Crowdsourcing the High Water

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Now that the floodwaters have receded, it's really important to document the extent of the water before the traces change. Emergency management agencies still have their hands full, but they've recommended we collect geolocated photos of high water marks around the state - these help with mapping the effects and preparing for the future. If you're in a position to do so, we'd be psyched if you'd help out by:

1.) Taking photos of any high water positions around you (sides of buildings, washouts, etc.), then entering them with location info in the map below or here: Submit a Report to the Crowdmap

2.) Downloading the free Ushahidi App on your Android or iPhone and recording high water marks live from the field. Once it's installed,

  - Add your info,
  - Click on "Add Deployment",
  - Then enter this crowdmap address: ""

  and you're set to enter info from the field using your smartphone's GPS and camera. Reports will go directly     to the crowdmap.

3.) If you've got a high-resolution GPS unit like a Trimble or Garmin, collect position info on any photos you take and add them to the map using either of the above methods (They both accept latitude/longitude coordinates). Here's a guide to getting the greatest accuracy while mapping high water marks this way

With any of the above methods, be sure to check the "High Water Mark" box to clarify what type of info you're entering.

Be sure to defer to first responders and residents at all times. Some towns have restricted access, and it's important to respect that as they dig out. Also, keep an eye on the weather at all times and stay out of danger if more rain is threatening. But overall, thank you all for the work you've been doing; we're lucky to have such a great community in Vermont.

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In Which I Miss the Point . . .

Sunday, August 28, 2011
This storm appears headed straight for Iceland! Egads! High winds and rain in the North Atlantic! Unprecedented! I wonder if Icelandic TV has an endless feed of a meteorologist standing on the Reykavik waterfront with excessive rain gear on.

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Republican Fundraising 2012 - the Early Days

Thursday, August 25, 2011
They're coming! Holy crap, they're coming!

It's always instructive to see the spatial dimensions of politics. Development Seed in D.C. just set up this snappy way of viewing individual donations to candidates so far this election cycle [it's already a cycle? Jeez, slow down, Hoss.]:

The regional clustering of some candidates - Romney owns the coasts, the midwest is split - is a fairly good representation of how our society fractures and gathers, even on the conservative side of things alone.

Mostly surprising is the number of times Ron Paul's name shows up. Dude just won't quit. Or make a coherent argument for a tight monetary policy.
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Oh for the love of . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Finally took a look at ArcGIS Online, released in May this year. I now feel a wee bit like Mike Doonesbury circa 2000:

So I've been working for a few months on an open-source workflow that runs between a web map and an editable database with embedding capability, actually pretty psyched that ESRI wasn't in that space yet. I wish I'd tried this out months ago:

View Larger Map

It looks like you still need some ArcSDE and ArcGIS for server chops to pull off a completely-editable interface - to actually practice vector editing in a webpage window - but this was frightening. I threw the above map together in 30 minutes using ArcGIS Online, while coding something similar from scratch took closer to 40 hours (though I'm no programmer).

ESRI strikes again.
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Shapefiles to Fusion Table Maps

Thursday, August 4, 2011
So you need a web map on the fly?

Google's fusion tables toolkit is something of a killer app for cartographers. As many have already discovered, it's sort of a miniature, compacted version of the process by which a relational database gets viewed as a web map. By tossing it all into the same browser-based, code-free blender, Google has removed a whole slew of otherwise-tedious steps from the process. Fusion tables can do the following:

  • Clean data
  • Serve data
  • Centralize authentication and access
  • Merge/Relate Datasets
  • Map and style geographic data
  • Serve maps on the web.
That's anywhere from three to six different types of software using traditional methods. Hot damn.

The one downside to fusion tables has been the use of KML as the standard accepted geometry type for complex features like lines and polygons. For those of us who work with the shapefile format, that's an extra step. Fortunately, Josh Livni at Google hacked together a way to send shapefiles directly to fusion tables with geometry intact for mapping:

It's a sweet add-on that lets you send - say - a shapefile showing Vermont towns directly to a styled web map, with queryable information via Google charts.

I love how this stuff just keeps getting easier . . .

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