GIS Data for the Tohoku Japan Earthquake and Tsunami – More Links!

A few day ago I posted a number of links to GIS data available for the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.  I’d thought I’d take a few minutes to post a few other links that have come across my internets.

If I find anything else I post it here.  If you find something let me know and I’ll post it.


Ignite Spatial: Boston – March 24th – New Location!

Ignite Spatial: Boston 3 is this week!  The talks have been announced and can be found on ISpatial Boston’s website (just scroll down the page a little bit to get to them).

It was also announced that the venue has changed from the SCVNGR offices to the IBM Research offices at 1 Rogers Street in Cambridge.  Some tickets have opened up as well.  Check out the waiting list to see if there are any left!

There appears to be a good variety of talks from a number of different perspectives, which is always a good thing for these types of events.  I’m looking forward to Adena Schutzberg’s talk.  I’ve seen her talk a couple times now and she always has some really interesting to say.  I really like conferences/meetings like this, where you have people from a variety of backgrounds sharing their experiences with spatial analysis and GIS. By listening to their unique point of view, it may challenge your own, or give you an idea on how you can improve what you do.

It is an exciting time for the Boston geospatial community!

Cancelling a Geoprocessing Tool in ArcGIS 10

My colleagues at work have just recently been upgraded to ArcGIS 10 and one of the most common questions they have is how to cancel a geoprocessing tool.  For those of you running ArcGIS 10, you know that Esri has changed the way geoprocessing runs.  No longer does the user have to view the old-school geoprocessing window that displays the ever popular progress bar.  With this window now gone the user may be unfamiliar with how to cancel a process, because the cancel button is no longer on screen.

Yes, the geoprocessing window still exists in ArcGIS 10 for a few processes, including if the user is running a model that they created.  But for a number of tools, including many of those that are standard in the ArcGIS Toolbox, the progress of the tool is monitored in the results window.  A lot of information is available in the results window, and in this window the user can cancel the progress of the tool.  The following will walk a user through this process.

First, the user needs to add the results window to their view.  This is easy to do.  The user will select Results from the Geoprocessing menu.

Open Results Window

Now the user will run any process their heart desires.  The progress bar now appears along the bottom of the program.  The best part of this new feature is that the user can continue to work in the program and any data sets that are being used in the geoprocessing is locked, as not to corrupt it during the use of a tool.

Progress Bar
Notice that my data are unprojected. Bad form, Ben.

Now the user can monitor the progress of the geoprocessing tool through the results window, and if needed, can cancel the tool.  To cancel the process the user will open the results window and open the current session.

Open Current Session

The user will then right click on the tool being run, as indicated by the clock icon next to the process, and select cancel.

Cancelling a Process

There it is. The tool is canceled and any locks on the data are removed.  There are a couple of caveats to this new feature.  Sometimes there is a lag between the time you start a tool and when the progress bar starts, or there may be a lag between then the progress bar finishes and when the tool actually completes.  I’ve noticed in my working environment that the lag is greater when processing large data sets.  The only problem I’ve run into is if I forget about the running process and I try close ArcGIS.  A notification will appear on screen about the running tool.

Well, that is it.  Pretty simple.





GIS Data for the Tohoku Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

We all know what happened late last week in northeastern Japan.  There have been a tremendous amount of causalities and people have lost everything.  A number of agencies are predicting that this event could be the most costly in history, and we all know that it will take many years for this region and country to recover.

It is also during times like these that geospatial professionals are called upon provide any number of spatial services.  Now the hard part.  Where is the data?  How do we get to it and make sense of it?  A number of data sources are becoming available, many at a high resolution or very current.  These critical datasets are being generated using a number of different technologies, from satellite imagery to social networking, providing relevant information on-the-fly.  It is really amazing to see this information become available so quickly after such a colossal event.

The following websites provide just a glimpse into the amount of data that is becoming available.  By no means is this list complete or authoritative.

These sites are just scratching the surface.  I know there are a ton I didn’t list.  If you know of any please leave them in the comments section.  I’m sure someone will find it useful.


Sweet 2010 Census Mash-Up

My hard-working friends at the Connecticut State Data Center and the Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC) at the University of Connecticut Homer Babbidge Library have started to post data from the Wednesday March, 9th release of the 2010 census data for the state of Connecticut.  Talk about a quick turn around!

One of their most interesting 2010 Census Google Map Mash-Ups on their site displays dual-linked Google Maps, with one map displaying the 2010 Connecticut census results by town and the other the 2000 Connecticut census results by town.  The dual-linked maps are synchronized, meaning that movement one map happen on the other.  The user also has the ability to search for their town, or download the data for their own use.  The user can also click on a town and view a table of census data to see how population has changed across Connecticut.  I’m looking forward to what other mash-ups they roll out over the next few days.

Take a look at their site.  MAGIC has been around for a long time, and they have always been innovators in their field.

CTSDC Dual Linked Maps - 2010 Census
CTSDC Dual Linked Maps - 2010 Census

and…quick disclaimer, I helped write the code for the underlying mash-up.  That’s it, they did the rest and they did a great job.

More on ArcGIS “Sucks”

On February 24, 2011 I posted a blog asking for opinions on ArcGIS 10, mainly due to all the bad reviews I see and hear.  Since that post the hits on this site have spiked, and not because of my awesome content regarding information about earning an advanced degree in GIS or learning about different uses of geographic information on the web.  Most  people have found their way to my site through  “Googling” something related to their feelings about ArcGIS 10.  Thanks to Google Analytics I have extracted the following keywords that have driven traffic to my site over the past two weeks.

  • arcgis 10 sucks
  • arcgis 10 comments
  • “arcgis 10 sucks”
  • arcgis 10 is awful
  • arcgis 10 issues
  • arcgis 10 never opens
  • arcgis 10 problem
  • arcgis 10 reviews
  • arcgis stinks
  • arcgis sucks
  • arcmap 10 sucks
  • arcgis10 review 2011
  • does arcgis10 suck
  • esri arc 10 ratings
  • i hate gis – (haha, I love this one.  I once had a friend in grad school who lived by this mantra)
  • problems with arcgis 10
  • problems with arcmap 10
  • reviews arcgis 10

This is crazy!  What drives people to go to Google and type in one of the previous keywords?  I want to know!  Yes, there are problems with ArcGIS 10, but I have found much more success than frustration since I installed it this past June.  For example, I have built a number large and complex models and python scripts that handle millions (yes, millions) of points, that perform analysis on tens of thousands of polygons, and create multi-gigabyte output files that run perfectly ever time.  I have a model running right now and the results will be ready when I get to work.  I’ve had no major problems with raster analysis, map creation, or data sharing.  Are there bumps in the road? Sure, but a comparable number of bumps to the other software that I use…

Now, do I have some kick ass machines that run the processes?  Yes.  Do I have an ArcInfo level licenses?  No, I’m using ArcView. But the point is that I am able to do everything I want to do with the software.  Are people having issues with software configurations, hardware limitations, or user error (it’s never user error by the way…).

I want to know what problems others are running into so that I can avoid those mistakes, because I hate downtime and I love results.

Have you had a problem?  Leave a comment.  I’d love to know what problems people are having.  You never know, someone else may have had the same problem, or they know of a solution.




MapServer Experimentation

A few people have requested that I put together an example of data from MapServer embedded in a Google Map Mash-Up.  Well, here it is:

MapServer Data in Google Maps

MapServer, originally developed at the University of Minnesota,  “is an Open Source platform for publishing spatial data and interactive mapping applications to the web.” MapServer is a powerful tool for sharing geographic data and its uses are found all over the web.

The data comes from the Iowa Environment Mesonet, and the current map example displays historical CONUS NEXRAD base reflectivity.  Their site has a number of other weather related datasets that are updated at regular time intervals.  With this in mind, and using some of my other examples, one could combine a number of these data sources and create a pretty interesting weather related Google map mash-up.

Several of their datasets are also time enabled, meaning that one could create time sliders using this data.   When using this code, note that several different settings are used to make the NoData values transparent, and to tack the map data to the Google Map.  In this example, the user cannot turn the MapServer layer on or off.


Ignite Spatial: Boston – Tickets available Monday!

Listen up geo-nerds! ISpatial Boston‘s Ignite Spatial spring event is right around the corner. This spring’s event will be at the SVGNR offices in Cambridge on March 24th starting at 6:30pm.

What is Ignite Spatial? Ignite Spatial is a one day conference about anything and everything geospatial crammed into two hours! Presenters give lighting talks; 20 slides that automatically change every 15 seconds each, for a five minute presentation.  No long and boring talks here.

For last year’s talks visit their youtube page.  This is a great event, because it is not just “GIS guys” who present, but programmers, database pros, map geeks, and people who have some great ideas about we handle, analyze and present geospatial data.

Ignite Spatial’s space is limited so get your ticket early.  This event is a great opportunity to see some really creative and innovated geospatial professionals present their ideas in a really fun format.

Hope to see you there!


NASA Image of the Day and Windows 7

I recently got Windows 7 on my work machine and while I was configuring my settings I came across a new feature that I thought was pretty neat.  The user can now create a desktop background image slideshow.  All the user has to do is point the tool to a directory of images, configure some settings, and presto, desktop slideshow.

Now, what does this have to do with this blog?  Well, being a geographer who works with the natural environment, I wanted images that reflected my interests.  I proceeded to download a number of images from NASA’s Image of the Day website for this purpose.

There are a number of images that are great for the type of analysis that I do, and I often use data from NASA and other related agencies in my analysis.  There is an added bonus to these unique datasets, a number of the images come as GeoTiffs, or KMLs, making the data available in a number of GIS programs from Google Earth to Quantum (and ArcGIS).  The images have a fairly good resolution are in an open format, making them available in almost every GIS software on the market.


NASA Image of the Day in Google Earth
NASA Image of the Day in Google Earth

Other examples of these NASA images that are in GIS friendly format include smog over northern China, recent flooding in Australia, and volcanic activity on Mt. Etna. However, not all the images are rectified, so make sure you check the details before you download.

NASA Image of the Day in Quantum
NASA Image of the Day in Quantum

Now are the images exactly what you need to solve a problem at work or in class?  Maybe not, but they are a great demonstration in regards to the power of remote sensing and GIScience.  I’ve used images from this site a number of times during lectures, and when appropriate, in projects for work (don’t worry, I know the terms and conditions).  So, if you have five minutes (which may turn into an hour), browse the site, download a few images for your sweet new desktop background image slideshow, and take note of what could help you in your day-to-day GIS workflow.