hampshire. The team discovered the chemical signature of the Maya's ancient building materials.

NASA provided Mr. Saturno with high-resolution commercial satellite images of the rainforest, and collected data from their Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar. When the team looked at observations of known archaeological sites they saw a correlation between the color and reflectivity of the vegetation seen in the images -– their "signature," and the location of those sites. In the image above right, the yellowish areas, which denote discolorations of the forest canopy, indicate ancient Maya building sites.

Putting Theory To The Test

While the idea of discolored vegetation indicating ancient ruins sounds fine in theory, someone had to test it out. So in 2004, the team hiked deep into the Guatemalan jungle to a location the satellite images had indicated would contain an ancient ruin. There the team uncovered a series of Maya settlements exactly where the technology had predicted they would.

Refining Their Methods
NASA and the University of New Hampshire have agreed to continue working together in Guatemalan rainforest through 2009. The team will verify their research and continue refining their remote sensing tools to more easily lead explorers to other ancient ruins and conduct Earth science research in the region.

Mr. Sever, the NASA archaeologist sees modern day benefits to their work, "Studies such as these do more than fulfill our curiosity about the past," he said. "They help us prepare for our own future."

TomTom Takes #2 Spot In Booming GPS Navigation Market

Fueled by extensive television and radio advertising, TomTom became the #2 brand in terms of market share for Global Positioning System (GPS) mobile navigation units during the fourth quarter of 2005. Garmin remained the leading brand, with more than 40% of the market. Overall, GPS-equipped portable navigation units were one of the hottest items in consumer electronics for the 4th quarter of 2005, increasing a staggering 192% over the previous year. The data was announced by The NPD Group, which provides retail market information.

TomTom's market gains came largely at the expense of Magellan. The NPD Group reports that Magellan's share of the market in December, 2005 was about half what it was back in April. For all of 2005, TomTom reported an increase in revenue of 275% and an increase in net profit of 411%.

See also:
Garmin Sues TomTom Maker Over Patents
Mapping For The Masses: GPS Market At $22 Billion By 2008
Santa Expected To Pack Lots Of GPS Receivers In His Sleigh

MapBiz: Intermap Signs Deal With German Automaker; Firm To Speed Up Mapping Of Europe

Digital mapmaker Intermap Technologies Corp. announced today that it has signed a second joint development agreement within the German automotive industry for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) applications. Under the terms of the deal with what the firm calls a, "leading German automotive manufacturer," Intermap will develop advanced 3-dimensional road data applications for performance and safety improvements.

Because of this deal, the Colorado-based firm says that it will speed up its NEXTMap Europe project. NEXTMap is Intermap's plan to digitally remap entire countries. NEXTMap consists of highly accurate digital elevation data, accurate color images and other derived products. Intermap now says that it intends to complete NEXTMap Germany this year.

The automaker will use Intermap's NEXTMap 3D road vector data to improve ITS applications, allowing for improvements in performance and safety. Most luxury cars in Europe are equipped with ITS technology. Intermap says automakers have told it that existing 2D road data is not accurate enough and that the new, more accurate 3D data is needed to allow them to use ITS technology to its full potential.

Coastal losses greater than thought

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Southeast Louisiana's natural storm buffer took an unprecedented blow from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that was even worse than previously reported, with 118 square miles of coastal marsh converted into open water, a new federal report says.

The extent of shredded wetlands, laid out in a U.S. Geological Survey report, is equivalent to more than 73,000 football fields, or almost twice the size of Washington, D.C.

Plaquemines Parish suffered the worst losses -- more than 57 square miles in Breton Sound and near the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to USGS geographer John Barras.

"Alarming is not the right term. It's frightening what's happened with Katrina," said Carlton Dufrechou, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. "The rule of thumb is that every two and a half miles of wetlands reduces storm surge by one foot."

The USGS report comes at a time when billions of dollars in federal aid have been committed Louisiana for disaster recovery and levee repairs, but none so far for wetlands restoration beyond pre-existing projects and programs.

