GeoCarta Has Moved

Sep 29, 2007

GPS Gadget of the Week: Vibrating GPS Rings

British designer Gail Knight was looking for an attractive, feminine way to make women feel safe when walking in areas they are unfamiliar with. Her solution? Vibrating GPS Navigation Rings to help them find their way.

A ring is worn on each hand. The guts of the system lies in a controller that can either be worn around the neck or clipped to clothing. The user enters a postcode into the controller and the rings guide them to their destination, using buzzes and vibrations. The rings buzz for left and right, and have different vibrations for forwards and backwards. Both rings buzz when the wearer is going in the wrong direction.

Via The Geeky Traveller
[Verified by BBC News]


Sep 28, 2007

India to Launch Own GNSS

India plans to launch its own Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), announcing plans to have a regional system operational in 2011-12 the Economic Times reported today. G Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said his agency will launch seven satellites. Three satellites will be placed in geo-synchronous transfer orbit, while the other four would be in geo-stationary orbit.

The Times quoted Mr. Nair as stating that work has already begun on the system. The announcement calls into question the future of Indian cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). Two years ago, India agreed to partner with the up for partnering in the ESA in their Galileo satellite navigation system. However, the project is yet to get started due to infighting within the ESA over funding.

With only seven satellites, the Indian system could not provide the worldwide coverage provided by the Global Positioning System, already in place by the United States. India joins a growing list of countries that are working on their own GNSS. The ESA, China, and Russia are all working to implement their own GNSS. Currently, the U.S. is the only country with a GNSS providing 24-hour a day, world-wide coverage.

See also: Space Race Heats up as China Launches 5th Navigation Satellite
Galileo to be Grounded?
GLONASS to Top U.S.'s GPS, Putin Says


America's "Birth Certificate" to go on Display in New Exhibit

Two maps created in 1509 by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller will be the centerpiece of an exhibition set to open October 1, at the James Ford Bell Library in Minneapolis. The exhibition is to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the maps.

The maps were accompanied by an introductory cosmography text, Cosmographiae introductio. One is a small globe gores map, designed to be cut out and pasted onto a sphere. The other map is a 12-panel wall map. In addition to their age and rarity, the maps are noteworthy because they were the first to use the name "America" for what we now call South America. For this reason, these maps are often referred to as America's birth certificate. The maps were also the first to display newly discovered lands (both North and South America) are depicted as land masses separate from Asia.

The globe gores map was the first map known to show the whole earth. It is one of only 4 copies known to be in existence. Station KARE reports that a similar map was sold in 2005 at a London auction house for $1 million.


Sep 26, 2007

Indian GIS Market to be $10 billion in 10 Years

The market for geographical information systems (GIS) in India is expected to be $10 billion in 10 years The Economic Times reported today. The times quoted speakers at the 58th International Astronautical Congress currently being held at Hyderabad.

Globally, the GIS market is expected to grow from an estimated $4 billion to $150 billion in the next decade.

"India is sitting on a goldmine with tremendous business potential for GIS and its use for land records in 600,000 villages," said Mukund K. Rao, CEO of Bangalore-based Navayuga Spatial Technologies (NST), at a session on GIS and high-resolution imagery market.

With more and more government agencies, private companies and individuals using GIS and high-resolution imagery services, the market is growing in leaps and bounds.

Increasing use of spatial information for planning, infrastructure development, disaster management, business development, and natural resources management are the main reasons given for the growth forecasts.

See also: Still More Indian Complaints About Google Earth
India Publishes First Atlas & GIS Tool
GIS for the Third World


EU Wipes Turkey Off New Map

European Union (EU) officials have stirred controversy after the design for the "tails side" of the proposed new euro coins excluded Turkey from the map The Telegraph reported today. The map shows an enlarged EU, including the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Cyprus, but omits Turkey, which is seeking to join the EU.

Marco Cappato, an Italian Liberal Euro-MP was quoted by The Telegraph as stating, "They have deliberately and secretly wiped Turkey off the map. To come up with this apparently geographical design they were obliged to put Cyprus 500 kilometres west of where it actually is. Mr. Cappato blamed France, which is hostile to Turkish membership for the omission.


Sep 24, 2007

Geographical Ignorance Leads to Foreign Policy Missteps, Trio Says

A lack of geographical knowledge in the United States has led to misconceptions of the world and misguided foreign policy decisions, Jerry Dobson, professor of geography at the University of Kansas recently told The University Daily Kansan:
“It is not just our beauty contestants that have these problems,” Dobson said. “We face a society in which national leaders don’t understand fundamental geography.”
“For the past 60 years, we’ve had more quagmires than victories,” Dobson said. “This coincides with the American purge of geography. We’re playing a game of blind man’s bluff.”
Dr. Dobson was joined by Brian McClendon, co-founder of engineering for Google Earth and Alexander Murphy professor of geography at the University of Oregon, in presenting “World Hot Spots: What Google Earth and Geography Tell Us About War, Peace and Politics” at the Dole Institute at the university last Thursday.
During their presentation, the trio made the case for what they called a largely forgotten field: geography.
“It is not just our beauty contestants that have these problems,” Dobson said. “We face a society in which national leaders don’t understand fundamental geography.”

