GeoCarta Has Moved

Jul 17, 2008

Unpacking Continues

I've always hated moving. Actually, it's not the moving, it's the unpacking. I continue to unpack this blog at its new location.

Here's an update of posts you'll find at the new place:

Directions to Remain Most Popular LBS Application Says Researcher

GLONASS Will Match U.S. System by 2012 Says Russian Director

Trimble Launches VRS Service in Florida

Artists Recycle Maps Into Art

GLONASS Falling Behind Galileo Says Russian Commentator

Web Site Offers Royalty-Free & Rights Managed Maps

Audiovox Quits PND Market, Citing Losses

All the old posts can be found a the new blog site. If you've looking for new content, from now on it will be post at


Jul 2, 2008

Europe Opens Wallet for Galileo

The on again, off again global navigation system Galileo took a big step forward with the announcement by the European Commission (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA) that that procurement of the nuts and bolts of the system is going forward. The goal is to have the planned 30 satellites as well as the ground control facilities up and running by 2013.

Doubt over the program's future arose over questions of who would help pay for it. Private companies balked at the high cost and questioned the necessity of another satellite navigation system. So last year the EC agreed to come up with the money.

Under the agreement the EC is the overall program manager and reserves contracting authority while the ESA acts as its procurement and design agent.

The move puts Europe back in the satellite navigation race against the U.S. the Russians, and possibly the Chinese. Currently only the U.S. has a fully operational global system.


Jul 1, 2008

GPS Block IIF Satellites Finish Environmental Tests

Environmental tests of the first of 12 Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellites have been successfully completed Boeing announced today. The series of acoustic tests were designed duplicate the high noise levels the occur during the spacecraft's launch. The firm reports that the first satellite will be delivered to the U.S. Air Force later this year. The IIF group of GPS satellites are an upgrade of the original GPS design and feature three civilian signals.

Back in May, Boeing’s bid to design and build the next generation GPS satellites known as GPS IIIA, was rejected by the U.S. Air Force in favor of a one submitted by rival Lockheed Martin. That contract could be worth up to $3.5 billion.


GeoCarta is Moving

With the beginning of a new month comes a move for GeoCarta. This blog has finally gotten a place of its own. It's not totally fixed up yet, but it is presentable enough for company to visit. So feel free to drop by.

All of the old posts have been moved to the new/old blog that is run on Wordpress. Posts to this Blogger account will continue for a while, along with gentle reminders of the move but the real action will be over here:


Jun 30, 2008

Google Signs 5-Year Deal With Tele Atlas

Search engine giant Google has signed an agreement with Tele Atlas that gives Google access to the firm's maps it was announced today. The five year license grants Google access to Tele Atlas maps and dynamic content in more than 200 countries around the world. Financial terms were not announced.

The broad agreement will allow the internet behemoth to use Tele Atlas maps in all current and future map-based services and navigation offerings across mobile, online and desktop environments. The primary focus is use in Google Maps and Google Earth services and mobile applications such as Google Maps for Mobile. Tele Atlas will have access to edits for its maps from Google users, as well as suggested changes and upgrades.

Founded in 1984, Tele Atlas provides map coverage of more than 200 countries. The firm has approximately 2,500 cartographers working at offices in 24 countries.

Based in Mountain View, California, Google...well honestly, you know who they are.

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Jun 27, 2008

GIS Used to Fight Drunk Driving

Not every new application for GIS gets posted here. However, this one was so different from the norm it was worth a mention. KUSA-TV in Denver has a story on how Weld County Sheriff's Deputies are using GIS to help prevent DUI crashes:

Several years back, law enforcement started working with the Weld County's GIS (Geographic Information System) department to create a map that would pinpoint the stretches of road where DUI crashes are most prevalent.

"Before having this, it was basically by word of mouth," said Paul Wood, Weld County Traffic Division Commander. "[We tried] to get officers together and go through old traffic reports and so forth and try and come up with these hotspots."

The sheriff's office saw new technology as a way to escape that subjective practice.

"What we wanted to do is get out of that paper format of looking at these crash reports and put them on a map and get the human bias out of it," said Matt Dixon, GIS analyst.

Now armed with a map that uses a color system to show the location of hotspots and how "hot" they are, deputies are more confidant as they pick out places to set up DUI checkpoints.

"I think it helps us to target the deployment of our assets and make the most use out of manpower," Wood said.

The spokesman for the Sheriff's Office says that a number of other law enforcement agencies have taken a look at their system with plans to adapt it to their own jurisdictions.


