January 27, 2012

Citizen map makers

Posted by josediacono @ 9:30 am under Uncategorized


citizen mapmakersWe see them every day, popping up on our Twitter feeds, filtered through blogs, or even scattered throughout the New York Times: maps portraying not the usual locations or destinations, but data.  From people’s kisses in Toronto, to the concentration of pizza joints in New York, to the number of women who ride bikes, to the likelihood of being killed by a car in any given American city, the list of lenses through which we can now view our cities and neighborhoods goes on, thanks to data-mapping geeks.

“The map user has now become the map creator,” is how Fraser Taylor put it to me in an interview. The director of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre at Carleton University, Taylor is one of the world’s leading cartographers, standing as the director of the International Steering Committee for Global Mapping and a member of the United Nations Expert Group on Global Geographic Information Management as well as a host of other major international mapping organisations.

Read more: http://thisbigcity.net/how-citizen-mapmakers-are-changing-the-story-of-our-cities/

Thanks to Ross Johnson for this posting.


June 9, 2011

Waze and Foursquare

Posted by josediacono @ 7:06 pm under Uncategorized

Are they games, community services, social media or all three? I’d heard of Waze and Foursquare from my social media guru friend Yvonne Thompson but havn’t used them. While browsing on the where 2.0 conference website I found two great videos

http://where2conf.com/where2011/public/schedule/detail/17800 how to motivate the crowd to source navigation and traffic data

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpTDGeLiFnc&feature=player_embedded#at=11 interview with foursquare founder

They are a real eye opener on the creativity and drive of these incredibly young looking location aware entrepreneurs.

More interesting chat about where 2.o on Maurice Van der Vlugt’s blog

October 21, 2010

the perils of geolocation with social media

Posted by josediacono @ 8:40 am under Uncategorized

Radio National’s Futuretense show this morning. podcast How social networking like foursquare and twitter is using geolocation – the upside means you can find out if friends and colleagues are close by to catch up with them or find out what interesting places are close by if you have a few minutes to kill, but the downside is that if you enable geolocating and forget about it, you can be revealing your location inadvertently to the world. Interesting take on terminology, ‘geolocating’ sounds ok, but ‘geotracking’ sounds sinister.  Interviews with social media experts and a lawyer (who is actually very enthusiastic about sharing his location.

Website in Holland ‘pleaserobme.com’ Raising awareness about oversharing. Shows how the devious could stalk you or identify when your house is empty to rob me. The gist of the program is “it has huge benefits, but use it wisely”.

September 14, 2010

Heaps of data from New South Wales

Posted by josediacono @ 2:33 pm under Uncategorized

GIPA is important for NSW mashups because it will lead to more data being released

The Australian Bureau of Statistics hosted a meeting for Statisticians in Sydney on Thursday 2nd September  about GIPA and Open Government. GIPA is the NSW Government Information Public Access which came into force on 1st July 2010. GIPA  replaces the Freedom of Information Act. It encourages and authorizes state and local government, ministers and their staff, state owned corporations (including utilities) and universities to pro-actively release data. Exceptions  “when there is overriding public interest against disclosure” are clearly specified.

Officials who release data are protected from civil suits.

GIPA  covers  all sorts of data, not just about documents. It can be emails, tables, transcripts, stats, reports or raw data.

The law doesn’t say anything about the format the data has to come in. It could be on paper, or a pdf which wouldn’t be too helpful for a masher. There may still be a lot of scraping and formatting.

Speakers from the ABS, Office of the Information Commissioner, Dept of Fair trading, police examined the implications, benefits and issues raised with great honesty.

Data could be misinterpreted, misused or abused if it was”just dumped out there”.

On the one side were the policy makers saying “data can then be used creatively in ways and combinations bureaucrats and lawyers have never thought about”, on the other were those who fear that is it precisely because data was collected for one particular purpose, that it could lead to dangerous or erroneous assumptions if it were used for another. For example, the police collect operational data about crime. But where drug dealers are found is not necessarily the same place they live or where the drugs are consumed.  Many crimes go unreported, so what if people in a particular suburb are more likely to report more crime than in another? Their suburb then looks more crime-ridden, businesses may not locate in the area, therefore disadvantaging the residents or property values go down.

But like it or not, data will be released and reused. So how do we enable meaningful interpretation and use, while at the same time not tying up public servants in reformatting or explaining data to the extent they can no longer do their regular jobs?