See also: USGS Estimates Loss Of Louisiana Coastline.

Georgia County To Appeal Landfill Decision

Meriwether County Commissioners have decided to appeal a judge's ruling allowing the development of a landfill in their Georgia county the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports. A Senior Superior Court Judge threw out the county's Water Supply Watershed Protection Ordinance when the county could not produce the map the ordinance refers to or even provide any proof that such a map ever existed. The county had denied permission to build the landfill, citing the ordinance.

See: Judge Okays Landfill When County Fails To Produce Map.

Feb 15, 2006

GPS Use To Take Off: Majority Of Cellphones GPS Enabled By 2011

Speaking at the 3GSM World Congress, the world's largest mobile telecommunications fair being held in Barcelona, Kanwar Chadha founder of SiRF Technology Holding Inc. told Reuters that by 2011 most handsets sold will include a chipset enabling Global Positioning System (GPS) locations. According to Mr. Chadha, currently less that 10% are so equipped. "In the next 5 years it will become a required element for most phones, except for the very, very low end, which are for voice-only usage." Reuters quoted him as saying.

Many handsets in the United States and in Asia are already being fitted with GPS locators because regulators demand that they are able to locate persons in need. Mr. Chadha also sees growing demand for GPS technology in the automobile industry, and in consumer electronics.

SiRF Technology Holding Inc. is one of the world's largest manufacturers of GPS chipsets, which are used by the manufacturers of mobile phones and other consumer electronic devices.

See also:
3D Views In The Palm Of Your Hand
Mapping For The Masses: GPS Market At $22 Billion By 2008
GPS Receiver The Size Of Baby's Fingernail Developed

New Topcon Unit Integrates GIS & Land Surveying

Topcon Positioning Systems, yesterday introduced GMS-110, which integrates GIS data collection and land survey systems. Mike Weir, worldwide GIS sales manager for Topcon says the GMS-110 will operate with software solutions based on ESRI's ArcPad, making it, "perfect for the advanced GIS professional." The unit is also compatible with Topcon's TopSURV-GIS, featuring both GIS data collection and land surveying functions. The unit is designed to work with Topcon's FC-100 field computer. Other data controllers can also be used with the system.

Topcon Positioning Systems develops and manufactures a wide range of positioning equipment utilizing GPS, laser, optical surveying, and machine control.

Feb 14, 2006

New GlobeXplorer Tool Allows Users To Turn Back Time

Satellite and aerial photo provider GlobeXplorer announced recently that it has added a new tool to its ImageAtlas aerial/satellite/map viewer: the ability to instantly pick, compare, and purchase images from multiple dates.

When viewing an area, users can now click on a pull-down menu to select from all of the versions of imagery GlobeXplorer carries at that location and zoom level. This provides images that go back at least 15 years, and in some cases, further. In major metropolitan areas, users will be able to access up to 12 different image versions , dating back to the early 1990s.

What's Up? News Plotted All Over The Globe

I don't do many, "Hey this website is cool, check it out" posts. But hey, this website is kinda cool, you might want to check it out. I'm talking about What's Up, a new site created by Jeroen Wijering. What's Up is a Flash-based news map. New stories are highlighted on a world map, and a balloon appears with a headline; clicking on the balloon sends you to the source of the story. Older stories appear as orange or yellow dots on the map. Move your mouse over the dot and a headline appears. Clicking on the headline send you to the story.

Via Cool Hunting.

New Louisiana Flood Maps Delayed

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that new Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps for Iberia and Vermilion parishes in Louisiana are not yet complete. FEMA had planned to make the new maps available over the past weekend. However, data analysis for the maps has caused delays. Wayne Rickard, mitigation section chief for FEMA, said that the data for Vermilion and Iberia is still being plotted onto maps and that those maps, along with St. Mary Parish, are expected to be ready around the second week of March.

GIS Professionals Help Congress Think Geospatially

In the basement of the Library of Congress, two Geographic Information Systems (GIS) professionals work to give members of Congress a perspective that was impossible in the past. Government Technology reports on the work of Ginny Mason and Jacob Zonn, who direct and operate the Congressional Cartography Program (CCP).

