Archive for August, 2011

“The Full-Rip Nine”

Thanks to Carol Dunn and King 5 News, I spent the morning reading this remarkable article by Bruce Barcott on the potential for a massive earthquake in the Cascadia subduction zone. He outlines, in dramatic fashion, potential effects from a 9.0 quake that runs up and down the coast of the Pacific Northwest. (You can learn more about these risks, in a more visual medium, from the excellent documentary Cascadia: The Hidden Fire).

Since the Depiction offices are located right in the midst of the region, this is obviously fairly important to us here, both personally and professionally. And as Carol pointed out on Twitter, “Reading is a good start, but action is the way to reduce harm.”

FEMA has some excellent advice on that score here. You should also build a disaster plan–and Depiction is a particularly good tool for doing that visually.

One of the hazards Barcott mentions is “liquefaction”:

In Seattle and Portland, the strong shaking begins to induce liquefaction, a process in which the sandy soil that portions of both cities are built on turns into a thick, slurry-like liquid. Parts of Portland rest atop sediment laid down by the Willamette River, and Seattle’s water­front sits on tidal flats overtopped by loose fill. In a quake, this unconsolidated fill loses its ability to support heavy structures.

The downtown areas aren’t the only places at risk from liquefaction, though. I put together a depiction that includes liquefaction risk for much of the Puget sound region (7.15 mb). There are many large areas, but also pockets of risk scattered all across the region. (This isn’t the only hazard you should be watching for–see Barcott’s discussion of unreinforced-masonry buildings as well–but it’s a place to start.) If you don’t have Depiction, you can explore the above file with the Depiction free reader.
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Mapping Hurricane Irene

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Hurricane Irene is bearing down on the US East Coast, and there a lot of places around the Web where you can track its progress. If you need something that will still be available offline, or you want to be able to integrate your own data along with information about the hurricane, then Depiction is the tool for you. The above video goes over the steps for bringing in the latest satellite imagery and path predictions for Irene.

Here’s a quick overview:

  • Create a new depiction that encompasses most or all of the US East Coast. Don’t worry about the warning about the depiction size–just don’t try to bring in road networks or elevation at this level.
  • Go to the add menu, select Web Services, and then select WMS from the dropdown menu.
  • Put this URL in the text bar and click Show Content:
  • In the Content list, scroll down to the GOES Visible Image. Select that, choose Auto-detect from the element list and click Add.
  • This will load the latest satellite image of the region into your depictio and put it into a revealer.
  • You will probably want to size your revealer to cover your entire region, then turn its transparency up to the maximum and lock it in place.
  • To get the latest hurricane projections, go to and click on the “Hurricane IRENE .shp” link to download a zip file.
  • Unzip the file to your computer, then, one at a time, drag and drop the files that end in “5day_pgn.shp”, “5day_lin.shp” and “5day_pts.shp”, adding each of them as ‘Auto-detect’.
  • These will bring in the projected path, the ‘cone of uncertainty’ and key points along the path.
  • If you want to use the hurricane icon for the points that I used in the video, it’s available in the Homeland Security Natural Events icon pack–or you can use any other image you may have or want.
  • Key properties for the points are DATEBL, which gives the time for the projection, TCDVLP, or what type of storm is projected to be present at the time (hurricane vs. major hurricane vs. tropical storm, etc.), SSNUM which, I believe, refers to the category (or strength) of the hurricane, and MAXWIND, which gives the highest projected 1-minute average wind at that point.

      You can now explore the data that you’ve imported, or add your own data (spreadsheets, images, other shapefiles, etc.), either to satisfy your curiosity, or to make plans in regards to how you are going to respond to the storm.

Depiction Workshop at State of the Map 2011 in Denver

State of the Map is OpenStreetMap’s annual international conference and we’re super excited to be a part of this year’s event held in Denver, September 9-11!

Join our Preferred Consultant, Russell Deffner on Friday, September 9th at 11:50am for a 40 minute workshop introduction to OpenStreetMap and Depiction. Hurricane Coast, VP of Sales and Marketing, and avid OpensStreetMapper will be there too!

We’ll work with the audience to create ‘what if’ simulations, table top exercises and demo new tools available with the latest release! Tickets are almost sold out, so be sure to register soon!

The entire weekend is chock full of fun map related events, talks and workshops with over 250 attendees from around the world. Check out the schedule for September 9-11.

OpenStreetMap is an integral part of Depiction. Using free, open source software is vital to our business. Plus, OpenStreetMap data is the most current, up-to-date available for both vector and road data. Come join us at the greatest gathering of open source map enthusiasts and learn how it can benefit your business or cause!

See you in Denver!

Depiction University Updated for 1.3

While we designed Depiction to be user-friendly, intuitive and easy to use, it soon became apparent that users wanted more help in learning all the tools available in the software. So we introduced Depiction University in the Fall of 2010. With the release of Depiction 1.3 in May, lots of updating was in order for the DU program, and we are happy to announce that this process is complete. The program includes eight self-paced modules, which a “student” has one year to complete. There is also a special forum on where students can share ideas, provide feedback on the software and DU program, and interact with instructors. And we have designed a special preview module so you can try it out.  Find out more today!

Depiction University Logo

Amateur Radio Webinar Series

Last month, we started a new webinar series for Amateur Radio users of Depiction. You can view the inaugural session recording or sign up for the second session (TONIGHT). The series is hosted by Tim O’Shea, KY7Y, a Depiction Preferred Consultant, Assistant Emergency Coordinator and PIO for the Washoe County, NV ARES/RACES and the ARRL Nevada State Government Liaison. We are excited to have Tim present topical and important information for Depictions users involved in Emergency Communications. This week will focus on APRS with Depiction, and the APRS Live Add-on in particular. See you there!

A new Depiction 101 series

On Wednesday, I started a new series of Depiction 101 webinars, titled Getting Around. The recording and outline are now available here.  The idea behind this series is to both educate new users of Depiction, and provide a way for all Depiction users to stay up to date in their basic skills. To that end, I have re-organized the series. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll cover some of the basics of using Depiction: elements and Revealers. Then I’ll move on to ways you can add data into Depiction by various import methods, followed by ways you can customize your Depiction experience.

Here is how the series will go (links are to the registration pages):

I’m looking forward to presenting this new series. If you have any questions about this or any other Depiction issue, please email me or comment here.