Tag Archives: gis

Clearinghouse for the environment – the scaffolding (I)

In our work with development cooperation GIS we have come to a point where we find it necessary to establish an overall publication system for environmental information. We will do this together with some of our partners. The system, a clearinghouse, should enable our partners to present project related information to the general public.

A draft system was set up and documented in a former posting on this website. In the article, Environmental Spatial Data Infrastructure – technology, I described the system and some of the challenges. In this article I am taking it a bit further, hoping to stimulate to discussions about how such a system could be implemented.

This posting is about designing a clearinghouse predominantly intended for environmental data. It describes a work in progress. We are working on a requirements document and this posting is ment to inform interested parties about the work. Inputs to our work is both asked for and necessary.

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Geoserver as a tool for providing networked geospatial environmental data

As a geographer I once in a while end up being extremely positively surprised by innovations, both commercial and from open source communities. Google Earth, which most of us know, has opened the world of GIS in a completely new way for the general public. The ESRI products from desktop to server has been a mainstay for years. Geoserver is another door opener – it is not new, but it has grown in professionally the last few years.

Although Geoserver will not find the same audience as Google Earth it helps by leveling the field when it comes to providing spatial data by the use of servers. Where one earlier would need detailed knowledge (and funding) to set up ESRI products, one may now do the same investing only a couple of hours of work. Within hours you could be able to present spatial data within your own organization, or even externally using a web server. Continue reading

QDGC – Quarter Degree Grid Cells revisited

Some years ago I wrote a paper on Quarter Degree Grid Cells. Quarter Degree Grid Cells (QDGC or QDS – Quarter degree Squares) is a way of dividing the longitude latitude degree square cells into smaller squares, forming in effect a system of geocodes. Historically QDGC has been used in a many African atlases. Several African biodiversity projects uses QDGC, among which The atlas of Southern African Birds is the most prominent one.

In this posting I will present the paper and explain the general principles of the QDGC standard. Parts of the posting is from the wikipedia article describing the standard. I wrote that article so if there is any resemblance with Wikipedia there is an explanation to it. Continue reading

The rise of an amateur architect

Our family owns a house in the northern parts of Norway. The family spends around eight weeks there a year fishing, mowing the lawn, hiking, meeting family, eating good food and more. I have also spent a considerable part of my spare time sitting in Trondheim mapping the island using OpenStreetMap.

In all honest, the main house is due for some upgrades and repairs. We have started by upgrading two of the upstairs bedrooms. But more complex tasks are in line. The current bath was built by my grandfather some 30 years ago. The kitchen could need some paint. A wall should be torn down. And on and on it goes…

How do we plan these changes? How do we play around with our options? Pen and paper? Software? I have been looking for a tool which would let me plan the whole “estate” – from garden to loft. Line of sight analysis, landscape modelling, logging changes, versioning etc…

Ideally it should be an open source product. Easy to use. Sophisticated. Should handle modelling. Integrate with Google Earth or OpenStreetMap. I would like to have a tool integrating the best from OpenStreetMap with some fantastic architecture software. I want it all, I want it now – and preferably for free as well.

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Elevation model, climate change and fresh water ecology…

A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) is a data set containing information about a terrains surface. In its most basic form it is a collection of geographical positions with associated elevation information. With this information it is possible to make visualizations or calculations which again can be used to understand how objects on the surface can interact.

As a geographer it is most of the time my job to facilitate for the use of spatial data. Working with elevation data is as fun as it gets, technically. The data sets lends themselves to nice visualizations and given the right questions the data sets might tell us interesting things about the relations between water, biological entities and masses. The much used watershed analysis results in an understanding of to which rivers water in an area drains. Among other things this is used to understand and manage water basins within the European Union.

For some years now there has been a discussion in Norway about the quality of our current elevation model. Most of us would agree that it could be better. I am one of them. In this posting I will try to give the reader some background to my view on this issue.

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Open source software and development cooperation

Open Source software as part of development cooperation is not a matter of principle. Choosing software in development cooperation projects is about finding good software tools to help you do the job.

There are challenges with both commercial and open source software.  This article focuses on challenges with commercial products in development cooperation.

I am basing the reflections on my own experiences with and reflections from development partners. Continue reading

Timor Leste – environmental data review workshop

The 6th of March as part of the Norwegian Petroleum Assistance Program together with DNMA I contributed to a workshop to be held at the Arbiru Hotel in Dili, Timor Leste. The intended outcome was to contribute to a process for establishing better handling of environmental data. The workshop was opened by his Excellency Sr. Abilio de Deus de Jesus Lima, State Secretary for the Environment. Continue reading

Environmental Spatial Data Infrastructure – technology

Maubissie in Timor-LesteEstablishing the basics for handling environmental spatial data relies on proper organization of the data into repositories where it is stored and prepared for dissemination. This article points to how such a structure could be made using geoserver, geonetwork, WordPress, Geonode, Postgis and Linux. All modules has been chosen because of being open source. As a consequence this constellation is an excellent starting point for establishing thematic data infrastructures in developing countries. As it is, the infrastructure below would not be possible without the support of contributors like the WorldBank and OpenGeo.

Will the suggested infrastructure can do the job. And if it does, how is it used by the human/organisational part of the equation? The answers to latter are beyond the scope of this article. This time I will try to answer the first question – and thus look at the technical sides of it. Continue reading

OpenStreetMap makes Mindland mapping possible

One of the biggest beneficiaries of OpenStreetMap is Microsoft letting OSM use their BING sattellite imagery as a backdrop for tracing objects for inclusion into OSM. One of my side projects is to make a decent map of the island where my father was born. The name of the island is Mindland. It is around 300 kms north of Trondheim, as the crow flies.

I started the project using driving an old motorcycle around the island with my iPhone in my backpack. This way I was able to make GPX-tracks for the major roads. However interesting it was to drive the trike around the island it would not be possible to go all the way. The buildings would end up being points, the fields would go uncharted and driving a motorcycle around all the minor roads might be a bit intrusive. Continue reading