Category Archives: Geospatial Technology

Zillow is getting some flak…..

Zillow has changed the way people buy and sell places, atleast  to an extent.  It has put power in peoples’ hand’s to utilize and research on publicly available information to determine the price of their current home or future home.

Emeryville by Thomas Hawk

They’ve also come-up with some new tools such as Make me move etc which are quite popular. While it’s true that the pricing may not match perfectly, Zillow should not be censured.  I guess WSJ kind of agrees  that point, but the uproar was more around the bad points! Well, for every new product out there you need  to take things with a grain of salt. Zillow is free (atleast now) and it’s providing an insight that’s been never possible before. So, as time passes by I guess it will get better at Zestimates.  In my honest opinion I think Zillow must be commended for what they’ve done to the real estate market, Kudos to Zillow! More insights can be found from James Fee’s recent experience……

There are other services such as Trulia and many more… but this flak has turned into better publicity..nothing else, more links…more hits! I guess it’s part of the strategy to make Zillow number one 🙂 What do ya say Zillow?

Google should buy Digital Globe…. yes, no, may be?!

In all honesty I think Google should buy DigitalGlobe.  I  think it will do more good then bad.  Firstly, Vector data used to be the Intel inside of Cartography and literally any electronic Map, be it MapQuest, Yahoo Maps or what ever you can think of.  A paradigm shift took place since the lauch of Google Maps – Vector  Data lost it’s glamour as more and more API’s started popping up, and more geeks celebrated their victory than ever by mashing up every silly idea you can think of! 

 But now, Imagery has taken the center stage… there are simply numerous environmental and other 3D applications  that need satellite imagery to perform any kind of analysis.  Although, imagery can be bought from companies becomes too expensive for common man to buy it.   I think it makes perfect sense for Google to buy it off and democratize it

It will allow for imagery acquisition in real-time as well depending on requirements and of interest leading to the development of more real time internet applications that can utilize up-to-date data feeds.  Information will become more available, leading to more mashups and more good for the people!

 Acquisition wise it would make perfect sense, it will bump up Google’s stock! 😉 and also think of this – develop 3D models using Sketch Up and over lay on top of terrains developed from imagery.. ooooh that would be perfect!

Disclosure: I don’t own Google stock!

Location Based Advertising…worth it?

I’m sure everyone must’ve heard about location based advertising every now and then, but there is’nt any good example to follow yet. There are too many companies trying to do the same thing i.e. serve ads basing on the persons/objects location. It sounds practical, but implementation is the big problem.

I guess the bigger question would be would you like to give up your privacy for the sake of advertisements? Well it will be definitely worth if you’re saving lot of dough! but often you might get vexed with messages popping up….atleast now on you’re 60*60 pixel screens.

Todays article in Business week talks about skyhook wireless’s plan to implement this in large scale. Adena Schutzberg at All point blogs covers it as well. The problem that they are trying to solve, cannot be solved by Location based advertising, It is soooo waste of money and effort.. what are they trying to do? Get more people to use a Car wash center…While this might seem like a good idea , would you love getting a message on your device saying would you like a car wash? I would’nt. The answer lies in the problem itself, they say it’s very random the way customer chooses to use the car wash..SO use some tactics to generate publicity, so that the user gets interested while driving by or what ever method it might be. I will not suggest any…but you know what I’m talking about.

It may be possible that Location Based adverstising or targeted ad’s may be used to solve the car wash problem, but may be in the 2020’s. I’m not sure it will be successful anytime soon! But neverthless it’s a good start 😉 and I’m sure Google will whip out it’s own version pretty soon.. and guess what Verizon is upto these days.

So the big question what kind of problems can be solved by location based advertising? May be umm warning people about possible snow storm? or When a car is enetering a congested area? any ideas??


I was discussing about open source Geospatial tools the other day with my buddies…and world wind was one among them..Here’s an excerpt taken from NASA’S website..please click on the link to get more information…There’s wealth of infromation already avaialble on this..Ping me if you need more information.

World Wind lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really there.

Virtually visit any place in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps, or along the African Sahara.

Free GIS!

As we all know there are quite a few behemoths that churn out GIS/RS softwares with huge green tags. I dont have any complaints about those products, i agree they are one of *the* best and stable envoronments availabole for performing any kind of spatial analysis.

