Posts

Prince Edward Island Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool

The province of Prince Edward Island has always been pretty good and open about making their PEI aerial photography available. They have an in house library in Charlottetown where prints and copies can be ordered as well as an online interactive web map service allowing users to search and download lower resolution versions of their aerial photography.

PEI Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool - PEI online map for aerial photosThe online initiative began shortly after the 2000/02 Corporate Land Use Inventory Project had completed. This extensive project involved creating orthophoto maps from over 16 thousand 1:17.5k false color infrared images.  The orthophotos were then tiled to match the provinces topographic map series and all land use of the island was updated using air photo interpretation and heads up digitizing.

The project was a large success and stirred fond interest from other government departments and the public leading to the scanning of historic photos from the provinces air photo library. An online map interface was then developed to help make it easier for users to search photos and the ability to download images was included for easier access. Electronic versions of the images on CD-ROM are available from the PEI Resource Inventory and Modeling section in Charlottetown (e.g. 34 CDs provide full coverage of the Province in the 2000 series).

PEI Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool - PEI online map for aerial photosSelecting a different air photo series of the left will change the points on the map to represent the flight lines of aerial surveys for that particular year. This tool is great for projects that involve historic work in the same area.

PEI Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool

The PEI online map application displays the collection of aerial photos that are available from a set as points on the interactive map. Then users can view a thumb-nail of any photo simply by double clicking on one of the map points. Larger version of the file can then be downloaded, images are in JPEG format (reduced in size by 25% from the in house scans), with download file sizes ranging from 2 to up to 10 mb.

Aerial photographs of Prince Edward Island are available for download from surveys of 1935, 1958, 1974 and 1990, 2000 & 2010. The type of imagery available depends on the aerial photo survey of that particular year, thus you will find that there are colour images, false colour infrared and black and white images.

The department has also gone ahead and generated some quick-search pages allowing users to browse Aerial Photographs by community if they do not wish to use the interactive map tool. So users can pick a community from the provided preset short-cut list to see a list of photographs available in that area.
PEI Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool - PEI online map for aerial photos - oblique air photo
For example you can click on Charlottetown and it will open up a page containing thumb nails with relevant photos for the Charlottetown area with links to download the corresponding image or open it up larger into your browser.

There is also a set of images on their interactive map tool of oblique aerial images of select places across the island that can be viewed similar to the way the traditional air photos are with the map tool.

The province of Prince Edward Island continues to do a great job at making their aerial photography available to the public and this interactive map tool is your key to finding aerial photography for anywhere in Prince Edward island that you can then use with ArcMap, MapInfo, Google Earth or any other GIS based software as well as other non GIS uses.

Prince Edward Island Interactive Map Tool can be found by following this link:  http://www.gov.pe.ca/maps/aerialphotos.php3


Comparison of Free Online Map Sites ‘Bing Maps vs Google Maps’

Comparison of top Free Online Map Sites - 'Bing Maps vs Google Maps'

Online web mapping for most people is still a relatively new concept; however it has actually been around now for many years now, long enough that a good majority of us now take it for granted. And like many other great products from our modern society there are always various versions or brands that tend to shine and become more popular than the others.

They have evolved so much over the past few years that I am sure you have noticed that even more people have them with them everywhere they go via, GPS navigation units, net books, tablets, smart phones and other portable devices. And hopefully you have already discovered the web mapping section on CanadianGIS.com about the many great Canadian online web maps that are out (and grows every month) to help make our lives easier.

 Ottawa - Ontario - Google Maps View 1I remember when I first started out in GIS, how it was always challenging to explain to people what I did for a living (and that I did not actually just make the road maps they bought at the gas station).

Now days it has been much easier to explain to people what GIS is thanks to the rather recent increased knowledge about GIS and Geomatics due to more people using the basic free online mapping services like Google or Bing Maps.

Therefore I thought it was time to look at perhaps the two most common free mapping services that most of use all the time to see, how they compare to one another and how they have evolved over the past few years.

 Google Maps – maps.google.ca

So I will start off with Google Maps since I am sure most of us have come across a map generated in google or a website using Google before.

Google Maps is a web mapping service that powers many online map-based services, such as the main Google Maps website, Google Ride Finder, Google Transit, and embedded maps on thousands of websites that use Google Maps API.