  1. Give an explanation. People won’t necessarily read it but at least the Minister can look at the explanation when questioned about it.
  2. Finding out what people are really asking will help you provide meaningful data and offer additional data if you think it will help.
  3. If you don’t have the information in the form they request, you don’t have to jump through hoops, just be helpful, offer them what you have and explain the limitations.
  4. If the data is incomplete or poor quality, just say so. Tell the story.
  5. Expect questions and criticisms when you release data.
  6. Put frequently requested data on a website. Making it understandable, easy to search and retrieve.
  7. Use the Data Quality Tool from the ABS to create a Quality statement.  This tool was demonstrated and helps both producers and users to assess and compare seemingly similar datasets.
  8. Embrace the opportunity to improve data you release from crowdsourcing.
  9. You can release secondary data (i.e.if you are the Dept of Planning and someone else has collected it) but if the requester would be better served by going to the original source you can refer them on. You can also release any data you hold that has come from outside NSW.
  10. Q What if a private consultant asks you for data they will make a profit from? A If this ties you up and thus impacts on your core business you do not have to release the data because if it stops you doing your job that is not in the public interest.

Good news for parents

Your child is going for their first job in a cafe. You want to make sure they will be fairly treated. In about 18 months you will be able to look at a NSW website to check whether they have any harassment claims against them, do they pay penalty rates on Saturdays or how many times they have been inspected.


Kate Harrington and Helen Palmer of the Government Chief Information Office run the NSW data portal used by the NSW app4state mashup competition.  The goal of data.nsw.gov.au is to be the single point for people to visit for data because it is very hard for outsiders to find what they are looking for. They took us behind the scenes of the portal “what happens when you click on the ‘Request for Data’ button”. (Basically a lot of running around by them to get the data from the custodian).

There is an international wave of improved public information access:  from the US where every government agency has to release at least 3 datasets (annually??) to the UK where the two most asked for datasets are public toilets and school catchment areas. Their apps4 prefix has spread around the world from Finland to Africa.

August 8, 2010

Tim Berners-Lee: The year open data went worldwide

Posted by josediacono @ 9:53 am under Uncategorized

Talks in less than 6 minutes. My daughter’s Design and Technology teacher put me on to this one. Thanks Kate.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. He leads the World Wide Web Consortium, overseeing the Web’s standards and development.

go to the TED website

June 28, 2010

Future Gazing

Posted by josediacono @ 2:01 pm under Uncategorized

How will the geospatial data market evolve over the next ten years?

I enjoyed this article by Matt Ball on the vector1media website. Matt looks at the impact of some profound changes that he says will give GIS users more (and for free) data.   Volunteer mapping and quality improvement from crowdsourcing,  not just from things like openstreetmap but also mobile platforms. (I was introduced recently to some new mobile location based games like foursquare that collect all sort of features and information as  a by-product).

Geospatial technologists will be synthesisers of data. Not a long article so well worth browsing to.

June 20, 2010

Citizen Mapping

Posted by josediacono @ 6:21 pm under Uncategorized

Ross Johnson sent me this fascinating article from the Los Angeles Times about openstreetmap. Crowdsourcing maps is becoming a mainstream social activity. With Google  Maps doing it soon (as mentioned in this article),  openstreetmap and even crowdsourcing through mobile games how does a user decide where to source data from? Can we talk in terms of a  single authoritative source anymore?


May 26, 2010

Neogeographers and paleogeographers

Posted by josediacono @ 2:09 pm under Uncategorized

http://vimeo.com/11540899 Not your fathers approach to geodata creation and sharing posted by moderator Peter Batty.  This is quite a long video and I do plan to make a summary of the key points sometime,but for a start there is a very good explanation of openstreetmap as an example of neogeography and powerful pictures from post earth quake Haiti (the building housing the goverment GIS was destroyed in the earthquake so over a matter of days volunteers created new maps from old paper base maps, high res satellite imagery, even Maps from the CIA if I heard correctly – which made a huge difference to the emergency response and saved lives.

Some amusing banter between neogeographers and traditional GIS people cheekily referred to as paleogeographers.

March 12, 2010


Posted by josediacono @ 10:09 am under Uncategorized

There is talk of creating  a Fix My Street for Australia. . I had a look at the UK version, typing in the postcode of the village I grew up in (in North Yorkshire)


you can check out the status of the reports and follow interesting threads  http://www.fixmystreet.com/report/66368 (not all result in the problem being fixed but add to community understanding of what is involved – disruption to traffic, several agencies have to cooperate, financial priorities etc)

You can also sign up for an RSS feed or be emailed about new problems reported in your area.

a mashup australia entry doing something similar was http://its-buggered-mate.apps.lpmodules.com/

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February 7, 2010

Crowdsourcing emergency maps

Posted by josediacono @ 10:15 am under Uncategorized

There is a very interesting short article in the latest ASM newsletter about how crowdsourcing has taken the street map of Port au Prince in Haiti from just a few streets to a highly accurate map with triage centres, camps and hospital in just two weeks.