InaSAFE wins Open Source ‘Rookie of the Year’ award

Posted February 1, 2013 by  & filed under QGIS.

 A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of doing an interview on behalf of the InaSAFE project as part of the selection process for the Black Duck Software ‘open source rookies of the year’ competition. A week later we heard that we had made it into the top 10! The award is based on a selection or projects from the popular ohlog.net web site:

“Using data on open source projects from Ohloh.net and the Black Duck® KnowledgeBase™, Black Duck reviewed thousands of open source projects that were initiated in 2012 to select the fifth annual Open Source Rookies of the Year. Using a weighted scoring system, points were awarded based on project activity, commits pace, project team attributes and other factors. Black Duck determined the top 10 Rookie projects following an audit of its findings and normalization of scores.”

You can see all the winners listed at the official competition page here. We were also fortunate to be mentioned in WiredDirectionsMag and various other places.

We have worked incredibly hard over the last year to make the InaSAFE plugin for QGIS, with a team of dedicated developers from AUSAID, WorldBank, Linfiniti, opengis.ch and a number of other developers and contributors, so it is really great to receive this acknowledgement! Here is looking to another great year of working on InaSAFE for 2013!

“We are pleased to recognize InaSAFE as one of the 2012 Open Source Rookies of the Year,” said Tim Yeaton, CEO and president, Black Duck Software. “The Rookies demonstrate how community innovation, particularly within the JavaScript and mobile projects, mirrors the need for innovation in web experiences, mobile devices and enterprise application. Being able to identify and showcase these up-and-coming open source projects is an important part of our mission at Black Duck to bring together the open source community and businesses around the world.”

Past winners of the prestigious award include Twitter Bootstrap, Cloud Foundry, Mozilla Persona (formerly known as BrowserID), Red Hat OpenShift, Eclipse Orion, Apache Rave, Salt Stack, OpenStack, Diaspora and many other notable projects.

MapBox’s OpenStreetMap Editor

Go to osm.org right now and click the edit tab. Select the “Edit with iD” and check it out.

iD for OSM

It’s like nothing you’ve seen before. This is the tool that OSM needs to finish the map as Steve Coast said on my Hangout last week. All this is because of the Knight Foundation grant to MapBoxwhich finally gives users tools they need to edit the map. As I said back then:

I’ve always felt OSM was held back by it’s editing tools. They are designed by nerds for geeks.

Well no longer, the editor is live and it’s gorgeous! Check out how you add a road:

Add road with iD

Or add a park:

Add park with iD

That’s not some crazy Potlach (now I did love that tool but it isn’t mainstream) method that only OSM users know. These are simple methods that everyone will understand. I do hope that it will also improve OSM’s biggest weakness, addressing. But in the meantime we should see lots of people start improving the map all around the world.

I have to be honest, when I first heard MapBox got a grant to improve OSM editing I thought it was a waste of time. There were already tools available, why not spend that money on something worthwhile. Well seeing iD in action, I feel like I need to take that all back. I no longer have to install Flash to edit OSM, that’s worth it’s weight in gold. I can imagine how this might look if another company did it, probably build in Silverlight with some crazy proprietary APIs. We should all be thankful MapBox took this on.

Update The OSM Blog has much more.

Google Map Maker vs. OpenStreetMap: Which mapping service rules them all? Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/google-map-maker-vs-openstreetmap-id-editor/#ixzz2aXguV3hP Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | digitaltrendsftw on Facebook

Oleh  – 28 Jul 2013
 
 
 
 
 
osm-edit-dt

Anda memiliki pilihan ketika datang ke peta, dan jawabannya tidak sejelas dulu. Peta Google masih raja, tapi OpenStreetMap membuat nama untuk dirinya sendiri, mendapatkan nikmat di antara banyak aplikasi dan layanan yang sangat bergantung pada peta, seperti Foursquare dan Evernote.

OpenStreetMap diluncurkan di Inggris pada bulan Juli 2004 sebagai alternatif untuk jumlah besar peta proprietary yang besar di negara tersebut pada saat itu. Darimana OpenStreetMap mendapatkan data granular nya dari mana? Anda. Tidak dalam jenis NSA-eye-in-the-langit mata-mata, tapi dari informasi secara manual masukan dari ribuan kartografer kasual. Ini adalah benar-benar dari Wikipedia peta.

