News Roundup - Vancouver Maps, ESRI FedUC, FOSS Pirates

First up in the news this month is maps of Vancouver and the winter Olympics. Google updated their 3D imagery for the Olympics, and you can get a good tour using this KML file. How do you get street view on the slopes you ask? You use one of these:

For web based maps, I have to agree with The Map Room - the NY Times site has the nicest site I’ve seen.

There was a lot of news out of the ESRI FedUC this month. After reading summaries and summaries of summaries, aside from the usual round of ArcGIS desktop improvements, it looks like the big new items are:


  • ESRI is partnering with Amazon to offer cloud rental of AGS on their EC2 service. This is a good move for ESRI and its customers, though you’ll need an ELA to qualify. Rent-what-you-need cloud space is ideal for CPU-stomping AGS, though we’ll need some metrics to see what the long term cost savings would be.

  • Volunteered Geographic Information, or VGI (must we hyphenate everything?), ala OpenStreetMap. Surveying, Mapping and GIS has a good summary of the topic and the concerns involved. Hopefully it’ll involve direct integration with projects like OpenStreetMap and not reinventing/branding the wheel.

  • Support for the iPhone. According to James Fee, they basically took their old slideshow and did a find-replace on Windows Mobile with iPhone. Anybody stuck with Windows Mobile doing data collection out in the field should be dancing in the streets.


Ars cites a study showing just how spatially boring we humans are. Researches collected customer cell phone location information from cell phone providers found that you can predict someone’s location and movement patters up to 93% of the time. Just threw your cell phone in the back of a moving chicken truck with out of state plates? They probably predicted you’d do that too. If you’re wondering how people can get that information from your cell phone without asking you, check this out and prepare to freak.

And finally, in the are-you-kidding-me department, big content has asked the Office of the US Trade Representative to denounce countries that encourage FOSS. The International Intellectual Property Alliance, which is made up of such luminaries as the RIAA and MPAA, asked USTR to add Brazil, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam to its 301 list (countries we give meaningful frowns to) because they encouraged the use of open source software. As an example (via Ars),

Indonesia’s policy “weakens the software industry and undermines its long-term competitiveness” because open source software “encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations [and] fails to build respect for intellectual property rights.”

Many US agencies, including the Department of Defense, have also endorsed using FOSS. The IIPA apparently forgot to put the US on the list of countries we should denounce.