Posts Tagged ‘google earth

26
Nov
12

Sandy. No, the other one. The Island.

An intrepid team of Aussie researchers set out to find the prize of explorers for centuries, undiscovered lands. In this case, it was a small-ish island shown on some maps as lying between Australia and New Caledonia. There was some disagreement as to whether the island even existed. You see, some maps showed it, including Google, while others did not, like nautical charts. Which was right? Why were there no records of inhabitants on this island or previous landfalls? Could this be where Amelia Earhart landed? Or where all those missing from the Bermuda Triangle were transported?

Of course not. That’s because the island doesn’t exist. When the ship arrived at the place that was supposed to be an island, all they found was water. About 1400 feet deep of the stuff. When asked, Google merely said that the World is a constantly changing place, so maybe it sunk, or something to that affect.

All we could surmise was that the grant that the Aussies had was specifically to pay for a boat expedition. It would have been too fast to consult satellite imagery or too easy to fly a plane over the area. Had to be a boat. Hope they went fishing too.

Get the real story here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20442487?goback=%2Egde_1494267_member_188928862

23
Jul
12

There’s Buddingtonite in them there hills

The USGS has used hyperspectral imaging data to map out Afghanistan’s mineral resources.

More than 200 flight paths  at 50,000 feet were used to measure surface reflectance  covering over 70% the country. The results were then analyzed to determine which minerals, among other surface materials,  were represented. The various levels (across 800 million pixels of data) were plotted for each flight in a data layer over Landsat satellite imagery.

USGS: Afghanistan

Because the accuracy of the process can be adversely affected by the occurrence of airborne dust, cloud cover and surface moisture, in some areas the map is cross hatched, for example, to indicate possible discrepancies in the data. These inaccuracies do not affect the viability of the process however, given the huge surface areas that can be covered much more practically than with any other process. The results also show the locations of vegetation, water, ice and snow cover.

No news on when a new version of Google maps is due out with ‘mineral deposits view’ as a switchable layer.

22
Jun
12

Calling All Patrons of Past Pineapple Produce Plantations

Next time you have some extra cash lying around, why not use it to buy a tropical island?  98% of Lanai, the sixth largest island in the Hawaiian chain, was just sold to the sixth richest man on Earth.

Lanai, HI

How does this affect you?  Well, if you happened to be aiming for Hawaiian island ownership sometime in the next few years, let’s just say that it will take more than a few pineapples to barter a deal.  Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, reportedly forked over roughly half a million big ones to long-time owner and head of Dole Food Company, David Murdock.

Lanai is home to a couple of five-star Four Seasons resorts, amongst other residential and commercial infrastructure, but hold on – it gets more interesting.

Lanai’s Decimated Pineapple Fields

Here’s a breakdown of the island’s geography:

* The land area totals ~141 square miles
* Roughly 3,000 people call Lanai “home”
* At one point in time, 75% of the world’s pineapples were grown on the island
* There is one school: Lanai High and Elementary School
* There are two golf courses; both were designed by professional golfers
* There are NO traffic lights
* 400 of its ~430 miles of roads are unpaved
* Many of the island’s most spectacular spots can only be seen by four-wheel drive

Struggling with tourism, it is speculated that Ellison may provide economic stimulation to draw in more people to Lanai.  Or, maybe he’ll just keep it for himself.  That’s what being a billionaire is all about, right?

Garden of the Gods, Lanai, HI

11
May
12

apple dropping google in cartographic celebrity divorce?

According to several sources close to Apple, the new IOS6 operating system for iPhone will no longer include Google Maps, and will instead feature an Apple developed mapping service believed to be faster, cleaner and more reliable. It will also proudly boast awe inspiring 3d rendering developed by C3, a spin-off of the Swedish auto and aerospace manufacturer SAAB, which was purchased by Apple in July 2011. C3 specialized in developing 3d rendering from color aerial photography.

Rumors about this change have been circulating ever since the purchase of Placebase, a mapping software developer, was revealed in 2009. Initial evidence of a split was seen earlier this year when iPhoto for the iPad was found to be using Open Street Map instead of Google Maps as in previous versions and the outcome became an inevitability when Apple failed to renew its contract with Google that was due to expire at the end of 2012.

9to5Mac Mockup of 3D rendering comparisons

Whilst nothing has been officially announced it is expected that maps will once again be making the headlines at the forthcoming iOS6 launch. Who knows, maybe they can make some fundamental improvements like including the names of rivers in the new maps and find some of the more recently ‘lost cities’.

20
Apr
12

GPS – For the love of the rain forest.

People indigenous to some of the world’s most precious natural environments are helping to preserve their way of life using GPS mapping.

Communities native to the world’s second biggest rainforests in the Congo Basin, for example, rely on the ecosystem for 80-90% of their resources, through activities such as hunting and fishing that they have practised for years.

GPS_Training_in_DRC

GPS training in the DRC: Rainforest Foundation.