Adapun Google, telah mengakui kegunaan dari tim tanah – terutama di lokasi yang jauh terpencil di mana alat-alat View jalan yang belum mencapai. Pada bulan Juni 2008, perusahaan memperkenalkan Google Map Maker, yang memungkinkan kartografer kasual untuk menambah atau memperbaiki informasi dalam peta Google. Terdengar asing, bukan?

Meskipun ada kesamaan antara kedua program pemetaan masyarakat, apa yang terbaik untuk menginvestasikan waktu ke dalam jika Anda ingin melihat pemetaan skillz gila Anda tercermin online?

Terbuka vs tertutup data sistem

osm-screenshot-2Perbedaan terbesar antara Google Map Maker dan OpenStreetMap adalah bagaimana memperlakukan data Anda makan, yang dapat mempengaruhi keputusan Anda yang satu untuk digunakan. OSM menggambarkan dirinya sebagai sumber data yang terbuka, yang berarti bahwa setiap orang atau perusahaan dapat menggunakan informasi peta yang terkandung dalam OpenStreetMap. Ingatlah bahwa perusahaan seperti Foursquare membayar OSM untuk menggunakan peta untuk aplikasi mereka, tetapi informasi yang Foursquare atau penggunanya menambah itu menjadi bagian dari dan tersedia untuk semua pengguna OSM. Dengan kata lain, tidak ada peta OSM khusus bahwa sebuah perusahaan membayar memiliki akses ke bahwa Joe biasa tidak juga memiliki akses ke.

OpenStreetMap baru saja beralih dari lisensi Creative Commons ke Lisensi Open Database (ODbL), yang merupakan lisensi saham-sama . Ini mirip dengan lisensi Creative Commons sebelumnya karena keduanya memungkinkan OSM untuk dibagikan dan digunakan asalkan semua data satu orang atau perusahaan menempatkan ke dalamnya dibuat tersedia untuk semua pengguna OSM itu.

Google Maps dan, dengan perluasan, Google Map Maker, adalah sebuah sistem tertutup. Semua informasi yang Anda kirimkan menjadi milik Google. Dari Ketentuan selalu mendebarkan halaman Layanan:

Dengan mengirimkan Pengajuan Pengguna ke Layanan, Anda memberikan Google terus-menerus, tidak dapat dibatalkan, di seluruh dunia, bebas royalti, dan lisensi non-eksklusif untuk mereproduksi, menyesuaikan, memodifikasi, menerjemahkan, menerbitkan, memperlihatkan kepada publik, menampilkan secara terbuka, mendistribusikan, dan membuat karya turunan dari User Submission. Anda menegaskan dan menjamin kepada Google bahwa Anda memiliki atau memiliki semua hak yang diperlukan atau izin untuk memberikan lisensi ini.Anda juga memberikan kepada pengguna layanan Google mengakhiri hak untuk mengakses dan menggunakan, termasuk hak untuk mengedit, User Submissions yang diizinkan dalam Google persyaratan layanan yang sesuai.

Tergantung pada sikap pribadi Anda, ini mungkin tidak menjadi masalah besar bagi Anda. Hal ini, setelah semua, cara untuk berkontribusi pada peta yang cukup banyak standar online di seluruh dunia. Berbicara tentang itu, karena Google Maps kemahahadiran, tidak ada selalu banyak informasi untuk menambah daerah padat penduduk. Banyak informasi jalan utama hilang dari Google Maps di bagian terpencil dunia, seperti bagian Afrika dan Asia.

Kecepatan update

Sebagai seseorang baru mulai dengan pemetaan, Anda akan ingin melihat perubahan yang Anda lakukan sesegera mungkin, kan? Sama seperti Wikipedia, update dilakukan melalui editor iD berbasis Javascript untuk OpenStreetMap dapat dilihat langsung. Namun, seperti Wikipedia, ada lagi tingkat pengguna yang memiliki kekuatan untuk menghapus atau mengubah suntingan Anda atau penambahan. Jadi jika Anda label mantan pacar rumah “Dirtbag Manor,” itu akan dihapus antara beberapa jam sampai beberapa hari.