Dr. Murphy stated that part of the problem is that people view geography as nothing but the memorization of states and capitals. Mr. McClendon said he hoped the availability of Google Earth would help people embrace geography.

Dr. Dobson told the Daily Kansan that of the top-20 private universities in the U.S., only two have geography departments.

See also: Study of Geography is Becoming a Lost Art


Sep 22, 2007

GPS Gadget of the Week: Freedom Keychain GPS

Tired of hauling around those bulky hand-held GPS units? Then the Freedom Keychain GPS SiRF Receiver may be for you.

The receiver can connect to your notebook, PDA or Mobile Phone using Bluetooth technology. This receiver will work in your pocket, purse or briefcase and is compatible with all the popular mapping software.

Via TechGadets

Last week's GPS Gadget of the Week here.


Working on the Railroad

N.C. Railroad has begun combining 19th-century deeds with modern mapping methods in a effort to regain control of its right-of-way. That process has angered nearby landowners, many of whom have been using the railroad's land as their own.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the railroad has begun demanding the property owners sign leases.

"Nobody told me that when I bought the building," [Frank] Abernethy said this week. "I told the guy, `What are you trying to do, put me out of business?' "

The railroad says there are hundreds of other property owners like Abernethy along its 317-mile line from Charlotte to Morehead City. One day, the company could try to reclaim the disputed parcels. But for now, the railroad just wants rent, said Scott Saylor, railroad president.

For years, the railroad didn't know how many businesses were on its property or encroaching on the right of way. But now, the railroad has the mapping technology to identify -- and go after -- those businesses.

The railroad currently collects on 233 lease agreements with small businesses along the length of the line, said Kat Christian, a railroad spokeswoman. At least 120 newly identified businesses, including Abernethy's, haven't signed or responded to letters, she said.


Sep 19, 2007

Purchasing Maps by the Barrel

Jim Chandler, the new owner of what is now called Barclay Publishing, has a surprise for map freaks, local historians and those in need of cheap gift wrap: He's unloading shelves and barrels full of maps from the '60s, '70s and '80s at must-move prices - 25 cents to a buck or two each...

That according to a story in today's San Jose Mercury News. Most are of the maps are of the area around San Jose, California.

With maps freely available online, few people see the need for the traditional folded paper map.

"My wife suggested I should just get a dumpster," Chandler told The News, "but I couldn't do it. Someone might have a use for these." Then he adds, "And some people are just really into maps."

Mr. Chandler, who purchased the map publishing company back in January says that most of the firm's customers these days are real estate agencies that want custom maps showing areas in detail.

See also If Maps Are Free Who Will Pay The Mapmakers?

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Sep 18, 2007

U.S. Officially Ends Selective Availibility in GPS

The President has accepted the recommendation of the Department of Defense to end procurement of GPS satellites that have the capability to intentionally degrade the accuracy of civilian signals the White House announced today. The move was intended to assure users of GPS equipment of the United States' commitment to support peaceful civilian use of the technology.

When originally launched, GPS satellites intentionally degraded the civilian signal, resulting less accuracy. Although the United States stopped the intentional degradation of GPS satellite signals in May 2000, there has always been the possibility that the degradation, known as Selective Availability (SA), could be turned back on. This action will remove SA capabilities from future GPS satellites.

Presently, the United States is the only country with a complete constellation of navigation satellites. Russia, China and the European Space Agency are all in the process of deploying their own satellite navigation systems.

See also: GPS III Decision Delayed Until December
Space Race Heats up as China Launches 5th Navigation Satellite
GLONASS to Top U.S.'s GPS, Putin Says

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Strange Maps

The blog, Strange Maps has attracted an enthusiastic readership in the year or so it has been up. Among its admirers are some folks at Yahoo, which recently named it one of their Picks of the Week.

Strange Maps specializes in uncovering and displaying obscure, eyebrow-raising, and whimsical maps. The blog's author, who remains anonymous, searches the internet for maps that are, "sufficiently strange." He also takes suggestions from readers. So if you know of a strange map you'd like others to enjoy, visit his site and make a suggestion.


