USGIF GotGeoint Blog USGIF promotes geospatial intelligence tradecraft and a stronger community of interest between government, industry, academia, professional organizations and individuals focused on the development and application of geospatial intelligence to address national security objectives.
One of the challenges facing utilities and telecommunications firms worldwide is an inefficient paper-based process for managing engineering design information. The challenges associated with a paper-based information flow includes poor data quality, low productivity, multiple versions of similar information, and limited access to critical engineering information within the organization. I've blogged about this recently
and several times in the past, for example, 2006 and 2009.
In this guest blog Teresa Elliott, Utility Industry Marketing Manager at Autodesk, introduces an articlein Municipal Sewer & Water, that describes how the St Paul, Minnesota, Department of Public Works began the process of converting their paper-based system to an electronic underground infrastructure management system.
"St Paul Department of Public Works is a proactive and diverse community-based city department that through creative partnerships, effective tools and technology, provides a livable community for 287,000 residents. St. Paul DPW faces challenges typical to many wastewater utilities, such as how to effectively rehab their aging infrastructure, coordinate with other departments, and manage the data associated with this effort. In the May publication of Municipal Sewer & Water, St. Paul’s article, Pushing Out Paper (page 22), you will learn more about St. Paul DPW, their challenges and initiatives, and how they are using Autodesk technology (AutoCAD® Map 3D, Autodesk MapGuide®, Autodesk® Topobase™) and Oracle® database to convert 100 years of paper-based maps to an all-electronic system for recording data on its underground infrastructure to more effectively design and manage their sewer and storm water assets."
Recently the Free and Open Source Software Learning Centre (FOSSLC) held their annual Summercamp in Ottawa. Haris Kurtagic and I prepared a presentation on a RESTful implementation of an open API for data access that Haris has developed and that has been implemented by Jason Birch at the City of Nanaimo and by Haris at a Slovenian water company. This presentation is now on-line at the FOSSLC site including audio, video, and the presentation itself. I've blogged about this before and Haris and I have published an article in the on-line journal OSBR.
Parenthetically, one of the really cool things about FOSSLC is that the presentations from Summercamps and other events that they organize are available on line.
Feature Data Object API
A critical guideline for sharing data is to avoid making copies, because as soon as you make a copy, your data maintenance problem becomes much more complicated. The Feature Data Object API (FDO) was developed and designed to help address this problem. FDO is designed to be read/write so that you can not only read data, but you can also modify and update data sources without making copies. FDO is a project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGEO).
FDO supports many different types of data stores including shape files, SDF, Oracle Spatial/Locator, SQL Server, MySQL, PostGIS and other spatial data stores.
FDO is fundamentally a C++ API, but it is available in Web programming environments such as PHP, JSP, and .Net/ASP. All of which is fine if you're a programmer.
Open Web-based Spatial Data Access for Non-programmers
But what if you're not a programmer and want to access spatial data on-line ? To begin to address this challenge, at FOSSLC we outlined an open architecture implemented by Haris and based on REST (Representational State Transfer) that provides web services for geospatial data. The most important feature of this architecture is that because it's REST, all you need to know how to do to access spatial data on-line for both read and write is to write an URL, the string of characters at the top of your browser you use to link to web sites. To be concrete here's an example,
In the presentation at FOSSLC we provided some examples of RESTful URLs for both the City of Nanaimo (Nanaimo Geodata) and the water company in Slovenia (GeoData Site), both of which you can try yourself. For English speakers with no Slovenian I would recommend the Nanaimo site.
There's an interesting article in Wired listing the top utilities in the US in 2008 for solar power generation. It is really amazing how many of these are in California. Southern California Edison, which provides power to Los Angeles, topped the total capacity ratings with 441 megawatts. Pacific Gas & Electric, which covers San Francisco and northern California, installed 85 megawatts of new solar generating capacity, more new solar capacity than any other utility.
Total solar power capacity at all utilities in the US increased 25 percent in 2008 over 2007.
Google Wave was previewed at Google I/O. According to one source, it is a combination of social networking, Gmail and Google Docs. Google Wave was designed by the Rasmussen brothers (Lars and Jens) who founded Where 2 Tech, which was acquired by Google in 2004 and became Google Maps. Google says that it will be available later this year. A developer preview release including Google Wave APIswas announced at Google I/O.
