Sunday, November 30, 2008

India Terror Attacks

The World News Channel on Echo myPlace has been updated. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the horrific attacks in Mumbai.

- Jeff

Operating System for the Planet?

I found myself hiding in a bookstore while doing a little "black Friday" shopping after the US Thanksgiving holiday and stumbled on sensational book by James Martin called The Meaning of the 21st Century. I read it today and one line stuck - "The transition from a planet on a self-destructive course to a planet that is intelligently managed is the meaning of the 21st century." Martin explains how intelligent management requires dealing with mega-problems of the 21st century including -
  • Global warming

  • Excessive population growth

  • Water shortages

  • Destruction of life in the oceans

  • Mass famine in ill-organized countries
  • Extreme poverty

  • Growth of shantycities
  • Non-state actors with extreme weapons

  • Violent religious extremism
  • Runaway computer intelligence

  • War that could end civilization

  • A new dark age

One can agrue about the validity of some of these mega-problems but the list itself makes a compelling point about the sum total of the challenge. Martin goes on to discuss how these "mega-problems are multinational. None could solved by one country alone." Furthermore, the "mega-problems are interconnected, and because of this, the solutions are interconnected..." But the book gives a healthy dose of hope and points out that "innovative thinking, cooperation around the world and exciting technologies are providing answers" to mega-problems.

One potential transition path for managing and coordinating activities, and sharing limited resources is an operating system for the planet. What are the characteristics of an OS for the planet? For starters it would be based on interoperability and include information on environmental, infrastructure and cultural systems. Information would be accessible through online services based on international standards and data in open exchange formats - not proprietary formats. Good examples of such standards are SDI 1.0 and Sensor Web from OGC - I'm sure there are others.

As Martin says, "sooner or later...we have to learn to control what we are doing."

- Jeff

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

U.S. National Grid plus OGC - Best of Both Worlds

Gaia 3.2/XIR accessing NSDI Framework WMS/WFS and integrating US National Grid

A recent article on the U.S. National Grid has generated some interest in the blogosphere - even a little controversy. The article, titled "U.S. National Grid Simplifies Mapping", provides some great background on grid reference systems -

"In this era of GPS, homeland security and geospatial support to disaster relief operations, the civilian sector is beginning to realize what the military has known since World War I: for land navigation, the geographic coordinate system using latitude and longitude is not well-suited for referencing locations. The geospatial community, including NGA, has established and is working to implement a simple rectangular X, Y coordinate system for domestic location referencing, the U.S. National Grid (USNG)."

It goes on to point out how this simple system is sorely needed - especially during incident response situations. Good stuff!

However, one point isn't mentioned - that emphasis needs to be placed on promoting an online infrastructure of standards-based location content that can support incident response.

In particular, civilian government agencies can increase the pace of development of these online infrastructures by coordinating with Homeland Security and critical infrastructure protection functions. For example, there's no reason why a low-cost program cannot provide grant incentives to hundreds of localities across the nation to make their own framework data available via OGC Web Map and Features Servers (WMS and WFS) so these sources can be used for situational awareness in times of need, or used to guide tourists to key destinations on most other days.

This type of National Map 2.0 infrastructure investment is a “win-win” for the Nation.

- Jeff

Monday, November 24, 2008

Report outlines development of popular Gaia viewer

Gaia 3.2/XIR accessing NSDI Framework WMS and WFS and integrating FGDC Emergency Mapping Symbology

The Final Report for our FGDC CAP 2007 project is now available - we welcome your comments and thoughts.

In this project we implemented lessons learned from the previous versions of Gaia 3 developed as part of CAP 2006. The objective was to enhance the popular free Gaia client with "Incident Response" capabilities. Through this project we developed and tested various technologies - and produced what we believe is not only an improved version of Gaia but the ability for users and developers to grow and enhance the application according to their needs.

We believe the NSDI community will benefit greatly from the new version of Gaia called “Gaia 3.2 with XIR Extenders” – and this is a bold statement since community feedback indicates that the version developed during the 2006 CAP and 2007 CAP projects is now one of the world’s most popular OGC SDI viewers.

Developed as part of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Cooperative Agreement Program (CAP) Gaia 3.2 is a free Microsoft Windows application for accessing, visualizing and sharing location content, including the latest NSDI Framework Data services.

With Gaia 3.2 we also released a suite of extenders for incident response. These extensions include tracking location with Global Positioning System (GPS), US National Grid (USNG) coordinates reference, Homeland Security Mapping Standard symbology, interoperability with EPA Exchange Network and Secure SDI.

These extensions are based on the new Gaia Extenders API that allows programmers to develop enhancements to Gaia with or without CarbonTools PRO. Any developer can follow a simple set of API rules and drop the extension assembly in the Gaia folder. When Gaia starts it recognizes and implements the extender automatically. A full walkthrough and reference guide for the Gaia Extenders API is also freely available.

Gaia 3.2 is available as a free, installable download at

Gaia development was sponsored by the NSDI Cooperative Agreements Program and executed in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other organizations. The NSDI Cooperative Agreements Program was established by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) to help form partnerships among organizations to implement the NSDI.

- Jeff

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Democratic Access with 'Bhuvan'?

As we all know, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft provide different kinds of location content to consumers and technical folks alike through mapping services, allowing a bit more "democratic" access to location-based content.

But I suppose the Google, Yahoo and Microsoft approach is to own as much data as money can buy. However, another approach is to facilitate the viewing and sharing of any location content available in the new Internet democracy, wherever (or whoever) it comes from.

In a new development in this arena - ISRO in India is planning to launch 'Bhuvan' in early 2009.