But there is very huge need for free source or low priced softwares that could do the work for us. Last time when i was present at one of the geospatial conferences, one woman came up to me asked me if there was any kind of software that has most of the features that ArcView, but with a small price tag! She has tried the ArcExplorer from ESRI, but it doesnt really let her do any kind of analysis as it is more of a dataviewer.

I wasnt quite to sure what to advice her, i said she can try GRASS as it was the only free source software that is very stable and can out perform most of the other GIS softwares that come for a price.

I have tried other platforms such as JUMP and i wasnt really impressed, they are still basic in terms of functionality but definitely a great attempt to provide every one with a tool free of cost. Over the last few months i’ve seen quite a few free tools for perfoming various kinds of spatial analysis and other geospatial processes.

I am going to share all those links so that you guys out there can just click and surf to download those great tools. Toady i came accross couple more interesting tools from one of my old friends, honestly these tools are just awesome! I still wonder how people get that much of time and patience to create such great tools. Kudos to all those great programmers, people, managers and users that have helped make these projects a reality.

Here goes the list

I will keep on adding more stuff as i find more intersting ones, i come accross so many literally that cant keep track of them! Please feel free to add anything that i missed here or or drop me a line if you find anything erroneous or for questions.
once again thanks to all those great folks who develop these free systems. Until then enjoy these free goodies and stop complaining that there isnt anything free for spatial analysis..keep rocking!

is it GIS?

In this burgeoning world of geospatial and location based servives (LBS), there are literally hundreds of products in the market place that offer light to heavy flavor of GIS systems for integration with tracking or other applications.

It is tough to determine whether each product out there meets the traditional underpinnings of a true GIS. As a GIS user myself i was quite amazed to see the development, in the last few years i bet there has been tremendous research going on in this field.

The lack of accepted definition has given rise in many gross misconceptions about what a GIS is, what its capabilities are, and what such system might be used for. Right now GIS has been evangelised as an integral part of the location based services such as asset tracking softwares, GPS tracking using phones, and a lot more. If you have observed closely microsoft has taken over Vicinity corp in the past and started out its own mapping product Mappoint which can be considered a huge sucess, people have inturn realised the potential of mapping software which could be used for routing etec and the same followed with mappoint and other web portals offering routing and trip palnning.

This increase in the people awareness has created a huge market for these systems. In a true sense mappoint can be considered a light weight or light flavor GIS or more approprietly mapping software. But as popularity grew for these systems, the need for more faster systems that could disseminate geospatial data to a wide audience consisting of web as well desktop was realised and soon came the products like Drill down server from Telcontar and similar comapnies. They developed systems that are more conducive for developing applications that need some GIS functionality, and the should be easy enough to be integrated with business systems and satellite communications to develop cutting edge location based systems. The sucess of Google Maps has brought in a wide variety of mapping applications built on top of it. Google has made history in a sense by opening up the API’s to public and letting then mash-up new services. Soon followed suit by Microsoft with their Virtual earth platform. But certainly Google has re-written the euqations in the geospatial industry with a variety of eyecatching and useful products like google earth (previously Keyhole) that work on the slick keyhole platform.

I have used almost all the GIS software out there, and most of them are either used to store, retreive, develop, and maintain a wide vaiety of geospatial data including vector and raster datasets. Not to forget the tremendous capabilities for analysing the data, over the past few years GIS is literally used in almost every domain including hydrology, remotesensing applications, land database management, Transportation applications to name a few. For more applications of GIS checkout ESRI.

I wouldl say it is too early to decide what GIS can do and what not, we still have to wait and see what really cant be done using GIS! so honestly the question “is it GIS?” is determined by the end application that comes out of it. If it is used just to visualize and track assets it could be called Hybrid GIS, if it is used for geospatial data management and analysis- it is true GIS and so on….

Microsoft released their version of local mapping application, that ties into the business listings and other spatial information. This is part of there web services platform Windows Live, launched recently. I have to say that they’ve done some darn impressive work with this one, this is based on the Microsoft Virtual earth platform. Chandu, Steve and Scoble…good on ya!..I was pretty amazed to see some high quality aerial images (supplied by Pictometry). Since the images are collected by airborne digital imaging system, they are pretty crisp and clear. They also have directions and also a variety of completed functions that never showed up in the initial Virtual Earth version launched a while ago. This is pretty slick and works really really smooth (as expected ermm…this is something new with microsoft 😉 ). Microsoft definitely comes close to google on this one! I’ll update this shortly..
Update: Scoble talks about it here…he’s also got a video…I could actually spot my car in one of the images! …way too cool….chk below