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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Satellite Images of California Fires

NASA's Earth Observatory is regularly posting satellite images of the California Fires. The sample image below shows the Pine, Foothill and Crown Fires near Los Angeles during the third week of July, 2004. The bluish areas in this image have been burned and the red areas are forested mountains.
More detailed images and information at NASA Earth Observatory

Friday, July 30, 2004

National Geographic Road Atlas

National Geographic plans to release a new version of the popular National Geographic Road Atlas this September. It will have detailed coverage of all fifty US states plus Canada and Mexico. Spiral binding and plastic cover will make it easy to use and durable.
National Geographic Road Atlas

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Cellular phone mapping system pinpoints 911 callers

If a 911 call is placed from a standard wire-line phone the 911 dispatcher is instantly able to access the address where the phone line is installed. With the number of mobile phones multiplying an increasing number of 911 calls are coming in from non-addressed locations and the caller is frequently unfamiliar with local roads and landmarks. Jackson County, Oregon now has a system to locate many of their remote callers.
Read more at the Mail Tribune Website

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Red River Gorge, Kentucky - Maps and Arches

If you are an experienced user of topographic maps you will get a chuckle out of this article. The author gives a personal account of how not paying close attention to contour lines can result in navigation problems.

The real story, however, is his description of the Red River Gorge Geological Area which has more than 100 sandstone arches - the greatest concentration of arches and natural bridges east of the Rocky Mountains. Sounds like it's worth a trip - but brush up on your map reading before you make the trip.
Read more at Charleston.Net

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Tracking the Tour de France with GPS

This year ten riders in the Tour de France were equipped with GPS receivers and tracked by the EGNOS network. The entire field of the race could be equipped with GPS within the next few years. This would provide data on each rider's speed and location, which could be incorporated into topographic software that would allow television to display visualizations of one or groups of riders - or even the position of all riders simultaneously.
Read more at the European Space Agency Website

Monday, July 26, 2004

Better wireless rate maps

Wireless phone companies in the United States must now provide more detailed coverage and rate maps, plus they must give new customers a 14 day period to try out their new service to see if the geographic coverage is suitable. In the past the phone companies published maps that would show full state or regional coverage when, in fact, there were large mappable holes in many areas. Then they would charge large fees to customers who terminated their contracts because of inadequate service availability.
Read more at USA Today and at the Santa Fe New Mexican

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Where is FleetCenter located?

It seems that even the "officials" in Boston don't have a handle on their local boundaries. What's being argued here seems to be unofficial "neighborhood" boundaries. Let's hope that they don't have this same problem with the boundaries of school districts or tax districts.
Read more at The Boston Globe

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Questions About Using Topo Maps & Air Photos

The staff at prints thousands of custom topo maps and aerial photos every month and are in constant contact with map users and map dealers across the United States. Paige Darden addresses seven of their most frequently heard questions about topo maps and air photos in her recent article at Answered are questions related to magnetic declination, map scale, UTM grids, GPS coordinates and using maps to get the most from your hunting.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Geocaching - a great game using GPS and maps

If you enjoy maps, GPS, the outdoors and a good puzzle then geocaching might be a great activity for you. Geocaching is a game played around the world. Players hide a "cache" (a waterproof container such as Tupperware or an ammo box) and post the latitude and longitude at the website. The object is for other players to use their GPS, maps and ingenuity to find the cache. Some players have hundreds of hides and hundreds of finds, which are tallied for you at the website. The site also has a search feature that enables you to learn about hides in your state, zipcode or within a certain distance of your latitude/longitude. I was doubtful that there would be any caches in the area where I live but was amazed at how many were within a short distance. The first two that I found were within 600 feet and 2000 feet of my back porch!
Learn more at

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Alabama Map Collection has over 5000 maps online

The Cartographic Research Lab at the University of Alabama has one of the most extensive online map collections that you will find anywhere. I have visited lots of websites about maps and this one is really impressive. Over 5000 different maps dating back to the 1500s can be seen in their online map collection.
Check it out... Alabama Maps

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

UN uses satellite monitoring to fight drug trade

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is using satellite imagery to identify areas of where poppy and coca are being cultivated in Afghanistan, Laos, Myanmar and Bolivia.
Read moreDirections Magazine

Monday, July 19, 2004

AVL = Automatic Vehicle Locator

Oh boy! Another acronym... but I like this one AVL = Automatic Vehicle Locator. The Santa Rosa Fire Department has installed them on all 40 of their engines, cars and ambulances. These are GPS units that communicate their locations back to the dispatcher's office. Now with just a mouse click or glance at a computer screen the dispatcher can find the location of a vehicle. This can cut the response time to an accident or fire scene by several minutes if a vehicle is already nearby. The cost was about $15,000 per vehicle.
Read more at KCRA News

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Creating a Risk Map for West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is a sometimes fatal disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. In California, the Monterey County Health Department developed a method for identifying areas that have the highest risk from this disease. The mapping effort uses remote sensing to identify mosquito habitats and demographic data to identify areas with a large number of people over 55 years old (the age of people who are most likely to contract the virus). Highest risk areas are where large numbers of people over 55 live near a mosquito habitat. Information from this mapping effort can be used to prioritize educational and insect control efforts.
Read more at Directions Magazine

