Google has apparently replaced post-Katrina images of New Orleans with imagery from before the hurricane clobbered the city, and people are upset about that, the AP reports (choose your source for the same article: Boston Globe, Guardian, Houston Chronicle, Huffington Post, USA Today).
My reaction to this depends on what this old imagery replaces. There are (at least) two possibilities, and I don’t know which is true.
If it replaces imagery of New Orleans underwater, then reverting to old imagery might be the least worst option: New Orleans is still devastated, but it’s dry. It takes a while to update satellite and aerial imagery, so if there hasn’t been a flyover since the storm, it might simply be past time to revert to non-disaster imagery. If the city was on fire during the flyover, you wouldn’t keep the blaze burning on the image server for years afterward, would you?
But, if it replaces imagery taken of a dry, damaged New Orleans some time after Katrina, then someone has some explaining to do. I don’t, however, assume a conspiracy without actual evidence of said conspiracy.
Or did the “Katrina” button just get removed? (It was removed at some point, because it’s not there now. When, I don’t know.)
Thanks to Maggie for the tip.
Previously: Hurricane Katrina: Google Maps and Other Imagery.
Update, 3/31 at 10:40 AM: Frank reports that the imagery change actually took place last September. (See, we were paying attention.) The post-Katrina imagery was, as I thought, right after the storm and was lower-quality than the older, pre-Katrina imagery. So when you think about it, the pre-Katrina imagery is more useful than the alternative, notwithstanding any symbolic implications. New imagery would, of course, be nice.
Meanwhile, Christopher Schmidt decided that Planet Geospatial wasn’t for him, not only because of the previous version’s formatting errors but also because he wanted something more specifically focused on what he was interested in — namely, open source geospatial software. Enter Planet OSGeo.
Planet OSGeo’s specificity has gotten me thinking; I’ll share those thoughts soon.
For a giggle, have a look at Google Maps’s driving directions from New York to Dublin, Ireland. Take special note of step 23. Lord help us if this makes its way into dashboard navigation systems. Via Kottke.
Update: The MetaFilter post has other trans-oceanic combinations.
Update #2: Gadling picks it up.
Update #3: It’s in Google Earth, too.
Yahoo Japan’s “Tokyo Tours With Old Maps” feature, which launched in January, has apparently kindled an interest in antique maps in Japan, The Japan Times reports. Not only is Yahoo’s site — not that I can read Japanese, but does anyone have a URL? — more popular than expected, but bookstores are seeing a surge in map sales. (How about that: online maps creating demand for paper maps.) Via GeoCarta.
Yet another imagery update for Google Earth: updates to Spain, Connecticutt and Austin, Texas; high-resolution imagery for a number of English locations, a number of U.S. counties, the French cities of Poitiers and Rennes, and downtown Vancouver, B.C. Via Ogle Earth.
Previously: More Google Imagery Updates.
A post on Valleywag, which I will quote here because I’m guessing most of you missed it, about Google Earth: “We’re hearing a rumor that the service, which overlays satellite imagery over a map grid, is actually forbidden in no fewer than 15 countries. Anyone have the list?”
True or false? And if true, where? (Other than Bahrain, I mean, which we know about.)
First, three more map/geospatial blogs for you:
- Free GeoTools by Leszek Pawlowicz, which started in January; points to (mostly Windows) software tools and data sources; covers quite a bit of ground, actually.
- Hablandodesigs by Juan Manuel Uribe Medina, a Mexican GIS programmer; in Spanish; started last October.
- Technical Ramblings, a GIS blog with a focus on open source and the web; been around for a while.
Second, I made some updates to the directory yesterday:
- I’ve removed blogs that haven’t been updated in six months. (I’ll keep pruning inactive or dead links from the directory.)
- In addition to the directory’s RSS feed, which tracks recent additions, there is also now a subscription list in OPML format — something I’ve been meaning to do since last August. Only sites with RSS feeds are included in the OPML listing.
- Some minor design and style changes.
I’m always interested in hearing about new map and geospatial blogs, so be sure tell me about any I’ve missed.