A Small Start
The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress had been fielding occasional, requests for GIS services for years. In 2003, the library decided to create the CCP to serve the growing need for GIS maps. CCP is the exclusive GIS mapping source for Congress.

Mr. Zonn told the magazine, "Ginny and I basically built this program from the ground up. We arrived here with two copies of [ESRI's] ArcView and a 60-inch plotter, and no real vision or mission to get going on, so we've created all that ourselves."

A Growing Mission
To date, CCP has produced more than 150 GIS maps for various members of Congress and their staff. They've created maps at the block level up to a global level. Examples include a map CCP created to helped FEMA assess damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, and a project showing the impact of legislation for re-establishment of funding for Amtrak would have. The only type of map CCP will not produce are maps for a member's political campaign.

Loads Of Data
While CCP may have a small staff, one thing they are not short of is data. CCP can access the vast stores of data within the Library of Congress, and other government sources as well. Gerry Clancy, a project manager at ESRI, told the magazine, "They have national coverage of all of the demographic, economic and road networks and congressional districts -- they overlay onto that information provided to them by the various branches [of government], and depending on what the question is, they do some spatial analysis to help them understand how all that fits together."

Can Lawmakers Think Geospatially?
While the GIS technology CCP can bring to an issue can be a valuable resource, it's yet to be seen if members of congress are ready to use that tool to its fullest potential. Cindy Domenico, president of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association told the magazine, "How do you influence decision-makers? How do you help them understand what you're bringing to the table when you have this technology? ... A lot of people aren't ready [for the technology]. It takes a visual image of the problem solved to help them understand it."

Mr. Clancy, the ESRI project manager thinks that time will come, "The beauty of GIS technology is that it provides that visual image some will require to understand its effectiveness."

Charting A Course For Love

If Valentine's Day finds you looking for love, the people at MapInfo Corporation, a provider of location intelligence solutions, have some information to help you chart your course for finding love. The firm has released demographic insights into America'’s metropolitan and micropolitan areas (the new, smaller urban areas) where single men and women, aged 25 to 34, are calling home. MapInfo analyzed the ratio of men to women in the marrying age group and found some information to help you narrow your search for romance:

Single Males Seeking Urban Females - —Laredo, home to Miss Texas USA, topped the metropolitan area list as the best place for single men seeking single women, with 89 men per 100 women in the 25 to 34 age group. Other choices for men who prefer larger metropolitan areas include: Springfield, MA; Jackson, MS; Albany, GA; and Monroe, LA.

Fall in Love in a Small Town - —For single men who prefer women from smaller towns, the odds are in their favor in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a historic town near Memphis, TN. There are only 77 men aged 25 to 34 for every 100 women in that age group. Other micropolitan area marriage markets for men include: Selma, AL; West Helena, AR; Greenville, MS; and Brownsville, TN.

Rocky Mountain, High Romance - —Women tend to marry sooner than men, with half married before age 26. So where are 25-to-34-year-old women likely to find an eligible bachelor? According to MapInfo, the Boulder, Colorado metropolitan area may be where they'’ll find their soul mate. Boulder has 124 men aged 25 to 34 per 100 women in that age group and more than a third of men in Boulder of marriage age have yet to tie the knot. Other choices for women who prefer larger metropolitan areas include: Mansfield, OH; Bakersfield, CA; Sheboygan, WI; and Salem, OR.

Going to the Chapel and We'’re? - —For women who prefer smaller areas, Siverthorne, also in Colorado, has 172 men aged 25 to 34 per 100 women. Nearly half of men of marriageable age in this micropolitan area are not yet married. Skiers and non-skiers alike may also consider: Rexburg, ID; Edwards, CO; Jackson, WY-ID; and Kingsville, TX -– all micropolitan areas with many more men than women in the 25 to 34 age range.

Armed with this data, anyone should be able to map out a plan for finding love in no time.