Google Maps as we know it know started off as a little C++ program designed by two brothers Lars Rasmussen and Jens Rasmussen from the company Where 2 Technologies. Originally it was a stand-alone program that you needed to download and was not a web based product like it is today. In 2004 Google acquired their company and then transformed the mapping software into an interactive web application.

The first version released in 2005, was based on raster tiles organized into quad tree schematic layouts with the data loading done via XML & HTTP requests. Google uses JavaScript to serve the map data into your browser application. Perhaps the big thing that made Google’s product stand out from the others was when they provided code that allowed other users to integrate maps into their own websites (e.g. CanadianGIS.com).

Vancouver - Google Street View 1

Google Maps offers street maps, and a routine planner that can be configured for the method you are traveling (whether it is by foot, car, bike, or via public transportation). It also has an urban business locator for numerous countries in the world.

In 2007, they added Streetview, which provides users with a 360° captured view of streets in most major towns and cities. Basically a system was designed with multiple cameras that were mounted to the roof of vehicles that could capture data on all sides of the vehicles as the vehicle drove down the street.

Some areas are obviously covered better than others, but the project continues so more areas are covered as time goes on. They also incorporate satellite imagery and aerial photography in many places as well (whenever data sets are available); with the ability to produce quick Hybrid style maps containing map layers, labels and imagery fused together into one mapping product.

The Google Maps application has been pretty rock solid providing others the ability to show case their own mapping data without the need of purchasing high-end GIS mapping software.

Next up will be Microsoft’s Bing Maps. Click Here to continue reading …

 

City of Prince George online PGMap Application

The City of Prince George has released an updated version of their PGMap online Application. PGMap is what they refer to as the “On-line Geographic Information System” for the City of Prince George, British Columbia. PGMap was created and is provided free of charge to the public to use for viewing and searching property boundaries, aerial photography, legal descriptions, parcel information, verify zoning and various other City boundaries. Users can also create and print customized reports and high quality maps with PGMap. It is a very robust easy to use, user friendly interactive mapping application. PGMap provides a variety of different tools and functionality that appeal to a wide range of users from those that just need to view basic default maps to those that want to include their own GIS data and create custom maps of their own.The City of Prince George PGMap online Application

The mapping application uses Geocortex Essentials technology by Latitude Geographics built upon Esri’s ArcGIS Server and requires the Microsoft Silverlight Plug-in which is normally automatically installed by most modern web browsers (and available free), so if there are problems loading maps or data then one should first try upgrading their web browser or trying another. It was tested and worked well here in the following three web browsers: Internet Explorer, FireFox and Chrome.

The interactive map window is made up of two main regions; the map window panel and the information panel. The map window is like most other web mapping applications with a number of key cartographic features such as scale bar, overview map, spatial location in coordinates, and zoom controls. The information panel is located along the left hand side and allows users to perform various tasks to customize the look of the map such as selecting different map layers, viewing a legend, using search functionality. The information panel can also be hidden from the map if you are not interested in showing the various layers of your map and want to emphasize your mapping window instead.

The navigation is very user friendly, easy to use, and the data in the map window provides more detail at higher resolutions when you zoom into an area. To navigate around the mapping window with the mouse by clicking and dragging it around, the mouse wheel allows quick zooms in or out to full extent. PGMap also provides a shortcut menu that you can expose by right clicking in the map window and there are also the ability to use the keyboard to navigate around as well.

Aerial Photo - The City of Prince George PGMap online ApplicationAerial Photo - The City of Prince George PGMap online Application

A number of base maps are provided to choose from allowing the ability for further customization. It starts off with a default road layer base but there are also aerial photography, thematic layers, and topographic backgrounds available such as hillshades and a lidar intensity layer (ground only surface model). The orthos sets are from different years (1993 up to 2010), allowing users to compare aerial photos over time for an area while incorporating other vector data sets such as property parcel or topographic information on top.LIDAR - The City of Prince George PGMap online Application

The toolbar section is yet another part of the mapping application that is hidden by default but can be exposed by clicking on the little toolbox icon (like the one in ArcGIS) and is one of the features of the application that make this better then most others. The toolbar contains a number of tabs that hold all the tools that a user needs to interact with and customize their map. The various tabs group similar functions together making it easier to use and find tools to customize the map. The “I want to …” drop down menu contains several tools that allow you to search for data as well as provide quick access to common tasks to help customize your maps.