Google Map Maker memungkinkan Anda langsung melihat suntingan Anda, tetapi memperingatkan bahwa suntingan Anda akan perlu ditinjau sebelum itu resmi ditambahkan. Anehnya, bahkan jika itu sunting pertama Anda ke peta, Anda masih dapat meninjau orang lain suntingan. Bahkan, meninjau lain suntingan adalah cara untuk mendapatkan suntingan Anda ditinjau lebih cepat.Namun, tidak ada yang tahu berapa lama waktu yang dibutuhkan untuk mendapatkan terakhir.Satu edit di lingkungan kami telah menunggu untuk ulasan sejak Oktober 2012.

Antarmuka

Google-pembuat peta-edit-dtGoogle Map Maker terlihat sangat mirip Google Maps sebelum update terbaru. Ada kolom di sisi kiri dan peta di sebelah kanan.Perbedaan besar adalah bahwa kolom kiri memiliki header “Sekitar saya.” Ini bukan tradisional Mr Rogers definisi lingkungan, tapi lokasi agak geografis bahwa Anda tertarik Kami memiliki sedikit difficultly menambahkan lokasi selain di mana kita saat ini berada, tapi kami mampu untuk menambahkan mereka setelah kami termasuk nama kota dan negara, bukan hanya kode pos. Menambahkan lingkungan tidak diperlukan untuk mengedit peta, tetapi tidak menyediakan area umum untuk melihat dan meninjau peta suntingan yang dibuat oleh orang lain.

id-ed-daerah-edit_dtSebagai perbandingan, Anda dapat melihat bidang di OpenStreetMap dengan editor iD dan tidak harus menentukan geografis daerah yang menarik atau keahlian.

Menambahkan jalan, bangunan, tempat tujuan, atau batas kota yang sama pada kedua aplikasi. Dalam pengalaman kami, editor iD OSM tampak lebih user friendly dan lurus ke depan. Kami menemukan itu jauh lebih mudah untuk menambahkan bisnis dalam sebuah bangunan menggunakan editor iD daripada di Map Maker.

Komponen sosial

google-peta pembuat-welcom-dtBukan rahasia lagi bahwa Google mendorong Google+ ekstra keras, dan Pencipta Peta tidak terkecuali. Perusahaan mendorong Map Maker penggemar berkumpul untuk “MapUps” di mana kartografer amatir bertemu untuk memperbarui Google Maps bersama-sama.Kedengarannya cukup culun, kan? MapUp dapat diadakan secara pribadi atau secara virtual (melalui Google Hangouts, tentu saja). Google menyarankan MapUps sebagai proyek untuk klub bersepeda yang ingin menambah jalur sepeda. Tuan rumah yang di-MapUp terangkat dalam Map Maker dunia ke Advokat, asalkan setidaknya 20 orang yang masing-masing hadir membuat setidaknya lima disetujui suntingan.

Jika itu tidak cukup kredibilitas untuk Anda, ada juga sebuah klub untuk Power Mappers. Ini adalah untuk kartografer yang membuat banyak suntingan dan ulasan untuk Map Maker. Ada forum pribadi dan “kesempatan unik untuk bekerja di belakang layar terhadap inisiatif pemetaan dan perbaikan produk.” Google benar-benar mendorong sisi sosial Map Maker ke titik di mana tampaknya sedikit dibikin.

Jangan salah, OpenStreetMap bukan tanpa entitas sosial, baik. Ada banyak pemetaan bertemu up kami menemukan terdaftar di openstreetmap.meetup.com dan banyak yang terjadi bulan ini. Kita tidak bisa mengatakan hal yang sama untuk MapUps Google. Kami hanya menemukan dua aktivitas untuk bulan Juli, salah satunya adalah di Rumania. Agar adil, Google mengatakan telah lebih dari 25.000 Map Maker pengguna, sementara OSM mengatakan memiliki lebih dari 1 juta.

