A few of my favorite (mapping) things

Fall break is here, and I expect Portland fall weather to set in any minute now. In anticipation of hunker-down-and-curl-up weather, here’s a handful of geospatial delights that might pair well with a hot mug of something and grey skies: open source geodata in action, some great work from colleagues in Seattle, and a beautiful compilation of imagery of the Oregon coast.

Putting open source geodata (and data-folk) to work

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a crowdsourced, open geographic dataset – akin to a Wikipedia of maps. While you can focus on the spatial data near and dear to your own home (note surface details of alleys, map drinking fountains at a park), folks have developed some great projects and tools using OSM data. Here are a handful:

If you’d like to map field sites or otherwise spatially-situate a project, I highly recommend looking at FieldPapers. Create an atlas specific to your area of work, print it out, and head into the field. Scan or photograph your notes after data collection and you can re-upload your data to OSM or use this as a start for creating spatial data outside of OSM.

The Missing Maps project (“putting the world’s most vulnerable people on the map”) connects eager mappers with work that has a humanitarian focus — for example, mapping areas that are at high risk of catastrophic flooding because of climate change. The Missing Maps site will provide you with a menu of projects that need work, along with documentation for project-specific mapping instructions.

Feel like contributing to OSM, but don’t know where to start? Point your browser to MapRoulette and improve OSM with your spare minutes. While this is not expressly humanitarian/disaster focused, the MapRoulette priorities are set by the OSM community, so your work is still focused on data identified as a priority.

Thanks to folks at State Of the Map 2015 for highlighting these and other great projects.

More awesome from Seattle: dropchop.io

While I’m not at this year’s NACIS meeting, I’ve been following the Twitter stream to stay posted on some of the news coming from the conference. I think one of the most exciting so far is dropchop.io, the latest brilliance from the CUGOS crew in Seattle. Built on three premises — (1) GIS doesn’t always require a server (2) GIS can be data-first, not operation-first (3) GIS is open — dropchop is a browser-based tool for executing spatial operations without the bulk of a desktop GIS. While the creators emphasized that this is not a replacement for a desktop GIS, dropchop provides a user-friendly and accessible place to play with spatial analysis. Dropchop can also act as a teaching tool, as it only shows operations applicable to the data types loaded into the map. More background on dropchop here via slides by Sam Matthews.

A biologist, a geologist, and a photographer get in a helicopter…

…and proceed to map the entire Oregon coast. At a recent PDXOSGEO meeting, Tanya Haddad gave a preview of the Oregon Shore Zone project. Visit the site and pick a coastal system of interest; while you can’t hear the audio (the geologist and the biologist annotating what they see our their respective windows), you can trace the flightpath of the team and see still imagery that the photographer found notable on the journey.

Keep an eye on the site, as the Oregon team is still putting final touches on the project. Similar work has been carried out along the rest of the west coast, with a variety of parties using the imagery (disaster response/emergency preparedness teams, relators and developers, natural scientists). You can learn more about the overall project at the main ShoreZone site.

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