Feb 13, 2006

3D Views In The Palm Of Your Hand

Israel-based, 3DVU announced today that it is making 3D imagery of map data available on PDA's, smartphones and other handhelds through its Visual Map technology. The system streams unlimited imagery, such as maps and displays them in perspective 3D view, including elevation data on mobile devices.

While there has been a lot publicity surrounding using other navigation systems such as Google Earth in automobiles, 3dVU says there is more potential for growth in handhelds. The firm says that by 2010 there will be four mobile navigation devices for every one car navigation system in use.

The firm says the limited computing power of handhelds was a major technical barrier to providing smooth continuous movements with 3D perspective over images in terrain elevation. So the firm developed patented technology that is platform independent, and thus can be integrated into any hardware and operating system. The technology will be demonstrated at the 3GSM World Congress, February 13-16, in Barcelona.

Feb 12, 2006

Flood Map Error Soaks Omaha Residents With Costs

Hundreds of homeowners in Omaha, Nebraska, have been told by their mortgage companies that they must obtain flood insurance, insurance they say they don't need. The situation arose after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updated its flood insurance maps. Station WOWT reports that the City of Omaha says FEMA made a mistake, including hundreds and perhaps more than 1,000 properties in the flood plain that, in fact, are not.

According to the station, FEMA admits the mistake and says the maps were corrected in a matter of days. Unfortunately, that correction didn't come before lenders found out that properties they had mortgages on had been placed in the flood plain. Those lenders have now told Omaha homeowners that they have to buy flood insurance and that if they don't, their mortgage company will buy it for them, at, in some cases, twice the usual rate.

FEMA says anyone that buys flood insurance they ultimately don't need will get a refund. But that's little consolation for homeowners facing the out-of-pocket expense. City officials told the station that they are working with FEMA to resolve the problem.

New Zealand Real Estate Filings To Go Paperless

Paper land surveys and other documents for real estate closings may become a thing of the past in New Zealand within a couple of years. Land Information Minister Pete Hodgson announced this week that by July, 2008, all survey and land title transaction documents will have to be filed electronically through the ministry's Landonline website. According the minister, New Zealand will become the first country in the world to have a fully electronic survey and land registration system.

Landonline is the electronic database for all of New Zealand'’s title certificates and survey information. Since 2003, surveyors and lawyers have been able to file their documents electronically, though doing so was voluntary. Land Information chief executive Brendan Boyle told Stuff, that as of December, 22% of land title documents and 37% of survey plans were submitted electronically.

The Land Information Ministry says that mandatory electronic filing of documents will allow them to save $11 million over the next fifteen years as well as improve service and provide greater access to information. "Electronic lodgement enables much faster turnaround time and is cheaper and more efficient for conveyancers and surveyors, and their customers." Minister Hodgson said.

Most New Zealand law firms and surveyors appeared to support the plan, though some surveyors expressed concerns about the reliability of the system and the burden purchasing the required software would place on smaller firms.

Feb 11, 2006

President's Budget Cuts Flood Map Modernization Funds

The American Congress on Surveying and Mapping reports that President Bush's 2007 budget has proposed cutting funds for the Flood Map Modernization Fund. Under the modernization program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been eliminating paper maps and implementing a new, web-based mapping program. Such a system would allow the agency to reflect changes to the maps much more quickly and efficiently.

The modernization is scheduled for completion in 2010 but has recently come under fire for a lack of oversight and cooperation.
Under the budget proposed by the White House, the Flood Map Modernization Fund would be cut by $1 million to $199 million.

Flood Insurance Rate Maps are published by FEMA and are used by local governments to identify flood prone areas and to set insurance rates for flood insurance policies. FEMA has an inventory of over 100,000 flood maps. However, many of the maps are badly outdated and do not reflect current conditions. For example, New Orleans' flood maps were last updated in 1984.

India Publishes First Atlas & GIS Tool

India has published the country's first comprehensive road atlas, Business Standard reported today. The atlas was a joint effort of the Geological Survey of India and Eicher Goodearth. The team also completed a Geographic Information System (GIS) application called Map Plus Professional.

