Archive for the ‘Geospatial’ Category

New Idea Monday #2 A new USA based mapping company

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Now that TomTom has bought Tele Atlas and there are rumors that Google may purchase Navteq, it may be time to consider a new mapping company at least in the USA. While this isn’t a new idea in itself I beleive that my method of collection the data is. Here is how I would do it.

First I would start with Tiger Data maps supplied by the US Census Bureau. While this data is not totally accurate or complete it would offer a good basis. Then I would develop a gps/gprs device that could track and report where is was. It should run off of twelve volts and be very compact. It will report its position, heading and rate of speed back to a server through gprs. Thirdly I would offer truck drivers 0.10-0.20 cents per mile for every mile they drive with the device turned on. If you get enough truck drivers or even a trucking company to have your device on their trucks. The reported GPS tracks would then be used to “correct” the tiger and bring it in line with what the gps actually reports. As an added bonus you can use the network of devices to start collecting traffic data.

So I wonder why none of the mapping companies are already doing this……..

I saw a geoemersion bug!

Monday, July 16th, 2007

While sitting at work today I spotted one of the Imersionmedia bugs rolling down Arlington Heights road in Arlington Heights IL. According to their website they are scheduled to be in Chicago but not this far out in the burbs. If they drive back I will try to get a snapshot of them. It would be cool if they provided real time tracking of the cars via their web page, even if it does violate Google’s TOS.

I don’t think they were snapping pictures as they cruised down the center lane instead of the right most one, but maybe that is how they operate. Pretty cool to see, amazing what you can see if you keep your eyes open.


SMS Directions Using Your Voice

Monday, July 16th, 2007

According to an article in the SF Chronical a new company “Dial Directions” has created a ad supported service  that allows a user to get driving directions via their cell phone using their voice.  The directions come from Mapquest and are delivered to you phone via sms. Seems like a pretty cool way to get directions however the number that is published in the article goes to some guys voice mail so I wasn’t actually able to try it out.

Dear Melissa Data…..

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Melissadata is a data service provider that provides zip code data among other things. I recently had the opportunity to work with their ZIPdata. They provide thier data in downloadable .zip file. These files consist of (I assume) MSSQL dumps of thier database. Since work id not a Microsoft shop but rather and open source shop I had the pleasure of creating a Perl script that would take this data and make it appropriate to be loaded into a postres database. Now Melissadata was nice enough to separate the table creation from the data but in at least one instance the table create did not match the data. So I have some suggestions for the Melissadata team so they can offer everyone a better product

1. The *.sql files (the files with the create tables in them) should have at the minimum a standard SQL version that is appropriate for creating basic tables in MySQL PostgresSQL and Oracle.

2. The *.dat files should be exported in tab delimited format. This makes importation of this data into the chosen database really simple. This way I don’t have to parse each line based upon some string length to parse out the fields.

3. Double check that the fields that you are providing in the data files match the number of fields that are being created in the .sql file. (Hint the census.sql is missing the 62-64 age column). This broke my script because trusted that your .sql files were accurate and inline with your published users guide.

4. Your file names should match the names of the tables that the data or table create is associated with. Any standard dump (mysql_dump pg_dump) will do this for you.

Now that I have written this script I would be happy to write another one for Melissadata or anyone else who would like to import this data into their database. If you would like me to write you one let me know.

Where2.0 Where to stay

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

I will be attending the Where2.0 conference this year.  I am really looking forward to it as this will be my first time ever to visit California. Right now I am trying to figure out where I will stay while I am out there. So I put together a Google MyMap  to try and figure out where to stay.  The obvious choice is in the Fairmont Hotel since that is where the convention is but the room rates are a bit steep. I hope that this map helps somebody else besides me.

Dash Express Beta Tester

Monday, April 9th, 2007

I signed up to be a beta tester of the in car navigation system.  This looks to be the first full connected GPS navigation unit.  I have had my eye on a TomTom but might just wait till this thing comes out, even if I am not chosen as a beta tester.  They will also be at Where2.0 this year so maybe I will get to meet some of the guys there.


Sunday, April 8th, 2007

Today I install OpenGTS (Open GPS Tracking System). Eseentailly this is a jsp software app that collects tracking informatio from GPS enabled devices and displays reports and the current location of the device on a google map. The system can support multiple accounts with multiple users per account.  I haven’t actually entered any tracking information into the system but it seems that this part of the application is pretty complete. The part where this application is lacking is in the device and account management. As far as I know the only way to administer these are through shell scripts that interact with the database.

Overall the software was not terrible to install. The hardest part that I had was making sure I had all the various java packages that are required for the build of the war files.  Every time that you want to make a configuration change however you must rebuild the main .war file. Now that it is all installed It shouldn’t be too hard to maintain

There are some enhancements to the system that might make this better. I would like to see all the administration of accounts and devices to happen through the UI. I would also like to see some way to integrate a billing system into the system. This way one would be able to have people sign up themselves and add devices and for you the owner of the service to bill for the use of the system.

My next step to actually generate some track logs and actually see how the reports look and what the google maps looks like.

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