Carnival Of The Geospatialists #5 – Musings and Down-Right Cool Things Shared by the Geo Faithful

Once again another wander around the web and some cool Geo Musings to share in an edition of the Carnival of the GeoSpatialists… cool, fun things from the GeoGeek Community – Enjoy! 

I know, it’s been some time since I last penned one of these! That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been anything to share, rather, it’s more like there’s been too much to sift through! And so, in familiar fashion, here’s some of the cool, unusual, quirly, and awesome these from the geospatial community recently…

Trimble grabs SketchUp from Google – ya, this may be "old" news, however, judging by the discussions flying around the web there’s still plenty of head scratching going on regarding this one. Many think that Trimble might open source the project, perhaps they might simply kill it, or maybe some slick commercial offering will roll out tying in the 3d data collection and modeling with specific devices from Trimble, or ??? Who knows but any time you get Google garage saling something like this you have to take notice. No huge surprise though on Trimble being the buyer as Trimle and Hexagon have been 2 players in the Geo tech arena who’ve been very busy snapping up technology through acquisitions over the past couple of years. Here’s the details although no talk about $$$

Esri Mapping tweets and the streaming Twitter API
I recently stumbled onto an interesting "how to" article from the twitter developer (dev) blog describing how Esri is developing those clever "social maps" using the Twitter API and some handy Esri resources. The article dives in with great details about how Esri harvests some of the open data resources from a number of social media resources (like twitter, Flickr, youtube and USGS data feeds) and shares the results on a real-time map showing the conversations in context with a recent event – like a hurricane or earthquake. A great read!

The iPhone 4S sets records… no surprise here
What does this have to do with Geo you might ask? Well, if you have to ask then maybe you better go have another look around the web or on any major geo solution provider’s website and you’ll notice a trend… mobile! Devices like the iPhone 4, iPad and all the swanky new Android touch devices are very relevant to the Geo technology developer, software designer and consultant. I suggest sucking up everything you can about iOS and Android via free online training and webinars as soon as possible otherwise you’ll be left in the dust and relegated to watching the industry go by from the sidelines!
For some related reading I suggest you browse:
iPhone 4S Hits Record High Activations While iPads Continue To Dominate Enterprise Tablet Activations
Apple Sells 35 million iPhones,12 million iPads in March Q with 94% Surge in Profits!

This goodie has been shared with me by Bill Dollins – thanks again Bill!
Back in 2007, Morten Nielsen @dotMorten (now with Esri) posted this brief explanation of spatial references on his blog . Prior to that post, one of the most common elements of my career had been explaining spatial references to my own staff, or that of my customers, who were new to the GIS field. This usually meant developers who were getting started but not always. Morten’s post, while very high-level to those with a strong background in GIS, has proven to be an invaluable resource for getting new people introduced to the concepts involved in spatial references. Since he posted it, I have gotten into the habit of directing new staff to it first and then having follow-up discussions for clarification. If you are frequently in the business of "making" GIS developers or trying to bring users up to speed on this key concept, I strongly recommend you bookmark this post. Morten did a great job here.

Source: via Glenn on Pinterest


Saving The Rain with an awesome map mashup service
I’m pleased to have been informed face-to-face on this app by the developer, Mark Laudon of Vancouver, BC, Canada (@mapsrus). I had the pleasure of meeting Mark recently in Palm Springs at DevSummit where he shared with me his passion for developing apps in his part time – kudos to him on these efforts! One such app is the Save the Rain app and he has it entered in the World Bank Apps for Climate Challenge. Save the Rain is a fun yet serious app where anyone can easily locate a building, quickly delineate the building footprint, then generate the rain footprint – the total volume of freshwater used to produce goods. the app then returns a table that gives an idea of the kind and amount of fresh goods that could be grown using the rain water that is potentially saved. The app is built using HTML5 and is fully supported on all major tablet platforms also.
See Also: World Bank Apps for Climate Challenge

