US National Map Corps

Last week I attended a web-based presentation by USGS on the National Map Corps. I don’t know if you are familiar with USGS’s National Map or not, but it is a great resource for finding and downloading information. I had not heard of the USGS National Map Corps before, so this was good news to me.

USGS has adopted the same editing environment for the National Map Corps that OpenStreetMap has used for a few years (Potlatch). It works well, is simple to use, and they use it to update a few features for the US Topo Map. The features you can currently edit across the US are: schools, fire, police, and EMS locations, state capitals, and cemeteries. Not a lot of features to update, but it is nice to see USGS opening up to crowd sourcing to keep features current and accurate. The updates you make on the map are reviewed by peers and then added to the new US Topo Map quads.

The URL for the USGS National Map Corps Editor is: 


ESRI Applications in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud

GISCafe posted the below article by Sanjay Gangal, and the accompanying video on Feb 27th.  This is a great step forward in ESRI bringing capabilities to the masses who cannot afford to purchase and maintain a server.  This GIS Cafe article can be found here:  Link.

Article source: 

Esri is a global leader in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software and geo-database management applications. For decades Esri has been providing powerful mapping solutions to Governments, industry leaders, academics and NGOs. With the advent of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, Esri saw an opportunity to better serve its GIS customers by enabling them to process jobs faster, launch applications in minutes, and lower their overall operating costs. Customers like the USDA FNS launched their SNAP Retailing application in three weeks and saved 90% versus hosting their application on-premises.

Google Earth Builder

The Google Earth Blog contained this post back in April. I totally missed it. I believe the difficulty in sharing Google Earth data is one of the major problems the system has. Looks like Google is trying to address that problem with Google Earth Builder, a cloud-based storage system for Google Earth data that stores data in a similar way to Google Docs. Here is the Post by Mickey Mellen:

April 21, 2011

More about Google Earth Builder

We mentioned Google’s new “Google Earth Builder” in our wrap-up post yesterday, but decided that it deserved a bit more attention.

In a nutshell, Google Earth Builder is a new way for companies to share their vast repositories of geo data. Rather than needing to configure servers and support a local infrastructure, they can simply upload their data to Google Earth Builder and share it that way. It uses a sharing model quite similar to Google Docs (private, individual access, or public), and the data streams extremely quickly.

The implications of this could be huge. Not only will it be a great solution for large corporations and government entities, but provides a way for any company to generate data for a specific client (such as custom 3D buildings) without necessarily having to post them for the world to see.

An interesting point that Google made is that this data will be easily accessible to anyone (with permission) from their desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc. That makes sense, but currently the tablet and smartphone clients for Google Earth likely can’t handle this kind of data. Either their comments have been misinterpreted by everyone (including cnet and others), or we’re hopefully looking at some nice updates to their mobile products in the coming months.

They keys that Google seems to be pushing with this is that it’s easy and fast. Both of this seemed clearly evident in the live demo that they provided on stage yesterday. You can watch that video demonstration below:

There were a few fun facts in that video: There have been more than 700 million downloads of Google Earth and that people use Maps and Earth for more than one million hours every day. Wow!

The fact that Google Earth Builder isn’t due out for a few months (some sites say July, Google says Q3), means that it will only be getting faster and smoother. This could be a brilliant tool to help large entities deal with their vast amounts of data, and we’ll find out once it launches later this year.