Tag Archives: gis

Mont St. Michel

Kite aerial photography gallery

Digital Photography School has a nice gallery of kite aerial photography (or KAP, as it’s called amongst insiders):

Le Mont Saint Michel (Manche-FR)

Le Mont Saint Michel, France (© François Levalet, http://www.francoislevalet.fr)

I have to date built various kites myself and actually also one of the KAP rigs shown in the gallery and have done some KAP experiments myself. KAP is lightweight, can produce affordable aerial photography and is thus an interesting acquisition method for spatial data. For these reasons it is sometimes used for archaeologic studies and exploration, see for example here or here.

Despite ever more popular quadro- and other copters and their advantages (for example, no need for wind), I think KAP may keep a niche, for example in applications where noise may be an issue or where an especially heavy payload needs to be lifted.

Flickr as a vehicle of narrative: photos contextualised in space and time

After my project proposal had been accepted, I have attended a workshop at ETH Zurich, titled “Cartography & Narratives” organised by Barbara Piatte, Sébastien Caquard and Anne-Kathrin Reuschel in last summer. The goal of the workshop was to explore “mapping as a conceptual framework to improve our understating of narratives”. Narratives are

“an expression in discourse of a distinct mode of experiencing and thinking about the world, its structures, and its processes“ (White 2010)


any cultural artefact that ‘tells a story’ (Bal 2009)

I decided to investigate the photo-sharing platform Flickr as vehicle of narratives (think: the slide show of pictures from a trip, be it directly on the camera’s screen or as an image projected onto your living room wall, as one of arguably the most ubiquitous types of every day narrative).

I have uploaded a preliminary result of my workshop paper on Vimeo (view it large, for good quality):

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/56999213 w=600]


The movie shows the temporal and spatial patterns that emerge, when we conflate 80’000+ images taken by 4’000 photographers over the course of several years in the city of Zurich, Switzerland (I only looked at georeferenced photographs). See the description of the video on Vimeo for full information.

I will post more about the workshop results and further work, shortly.

Review of Swiss GIS Day 2012

As announced a while ago, I went to GIS Day in Zurich, Switzerland.

On my employer’s blog, I have written up a review of the event in German. Head over to find out about interesting Switzerland-based GIS projects (in-browser-translation should be fine to get the gist, I suppose).

Swiss air rescue organisation Rega uses GIS for emergency dispatching

Swiss air rescue organisation Rega uses GIS for emergency dispatching

Blog: MapBrief

Recently, a friend of mine pointed me to GIS-related blog that somehow had managed to fly under my radar: www.mapbrief.com by Brian Timoney. Timoney is principal of a Colorado-based consultancy, but his blog is not what you might expect when you hear ‘consultancy’.

Some articles which sprang to my eye and which will get you started on content and style you can expect:

How the Public Actually Uses Local Government Web Maps: Metrics from Denver

Redistricting Denver: Where “Communities of Interest” Allow Polite Folk to Sidestep Race, Class

It’s Never Been Harder to Make Money in GIS: The Sobering Economic Backdrop to the ESRI/GeoIQ Deal

OpenStreetMap: A valid competitor to official base maps?

Still in last year, Cédric Moullet, amongst others MapFish and GeoExt contributor, sparked a discussion by his post “Why OpenStreetMap fails to replace official or proprietary base maps in a sustainable way ?” (note how this doesn’t sound like a question but bears a question mark ;)

For simplicity, I will re-list Cédric’s 13 points here:

1. Because it’s not possible to make a map for all zoom levels
2. Because the finances are not secured on long term
3. Because the data model is not defined
4. Because the precision is heterogeneous
5. Because the reliability is heterogeneous
6. Because the completeness is heterogeneous
7. Because it requires attribution
8. Because the data are difficult to extract
9. Because noone takes the responsibility about the data
10. Because it lacks a QA step by an accountable body
11. Because it is not multilingual
12. Because first acquisition is fun and data update is boring
13. Because Google Map Maker Workflow is for the broad public and OpenStreetMap workflow for the map enthusiasts

Numerous reactions (not further detailed) motivated Cédric to post some clarifications.

Enters Stefan Keller. He is a professor at the Hochschule für Technik in Rapperswil (Switzerland) and (I think) could be described as an open source and OSM enthusiast and evangelist. In agreement with Cédric Moullet, Stefan Keller started a thread on the Swiss GIS/geospatial industry forum geowebforum. In his post he objects to various of Cédric’s points. Marc Wick (founder of Geonames) also weighs in on the debate with some interesting points and finally, Stephan Heuel and I, also contribute our view of the topic (spoiler: we agree with most of Cédric’s points).

Of course, I’m biased, but I think the thread which developed is definitely worth reading. If you feel like it, please do also contribute (everybody can on geowebforum) with your insights!

Esri buys Procedural

Hot from the press: Esri announces the acquisition of Procedural. The Switzerland-based company specialises in procedurally (i.e., rule-based) constructed 3D city models and is known, for example, for its reconstruction of ancient Rome. Procedural’s approach, embodied in its software CityEngine, allows for very fast modelling of urban scenes.

Esri’s move will considerably strengthen its stand in the 3D realm and maybe we will at some point see BIM (Building Information Modelling) by Esri? Spatial Sustain points out correctly that Esri hasn’t usually grown by acquisitions, but steadily by its own activities. Before that background, Esri’s move into 3D via Procedural seems rather outstanding and meaningful!

Head past the break for some rather captivating examples of Procedural’s products. Continue reading