'Bhuvan' means 'Earth' and is supposed to be the equivalent to Google Earth, but designed to be be much more precise and powered by India's next-gen satellites.

Making the announcment at the 28th International Congress on Collaborative Mapping and Space Technology of the Indian National Cartographic Association (INCA) at Gandhinagar, ISRO chairman Dr G Madhavan Nair said: "Bhuvan will use the data recorded by the Indian satellites only."

The prototype of Bhuvan is scheduled to be ready this month and ISRO is hoping to launch the service by March 2009.

- Jeff

Woman wants webcam in eye

Scleral Shell, Prosthesis designed by Dr. Danz. Photo by Jonathan James

In her "Call for Engineers" last week Tanya Vlach is -

"attempting to recreate my eye with the help of a miniature camera implant in my prosthetic / artificial eye. The ...eye-cam will substitute for the field of vision of my left eye that I lost in 2005 from a car accident. While my prosthetic is an excellent aesthetic replacement, I am interested in capitalizing on the current advancement of technology to enhance the abilities of my prosthesis for an augmented reality."

I'd say this is a great experiment to 'watch' - hope she makes some progress.

- Jeff

Monday, November 17, 2008

US Intelligence Community - Advocates for Energy Independence?

Prez-elect Obama is getting a look at the latest strategic intelligence forecast from U.S. intel agencies - Global Trends 2025. In addition to identifying climate change as a threat to national security and reduced US influence in the global community, the report will outline six diruptive technologies "with the potential to cause a noticeable -- even if temporary -- degradation or enhancement in one of the elements of U.S. national power."

  • Biogerontechnology involves technologies that improve lifespan.

  • Energy storage systems, such as fuel cells and ultracapacitors, would replace fossil fuels.

  • Crop-based biofuels and chemicals production, which will reduce gasoline dependence.

  • Clean coal technologies.

  • Robots have the potential to replace humans in a number of industries, ranging from the military to health care.

  • Internet pervasiveness will be in everyday objects, such as food packages, furniture and paper documents. It will also streamline supply chains, slash costs "and reduce dependence on human labor," according to the report.

OK, so energy sources beyond oil are vital to National Security. Got it, good stuff!

The only problem with this analysis is the broken logic. Here's the breakdown on the breakdown - The report outlines that climate change is going to have massive effects across the world. I would presume that this means less stable crop production.

Huh? How are crop-based biofuels going to reduce need for gasoline if those same crops are more in demand due to potentially reduced production and/or increased demand?

Folks might want to lift a few pages from the Pickens Plan and recycle it into the report.

- Jeff

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

National Map 2.0 and OGC Web Services

According to the USGS, the National Map will roll out new online services over the next year. Discussed in the "National Map 2.0" Tactical Plan

"The USGS will offer a series of Web map and data services that will provide system developers and Web application users with high-speed access to TNM geographic data content. This migration to a standards-based online service provider will mitigate the traditional barriers associated with accessing and manipulating geospatial information. This model will provide real-time access to TNM content that will enable users to focus on value-added applications and processes. The services will include Web Mapping Services (WMS), Web Feature Services (WFS), and Web Coverage Services (WCS).

Through these services, the USGS will be able to provide its user community with a standards-based interoperability solution for data access and use. These services will guarantee speed and reliability of data access that will eliminate the need for users to make local copies of data to perform mapping and analysis."

- Jeff

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CGDI on YouTube

A nice video about the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI) Interoperability Pilot is now available on YouTube - it also features Gaia and CarbonArc PRO in action.

The CGDI IP project developed an OGC Web Feature Service (WFS) partnership network across Canada, demonstrating a variety of scenarios involving closest-to-source update, access and use of public geospatial data. This video highlights the collaboration, the concepts and technology behind the network.

- Jeff

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Secure SDI Demonstrated Live at GEOINT 2008

Me trying to talk and operate the GEOINT demo at the same time

We (The Carbon Project) took the stage in collaboration with CubeWerx at GEOINT 2008 in Nashville to highlight "Secure SDI" - and connected to live, secure services hundreds of miles with no problems (even though its always a bit stressful ;-).

The live demonstration on October 30 was conducted as part of the Emerging Technologies Showcase in the center of the Ryman Exhibit Hall of the Gaylord Opryland Resort - a really nice place.

The presentation featured emerging technology from both companies and highlighted how GEOINT systems can transform into agile customer-centric frameworks driven by trusted partnerships. Recent security technology advances for coalition, cross-border and regulatory interoperability between organizations were featured in the live demonstration.

The demonstration was based on a powerful security framework for Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC) Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). OGC SDI is a suite of standards used by government agencies around the world to promote digital geospatial data sharing and exploitation.

Secure SDI extensions for our CarbonArc PRO on ArcGIS desktop and the free Gaia 3.2 geospatial viewer were demonstrated to GEOINT attendees from around the world. The extensions provide unprecedented feature-level security, role-based access control and security by geographic areas in coordination with distributed security frameworks from CubeWerx, a leading provider of spatial data warehousing and OGC-compliant Web services software products. CubeWerx provides a Secure SDI server product (CubeWerx IMS) that acts as a “gatekeeper” and allows access control to OGC SDI resources.

Secure SDI products from The Carbon Project and CubeWerx products have been selected by multiple government customers and featured in many recent interoperability demonstrations.

Secure SDI products are available now. For more information contact or visit

The Carbon Project, Geosocial Networking, Secure SDI, CarbonTools, Gaia and CarbonArc are trademarks or registered trademarks of Carbon Project, Inc or CubeWerx Inc. OGC is a registered trademark of the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. Other trademarks are the property of their owners.

- Jeff