Geography is increasingly being recognized as a critically important element. Take free GIS courses online to build your skills and advance your career using open-source software.
GRASS GIS 7.4.0 provides more than 480 stability fixes and improvements compared to the previous stable version 7.2. An overview of the new features in the 7.4 release series is available at New Features in GRASS GIS 7.4.
Grass GIS Software
GRASS GIS, commonly referred to as Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, is an open source GIS software that is commonly used for geospatial data analysis, data management, image processing, cartography, spatial modeling, and data visualization. It was originally was developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and is a founding member of the Open Source Geospatial (OSGeo) Foundation.
GRASS GIS contains over 350 modules to render maps and images on monitor and paper; manipulate raster, and vector data including vector networks; process multispectral image data; and create, manage, and store spatial data.
It offers both an intuitive graphical user interface as well as command line syntax for ease of operations. It can interface with printers, plotters, digitizers, and databases to develop new data as well as manage existing data.
The latest stable version available is version 7. GRASS GIS v7 provides support for large data , has an improved topological vector engine and improved vector network analysis tools. Click here to download it for yourself and give it a try.
Learn QGIS is an open mapping initiative
Learn QGIS : The information age is powered by data
In Canada, data drives policy decisions, business decisions and community decisions. From national conversations about social issues to local campaigns for more park benches, our decisions are guided by geographic data – and when more people have access to authoritative data, the more informed these important conversations can be.
With the government’s recent commitment to an Open Data Action Plan, there is no doubt that Canadian data publishers will continue to make high priority datasets available online. These data are touted as being accessible to all, and that’s true – but their actual use is limited to those with the technical skills to know what to do with them.
LearnQGIS.com is a new Canadian initiative to change the way open data is used. I’m asking you to check out the website, sign up to get involved, and please – this is important – visit https://www.raiseanaim.org/projects/learn-qgis to endorse the project or support it financially.
In our experience, open data publishers have done a reasonably good job of connecting with local app developers (or ‘civic hackers’), who use the data to write web applications, often in the context of weekend hackathons. These applications generally fail to gain traction – they are quickly written and quickly forgotten. There is a growing (and as of yet un-met) demand from professionals outside of the hackathon groups in a variety of industries to support their use of the data as well.
“The world is witnessing the growth of a global movement facilitated by technology and social media and fuelled by information – one that contains enormous potential to create more accountable, efficient, responsive and effective governments and businesses, and to spur economic growth. Open data sits at the heart of this global movement.” – G8 Open Data Charter
Many open datasets are in geospatial formats or have a spatial component (a postal code, for example). Therefore, the transmission of GIS knowledge to those outside our industry is critical to the accessibility of open data. Journalists, non-profits, small businesses, citizen groups, researchers, and anyone else working on a professional or pet project ought to be able to download a shapefile and make a basic map. They should be able to combine data from different sources, including their own proprietary information.
“We’ve been seeing over the last couple of years a new layer of interest in Open Data and that interest is coming from people who can’t use or even understand raw data files. There is a clear need to provide ways and means for everyone to leverage raw data.” – Keith McDonald, City of Toronto Open Data Lead
Luckily, we live in the age of free and open source GIS, such as the popular QGIS platform. With a short primer on some geographic fundamentals, even non-technical users can successfully create their very own custom map. The experience, however, can be frustrating and there are many roadblocks to success. The learning curve can be steep, and the existing training options don’t adequately meet the needs of users with non-technical backgrounds. Right now we’re telling people to take a course and hope it answers their questions, or post to a forum and hope for an answer they can use. I suspect we, as a geomatics community, could help generate better outcomes – including increased name recognition for our industry – by building better relationships with geo-rookies.
These “rookies” are people who are actively working on projects that would benefit from a GIS. They’re experts in their own fields, not people looking to enter the geomatics industry themselves. What they really need is an expert guide to hold their hand while they work on a DIY GIS project, offering a little general advice about getting started, answering a couple of specific questions about the project, and helping to bail them out if they run into trouble. I like to equate it to working out with a personal trainer – sure, you could probably figure out what exercises you should be doing and how to do them properly yourself, but you’re much more likely to succeed with someone supporting you and holding you accountable.
“Technical skills are becoming increasingly important for media professionals. GIS is a growing field for journalists, and maps are an increasingly popular and important way of presenting information to readers and analyzing data dumps from governments. The program Ms. Blundell outlines would be an important resource, one that does not currently exist, to bring skills training and guidance to media professionals. There is an established and under served market for technical training and this program would go a long way toward fulfilling those needs.” – William Wolfe-Wiley, Homepage Editor, Canada.com
My vision for LearnQGIS.com is to provide this “personal trainer” experience. It’s a way to connect rookies with a geospatial guide who can advise them and help them succeed. Once an expert is on board as a volunteer guide, they are also invited to apply to be a QGIS instructor. LearnQGIS instructors receive everything they need to run a training seminar wherever they’re located in Canada, including marketing and logistical support, presentation materials, and tutorials with pre-packaged data. Revenue from the workshops is divided between the instructor, the site, and the QGIS Project.
