Recent Geonews

Google Maps Engine could be quietly coming to a halt soon

Anonymous submission: ZDNet reports that a Google spokesperson confirmed Maps Engine support will end on January 29, 2016.

From the Google statement quoted in the article: “To help our Maps for Work customers continue to get the highest impact from our products, in 2015 we’ll focus on helping customers deliver location information via our Maps APIs and shift away from selling any non-Maps API products. We’ll support our Maps for Work customers through their contracts and work closely with them and our partners through this transition.

Microsoft Goggles Project HoloLens

Augmented and virtual reality are pertinent to geospatial at least for the part where it allows to visualize 3D content and furthermore visualize this content in a location-based context. That’s why I’m sharing with you the news of Microsoft Goggles named Project HoloLens (also discussed over Slashdot). They’re not the first ones of course, with Google Glass and Oculus Rift (now owned by Facebook) heading in a similar direction.

From the Wired article: “In several months, Microsoft will unveil its most ambitious undertaking in years, a head-mounted holographic computer called Project HoloLens. […] Microsoft, on the other hand, plans to get Project HoloLens into the hands of developers by the spring. […] The depth camera has a field of vision that spans 120 by 120 degrees—far more than the original Kinect—so it can sense what your hands are doing even when they are nearly outstretched. Sensors flood the device with terabytes of data every second, all managed with an onboard CPU, GPU and first-of-its-kind HPU (holographic processing unit). […] It’s a new interface, controlled by voice and gesture, and the controls have to work flawlessly before it will be commercially viable.”

Q&A with OpenStreetMap’s Founder Steve Coast

In December we mentioned the now-successful crowdfunding initiative for The Book of OpenStreetMap, to be written by Steve Coast, the founder of OpenStreetMap. During the Holiday Break, Steve Coast participated to a live reddit “Ask Me Anything” session on OpenStreetMap, and there’s a lot of pretty interesting discussion in there. And Steve did answer my own question :-)

Here’s some snippets:

  • Q: the next big challenge for OSM is address data
  • A: Frankly it’s hard to see it happen within OSM any time soon. Addressing requires some bold moves.
  • Q: Do you see Google ever moving to OSM for Google Maps/Earth data? 
  • A: Google people have been super supportive of OSM including funding our conference and so on. I think OSM just moves too slowly for what they’re trying to achieve, and that’s fine. […] Will it ever happen? Eventually. […] The ODbL is a convenient thing to blame for not using OSM. I haven’t found a use case yet where it wasn’t really about something else, like a business decision.
  • Q: Are there any decisions you made in the early days you now regret ?
  • A: Mistakes abound. OSM could have had an exit like waze. Segments (a data model we had prior to ways) diverted energy away. Trying to run mapping parties by telling people where or what to map rather than letting them self-select. Calling it OpenStreetMap when it’s much more than streets. […] Which brings me to my only regret: Giving up too much power. I thought that everyone in the world thinks like I do, and would also give up power and try new things like I did. That for the most part simply didn’t happen. It’s worked out very well, and the people are great, and OSM hums along… but the days of taking big bets and risks is over. That drives me nuts, since there’s so much more out there to do with open mapping than just making the map slightly better every year and running another conference.

The Best NYC Maps of 2014

In my view, digital maps are the most interesting and insightful content form being created today.  Done well, a single map can convey complex stories that cannot be expressed with language, while at the same time being aesthetically as beautiful as any piece of art. This is a piece we put together to recognize some of the great maps, and mappers, coming out of New York City.

The Best New York City Maps of 2014

International Map Year 2015-2016

Maps are at the core of geospatial, and we’re now into the International Map Year 2015-2016.

From the official website: “The International Cartographic Association has decided to celebrate an International Map Year during the years of 2015 and 2016 and has also formed a working group to plan and organise that task. […] The ICA expects that all ICA member countries will participate in order to give their citizens a broader knowledge of maps – how they are produced and used for many purposes in society. Another goal is to give school children and university students an opportunity to learn more about cartography and about its neighbouring geospatial sciences geodesy, photogrammetry, remote sciences and surveying. ICA has about 80 national members, and the UN will be helpful in establishing contact with all other countries in the world, so that International Map Year will be celebrated worldwide.”