Sep 17, 2007

Coalition Seeks More Funding for USGS

In an effort to convince Congress to loosen its purse strings when it comes to spending on geospatial research, members of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Coalition will host a reception on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress, their staff, and the media have been invited to the event, which will highlight the research, information, and services provided by the USGS.

The coalition will also draw attention to the need for increased funding for the Survey. The USGS budget has declined in real dollars for five consecutive years, and it would decline for a sixth year if the proposed 2008 budget request is enacted. Real funding for the USGS is at its lowest level since 1996. USGS scientists will be at the even to discuss the work of the USGS conducts in the biological, geographical, geological and hydrological sciences.

The USGS Coalition is an alliance of more than 70 organizations that support increased federal investment in the USGS programs.

See also: Budget Cuts May Cost USGS Jobs
Outsourcing USGS


Kids, Others, Invited to Help Map Light Pollution

Schoolchildren as well as amateur astronomers are being asked to participate in the Great World Wide Star Count. The event, which is scheduled from October 1 to 15, is designed to help scientists map light pollution globally while educating participants about the stars. The initiative is part of the Windows to the Universe project at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

Participants in the Northern Hemisphere will look for the constellation Cygnus, while those in the Southern Hemisphere will look for Sagittarius. They will then match their observations with magnitude charts available online. "This is an important event that brings families together to enjoy the night skies and become involved in science," says Dennis Ward of UCAR's Office of Education and Outreach, who is one of the event coordinators.

Mr. Ward explained that there is a purpose beyond family togetherness, "It also raises awareness about the impact of artificial lighting on our ability to see the stars." Bright outdoor lighting at night is a growing problem for astronomical observing programs around the world. By searching for the same constellations, participants in the Great World Wide Star Count will be able to compare their observations with what others see, giving them a sense of how star visibility varies from place to place.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research is a consortium of 70 universities offering Ph.D.s in the atmospheric and related sciences.

See also: Schoolchildren to Map Light Pollution.


Sep 15, 2007

GPS Gadget of the Week: ParaNav

So you're using GPS to in your car, on your bike, and when you go hiking. But you were wondering "why can't I use GPS when I go parachuting?". No worries, Rockwell Collins has the answer. The aviation contractor recently introduced ParaNav, a helmet mounted navigation system for parachutists.

ParaNav is a personal, GPS-based, flight management system with an integrated head-up display. It provides parachutists with accurate navigation capabilities and enhanced situational awareness, allowing them to fly to their designated landing zones. The system also allows the parachutist to divert to alternate sites with the same level of accuracy.

The firm says the system has undergone more than 100 test jumps at maximum altitudes of 28,000 feet and at temperatures of 20 degrees below zero. Rockwell Collins recently displayed ParaNav at a defense equipment show in London and is involved in ongoing evaluations of the system with potential military customers.

Photo corrected 10/04/07.

Via Navigadget.
Last week's GPS Gadget of the Week here.


Sep 14, 2007

Ordnance Survey Launches Explore

Britain's Ordnance Survey announced today that it had launched a new map portal aimed at outdoor enthusiasts called "Explore". The site allows users to plan, plot and share routes and maps, attach their own photographs, highlight points of interest, and share routes with others, using Ordnance Survey's maps.

The site is geared towards hikers and runners says Bridget Kendrick, head of the team that developed the site. "We want to foster an environment where users can interact, share and create an online destination for all outdoor enthusiasts. Our aim is to offer everyone, from regular walkers to casual cyclists, a central hub from which to plan their day out, so that more and more people can enjoy the benefits of getting out and about in the great outdoors."

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Sep 12, 2007

GPS III Decision Delayed Until December

Bob Brewin at has waded through the fine print from the GSA’s Federal Business Opportunities Web site and determined the U.S. Air Force has pushed back its decision on a contractor for the next-generation Global Positioning System satellites, known as "GPS III" until December:
Last week the Space and Missile Systems Center announced it intended to award sole source contracts to Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which are competing for the multi-billion GPS III contract, for something called “GPS Phase A Sub System Risk Reduction.”

Buried in that contract notice is the speed bump: a line that says that the GPS III Key Decision Point-B has been delayed from August until December. If you want to know what that means, it’s easy to find out if you happen to have, hanging around the office, a copy of chapter 39, Title 10 of the U.S Code, section 2366a.

That code says, in quite plain English, that any major Defense Department project cannot proceed unless higher-ups in the Pentagon determine that the program is affordable, that its technology has been demonstrated in a relevant environment and the program demonstrates a “high likelihood” of accomplishing its intended mission.

The Space and Missile Systems Center sugar-coated this delay by saying that the Risk Reduction contracts awarded to Boeing and Lockheed will provide them with additional time for system design work, including mature space system design and navigation payload subsystem design.

