Archive for March, 2006

Looking for a Wifi Weather and Pollution Station

Looking for a Wireles/Wifi Weather and Pollution Station

Sensors are cool. Particularly sensor networks and motes, ways to non-intrusively gather data about the state of the environment, organisms. I want to get hands on with some sensors, but initially in a less ambitious way, with a home weather and pollution monitoring station.

I’ve looked around some, there are loads of options, Weather Underground has a good list, but it’s overwhelming with options and nothing seems spot on for what I’m after. Anyone out there with some ideas / experience with this stuff?

What I’m after

  • Basic weather sensors (temp, barometer, humidity, rainfall)
  • Extendable for use with pollution sensors, for air quality. And what are the options here — C02 sensors?
  • Solar powered if possible and practical
  • Wireless transmission to a base station, or better, direct wifi connection. We’ve ordered BT Bluephone, so we’ll have a bluetooth/wifi router — so maybe bluetooth is an option, if it’s possible for other devices to use the blutooth/IP bridge.
  • Upload to server without a running computer. So the station needs to be able FTP directly using a local network.

Maybe this doesn’t exist in total, so I might need to build something together from components, which sounds fun anyway (if I possibly succeed). Urban Tapestries collaboration with Natalie Jeremijenko on Feral Robots has some guidelines on hacking environmental sensors together.


worldkit 3.0 and optimized OnEarth Landsat

worldkit 3.0 and optimized OnEarth Landsat

worldKit is now the most optimized OnEarth Landsat viewer available. Truly. The results are stunning, and easy.
worldKit – OnEarth details.

This is part of the first true open source version of worldKit .. 3.0 details here.


In all but name… what about OSM for the world?

In all but name… what about OSM for the world?

Can you match the quote with the speaker?

“It’s absolutely possible for a bunch of smart guys with the technology we have today to capture street networks, and potentially the major roads of the UK and minor roads”

“If you don’t make [lower-resolution mapping data] publicly available, there will be people with their cars and GPS devices, driving around with their laptops .. They will be cataloguing every lane, and enjoying it, driving 4x4s behind your farm at the dead of night. There will, if necessary, be a grass-roots remapping.”

“You could have a community capability where you took the GPS data of people driving around and started to see, oh, there’s a new road that we don’t have, a new route .. And so that data eventually should just come from the community with the right software infrastructure.”


Ok, so my obvious point is that several high profile folks have OpenStreetMap on radar, for various political, technical, and business purposes. But another major factor of OSM is not mentioned often. Even if OSM is leveraged successfully to open up geodata to some extent in these arenas — the TeleAtlas/Navteq business model, the Ordnance Survey in the UK, the INSPIRE directive for the EU — there remains a majority of the world without digital mapping of any kind. Due to low market demand, or government disinterest or disorganization, the places most in need of cartography are lacking. This is the “developing world”, even Eastern Europe, India..

The technical infrastructure being developed within OSM is cheap, reproducible, and collaboratively organized. Similar to mobile phones, GPS and OpenStreetMap is a leapfrog technology, and represents the best opportunity for these places to acquire the tools to communicate and deliberate about space.


Jobs with Cool ex-Yahoo Startups

Jobs with Cool ex-Yahoo Startups

My colleagues from the Yahoo days end up all over — there are painters, translators of Parisian menus, and of course many back in the industry. A few have taken the bull by the horns and are starting ventures of their own. I admire the initiative of these guys, especially engineers .. typical of the early days at Yahoo.

OpenCage is an early stage, stealth, London based startup, led by Ed Freyfogle. They’re looking for a lead engineer and interns; there’s a hard core location and mapping component to what they’re doing.

Ravi Dronamraju is starting up in Palo Alto, has big visions, and is looking for engineers.

Note, I’m advising OpenCage, and am collaborating with Ravi on the (unrelated to the startup) GeoPress.


Blue Marble Next Generation :: WMS Time Navigation in worldKit


Elephant Seals

Elephant Seals

The sun broke through on our trip down to Año Nuevo State Reserve to see the Elephant Seal breeding ground. There’s a neat California State Park GeoRSS map to find it.

Interesting to learn: at the time a Spanish expedition named the point Año Nuevo, it was still connected to the mainland, and there were no elephant seals present. It wasn’t until the extinction of grizzly bears in California that Elephant Seals started colonies on land; prior they were only seen at places like the Channel Islands. They are basically a huge immobile feast for any passing grizzly. I find these changes in distributions and habitat types really interesting, especially when there’s an indirect human caused origin.

I like the seals. They are humorous on land, a bit blundering and brutal. Graceful in the water. Anna and I saw another colony near Hearst Castle in a visit before we were married. I stuck a photo of one big bull on our wedding flyer back then.


Año Nuevo Bonus. There are abondoned buildings on the Año Nuevo island, built to house the family of the light house keeper, made of redwood showing little signs of decay. The house has been colonized by California Sea Lions .. including the upper floor. California Sea Lions are the only marine mammal that can climb stairs. has this aerial imagery of Año Nuevo.


Derived Works from Google Maps

Derived Works from Google Maps

Platial, Tagzania and many of the rest, and even open and free Geonames, all make use of Google Maps satellite and street imagery to derive latitude and longitude of user contributed annotations. Most all of the 130,000+ Geotagged flickr photos are positioned via Google Maps. I’m wondering and worrying about the copyright status of these derived works. They may be on shaky legal ground.

From the GMaps API Terms of Use and the Google Local Terms of Use

“Also, you may not use Google Local in a manner which gives you or any other person access to mass downloads or bulk feeds of numerical latitude and longitude coordinates.”

“You to display map images only, and does not provide You with the ability to access the underlying map data”

“You may use the API to display map images in conjunction with other information You provide to end users”

Plainly, Google Maps are intended as a means of presenting data, not producing it. What does this mean in practice for these social mapping practices? The possibility is there that Google or its data providers could claim ownership over, for example, Platial’s 100K+ POI. Can Google and other mapping providers elaborate on this status?

OpenStreetMap has considered this issue carefully, and made every effort to be free of legal ambiguities.
Why don’t you just use Google Maps/whoever for your data? spells out the position. Producing street maps is a more fundamental type of data acquisition than points of interest .. is it possible to draw a line between fair use and protected use of copyright maps?

Comments is doing something cool. They’ve compiled several public domain gazateers, including the GNS database (used in the worldKit geocoder). Smacked a search and web service interface on the front. And it’s all editable, wiki style.

There’s loads of public domain geodata published in various corners of the web. Part of the skill in being a geo-hacker/wanker is gathering knowledge of the what, where and how of these data sources. The other problem for the web at large is the inaccuracy and slow update times of these data sets. Some of the OGC and Web Service standards on resource discovery have planted seeds to address this, but haven’t fruited. Many folks have discussed doing wiki-like gazateers, and it’s very cool to see an implementation that bridges lots of these projects.

I’d like to contribute to and bridge with this project as well. One quick tool could be a Recent Edits Map; just need a GeoRSS feed from geonames.

Tagzania is embracing this project, and many opengeodata projects like OpenStreetMap. By engaging with opengeodata projects and formats in a substantive way, Tagzania is really starting to differentiate itself from the very crowded social map hacking space.

Update: Marc from has published a recent changes GeoRSS feed, so we now have a monitor. That’s awesome Marc!

He’s gone with the bleeding edge Simple GeoRSS format which is not yet finalized, but is supported in its current form (though not documented) by worldKit.