Saturday, 4 October 2014

Big data and maps reloaded

Social media really work! +Vicky Gallardo posted on Google+ that the map is not the territory, with a wonderful big data map by Ben Allen of Denton TX (near where I used to live). That prompted a post by the same title on my companion map blog. The distinction between data and maps has long kept me up at night (see my blog tagline), and many others to judging by exhibits and media only in London (near where I live now).

That led me thru a brief history of mine, from early field mapping thru computer mapping and GIS to big data and disruptive tech. The latter is where the distinction between data and maps is clearest. To put it simply in my sphere:
Big geo-data originates in the enormous input from current sensors 
In oil&gas this could be 4D Seismic and Measure While Drilling. In global monitoring that could be millions of distributed sensors. While apps like Earth exist, Mansour Raad notes as below that …like the others, they lack the spatial aspect when it comes to my world.

 MapReduce API and the spatial index [...] to visualize hotspot conflict in Africa

AGI's Geo Big5 events highlighted big data in London this week. As mentioned in my map blog, topics ranged from LiDAR and UAVs to cash registers and NFCs (inventory control and touch-card and -phone payments). And their delegate pack asks this:
  1. What is big data, how does location augment it and why should I care? 
  2. Hasn’t location data always been big?
  3. What does location bring to the party?
  4. Where is big data and location really adding business value? 
What struck me about this show is that whilst largely driven by vendors - other than M&S a British retailer (keynote ) and Telefonica a Spanish telecom - it was very business-driven looking for outcomes: the tech was very much left in the tech sessions and maps most definitely moved into the background.

wordle from geoBIG5 delegate pack

Another striking element:  the sheer amount of data coming down the proverbial fire-hose put us right back to a situation akin to early computing: in the early days data, say, from banks and from geophysics were treated as data not as geo-data; storage and processing space were so constrained then, that location as an attribute was either ignored (as in banks) or as an output parameter (as in geophysics). When GIS came along a generation ago, it faced the same questions as those numbered above. The genius of Roger Tomlinson's Canada land inventory - and Jack Dangermond followed with topology-driven county maps at Esri in So. California - was to put the geo part as a key to process geodata, rather than as an attribute to print out as maps and reports. 

Roger Tomlinson, 1967, source directionsmag

Almost fifty year later this is what geocomputing environment looks like with real time weather (mega)data... to the point where the UK Met Office and US NOAA offer space weather forecasts!

source ISES Australia

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Web maps on steroids

The last 6 blog posts over the last 3 months chronicled the use of dynamic maps using time attribute - years for historic ship tracks and wind data from same 150-350 yrs ago - not to animate maps but to filter them by decade and manage data fetches on ArcGIS Online. A parallel series of posts showed mega data sets on Amazon Web Services, as Mapcentia assured me postGIS handled giga datasets...

Saturday, 6 September 2014

On joining and merging historic multi-lingual geodata

Earlier posts chronicled the history even the beauty of historic shipping and climate data from CLIWOC. British, Dutch, French and Spanish maritime agencies transferred paper logs to digital records. In doing so look-up tables allowed to convert multi-lingual records into quantifiable attributes. Something odd (to me) happened in the process of mapping these: over 1/4M records doubled to almost 1/2M when look-ups were joined and then wind and direction tables merged to create maps symbolised by wind force and orientation.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The happenstance art of maps

I showed recently how CLIWOC weather data from ships captains logs dating 1662 to 1885 totalled almost 1/2M points. It started with a 1/4M ships tracks, and combining look-up tables from four maritime agencies they yield numeric wind force and direction...

Friday, 15 August 2014

Dynamic maps final (for now)

[Update: longhand version posted on my catalog blog]

This is the end installment of progressing from static to dynamic maps online. A few lessons learned along the way on posting a quarter million point dataset, which ballooned to almost half a million after links & joins...

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Lessons from 'static to dynamic maps'

Last month related the stumbling blocks in posting too much data on - time animation pushed the limits of stock web service even when limits are set above 250K points - and other services don't offer animation as yet.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

From static to dynamic maps, continued

Last month I reported on posting on some time-stamped, time-slider or time-aware maps - I showed my WhereIsAndrew map - I also mentioned how time-sliders are a great way to roll-up diverse datasets that are time dependent. CLIWOC Captain's ships logs was the other example cited, and I proceeded to post it as a service from ArcMap on

Saturday, 14 June 2014

From static to dynamic maps, my travel so far

I tell people "I know just enough java to be dangerous", and it has served my well in my prior attempts logged in my old web page. These were all Google Maps API v.2 I built about 5 years ago. This blog as well as my new map catalog showed how I built maps in QGIS then ArcGIS, and then posted them on and AWS via Mapcentia GeoCloud2. I recently posted maps on on desktop and smartphone, static results of 'traveling salesman' geoprocessing on the desktop or online.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Handy maps

A 'handy' is what Germans call a mobile or cell phone. I uploaded free ArcGIS for Android on my  smartphone, which now has a decent screen to read maps on - love my Navigon Europe on it, and Google Maps too - but here is a quick&easy application of for the rest of us. 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

... now HOW open is open?

A lot of (virtual) ink has flowed around opening up data, as in this blog, GISuser crowdsourcing open data (below left) etc. etc. And everyone is getting into the act, from White House (below center) and Whitehall (UK Cabinet Office) to the number of open data hits (below right).