GIS and Mapping

January 26, 2016 Webinar Video now available online.

The video of the January 26th Webinar on merging tabular data with shape files is now available on our website. You can find it here. You can also download the powerpoint from the video here.

Creating your own background map tile cache

In our last webinar the issue of the background tile cache came up.  One question was would it be possible to have the tile cache on a thumb drive so that it could easily be moved to another computer.  Currently if you go to the tools menu in Depiction and select settings and then the advanced tab.

You will see a display that shows the default location of the tile cache.  Currently you can not change this field and you would need to do this in order to place the tile cache in a different location such as a thumb drive.  We are exploring the possibility of letting you update this setting to the location of your choice.

If you are unfamiliar with the tile cache let me explain its use.  When you are viewing your story in Depiction the back ground map source can be a map or an aerial image.  Depending on which you have chosen the program goes out to the internet and finds the desired image tiles for that location and zoom level you have chosen. When it finds them it stores them on your disk in the directory specified in the settings above.  However, before Depiction goes to the internet to look for a particular tile or tiles it first looks in the cache directory to see if the tile is already there.  If it is then Depiction  takes the tile from there and doesn’t go to the internet.  The benefit of this is speed and also if the internet is down it is still possible to display the background tiles. The downside of this is that if the map tile has been updated then Depiction will continue to display the old tile.  You might particularly notice this if you happen to update an Open Street Map yourself and then don’t see the change you made.  To get around this on the Basic Settings screen there is a check box to Overwrite existing cache with new. If you check this box then Depiction will ignore the cache and go directly to the internet.  Normally you would want to keep this box unchecked.

So knowing how depiction works using the cached files it would be possible to create your own cached tiles from a map source other than those provided by Depiction.  We have one customer in Germany that did just that.  He has written a paper on how he achieved this.  It is fairly advanced but with his permission I am sharing it with those of you that have the skill set and maybe inclined to attempt this.  You can find the document here.

New Build now available 10-9-15

In the previous post I mentioned that the current build of Depiction was not Geo-coding starting locations.

We have fixed the problem and created a new build which you can find here.  This build 12614 will geo-code starting locations.

Depiction and the National Grid

During our webinar today one of the participants asked if Depiction was compatible with the USNG.  At the time I wasn’t sure what he was referring to.  He was kind enough to have an expert in its use drop me a line and point me to some resources. So here is what I have found out so far.  USNG stands for US National Grid system.  You can find a very complete description here.

The USNG is a based on the UTM coordinate system.  Depiction does have the ability to display locations in the UTM format.

Tools-Settings MenuIf you go to the Tools menu and choose settings and then click on the Coordinate format.  The UTM format is the 5th one down.

There is a website called the US National Grid Information center where you can find shape files for download.  However what I discovered was that these downloads have lots of data in them and you can’t have a depiction boundary too large and load one of these shape files because it can bring Depiction to its knees.  A couple of them I checked out had around 65,000 shapes. When I tried to load one of these for a large area it brought Depiction to its knees.  However, for smaller areas you are able to import the file.

Depiction displaying the National Grid

This Depiction area is 65 x 39 miles and has about 6600 shape elements.  Depiction was able to read it and display it but I noticed the program was a little sluggish. Especially when it had to display all 6600 shapes.  If you turn off the display of the shapes and display the shapes in a smaller revealer you will get much better performance. It is having to redraw those 6600 shapes everytime that you do something that causes the program to slow down.

So in order to use this go to the US National Grid Info Center web site.

US National grid web site

Choose the region you are interested in.

Choose the zone that covers your area of interest. Click on it and will start a download. Choose a location were you want the file to be downloaded. Once it is downloaded open the zip file and do an “extract all” and place the results in  a folder of your choosing.  Then start a depiction, keeping the size to around 2500 square miles or less. Then go to the add menu and choose the file option and browse to your folder.  Choose the file with the .SHP extension and auto detect for element type and click add and it will bring the file in.  When the shapes come in they are assigned random colors but if you want no color then you can go to the manage menu.  Select all of the shapes and choose edit. That will bring up this screen.

Depiction Manage - Edit Properties menu

scroll down to the ZOI Fill field and click on it which will bring up the color palate.  In the bottom right there is an option for no color. Choose that say apply and the colors will disappear.

Hope that will help those of you interested in the national grid.

Article about how Edinburgh Scotland is using Mapping Software

Interesting article about how Edinburgh Scotland is using mapping software to map where senior citizens live and where services are located. This would be a great application for Depiction. Check out this article on mapping.

Red Cross Webinar now online.

The repeat webinar we did for Red Cross Chapters is now available online. Watch on our website or watch it on YouTube.  This showcases the capabilities of Depiction More than Mapping software.

Check out this Kickstarter campaign for Piksi

What makes Piksi unique. It implements RTK (Real Time Kinematic) functionality, which makes it 100 times more accurate than a standard GPS receiver – about 4 centimeters of total error. It is low cost – current RTK GPS solutions generally run about $10,000, whereas our complete kit costs $2000. Lastly, Piksi is open source and will be able to connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet running an easy to use data collection app.

Tutorial on how to get and add 10 meter elevation data in to your Depiction Map

Kim Buike, Depiction Board Member and Instructor teaching an on-line Masters course on Depiction Mapping Software for California State University Long Beach, has prepared a tutorial for his class on how to find, download and import into Depiction 10 meter elevation data.  The elevation data currently available through the Depiction Quick Start is 30 meter data.  Having higher resolution elevation data will make the various simulations that Depiction can perform much more accurate.  You can find the tutorial here.

Interesting Paper on GIS and Emergency Management by Dr John Pine of LSU

We have posted an interesting paper by DR. John Pine of LSU on the use of GIS in Emergency Management.  You can find it here.

In this paper Dr. Pine explores how a geographic information system (GIS) can be used to assist emergency managers in planning for and responding to emergencies. This includes creating situational awareness and common operating pictures.  Of course we think Depiction software is a great affordable and easy to use tool for Emergency Managers.

Good web sites for free GIS data

We are always on the lookout for free data sources.  Here are two sites that are worth checking out:

http://www.mapcruzin.com/

http://www.diva-gis.org/gdata