December 18, 2012
12/18/2012 5:09 PM
In looking at the last posting, I see it’s been too long since I’ve blogged. I’ll try to be more frequent in the coming year. But, I did give myself the chance to be reminded of a valuable lesson: save, save save your work! I wrote a blog a few weeks ago, editing within the blog space. After finishing, revising and reviewing, I hit “Save and Post,” and poof, off it went into the…well, wherever text goes when it is not Saved and Posted. Too bad, it was the best blog ever. It had subplots, recurring themes and village elders. I should have worked in a space where I could control periodic saves, like I am now. If this has happened to you, you know the feeling of anger and betrayal by your device and technology in general. You may also know the feeling of attempting a recreation is like making a pale copy. So instead, I waited a while, to reboot myself. I already booted myself a lot after losing the two hours of work.
Meanwhile, Marinmap continues to serve and improve. We are about to post a new dataset, which is called the Road Moratorium application. The Public Works Directors individually track road improvements for their agency and restrict planned excavations by utilities for a period of time after resurfacing, typically for five years. This is so they don’t have to face the “what the hell were you thinking” inquiry if a freshly paved road is suddenly dug up. Marinmap has compiled their individual tracking, be it sophisticated geodatabases, spreadsheets or coffee stained Postit notes on someone’s desk who isn’t there anymore. Any week now, the app will enable the public to know what roads have this restriction, as well as utilities that need to plan their underground improvements around resurfacing schedules. It will also enable the agency itself to readily access its own data, eliminating at least one frantic search for that coffee stained Postit.
We are also working on Marinmap datasets being accessible on mobile devices. We are testing several layers now by members, and it’s looking good, not to mention all the potential applications going mobile and coming from…The Cloud. Great name, eh? Who would have thought that data geeks would come up with something so well defined by being intentionally vague? “Put it in the cloud” will be the new catchall phrase for storage. It’s sort of a don’t-worry-where-it-is-because-it’s-everywhere approach. After all, why should you have to sit at one particular desk in one particular office, just to see mapping data? As many people have learned the hard way, the question you’re trying to answer doesn’t always come at the perfect time and place.
Another cool thing, which is sort of the basis for Marinmap’s philosophy of providing GIS data, is more and more web based GIS, leaving the power software to the power users. If you’ve ever gone through the menus and toolbars of ESRI’s ArcGIS products, and you’re not a power user (you know if you are one because you’re skimming this blog for technical jargon), you know it’s an amazing program with awesome power. But if you just want to see a map with a handful of layers you pick that have certain colors and symbols, you may wish you’d paid more attention when someone showed you how to do it- their mouse flying through menus and windows until your eyes glaze over and you decide you’ll just call them next time you need something. The Marinmap data viewers do a very good job of simplifying things, and they are getting more powerful with this trend, while hopefully staying simple. Since I’m not a power user either, I’ll be a canary in the coalmine with the rest of you.
Here’s a few other recent developments:
- There is yet another new orthophoto, this one obtained by our terrific Matrix Team from the National Agricultural Imagery Program. It’s not as high res (100cm) as our latest and best one, which is probably the 2011 USGS one (15cm), but it serves some purposes and expands our library of orthos nicely.
- We have completed a project for LAFCO, one of our members, to compile the boundaries of annexations going back to the 1960’s. This makes it easy to research the history an agency’s boundary adjustments.
- We have a project underway to incorporate new building footprints into the building footprint layer. We are looking into the possibility of building a library of footprint data, to track building modifications over time, but for now, we are making the current layer…more current.
- We have published infrastructure data (pipes, manholes, etc), for the seven agencies comprising the Sewer Agency of Southern Marin (SASM), a Marinmap member. Ross Valley Sanitary has expressed interest in Marinmap’s datasets overlayed with theirs, so it’s quite possible that we will ultimately host sewer data for the entire county.
I’m sure there’s more but I’ve gone on long enough. Happy holidays to all, and hope to see you next year!