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Converting between UTM, MTM and LAT/LONG

If you ever find yourself in need of quickly getting values converted from Geographic to UTM / MTM (Modified Traverse Mercator) or UTM / MTM to Geographic then here is a a free online converter tool that we use provided by Canadian Spatial Reference System.

New and Improved GeoGratis Website

GeoGratis free Canadian geospatial data web portal

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has recently launched a new update to the already innovative GeoGratis website (Note: although it has gone live it is still in beta mode).  GeoGratis is a web portal that provides access to a wide collection of Canadian geospatial data, maps, images, and publications at no cost and without restrictions.

All data accessed via GeoGratis comes with an Unrestricted Use Licence Agreement that grants users a non-exclusive, royalty-free right and licence to exercise all intellectual property rights in the data including the right to use, incorporate, sub-license, modify, further develop, and distribute the data. The various downloadable geospatial data, maps, images, and publications in several different popular formats such as geopdf, geotiff, pdf, shape file and tiff.

GeoGratis Canadian Geospatial Data Portal

Improvements to the new site made go much deeper then just minor cosmetic changes. GeoGratis Website  is now easier to use and allows access to better search tools where one can now view and download all available geospatial data sets consolidated into the same web site.

The new Platform also now better supports developers that want to create unique and innovative mapping applications with Canadian data, images and documents using one of the three available GeoGratis Application Programming Interfaces (API’s). These include the GeoGratis API, the GeoLocation API and also an updated Canada base web map service (WMS) that now also includes Canadian transportation data (Canada Base Map for Transportation – CBM-T).

NRCan feels that the new GeoGratis service is compatible with OpenGIS® Consortium (OGC), innovative and cutting-edge, and will provide a better one stop site for people to obtain Canadian geospatial data, maps, images and publications.

The New GeoGratis Website: An Innovative Geospatial Platform for all Canadians; consolidates several location-based services including The Canadian Geographical Names Database (CGNDB), Atlas Gazetteer, Postal Codes and National Topographic System (NTS) Map search. The CGNDB manages names records for populated places and physical features across Canada. Users can search by geographic location using the map of Canada, name, physical feature, subject, NTS number or product title.

GeoGratis - Search geospatial gis data results

NRCan has been listening to what the geomatics community has been asking for all along. And as a result have taken what was already a pretty good service that offered free data and information and consolidated it together, cleaned it up and then added some more tools as well.

Therefore one should only expect that with all this royalty-free geospatial data and API tools now available that we should start to see more Canadian Cities and Municipalities start to offer web mapping sites and geographic information for their citizens.

Take a look at the new and improved GeoGratis Website for yourself using either the new search interface or simply browse through the extensive directory listing of hundreds of different maps, imagery and geospatial data sets to discover what the Federal Government of Canada has to offer the geomatics community.

Submit an Online Web Mapping Site

Online Web mapping involves designing, implementing, generating and delivering maps to end users via the Internet through common web browsers, allowing people to use maps interactively with out needing high end software. Web GIS is very similar to web mapping but provides analysis, data processing, publishing and other GIS abilities. Often these two terms are used synonymously, even if they are not exactly the same product. None the less both have been increasing exposure over the past few years, a major accomplishment for the GIS industry and since Web mapping can not exist without GIS, (and for simplicity) we have combined these all into one category here on the site.

internet with globe - web mappingOur web mapping section examines the various online web mapping and web GIS applications that have been created all across Canada.

Some of ones that we have covered are ones that we use on a regular basis, some that we stumbled across and some have been submitted to us by others. So as you browse through the our Web mapping section category you will find that are a wide array of online mapping applications with Canadian content being offered via the internet from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

Some notable one that has been covered so far includes:

 Plus many more that you can find here

Our aim is to continue covering all the great Online Web mapping in Canada so we would love for others to submit online web mapping applications that either they have created themselves or ones that they are aware of but we have yet to cover on our site. Simply use the form below …

Languages of Universities Interactive Map

These days, people are starting to make the Internet their primary source of everyday information and more people are becoming aware of how valuable spatial data and maps can be, as a result there have been more webs sites containing interactive web mapping applications appearing. And as you can see from some of the many great mapping applications covered by CanadianGIS.com in the web mapping section, some of them can be pretty robust applications containing a wide variety of data sets and customization possibilities while others can still be relative simple mapping applications while still providing added value.

Perhaps a good example of a relative simple mapping application that is well done and does a good job of combing spatial and basic information is one I recently came across on the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages web site.

Map - University Language Programs in Canada

Here they use an online interactive map to demonstrate where the various English, French and Bilingual universities across Canada are located while providing basic information about each. The map allows its users to select predefined maps either by clicking on the map directly or by using the pull down selection box that returns either a list of possible schools or an exact school. Of witch when clicked provides a more detailed map and then information about the language skills provided at that institute.

Canadian Maple Leaf - half

Here, we see no extra tool bars, printing functionality or user customization provided, just the basic information about the intended language topics and then a link to the domain of the University where someone can find more detailed information about that particular University featured on the map. And although maybe not that impressive to a cartographer or a geomatics person, sometimes that is all that is needed with a simple mapping application.