Akhir Jalan

Pada akhirnya, jika Anda tertarik dalam kartografi, OpenStreetMap lebih mudah diakses dan lebih mudah untuk menemukan orang lain di tempat Anda yang berbagi minat yang sama. Google Map Maker bukan tanpa manfaat, tapi pengalaman kami secara keseluruhan dengan itu merasa lebih seperti kami menavigasi kota hantu bukan komunitas yang berkembang.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/google-map-maker-vs-openstreetmap-id-editor/#ixzz2aXhdVTSL 
Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | digitaltrendsftw on Facebook

GPS Bisa Lacak Winds Badai

GPS Bisa Lacak Winds Badai ‘

Charles Q. Choi , OurAmazingPlanet Kontributor | 19 Juli 2013 09:27 ET
1

 

6

 

0

Share

1

 

badai Emilia

 
 Badai Emilia berputar-putar di atas Samudera Pasifik Timur segera setelah terbentuk di awal Juli 2012, seperti yang terlihat oleh satelit Terra NASA. 
Kredit: NASA.

Cara sinyal radio dari satelit GPS terpental sekitar selama badai sekarang dapat membantu para ilmuwan menyimpulkan kecepatan angin badai, wawasan yang dapat membantu lebih baik memprediksi tingkat keparahan badai dan di mana mereka mungkin menuju.

Mengorbit ribuan mil di atas Bumi, jaringan satelit global positioning (GPS) terus sinyal radio balok pada tanah yang mengungkapkan baik di mana setiap satelit dan ketika pesan dikirim. Satelit ini sehingga berfungsi sebagai titik penerima GPS yang dapat merujuk ke dalam rangka untuk menghitung posisi mereka sendiri .

Gelombang radio bisa terpental permukaan seperti bagaimana cahaya tampak mencerminkan dari cermin. Sekitar 60 persen dari sinyal radio dari satelit GPS mencerminkan off badan air seperti laut dan kembali ke langit. Namun, tidak seperti cermin, permukaan laut jarang tenang dan datar – angin bertiup di atas badan air menghasilkan gelombang.

 

 

“Bayangkan Anda meniup pada semangkuk sup panas,” kata peneliti Stephen Katzberg, insinyur penelitian di NASA Langley Research Center di Hampton, Va “Semakin keras Anda pukulan, semakin besar gelombang dalam mangkuk.”

Ketika GPS sinyal memantul dari gelombang, permukaan kasar air mendistorsi refleksi oleh hamburan sinyal dalam berbagai arah. Dengan menganalisis distorsi ini, Katzberg dan rekan-rekannya dapat alasan bagaimana kasar air dan dengan demikian seberapa kuat angin bertiup.

“Sistem GPS untuk navigasi mengandung semua unsur penginderaan jauh. Anda hanya perlu melihat dengan cara yang benar,” kata Katzberg LiveScience.

 

badai earl, badai pemburu

 
 Mata badai Earl jelas terlihat selama NASA badai pemburu penerbangan melalui badai pada tahun 2010. 
Kredit: NASA / Jane Peterson

Saat ini, para ilmuwan mengukur kecepatan angin badai dengan menjatuhkan tabung dikemas dengan instrumen ilmiah menjadi badai.Paket-paket ini, disebut dropsondes, yang diikat ke parasut kecil, dibuang dari pesawat dan mengumpulkan data saat jatuh. Setiap perangkat mengukur tekanan, kelembaban dan temperatur di samping kecepatan angin.

Pesawat terbang badai perburuan National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), dijuluki Badai Hunters , biasanya turun sekitar 20 dropsondes sekali pakai, masing-masing seharga sekitar $ 750, ke setiap badai. Metode baru berbasis GPS untuk mengukur kecepatan angin bisa memberikan pandangan yang jauh lebih luas dari kecepatan angin badai untuk biaya yang jauh lebih rendah. [ Dalam Gambar: NASA Badai Hunters ]

Sistem berbasis GPS melibatkan chip penerima GPS yang terletak di pesawat. Sebuah komputer membandingkan gelombang radio yang datang langsung dari satelit di atas dengan sinyal tercermin dari bawah laut dan menghitung kecepatan angin perkiraan dengan akurasi yang berjarak 11 mph (18 km / jam). Sebagai perbandingan, kecepatan angin midrange yang, Kategori 3 badai adalah sekitar 123 mph (200 km / jam).