Garmin Signs LBS Deal With GyPSii

Personal Navigation Device (PND) maker Garmin has signed a multi-year deal with GyPSii, an Amsterdam-based provider of geo-location and mobile social networking services. The main purpose of the deal is assumed to be the inclusion of GyPSii's applications in Garmin's Nuvifone, the firms first consumer phone planned for later this year.

GyPSii's technology currently includes a range of location-specific functions such as mobile search, user generated content-sharing and social networking, sort of like Facebook for mobile phones. The firms' also plan to develop a friend finding application. The deal is non-exclusive, meaning GyPSii is free to sell its applications to other PND makers.

GyPSii currently runs on Symbian, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry devices, as well as the Apple iPhone, along with browser-based Internet connected devices.


Jun 26, 2008

Cartographer's Jobs Explored

If you're wondering what cartographers jobs are like The Times has a couple of answers for you. Today's Career & Jobs section interviewed two British mapmakers.

Jon Ford is a survey geologist with the British Geological Survey. He explained his work to The Times:

“I create geological maps and models, which show the rock strata, fossil records and other features that underly the landscape. Much of the UK was mapped this way by the Victorians and I am now revising and improving what they did. What they did was all well and good for their time, but modern requirements have changed; even the land itself might have changed.

“My fieldwork involves going to Yorkshire for between two and four months of the year – we have to do it after the farmers have finished harvesting but before the days get too short – and spending time outdoors with a copy of the existing map on a tablet PC and comparing that with what we identify. We can look at areas that they had to skip over and add a higher level of detail that is more relevant to modern-day use of our maps.

Mr. Ford spends the remainder of the year in his office analyzing the data he's collected and producing maps and models of rock formations.

Edward Mainwaring got a job as a cartographer for Ordnance Survey due to his research on GPS systems. He told The Times:

"I’m interested in the technical and analytical side of cartography as well as the design aspects. People often think that we work with paper and coloured pencils, but much of what I do is manipulating data from different sources – for example, terrain information, street layout and waterways – and turning it into a useful product where the relevant elements stand out clearly. The work is a mixture of analysis, to work out what’s needed, and creativity, to decide the best way of designing it and presenting it.

Both men find the satisfaction in knowing their work is helping in the real world and with the fact that the constantly changing technology means they never get bored.


Jun 25, 2008

Open Source Map Group to Meet in Ireland

A group with the ambitious goal of creating a global 'open source' map that anyone can contribute to and use will hold its second annual meeting in Limerick, Ireland. The State of the Map will meet July 12 and 13 at the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel. The event is sponsored by a project with about 40,000 volunteers. The group enlists people across the globe to go out onto streets and using GPS, bikes, and notebooks, map their world.

Speakers at the conference will demonstrate how to make maps, how to customize maps, and what other countries are doing in this area. Then attendees will go out onto the streets of Limerick and map the area.

The group has launched a blog with information on the conference.


Jun 24, 2008

WV Court Rules Wind Farm Map Didn't Have to be Perfect

The West Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that the state's Public Service Commission (PSC) acted properly when it approved a plan to build 124 giant wind-power turbines in Greenbrier County. The court rejected arguments by the project's opponents that the map submitted to the PSC by Beech Ridge Energy LLC was inadequate.

More of the court's opinion from the Charleston Gazette:

Justices conceded that Beech Ridge did not submit the size map required by PSC regulations and left some churches, cemeteries, roads and springs off the map it submitted.

The court agreed with the PSC that "the significance of local cemeteries, and whether local roads constitute major transportation routes, are matters upon which reasonable minds can differ."

"We believe that the commission properly determined that Beech Ridge's map did not warrant dismissal of the project as it substantially complied with the siting rules," the court ruling said. ridges, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The unanimous opinion would appear to allow the $300 million project to go forward.

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Jun 23, 2008

On Again, Off Again Israel Map Exhibit is Off Again

The controversial map exhibit Imaginary Coordinates at Chicago's Spertus Museum was abruptly closed on Friday the Chicago Tribune reports. The exhibit had angered the city's Jewish community with at least one member of the museum's board threatening to resign if the exhibit stayed open. The Tribune quoted Rhoda Rosen, director of the museum, as saying that the exhibit was about mapping as a "culturally constituted practice, rather than as a navigational instrument."