Because they are semi-nomadic, meaning that they move around the rainforest rather than living in a single, fixed location, the extent to which they live and work there is often disputed. The rainforests are under constant threat from industries such as logging and farming (both legal and illegal), so already these people are used to seeing their world shrink around them. But even conservation itself can, ironically threaten their way of life, as frequently protections not only prevent the destruction of the forest but also their right to continue their own activities there.

Tribes are also enabled, using their GPS devices, to hold companies who have been granted specific rights to be held accountable when they exploit or violate restrictions that have been set upon their operations. For example more than 6000 Bantu and 1500 Pygmies are now involved in policing logging activity in the Bandundu and Equateur provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo through participatory mapping.

Organizations such as Rainforest Foundation UK have been training community members as ‘Master Mappers’ to create maps by initially sketching their homeland out and then using GPS devices to accurately locate the places on the map.

The aim is to create a territory map that can be presented to the Congolese Government when they meet on May 8th to determine the future of the rain forest – with regard to parceling of the forest for industrial purposes. The government has already made 11 concessions to logging companies from several European nations.

The maps will be offered as hard proof that these communities exist and live throughout the rainforest, and offer their representatives a chance to play a part in negotiations about their homeland.

As reported on CNN, a similar project has existed for more than 10 years in the Cameroon, where tribes in the Boumba Bek collected honey, mangoes and medicinal plants prior to it receiving National Park status under the jurisdiction of the World Wildlife Fund.

The Baka people were able to provide similar GPS based evidence and restore their right to operate within the region.

GPS offers an opportunity to these indigenous peoples to talk in the technological language that those contesting their rights have traditionally used to defeat them, and provides a very portable, low impact way of preserving their way of life.

Villagers celebrate completion of a community map, this time in the Central African Republic.

This article was also published on our K-12 Education blog – The maps101 blog.

28
Mar
12

does crowdsourcing make for more accurate directions?

The answer, in this case is ‘no’. But kudos to German soccer fans for trying after their side Magdeburg (the home of the famous hemispheres) went on a dismal run of form and failed to score in 5 games.

FC Magdeburg Fans offer directions: 101Greatgoals.com

According to this article from 101greatgoals.com the team’s fans decided to give them a helping hand by bringing giant fluorescent arrows to direct them toward the goal. They did, in fact, break their duck and scored, but still fell to a 2-1 defeat.

20
Mar
12

Review: The Barefoot Atlas for iPad.

Since we occasionally like to feature ‘extreme mapping’ in this blog, and recently looked at one of the hugest atlases EVER, to strike balance we just reviewed the Barefoot Atlas. It is  relatively microscopic and as pleasing an example of atlas content for the iPad as you are likely to see (for now).

Ebooks hold great potential for literary authors with so many distribution platforms to take advantage of. However in the Atlas market there is a distinct lack of product that really utilizes devices such as the iPad effectively. The Barefoot Atlas has been touted as one example that does. Immediately apparent to the user is the beauty of the graphics. The opening screen includes a globe and illustrations which give it an ethnic, hand made quality. The delivery of the atlas appears far from hand-made (if that were, in the field of technology, a bad thing). This book is designed to take advantage of the new retina display technology on the latest iPads and I can only say that it looked beautiful on our antique, over the hill, has-been iPad2 so be prepared to have your eyeballs singed on the new model.

The Barefoot Atlas by Touch Press

The world and its many attractions: Barefoot Atlas

The visuals are slick, based on a 3-D globe familiar to users of Google Earth. The controls are simple – in fact at first glance the content looks sparse. Initially one can see that the globe is littered with small objects. Navigation is smooth and of course uses the touch screen and accelerometer to its fullest, in that one can increase gravity instantly by giving the earth a good hard spin. Each region has its own incidental music which appears appropriate but not stereotypical. The ‘objects’ include landmarks, historical features, monuments, cities and more. Each can be clicked for a small description with optional voice narrative.

To separate out the ‘information’ sections, the book uses audio and visual effects. The background music changes to a more subtle, atmospheric sound and the screen is divided using a shaded, transparent background. A photograph of each feature is also included. Users can also explore by region and by country. Again, each region, continent and country has its own detail page with a selection of facts and figures including terrain, climate, natural resources, environmental outlook, wildlife, transport and population. Each has a short description and optional voice narration.

For individual countries, a datasheet is included to show local time, distance from your current location, current temperature and weather. Flag, outline map, land area, currency and ‘eco-indicators’ like average CO2 emissions are also provided. There is definitely more than a hint of the eco message surrounding this book.

With much debate around right now about the value of the ‘whistles and bells’ that ibooks, ebooks and apps provide over and above the standard text, the Barefoot Atlas is certainly evidence for the ‘pro’ camp. The beautiful illustration and attention to detail that the background music and voice overs (from BBC presenter Nick Crane) provide only serve to compliment the appropriate level of content that is delivered.

Barefoot Atlas by Touch Press

Gorgeous Illustrations, Detailed Content

Verdict: Cool for younger children to play, great for older ones to use as a reference tool.

What are you looking for in an atlas these days? Are E-books the way forward? Do you see them as taking the traditional atlas to the next level or as a gamifying distraction to educational content? What are your favorite Geography-related ebooks/apps?  

We would love to hear your comments.




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