Karena dropsondes mahal, mereka dilepaskan dalam pola penyebaran-out, dan meteorologi perlu menggunakan beberapa menebak untuk mengisi kekosongan. Sebagai perbandingan, metode berbasis GPS terus-menerus dapat mengumpulkan data tentang angin di bawah ini.

“Kau sudah akan memiliki sistem GPS onboard,, jadi mengapa tidak mendapatkan informasi tambahan tentang lingkungan di sekitar Anda,” kata Katzberg.

Sistem pelengkap

Teknik berbasis GPS memang memiliki kelemahan, Katzberg memperingatkan. Misalnya, dropsondes saat memberikan pengukuran kecepatan angin yang 10 kali lebih tepat dibandingkan dari GPS. Selain itu, karena metode berbasis GPS memerlukan tubuh besar air untuk bekerja, itu tidak dapat digunakan atas tanah. Selain itu, dalam kasus di mana permukaan laut berombak tanpa angin apapun, seperti mata seorang stormhurricane , Katzberg mengatakan alat-alat lain yang diperlukan untuk mendapatkan pengukuran kecepatan angin yang akurat.

“Teknik GPS, sementara berguna seperti yang telah terbukti, memiliki batas praktis juga,” kata Katzberg.

Tujuan utama dari metode ini berbasis GPS tidak untuk menggantikan dropsondes, tetapi untuk menambahkan pandangan yang lebih luas dari kecepatan angin ke data dropsondes menyediakan. Sebagai satelit GPS membaik, “angin kecepatan deteksi oleh GPS dapat akhirnya mendekati akurasi dropsonde, tapi dua ukuran sebagian besar hal yang berbeda,” kata Katzberg.

Sistem baru saat ini mendapatkan diuji selama penerbangan Badai Hunters . Hal ini juga dapat diterapkan pada satelit di masa depan, kata Katzberg – pada tahun 2016, NASA berencana untuk meluncurkan sistem satelit kecil yang disebut Topan Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) untuk mengukur tercermin sinyal satelit GPS dari orbit rendah untuk memantau kecepatan angin badai dari ruang angkasa.

Gelombang radio dari jenis lain satelit mungkin membantu juga, Katzberg mengatakan, termasuk refleksi dari siaran satelit yang kuat dari DirecTV dan Sirius XM Radio.

“Sinyal-sinyal yang sangat kuat dan mudah untuk mendeteksi,” kata Katzberg. “Satelit ini menelan biaya ratusan juta atau bahkan miliaran dolar, namun sistem kami hanya biaya beberapa ratus. Kami mengambil keuntungan dari infrastruktur yang mahal yang sudah ada.”

Katzberg dan rekan-rekannya Jason Dunion dan George Ganoe merinci temuan mereka secara online 1 Juni di jurnal Sains Radio.

– See more at: http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=id&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.co.id&sl=en&tl=id&u=http://www.livescience.com/38295-gps-track-hurricane-winds.html%3Fcmpid%3D514629&usg=ALkJrhghHgD-iY17K2fl25dbPCHMctUGoQ#sthash.9NLbrLr1.dpuf

What Happens When Everyone Makes Maps? OpenStreetMap and other free, online tools have allowed anyone to become a cartographer.

On a spring Sunday in a Soho penthouse, ten people have gathered for a digital mapping “Edit-A-Thon.” Potted plants grow to the ceiling and soft cork carpets the floor. At a long wooden table, an energetic woman named Liz Barry is showing me how to map my neighborhood. “This is what you’ll see when you look at OpenStreetMap,” she says. 

williamburg_570.jpg

Though visually similar to Google’s, the map on the screen gives users unfettered access to its underlying data — anyone can edit it. Barry lives in Williamsburg, and she’s added many of the neighborhood’s boutiques and restaurants herself. “Sometimes when I’m tired at the end of the day and can’t work anymore, I just edit OpenStreetMap,” she says. “Kind of a weird habit.” Barry then shows me the map’s “guts.” I naively assume it will be something technical and daunting, but it’s just an editable version of the same map, with tools that let you draw roads, identify landmarks, and even label your own house.

“OpenStreetMap is referred to as a ground-up ontology,” she says. What she means is that OpenStreetMap has no established data dictionary; you can draw anything on the map and name it whatever you want. “Like oh, this point? Yes, this is a restaurant of type ‘Italian’; it has a name of type ‘my favorite Italian restaurant’,” she explains. Before I know it, I’m mapping my favorite Park Slope bagel shop — a strangely thrilling act that unites me with the website’s one million users, who (unlike me) mostly work at technology companies.