North by Northeast: Five Centuries of New England Maps is an exhibition running from March 31 to August 12 at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life in Historic Deerfield. “In addition to approximately 50 printed and manuscript maps, ‘North by Northeast’ will also offer portraits, surveyors’ compasses, globes, reverse paintings on glass, landscape views, printed diagrams, and an orrery — a mechanical device used to illustrate the orbit of the earth and the moon.” Antiques and the Arts Online, Map the Universe.
UNAM’s Instituto de Geografía has made the Atlas nacional de México — the national atlas of Mexico — available online. The atlas is comprised of literally hundreds of high-quality maps on every subject a national atlas ought to have, from oceanography to national history. The drawback is that they’re only available as high-resolution scans — a couple of megabytes apiece — which make them a little hard to browse through. Still, a real find. In Spanish only. Via Catholicgauze.
Here we go again. Another story proving that an onboard GPS is a poor substitute for common sense, or at least some signs of neural activity. A woman drove her expensive Mercedes into a river in Leicestershire, and needed to be rescued before she was swept away. El Reg’s take: “The 28-year-old woman […] ignored signposts indicating the track was unsuitable for motor vehicles and gamely ploughed into the watercourse.” You’d think that the more stories like this there are, the more likely people are going to gain a clue, but there you have it. Via Engadget.
Previously: ‘Do Not Follow Satnav’; Ambulance Goes Slightly Astray; More German Driving Misadventures; Hang a Left at the Pile of Sand; Getting Stuck in a Narrow Welsh Laneway; Because My Car Said So; Crackpot Directions Send Drivers Along a Cliff.
Gizmodo disses on MapQuest’s send-to-cell feature, now in beta, which sends directions via SMS to your mobile phone: “In this day and age of mobile Google Maps and Windows Live Maps already on smartphones and dumbphones, only a few people would really need to plan out their directions beforehand and send them to their cellphones.” Especially if the directions sent to that phone requires an installed Java app or web access. But, to be fair, this is not the only weapon in MapQuest’s mobile arsenal.
A cabinet of jigsaw maps used to teach geography to the children of George III is now on public display, the Daily Telegraph reports. The cabinet and its contents were bought in 2000 and would have been exported to the U.S., but the British government put a temporary ban on their export last fall until a buyer could be found. The Art Fund has since paid £120,000 for them, and the cabinet and jigsaw maps are now on display at Kew Palace, which has joint custody with the Victoria and Albert’s Museum of Childhood. Via MapHist and Map History/History of Cartography.
Strange Maps launched last September and first came to my attention in October. Since then it’s generated all kinds of buzz in the blogging world, establishing itself as a map blog with serious crossover appeal. I’ve been delighted to see it do well. Really well, as it turns out: in only six months it’s generated 500,000 hits. If hits equals page views in their stats, that’s a tremendous number: compare it with the 620,000 page views I had in the same period, with an established and relatively stable audience. That means Strange Maps should completely pwn me over the next six months. Congratulations!
Previously: Strange Maps.
If you have four days in July and £500, there’s a course called A History of Maps and Map-making being offered by the University of London’s Institute of English Studies as part of the new London Rare Books School, which looks like one of those expensive summer school things that people take overseas trips for. Enrollment is limited to 12 students. Via MapHist.
A short article in today’s Boston Globe about the web site of Boston Public Library’s Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, which launched last fall. The interesting thing, though, is this bit about how maps are scanned for the site:
To achieve that level of resolution, the maps and atlases are laid out on a sort of reverse air-hockey table that sucks air instead of blowing it, pulling the documents flat, said Thomas Blake, director of the library’s digital imaging lab. Technicians then focus a digital camera 10-times more powerful than most consumer models and capture an 88-megapixel image.
Suddenly my new digital SLR doesn’t look so hot. Via MapHist.
Previously: Leventhal Map Center Web Site Launches.
Cartographic Perspectives, the peer-reviewed journal of the North American Cartographic Information Society, now (as of yesterday) has a blog. Writes John Krygier in the blog’s first (and so far only) entry: “I plan to post abstracts and summaries of articles, essays, methods pieces, and reviews in forthcoming issues of CP to this blog, each with its own entry. This will serve to promote the work published in CP and allow comments and responses to the work. I will also report on developments such as full text availability [ … and] calls for submissions.” Via Map History/History of Cartography.
