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What3words – Making Addressing Easier

What3words … because words are much easier to remember

What3Words is a relatively new geocoding system that is actively being used around the world to help make it easier to describe the spatial location of an area. According to the United Nations about 75 percent of the world (almost 4 billion people) has not been properly addressed, making it hard to locate where people live, something that we take for granted here in Canada.

What3words - Making Addressing EasierThis geocoding system differs from other alphanumeric location systems and GPS navigation by encoding geographic coordinates into 3 common dictionary words instead of long strings of numbers (for example, the center of Parliament Hill is situated at scales.balance.bonds). The three words have no combined contextual meaning but are simply three words derived from a database used to describe a specific location. Unlike most traditional mobile mapping applications that rely on postal addresses, this one makes use of a grid containing 57 trillion squares, each 3 m x 3 m with a unique 3 word identifier and covering the entire planet.

What3Words provides an online mapping application and mobile web apps for smart phones (Android os and iOS) that people can use to identify any location on the globe using distinctive three word combos. Considering at least 5 billion people on earth do not have a proper home address, What3Words could be considered a useful tool for people living way from the modern grid.

What3words - Making Addressing EasierWhat3Words also provides API code to web developers so that they help the geospatial community by developing handy third party applications. By default the What3Words website runs off of Google maps, however now Esri has made the service available in ArcGIS Online and for ArcGIS for Desktop, so you can use the application with other base maps and even your own data. To configure the What3Words Locator for ArcGIS see the instructions provided here.

To determine what your 3 word address is, or determine where you are Located using the What3Words geocoding system simply:

  1. Go to the What3Words website – https://map.what3words.com
  2. Either your current address or GPS coordinates into the search box found at the top of the map, or use the mouse with the map to navigate to your location (e.g. enter 301 Front Street W, Toronto, ON M5V 2T6 and you will be at dearest.rebounds.grandson)
  3. Find your unique 3 phrase What3Words address appear at the bottom of the screen

You can also type any three words into the search box on what3words.com and it will navigate to that unique 3 m x 3 m block (e.g. type cool.geography.maps into the search box and you will end up somewhere along the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland).

 

 

 

GIS Appreciation Day

March 2, 2016 will be the first GIS Appreciation Day

Last month on Twitter, Gretchen Peterson, a renowned cartographer and author from Colorado, thought that we should all celebrate a fun GIS Appreciation Day on social media.

GIS Appreciation DayShe thought that unlike the traditional GIS day that takes place every year, during Geography Week and used to help promote GIS and geographic education, GIS Appreciation Day would be celebrated more via social media as a fun way to promote GIS, cartography and maps.

After learning that several social media influencers from the geospatial community on Twitter also thought it was a great idea, she picked March 2nd as the day and then encouraged everyone to spread the word.

We are very active on social media and plan to participate, and hope that you will join us on March 2nd by using the hashtag #GISAppreciationDay with all your social media postings on Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram and Google+. Also do not forget to include lots of great maps, geospatial info, funny GIS memes, videos and various GIS related images.

We have included links to several of our social media profiles for those who have yet to follow us:

So get involved and have some fun sharing GIS related maps and images March 2nd.


 


Success Recipe of OpenStreetMap

There are various reasons for the success of OpenStreetMap and the major one is the granularity that it provides with respect to information and analysis. Since OpenStreetMap is a crowd-sourced map, it shows information at a granular level, thus helping all services and businesses in reaching out to people.

Success Recipe of OpenStreetMap

Moreover, since OpenStreetMap is open to anyone for editing and updating their location, all information is updated as and when changes happen. This makes it possible to find any place, anywhere across the globe. One major factor helping the maps evolve is the locale of the developers and their intimacy to the area they live. Since all information about location is updated by the locals themselves, the details are accurate, clear and precise.OpenStreetMap Toronto

The second major reason for the success of OpenStreetMap is the flexibility it offers to both the developers and common people in rendering and finding information. For example, Google controls whatever you do with Google Maps and therefore it can restrict any information it considers as inappropriate, even though the information may be from legitimate sources. This is where OpenStreetMap has tasted success over the years.

There is complete flexibility in the way information is shared and updated in the maps, thereby giving you full access and control to show whatever you want. Moreover, with OpenStreetMap, developers can build custom based maps, making it reflect the theme of business. Even though this flexibility may cost, vandalism of the system, no major reports have been filed till date.

So even though there are a couple of cons, using the maps, the advantages overrun the drawbacks. Also, the fact that all the services offered by OpenStreetMap are free of cost as everyone of you using the maps is considered the owners of the maps, you need not spend any bucks to showcase your location.

But don’t just take our words for it, if you really love mapping then you should be checking out OpenStreetMap for yourself. After all it is free so you have nothing to lose and so much to gain … http://www.openstreetmap.org is the official OpenStreetMap  website.