Citizen cartography is a time-honored practice; both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were surveyors. Crowdsourcing isn’t new, either; every year since 1900, aviary-obsessed individuals have collaborated with the Audubon Society for an annual Christmas Bird Count. In the spirit of these traditions, OpenStreetMap was founded in 2004 as a response to the Ordnance Survey, England’s national mapping agency, whose maps were then so inaccurate that small towns and villages put up signs warning drivers not to follow its satellite navigation.

“SUVs were barreling through churchyards and going down little dirt roads through pastures,” Barry says. Finally, a frustrated physics student named Steve Coast developed OpenStreetMap as a way to give cartography back to the public. Now, data is the website’s “raison d’être,” says Richard Weait, a Canada-based contributor. In countries like Germany, which are considered completely mapped, a common joke is that you can route yourself to the nearest penguin because zoo enthusiasts have probably mapped them. “So because you’re putting it into the hands of people, they can gather what’s important to them,” another mapper says. “Not only can you say, ‘How can I get to my nearest penguin?’ but, ‘How can I get to my nearest penguin in a wheelchair?'”

Because of its origin, the website is still riddled with U.K. verbiage, which can sometimes present confusion. As we work, an older man named MacKay Wolff comes across a term he hasn’t heard before. “That’s for walking directions,” Barry says.

“Or horse directions,” Eric says.

“Oh my god, what if there’s a horse cab?”

“I feel like civilization would be a very different place if we were all back to riding horses again,” says an artist named Ingrid.

“A smellier place.”

“There’d be a lot less mental health issues, too, because I feel like there’s something natural about the sound of a horse clopping,” Wolff says.

“But how would you time directions for that? Like, what if there’s a really lazy horse? I guess that’s true with biking directions.”

“I heard that all the streets in Boston are just cow paths paved over.”

“I feel like that’s not unusual,” Barry says. “MacKay, do you feel like the sound of coconuts accurately yields mental health benefits on par with horse hooves?”

Soon, everyone goes quietly back to mapping.

* * *

“Traditional cartographers today might say some form of, ‘Kids these days, they don’t know the rules,'” says Eric Steiner, a former president of the North American Cartographic Information Society. “I hear that sometimes at conferences. People lament that there’s this huge influx of people doing cartography who aren’t cartographers.” By “cartographer,” they mean someone who is skilled in trade techniques like projection (transforming a globe into a flat map) or who knows how to interpret line weights. Instead, new cartographers are increasingly software engineers or developers using programming languages like JavaScript and Python. Steiner, himself a graduate of Penn State’s prestigious cartography program, sees the plurality of technique as beneficial. Whether a map is good or bad shouldn’t be based on the narrative of the individual making the map, he says, but rather on the map’s ability to evoke, inspire and question.

It isn’t that outsiders are coming in and revolutionizing mapping; rather, a new democratization in mapping has occurred. “With the tools being much cheaper and relatively easy to learn, you get people who don’t have a professional interest in being a cartographer figuring out how to make maps they want to see,” Steiner says. Mary Spence, president of the British Cartographic Society, admits traditional cartographers are a “dying breed,” since a large part of their job is placing themselves in the users’ shoes. “I’m looking at a map of Saudi Arabia in front of me,” she explains over the phone. As a cartographer, Spence would ask herself, “What do they want to see on a map of Saudi Arabia? They want to see the terrain, where the hills are and the deserts. They probably want to see the big towns and the roads. They might even want to see where the oil fields are.” Now, because of projects like OpenStreetMap, users in Saudi Arabia no longer need a cartographer because they are the mapmakers. 

“The thing I find interesting is that a lot of the most exciting work comes from people who aren’t necessarily trained as cartographers,” says Bill Rankin, a Yale University professor. Though he points to the architect Buckminster Fuller, whose 1943 Dymaxion World Map changed the way we understood the geography of World War II, Rankin — who is also a trained architect — might as well be describing himself.

