DIY Drones

Following on from my post on their very cool technology, Jeff at PictEarth has pointed me in the direction of the DIY Drones website set up by Chris Anderson. Yes that is the Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired and Author of The Long Tail – Shame on you if you had not heard of him !!

This really is fascinating, there is a momentum growing around this and it is yet another example of democratising technology – this will be the next step in community geodata capture.

Written and submitted from the Hotel Du Lac, Enhhien-les-Bains, using the in-room broadband network

Heads-up : The State of the Map

If you really want to take the temperature of the wider GI community this weekends The State of the Map meeting in Manchester should be well worth the trip. The potential for community generated geo data is now recognised by many of the major commercial providers of Geodata, and I’m hearing rumours that the much delayed OS OpenSpace API will be released soon.

Hope to see you there !!

Written and Submitted from the Hotel du Lac Hotel, d’Enghien-Les-Bains, France using the in-room broadband network.

Neogeography.. it was just a dream..

Imagine waking up in the beautiful Portuguese city of Porto and finding out the past two years of your life were a dream… All that talk of GeoRSS, Map Mash-ups, KML, User generated My Maps, The GeoWEB and Paris Hilton were all part of a dream.

We it felt a bit like that on the first day of the annual European Commission GI and GIS Workshop. Over 200 hundred GIS users from Public Sector Organisations and a few private sector ones are together meeting to discuss the impact of the INSPIRE directive now that it has been passed by the European Parliament.

ECGIS workshop

During this first day the web 2.0 buzzwords of neogeograhy were notable by their absence.

Now I am actually less disappointed that I might have been, let me explain why…

INSPIRE is, contrary to all of the fuss last year drummed up by some in the UK, quite tightly focused on the supply of harmonised environmental geospatial data to the institutions of the European Commission, by public sector organisations in the member states. – There is no “public” interface here and the citizens are not seen as major customers for INSPIRE services.

As such you can think of this as a complex back office system for European Government, as much an Enterprise GIS for Brussels as a Spatial Data Infrastructure. So key to success will be clear definition of requirements and well specified system design.

Now here is the rub, despite the fact that much of the INSPIRE directive is not expected to be implemented until at least 2010, it is been designed now and must used well specified and recognised standards – things like the ISO 19100 series of standards developed by the Open GeoSpatial Consortium.

It’s not difficult to appreciate the problem, REST based interfaces, KML, GeoJSON, GeoRSS etc might actually be the best technologies to use today and would be the tools of choice of many, however like many other Government IT projects INSPIRE needs to follow the low risk route of SOAP, WSDL, WMS, WFS etc.

So we may find that organisations will use OGC style interfaces to communicate to other public sector organisations and the commission, while using lighter weight technologies to publish information to their citizens. This is no bad thing !!

I am however disappointed by the continued focus on metadata driven catalogue services as the primary mechanism to find geospatial data, I don’t believe this will work as nobody likes creating metadata, and catalogue services are unproved.

INSPIRE needs GeoSearch !!

Written and Submitted from the Le Meridien Hotel, Porto using the in-room broadband network.

Plazes in Google Earth

Despite a few hiccups with the latest Plazer client, I’m sticking with my experiment of using Plazes to track my presence and location. I’m glad I have because, the very interested data behind plazes has now been exposed in the form of a plazes KML file. This is really neat, by logging in you can view your own locations, without logging in, you can view the global plazes database and see a real time feed of the latest plazes registered by users. Credit to Tim at Plazes for a really nice use of KML !!

Plazes in Earth

Like the recent twittermap, in can be almost hypnotic watching the geeks of the world posting their locations, and the experience is all the more interesting in Google Earth.

The plazes KML is available for download at

Written and Submitted from the Google Office, Zurich.

Google Developer Day – BBC leads the mash-ups revolution..

As a follow up to the Google Developer Day event last week , has a great article on the adoption of mash-up culture at the BBC and their brilliant backstage project.

GDD PinFor other content owning organisations BBC Backstage sets a great example highlighting the way that forward thinking licensing of information can really aid the innovation process and develop truly useful new content driven sites.

During my time at the OS we made no secret of the fact that Backstage was an inspiration to the OpenSpace project.

Just imagine the mashups which could be created if other content owners in the public sector were as open.. indeed in just this last week, we are beginning to see a more innovative approach to publishing content with the reporting of Brents use of google maps and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency decision to publish some of it’s charts in KML.

A point I made during last weeks London Keynote (about 30 mins in, but its well worth listening to the great Chris di Bona) is that there are still huge amounts of geographic information still to be liberated from existing corporate silos, in addition to the user generated content we are beginning to provide the tools to create.

When you think about it, this is less a technology issue that it has even been – this is now really about information policy..

Written and Submitted from the Google Office, London.