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Where2.0, WhereCamp; More Mapping Fun

May 15, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Bicycle Maps

Where2.0 is a conference for geo-oriented developers that is going on right now. O’Reilly, the mega-publisher of computer geek books, is producing the conference. Here’s what their web page has to say:

GIS has been taken to heart by neogeographers, a new breed of developers with increasingly powerful tools built on the back of open standards and free APIs from the likes of Google and Microsoft, and application frameworks like Mapstraction and GeoDjango. Increasingly, the open source GIS stack is supporting the Web, adding a new arrow in the neogeographer’s quiver. Geonames, an open-data service, is built from this data web-accessible data. Google has started exposing geo data in a separate index that is growing daily.

Translated, this means that everybody is in love with GIS (geographic information systems) and geographic data of all sorts right now, in part because GIS data used to be “for GIS professionals only”—now, this is changing.

The “geoweb” is the Web, powered by GIS dataa relatively new term that implies the merging of geographical (location-based) information with the abstract information that currently dominates the internet. This would create an environment where one could search for things based on location instead of by keyword only‘. GIS information is an important part of the geoweb, but it is not strictly necessary for the geoweb. A web page tagged with the location ‘Atlanta, GA’ in some standard format - without using any GIS data, per se - can become part of the geoweb as soon as Google geoindexes that page. GIS data is typically stored in old-school GIS databases and programs, and the data is not readily-available on the web. There is an incredible amount of information in the GIS world, so lots of people (including me!) are very excited to see it make into the mainstream of computing consciousness.

Check out this video for a joint presentation by Google and ESRI. ESRI (wiki) is the leading GIS software developer, with upwards of 50% of the total market share for GIS software. They are, in short, a very big deal. Chances are that your local, state, and national government uses ESRI software extensively.

The Where2.0 blog reports what all the hoopla is about:

John Hanke invited Jack Dangermond on stage. Jack is the founder and CEO of ESRI; he is the godfather of GIS and by extension neogeography. Jack and John are the only people who have spoken at every Where 2.0. The upcoming release of ArcGIS Server 9.3, ESRI’s flagship product, will now publish in KML and GeoRSS. Every install will be able to output to a streaming KML file. There’s always been a dark web of geodata. Now this is being exposed and we can expect the geoindex to grow because of it.

And this weekend is WhereCamp at the Googleplex. WhereCamp is more of a hacker get-together, where people organize themselves into smaller teaching-oriented sessions, hold Q & A’s, work, create mockups, learn, and much more. Maybe there will be some aspiring bike route mappers there? :)

All of this is good news for our efforts to see bicycle directions on the main Google Maps interface. Bike route information is generally stored as GIS data, and this new partnership between Google and ESRI should help make it easier for everyone interested in bike map/route data to gain access to it. And GIS experts will now have an easier time of sharing their knowledge and expertise with the world.

As we’ve mentioned previously, part of all this excitement surrounding “the geoweb” is being generated by the upcoming releases of the new iPhone, and the first Android-powered cell phones this summer—both of which are supposed to ship with built-in GPS technology.

P.S.: Google has introduced a new Flash API for Google Maps, and the Google I/O Conference happens in two weeks.

…Schwarzenegger Calls for Task Force in California for expanded GIS Use.

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