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Archive for January, 2019

Your location information is for sale–Article

January 21, 2019 Leave a comment

A recent article in the New York Times reinforced a major theme of our book and this blog:  That your location is being captured, bought, sold, and used.  The article begins with a compelling image of over 235 million locations captured from more than 1.2 million unique devices during only a three-day period in 2017.  The article also features an animation of a smartphone user’s journey from home to work and to other locations atop a 3D satellite view of that person’s neighborhood.  It is my hope that this compelling and high-resolution animation, as well as those featured as streaks and points of lights in an even more compelling follow up article from the New York Times, will help people to pause and consider location privacy in a way that text-based posts like ours on Spatial Reserves might not adequately do.

The article also includes the results of a test that the staff had run:  To evaluate location-sharing practices, The NY Times tested 20 apps, most of which had been flagged by researchers and industry insiders as potentially sharing the data. Together, 17 of the apps sent exact latitude and longitude to about 70 businesses.  Having written the Public Domain Data book with Jill Clark and co-authoring this blog for 7 years, I’m not at all surprised by these figures.  Are you?

Geospatial technology is key to the efficient management of our complex world, and location is fundamental to that technology.  These tools and data have long enabled decision-makers to plan for a more sustainable and healthier future.  They are also becoming increasingly used by individuals to save time, save fuel, become more physically fit, and make smarter decisions in their daily lives.  These tools are not–and should not–go away.  But as we have stated in these essays–people should be aware of the information they are sending, on purpose and inadvertently, and why it all matters.

–Joseph Kerski

Global Land Cover Facility goes offline

January 7, 2019 2 comments

The world of geospatial data portals is dynamic; new sites appear and others disappear.  Sites are shut down due to the end of a funding period, changes in technologies, or as a result of mission or personnel changes. One of the earliest and most useful sites particularly for remotely sensed imagery recently went off-line–the Global Land Cover Facility from the University of Maryland.  Their notice said, “The GLCF has had a very good run since 1997! Originally it was funded under NASA’s Earth Science Information Partnership (under the inspired leadership of Martha Maiden of NASA). Subsequently it was maintained to support our NASA-funded research activities especially those concerned with Landsat data.   We feel we have attained what we wanted to accomplish, and now it’s time for us to move on and explorer other ventures. The data and services provided by GLCF are now mostly available via government agencies, especially USGS and NASA.”

To expand on the last note above, what should you, the GIS user who loves imagery, do?  For the time being, the GLCF data are still on a no-graphics FTP site, here:  ftp://ftp.glcf.umd.edu/.   But better yet, we have examined numerous functioning imagery portals on this blog; start here.  These include, for example, LandViewer, EOS Data Analytics, NASA AVIRIS, the GeoPortal, Lidar from USGS, DevelopmentSeed, Sentinel-2, and many others.

glcf

Thank you, GLCF!  You provided a wonderful service, and will be missed. 

–Joseph Kerski