With the recent announcement of the first Tango-enabled smart phone, Google have taken a big step towards providing a crowd-sourced, indoor mapping solution. The phone’s inbuilt sensors and cameras capture the dimensions of a location and everything inside it, including the furniture. Once captured, all that internal detail becomes a potential back drop for a variety of augmented and virtual reality applications, including interior design and construction, shopping, education and gaming.
Although the data files collected are stored on each phone, Google hopes users will share their Tango data. Perhaps most appealing for Google, although not yet confirmed, the internal data collected and shared by Tango users will provide another platform for expanding their custom advertising and services.
As with other forms of location-based data, there are privacy implications to consider; it’s no longer just where you are or have been, that’s being shared, it is potentially detailed information about your home, your visits to other locations and what you did and saw there. Just how far people will be prepared to trade this new source of location data for services remains to be seen, but given the success of Google Maps and the increasing demand for better internal location information, Tango could help transform the indoor mapping scene.
A few years ago we wrote about the geospatial data available from the Global Forest Watch from WRI. Global Forest Watch (GFW) is a dynamic forest monitoring system that provides aims to provide “timely and reliable” information about the state of the world’s forests. Using a combination of satellite imagery, open access data, and crowd sourced information, GFW builds on earlier projects such as the Forest Frontiers Initiative and the Forest Atlases. These are included in the case studies that we highlighted in our book, The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, which promotes the sustainable management of forest resources.
One way to access the geospatial data available from GFW is to access the interactive map, select the layers you are interested in, and download them (shown below). The layers are organized into broad categories such as forest change, land cover, land use, conservation, and people, but the interface is easy to navigate. Besides the Graphical User Interface improvements since our first review of the site, many of the GFW layers can now be streamed via ArcGIS Online. To access the layers in this way, use the Open Data Portal and you will see the option for featured data sets or all data. At the time of this writing, 107 layers were available, many of which can be opened directly in ArcGIS Online. API links to GeoJSON URLs are also provided.
I did find a few data links, such as mining, that point to “not found” – but by and large, the site is wonderfully functional and has nicely expanded its capabilities since we first reviewed it. We would be interested in your feedback in the comments section, below.
The American Geoscience Institute’s (AGI) Critical Issues Program is an excellent earth science resource, providing information on issues at the intersection of geoscience and society, including energy, climate, water, natural hazards, and mineral resources. Its Critical Issues Website provide information in a variety of formats, from frequently asked questions, interactive maps and visualizations, webinars, and case studies, to a database of more in-depth research publications.
Of particular interest to GIS users is that many of the issues are linked to maps and mappable data. For example, the geology topic features links to 9 maps and visualizations, including the state of Virginia’s geology and mineral resources live web map with at least 15 data layers.
The AGI’s Critical Issues Program is thus a source outside of a standard GIS portal that often proves helpful in finding geospatial data. Give it a try and let us know if you find it useful in the comments below.