However, Michael Kotzin, a leader of Chicago's Jewish community told the Tribune that while many pieces highlighted Palestinian humanity, others portrayed Israelis as unfeeling and guarded, without noting the dangers Israelis have faced for decades.

The map exhibit generated controversy at its opening on May 2nd and temporarily closed a week later. A new version reopened on May 15th

See also: Mapping Middle East Politics.

Via: The Map Room.

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Map Collecting: The Next Big Thing?

Paper maps. Who needs 'em? Well apparently as physical maps are increasingly replaced by digital versions the old ones are becoming more collectible. Express India recently ran a story on the growing interest in antique maps among collectors in that country:

It is the fun of tracing unknown routes that draws people towards this shop,” says [Kapil Dev] Aryan, who opened the shop in 2000 and has seen business expand in the past couple of years. While Indians are keen on world maps, foreigners knock on the door of the small shop for old maps of India.

Sanjay Jain of RS Books and Prints, South Extension, that is famous for its collection of antique maps, says, “The love for maps is connected to the sense of discovery. It’s a real pleasure, for instance, to peruse a rare 18th century plan of the city you live in.” Getting your hands on a 16th or 17th century map is difficult, and even a small map costs Rs 5,000-10,000, [$117-$233] while 18th and 19th century maps cost at least Rs 2,000-5,000. [$47-$117]

Now, the clientele comprises ambassadors, embassy officials, researchers, scholars and avid collectors who are kept in the loop whenever the dealer chances upon a new find. “And some of these guys drive a really hard bargain,” smiles Aryan.

See also: Japanese Take Big Interest in Historic Maps.

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Jun 20, 2008

Map of Twisters Launched

A self-described "tornado chaser" has launched a web site that shows where tornadoes hit the United States each day. The Google Earth mashup allows visitors to zoom in to see a city, or zoom out to see the entire country.

Dr. Perry Samson, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, at the University of Michigan developed the site from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. Dr. Samson's day job as an atmospheric scientist involves studying air pollution and educational technology. For fun he studies extreme weather. He recently returned from a summer storm-chasing trip where he and a team of students gathered data from eight supercell storms.

Dr. Samson says "This Web site is another way for those interested in weather to get a sense for what's going on." It's also just pretty cool to show others in the office.

The site includes historical data on storms and allows the user to search for tornadoes by zip code. As someone that lives in "tornado alley" it can be a little sobering to see all the storms that have been around me. It's cloudy and rainy today, I'll definitely be casting more than an occasional glance to the sky.


Jun 19, 2008

Navteq CEO: Future of Mapping is Cell Phones

Navteq CEO Judson Green says he has seen the future of mapping and that future is on the cell phone. In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Green said that the firm's merger with Nokia will enable it to enlist cell phone users to supplement Navteq's 1,000 mapping analysts:

Digital map-maker Navteq is preparing for a significant leap from portable GPS devices and automobile navigation systems to the cell phone, and it is joining with the world's largest handset manufacturer, Nokia Corp., to do it.

Navteq Chief Executive Judson Green sees the mobile phone as the key to expanding both Navteq's geographic reach and the breadth of information it can provide.

"We're excited about tapping into the Nokia community of consumers—of which there are close to a billion around the world—who can give us input as to what they find when they're traveling," Green told the Tribune in an interview. "We love the idea of having that consumer input funneled back to us because it allows us to make the map more accurate, to keep it fresh and to make it more interesting."

"We're just beginning to see the wave of growth that will occupy the next several years," he said. "Ultimately, you will find maps on every phone and you'll find location-based content on every phone. … If our heritage was in the automotive sector and you think about a consumer behind the wheel, our future is with mobile consumers, or pedestrians."

Mr. Green told the Tribune that he wants Navteq get into dynamic content such as data on gas prices and parking. The firm will also be looking at subscription-based services as well as location based services that can be subsidized by advertising.

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Jun 18, 2008

NAVTEQ Announces Winners of Asia-Pacific Global LBS Challenge

The Asia-Pacific Winners of NAVTEQ's Global LBS Challenge were announced today. The Grand Prize goes to Joikusoft for its JoikuSpot. JoikuSpot is a free location-aware mobile software solution that turns Nokia Smartphones into hotspots. Once installed on a phone, laptop, or internet tablet, the software establishes a wireless internet connections making the device its own hotspot. In addition to bragging rights, Joikusoft receives a prize package valued at $275,000, including $50,000 in cash.

The annual Global LBS Challenge, invites developers to build innovative location-enabled applications that work with mobile phones and/or wireless handheld devices using dynamic positioning technology and NAVTEQ map data.