There are tools in the toolbar that allow users to draw points, polygons and other features onto the map, incorporate their own data (shape files, CSV data) and use basic analysis functionality such as measure and plot coordinates. There are a few buttons that allow you to compare same location with other online maps such as google or bing if you want to compare what you have made with others. And when you are all done you can save the map your working on for someone else or later, or export it to use later. open your project later on and also open other people’s maps

PGMap online Application toolbar

The PGMap online mapping application for the City of Prince George is a well done online cartographic tool that can be appreciated and utilized by a wide range of users.

I recommend that you try it out for your self and hope that other cities will take a look at it and consider doing the same with their GIS data sets for the public to use. Feel free to share you feedback and experience’s using the PGMap or any other Canadian online web mapping applications.

 http://princegeorge.ca/cityservices/online/pgmap/Pages/Default.aspx

The City of Prince George have also contributed their city data sets to the Esri Canada Community Maps program so you people also use the data on the popular ArcGIS.com online mapping system for free if they decide that they do not want to use the PGMap application but generate maps for the City of Prince George . And like most other larger Canadian cities they have also made much of their data sets available through The City of Prince George Open Data Catalogue, so people can download data and use it with their own GIS software if they prefer.

They also offer a digital street centreline base map in PDF format if all you need is to print off a street map of the area.

Comparison of top Free Online Map Sites (part 3)

 Click Here to go to the start of this article or 

Click Here to go back to part 2

This is part 3 of the feature – Comparison of Free Online Map Sites ‘Bing Maps vs Google Maps’ that takes a closer look at Google & Microsoft’s web mapping services.

Major Differences/Pros and Cons

User Experience

Vancouver - Bing Slide ViewBing Maps tends to offer more automated features than Google Maps does and it automatically changes style and details as the user zooms in and out. As you scroll around the map, the bar at the left dynamically updates things such as weather, pictures, and Photosynths for the current area. Google Maps is more basic in form, sticking to its trademark look, offers fewer features and uses JavaScript making it often more choppy zooming in and out.

Location Search Accuracy

Both have done a great job utilizing spatial database data to provide a better accurate search, although sometimes you may find one does a better job over the other in different areas (with no real reasoning of why). Also the more information you have to provide (e.g. adding postal code) in your search then obviously the better your results will be.

Both map services offer driving directions that can be easily achieved by stating a start and end point. Driving directions that I have tested with both services were usually pretty accurate with estimated travel times based on mode of transportation provided by both has been pretty good as well.

Satellite Image Resolution

Imagery data sets for both services vary from place to place but overall it seems that Bing Maps uses newer and better quality satellite images than Google Maps does. Bing Maps images are generally about a year old (about 215 terabytes of high-resolution imagery to Bing Maps was recently added by Microsoft), where Google Maps images have an average of about 2 to 3 years old. With Bing Maps, you can also zoom in closer than with Google Maps (if the data exists).

Bird’s-eye View of Bing Maps offers a 3D view of buildings in major cities (mostly in the USA) and many places that are not highly (like most parts ofCanada) populated will not have any higher resolution imagery and only basic larger scale Landsat data will be provided. Sometimes Google imagery does not flow well together, mixing dark and light data sets and some with clouds and other obstructions (usually a pet peeve for anyone who works in Remote Sensing) . However both vendors provide better imagery as they obtain it so aerial imagery in various areas is constantly changing.

In a bid to keep up with its arch mapping rival, Microsoft is taking on Google Maps in the high-resolution space with a 215 terabyte update of Bird’s Eye imagery.

Microsoft has piled on another 215 terabytes of high-resolution imagery to Bing Maps, less than a month after it dished out a massive 165 terabyte cache of mapping data to the service. [source: news.cnet.com ]

          Bing Slide View CoverageGoogle Street View Coverage

Streetside View vs. Streetview

Both Bing Maps and Google Maps have street-level views, where there is a panoramic view taken from the top of a car and stitched together so it looks like you were standing there. Bing’s “Streetside view” shots are clearer, with higher resolutions and more features (such as Flicker and Photosynth) integrated into the viewing experience. Bing’s Worldwide telescope integration is a feature that allows viewers to look up to view the night-time sky above them. Google’s streetview also has a “user images” feature that offers more photos than Bing does, but they are presented as a slide shoe, instead of being layered as they are with Bing. Google’s Streetview is worthy of an honorable mention because of the numbers of areas around the world that it has captured.