Also check out some of these OpenStreetMap & Open Data related Topics:

Avoid the Traffic with ReRouteMe Mapping Application

One of the things that I have been fortunate enough to avoid since moving east back to the Maritimes a few years ago has been the annoying daily commute that so much of us participate in at least twice a day (although I have had my share of it over the years, having lived in many urban areas such as Halifax, Ottawa and Toronto). Statistics Canada reports that the average time that Canadians spend commuting to and from work increased from an average of 54 minutes in 1992 to an average of 63 minutes in 2005. If you tally those minutes up you may be shocked to learn that it works out to almost 32 days a year that an average person spends in traffic commuting.

traffic along the highway“For one in four Canadians, the two-way commute takes more than 90 minutes.And it’s not just the commute. There is nearly as much traffic at lunchtime today as there was at rush hour a generation ago. Not only are there more cars and trucks on the road but we’re using them for more things: driving the kids to sports, where once they would have walked.” (Andrew Coyne – Macleans Magazine – Jan 2011).

So are you tired of the traffic and want to travel faster and smarter?

Then perhaps you should check to see if your city is available on ReRouteMe.

ReRouteMe logo

This online mapping application takes the basic functionality of Google maps (such as the display of the reference map and the address search ability) and combines it with custom functionality and databases that are completely independent from Google to provide a powerful value added product that can help you avoid accidents, traffic cams, construction and any congestion on your everyday commute. The ReRouteMe back-end, powered by Open Source software packages has been further customized to meet the application requirements and public demand. ReRouteMe uses PostgreSQL as the RDBMS for the geographic/tabular data management as well as processing and the routing engine is based on a modified version of pgRouting.

Designed with a Wide Range of Users in Mind

ReRouteMe has been designed for a wide range of users including those that drive their own vehicle, use public transit, take a taxi, cycle and even walking. Currently it provides over 35 different cities (mostly from Ontario), a growing collection that continues to increase since the first time I discovered the application in 2012. It provides users with the basics such as simply going from start to final destination as well as the ability to customize with multiple stops, stop-over times and the ability to set other various dynamic criteria to help influence the provided route. Users can sign up for an account, define and store their routes, and then the application will notify them via e-mail with alternative options when there are last minute events such as accidents, traffic jams or road closures.

ReRouteMe Web Mapping Application

The web site contains plenty of helpful extras that makes it stand out and appealing to a large audience, however I was fortunate enough to get some additional information from Pierre Lermusieaux, the COO of Rhexia Incorporated (creators of ReRouteMe) to share with the CanadianGIS.com audience.

“The ReRouteMe web application was built out of an interest to provide more in-depth and local information about commuting that what is typically available from Google and others. Our focus is the promotion of ‘green’ modes of transportation as well as the presentation of useful information related to public transportation. The ReRouteMe application is free to use by anyone.

The application has been designed to leverage publicly available data that is typically further processed to make it useable and informative. The road network used for the routing is based on OpenStreetMap, the National Road Network (NRN) from NRCan, and the Ontario Road Network (ORN) from LIO. Additional efforts have been invested to add missing information or correct existing one. All of the point of interest have been harvested from public information provided by cities or other organizations.” – (Pierre Lermusieaux – Rhexia Incorporated)

Some of the functionality currently presented in the ReRouteMe application include:

  • Public Transit Routing (based on the Municipal GTFS schedules with advanced options for routing), coverage includes the following municipalities: Ottawa, Toronto, Mississauga, Waterloo, Guelph and Hamilton. They have also deployed GoTransit which links the Greater Toronto Area, thus allowing them to route the user across various municipalities in the GTA using public transit. Soon users will also be able to do ‘simulation’ routing with the future Ottawa Light Rail that includes allowing the user to transfer between Octranspo buses and the soon to be built Ottawa Light Rail.
  • Routing for Bicycles that merges cycle paths with the road network with some advanced options
  • Routing for pedestrians
  • Routing for Personal vehicle, including multiple stops and advanced options for routing
  • Routing for Taxi that provides cost estimate for the trip as well as trip share for multiple riders
  • Ability to change the City of interest that will intern drive the selection of the Transit organizations, weather information, gas prices, traffic news, and taxi fares that are included with the routing and map
  • Routing is influenced by factors representing: rush vs non-rush hour, dynamic and recurring congestion, turn costs, turn prohibitions, constructions, events, and accidents
  • Calculations of the costs associated to using a Car for a specific route: gas usage and costs based on a specific car make and model (selectable) and current average gas prices for the area, CO2 emitted for the route
  • Provision of an estimated travel time for the route and another one taking into account the local current weather conditions
  • Ability to reverse and edit the route addresses and to apply the same route addresses to another mode of transportation
  • Saving routes, one time routes, recurring routes and the ability to send them via e-mail
  • Ability to set your own preferences (needs to be logged in): preferred addresses, home city, car make and model, notification frequency, etc.
  • Once a route is saved and it is recurring, the application will notify you by e-mail of any changes to the itinerary prior to your departure should construction or accidents impact it. A new route is then proposed as part of the notification
  • Ability to show points of interest at a maximum distance along the calculated route
  • Ability to dynamically exclude a segment from a route
  • Find out where the traffic cameras are located to help avoid any tickets
  • Learn where the best place is to buy gas