But time is running out if the Air Force wants to design and build GPS III satellites to replace those satellites on-orbit within six years. The Government Accountability Office reported this April that among if the first GPS III satellite is not launched by 2013 “constellation sustainment will be at risk.”

Defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing are competing for the multibillion-dollar contract to supply the Air Force with up to 32 next-generation GPS satellites.

See also: GPS III Bid Process About to Begin


Sep 8, 2007

GPS Gadget of the Week: Garmin Astro

GPS technology is being used to track and monitor all type of assets. Now comes a device to track what to many hunters is their most prized possession; their hunting dog. The Garmin Astro GPS dog tracking system is aimed (pun intended) at hunters. The unit allows a hunter to track up to ten dogs as far as five miles away.

The Astro system includes a handheld GPS device and a wireless transmitter in a collar. Unlike other pet finding GPS systems that are designed only for when your dog runs away, the Astro system allows you to see your dog's current location, a trail of where he’s been, a compass pointing to your dog’s location, whether he’s running, sitting, on point or treeing quarry. Garmin says the gadget's high-sensitivity GPS receiver will let a hunter track their dog’s position even in the densest cover.

Via GPS Tracklog.

See also: Finding Fido With GPS
GPS Has Gone To The Dogs


Sep 7, 2007

Lower Cost to Drive Demand for Auto Navigation Systems

Lower cost and a desire by auto makers to stand out in a crowded market will increase demand for GPS-equipped, factory installed navigation devices in North America. That is the conclusion of a new study released today by Research and Markets. "Strong growth in the North American automotive navigation systems market is primarily due to a reduction in the cost of navigation systems, aggressive marketing strategies adopted by automakers, and increasing consumer awareness," the market research firm concluded.

In 2006, only about 60% of the light vehicle models sold in North America offered navigation as an option. However, the Dublin-based research firm predicts that number will rise significantly in the future. As the cost of navigation devices has declined, automakers in North America increasingly see them as a cheap way to differentiate their models from competitors. Increasing consumer awareness of such devices also will play a role in the inclusion of the devices as standard equipment in more models.

Like almost all technologies, the cost is expected to continue to decline as economies of scale lower manufacturing costs. The report also forecast lower subscription fees for such features as real-time traffic. Research and Markets predicts that 79% of consumers will be willing to pay for real-time traffic information services.

At the same time, cellphone makers are scrambling to add location aware features to their devices as a way of selling additional services and build customer loyalty. So the first question is where will the public want their maps? In their car, or in their pocket?

The second question is what effect this will have on makers of stand alone devices such as Garmin and TomTom. Many consumers may find that with GPS navigation available both in the car and on their phone, they have no need for another.

Based in Dublin, Research and Markets has published over 80,000 publications on international and regional markets, key industries, companies, new products, and the latest trends.

See also:
So Long to Stand-Alone GPS Units?
Continued Growth in GPS Forecast

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Sep 6, 2007

Map Center Receives $10 Million Gift

From the Boston Globe:
BOSTON --A retired Boston developer and map aficionado has given $10 million to permanently endow the Boston Public Library's map center.

Norman B. Leventhal also is making a long-term loan of 178 of his most valuable historic maps to the library's existing map center, which is named for him.

Leventhal's loan adds to the roughly 200,000 maps already at the library.

The library's maps are being digitized and put online. That effort will now be accelerated.


Rocky Mountain Antique Map Fair

If you're in Denver, or looking for a good reason to visit, try the Rocky Mountain Antique Map Fair. The event will be Friday, September 14th and Saturday the 15th at the Denver Public Library.

One of the largest assemblages of rare maps ever gathered together in the Western United States, the fair will feature maps dating from the 1500s to today. The event is sponsored by The Rocky Mountain Map Society and boasts of a diverse group of prominent dealers from around the world.

Co-sponsor of the fair is the Denver Public Library, which is home to an outstanding collection of Western maps itself.

Admission: $5.00.


Sep 3, 2007

PND Makers Highlight Extra Features in Berlin

Manufacturers of satellite navigation devices are loading up their devices with extra features and new styles in a effort to stand out in an increasingly crowded market Reuters reported from the huge IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin:
Manufacturers of satellite navigation devices are loading up their gadgets with features from audio sightseeing guides to three-dimensional city views as they seek to differentiate themselves in a crowded market.
"The market is now mature enough that you can develop products targeted at segments," Clive Taylor, European product director for Garmin, said at Europe's biggest consumer electronics fair IFA in Berlin.
Navigon hopes one of those segments are fans of Apple's iPod. The German based company unveiled a new device in white mimicing the design of the popular music player.

Meanwhile, U.S. based Garmin took aim at the female market, announcing it would have a pink GPS device out in time for Christmas.

Picture courtesy IFA.