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Batch Geonews: QField, IndoorGML Standard, Focus on Google Maps for Work, 30m SRTM-DEM, and much more

The first batch-mode edition of the geonews.

On the open source / open data front:

  • There’s a new free course Introduction to Geospatial Technology Using QGIS (from Feb 23 - Mar 29) which also has content on GitHub
  • Beautiful and simple, How to: watercolor pastel style in QGIS
  • Announced is the FOSS4G-Europe conference, this time in Como, Italy, on July 14-17th
  • Nice OpenLayers 3 feature: turning vectors into heatmap in Javascript
  • Recent updates, GeoTools 12.2 Released, GeoServer 2.6.2 released,
  • The mobile Android app Geopaparazzi 4.1.0 is out (4.1.1 actually), and there’s a new similar tool in development, QField (formerly QGIS Mobile) described as “A simplified touch optimized interface for QGIS. Perfect for field work on portable touch devices” over GitHub
  • We can help map the Amazonia on OpenStreetMap, with mapazonia and on a similar topic, a new tool named To-fix: improving OpenStreetMap through micro tasking, see OSM’s progress in Japan, OpenStreetMap in Japan
  • There’s also progress in terms of open addresses, OpenAddresses Hits 100 Million

On the Esri front:

  • Very nicely presented, ArcGIS Open Data – Year in Review (direct link to the review presentation)
  • A useful review, Esri’s Living Atlas of the World and Community Maps Year-End Review
  • A USGS-Esri partnership, The most detailed ecological map of the World “raster data of a resolution 250m and it’s fully interactive”

On the Google front:

  • TechCrunch reports that Google is shutting down Maps Coordinate, its Mobile Workforce Management Service, focus is now on Google Maps for Work, and Google Maps Engine is now deprecated
  • Now in Street View, the aurora borealis lights up Google Maps
  • Two entries for developers, Transit Directions Improvements and easy Maps API integration from Java and Python
  • A short GEB article on Google’s Processing of 3D imagery, it apparently takes them a year
  • Interesting list that can be interpreted in many ways, Google Earth wish list

Discussed over Slashdot:

  • Still around the corner, Google Glass Is Dead, Long Live Google Glass and What Will Google Glass 2.0 Need To Actually Succeed?
  • Another player, Ford Touts Self-driving Car, Launches Global Mobility Experiments
  • Acquire pictures in 3D directly, 3D Cameras Are About To Go Mainstream
  • Trying to be nicer, Uber Will Provide Transit Data To Cities
  • See also the related entry above, First Crowdsourced, Open Data Address List Launches In the UK
  • There too, Moscow To Track Cell-phone Users In For Traffic Analysis

In the miscellaneous category:

  • MapBox started integrating the new free 30m SRTM-DEM data and it’s a major improvement, see Australia terrain update and Asia terrain update and South America terrain update and Africa terrain update
  • James Fee shares an entry on the importance of Python and Javascript scripting in GIS and in another entry, James reminds us that GIS’ underlying technology keeps evolving at a fast pace
  • GeoAwesomeness agrees with James, Evolution of the Geospatial Industry: From GIS to Spatial Computing
  • OGC has a 3-parts article on engaging the geoscience research community in standards development
  • We mentioned it a year ago, and now it matured, IndoorGML standard for positioning inside buildings is finally out there, there’s also InfraGML being worked on, not a bad thing that W3C and Open Geospatial Consortium announce new collaboration
  • Thanks Russia, Russia declassifies Earth-sensing data from its civilian satellites
  • More free imagery, Free Data from Indian Resourcesat-2 Satellite via INPE
  • It’s easier than ever to get on-site 3D data, Hand held scanners closer to revolutionizing the construction industry
  • Hiding crime trends, City Catches Heat Over Crime-Map Change
  • Interesting Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) article on Oakland’s automatic license plate readers
  • That’s why we get tracked, How wireless carriers are making money on selling your location?
  • On the other side of the fence, tracking employees, This app will let you track location of your Comcast technician
  • Drones can fly after all, FAA issues grants of exemption for commercial UAV operations for construction monitoring, agriculture, and real estate
  • Nokia’s HERE app getting attention, HERE app for Android downloaded 2.5M times
  • If you’re in the mood to test your geo-geekiness, a series of quiz, #GeoawesomeQuiz 4

In the maps category:

  • Nice maps and data, Our World in Data, with ‘visual history’ themes such as war and violence, world poverty and world hunger & food provision
  • Looking for nice pictures? Wired published NASA’s Best Images of Earth From Space in and more nice imagery, Digital Globe’s top satellite images
  • We already saw something similar, Windyty – weather forecast map reinvented
  • A map of worldwide industries using forced labor and/or child labor
  • That’s a lot of holes, Mapping a Fracking Boom in North Dakota
  • People density in Europe, The True Heart of Europe – the Blue Banana
  • Via this tweet, a map of our rich-poor walled world
  • A funny map of bros, dudes, buddies, fellas and pals in the U.S., The Heart of Dudeness

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.

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 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

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