Water insecurity

The company I work for recognises the importance of climate change and the impact that water insecurity will have on our planet. I’ve just read this article on the BBC Website. It paints a pretty scary picture really, with less developed countries particularly at risk because of a lack of infrastructure and investment. Often these countries are also in dry and arid areas. The short voluntary work I did in Niger with MapAction highlighted the climatic instability which the local population are faced with. In Niger, months of drought are then met with flash floods. And press coverage is always very limited. Click here to donate to the UNICEF appeal which will help those affected by climate change, like those in Niger.


Picture source: BBC


The return of RGS Monday Night Lectures

The RGS Monday night lectures have returned. This evening (27th Sep) was a great start with a lecture by Jerry Brotton on “Mapping the globe: from the Greeks to Google Earth”. The lecture was thought-provoking and very well attended. Jerry gave a brief history of projections of the world and the reasons for cosmologists creating maps with incorrect information for political gain. The lecture ended with musings on the future of Google Earth and Google as a company. Is Google Earth a local or world tool? Although, Jerry pointed out, you can see anywhere in the world….what’s the first place people zoom to? Their house of course. With the influx of location-based advertising seeming to becoming more and more prevalent local is where the money is at, and Google realise this. Although as a lady in the audience pointed out, all cosmologists (as they were called as they were discovering the outer reaches of our planet – now we call mappers of the earth cartographers!) were doing what they did for commercial reasons, even going back to Ptolemy!

What do you think? Is the creation of location based mobile services based on the things you like and enjoy a good thing? Or is it a step too far? Coming soon (if not already here!) location based offers? The 50 nearest people to subway get a free sandwich ticket to their iPhones? Foursquare seems to be the latest Location Based Services (LBS) company to hit the big time. Ramble over!

Image source – Anna Higgie and this site

Globe Genie

Fancy looking at a random image from somewhere in the world? Well, somewhere Google’s StreetView car has been at least. Check out GlobeGenie created by Joe McMichael. Choose your continents and hit shuffle to visit somewhere you’ve never been….probably. Thanks to my mate Paul for this news.

Image source: cubiclebot


The state of the web mapping APIs

Here is a good article from the slashdot site about The state of mapping APIs by Adam DuVander. An API (application programming interface) is basically a way of using code (most web mapping APIs are JavaScript based) to create functions that do things with a web map e.g. add an overlay of CCTV camera locations to a google map with the google maps API.

The article is a good overview of the web mapping APIs from the biggest (Google Maps API) to newcomers (Bing and CloudMade). Cloudmade’s offerings are really fantastic stuff with a number of options to create web mapping APIs using OpenStreetMap for many different platforms. In the UK of course there is also the OS OpenSpace web mapping API.

We’re now spoilt for choice with free web mapping APIs. But do you need control overthe base map data appearing on your mapping site? Perhaps you’ve got some aerial imagery you want to show to the world or a specific project with lots of GIS data. You’ll need to splash some cash e.g. use an ESRI web mapping solution with ArcGIS Server potentially. Or go Open-Source and be prepared to get techie, perhaps with GeoServer with OpenLayers. What do you use? Why? Let us know.

navit cloudmade

Image is an example of Cloudmade’s NavIt

Ushahidi for London Tube Strikes

I’m not sure that the London Tube Strikes class as a humanitarian crisis but someone has created an Ushahidi for the London Tube Strikes.

You can report your incident (angry commuter, busy traffic, no trains running, driver having a snooze, etc.) by one of the following methods:

1.By sending an email to londontravel@bbc.co.uk
2.By sending a tweet with the hashtag/s #TubeStrike
3.By filling this form

See here for the site