A few years ago, he was giving a talk in Phoenix about a color-coded map he made of that city’s racial segregation. In the audience were several county government officials. After the talk, they told Rankin that while segregation informed their work, as government employees they couldn’t publicize the information themselves. “There was no way they could, on the official county website, say that the way to understand Phoenix is as a radically segregated city,” he says. As a free agent, Rankin can use maps to make arguments the creators of the data can’t always make themselves.

phoenix_race_big.jpg
Rankin Phoenix map (Bill Rankin).

After the housing crisis, Rankin mapped housing foreclosures in New Haven between 2008 and 2012 using data from a nonprofit. He discovered that most of New Haven’s foreclosures were happening to poor families of color — unlike the national media narrative about middle-class families doing everything right and still losing their homes. The map was published in the New Haven Independent, and Rankin says it presented a clear case for directing economic resources to the affected neighborhoods.

“What I most care about is the sense of maps having arguments, not just being neutral descriptions of the world, but active participants in the discussion about that world,” he says. 

In fact, maps as visual systems have never been objective, but are susceptible to manipulation — especially political censorship. Before statistics were widely available online from entities like the U.S. Census or the Center for Disease Control, the only mapmakers were either governments or large companies that could invest the capital to both gather the data and map it. Neil Alan, the current president of the North American Cartographic Information Society, pointed out that as a condition for its presence in China, Google currently lists the land contested in the Chinese-Indian border dispute as Chinese territory. Even color choice can be powerful. “Red is a warning, cautionary color, so you right away jade the readers by choosing the colors that you do,” he says.

“My sense is that a lot of the political and geographic issues that people care about — like poverty or international inequality or segregation — I think they’re often mapped in a way that is unable to deal with diversity,” Rankin says. For example, if each country on a map of the world is shaded a different color based on average household income or GDP per capita, Brazil will look poor even though it has huge wealth in small pockets. In the United States, one might miss the economic difference between Manhattan and the Appalachian mountains. In his own maps, rather than shading areas with solid blocks of color, Rankin uses dots in hopes of stirring a more nuanced, granular discussion of space. He calls this “radical cartography” — not radical in the sense of far-left politics, but radical because “the way we draw the map actually changes the thing that we’re mapping.”

Increasingly, the maps people want to see aren’t just literal, but also conceptual. According to Steiner, the role of the cartographer is actually moving away from the notion of accurately representing the world and towards that of creating a symbolic representation of space — which he means very broadly. “We just saw a great image of a woman’s journey through psychoanalytic space,” he says. Two points on a graph represented the woman, who was dissatisfied with herself: one plotted her ideal self and the other her actual self when she arrived in therapy. The points were very far apart. Over the course of several therapy sessions they moved closer together, and by the final session had nearly joined together. “That’s a map,” he says.

As the creative director of Stanford University’s Spatial History Project, Steiner has pieced together maps based on evacuation photographs, diaries and testimonies from Auschwitz. Many of the data sets he uses are ambiguous, incomplete or uncertain — such as the openings and closings of concentration camps — but Steiner says that actually frees the cartographer from the pursuit of absolute truth, allowing for a nuanced interpretation by the reader. “These representations are more expressionist and provocative, partially because we’re dealing with such a dense subject, but also because we’re interested less in the absolute positioning of the information than we are in the experience of being in that place,” he says.

Recently, the group received a large grant from the Mellon Foundation, which will allow it to pursue a few additional mapping projects. For one of them, Steiner hopes to take 500 novels that reflect on different communities in 19th century London — “a square here, a road there, a house here” — and create a literary map of the city. “The idea is that collectively across 500 novels, you could describe a space you otherwise might not be able to describe, and to describe it richly,” he says.

* * *

Maps demystify space, and many new cartographers are harnessing this quality for social good. On SourceMap.com, a website that maps where things come from, you can follow the supply chain of your iPhone from a mine in Mbandaka, the Democratic Republic of Congo and a factory in Xiamen, China to the Best Buy in Minnesota where it’s sold — impressive when you consider that just one non-recyclable chip in your phone contains all the elements in the Periodic Table.