Adding WeoGeo to your Data Directory
Recently, James from WeoGeo contacted me to share how easy it is for us to include pointers for our readers to their free data holdings where folks can quickly and easily download loads of public domain GIS data. By conducting a simple geographic search (i.e. for say "Colorado") we can define the geographic extents of the search. By not specifying anything specific we are then returned with a page where all the data available on their servers for Colorado are presented and made available for immediate download. Then, the coolest thing, I then grab the simple, embed html code and paste it into any web page so I can share with anyone. This is a fast, simple, and effective way to easily share data via any blog or website.. check it out! Check out this page showing off the Colorado GIS data products or see also over on WeoGeo blog how you can easily do this for yourself

Microsoft DevCamp coming to Denver, CO in May
Here’s details of an interesting event coming to Denver, CO on May 18, particularly for those interested in the hot topic of HTML5 . About the event. The HTML5 Web Camp is an opportunity to connect with designers and developers and show you what’s possible, and how you can start using it today. HTML5 WebCamp is a completely free event, and will start with demos and presentations, and will end with hands on lab sessions.  The HTML5 Camp will allow you to walk through materials and get your questions answered! Additional information about Microsoft organized DevCamps are also now available at

WhereCamp5280 2012 Update
Speaking of Denver, Co, work is in progress by the GeoGeeks in planning another WhereCamp5280, the popular unconference for GeoGeeks, developers, and Geo enthusiasts. Tentatively taking place at U Denver the week-end prior to Esri UC, this event will deliver some fun presentations and should be well attended by loads of very smart and anthusiastic developers, Geo professionals, and Geo geeks. Recall the last WhereCamp5280 got bumped because Denver was the host city for FOSS4G, however, the popular event is now a go. Keep tabs on the event at

New Features in Maptitude 2012
We all are constantly bombarded with updates and PR from the "big" guys (Esri, Intergraph, MapInfo, Autodesk, yadayada) but what about the other players? Case in point… Maptitude GIS. Stewart Berry of Caliper Copr always does a good job at keeping me in the loop thanks to periodic personal notes, info about coming product features and user stories. Recently, Stewart shared with me news that Maptitude 2012 has rolled out with plenty of new features and functionality. Not to be discounted, particularly by the smaller shop and budget-conscious consultant, Maptitude comes bundled with a boatload of data, includes a number of analytical tools and routines and is pretty heavy on display enhancement support and cartographic output and labeling features – oh, did I mention that Maptitude is still only $695!! See more on the new features at

FastCompany Looking at Neighborhood Boundaries Created by Social Media Data
I’ve always been a huge fan of mapping neighborhoods and perceived neighborhood boundaries. These often subjective, invisible boundaries are very useful in many applications and in my mind a huge, untapped opportunity (ping me if you want to go into business!). This article from Fast Company looks at mapping and analyzing boundaries created from foursquare data called Livehoods ( – the research effort by some keen Carnegie Mellon U mobile lab students ( analyzed 18 million Foursquare check-ins to spot algorithmic relationships between the spots people frequent. According to the work… "Livehoods looks at the geographic distance between venues, but also a form of `social distance’ that measures the degree of overlap in the people that check-in to them".  See the FastCompany article HERE – See also this recent blogpost from yours truly

I’m a sucker for a Globe or old map!
Like many of you, I really dig geotech goodies like maps, globes, murals, posters etc… any cool use of a map or mapping technology is really interesting to me and worthy of a second look! Recently I had the pleasure of taking a hop over to my old home in Fort Collins, Colorado and ventured up to Estes Park for a day.. a favorite place of mine! While walking through the Stanley Hotel checking out the antiques and goodies I noticed a really cool metal Globe on a table. Not just any Globe, this one had a nice, antique look and it showed the continents outlined but then had a funky chalkboard finish so you could mark on the globe with chalk.. very unique and cool! If you get to the Stanly be sure and check it out and if you happen to see something like this in a shop please do let me know… I really need one of these!


See Also:


Editor (18230 Posts)

Glenn is a geographer and a GIS professional with over 20 years experience in the industry. He's the co-founder of GISuser and several other technology web publications.

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