Here is the link
to check out the mapping application for your self:

http://www.ocol-clo.gc.ca/twolanguages_deuxlangues/index_e#

CanadianGIS.com has been exploring the web and exposing some of the many great online web mapping applications for the past year covering various regions and topics in Canada, if you know of one that has been missed or not listed on the site yet then let me know. I will take a look at it and then consider adding it the site for CanadianGIS.com viewers to learn more about and share with their networks.

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 web mapping 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.

DataAppeal Provides Highly Effective & Interactive 3D Maps

logo DataAppealRecently a fairly new mapping tool called DataAppeal was brought to my attention. DataAppeal renders art and design with geo-based data into highly effective and interactive 3D maps. Unlike many other GIS analysis tools on the market this one has been designed to be a simplified easy to use tool so, no previous experience or training is required. Simply upload your data and use DataAppeal to transform rows and rows of boring data into fascinating and beautiful 3D images.

“DataAppeal transforms geo-referenced data by allowing users to generate, render, analyze, and share information through highly effective and visually powerful 3D and animated maps, yet is extremely simple to use. It takes the guess work out of generating information by instantly mapping any uploaded data. “

dataappeal Fiery texture with carpet1. Upload Your Data
– sign up to the free service
– download the basic template file
– add your data to the CSV file
– upload the CSV data set
2. Customize Your Map
– click the icon to import the data from your file into the system (if there are problems with the data then the system will alert you here and you will need to check or reformat your file)
– click the icon to load your data into a default map
– customize the look of your data and map with the various available settings and options
3. Share Your Maps
– Use icons provided to share your maps on Twitter, FaceBook, Email or on your own site or blog
– You can also download a Google Earth file

“We just released an updated version of DataAppeal, with new functionality to make it even easier and much faster to use! We added new features to provide new ways to visualize data sets. You now have the option of layering multiple maps so you can quickly compare different data sets. You can also use the new color gradient feature to quickly see common data points- all on the google earth platform.”

dataappeal tree cover Toronto

All these features will continue to be free for a limited time (in beta mode), so you can see how useful they are when analyzing your data.-we also launched a new website, with 3D data-map image samples and demo videos.

“We would love it if your followers would test it and provide us feedback”

The basic features will remain free always with the more advanced features such as color gradients, texture styles, ability to layer maps and the ability to upload larger data sets will be part of the premium service. So now is a good time to sign up with  DataAppeal and create some 3D interactive maps of your own data, and then share your feedback and experiences with other CanadianGIS.com readers.

Here are sme sample data sets that were rendered through the Dataappeal web-based application showcasing some of the various styles and features available.

Toronto Population- http://dataappeal.com/explore/featured-maps/toronto-population.html

Great Lakes Parks – http://dataappeal.com/explore/featured-maps/great-lakes-parks.html

GeoAlberta – Ga3 – Geospatial: anywhere, anytime for anyone!

GeoAlberta – Ga3 – Geospatial – anywhere, anytime for anyone

Date: May 7-9, 2012GeoAlberta - Ga3 - Geospatial - anywhere, anytime for anyone
Location: Coast Plaza Hotel – Calgary, Alberta
Registration: registration@geoalberta.com or see the registration page

Details: GeoAlberta has become the Premier Geospatial Information Conference for Geomatics professionals in Western Canada. This years event titled “Ga3 – Geospatial – anywhere, anytime for anyone!” will be the 10th Anniversary and planned to reflect the new Geomatics world around us.

“Geospatial information has become part of everyday life and is a growing world wide phenomenon. No longer is Geospatial Information the preserve of highly skilled professionals, instead many people in society use it on a daily basis, sometimes unknowinly.

Real-time, interactive and mobile GPS/GIS technologies has created new real-time geographic analysis and real-time geography. Such developments have led to advances in the ways spatial information is collected, mapped and used by an expanding user community. They are now at the heart of a vast array of real-time interactive mobile computing, geolocation applications and asset management, along with wireless geographic services that are revolutionizing the role of geography and geospatial information in everyday society.

Discover how it all works together from traditional mapping and survey technology to new web technologies and smart devices. Learn from industry leaders how geospatial information is emerging, evolving and imminent in today’s society.”

The 10th GeoAlberta Conference will be titled “Geospatial – anywhere, anytime for anyone” to reflect the changes in how Geospatial Information is used and how it is available all the time. It is expected that close to 450 professionals will come together in Calgary this May to discuss Geospatial Information, celebrate and explore new opportunites. The event is made possible thanks to combined efforts of four Western Geomatics associations: the Alberta Geomatics Group, GeoEdmonton, Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) Alberta Chapter and Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Alberta Chapter.

Registration begins in February with members of the four Western Geomatics associations mentioned above able to save up to $200 if they register before the early bird deadline and speakers and presenters can save up to half of their registration fees.

They are also promoting Cartography contest where schools can submit maps that they have generated for a chance to win money. The competition is open to students or in Grade 9 thru 12. The top maps will be exhibited at the GeoAlberta conference with chances to win up to $1000.

Help celebrate GeoAlberta’s 10th Anniversary by attending or presenting at this years GeoAlberta – Geospatial Information Conference in Calgary. For more information, direct requests to info@geoalberta.com or check out the conference web site for updates.

[source: GeoAlberta.com]


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

 

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