“As soon as you see a product on a map, you think about why materials come from these places, what those people’s lives are like, what the environmental considerations are,” says SourceMap founder Leo Bonnani. “So it really forces you to into a social construct.” A trained architect, Bonnani became interested in supply chains after he mapped his laptop’s life cycle as a graduate student. Not only did the act of mapping bring solidarity with the workers who made his computer, but it proved they actually existed. Bonnani created the website because he was convinced a similarly fascinating story lay behind every product.

Now anyone can map their own supply chain on Bonnani’s website. One map submitted by Berkeley professor Jenna Burrell connected old New York Public Library computers to internet cafes in Ghana, where the outdated models found new life. Another by documentary filmmaker Laura Kissell traces cotton from its harvest in the U.S. to production in China and back. Bonnani says companies such as Office Depot, Proctor & Gamble and Stonyfield Farm have been economically motivated to map their own supply chains as well. “If you don’t know where something comes from, the online crowd will find out,” Bonnani explains. “So it actually became an accountability tool right away.”

Andrew Turner, a former aerospace engineer-turned-mapper who now works atEsri, a geographic information systems company, says maps are effective advocacy tools because they tether abstract ideas to real life. Though someone might not care about ocean level rise, they will once they see a map showing their own house under water. At that point, behavior can actually change. “People start to think, ‘What happens if I drive less? What will that do to my neighborhood? What happens if I plant more grass?'” he says.

Bonnani has witnessed this transformation firsthand. After mapping a segment of the beer industry in Scotland, he discovered all the breweries were relying on one single bottling plant located very far away, which was an economical and environmental strain. When the government saw the map, they provided a loan so that one of the brewers could set up a local bottling plant. “That’s the dream, that you end up with the triple bottom line, the social-environmental-economic benefit,” he says.

* * *

Back at the Edit-a-thon, Alyssa Wright is hunched over her laptop screen, her eyes squinting at an aerial photograph of Nepal’s capital. Though Wright has never been to Kathmandu, for the past few hours she’s been carefully tracing roads and buildings on a satellite image to create a blueprint of the city. Because Nepal sits on an unstable fault line, the World Bank is funding an effort to adequately prepare for an earthquake should one hit. A team of structural engineers on the ground is collecting exposure data and identifying building types, which will then be plugged into a map. Wright has spearheaded an OpenStreetMap group assisting with the creation of that map. “Is this a building?” she asks hesitantly, and a small group gathers around to study a fuzzy blotch on the screen. “That’s a golf course,” says MacKay Wolff.

Since 1989, Wolff has worked at the U.N., where he is now manager of disaster relief. He became interested in OpenStreetMap after its involvement in Haiti. Before the earthquake, maps of Port-au-Prince were outdated and incomplete, causing problems for aid workers who arrived in the aftermath. After the earthquake hit, OpenStreetMap users came together overnight to create a viable city map. “I’ve worked in earthquake emergencies before,” Wolff says. “If everybody is at least pointed in the same direction, that can make the humanitarian response much, much more efficient.”

Wright sometimes worries that the new focus on personalization in the mapping world could lead to a narrowed vision. Rather than orienting yourself to the world, online maps allow you to orient the world to yourself. Location-based apps like Foursquare track your favorite places; Navigon finds your parked car; RunKeeper charts your jogging routes. Rather than being a tool for an outward-looking exploration of the world, digital mapping becomes just another means of self-gratification.

And yet, it’s not so easy to draw the line between what we do for ourselves and how we engage with the world. OpenStreetMap’s existence is based on the premise that users submit data about their own environments, but Wright says she’s always associated maps with exploring and connecting to other cultures. “I think if you feel like being safe in Nepal is as relevant to you as mapping the name of your bodega, then that sense of space could shift with the map,” she says.

While we think we map places we already know, perhaps we also map to learn that which we do not.

http://earthengine.google.org/

http://earthengine.google.org/

Explore a global timelapse of our planet, constructed from Landsat satellite imagery. This timelapse from 1984 to 2012 captures the rapid growth of Las Vegas, Nevada, the fastest growing city in the United States over the past two decades. Each frame of the timelapse map is constructed from a year of Landsat satellite data, constituting annual 1.7-terapixel snapshot of the Earth at 30-meter resolution. The Landsat program, managed by the USGS, has been acquiring images of the Earth’s surface since 1972. Landsat provides critical scientific information about our changing planet.

 

1