Saturday, July 17, 2004

EarthSat Releases Natural Color Dataset

Earth Satellite Corporation has released NaturalVue 2000, the only global 15-meter resolution natural color dataset in existence today. It covers the entire earth and is based on Landsat 7 data acquired between 1999 and 2001. Available as 5x6 degree tiles at $150 each.
EarthSat Website Description

Friday, July 16, 2004

Why GPS Users Should Have Strong Map-Reading Skills

Don't buy a GPS unit to "save your ass in the backcountry". Instead listen to the advice of three experienced outdoor enthusiasts who explain why GPS users should retain (or acquire) strong map-reading skills.
See Mary Esch's full article at

Tennessee Getting Bids to Track Felons with GPS

The state of Tennessee has contractors bidding on a system that will place GPS bracelets on selected felons on parole so that their movements can be "watched". For example the system would monitor if convicted offenders were staying away from prohibited areas such as homes of their victims and if they are travelling to and from work each day.
Read more at Yahoo! News

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Psychology student uses his training to map a complex building.

The Cornett Building and the University of Victoria has a reputation of being a place to get lost. Ryosuke Yoshii, creator of the maps states that "The building is so complicated, on some floors you can only access the floor below, and not the floor above." Students joke that the building was modeled after the human brain. Yoshii put his psychology training to work and created maps that were color-coded and simplified to make navigating the building a less daunting task.
Read more at The Ring, UV's community Newspaper

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Cell phones enabled with GPS mapping technology

Networks in Motion, an Irvine, CA company has created cell phones with on-screen mapping and GPS location abilities. These phones know where they are and send information back to their home office allowing the company dispatcher to...

• Identify the location of the phone, and whether it's stationary or moving.
• Pull up maps that show the current location of all employees.
• Click on the name of a particular worker to get a map of the route traveled that day, along with specific addresses visited, and even the vehicle's speed at any particular moment.
• Get an automatic warning whenever a driver is stuck in traffic or speeding.

Read more about it at the Akron Beacon Journal

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

GIS mapping system helps fight fires in BC

The British Columbia Office of the Fire Commissioner has purchased software and built a system that allows emergency workers in multiple locations to share and update an online geographic information system that can be used as a tool in fighting forest fires. Maps, spreadsheets and other critical information are updated in real time and made available to the media with this system.
Read more and see screenshots at

Monday, July 12, 2004

AMC Software Integrates Maps, GPS and CAD

AMC, Inc. has released GPS2CAD Ver 3.1, an interesting Windows software application that enables users to collect GPS data in the field, import it into a CAD application, and register it atop of an aerial photo or map - in a variety of projections and datums. This technique is valuable because it replaces a detailed on-site survey and can be done with an inexpensive GPS unit.
Directions Magazine Article

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Truckers use GPS to cut costs and save time

Here is an interesting article from the Times-Picayune website that explains how truckers are using GPS to plan routes using speed limit, weight limit, vertical clearance, toll and many other types of data.
The Times-Picayune

Crime Maps online from San Francisco Police Department

The San Francisco Police Department has created on online mapping portal that allows the public to easily produce maps derived from data contained in SFPD police reports. Data is entered once a day and the current information archive goes back 90 days. Uses of the system can do geographic searches based upon the type of offense, location and date - the "What, Where and When" of this type of data.
News Article at
SFPD Crime Mapping Portal

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Garmin Streetpilot 2660 GPS Released

Garmin has solved the problem of GPS auto navigation where GPS signals are intermittent - such as in downtown areas or mountains where line-of-sight connection to key satellites is lost. In the Garmin StreetPilot 2660, when the signal is lost a dead reckoning system (connected to the auto speedometer and back-up lights) takes over to keep you on track. The Garmin Streetpilot 2660 GPS also features a high-resolution color touchscreen with voice-prompted turn-by-turn navigation. A powerful processor facilitates rapid route calculation and screen refresh.
Learn more about the Garmin StreetPilot 2660

Friday, July 09, 2004

Historical Hurricane Track Maps Online

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has developed an online system that will allow you to view maps of historical hurricane tracks. The system draws upon hurricane data from the past 150 years and allows you to querry storms by storm name, zip code, place name, latitude/longitude.

Click Image to Enlarge

Visit the NOAA website and creat a Hurricane Track Map

Thursday, July 08, 2004

USGS to Release Historical Aerial Photos in Digital Format

The U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) EROS Data Center will begin distributing historical aerial photography in digital format on September 3, 2004. The photos come from an archive of over 8,000,000 frames acquired between the 1930's and 1970's and used to produce 1:24,000 scale USGS topographic quadrangle maps. After this release USGS will no longer distribute these photos in hard-copy format.

Sample images can be seen at USGS Historical Aerial Photos Sample Page.

To receive USGS news releases go to USGS News Release Sign-Up Page

Topo Maps and Aerial Photos as Deer Hunting Tools

Here's a great article by Randy Templeton that was published in Iowa Game & Fish Magazine. It includes several tips on how topo maps and aerial photos can increase your deer hunting enjoyment and success.

Your Guide to Pre-Season Scouting for Iowa Deer

The Adirondack Atlas

Syracuse University Press has published "The Adirondack Atlas" by Jerry Jenkins and Andy Keal. The book has hundreds of maps, hundreds of charts and hundreds of photos that illustrate elements of park ecology, geology, development, wildlife and other interesting topics. The maps clearly show how a geographic information system can be used to compile an informative and interesting profile of an area. Jenkins is an expert botanist and ecologist and Keal is a specialist in geographic information systems.

The Adirondack Atlas

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