This past November Spatial Networks attended the American Geographical Society’s annual Symposium, Geography 2050. This two day assembly focused on collaboratively and constructively mapping the future geography of conservation and sustainability by bringing together industry professionals and academic scholars from all over.
Keynote speakers addressed a wide-range of policies and sustainability research of oceans, forests, the arctic, urban ecosystems, energy, conservation, and development. As an industry professional within a company that prides itself on solving the most difficult problems anywhere in world with geospatial technology, I couldn’t help but notice the common motif of utilizing observable, ground-truthed, field collected geospatial data for analysis.read full post >>
I had the opportunity to show off some of our data to current and potential government and industry customers using Fulcrum at the 2015 GEOINT Symposium. Our data products provide fine scale point of interest (POI) and cadastral data for almost any area in the world. As I spoke with government customers, the concept of foundational data came up often. With the popularity of activity-based intelligence (ABI) in the GEOINT community this year I wanted to place our data products within this framework. In this post, I suggest that within an ABI context, high-fidelity, fine scale POI and cadastral data is the most important foundational layer.read full post >>
The SNI team is back in the office after an exciting week in Washington D.C. at the 2015 GEOINT Symposium. I’ve been to GEOINT twice before with the responsibility of working in the booth. This year was very different, as I was selected for the USGIF Young Professional Group Golden Ticket program. The USGIF YPG serves to unite junior GEOINT professionals within the Defense and Intelligence communities. Each year, the organization selects up to 25 young professionals as Golden Ticket winners at the GEOINT Symposium. Winning a Golden Ticket means you receive complimentary full symposium and GEOINT Foreword registration, and also get unique opportunities to meet and learn from leaders in the community.read full post >>
I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 GEOINT Symposium in Washington D.C. last week. This is the fifth GEOINT symposium I have had the opportunity to attend and the fourth GEOINT Foreword I have attended. I’ve always appreciated the mission that the GEOINT Foreword agenda has sought to fulfill by focusing on science and technology from tradecraft and practitioner perspectives. I’ve been impressed with the increasing amount of participation from academia at this event and this year was no different with some renowned geographers in the crowd and on panels. GEOINT Foreword topics have always followed major trends in the discipline and this year’s hot topic was data science.read full post >>
We kicked off our 2015 Human Geography Analytics efforts with data we collected this past spring in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. This city is in the tri-border area where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet along the Iguazú and Paraná rivers. The goal of this effort has been to incorporate multiple taxonomy themes from the World-Wide Human Geography Data Working Group into a concise dataset. The resulting dataset was designed to concentrate on the Economy theme but in total covers 8 out of the 13 themes. This post will give a brief overview of our attribution and break down a portion of the results.read full post >>
We use our Fulcrum data collection platform to conduct field surveys across a wide variety of locales. In preparation for our human geography analytical efforts this year, I wanted to get my hands dirty with some of our existing holdings in Kano, Nigeria. This dataset was collected in the fall of 2014 and represents a number of feature types across several human geography themes. For this exploratory data analysis, I chose a survey of education features within the study area consisting of over 400 school locations and their associated attributes. For each school a number of variables are collected including administrative data, capacity and infrastructure measures, and socioeconomic indicators. Having no a priori information about the study area, I wanted to use some unsupervised learning techniques to get a sense of the variation and natural groupings within the dataset. In this post I demonstrate the use of hierarchical clustering to classify schools within Kano, Nigeria using a variety of socioeconomic and infrastructure attributes.read full post >>
Last week I travelled to Accra, Ghana to attend Ghana Geospatial Forum, a two day conference focused on empowering the country’s growth. By bringing together professionals, service providers, researchers, technology users, policy makers, and representatives from the industry on a common platform, they can chart out the direction for the further expansion and growth of geospatial technology in Ghana and throughout West Africa.read full post >>
This past April Spatial Networks partook in it’s third consecutive GEOINT Symposium to showcase its technology, data, and analytic services to the geospatial intelligence community. In an effort to simulate one of our data production practices using Fulcrum, I sought out to ground truth and enhance publicly shared data about the City of Tampa’s surveillance cameras by rapidly creating and deploying a customized Fulcrum app. The web map application seen below is displaying real-time data using the data shares feature within Fulcrum which allows data to be published and immediately consumed from the field within minutes.read full post >>
I was fortunate to be able to attend my second GEOINT Symposium this year in Spatial Networks’ backyard of Tampa, FL. Besides getting to meet many people from around the industry who came to our booth, I also got the chance to walk around the showroom floor and see what other vendors brought to the table.