Aside from the opportunity to become an instructor, there are many benefits to volunteering as a guide. In my practice as a GIS consultant, I’ve noticed that training my clients in open source tools has also benefitted me. They’re more willing to expand their use of the technology once they understand it. When they have the power to make simple edits they are more willing to have me do some work in the short term, knowing they won’t need to call for support if they decide to use a different shade of green for a feature. And once they understand what goes into a mapping project, they’re often more willing to pay a real expert to do the more complicated work they can’t do themselves. I’ve been playing the role of ‘guide’ for years, and it’s been a win-win. I’ve also learned that teaching others one-on-one or in a classroom is a wonderful way to expand your knowledge, and helping someone with a project can help you gain experience in a new industry.
This project already has buy-in from data publishers and leaders in the geospatial community. Potential users are enthusiastic to get started. I encourage you to get involved at www.learnqgis.com. Sign up to be a guide; apply to become an instructor. Share the link broadly – we all know someone who really should be using GIS in their work. We know our industry is important; let’s show our friends outside the sector what we can do for them.
“Access to data allows individuals and organizations to develop new insights and innovations that can improve the lives of others and help to improve the flow of information within and between countries…. We are at a tipping point, heralding a new era in which people can use open data to generate insights, ideas and services to create a better world for all.” – G8 Open Data Charter
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.
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:
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.
“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.
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.
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
I 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.
[Sources: emails – rerouteme.com – macleans.ca – rhexia.com]
CARIS, an industry leading marine GIS organization based out of Fredericton, New Brunswick has designed and built software solutions for over 30 years. Recently they announced their release of CARIS OSCAR-js (Open Spatial Component Architecture) , their first open source Application Programming Interface (API).
The API was created to help shape CARIS Spatial Fusion Enterprise and includes tools for navigation, measurement, and download, as well as providing a means for developers to create their own custom tools and extensions. OSCAR-js extends the very popular OpenLayers library and utilizes jQueryUI and YUI to help create a feature rich mapping experience.
The API is designed around the creation of map themes. Map themes consist of thematic maps along with optional functionality such as selection, data download or more. OSCAR-js supports the use of Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) web services including Web Map Service (WMS), Web Map Tile Service (WMTS), Web Feature Service (WFS) and Web Coverage Service (WCS) for creating these map themes.
In addition to supporting OGC web services, OSCAR-js can connect to CARIS Spatial Fusion Viewer to load map configurations. This allows for centralized site management for your web map infrastructure.
Consider trying CARIS OSCAR-js API with your own spatial mapping data and applications, to get started, visit the OSCAR-js website where you can get helpful documentation, a basic tutorial, code samples, and a blog with all the latest information about OSCAR-js.
And don’t forget to let us know about your web mapping application that you created with CARIS OSCAR-js API.
Software website: http://ucode.caris.com/oscar/
[source: caris.com & company submitted email]
The City of Terrace (British Columbia) hosted a public web mapping application that was developed on Autodesk MapGuide 6.5 technology. This site was used extensively by realtors, developers, the general public and internal staff to access maps, databases and reports related to geographic features.
In the earlier days of web GIS, the MapGuide 6.5 application was the best on the market for serving spatial data to the web due to its client side applet. However, over time, web technologies evolved and the client side architecture became a security risk and a development liability. In 2008 Autodesk decommissioned the MapGuide 6.5 application. As a result the City wanted to enhance its online GIS services and provide increased functionality to internal staff using the latest server side MapGuide Open Source technology.
The City purchased iVAULT MapGuide with the Administration module to replace the existing MapGuide 6.5 application. iVAULT is a web based application that allows organizations, to quickly and easily publish GIS content to the web. You do not need a background in programming to use iVAULT. It allows organizations to easily benefit from linking their existing data to a location and visually see the asset you are managing adding value to your business processes.
The City benefitted from the service-oriented architecture of the iVAULT Administrator to provide a fast, scalable, and cross platform web GIS application to realtors, developers, the general public and internal staff. iVAULT makes use of open source components to support rich access to spatial data in both vector and raster formats and provides a full suite of tools for map interaction, reporting, analysis, editing and printing. Using MapGuide Studio, the City was able to produce visually stunning cartographic maps and serve those maps to a wide audience. Pacific Alliance Technologies current hosts the new TerraMap site http://terrace.pat.ca and have written very elaborate FME (Feature Manipulation Engine) scripts. This keeps the data in the development environment within the City of Terrace current, along with the live hosted environment within the PAT collocation.
The City now has a fully supported and integrated web based GIS system that facilitates quality decision making. With iVAULT, the City benefits from improved strategic and financial planning. It also provides reliable and meaningful access to the City’s spatial and attribute data. iVAULT’s “Self Service” approach to GIS, has introduced efficiencies in the City’s workflows and provides easy access and increased utilization of City’s existing the resources. iVAULT provides a solution that facilitates the provision and maintenance of timely, accurate and complete data and is scalable for future integration with additional data sources. The easy to use Administration module replaces custom development with point and click configurability- empowering Terrace staff to administer the site themselves.Pacific Alliance Technologies, a member of StarDyne Technologies, provides proven CAD and GIS solutions and services for local and regional governments. Easy, flexible and affordable, Pacific Alliance’s solutions enable government staff to manage, query and analyze spatial, attribute and Asset and Financial information. Delivered via a web browser, data is integrated from multiple sources to deliver a solution that streamlines Asset Management and facilitates self-service for the public. With a combined 120+ years of technical experience, Pacific Alliance is lauded in the industry as a GIS technology and service provider.
For more information about Pacific Alliance Technologies, visit http://ivault.pat.ca or www.pat.ca. call them at 1.877.691.9171, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Case study republished with permissiom from Pacific Alliance Technologies]
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