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Local Weblogs & GIS

2003-01-07 19:04:52+00 by Dan Lyke 13 comments

Over on PeterMe, Peter looked at Gawker, and then asked if the weblog model could be applied elsewhere to make a better alternative to the "alternative weeklies". I think I've mentioned before that I'm interested in building such a thing for Marin dwellers. Anyway, in the comments to that entry I mentioned something about hiking and GPS data. Adina Levin followed up, and I went out searching.

But I've snagged enough data that 'til I can figure out what to do with it I'm still overwhelmed.

[ related topics: Weblogs Nature and environment Bay Area Maps and Mapping ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-01-07 19:11:53+00 by: Adina

Fine to move the conversatin here. And I don't have time to work on such a project right now either!

- Adina

#Comment made: 2003-01-07 19:27:13+00 by: Dan Lyke

Cool. Didn't know how far you wanted to chase this.

Well, I found the Perl Geo::TigerLine[Wiki] data, which should let me screw around with the U.S. Census data. They should have some pretty extensive boundary information, at least. I think the right way to go about implementation is to build a simple CGI app that lets me explore data sets with browsers, and hand edit the data 'til I can figure out the better way to proceed. I still don't know if there are standards for downloaded GPS data on Windows boxes, I'm using the Perl[Wiki] GPS::Garmin[Wiki] module to dump files into my own custom format when I download them.

More updates as I wait for my real work to happen...

#Comment made: 2003-01-07 19:29:24+00 by: Dan Lyke

And since I use PostgreSQL as the back-end for Flutterby, PostGIS looks worth exploring.

#Comment made: 2003-01-08 06:51:43+00 by: nkane

I've downloaded a bunch of this data in the past and played with it some. There is a lot of really cool information available for free. I have all of the digital elevation data for California as well as some various bits of vector data for roads and what not (I think it is all in SDTS format). There are also a few nice tools out there for rendering/display of some of the data but It would require a reboot into Windows to see what they are called.

My master plan a few years ago was to do something with it, but aside from writing an openGL renderer for the elevation data it never got very far. Going to scotchnight this week Dan? We should talk about it.

#Comment made: 2003-01-08 14:28:28+00 by: Dan Lyke

Gonna miss scotch night 'cause I'll be on a plane to NYC. And I'll be there over a week, so the next one I'll make is maybe the 23rd (Lyn may be in town that week, and she gets priority).

But I would love to share ideas.

#Comment made: 2003-01-08 15:06:57+00 by: Adina

I wonder if GeoUrl could be part of the solution here. The site is slashdotted so I can't tell how it encodes location.

#Comment made: 2003-01-08 16:19:46+00 by: Dan Lyke

Got through to the GeoURL home page, they've got yet another standard:

GeoURL ICBM Address Server

How do I get my page listed?

1. Add meta tags

Add the following meta tags to the <head> section of your web page:

<meta name="ICBM" content="COORDINATES">
<meta name="DC.title" content="THE NAME OF YOUR SITE">

See our notes for help with adding these tags to a blog content management system such as Radio or Livejournal.

Use the helper to generate your tags if you are in the US.

Coordinates are in the form of a latitude and longitude, separated by a comma, for example: 47.98481,-71.42124. Western hemisphere longitudes and Southern hemisphere latitudes are negative.

We'll also index Geo Tags-style "geo.position" meta tag as per their documentation.

2. Tell the GeoURL server your page needs to be indexed.

Use the ping form to tell us that your page has been updated.

3. Tell others

GeoURL will become more useful as the database grows in size. Tell others about GeoURL by linking to us.

Once you are in the database, you can add a link to show your neighbors:

What are the coordinates I should use?

If the page is about you (such as your home page), the coordinates should be for your location. If the page is about some physical place, the coordinates should reflect that location. The location of your server itself is probably not that interesting.
The point is to allow people to find interesting things near them.

My site hasn't been indexed! What gives?

If your site did not have at least the ICBM meta tag added or was down when it was last checked, then you should re-ping us and we will re-index the page. Make sure that your meta tag has both a name and content attribute (not value.)

The spider may take some time to get to you; it only runs occasionally.

How do I find where I am?

For the US, use the Tiger Map Browser. The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names is also useful for looking up locations by name.

If you know about other map sites that expose latitude and longitude, please let me know.

Jamie McCarthy writes:

I usually get latitude/longitude by typing a street address into maps.yahoo.com , clicking "Zoom In" (or Out) and pulling the numbers off the resulting URL. This could probably be automated pretty easily... hm, maybe the world needs a perl module WWW::Yahoo::Maps::LatitudeAndLongitude.

Chris Olds writes:

A cool way to use the Microsoft TerraServer database is Jef Poskanzer's http://www.acme.com/mapper - I mention it because it can be used to find lat/long by pointing at the building you're in.