Previously: Cartographic Perspectives: Maps and Art.
Chad tries to address the confusion about a series of high-resolution images appearing in Google Maps and Google Earth. It seems to me that there are two misconceptions: that they’re all satellite images, and that they are real-time (or that real-time, high-resolution satellite imagery could be possible in the future). (Two examples are here and here.)
The images in question are not satellite images, he points out, but rather aerial photography, from a National Geographic flyover of Africa.
In fact, high-resolution imagery is generally taken from airplanes, not satellites. People assume otherwise, but satellites just aren’t that good. Nor — to tackle another misconception — are they that omnipresent. People wonder when we’ll get real-time imagery, or worry about it, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen: a geostationary satellite would be too far away for such imagery. The reason why satellite and aerial imagery is years out of date is because planes and satellites can only cover so much ground at a time: it takes a Katrina-level disaster to mobilize imagery that is only a few days out of date (remember that the pictures need to be processed, not just taken).
(Edited on 3/24 at 1:50 PM to clear up some things; added a sentence in the first paragraph.)
I’ve been mucking around with the site design today. No real design goals in mind — that would presuppose that I know what I’m doing — just tinkering, seeing what works. Weird stuff may manifest itself from time to time as a result, is all.
GeoRSS and KML support has been added to the Google Maps API, which should have a major impact on how map mashups acquire their data. Since GeoRSS appears to be trivial to add to RSS feeds (Flickr can outputs GeoRSS in RSS feeds of geotagged photos, for example), this means that a lot more data may be a lot easier to map. Support for KML, Google Earth’s file format, is still apparently limited, but Google’s blog entry promises more: “We plan to add support for ground overlays, screen overlays, folders, and visibility in the near future.” Definitely sounds like the line between Google Maps and Google Earth is blurring.
Update, 3/23 at 8:35 AM: Dan Catt has a good post on Flickr’s use of GeoRSS.
Presenting spatial information to those who cannot see is not, as you might think at first glance, a lost cause: a section of Natural Resources Canada’s web site is dedicated to providing (and researching methods of providing) maps for the blind. Most are extremely low-resolution, and make little or no use of colour: these are tactile maps, meant to be felt — with the lines and letters enhanced with a thermal enhancer — or seen by people with limited vision. Lines are thick; symbols are large; information density is by necessity limited. The site has a section on mapping procedures — how to make such maps. And the research section has interesting material on audio-tactile haptic maps — maps that make sounds relevant to what you pass over, read out names of streets and buildings and so forth (some examples). Via ResourceShelf; thanks to peacay for the tip.
Cambridge University Library’s Map Department is getting renovated, beginning in July 2007 and continuing for nine months thereafter. More here. The map room’s current digs, which have not been substantially altered since the 1930s, “will be redesigned to present a less cluttered, better organised environment in which readers will be more able to choose and define the space best suited to their work. In particular, more satisfactory seating will be provided for readers studying large maps and atlases, and facilities for disabled users will be enhanced. The new furniture will include modern, easy-to-use, map-safe drawers, some of which will be stacked in mobile units to maximise flat storage capacity.” Service disruptions in the meantime. Via MapHist.
On display at the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Library until June 29, Making Maps, Making History: 300 Years of Original Maps from Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Region:
The exhibit features an illustrated, hand-colored map of North America made in 1670, one of the first maps to show all five Great Lakes. […] Maps from the 18th century reflect the importance of waterways as transportation routes for fur traders and the struggle among European powers to claim New World territory. The exhibit also includes the first maps made of Wisconsin’s land surveys, state highways, railroads, native vegetation, and topography. The collection also includes nautical charts and a 3-D bathymetric survey of the Great Lakes. Several maps illustrate the latest capabilities of satellite remote sensing technology.
More information from the University of Wisconsin.
A new book claims that a Portuguese fleet discovered Australia in 1522, nearly 250 years before Captain Cook arrived at Botany Bay: Reuters, Daily Telegraph. The claim, by author Peter Trickett, is based on a reinterpretation of a 16th-century French atlas which, he says, was based on a misreading of captured or stolen Portuguese portolan charts. From the Telegraph article:
Modern scholars had noticed that one of [the atlas’s maps] closely resembles the coastline of Queensland, aside from a point where it suddenly shoots out at a right angle for a distance of about 900 miles.