Ottawa - Ontario - Google Maps

 Summary

Both Bing Maps and Google Maps offer effective web mapping platforms with very similar yet unique features . Bing tends to have better features and tools integrated into it, and can operate smoother than Google Maps but their coverage of data in Canada is relatively pretty weak.

Both have great features to offer but neither one seems to really fully out shine the other over all, witch in a way can be a good thing as these two web giants continue to go head to head providing us with more free web mapping tools to make our every day lives better.

I myself tend to use Google Maps more perhaps out of habit from being a big Google Earth user, but can honestly admit I do go back and forth between the two mapping applications  depending on what I am using them for. ArcGIS now offers Bing products as free base maps for ArcMap layouts so that certainly has increased my Bing maps usage.

For example, I find that Bing does a better job of providing names of streets and rivers and the Bird’s Eye imagery always provides more than one view of an object (although not available for many places in Canada). And a lot depends on the imagery of data that is available in the area I am working with, so I tend to sometimes check both to see which one is better.

And actually someone has come up with a web application that provides both mapping applications in the same window for times when you want to compare (http://www.jonasson.org/maps/). So go ahead and check out these two popular free web mapping applications and then leave some comments about witch one you prefer over the other.

Maps - Bing Maps vs Google Maps

References

Microsoft – http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/bing/ff808582.aspx

Google – http://support.google.com/maps/?hl=en

Wikipedia. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Maps & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bing_Maps

 

 

 

Comparison of top Free Online Map Sites (part 2)

 Click Here to go back to the start of this article

This is part 2 of the feature – Comparison of Free Online Map Sites ‘Bing Maps vs Google Maps’ that takes a closer look at Google & Microsoft’s web mapping services.

Bing Maps – maps.bing.ca

Ottawa - Ontario - Google Street View 1

Bing Maps is Microsoft’s web mapping service provided as a part of their Bing suite of search engines and powered by the Bing Maps for Enterprise framework. Originally called Microsoft Virtual Earth, the first version was released in 2005.

In 2010 a fully overhauled design for the default view was launched as well as adding dynamic labels. Bing optimizes the power of the Silverlight engine combined withAJAXto serve the map data into your browser application.

It offers street maps, featuring road view, aerial view, bird’s-eye view, streetside view (with geo-tagged photos from Flickr and Photosynth integration), and 3D view (as an add-on), driving directions, and several different map apps.

The Bird’s Eye imagery feature provides end-users with high-resolution, oblique look angle imagery in four different look-directions providing a different visual context appealing to many spatial tasks. This neat feature allows you to look at an object from one angle and then spin your screen around and see the same object from a different perspective.

Ottawa - Ontario - Bing Birds Eye View 2Ottawa - Ontario - Bing Birds Eye View 1

Bing Maps provides traffic information and ClearFlow traffic data, as well as allowing users to share maps and embed them into their websites. Other features include people, location, and business search functions, and satellite imagery (“Bing Maps,” 2011; Pike, 2010).

Table 1

Top Features of Bing Maps and Google Maps

Bing Maps

Google Maps

Road, Satellite, Bird’s-eye views

Road, Satellite, Terrain views

Streetside view, with Flickr and Photosynth picture overlays

Streetview

3D models ofU.S.cities

Panorama Integration

Driving Directions and Traffic Information

Mobile Map apps

Bird’s Eye imagery

Driving Directions and Traffic Information

 

Washington Bing Street View 1Washington Google Street View 1

 

Major Differences/Pros and Cons

User Experience

Bing Maps tends to offer more automated features than Google Maps does and it automatically changes style and details as the user zooms in and out. As you scroll around the map, the bar at the left dynamically updates things such as weather, pictures, and Photosynths for the current area. Google Maps is more basic in form, sticking to its trademark look, offers fewer features and uses JavaScript making it often more choppy zooming in and out.

 Click Here to continue reading … or Click Here to go back to the start of this article