Garmin Sues TomTom Maker Over Patents

From the Wichita Eagle:
Garmin Ltd. has filed two lawsuits against European rival TomTom Inc., claiming the company is using Garmin-patented technology in its GPS devices.

In the suits, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Madison, Wis., Olathe-based Garmin says TomTom has infringed on five Garmin U.S. patents protecting technology used in its Global Positioning System devices.

All the patents covered in the lawsuits are aimed at making GPS navigators easier to use. For example, one patent deals with technology that simplifies the maps showing a vehicle's location by eliminating streets the device determines aren't important to the driver's route.
Officials for Amsterdam-based TomTom denied Garmin's allegations.
The Eagle says Garmin and TomTom have been fighting for market share in Europe for a while. TomTom decided to invade Garmin's home turf last fall, advertising their product extensively on U.S. television.

Schools Using GIS To Teach Students To Think Spatially

Today's students need to learn to think spatially, a new report by the National Research Council says. One way to do that is to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Since GIS software used by professionals is too complex for most students, a team at Northwestern University has developed GIS software specifically designed to meet the needs of elementary and secondary teachers and students.

Daniel Edelson, associate professor of education and computer science at the university explains, "Five years ago, we recognized the need for student-friendly GIS software."” The result of his team's effort is My World GIS. My World is a geographic information system that makes it easy for students to use large data sets to investigate Earth and environmental science phenomena. Using My World, students can display and manipulate real-world geographic data in much the way that GIS professionals do.

First published in 2004, My World was designed to meet the needs of teachers, and work within the constraints of school computing environments. It is in use in schools across the United States. "“My World software's unique strength is in enabling students as young as middle school to visualize and analyze geographic data,"” said Professor Edelson, who is also director of Northwestern's Geographic Data in Education Initiative (GEODE).

Some school projects using the software include a middle school curriculum on plate tectonics developed by GEODE. My World allows students to create dynamic maps with as many as 100,000 data points showing earthquakes, volcanoes, land elevation and sea floor depth. The students analyze the data to explain the origin of different earth structures, map the boundaries of tectonics, and determine the direction of plate movement. The image is an example of a map created during such a project.

Students have also used My World to investigate the impact of mine runoff on water quality in the Appalachians; the effect of climate change on glaciers in Greenland; and the impact of the Gold Rush and westward expansion on Native American tribes. In these examples, My World allows students to view and analyze scientific or historical data in the form of dynamic, customizable maps. Students can also use data they collect themselves with the system.

Professor Edelson and his team at GEODE are investigating the hypothesis that using GIS to visualize large quantities of data not only helps students to develop spatial reasoning abilities, but also allows them to learn important science and geography content.

Feb 9, 2006

ESRI Announces New Enhancements

A couple of announcements from Redlands, California yesterday as ESRI announced the availability of a new version of the GIS Portal Toolkit. ESRI says GIS Portal Toolkit 2.0.1 includes improved handling and validation of metadata; more detailed documentation; support for harvesting and publishing to and from ArcIMS 9.1 metadata repositories; and support for additional database management systems, servers, and operating systems.

ESRI also announced that it had released ArcGIS 9.1 Business Analyst desktop analysis software. The new release has 2005/2010 demographic data. The firm says this new version contains a number of new features and data.

Judge Okays Landfill When County Fails To Produce Map

Sometimes little details can make a big difference.

Meriwether County Commissioners were strongly opposed to the idea of Greenbow LLC building a 300-acre landfill in their Georgia county. So, as the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports, the commissioners blocked the project, saying it violated the county's Water Supply Watershed Protection Ordinance. There's just one problem. Senior Superior Court Judge F. Marion Cummings has ruled that the ordinance, "is legally invalid and unenforceable in its entirety." Why? Apparently, the county never drew up the map that the ordinance refers to. The judge says that there's no evidence the county ever drew up the map and that the landfill project can go forward.

