Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Power Cuts in India - Let's see how hot it gets this summer

           A bunch of Twitter users have come together to gather information about power cuts in India and make an infographic map to map the geographical spread of power cuts across the country.

           It all started when Shefaly Yogendra, a London-based investment consultant, saw a discussion on power cuts on her Twitter timeline and suggested to her friends, "May be you guys should tweet #powercut with location. The infographic will highlight the need for investment. To many people." The idea caught on. Users had begun writing about the time and location of the power cuts in their respective areas with the hashtag #powercutindia. Ajay Kumar, a software engineer, put up a web page that had started mapping power cuts in the country on the basis of the tagged tweets. Now the page can be accessed at http://powercuts.in. A Twitter account by the name of @PowerCutsIn has also been employed to collect data.

           The page is built on an Ushahidi platform, which provides free software for information collection. While the updates from Twitter are being incorporated on to the map by a team of 11 moderators information received via the smartphone app updates the map automatically.

           First city to be mapped, according to Ajay on Twitter, was Gurgaon. In the first couple of days, 46 reports had been mapped, at a rate of 9.2 reports a day. These reports have further been sorted into categories of "planned", "unplanned", "good news" (indicating no power cuts) and "voltage". An open Google document, which anyone can read, edit and shared, was also floated online, where people volunteered to do the data crunching and provide tech support. Those involved are trying to take this beyond an empty data-visualisation exercise and trying to figure out what to do with it.

           Crowdsourcing, or getting a large group of people to provide data on a particular subject, has been a rage ever since the web went social. A similar mapping exercise, which maps mobile network problems in India, already exists online by the name of Mobile Telco #Fail.
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Indian National GIS organization to be set up soon

            A specialized institution, Indian National GIS Organization, will be set up, probably within a year, to provide an independent view on progress of existing projects and the need for new projects. The idea of having a central GIS body consisting of nation-wide GIS assets and application services to provide inputs for better decision making was floated by the Plan panel, which has set up a committee of experts headed by secretary of earth sciences ministry, Shailesh Nayak, to prepare the framework of National GIS body to be set up in a public-private partnership mode.

            The body will help ministries such as environment, water resources, urban & rural development to integrate satellite- based technology with the infrastructure creation process. The GIS inputs will be valuable for long-term planning and will provide real time insight to the Centre before taking a decision.

            The decision of setting up such an organization has been taken after observing that some projects have gone really slow and some have even been lacking the right vision and data requirement. The setting up the National GIS organization would definitely go a long way in the development of the country.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where on Google Map was Osama bin Laden?

                It took years of intelligence gathering and months of following leads and planning an attack for the US to track down the world’s most wanted criminal – Osama bin Laden to a compound in the normally quite city of Abottabad in Pakistan. Since the night when US President Barack Obama announced the terrorist’s death, the Internet has been buzzing with attempts by people all around the globe to pin- point the exact location of the compound on a map.

                Bin Laden's compound had been pinned in multiple different locations on Google Maps and Google Earth by users of Google's Map Marker web app, in various spots across Abbottabad. However, none were accurate and exact. Thanks to photos and diagrams released by the U.S. Dept. of Defense on Monday, Osama bin Laden’s Hideout Compound is now embedded in Google Maps and Google Earth. Here is the map showing the hideout.

                The compound was allegedly built in 2005. Here’s a satellite photo of the same area, taken in 2001.


                The recent image of the same area is as seen here.


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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Coral Reef Mapped

                The first Coral Atlas of the State, prepared by the Gujarat Ecology Commission was released on Saturday, April 30, 2011. The Atlas, which maps corals along the state’s 1,660-km coastline, throws new light on the existence of corals in areas outside the Gulf of Kutch, notably off the coasts of Valsad and scattered areas off Saurashtra. The Atlas is based on thematic maps of the Coral reefs and reveals the latest figures on the reefs.

The Atlas not only gives figures for the coral reefs in the state but also gives details of the habitat scenario of each of these reefs. The Atlas has been prepared with technical assistance from Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Application and Geo-Informatics (BISAG), after the maps were procured from the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA). The Atlas is a baseline study and much more work could be carried out on mapping of corals, especially those found for from the coast and in deep sea.

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Student Dynamic Map Competition

                The North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) is sponsoring the 13th Annual Student Dynamic Map Competition to promote cartographic excellence and innovation in this versatile medium. This competition aims to award student achievement in dynamic mapping in two categories:
  • A narrative map presents information in a way that communicates a story, cause or message.
  • An interactive map provides tools that may be used for navigation, location-based services, or exploratory geovisualization. 
          The rules for the competition are simple:
  • There is no entry fee and your map must be publicly accessible online through October 31, 2011. 
  • Students may enter as many times as they wish, but may only win one prize.
  • Up to four students may enter the same project. 
  • Judges reserve the right to change an entry's category if they feel it is more appropriate. 
  • Entries must be submitted by Friday September 16, 2011. 
  • URLs pointing to all contest entries must be active through October 31, 2011. 
  • Any student enrolled in a certificate program, undergraduate, or graduate/post-graduate program in any country who has not previously won first prize in either of the categories from this contest may enter.

Each map will be judged by a panel of three professional cartographers. The winners will be announced (and demonstrated) during this year's NACIS annual meeting in Madison, WI. The winners will also be announced in the following issue of Cartographic Perspectives. A first prize of $500 will be awarded to the best narrative map and best interactive map. At the discretion of the judges, additional noteworthy maps may receive an honorable mention award. All first place and honorable mention maps will receive award certificates.

You can register for the contest here. So all students out there, put on your mapping caps and gear up for two (find the details of the other mapping contest here.) exciting map contests this season.
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ESRI's Storytelling with Maps Competition kicks off

                Some of the best stories are told not with pictures but with maps! The storytelling potential of maps has increased dramatically over the years with the evolution of geographic information system (GIS) technology, the Internet, and mobile applications. In recognition of this trend, Esri is inviting users to enter their most compelling web map or mobile app in the Storytelling with Maps contest.

                The rules for the contest are simple: 
  • Your web map or mobile app must have been created primarily using ESRI software products.
  • ArcGIS files such as MXD, LYR, and LPK/MPK files are not eligible for this contest.
  • You can submit multiple entries as long as each submission is unique. 
  • All entries must be submitted through arcgis.com, the website for ArcGIS Online content.
  • The deadline to receive entries is 11:59 p.m. (PDT) Friday, June 10, 2011.
The web map or mobile app will be judged by a panel of GIS professionals and the ArcGIS community. The winners of the contest will be publicized and promoted at the ESRI International User Conference in July, as well as various publications, articles and blogs. The first place winner will receive an etched plaque, one copy of the National Geographic Atlas, 9th Edition, and one copy of  Cartographica Extraordinaire. The second and the third place winners will receive an etched plaque and one copy of  Cartographica Extraordinaire each. First 500 applicants who submit an entry will receive a free T-shirt.

So come on all! Put on your mapping and storytelling cap and come up with a brilliant story using maps! All the best. So long!
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Is Google cheating?

               I found this piece of interesting fact, accidently while browsing the internet. Google shows different maps for India, China and USA. Confused hun! Well don’t be…Just read on…

In Indian version of Google Maps, you can see Arunachal Pradesh and eastern part of Jammu and Kashmir as integral part of India.
In US version of Google Maps, you can see Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed region.
In the Chinese version of the Google Maps, you can see Arunachal Pradesh and JnK as not a part of India.

                Many people complained this issue to Google. A Google employee responded :

We do show different versions of this border, because we required to by law. Indian law requires us to show it one way, and the Chinese law requires us to show it another way. If we can legally do so, we strive to present borders in a neutral and objective manner, which is why the US version avoids taking either side and simply labels the border as disputed.

                So, Google is not cheating! It is waiting for a final and permanent decision.
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