Archive for March, 2010

Resources from today’s Red Cross Webinar

Here are the various online resources that we discussed in the webinar today:

Thanks to everyone who attended!

UPDATE: You can now download the video from the webinar (a 122 MB WMV file). We will have a streaming version up soon.

Upcoming Webinars

Tomorrow we’re doing a special webinar exclusively for Red Cross staff and volunteers. I’ve just been doing a little work on it with Kim Buike, our webinar guru, and I’m excited about it–it’s going to be very good. If you work with the Red Cross in any capacity, whether on staff or as a volunteer, you really should check out this webinar. Register here.

Also, on April 7, we’re going to be doing a webinar for the CrisisMappers group. This is a loose group of a few hundred GIS techs, aid workers and others who have come together to do some amazing mapping work when crises hit. Their work following the earthquake in Haiti was remarkable, making enormous amounts of resources available very quickly. We’re proud to be addressing the group. Click here to both register and see previous webcasts.

Vector One Blog on Depiction

We’ve released another update today, with a few tweaks and for things that weren’t quite right in the big 1.2 release last month. Jeff Thurston of Vector One blog and magazine took the opportunity to highlight some of the recent improvements we’ve made. As before, he is very complimentary, particularly of our collaboration features:

The email fea­ture is slick — I think. Why? Because in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion many peo­ple will depend on send­ing quick emails with infor­ma­tion. The avail­able icons to quickly iden­tify and locate or markup maps is what makes this soft­ware extremely use­ful for emer­gency and relief situations.

He also has some screenshots from the Haiti earthquake scenario on the Depiction downloads page.

To see how a map like that one can be built very rapidly, check out our ‘90 Seconds to Map an Earthquake‘ video from January.

Flood safety resources

Today we had a great Flood Safety Awareness Week webinar with Carol Dunn, and she mentioned several great resources for flood preparedness that we wanted to share here:

And there’s also the Depiction Preparedness Add-on Pack, which Mike demoed at the end of the webinar, and which adds over 30 new elements to help create emergency plans, as well as new Quickstart data sources with information about past disasters.

You can also download video of the webinar. We have streaming video up now as well. (Note–Carol would like to clarify that, though she was described as a shelter manager, she was actually a shelter supervisor, which is different.)

Depiction Perspectives: Interview with Carol Dunn

Tomorrow morning I’ll be sending out the March edition of the Depiction newsletter–there’s going to be some good stuff in there about some webinars we’re doing this month, as well as some special discount opportunities we’re offering.

And if that’s not enough, the newsletter will also have our second Depiction Perspectives piece. This time around it’s an interview with Carol Dunn, Disaster Risk Communicator for the Emergency Preparedness Division of the city of Bellevue, Washington. You may know of Carol from the nice things she said about Depiction back when she worked at the Red Cross. Or, more likely, you know of her from her prolific tweeting on disasters, preparedness and emergency management.

The interview is really excellent–Carol has some great thoughts on the trends that Mike wrote about in the first edition–but if you want to read it, you’ll have to sign up for the Depiction Newsletter!

Mike & Key was great

We had a fun day at the Mike & Key Electronics show Saturday. I enjoy working with amateur radio operators and seeing their gear, too. Here’s a picture we took in the parking lot of a couple of vehicles and their antennas:

Vehicles in Mike & Key Lot

And here is our booth setup, with yours truly presenting Depiction:

Depiction Booth at Mike & Key

Depiction Booth

Then one of our new customers got a shot of Timothy and I loading out:

Show load out

Loading out the show

Thanks to all who came out and talked with us, purchased Depiction, or helped run the booth!

Mike & Key Electronics Show

We’re just about to head down to the Mike & Key Electronics Show at the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup. This will be our first time there, but we’re told it’s the biggest ham radio event in Washington state, so we’re definitely looking forward to it.

Hope to see you there!

Worldwide Elevation Data

One question we get frequently from folks who are just seeing Depiction for the first time is “Is it just the US, or is it worldwide?” Depiction is certainly worldwide–wherever you have data for, Depiction will happily plot it.

Of course, one of the most useful parts of Depiction is our Quickstart data, and much of that, admittedly, is limited to the United States. NASA Landsat imagery is worldwide, and OpenStreetMaps is most definitely worldwide, enabling our routing and route-based simulation to function all over the planet.

But one thing noticeably lacking from our Quickstart list is elevation data outside the US and Canada. Fortunately, there is a relatively simple way to get data just as good as our US data for anywhere on Earth.

It’s called ASTER-GDEM, and it is a joint project of the Japanese Ministery of Economics, Trade and Industry (METI) and NASA. As it happens, the Japanese site is much, much easier to use.

There are four ways to choose tiles–you can simply click on 1 degree by 1 degree tiles to select them (click ’start’ to begin); you can draw a polygon (again, click start), you can upload a shapefile, and it will bring in the associated areas, or you can manually enter the coordinates of the area you want. However you do it, you will recieve a visual representation of the tiles you will be downloading, and you can use the “manually select tiles” option to add or remove tiles. Up to 100 tiles can be easily downloaded at a time, in a zip file full of zip files. The data itself is in GeoTIFF format, which loads nicely into Depiction.

One note–you will have to register (which is free) and commit to using the files in particular ways, but the restrictions are very broad.

I can’t promise that we will add this to the Quickstart menu, in part because of the restrictions just mentioned, but the website is the most user friendly way I’ve ever seen of retrieving elevation data–Seamless server, eat your heart out.

I hope to put up some sample depictions using this worldwide data soon–but in the meantime, you should try it out and submit your own!

Local YMCA uses Depiction

We have a new news release out about a very cool way that our local YMCA used Depiction in their capital expansion plan for the next 20 years. Depiction enabled them to easily put all the information they needed into a single display, including populations, population forecasts, schools and more. The Vice President of Operations had some very nice things to say about Depiction:

“YMCA facilities and programs are resources we utilize to strengthen the very core of community foundations within our county. Depiction, with its ease of use and affordable price point, enabled YMCA staff and volunteers to assimilate a variety of data sources both efficiently and effectively and aided in executing strategic decisions that will yield positive impact on our communities for years to come.”

You can view the depiction they used online, and read our press release about it.

Tsunami “what-ifs”

Fortunately, the tsunami that hit Hawaii was nothing like what was feared. The experience did provide an opportunity, though, to demonstrate how easily Depiction’s flood element can simulate things like tsunami inundation and storm surges. It’s one example of a very simple but powerful tool that Depiction has–just drop a flood in the water body, input your total feet, and Depiction will calculate the extent based on the elevation data. I just used the basic 30-meter data Depiction pulls in through a quickstart, but any data type will work, and you can get higher resolution data for much of the US, at least, from the USGS Seamless website.

The story behind my post yesterday is also moderately interesting–I was out of the house all day, at a wedding and running various other errands. The only computer I had access to was a $300 netbook that had never run Depiction. I wasn’t quite sure it would work, but once I got it installed it ran beautifully, even on 1GB of RAM.

Kim Buike also put together a short little video that demonstrates a bit more of how Depiction’s flood model can be used in tsunami simulation: