GIS News


Jun 2011 | No Comment


ArcLogistics update gives drivers a break

ArcLogistics, Esri’s web-based vehicle routing and scheduling solution, has new options to route drivers more efficiently. New settings allow dispatchers to account for drivers’ daily break times, such as 15-minute and 1-hour lunch breaks. These improvements will help dispatchers better account for the actual time it takes to complete a route when creating the day’s plan. Additional settings include the ability to allow driver intermissions only after a certain amount of driving hours or after a minimum number of work hours are satisfied.


Austria going strong on open data initiative

The City of Vienna in Austria launched the first Open Government Data (OGD) website, However, the Open Commons Region Linz was the first city government that had announced a data portal in Austria even before Vienna. It is scheduled to launch in September 2011. Meanwhile, with the launch of OGD, Vienna took the role of a pioneer in the area of open data in Austria and hopefully will act as a model for communities, cities, states and the federal government. The preparation of this launch was started about one year ago when (on April 8, 2011) a group of linked open data enthusiasts – representatives of universities, companies and the civil society – invited interested people to the 1st Open Government Data Meetup at the OCG (Austrian Computer Society) in Vienna. For talks there were Rufus Pollock of the Open Knowledge Foundation on site in Vienna as well as Stefano Bertolo of the European Commission was hooked up via Skype.

Civic bodies to wait till August to access spatial data

Starting August 1, 2011, all state departments and civic agencies in Delhi, India, have to mandatorily access, use and share information from Delhi State Spatial Database through secured communication networks under the Delhi Geographical Spatial Data Infrastructure (Management, Control, Administration, Security and Safety), Act 2011. According to Times of India report, Delhi has about 48 lakh buildings, 3 lakh manholes and nearly 17,000 kilometres of running road length. All this information is part of the extensive database. It captures the demographics of the capital and utilities like stormwater drains, sewer lines, infrastructure projects and urban planning details. The Act has been notified by the office of the lieutenant-governor and is aimed at ensuring effective e-governance. The database provides a ground-based actual information system that details infrastructure and utilities above ground, on the ground and below the ground up to 12 feet with maps. It spans 1500 square kilometres of the capital city of India, Delhi.

Melbourne to launch online mapping system

The City of Melbourne invited several small focus groups to test a new municipal mapping system. It is currently in development phase. It is designed to display community points of interest like parks and healthcare centres, for example, and has been in the works for the last 18 months according to the council. It is designed for new residents moving into an area and people looking to learn about other municipalities. It has been built for use by a diverse community, including ratepayers, residents, citizens, seniors, young people, small and large business people, tourists, heritage groups etc.


Survey of India to unveil new road maps

The Survey of India (SoI) will be bringing out two different sets of road maps, Open Series Maps and Defence Series Maps. The printing of the maps is scheduled to begin in June and each of the 5,000 individual topographical maps will show details of every area, its expansion and development. Every individual map will pertain to an area covering 720 sq km, and adheres to a plan using latitudes and longitudes. The latest WGS-84 (World Geodetic System), the current standard for use in the field of cartography, geodesy and navigation were also adopted, adding to the accuracy of co-ordinates shown in the GPS. Once ready, these individual maps could be put together for a map of the country, and of specific cities, districts, and states. A new and revised map of the country is necessary for practically all purposes of developmental planning and creating more infrastructures.

Indian narcotics bureau using g-power

The satellite images taken by the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) from the remote areas of Himachal Pradesh state in India have become a cause of concern in international circles. According to the available data, the area of opium cultivation has increased in recent times and the illegal laboratories may convert the opium to heroin. The NCB has told the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that there was not only an increase in the area under the clandestine cultivation but there was definite switch over from cannabis to opium poppy and necessary action should be taken. It had said that India is the only country which has given permission for legal cultivation of poppy for making opium, which is sold to the government to manufacture medicines.

Bahrain locator wins Arab eContent Award

Bahrain’s Central Informatics Organisation (CIO) has won the Arab eContent Award for developing a GIS known as the Bahrain locator. The award is part of the United Nations World Summit Award and its main objective is to promote and encourage creativity and collaboration between countries in the region to reach an international level. Bahrain Locator specialises in positioning the country through advanced technology and adding new information such as satellite images. The site is easy to use through the provision of updated search tools.

Pakistan should ban Google maps

Defence and diplomatic analysts demanded that Government of Pakistan should direct Google to stop taking satellite images of sensitive locations throughout the country or ban it. They said though banning Google maps for these sensitive locations will not altogether stop terrorist attacks, but it will play a role to some extent in securing the country. Recently, Google has updated satellite imagery of the entire Mehran Naval Base, assets, compounds, buildings, its surroundings fields and Chakora Nala around the base walls. By going through the entire base via Google maps and navigating through the images available there, one can not deny the fact that this service might have served terrorists for laying out their attack plan.

China renames its surveying agency

The State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, China, renamed as the State Bureau of Geographical Information, Surveying and Mapping. During the visit of an innovation base of the national surveying and mapping services, China sees great importance of the development of geographic information surveying and mapping sector because it is vital to the development of new industries. China now has more than 12,000 institutions licensed to conduct surveying and mapping services. The output value of the country’s geographical information industry last year reached 100 billion yuan (USD 15.4 billion), with 400,000 people working within the sector.


Google’s StreetView all set to image India

Google Inc. launched a fleet of cars to capture street images to create its online mapping in India. However, the Internet giant is under fire from several overseas governments for invading privacy through StreetView. The drivers of the StreetView vehicles will photograph streets in the southern Indian city of Bangalore and that the service will eventually cover the rest of the country. It didn’t give any specific timeframe on when the images will be available on StreetView. In a bid to protect privacy, the vehicles will capture images of public places alone and blur out faces of people as well as vehicle licence plates to make them unidentifiable.

Jakarta prepares earthquake microzonation map

The Jakarta government is preparing an earthquake microzonation map. The map, drafted together with the National Earthquake Map Revision (RPGN) team, is expected to serve as a guideline for earthquake detection and mitigation. The map will identify the susceptibility levels of each area in the capital city as a mitigation step. Jakarta has been judged relatively safe from tremors. In addition, there were at least 10 locations that were prone to earthquakes, namely Sumatra, Java, Sunda, Semangko, Sukabumi, Baribis, Lembang, Pati, Bumi Ayu and Yogya or Opak.

Israeli co strengthening presence in geospatial market

Sivan Design has successfully completed FELIS – Federal Land Information System in Nigeria. Those systems include state level information and are used for handling the entire cadastre land registration process. In some states the system was extended to include other resources and infrastructure such as water, electricity, gas, oil, etc.

Vietnam to launch online mapping service

The Vietnam Mapping and Measurement Bureau will put Vietnamese maps to the Internet later this year. The bureau completed the first stage of the project. A website of Vietnamese maps is under construction. Online maps of Vietnam will show in details the borders between Vietnam – China, Vietnam – Laos, Vietnam – Cambodia and two archipelagos Hoang Sa (Parcel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) as Vietnam’s territory. Current online maps are all “Vietnam’s online maps”, but it is not true. Only online maps that are provided by competent agencies of Vietnam are legal maps. For wrong information about Vietnam’s sovereignty on online maps supplied by Google Map and National Geographic, the Vietnam Mapping and Measurement Bureau has added explanations and instructions for users of online maps of Google and National Geographic.


Russia upholds ban on high resolution data

A Moscow court upheld a ban on prohibiting ScanEx, a Russian research and development company, from distributing satellite images of Earth at a resolution higher than two meters. Scanex works under license from the Russian federal space agency, Roscosmos, to collect, process and disseminate Earth remote sensing data. A 2008 ban prohibited ScanEx from distributing high-resolution images, considered by the defence ministry to contain sensitive military information. ScanEx appealed the ban, citing the Russian defence minister as saying in 2006 that all restrictions on satellite imagery resolution would be lifted. Now the company would file another appeal.

China gets public support to crackdown illegal mapping

With the help of approximately 15,000 citizens, China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping conducted more than 2,200 law-enforcement operations involved in a nationwide crackdown on illegal surveying and mapping last year, announced SBSM. During this process, it listed ten major cases of illegal surveying and mapping. One case involved a Japanese national who was using a GPS receiver to collect information on 598 geographic coordinates in the name of sightseeing and conducting environmental inspection. Of these coordinates, 588 were within Xinjiang, including 85 within the Tacheng Military Zone. The other nine major cases mostly involved local companies or institutions publicising maps without government approval, destroying survey marks, or conducting surveying and mapping without sound qualifications.


ADSIC signs MOU with Zakat Fund

Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre (ADSIC) and Zakat Fund signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in the field of spatial data. The Zakat Fund since its establishment in 2003 has received more than Dh220 million in payments and last year the fund received about Dh69 million Zakat Fund. The cooperation with ADSIC is a practical translation of the principles of the federal government to strengthen ties with local institutions. They are keen to provide modern means to submit the Zakat to all Muslims in the world through the Abu Dhabi e-Government Portal.

UN curious about geospatial practices in Indian polls

As Egypt prepares for a transition to democracy, United Nations Development Programme has invited Election Commission of India (ECI) for a meeting in Cairo. Discussions will be held to provide help to countries in the Arab region, including Egypt and Tunisia, in holding elections. Egyptians wanted to know about SMS, GIS and GPS used by ECI to track elections, and also about indelible ink. They also wanted to know about ECI’s voters’ education and awareness programmes in light of poor turnout at their polls. ECI is about to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Egypt for cooperation in election management and administration.

NHAI enhances transparency in highway projects

The Transport Ministry has fixed monthly monitorable targets for award of contracts worth about INR 57,000 crore by January, 2012. The ministry will bid out all projects from the beginning of August through e-tendering process to introduce greater transparency in the sector. GIS-based satellites imagery is being used for planning and monitoring of national highways. In addition, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will implement a pilot project of 1200 km covering country’s far flung areas. Pilot project will be part of updating the existing GIS and web based Road Information System (RIS) of 7,000 km which is available on NHAI website.
The NHAI will award five projects for building 570 km in May at a cost of INR 4,656 crore. Four projects worth over INR 5,500 crore were awarded last month. Altogether 59 contracts totalling 7,994 km will be awarded by January, 2012. The months of July, August and October will see award for over 1,000 km each. About 10,000 km of roads will be taken for award of contracts in 2011-12 for ensuring minimum achievement of 7,300 km which has been decided as a target by Empowered Group of Ministers last month.

South Korea raids Google offices

South Korean police raided Google’s Seoul office on suspicion that the company collected user location data without consent, adding to global pressure on the mobile industry to address privacy concerns.

The investigation focuses on Google’s mobile advertising service AdMob, which the company purchased last year for USD 750 million. Google has consistently maintained that Android only collects location data with user consent and that the data is anonymised when sent to the company, but a visceral public reaction to recent reports on smartphone’s location awareness have shown that people are intensely uncomfortable with being “tracked.”


Indian research institute loses geospatial data

Research data collected from across the country over years, maps plotting endangered tribes and other valuable documents are feared lost in a blaze in the Fireproof Spirit Building in the Indian Museum complex. The fire nearly gutted most of the 2,300sq ft Scientific Enclave on the fourth floor of the building that houses various departments of the Anthropological Survey of India. About a dozen computers in the Electronic Data Processing (EDP) unit, maps in the human ecology and digital cartography section and furniture in the cultural and physical anthropological sections were gutted.

FEMA Launches Hazus 2.0 Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment Methodology

FEMA’s Hazus-MH risk assessment methodology has been upgraded to Hazus 2.0. By integrating two industry-standard models for analyzing the effects of hurricane storm surge (SLOSH and SWAN), Hazus 2.0 has a new storm surge model, which can now predict the physical and economic impacts of hurricanes on coastal regions. Hazus 2.0’s total risk analysis offers the most technically accurate view of what infrastructure and buildings will be damaged, the amount of debris created and even the probability of injuries and deaths from a natural disaster hitting specific communities. Hazus 2.0 also supports Esri’s ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 1 for the first time – a critical update for users currently working on multiple platforms, along with numerous improvements and updates to the earthquake, flood and hurricane modules. Hazus 2.0 provides the nation and communities with dependable, quantified and geospatial risk analysis. Because of its ability to quantify community vulnerabilities, it can become an indispensable tool for emergency managers and planners. The data can update their emergency and hazard mitigation plans, and make a compelling, scientifically-defensible case for a more disaster resilient community.

GRASS GIS Community Sprint 2011 in Prague – A Success!

The GRASS Community has announced the results of the first GRASS Community Sprint, that took place at the Faculty of Civil Engineering – Czech Technical University in Prague, from 20 to 25 May, 2011. The participants came from Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the United States, including several long-term core developers, new developers, students, researchers, and even newcomers. The work has been focused on wxGUI improvements, GRASS7 internals (improved vector topology engine, library access from other programs), translations, implementation of new modules (r.threshold, v.pack, v.unpack) and bugfixing.

MAPPS Praises Insourcing Moratorium Amendment to House Defense Bill

Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) praised the adoption of an amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives this week that placed a moratorium on insourcing of commercial activities in the Department of Defense. The amendment to H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was sponsored by Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY) and cosponsored by Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX). It was included in a managers amendment by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA). The amendment establishes a “sense of the Congress” moratorium on the “insourcing” of commercial activities – the conversion of work currently performed by private sector contractor firms to performance by Federal government employees.

Orange County Winning the Right to Sell GIS Database

Last month California’s Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal decided the Orange County parcel database is covered by the software exclusion in the California Public Records Act. That means, among other things, the County can sell the data for more than the cost of reproduction.

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