cars at sunset on the highway in trafficI am sure that by now you can see the from this extensive list of current functionality that the ReRouteMe web mapping application can provide people with robust tools to help them plan their daily commute and learn of any changes that they should anticipate before they head out. So if you have a rather complicated daily commute then I am sure that you can see that a few minutes on ReRouteMe.com before you head out can actually save you time later on.

The team at ReRouteMe that I have been in contact with are very proud of their application and  tell me that they will expand the tool whenever there comes a need or demand for certain services and thus would love any feedback or suggestions for future modifications.

Below are a few more helpful videos on ReRouteMe that show how robust and powerful the tool is; and yet how user friendly and easy to use it is. I recommend that you check it out for yourself (especially if you live in an urban are of Ontario) and let me know what you think, all feedback is welcome. The web site is ReRouteMe.com
as well as being very easy to use with plenty of helpful information including help videos.

Website: ReRouteMe.com

[Sources: emails – rerouteme.com – macleans.ca – rhexia.com]
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No Expensive Development Needed: Configure your Web GIS

What: Free 30-minute webinar about Web GIS through the iVAULT Administrator Module
When: Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM PST

Plan to attend a free 30-minute webinar where you can learn how easily your organization can configure a Web GIS Portal without any additional development cost. iVAULT is a self-service Web GIS application that can help you make better, more informed decisions for your organization. Without any consultancy services, a Web GIS can be configured by your organization through the iVAULT Administrator Module.

Enhance security, increase analytics capabilities and personalization and integrate with third party involvement by:

• Managing role-based access for user groups and configure access to specific attributes, map layers and reports for each group
• Configuring your brand, site layout, task panel, languages, tool bars, and database searches
• Connecting to Bing, Google, Yahoo, Open StreetMap, Esri and other base map services
• Setting up detailed database searches and enable application-level integrations

 

Do you want to learn more?  Register now and don’t miss this opportunity. To find out more and register see https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/884235279 or visit iVAULT Website for additional information: http://ivault.pat.ca

 

Canadian GIS Software

Geographic Information SystemsGIS software packages come in many different formats and designed to handle many applications. Some are more robust then others offering a wide range of tools and applications while others are much more simple, the software you use should depend a lot on what your needs are.

There are also many other things to consider such as cost, usability, supported data formats just to mention a few. Canada has many software companies that offer GIS software related packages and many others that sell packages made abroad but available here.

Free GIS software

Geographic Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) – GRASS software is a free GIS package with multiple functionality including image processing, both raster & vector compatibly, 2D/3D vector network analysis and much more functionality. It operates on various system platforms including shell and a graphical user interfaces.

Google Earth – new twist on traditional GIS that allows you to create 3D maps with existing aerial data sets

Licensed GIS software

PCI Geomatica – Geomatica 2012 from well known Canadian based PCI Geomatics is a powerful easy to learn GIS and Remote sensing package with a wide range of traditional remote sensing, photogrammetry, GIS, cartography, and web development tools.

MapInfo GIS desktop mapping application that now includes CAD tools and .NET program-ability.

ESRI – ArcGIS v10 is the most popular and dependable GIS desktop mapping application available, used world wide.

More software …

Other Mapping Tools

Need to quickly convert spatial coordinates from MTM, UTM or LAT/LONG?

 DataAppeal – Online mapping tool that provides Highly Effective & Interactive 3D Maps

Google Map Maker for Canada

GPS Software

Trimble GPS Planner – handy little FREE software package for planning of GPS Missions, allows you to optimize your base destination region with multiple station locations allowing you to determine where it would be best to record observations, determine elevation masks, generate graphs showing satellite coverage, DOP coverage, and create sky plots of GPS satellites.

Map Maker for Canada

Google Map Maker Canada

Explore Map Maker for Canada

Leave your mark on the map, share your local knowledge about Canadian places with other Canadians.

Google has launched a product that they call Map Maker for Canada that provides users with the ability to add and update geographic information for millions of others to see in Google Maps. People can add businesses, create building outlines, move other peoples place markers to the correct locations. So why not help out the cause by adding places of interest, your school, campus or add your business location.

Check the Map Maker User Guide for help to get started or just be like most other GIS professionals and give Google Map Maker a try and learn as you go.  Google.ca/mapmaker

Share your feedback and comments on this neat little Google Maps feature.