After studying the map himself, Mr Trickett came up with a new theory — that the French map-makers had wrongly spliced together two of the Portuguese charts they were copying from.
With the help of a computer expert, he divided the map in two and rotated the lower half by 90 degrees.
Suddenly the chart fitted almost exactly the east coast of Australia and the south coast as far as Kangaroo Island, off present day South Australia.
Tricket argues that the Portuguese kept the discovery a secret for competitive reasons. I’m not equipped to evaluate the veracity of this claim; I will say that this whole nonsense with Gavin Menzies and Liu Gang and their claim of a map that proves that the Chinese discovered America (see previous entry) makes any such claim hard to believe. We’ll see how it shakes out. Via MapHist; thanks to Tony and Stefan.
A collection of 18 maps of Chicago, dating from 1900 to 1914 and showing everything from railroads to school districts, from the University of Chicago Library, in Zoomify format. This is one of several such collections from the U of C: see also Chicago in the 1890s, Social Science Research Committee maps of the 1920s and 1930s and others. Via Maps-L.
Previously: Chicago in Maps.
An exhibit at Brown University’s John Hay Library opens on Monday and runs until April 25: it features some of more than one thousand maps “rediscovered” in that library.
The collection represents the world throughout the time these maps were collected by Brown University. Two-thirds of the maps are from the 1800s and early 1900s, with a major focus on the United States and Europe. The local collection for southern New England is also noteworthy. Some of the more exceptional maps are a Nazi tourism map, a map cited by Herman Melville in writing Moby Dick, and an anti-slavery map donated to the Library by the family of an abolitionist who graduated from Brown in 1831.
A talk will be given on April 5. I’d love to know how these maps came to be “rediscovered,” and to what extent they were simply “uncatalogued.” The Providence Journal had a story about this collection in February that would presumably answer my question, but it’s behind a fairly strong subscriber wall and I haven’t seen it. The Associated Press had a story last November about Brown’s cataloguing efforts, but did not make as much hay about the “rediscovery” aspect of this story.
NASA’s Global Map Projector — G.Projector for short — is a lovely little program that transforms any equirectangular map image (one is included) into another projection. It’s a tremendous amount of fun, and a very useful way of visualizing map projections. It’s a Java application, so there are some performance issues, but at least it’s cross-platform (so long as you have Java installed).
A library of compatible map images is available here.
Thanks to Paul B. Anderson, who’s responsible for this excellent map projections site, for the links.
Kim Martineau is the Hartfort Courant reporter whose first-rate coverage of the Forbes Smiley map theft case was the subject of many of my posts; since Smiley’s sentencing last fall, she’s been speaking about her experiences covering the case (see previous entry). She spoke to the Washington Map Society last November, the New York Map Society on March 10 — and, on February 26, at Simmons College, where her presentation was recorded and is now available in MP3 format. Her talk, with questions afterward, runs 42 minutes. It’s an interesting talk — I was surprised to learn, for example, that she got the tip about Smiley’s arrest (which otherwise had not drawn much media attention) through her newspaper’s publisher, who himself is a map collector. Via MapHist.
Photo credit: American Library Association Student Chapter at Simmons College.
I must find a way to get to Chicago this November; the Festival of Maps sounds huge:
Opening November 2, 2007 and continuing into 2008, the Festival of Maps Chicago is a citywide celebration of humanity’s greatest discoveries and the maps that record our boldest explorations.
More than 25 cultural and scientific institutions join a unique collaboration that will feature maps, globes, artifacts and artworks and track the evolving technology of wayfinding from ancient to modern times.
A map of three Arctic islands in Canada’s north, drafted by Norwegian explorer Otto Sverdrup, who discovered them, was thought to be in Canada’s national archives, after the government paid $67,000 to Sverdrup in 1930 for his diaries and maps of his expedition. But the map could not be found after an extensive search, and there’s now some question as to where it has since gone or even whether Canada received it in the first place. There is also a small but nonzero chance that it may affect Canada’s claim on these islands, but it’s rather unlikely that Norway would press it.
Previously: One of Our Maps Is Missing.
