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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

While working with geospatial information, it is often advantageous to find out how close one particular piece of data is to other pieces of data. This leads to a greater understanding of the area of study. The knowledge of how things relate to one another spatially is articulated in Waldo Tobler’s First Law of Geography. It states that “everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.”

Friday, April 4, 2014

Over the past decade, GIS professionals who can manipulate the software both manually and automatically are becoming increasingly more marketable within the industry. Automating mundane/repetitive tasks frees up time to focus on more advanced analyses and other GIS processes.  

On one of our current contracts, we are required to create map products in response to “breaking news” events. These maps provide situational awareness to our client regarding the status of assets within their area of jurisdiction. Time is of the essence during these events, and the faster a map product can go out, the better.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Esri CityEngine lets you create, as the name implies, cities, quite easily. As a bonus, it lets you export these creations in various formats including FBX files which can be imported into 3D game engines including Unity. You can very easily add VR support for the Oculus Rift to Unity 4 Pro.

To follow along with this tutorial we will need a few things:

  • Esri CityEngine 2013: 30 day trial license may be available

  • Unity 4 Pro: for Oculus Rift Support, 30 day trial license is available. You should be able to get away with the free version if you only want to add a traditional FPS camera.

  • Oculus Rift SDK: free but will need to sign up for a developer's account

  • Oculus Rift Developer's Kit: Needed to view in virtual reality though you can still follow this tutorial and navigate the city via a regular monitor.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

We often hear that we should use the right tool for the right job. The problem for developers is becoming aware of those different tools. So I want to save you some time and introduce you to an old tool that is good for simple processing of CSV files. The language is so simple that an experienced programmer can pick it up in an afternoon.

Awk is a text processing utility that happens to be a programming language. It was created back in the 70s by Aho, Weinberger, and Kerningham, hence its name. Awk was probably most popular during the 80s until Perl, strongly inspired by Awk, replaced it.

So is Awk obsolete? It is obsolete as a general purpose language. But when used for text processing, such as when we work with CSV files, it is good tool to have around.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A while back, my colleague Barry Schimpf touched upon some of the tools that we use in conjunction with the Platform Independent Model (PIM). Today, I will delve into one of the tools we use to generate physical schemas from the PIM. Before, I jump in, let’s review what a PIM is and what it does.

The PIM is an approach we have developed to enable proper configuration management of geospatial data models. We have used it successfully for federal customers to track multiple versions of complex data models, validate physical implementations of those models, and support profiling and adaptation of the models across user communities. The focus of a PIM is on the data model as opposed to the actual geospatial data so a PIM itself doesn’t store any geospatial feature data. It is merely a representation of the logical model; defining the feature types, attributes, relationships, and constraints necessary to build a geospatial data set that is in compliance with a particular data standard.