GIS News: EyeFind, Interference with Satellite Data Collection, U.S. Wildfire Web Mapping

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Today’s roundup of geospatial news includes the following: Esri launches a U.S. Wildfire online mapping application and reminds attendees to preregister for the upcoming Esri International User Conference, and ESA reports on how interference is affecting its global data collection.  RapidEye, Masternaut, TatukGIS, and getmapping have new online and mobile mapping announcements.  SuperGeo announces a new customer, and GfK Geomarketing promotes its updated Canadian data.


RapidEye has launched EyeFind which allows customers to browse the entire RapidEye Library, its rapidly growing archive, based on date, cloud cover and product type. Advanced options allow for parameters to be entered on a map or for a shape file to be uploaded outlining an area of interest.


Illegal Transmitters have been interfering with instruments collecting data on ESA’s SMOS water satellite.

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite was launched at the end of 2009 to improve the understanding of the water cycle.  The satellite carries a passive radiometer that operates in the 1400–1427 MHz frequency range (L-band) of the electromagnetic spectrum. It captures snapshots of ‘brightness temperature’ that correspond to microwave radiation emitted from Earth’s surface.

While the frequencies 1400–1427 MHz have been designated for the Earth Exploration Satellite Service by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), many signals are nonetheless being transmitted in this band, interfering with data collection.  The interference is most profound in southern Europe, southern and eastern Asia and the Middle East.  Investigators are working on identifying and removing sources of interference.  Most interference stems from such sources a TV transmissions, radio links, and wireless-camera monitoring systems: 387 separate sources of interference have been detected worldwide, mostly from Asia and Europe.

As well as contaminating soil moisture data over land, radio-frequency interference also affects ocean salinity data. An arc of contamination, which is due to interference from radar systems in North America, can clearly be seen stretching across the Arctic Ocean. The interference displays a much higher brightness temperatures than the relatively stable brightness temperatures over oceans. The situation is likely to improve in the near future as there are plans to refurbish networks in North America. Credits: ESA


Esri’s advance registration for the upcoming International User Conference closes June 17th.

Through Esri’s small utility enterprise license agreement (ELA) the Western Municipal Water District in Riverside, California was able to expand its use of GIS technology to monitor underground service alerts, report leaks, perform preventive maintenance, monitor test stations, notify customers of shutoffs, and calculate fees for meter installations. Esri’s Small Utility ELA program affords utilities unlimited deployments of Esri’s core ArcGIS platform as well as maintenance and support for products, staff training, passes to the Esri International User Conference, and Esri data models. The Small Utility ELA program is open to utilities with 100,000 or fewer meters/connections.

Esri has launched U.S. wildfires, a sharable web map that can be used to help report on the 2011 wildfire season. The map shows current data for wildfire locations and related information including photos and videos from social media. Use the map’s Share button to size the map for embedding on web sites.


Getmapping has upgraded the mapping layers it makes available via WMS (Web Mapping Service). The WMS layer suite now includes all Ordnance Survey PSMA (Public Sector Mapping Agreement) datasets, all Ordnance Survey OpenData mapping and Getmapping’s own nationwide high resolution aerial photography.


People in Buckinghamshire, England, can now use an Apple iPhone to photograph and report a pothole, loose paving, broken bollard or faulty street light. Developed by Masternaut for Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB), the app captures a digital image of the defect with its geolocation and transmits it back to highway maintenance teams. This gives highways managers important information direct from the scene, which helps with managing response levels and providing better service.

iPhone GIS app developed for Buckinghamshire Highways in the UK - it allows the counties residents to report potholes etc.
iPhone GIS app developed for Buckinghamshire Highways in the UK - it allows the counties residents to report potholes and other roadway issues.


SuperGeo Technologies announced that its reseller in Brazil, ENGESAT, has successfully promoted SuperGIS Desktop Lab Kit and GIS Learning CD to Universidade Federal do Ceará.


Swiss company gs-soft AG has used the TatukGIS Developer Kernel to develop the MssStick® product for user-friendly visualization and generation of military map layers and reference grids with military symbology and unit structures. MssStick resides on an USB flash drive (pendrive) which plugs into a computer’s USB port. No installation is required. Start up requires just one click. Multi-touch screen gestures are supported on tablet computers.

MssStick running on a tablet computer with multi-tough gestures.
MssStick running on a tablet computer with multi-tough gestures.

GfK GeoMarketing

GfK GeoMarketing has released expanded digital maps of Canada’s postal and administrative levels as well as twelve topographic maps. Together the maps of Canada comprise a cartographic basis for regional analyses, such as risk assessment. The maps also support a full range of spatial analyses, from marketing and sales territory planning to logistics and expansion planning.

New additions

  • The map edition contains a completely new map of Canada’s 293 “census divisions”, which comprise the country’s second-largest administrative level. The largest administrative level corresponds to the provinces, which have also been newly digitized in the recently released maps.
  • A postal reform in recent years has led to changes to Canada’s 3-digit postcode boundaries. Twenty-four new postcodes have been added, resulting in a total of 1,635 three-digit postcodes. These postcode regions have codes ranging from A0A to Y1A and are referred to as “FSAs” (forward sortation areas). In rural regions, the second unit of the FSA code is always 0, while it ranges from 1-9 in cities. “Thanks to newer and better sources, we were able to digitize the 3-digit postcodes even more precisely than in the previous map edition,” explains Dittmann.
  • The topographic layers have been completely redigitized and enhanced with additional cartographic details such as airports and more precisely rendered bodies of water. The maps also offer a very detailed depiction of coastlines. This is particularly important in the case of usage by the insurance and reinsurance industries.
  • The number of included cities has substantially increased to almost 25,000. All cities featured in the new maps have been classified according to GfK GeoMarketing’s six city size categories. The new map edition also features more detailed coverage of streets, which are grouped into three categories.
  • The new map edition features postal boundaries that match perfectly with the included streets. This means that the various thematic map layers can be seamlessly overlaid. Digital maps are structured according to a layering principle: Maps of regions are placed on the bottom, such as maps of postcode or municipalities; area-based elements such as bodies of water come next; finally, maps with point or line objects – such as cities and streets – are placed on top. It’s essential that these various map layers can be stacked seamlessly. However, this poses a certain challenge to cartographers, because the various layers must be created as separate maps in order to ensure that each layer can be individually edited by the user.


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