I wasn't aware of this site maintained by Shaan Hurley listing every release of AutoCAD and DWG starting with V1 in 1982.
Shaan has pictures related to many of the releases. This is a picture of an AutoCAD-86 floppy disk.The 86 refers to the 8086 instruction set used by the 8088 in the original IBM PC. So this is the first version of AutoCAD for the IBM PC. There was also an AutoCAD-80 which ran on Z80 machines.
There is a fascinating news item on NPR radio about stimulus money going to virtual shovel-ready projects which is really worth listening to.
One of the things I like to mention when I'm speaking at conferences is about gaming. Many people and many people's children have spent a lot of time with a PSP, Wii, or Xbox. I think it is fair to say that this time is often considered not to have a lot of socially redeeming value, pure entertainment at best.
But the gaming industry is huge and as a result a lot of investment has flowed into gaming technology, both hardware and software. A primary result has been the development of incredibly good 3D graphics. The good news for gamers and for parents of gamers is that this technology is now being put to "better" use. The same technology that is used to animate films like Lord of the Rings is being used by architects and engineers to visualize and simulate construction projects digitally before they are built. Because 3d gaming technology is used, these simulations are dynamic and interactive, in other words you can experience cars, trams, trains, and other vehicles moving. They are also photorealistic. The combination is such a real experience that I often have to repeatedly assure people in the audience watching one of these simulation videos that is a simulation not a movie.
My favorite simulation video is one that was made by Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), a large engneering company, for the City of Seattle for the Alaskan Way project. The Alaskan Way is an elevated freeway that runs along the Seattle waterfront, between the Pike Street market and the harbor. Not only does it detract from the waterfront experience, it is at serious risk in case of an earthquake, and this is the West Coast, one of the seismically very active places in the world. PB had developed a 3D city model for the city of Seattle into which they integrated the engineering designs for two alternatives for replacing the existing Alaskan Way freeway, one underground and the other above ground. They then created a short video using gaming technolgy (3ds Max) to simulate what the two alternatives would look like, from a tourist perspective and also from the prespective of a driver. This is an excellent example, to paraphrase a well-known aphorism, where a 2 minute simulation video is worth a thousand engineering drawings, in conveying to non-technical people including politicians and citizens what the impact of a major engineering project would be.
One of the things that strikes many visitors from Europe is the concrete and asphalt wasteland of many North American cities, which were built primarily with commerce in mind. Robert Moses of the Triborough Bridge Commission is often the single person identified as the source of the modern American city. "His critics claim that he preferred automobiles to people, that he displaced hundreds of thousands of residents in New York City, uprooted traditional neighborhoods by building expressways through them, contributed to the ruin of the South Bronx and the amusement parks of Coney Island, caused the departure of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants Major League baseball teams, and precipitated the decline of public transport through disinvestment and neglect." [Wikipedia] On more than one occasion in several American cities I have been in a hotel literally 100 meters from a customer location and have had to take a cab to get there because there is no way to walk there short of playing "chicken" on a freeway.
Now New York is leading the charge in the opposite direction. Mayor Bloomberg's administration is issuing a set of guidelines for transforming New York streets from Moses' model to a more European style city model. Based on the Bloomberg administration's new manual the New York City Department of Transportation will review new development plans to determine whether they align with the new street design guidelines. The manual, called the Street Design Manual, is the result of nearly two years of work led by the NYC Department of Transportation. In New York streets cover a quarter of the city's land area and provide the bulk of New York City's public space. According to the New York Times, "urban planners say that the document is long overdue, and that it promises to be as much a map to the future as it is a handbook for the present: getting people to think about streets as not just thoroughfares for cars, but as public spaces incorporating safety, aesthetics, environmental and community concerns."
This is not to say that other North American cities haven't already moved in this direction. Portland, Oregon always comes to mind first, because it actually demolished a downtown freeway (now Harbor Drive) in the 1970's. Vancouver, BC has always resisted highway expansion in the downtown core. For example, every attempt to widen the Lions Gate Bridge results in citizens' protest. But Robert Moses of New York in many ways set the standard for North American cities in the 1930's to 1950's, and Major Bloomberg and the New York Department of Transportation may be beginning a transformation of North American cities that will result in more livable cities and lead to a major shift in population from the suburbs back to the cities.