This is a real find: the U.S. Army field manual for map reading and navigation, including those things related to maps that the Army felt a soldier should know. (Which, according to chapter one, seems to be quite a bit, at all levels.) Including, for example, a thorough description of UTM and a surprising amount of detail on aerial photography, but also an appendix on something as basic as how to fold a map (see image at right) — which, when you think about it, is something that really does need explaining! I haven’t gotten through it all yet — there’s so much there that is interesting and, in many cases, informative, that it will take a while. Too bad it’s in Army style: it’d otherwise make a pretty good educational reference. Neat, neat stuff nonetheless. Via Catholicgauze.
The atlas up for auction I referred to earlier, combining Christopher Saxton’s surveys of England and Wales with Giovanni Battista Boazio’s maps of Drake’s voyages to the Americas, both from the late 16th century, fetched £669,600 at auction yesterday at Southeby’s. The auction was won by an anonymous bidder. News coverage: BBC News, The Guardian, Life Style Extra, The Independent, Reuters; see also Map the Universe.
Previously: Rare 16th-Century Atlas Up for Auction.
Footpaths to Freeways: The Evolution of Michigan Road Maps is an exhibition now on display (until June) on the fourth floor of the west wing of Michigan State University’s Main Library; if you can’t visit, there is this online version. It starts surprisingly early, in 1809, with one of the first maps depicting roads in the Michigan Territory. Were you thinking that “road maps” meant something later? I certainly was. Anyway, clicking on the maps opens up the usual Zoomify interface, but you’re getting samples rather than an archive: this is an exhibition, not a collection. Via MapHist.
Previously: 1839 Pocket Map of Michigan.
Yesterday’s Washington Post had a major piece about Nikolas Schiller, who’s been doing artful things with aerial photography and doing his best to stay under the web’s collective radar. (Sorry.) Excerpts from the Post article:
Schiller barely pauses on the way to his computer, which he fires up to reveal hundreds of his map creations. They are places you know — the Mall, Adams Morgan, Georgetown, plus other U.S. cities and war-torn ones abroad. But the streetscapes — photographed from above at a resolution fine enough to just make out cars and people — have been warped and woven into kaleidoscopic mosaics, arabesques, spheres. […]
Since Google Earth appeared a few years ago — and countless office hours were wasted as people mouse-clicked to their own back yards (“Lookee, there’s the deck!”) — the starting point of Schiller’s creations has been familiar. But he doesn’t use Google. He goes to the source, the bird’s-eye rendering of America placed in the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Then it gets complicated. On his computer he will take a swatch of a neighborhood, then he will tessellate it by creating mirrored repetitions, then he may impose radial geometry on the repetitions. The result is elaborate abstraction assembled from realistic detail, ready for framing at 5 by 3½ feet.
“It’s just a cool idea,” says Dave Roberts, a USGS cartographer. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Despite his attempts at keeping a low profile, Schiller’s web site is readily accessible, and has lots and lots of examples of his handiwork.
If you follow such things, you’ll know that Ning, which allows people to build their own social-networking sites, released a new iteration recently; Linda Shippert writes to announce that she’s used it to build a site for map librarians.
Over on Ogle Earth, Stefan reviews Geophoto, the Mac-only geotagging photo application announced in January. “I’m conflicted about Geophoto,” he writes. “It is exceptionally simple, but it costs $50 for far less functionality than what you get in Google Earth (and its network link). That’s quite an audacious proposal. … [M]uch as I like the idea of Geophoto, I don’t think it’s feasible as a $50 application.”
Previously: Geophoto: Mac Geotagging Software.
Alberto has uploaded a collection of microfilm copies of San Francisco fire insurance maps dating from around 1905 — which wuld have been just before things got very interesting indeed from a fire perspective. The trouble with microform copies of fire insurance maps (apart from the inherently low quality of such copies) is that fire insurance maps are in colour — in the maps I’ve seen, the colour shows what a building is built of. So there’s something lost in monochrome microform reproduction. Via Things Magazine.
Previously: New York Fire Insurance Maps.
Afriterra is an online collection of digitized maps — 500 have been done so far out of a planned thousand in the current funding round, with a total of 5,000 maps in the collection, dating from the 15th century to 1900. Maps are available via the usual Zoomify Flash interface; the database is more searchable than browsable, but with a little patience some interesting stuff can be found. Via MapHist.