(Picture courtesy Joikusoft)


Jun 17, 2008

AutoCarto 2008 Registration Now Open

Registration for AutoCarto 2008 is now open. Produced by the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS) the symposium will be held September 8-11 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The event focuses on Cartography and GIScience and features keynotes, workshops, and field trips.

You can register at the CaGIS AutoCarto website.

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Is GPS Making us Dumb?

"Is Google Making Us Stoopid?" -- When Atlantic Monthly posed that question on its cover recently it set off a whole anti-technology backlash. Now Cloe Shasha at ABC News has joined the chorus, asking "Is GPS Making us Dumb?" and claiming that our reliance on GPS devices may result in the loss of our sense of direction:
When we develop a crutch for technology, we lose the ability to do that which we did previously," [Ian] White said. "It couldn't be more true. People become more and more reliant, and their expectations get bigger and bigger, and if technology doesn't deliver, they get frustrated."

One problem with Ms. Shasha's argument is that she presupposes that everyone actually had a sense of direction in the first place. Lots of people, my wife included, don't. Of course, as a land surveyor, I am fortunate to have a flawless sense of direction. In fact, the first thing my father (also a land surveyor) taught me was that land surveyors are never lost.

Technology should be used, not feared. Still there are limits to how much trust even I would put in technology. Thaindian News reports today that it will soon be possible for airplanes to land on aircraft carriers using GPS with no input from the pilot at all. I've read similar statements about commercial airliners. I'm sorry, but GPS or no GPS, if I'm in that plane, I want the pilot to have both hands on the wheel.


Jun 16, 2008

16-Year Old Maps Course for Map-Biz Success

Lots of teenagers get part-time jobs, many even get jobs working for their dads. Instead, Molly Parsons has her dad working for her as the majority owner of Streamside Publications LLC.

More from the Steamboat Pilot & Today:

The company’s latest release is a map of public fishing spots on the Yampa downtown and in the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area. The guide includes photos of the river and illustrations by local artists. It was set to be available in stores today, for $9.95.

“Scott [Ford], my dad and I created the map off the basis that people will come to Steamboat and want to fish but don’t have time to read a whole guidebook,” Molly said.

If they do want a whole guidebook, however, Stream­side Publications offers one. “Fishing in the ’Boat” has been available for two years for about $20. Ford wrote the text for the guide in the early 1990s. The tear-proof and waterproof map makes the guidebook look amateurish, Ford said.

Ms. Parsons has been running the map publishing business since she was fourteen. The firm's maps are sold at various fishing supply and bookstores in the local area.

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Jun 14, 2008

USGS Signs Agreement for Public Access to Geospatial Data

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have reached an agreement to ensure the preservation and access to the USGS's earth imagery and geospatial data resources. Under the agreement NARA will be the legal custodian of the data while the USGS will exercise day-to-day control according to preservation and access standards of NARA. The records will remain at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The EROS Center will become an affiliated archive within the National Archives system.

Dr. Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States explained that the main goal was preserving public access, "This agreement between NARA and USGS is a guarantee that our Nation's collections of aerial and satellite images of the world's land areas will be permanently maintained, preserved, and accessible to the public. These records are crucial to scientists and policy makers around the world in understanding how man and society affect the natural landscape." he said.

According to Dr. Mark Myers, Director of the USGS, the EROS archive of geospatial data is the largest civilian archive of such data in the United States. It occupies over 40,000 square feet and totals nearly three petabytes (3000 terabytes) of electronic data and millions of film frames.

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Jun 13, 2008

$5 Million Awarded to Promote GIS Education

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $5 million grant to Del Mar College (DMC) and project partners through the NSF Advanced Technological Education Program to establish the National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence (GeoTech Center) at DMC. The goal of the GeoTech Center is to increase the number and quality of educated geospatial technicians in the fields of GIS, GPS, remote sensing and mobile- and location-based services (LBS).

Dr. Phillip Davis, DMC professor of computer science says their is shortage of geospatial technicians in the U.S. "Institutions and businesses are worried that this type of work will be outsourced to other countries. We want to keep these jobs here; but right now, there’s not a sufficient number of geospatial technicians to meet the demand," he said. Geospatial technology was listed among the top three high-technology, high-growth industries in the country as part of President Bush’s High Growth Job Training Initiative.

The GeoTech Center is a partnership that includes seven community colleges, four universities, ESRI, and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station.

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