It may also mean that fewer people will have to spend up to four hours a day sitting in traffic.[2007 Annual Mobility Report] According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Americans spend 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic at a cost of $78.2 billion a year in wasted time and fuel costs, about $710 per motorist.
The average daily percentage of vehicle miles traveled under congested conditions rose from 25.9% in 1995 to 31.6% in 2004, congestion in large urban areas exceeding 40%.
As a result of increased congestion, total fuel wasted climbed from 1.7 billion gallons in 1995 to 2.9 billion gallons in 2005.
It may also mean fewer highway fatalities and injuries. According to the ASCE, in 2007, 41,059 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes and 2,491,000 were injured. Motor vehicle crashes cost the U.S. $230 billion per year, about $819 for each resident in medical costs, lost productivity, travel delays, workplace costs, insurance costs, and legal costs.
At Where 2.0 Google annouced the Google Maps Data API which alows you to upload spatial data to Google. The Maps Data API means your application can view, store and update map data on Google using a pretty standard data model of features and collections of features and it includes support for spatial indexing.
Data.gov is the Executive Branch data portal. It provides access to machine readable raw data sets and to applications including spatial. There are 47 raw datasets and 27 applications available now, but you're encouraged to suggest additional datasets and site enhancements to provide "seamless access and use of your Federal data."
1 Global Trade - World Copper Smelters
1 National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC)
1 Patent Grant Bibliographic Data (2009)
1 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) Files, All Data, 2005
ACRES - Brownfields Properties
Active Mines and Mineral Plants in the US
Ages from the National Geochronological Database
Benefits Data from the Benefits and Earnings Public Use File, 2004
Chemical Analyses of Soils and other Surficial Materials of the Coterminous US
Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET): Ozone
Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET): Visibility
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Observations (CoCoRaHS)
Current Watches, Warnings, or Advisories for the United States
Database of Tornado, Large Hail, and Damaging Wind Reports, 1950-2006
Earnings Data from the Benefits and Earnings Public-Use File, 2004
EPA Geospatial Data Download: Facility and Site Information
Geochemistry of Sediments from the PLUTO Database
Geochemistry of Sediments from the Rock Analysis Storage System (RASS) Database
Geochemistry of Sediments in the US from the (NURE-HSSR) Database
Geochemistry of Soils from the PLUTO Database
Geochemistry of Soils from the Rock Analysis Storage System (RASS) Database
Geochemistry of Water Samples in the US from the NURE-HSSR Database
Geographical Information System Graphical Database of Tornados 1950-2006
Geology of the Coterminous United States
Interactive Access To National Income and Product Accounts Tables
Lower Colorado River Daily Average Water Elevations and Releases
Migratory Bird Flyways - Continental United States
Mineral Operations of Africa and the Middle East
Mineral Operations of Latin America and Canada
Mineral Resource Data System: Conterminous US
National Geochemical Survey Database
Next Generation Radar (NEXRAD) Locations
Office of Advocacy's News Update File
Past Atlantic Storm Tracks
Past East Pacific Storm Tracks
Patent Application Bibliographic Data (2009)
Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) Files, Energy Consumption, 2005
Resource Data File - Alaska (ARDF)
Severe Weather Data (SVRGIS) GIS Data - County Warning Area
Storm Prediction Report
Tornado Tracks and Icons, 1950-2006
Worldwide M1+ Earthquakes, Past 7 Days
Worldwide M1+ Earthquakes, Past Day
Worldwide M1+ Earthquakes, Past Hour
Worldwide M2.5+ Earthquakes, Past 7 Days
Worldwide M2.5+ Earthquakes, Past Day
Worldwide M5+ Earthquakes, Past 7 Days
1 Federal Bureau of Investigation Widget
1 HHS 2009 Flu Info
1 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey MEPSnet Insurance Component (MEPSnet/IC)
1 USA Spending Contracts and Purchases
1 USA Spending Grants and Loans
Airline On-Time Performance and Causes of Flight Delays
Cancer Incidence - Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Registries Limited-Use
CDC Emergency Text Messages
Emergency Preparedness and Response Widgets
FDA Peanut-Containing Product Recall
Federal Hurricane Response Widget
FluView National Flu Activity Map
Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System
National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP
National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS)
NOAA Watch Web Widgets
North American TransBorder Freight Monthly and Annual Summary Data
The National Atlas
The National Map
Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS)
Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER)