United States

Massachusetts Plans To Keep Track of Where Your Car Has Been

Please allow the radio silence, Summer sometimes means holidays!

Slashdot discussed this story last Friday: Massachusetts Plans To Keep Track of Where Your Car Has Been. This is a topic we mentioned before, including when Australia and the U.S. planned nation-wide car tracking systems.

Their summary: "Massachusetts wants to establish a database with the information gathered by license plate scanners installed in police cars. The scanners will scan license plates of every car the police vehicle passes and transmit that information (along with the location) to a database that will be made available to various government agencies. The data wil be kept indefinitely."

Redistricting 2.0: Cloud Lets Voters Take Part of District Boundary Maps

Four years ago we mentioned a redistricting game, it's now reality, Slashdot discusses a story named Redistricting 2.0: Cloud Lets Voters Take Part, involving GIS, crowdsourcing, political district boundaries and the cloud, all this in the Los Angeles County, but other areas where citizens can contribute to redistricting are mentioned, such as Sacramento.

Their summary: "As the 2010 U.S. census results arrived, Los Angeles County's politicians started ramping up for redistricting — the once-a-decade, computing-intensive, often contentious process of geographically carving up the populace into discrete parcels of voters. In the past, such decisions were made by politicians using expensive computer systems and software. Participation in the process was limited to an elite few who could afford experts who understood redistricting's arcane rules and GIS technology well enough to game them. This year, however, it won't just be the politicians and special interest groups poring over the data and tweaking boundary lines. All 4.5 million registered voters in LA County have access to a cloud-based redistricting application called the Public Access Plan that lets voters view and modify existing maps and boundaries, submit comments, and even create and submit their own plans from scratch. LA County is among the first government entities to consider providing Web-based tools that allow for direct public participation. 'This notion of public access has changed quite dramatically,' says Tim Storey, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures. 'Throwing that wide open is a big step.' The big question now is whether the public will use it."

If you read the article, you'll learn that they're using Esri's web-based redistricting software.

Google Map Maker Now Available for the United States and Adds New Features

Google added a 184th editable country in Google Map Maker, the United States, and offers new features.

From the announcement: "Map Maker users have mapped entire cities, road networks and universities that were never previously recorded online. These contributions have been incorporated into Google Maps and Google Earth, so the collective expertise of the Map Maker community benefits the millions of people using these products globally. [...]

In addition to opening Map Maker for the United States, we’ve added some new features for users globally. You can now get a street-level perspective on places with Street View imagery directly in Map Maker, see and edit all points of interest, and find exactly what you’re looking for with advanced search options such as displaying all railroad tracks."

Not everyone is happy with the existence of Google Map Maker and wonder why Google did not embrace OpenStreetMap instead of rolling out their own map crowdsourcing tool. Anyone has a clue?

'You Need A Map' App Free for April: 2 Gigs of U.S. Maps

 Via AppShopper, I learned that the 'You Need A Map' app for iOS will be free for the month of April.

From the description: "A map that covers all 50 states. [...] It contains every mountain, hill, stream, lake, pond, freeway, highway, local road and track from two large online databases compressed into a 2GB app. In addition it contains many buildings, trails, railways, points of interest and polygon features. [...] Two maps in one! You Need A Map contains the roads from OpenStreetMap.org AND the US Census. OpenStreetMap has more accurate highways while the US Census has more accurate local streets. [...] You Need A Map supports GPS tracking while the app is in the background."

Recent DM Articles: NoSQL and Geospatial, More on GISP Certification, More on U.S. Broadband Map, and even more

Here's the articles publish last month over Directions Magazine that I wanted to share with our users.

U.S. National Land Cover Database (NLCD) 2006 Provisional Version Available

VerySpatial made me aware that the provisional version of the U.S. National Land Cover Database (NLCD) 2006 is now available.

From the official page: "NLCD 2006 quantifies land cover and land cover change between the years 2001 to 2006 and provides an updated version of NLCD 2001. These products represent the first time this type of 30-meter cell land cover change has been produced for the conterminous United States. Products were generated by comparing spectral characteristics of Landsat imagery between 2001 and 2006, on an individual path/row basis, using protocols to identify and label change based on the trajectory from NLCD 2001 products. A formal accuracy assessment of the NLCD 2006 land cover change product is planned for 2011."

To my total surprise, I don't think we ever mentioned the NLCD dataset before.

U.S. National Broadband Map Shows Digital Divide

While I was away last week, the following story was discussed over Slashdot: National Broadband Map Shows Digital Divide.

Their summary: "PC Magazine reports that the Commerce Department has unveiled a national broadband inventory map, which will allow the public to see where high-speed Internet is available throughout the country. Users can search by address, view data on a map, or use other interactive tools to compare broadband across various geographies, such as states, counties or congressional districts. Commerce officials say the information can help businesses decide if they want to move to a certain location, based on broadband availability. The map, costing about $200 million and financed through the 2009 Recovery Act, shows that 5-10 percent of Americans lack broadband access at speeds that support a basic set of applications. Another 36 percent lack access to wireless service. Community anchor institutions like schools and libraries are also 'largely underserved,' the data finds, and two-thirds of surveyed schools subscribe to speeds lower than 25 Mbps and only 4 percent of libraries subscribe to speeds greater than 25 Mbps. 'The National Broadband Map shows there are still too many people and community institutions lacking the level of broadband service needed to fully participate in the Internet economy,' says Larry Strickling, assistant secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). 'We are pleased to see the increase in broadband adoption last year, particularly in light of the difficult economic environment, but a digital divide remains.'"

The same topic is discussed by O'Reilly in an article named Broadband availability and speed visualized in new government map.

Tuesday Geonews: ESRI File GeoDB API Beta 2, Microsoft and Nokia Alliance, More 3D OpenStreetMap, MapQuest Transit Directions, and much more

Here's recent geonews in batch mode. I will be away the reminder of the week, so expect less stories, but we'll take care of your submitted content.

From the Google front:

From the ESRI front:

From the open source / open data front:

From the Microsoft front:

In the miscellaneous category:

In the maps category:

U.S. Government App Locates Potholes from GPS As Your Drive Over Them

A story discussed over Salshdot goes like this Gov App Detects Potholes As Your Drive Over Them.

Their summary: "The City of Boston has released an app that uses the accelerometer in your smartphone to automatically report bumps in the road as you drive over them. From the article: 'The application relies on two components embedded in iPhones, Android phones, and many other mobile devices: the accelerometer and the Global Positioning System receiver. The accelerometer, which determines the direction and acceleration of a phone’s movement, can be harnessed to identify when a phone resting on a dashboard or in a cupholder in a moving car has hit a bump; the GPS receiver can determine by satellite just where that bump is located.' I am certain that this will not be used to track your movements, unless they are vertical."

LightSquared and FCC: How GPS Signal in the U.S. May Soon No Longer Operate Correctly

The FGT blog offers a detailed entry named How The FCC Plans To Destroy GPS – A Simple Explanation.

From the entry: " [...] the FCC has given conditional approval to LightSquared’s 4G LTE proposal. If implemented as planned, all current GPS receivers will no longer operate correctly in areas covered by their system, which include the overwhelming majority of the US population. [...] This GPS interference isn’t just a hypothesis. Members of the US GPS Industry Council, Trimble and Garmin met with the FCC on January 19th to present and discuss Garmin’s tests of the LightSquared proposal, and its potential for interference with GPS receivers. [...] And yet, on January 26th, waiving many of their standard procedures, the FCC gave conditional approval to LightSquared’s proposal. The only bone thrown to the GPS community was the requirement that LightSquared work with the GPS community to resolve these interference issues. But since LightSquared is funding the study, there are concerns about how unbiased the results will be. Unless you can change the laws of physics, and principles of electrical engineering, you can’t resolve this problem directly with existing GPS equipment as-is."

But if LightSquared does cooperate and don't mess with GPS signal, then this may become a non-issue.

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