One of the common areas of interest this year was augmented reality for the war fighter. Specifically, some sort of heads-up display that relays relevant intelligence about the immediate surrounding area. Whether it was the use of the Oculus Rift, or a proprietary hardware system, there were several vendors who saw the importance of such a tool on the battlefield. What’s more interesting, however, is what wasn’t widely showcased as a product or service.
No matter how good the hardware or software is that the soldier is using, it will only ever be as useful as the intelligence data available to display. Many vendors offered satellite based raster data, or full-motion video solutions, but what makes augmented reality great is point based, high fidelity ground data. These could be locations of gas stations, ATMs, or any point of interest in a given area of operation.
Besides our own booth, I failed to notice a single vendor who proudly announced their capability to either collect this necessary sort of intelligence, or provide the tools and solutions necessary to “do it yourself”. This is where I believe Spatial Networks can provide an incredibly valuable service where many can not. Whether its using Fulcrum to collect the data you need on your own, or having us use our vast network to collect it for you, we can provide the data that makes the investment in augmented reality worth it.read full post >>
At this year’s GEOINT Symposium in Tampa many companies showed their latest geospatial technology. It’s exciting to see so many diverse technologies work together to improve the overall GEOINT mission. Over the course of the 3-day exhibit hall, I had a chance to meet quite a few people that stopped by our booth. One of the unique things about Spatial Networks that interested people is our ability to capture highly detailed localized content.read full post >>
In today’s world, the potential to collect geospatial data is in the pockets and purses of more people than ever before. Though a lot of existing GEOINT Tradecraft seems to be designed around bringing information to handheld devices in the form of reports and maps, effective tradecraft should be a seamless information exchange to and from the field through mobile capabilities. With the presence of so many mobile devices, there is a lot of potential for this seamless exchange to be applied in the real world.read full post >>
I had the opportunity to participate in the exhibit hall portion of the GEOINT 2013* Symposium last month. As a member of SNI’s engineering team, and primarily working on Fulcrum, I was able to gain some insight into other aspects of Spatial Networks’ business. Walking around the exhibit hall, it was interesting to see how commercial software and hardware could stand up next to technology solutions specifically engineered for the intelligence and security communities.read full post >>
Last month, I attended the USGIF Africa Working Group event at the GEOINT 2013* event in Tampa, Florida. A panel of distinguished experts from a variety of domains addressed a packed room to discuss “Taking GEOINT Beyond the Intelligence Community: Illicit Wildlife Trade and Terrorist Financing in East Africa”. On the panel were Hector Cuevas of PIXIA, MG(R) John Custer of EMC, Pat Awori, Trustee at Kenya Wildlife Service and Peter LaFontaine of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The panel was organized by Faye Cuevas, PIXIA and moderated by Elizabeth Lyon, USACE.read full post >>
This year’s GEOINT Symposium brought to Tampa dozens of companies doing new and innovative things in geospatial, along with many of the big players in the community. One of the biggest splashes of new technology that’s likely to shake up the commercial imagery market is the growth of “micro satellites” as both a real, available platform for remote sensing, and a potentially massive new market that could expand the uses for commercial satellite imagery into new sectors.
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Spatial Networks recently attended two very fascinating conferences. The first was the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers, which was aptly called AAG 2014. The second was the annual United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s Symposium called GEOINT 2013*.read full post >>
We just returned from an incredible weekend in San Francisco for the State of the Map US conference, the annual American edition of the OpenStreetMap community conference. Nearly 400 were in attendance – developers, cartographers, enthusiasts, educators, and more – to talk about new ideas in OpenStreetMap, collaborate on new tools, and generally discuss how we as a community can take the OSM project to the next level and make it even more amazing.
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The presentation by Young Hahn at FOSS4G NAlast year, on his work with the MapBox team to churn out updated map tiles for the whole planet in a day got me thinking once again about an idea I’ve had for some time that makes sense, but perhaps only to me. I thought I would toss this idea out for general consumption and peer review, scrutiny, critique and hopefully, limited bruising to my ego. The concept of trying to map things (physical or cultural) on the earth over time is challenging at best. There have been excellent examples of doing this in limited areas over slices of time but I’ve yet to see a truly global effort to provide a continuum of data as a surface. The closest thing I have seen that even approaches doing this at a global scale isMapStory.read full post >>
Everything needs a little maintenance from time to time. We change our oil, clean the gutters, get our eyes checked, and brush our teeth. Sometimes, things that don’t even exist in the physical sense need a little TLC. The ones and zeros that make up Spatialnetworks.com were looking a bit weathered towards the end of 2012, and after tending to the rest of our flock, we were finally able to launch a refreshed version.read full post >>
This week Tony and I are out in California at Camp Roberts, working with a group of folks from all over the country, experimenting with tools and methodologies for disaster recovery scenarios.read full post >>
Earlier this week I went over to speak at University of South Florida, to a graduate course on the GPS system. The course’s objective is to teach the systemic details of GPS – its structure, communications architecture, and practical application.
I was invited over by Sean Barbeau (the course instructor) to give insight into how GPS is applied and used in commercial settings, particularly how we use it in our work to build and augment geospatial data all over the world, and how it’s integral to modern geospatial tools like Fulcrum. I covered the basics of our project work, product development efforts, and design process in how we think about geospatial technology. I think it opened some eyes to approaches and technology that are somewhat non-traditional, certainly in the general academic community.read full post >>
This week we’ll be at FedGeoDay in Washington, DC, talking with government and industry about modern tools and technologies for doing work with maps and data. The schedule is packed with fantastic speakers talking about things like building beautiful maps with open source, new ways to look at geo analysis, how to tell stories with maps, and the growth of the OpenStreetMap project.read full post >>
Since we released Pushpin back in October, our mobile editor for OpenStreetMap, we’ve seen fantastic adoption and usage of the app in these first three months. We want Pushpin to not only be compelling and useful to current OpenStreetMap users (which it has already proven to be), but also to drive interest and participation from completely new mappers – those who have signed up, but never understood how to make edits, or those wholly new to OSM that find it interesting.
Let’s take the time to look back at the first few months in terms of Pushpin users, edits, and a few other interesting stats.read full post >>
Since we released) the initial version of Pushpin back in October, we’ve seen dozens and dozens of feature requests and a lot of input from the awesome OpenStreetMap community. It’s clear that there’s a need for simplicity and user-friendliness in the OSM editor space, and users from all over the globe have downloaded the app and made edits.
The biggest new feature in the update is the ability to edit tags on polygon features, things like buildings, parks, lakes, and others (even relations). Traced but untagged building outlines can be downloaded to Pushpin, edited, and saved back to OSM. Along with this capability, we’ve added quick selection lists for building and landuse types. Area and relation editing makes for a great workflow of tracing and adding basic tags back in the full editor at home, then taking Pushpin out in the field to add full attribution.read full post >>
A few weeks ago I was privileged to participate in the Great American Teach-In at a local middle school. It just so happened that this date coincided with Geography Awareness Week. Geography connects us to the world and is embedded in every aspect of our daily environment.
I began each session by asking the same question, “What does geography mean to you?” Each had a similar response along the lines of memorizing places on a map. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised. I typically get the same response from adults. We then shifted into the basics of human versus physical geography and how the two intertwine to explain the complexities of their everyday lives with examples from the recent election outcome to something as simple as the water cycle.read full post >>
Our nation, as a democracy, has allowed for one of the best standards of living on the planet. To maintain these high standards, we have to keep busy, busy, busy! So busy that we find it difficult to make time for the very things that have made this nation great, such as upholding our civic duty to vote or our constitutional obligation to participate in the census. Fulcrum could make it so that people could participate from any location.read full post >>
Okay, so I haven’t really written much about anything for the past several weeks if not months. Truth is, I’ve got about 10 blog articles in running-draft form but events overtake plans and none of them seem to get done. This however, is my immediate post-mortem take-away from the recent USGIFGEOINT 2012 Symposium at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida earlier this month. By far, what resonated most with me during this year’s event was the keynote by DNI Clapper, particularly the comments about sequestration during a time where the US and it’s allies around the world are faced with threats and challenges that rival the height of the Cold War. A perfect storm of sorts and like the movie, it’s not likely to end well.read full post >>
Last weekend Zac and I attended the second State of the Map US conference in Portland, Oregon, with another 200+ OpenStreetMap community members from all over the US (and some international).
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About 6 months ago, at one our of local OSM meetups, we were discussing ways to improve the OpenStreetMap editing experience for casual users. One of the ideas that came out of the discussion was an easy-to-use POI editor for mobile devices. @colemanm and I (@zacmcc) decided to build an app in some of our free time, and it’s available today for download.read full post >>
Well, the staff here at Spatial Networks has been pumped up and working extremely hard with many long hours under their belts prepping for the 2012 GEOINT Symposium. This year it is in our neck of the woods, at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. The GEOINT symposium is the nation’s largest intelligence event of the year and we are thrilled to be a part of it for a second time. Our first attendance was last year in San Antonio, TX and we can hardly wait for next week to come. We are definitely more prepared this year, we will have our booth full of iPads and Android tablets to showcase fulcrum, and as always, we will have some very exciting giveaways. You have to come by and check it out!read full post >>
In our few years of high-tempo, agile software development, we’ve built up a wide library of “lessons learned”, particularly in the arena of mapping and mobile apps. So last week in Washington, DC, I attended the Geo DC meetup to present some of our findings on how we approach software design. The talk seemed to be well-received, and I thought the topic was worthy of some space on the blog to flesh it out further in writing.read full post >>
Graffiti comes from the Greek word ‘graphein’ which means ‘to write’.
As I continue to learn more about graffiti itself, I am still trying to reach out to as many street artists as I can. I hope to inform them about the graffiti mapper application. I look forward to hearing back from as many as possible to get their feedback on using graffiti mapper for their own work, tracking graffiti, or just for fun.read full post >>
One day I was sitting at work reviewing all of the pictures of graffiti and noticing where they were taken, all over the world, on our in-house graffiti mapper application I thought how cool is this app that can let people, who we do not even know, all over the world, at any given time, post something that they see anywhere that looks like or is graffiti.
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Originally designed and implemented by MapBox, the MBTiles file format is increasingly becoming the standard for creating compact, portable packages of map tile imagery. Under the hood, MBTile files are simply SQLite database files that conform to a predefined schema and specification. These files can then be used as a datasource for generating an interactive map. Our flagship data collection product fulcrum allows users to upload MBTiles files to their account for future offline viewing on their mobile device. This can be handy in situations where the user may not have a reliable Internet connection while collecting records. On iOS, we currently use the open source route-me framework for displaying MBTiles in a native map view. It is no secret that we have been working on an Android version of fulcrum (if it was, it isn’t now) for a few months now. As such, we had to find a similar framework for Android that would allow us to have the same functionality.read full post >>
I’m repeatedly asked by new fulcrum users as well as those considering it about our product roadmap. One of the more common questions we get is some variation of the following:
“Does fulcrum allow line or polygon collection in the field “or” Can I do GIS analysis in the field?”
I’ve been puzzled for some time with these questions and I can only surmise that users have been convinced by other software providers that these features are a “must have” capability. But, when pressed, the users who pose these questions find it difficult to really pinpoint a specific use-case that absolutely demands these features. I often use the analogy that if you buy an Acura in Florida, you get heated-seats. Heated seats in Florida, for your car. The answer isn’t because users (car buyers in Florida) demand it, it is because it is cheaper and more efficient for Acura to make them this way. You pay for it whether you want it (use it) or not. There is no option for unheated seats, even in Florida. Again, this makes sense for the manufacturer to do - it’s an easy sell in regions that get cold during the year, and the relatively small user-base in Florida is simply won over by other shiny buttons.read full post >>