Mapping of a runner.

Mapping of a runner.

Earlier in my life, I never ran. I mean from bears, sure, probably I would have. I occasionally played a round-ball-type sport that required moving arms or legs quickly. If I had to actually run, I hated every second and  would never consider running for health. Well, circumstances change and different things matter as you approach mid-life. Two years ago I found...

Is your GPS taking you the wrong way?

One day as I was working in my county engineer's office at Stark County, IL, a delivery driver stopped in and said "Why are these roads labeled incorrectly on my GPS map?"  At first I blew it off thinking that's something beyond my control and I had more important things like ongoing construction projects.  After all, we as the local agency were the knowledge experts on local names and places and if these big companies wanted our data they could "come and find us" with their "incorrect" GPS navigation devices.  But then I realized what a tremendous benefit this would be to not only the local deliver driver but also emergency response, tourism, and many others.

 So how do we get these basemaps updated?  First of all, these basemap companies are BIG and there are only a few key players.  By basemaps I mean the foundation for GPS navigation on consumer-grade electronics.  

There's not exactly a 1-800 hotline that you can call as a one-stop-shop to update everyone in the universe (although that would be nice).  There are however, tools that allow you to edit or update the information on your own.  This is called crowd-sourcing, where anyone / anywhere can contribute to updating basemap information to benefit the traveling public.  Here are some ways to do this for some of the bigger basemap providers out there:

A sample of an Esri basemap

A sample of an Esri basemap

  • Open Street Map is a crowd-sourced application that allows to edit and update street map information used by consumers around the world.  All you need is to create a login and learn their simple editing tools.

  • HERE, A Nokia Company, who recently purchased acquired Navteq is also a major provider of basemaps.  With HERE you can go to their site:  Map editing tool sign up for an account    Data upload portal (Upload GIS data here)

  • Google Maps has a Base Map Partner Program that allows agencies to submit their data in vector format with specific instructions regarding format.  In addition to vector data, Google also allows users to contribute to their collection of Cities in 3D, Imagery, and parcel data.

Remember, sometimes it takes some time for it to become active.  Yes, real people typically look at the information you submit and actually take time to verify its accuracy.  

If you have more ideas, thoughts, etc. please leave them in the comments below.

Story Map of a Work Trip

During the week of March 22-29th I had the opportunity to go back to Reynosa, Mexico. The first time I made this trip, I took only my son and 11 others. This event was larger with 24 folks from my church and I took my entire family (6 of us). 

I had been looking for an opportunity to create an Esri Story Map for one reason or another. Just to get the professional experience (configuration, coding and what-not). This trip finally provided good reason to do that and maybe some explanation to our customers of why I was completely off the grid for 7 days.  Reynosa Story

Story Maps are the latest iteration of your Uncle Ted showing your family slides of his trip to the Badlands on your cousins bedsheets over TV Dinners. It's a nice display when the data calls for a map but awkward of it doesn't. If you look at images and ask, "OK where is this now?", that's a time for a story map.  As you can see below, It's cross-platform and responsive. 

If you would like help in setting up a story map, let us know. After having do one I can see all kinds of applications, local government as well as private. 

And if you'd like to ask question about my trip to Reynosa. I'd love to, but lets keep business out of it;

EF4 "Washington" Tornado Mapped

With all of this technology, With all of this knowledge with all of this progress, planning and pride, in the end, all we can do is stand and watch...then help rebuild after the storm. 

We really haven't been in the office too much this week. For obvious reasons. However thanks to the ease of ArcGIS Online and work of some other GIS folks in the area, we are able to set up this map depicting the relative path and some field verified points of destruction in the area. Here is a link to an Editable point of impact map:

Another Map to see the aerial view Side-By-Side with preTornado aerial photos.

Zooom Out to see the ESTIMATED Tornado Path and More areas Affected. 

View Larger Map

Also *Special Shoutout to City of Pekin GIS and the OSM Volunteer Editors busy digitizing home footprints. 

Moving to the Cloud For VPN Solution

Cloudpoint has been using 'The Cloud' since our incorporation. We don't need to be convinced that data, files or systems are safe. Sometimes (today for example) it can get kind of hinckey and frustrating, but for the most part we're On Board with being On the Cloud. 

We recently started using a new SaaS (software as a Service) product for creating a Virtual Private Network. Pertino. The VPN  has been a natural evolution of remote offices and telecommuting. Since there are only 3 full-time employees, soon to be 4, we are naturally out of the office quite consistently. In fact it is rare the week that we're all together.  VPNs keeps us connected and keeps that connection secure. Here's a quick video on how VPNs work. In the Past this usually has required an Appliance. No Longer, enter Pertino. 

Pertino has just come out of Beta. So we can talk about it like its an actual product. The theory is easy: When you are on a Pertino Network your machines and devices see each other as if they were on the same local LAN. When you are actually on the same local LAN, Pertino still works but you see a duplicate workgroup, local and Pertino. Ideally it all focuses on IPV6 addressing. We have 4 Laptops, One Amazon EC2 instance and our local Server all running on one Pertino Network, No More FTP... Rah!

Here's the amazing part for us Esri Users. The fantastic folks at Pertino have worked tirelessly to actually DOWNGRADE their technology to IPV4 for legacy products... Like ArcGIS License Manager. What's that you say? "AGS Flex License Manager is supposed to work with IPV6."? Yeah, Maybe... Sometimes.... until you have a protocol that actually requires you to use IPV6, then you find out how flaky it actually is.

But that doesn't matter anymore because They actually tested this on ACTUAL Esri software! I have too, and it works! Sitting on my couch at home, I boot up ArcMap and using Pertino it authorizes a Concurrent License from our server there at the office. 

That, my friends is the awesome power of the Cloud, and the dedicated programmers at Pertino.  

Now, Is it all Dandelions and Lollipops? Nope. Sometimes I have to stop and restart my Pertino app, On some Devices you have to edit your host file because of OpenDNS or Cheap Modems, and there is a cost (You'd want to pay for this service). BUT Their Customer Service is filled with Exceptional who truly want it to work for you, Even if you only have 4 people in your office. Case in point the ArcGIS License Manager. 

That being said, We're planning on being LONG term Pertino Customers.