Feb 8, 2006

MapBiz: NAVTEQ Announces Record 4th Quarter

Digital mapmaker NAVTEQ Corporation announced record revenue and income for the fourth quarter of 2005. Revenue in the quarter was up 23% from 2004 to $146.0 million. Net income was up 79% to $27.7 million..

For all of 2005, revenue was $496.5 million, an increase of 26% over 2004. Net income for 2005 was $170.8 million, compared to $54.1 million in 2004. However the net income figure was higher partly due to the recording of a net income tax benefit of $80.6 million.

NAVTEQ CEO Judson Green said, "“Our strong fourth quarter financial performance capped off another exciting year for GPS technology and digital map data. In 2005, our database powered more map-enabled devices than any other solution in Europe and North America."”

NAVTEQ'’s European revenue was up 18% over 2004. The firm has recently expanded its operations in Asia as well, purchasing Picture Map of South Korea. But operations in North America powered much of the firms record performance, increasing 38% to $172.8 million.

While hardly a household name, NAVTEQ provides the underlying digital maps for many of the web's popular mapping sites. Internet mapping has become one of the most popular tools of the web in recent years.

CADD Firms Announce Acquisitions

Several makers of computer drafting and design (CADD) software have made acquisitions of smaller, niche firms recently.

Pennsylvania-based, Bentley Systems announced recently that it had acquired Cook-Hurlbert. Based in Austin, Texas, Cook-Hurlbert provides engineering design software for electric and gas distribution networks. Financial terms were not announced.

Intergraph Corporation recently purchased Alias Ltd. of Manchester, England. Alias provides piping design automation software for use in plant and ship design. Alias has been an Intergraph OEM partner since 1993. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Autodesk, Inc. announced today that is signed a deal to buy Constructware for $46 million. Constructware, which is based in Alpharetta, Georgia, provides on-demand communication and collaboration solutions that streamline design, construction and facility project management. Autodesk says adding the company's software to its product line is part of its plan to deliver collaborative project management solutions. The deal is expected to close in March.

Leica Launches RTK Network In Britain

Swiss equipment manufacturer Leica Geosystems announced yesterday that it had launched Great Britain's first commercial Real Time Kinetic (RTK) Global Positioning System (GPS) network. The service, which the firm calls, "Leica SmartNet" is available as a broadcast correction service to subscribers via GSM or GPRS technology in Great Britain. The service is a partnership between Leica Geosystems and Ordnance Survey.

By using the network, users needing high precision GPS locations will no longer have to use multiple GPS receivers. A spokesperson for Leica said that users, can work at full precision, in Ordinance Survey Grid, anywhere in the country. The system is based on raw data from the Ordnance Survey's network of 90 GPS base stations.

The network is available to anyone, no matter what brand of GPS equipment is used, via an annual subscription.

Feb 7, 2006

FEMA Ties Federal Money To New Flood Maps

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that it will require local communities to adhere to the elevation requirements shown on the Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) maps for projects funded by the agency. This policy means that Mississippi and Louisiana communities that accept FEMA grant money for reconstruction will have to agree to abide by the new, higher, minimum elevations shown on the ABFE maps in order to be eligible for FEMA-funding.

In the wake of the devastating floods caused by Hurricane Katrina, FEMA issued new flood maps for Mississippi coastal counties. New maps for Louisiana are expected at the end of February or in March. While currently, the maps are "advisory" and not yet legally binding, FEMA strongly urged local communities to use the new maps in permitting reconstruction projects.

However, many Mississippi communities have complained that the new maps, and their requirements that buildings be built at higher elevations, would make rebuilding financially unfeasible and would negatively impact their economies. Local officials continue to drag their feet and refuse to adopt the higher building elevations. The communities will eventually be forced to adopt the new map elevations when they become official. Until then, many local governments have been permitting rebuilding projects based on the old flood maps.

This action by FEMA means that at least those public projects funded with federal tax dollars will be built to the higher elevations, and therefore less likely to be flooded. However, FEMA stopped short of requiring that the ABFE elevations be used in the rebuilding of private homes, despite the fact that many homes will be rebuilt using FEMA'’s Individual and Households Assistance housing reimbursement grants. This means that there may be thousands of homes rebuilt along the gulf coast using the old, out of date flood maps. Those homes will once again face the potential for catastrophicc flooding when a major storm occurs.

NAVTEQ Cited For Innovation

Digital map maker NAVTEQ has been selected by Frost & Sullivan to receive the company's 2006 Technology Innovation of the Year Award, the firm announced today.

Frost & Sullivan cited NAVTEQ for its work in Geographic Information Systems, for its commitment to maximizing the utility of digital map data and for promoting the advancement of the navigation industry.

Frost & Sullivan, a global consulting company, presents the award each year to a company that has demonstrated technological superiority within its industry and has successfully developed and introduce new technology.

NAVTEQ provides digital maps for navigation systems and for internet-based mapping applications. The firm is based in Chicago and has about 1,900 employees world-wide.

World's Oldest Map A Fake?

Back in November, archaeologists digging in southern Italy announced that they had discovered the oldest map of anywhere in the western world. Now, the Map Room points to a story on MapHist that translate a Dutch story that it may be a fake. The Map Room links to a German story as well. If your German is like mine, you're better off reading it on the Map Room

From The Map Room

Chicago In Maps

Robert A. Holland's lifelong love of cartography has resulted in a collection of beautiful, old maps. Mr. Holland shares his maps in his recently published, "Chicago in Maps: 1612 to 2002." The book traces how Chicago rose from a small, swampy settlement to one of the world's largest cities.

But Mr. Holland told that he wanted to do more with his book than just show his maps. He wanted to tell their story. "I've found that books focusing on the maps themselves seem a little dry," he said. "What I wanted to do was place each map in a historic context."

The maps begin in the mid-17th Century, when the area was part of, "New France." A 1688, map by Jean-Baptiste-Louis Franquelin, depicts a lake called, "Lac Des Ilinois" as well as, "Fort Checagou." The book traces the city's humble beginnings and it's boom times. An 1833 map shows just 20 city blocks and a population of just 350. But Mr. Holland's book includes maps made of land that had been divided up for sale and sent East to potential investors. One 80-by-100-foot lot sold for $100 in 1832. It sold in 1834 for $3,400 and the following year went for $15,000.

The book charts the city's tragedy as well. Included is "Richard's Illustrated and Statistical Map of the Great Conflagration in Chicago." The map is a bird's-eye view of the destruction from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The book contains several other bird's-eye views as well.

Not all of the maps are the type to be found in museums. Included is a 1931 map of Chicago's gangs, a map showing the city's jazz clubs, an ethnic map from 1982, and a map of the city's redlight district. One block contained 25 brothels, eight saloons and a bookstore.

While the 1931 gangland map is suprisingly accurate, the same cannot be said for all of Mr. Holland's maps. In his apartment hangs a map of Lake Superior that included some islands named to honor the expedition's financial backers. "There are no such islands," he said.

Old Map Proves A Hard Sell

Ted Snyder told the Alton Telegraph he was looking for building materials, not an antique map, when he visited an auction house last September . But when he saw an old map with, "Edwardsville" on it, Mr. Snyder, who's from Edwardsvile, Illinois decided to make a bid, eventually getting the map for $27.50.

It came as a pleasant surprise when Eric Barnett, the director of the University Museum at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville told Mr. Snyder that the map was not a copy, but hand drawn with a quill, and may have been the original map used for an 1873 atlas. While he hasn't had the map appraised, Mr. Snyder said a map enthusiast who was not an expert told him it might sell for as much as $50,000.

But Mr. Snyder has yet to receive an offer of any amount for his old map. The Madison County Historical Museum, says the map looks almost exactly like the map in "Illustrated Encyclopedia and Atlas Map of Madison County." But the museum says that they already have a lot of copies of the atlas and that Mr. Snyder's map lacks some artistic details that are on the one printed in the atlas.