An interesting post on Google’s Inside Book Search blog, where Matthew Gray crunches the numbers in Google Book Search to create a really interesting map: “I wanted to show the Earth viewed from books, where individual mentions of locations in books combine to yield another interpretation of the globe. The intensity of each pixel is proportional to the number of times the location at a given set of coordinates is mentioned across all of the books in Google Books Search.” See also the maps by decade for the 19th century. Via Science Library Pad.
Matt Fox, who georectified the Great Salt Lake bathymetric maps for use as Google Earth overlays, has made available his entire collection of maps through a Google Earth network link. The collection includes topo maps of the western U.S., geological maps and lots more. Google Earth Blog, MapWrapper.com.
The Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica “combines nearly 1100 hand-selected Landsat satellite scenes that are being digitally woven together to create a single, seamless, cloud-free image of the Antarctic continent — the most detailed color representation of this vast and frozen landmass ever produced,” according to the press release. Not very accessible based on my cursory glance: Landsat imagery does not appear to be available in a format usable by mere mortals; the LIMA mosaics page doesn’t appear to work in Firefox or Safari; and the Atlas of Antarctic Research, an online GIS viewer, doesn’t seem to have the abovementioned imagery available as a layer. Am I missing something? Via Very Spatial.
Previously: Atlas of Antarctic Research (link to atlas now dead; see above for new link).
Minor news items from the major online mapping services.
Photos come to Google Maps — or at least photographs of businesses can appear in info windows when searching for them using local search.
The Live Maps/Virtual Earth blog has been on fire with tips and tricks for using Virtual Earth lately, such as a top 10 list of features you didn’t know about and a guide to creating a custom map layer in 10 minutes.
In preparation for a Movable Type upgrade, I have changed all the URLs for the individual entry and archive pages. Old links are being autoforwarded to the new URLs, so don’t worry about that. But this change will probably cause your RSS newsreader or aggregator to mark old entries as new again (James is going to kill me for that). I’m doing it to address some version incompatibility issues; it will be better in the long run.
Meanwhile, there appears to be some high load issues going on with my server at the moment. I’m investigating.
Catholicgauze stirs the pot with an essay on the future of GIS and its increasing separation from Geography. Key graf:
With [Geographic Information Science] focusing only on GIS the whole reason GIS exists, to study spatial phenomenon, is kicked out the door. When GIS is the pinacle of everything geography loses. What is happening is that many GIS users have no knowledge of geography. With a few clicks of a button a GIS jockey can describe data’s distribution but cannot explain why things are the way they are. A monkey can do that work.
I don’t have a dog in this race — I have no ties to either academe or the GIS industry — but would like to know your take. (Time to test the comments!)
Google Earth is updating its content faster than CN is derailing trains nowadays: yesterday’s updates include New Zealand roads and an Appalachian mountaintop removal layer, as well as many updates to many existing layers and folders. Google Earth Blog, Ogle Earth.
Previously: More Google Imagery Updates.
The short version: comments are back on, though I haven’t finished all the planned upgrades; and TypeKey registration is now required to comment on this blog.
About TypeKey: it’s free and relatively painless, so hopefully it will not be too onerous for you. It’s also something that I’ve been planning to do for a while as a spam-prevention measure, and in fact tried to do two years ago, but Movable Type threw errors at the time due to the nature of my install (see previous entries: 1, 2, 3). Those errors have since been fixed, and I have now successfully implemented TypeKey. This definitely acts against comment spam, but I suspect it will also reduce the comment script’s impact on the server.
Adding TypeKey is one of several things I’ve planned to do to improve this Movable Type install’s performance so that, among other things, it doesn’t take you a minute or more to submit a comment. So far, I’ve also eliminated some index templates on a couple of blogs that were pretty resource intensive. Next up is to upgrade to version 3.34, which I thought I’d be able to do this weekend, but my install is affected by a couple of the upgrade issues mentioned here, so that will take a bit more time and care. Once I’ve upgraded, I’ll see if I can run it under FastCGI, which should really make it cook.
But my guess is that things should be a bit better already.