Darrell Kindred writes:

you might recommend this site for non-U.S. locations: http://www.nima.mil/gns/html/ (can't do street addresses, but it's a start)

Dan Pelleg writes:

For int'l I found http://www.maporama.com/share/useful, especially if you want lat/lon.

Julius Welby writes:

Lat/long figures in the United Kingdom can be easily found using http://www.streetmap.co.uk/

You can enter a UK post code, do a search, and then use the "Click here to convert/measure coordinates" link to get the correct numbers.

Outside the US, you can also use the following indices:

Remeber that minutes and seconds are in 60ths, so if something is X degrees, Y minutes, and Z seconds, the decimal equivalent is X + Y/60 + Z/3600.

by Joshua Schachter, joshua-geourl@burri.to.
inspired by Dan Egnor's Geocoder.

#Comment made: 2003-01-08 16:21:29+00 by: adamrice [edit history]

It uses "ICBM addresses" that look like this:
Specifically, it wants you to add meta tags like the following to your page
<meta name="ICBM" content="30.29968,-97.73157">
<meta name="DC.title" content="your blog title here">
and then ping it to index you at
A cool way to get your very precise coordinates is:

#Comment made: 2003-01-08 16:22:05+00 by: Dan Lyke

The standard that's been in place for longer is the GeoTags system, Flutterby is set up as:

<meta content="USA" name="geo.country" />
<meta content="Fairfax, California" name="geo.placename" />
<meta content="37.988428;-122.582952;120" name="geo.position" />

But as a lot of people have pointed out, this may be monstrously misleading, and would much better be applied to regions of text.

#Comment made: 2003-01-08 18:39:26+00 by: Jeffery [edit history]

Dano--the links below are copied directly from an e-mail I sent to you in June of 2000. I kept them, thinking that this (or a related topic) might surface again. Surprisingly, many of the links are still good after 2.5 years.

Mapping Search Engine (very good) http://oddens.geog.uu.nl/index.html

U.S. Geological Survey (very good) http://mapping.usgs.gov/www/gnis/gnisform.html http://wwwflag.wr.usgs.gov/USGSFlag/Data/shadedRel.html

The National Geophysical Data Center http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/seg/topo/getstate.shtml

National Atlas http://www.nationalatlas.gov

Getty Thesarsus Of Geographic Names http://shiva.pub.getty.edu/tgn%5Fbrowser

Maps and References http://www.cgrer.uiowa.edu/servers/servers_references.html

National Geographic Maps http://www.nationalgeographic.com/maps/index.html

Get A Map http://www.topozone.com/find.asp

Color Landform Gallery Of America http://fermi.jhuapl.edu/states/states.html

City/State/Zip Data (ftp site) ftp://ftp.census.gov/pub/tiger/tms/gazetteer

City/Zip Code Lookup http://www.usps.gov/ncsc/lookups/lookup_ctystzip.html

Zip Find Central http://link-usa.com/zipcode

National Address Server http://www.cedar.buffalo.edu/adserv.html

About Zip Codes http://geography.about.com/education/geography/msub55.htm

About Latitude and Longitude http://geography.about.com/library/misc/blll.htm

Digital Gallery (voluminous) http://metalab.unc.edu/nppa/diggallery.html

#Comment made: 2003-01-08 18:44:51+00 by: Jeffery

More usable links, from that same thread ...

US Census Bureau Geographic Links (Mapping) http://tiger.census.gov

Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) Database http://www.census.gov/geo/www/tiger/index.html

(TIGER) Database Modernization http://www.census.gov/geo/mod/maftiger.html

(TIGER) Version 2.0 http://tiger.census.gov/cgi-bin/mapbrowse-tbl

U.S. Gazetteer http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/gazetteer

Map Image Metafile Definitions http://www.census.gov/geo/www/mim/concept.html

Geographic Information Systems FAQ http://www.census.gov/geo/www/faq-index.html

Some Relevent FAQ's http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q2.3 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q3.5 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q3.6 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q3.8 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q3.9 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q3.10 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q3.13 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q3.14 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q4.1 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q4.8 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q5.1 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q5.2 http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/gisfaq?Q6.2

Access Tools http://www.census.gov/main/www/access.html

Other Links http://www.census.gov/geo/www/index.html

New Zip Code Tabulation Areas http://www.census.gov/geo/ZCTA/zcta.html

State And County Demographics http://www.census.gov/datamap/www

Related Sites http://www.census.gov/main/www/access.html

Product Catalog http://www.census.gov/mp/www/censtore.html

#Comment made: 2003-01-08 19:39:54+00 by: Dan Lyke

The problem I'm still having with most of those is parsing them and using them. That's the real grunt work.

#Comment made: 2003-01-09 11:26:15+00 by: Jeffery

Yep, I agree; they are just jumping off points for further research. :^)