Ideally, Mr. Snyder would like to see the map on display in a public building, "I think it would look nice in the (Madison County) Courthouse," he said. But so far, not a single person has come forward to offer any amount for his map. "I'm shocked," he said, "I'’m not in it for the money; I just want people to see it. I respect the map, but I want it to be displayed."

Mr Snyder plans to hold on to his map a while longer and hope a buyer comes along. If he does sell the map, he plans to get a harley.

Australian Effort Earns A Failing Grade In Geography

Some Australian educators came up with what sounded like a great idea. As a way of teaching kids geography, a map of all the countries participating in the Commonwealth Games was sent to all Victorian primary schools. In total, 30,000 maps were produced by the Office of Commonwealth Games, in a joint effort with the Education Department.

There's one problem. Any Australian kid that attempted to learn geography from those maps would be terribly misinformed about the world today. According to The Age, the maps are seriously out of date. The maps fail to show a number of European nations that were born during the 1990s. Former Soviet states Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine. Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are missing. The countries of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia are still lumped together as Yugoslavia. According to the map, the Czech Republic and Slovakia remain joined as the nation of Czechoslovakia.

A spokesman for the Commonwealth Games expressed regret. However, there are no plans to issue new maps. Australian Croatian Association president Tony Juric said it was disrespectful to leave Croatia off the map. He also gave a good reason for Australians to learn geography saying about Croatia, "We're playing them in the (soccer) World Cup; if we don't know where Croatia is, we're in trouble."

Feb 6, 2006

Coming & Going: Smith Named COO @ DigitalGlobe

Scott Smith was named Chief Operating Officer (COO) at DigitalGlobe this week. Mr. Smith has more than 24 years of experience in the aerospace and commercial remote sensing industries. Before joining DigitalGlobe, Mr. Smith was executive vice president at Space Imaging. In that post he was responsible for all sales, operations and engineering functions for the company. He previously held various engineering and management positions for Lockheed Missiles & Space Company.

As COO, Mr. Smith will plan and direct all aspects of the firm's operational policies, objectives and initiatives. He will oversee and help to prepare DigitalGlobe’s corporate business processes and systems for the launch and operation of DigitalGlobe’s constellation of satellites, and the significant growth of the business.

DigitalGlobe serves the commercial Earth imagery and geospatial information market with high resolution images from its QuickBird satellites.

Site Issues

Blogger was acting up all weekend. A couple of posts were lost in the process. They tell me that they are planning a fix this morning, then things should be back to normal. Regular posting will resume after the fix.

Feb 5, 2006

Virtual Land Rush: Web Promoter "Sells" Virtual Real Estate

"Land - they're not making any more of it," so goes the old saying. But one enterprising web promoter has found a way to create more real estate to sell, literally out of thin air. Gary Ewell recently announced the launch of The site lets visitors purchase any location on Earth, as long as it has not yet been sold. To generate publicity for the site, Mr. Ewell has been "selling" some of the world's largest cities on eBay - London recently went for $31. But if you're interested in buying a city or some other location, you don't have to wait for an auction, you can simply purchase it directly from the site.

So what exactly does the owner of a piece of virtual real estate get for his money? Basically they get to place an image of their choice over their property on a map of the world located at the website. The image can be an advertisement that is linked to another web site, or anything the owner wants. When visitors move their cursor over the owned property, a larger image of the ad appears.

Mr. Ewell says, "People are buying for the novelty factor, as advertising for a web site, and by investors who hope that future buyers will offer much more to obtain a favorite city."” Apparently he is having some success, Luiz Rogriques from won the first eBay auction for virtual real estate. He bought New York City for $51, which is slightly more than the Native Americans got the first time it was sold.

If you decide to purchase a piece of the virtual planet, let me know, I'll be glad to give you a plug here, as well as hit Mr. Ewell up for a commission. If you decide to purchase a piece of the Virtual Earth, you will need either a credit card or Paypal account though. While the real estate may be virtual, the cost is real.