Also: for a few days last week my contact form was apparently returning error messages on submission. This was a result of my hosting provider changing the security settings on their formmail script, and has since been fixed.
Last June, Paul posted something about a rumour that Natural Resources Canada had been on the verge of making digital topographic data freely available, but that it had been put on hold while the new minister reviewed the decision. Today, Drew forwarded me an e-mail from within NRCan announcing, informally, to stakeholders that the data will be free as of April 1; excerpts below:
In response to demands from users for no fee access to framework geographic data and the increasing technological shift in the marketplace, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), is pleased to announce that starting April 1st 2007, the Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) will change the way its Digital Topographic Data (DTD) can be accessed. ESS will initiate a change from a cost recovery environment to an environment providing no fee access to its current DTD products.
On April 1st, 2007, NRCan will start to make its existing DTD products available through the Geogratis Web portal. By combining the functionality from the current On-line Purchasing and Subscribers Web sites, the user will be provided with no fee access to DTD products. Under the new distribution policy, commercial licenses will no longer be required, as all users will obtain rights for unlimited use and royalty-free distribution of the data through a single unrestricted use license agreement.
For subscribers, this means that beginning on April 1st, 2007, you will no longer have to pay for access rights or subscriptions for DTD products. […] For distributors, this means that beginning on April 1st, 2007, you will no longer have to pay royalty fees for the commercial use of DTD products.
I wonder what the impact of this will be. My (uninformed) guess is that it should encourage a lot more mapping in Canada. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
Previously: Canadian Topo Map Update: CCA Conference Items.
I’ve disabled commenting until I figure out how to reduce the memory usage of the comments script and improve the performance of the site overall. (The script has been getting killed by DreamHost’s automated process watcher, a sign that it’s using too much memory.)
I’ll take this opportunity to do some long-procrastinated upgrades that should help the situation and hopefully, among other things, make posting a comment a little bit faster.
This will probably take more than just a few hours; I’ll let you know when I’ve done tinkering.
Also via GeoCarta, this story about a proposed national mapping strategy — a “decade-long plan to map Canada’s resource-rich north” — is framed in the context of Canada’s mining industry, which is hungry for new reserves that good mapping, which they hope the government will provide, will help them find, but it’s also worth thinking about in the context of efforts to update the country’s topo maps (there are parts of the north for which 1:50,000-scale maps have never been published). Is there a connection?
What difference does three metres make? Plenty, according to a story from the Edinburgh Evening News: a mistake in the location of old flats on an Ordnance Survey map is being blamed for a new housing development being built in the wrong location. Three metres is enough, apparently, to overshadow nearby residences. As Roger notes (with hilarious effect), there’s a lot of buck-passing going on about this at the local level, but the Ordnance Survey contends that its maps are no replacement for a proper engineering survey.
You didn’t think we were done with the map thievery just because Forbes Smiley is in the big house, did you? Antique Trade Mark reports that 50 antique maps went missing from a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania rare book store some time in early to mid-February.
The total value of the maps amounted to nearly $20,000. Most of the maps were copperplate engravings from the 18th and early 19th centuries, with a few exceptions dating as early as the 1580s and as late as the middle to latter parts of the 19th century. All of these maps should be considered uncommon within the general antique trade, and several unusual enough to warrant attention within the smaller circle of antique map specialists.
Update, March 4: Here is the list of stolen maps.
Geography Matters, the ESRI blog, has a post up on GIS and map libraries: “While not all institutions manage holdings of this size [the Library of Congress’s map collection], libraries and museums are realizing that a GIS can not only help organize their growing collections, but can help make the information more easily available to their communities.” Examples given. I’ve seen many GIS-based interfaces to map collections myself. I’m of two minds: I don’t much like the interfaces, but I’m not able to come up with an alternative.
Recent updates to the satellite and aerial imagery in Google Maps and Earth include 50-cm resolution imagery for Switzerland and Denmark, high-resolution (10 m) terrain for Switzerland, several French cities, full coverage for Utah and Wyoming, and a number of other local improvements, Google Earth Blog reports.
Update, 3/02: Stefan has a look at the new Swiss terrain layer in Google Earth. (If they had something like this for the Canadian Rockies, I’d wet myself.)