|Many letterboxers carve their own stamps. Here are my not so artistic attempts|
StumbleUpon is a great site for finding web sites and blogs you might not otherwise come across. Of course many well known sites are there as well.
In my perusals I came across the following five mapping/GIS sites that I thought were interesting.
FlashEarth – Here is a nifty little satellite imagery viewing application. Flash Earth is refreshing because it does not look like Google Earth. Yes, it is flash based and it pulls its imagery data from Microsoft and Yahoo.
Wikimapia – Yep, it’s a Google Map powered wiki. Launched in 2006 there are over 15,000,000 places already marked. You can use the site for free and anyone can upload information without registering.
Maps Of War – Another flash based map site Maps of War is a collection of maps having to do with wars and war related subjects.
IRIS Seismic Monitor – The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology is a consortium of universities that aquire, manage and distribute seismological data. The Seismic Monitor is the geospatial mapping application they use for the distribution. The application is not perfect. You can only zoom to a small scale view of an area but the information is interesting. Play around with it and see what you think.
It never ceases to amaze me how many GIS professionals feel the need to brand themselves “The Map Guy”. If you could collect a business card from everyone at a GIS conference you would find maybe a quarter of them with “The Map Guy!” printed below their name. It’s not a bad tag line for someone who makes maps but for goodness sake, it’s been done.
Of course it does no good to complain about something unless you can come up with an alternative. Here are a few business card ready tags you can use to show yourself to be a unique member of the GIS community:
- The Ace of Maps
- The Map Ninja
- The CartoWarrior
- The GeoGiant
- Not To Scale
- The Carto Kid
- The Human Projection
- Thematic and Proud
- The Mad Mapper
- And my favorite – The Original Geographer
There, see? Now there are no more excuses for following the crowd. Now go out and be someone different, and no, “The Map Man” Doesn’t count.
Our current economy, however, has impacted even the biggest budgets like that of the Federal government and most state and local ones too. Private companies have not been immune either.
- Ask your software vendor for an upgrade. Most software companies work to constantly improve their products. When they compile enough changes they will release a new version. Find out if your current maintenance schedule already includes new versions. Even if your maintenance agreement has expired or you never had one, you might be entitled to an upgrade to the next version after the one you bought.
- Learn scripting to automate your processes. They say time is money. If this is true then learning a relevant scripting language can be worth its weight in gold. One useful and popular language in the GIS world is Python. Python can be used not only for scripting but for full blown product development. It is easy to learn and there are plenty of resources out there to help you utilize it. ArcGIS 10 is probably the most widely used GIS platform supporting Python but the free and open source Quantum GIS does as well.
- Speaking of free and open source…. If your organization is open to open source software and free products on their network, you should definitely look into it. If you can only afford to maintain a few paid seats of ArcGIS you could augment your holdings with the previously mentioned free and open source Quantum GIS (QGIS). QGIS can read and write Shapefiles and PostGIS data, both of which can be utilized in ArcGIS. Products such as Google Earth, MapQuest, and Open Street Map can also be powerful geospatial tools and can either augment your current software or in some cases replace it. Some of these software products even provide development APIs to create your own custom tools. It all depends on what your mission is.
- Ask your local college for help. Do you need to be freed up to pursue important projects that have been languishing? Utilize your local GIS students for digitizing, GPS location and more. Talk to the head of your local college GIS program about hiring students as interns. You can typically pay them a lot less than a regular hire but still get great results. They get the benefit of experience; you get the benefit of accomplishing more in budget.
- Mine the internet for free data. There is always the fear that data from the internet is inaccurate or outdated. That is certainly true in some cases but there is plenty of quality low cost or free data to be had. A few examples of quality (usually) data providers include federal, state, county and city governments, special districts such as utilities and university data repositories. Check to see if the data has associated metadata available. This will tell you if you are working with quality or if you should be looking elsewhere for your needs.
- Buy used equipment. If you are in need of new data collection equipment (GPS receivers or survey equipment), data manipulation equipment (computers), or data output equipment (plotters and printers) eBaycould be your answer. The online auction site is still going strong and offers just about anything imaginable. Try creating a custom search for the items you are looking for and keeping watch for great deals. You can determine the price you are able to spend and then start bidding. This might take a little longer than traditional purchasing methods but the cost savings can be worth it.