We have posted a new version of the Depiction 1.4 User manual on the website. It can be downloaded here.
In our recent Depiction 101 Q&A webinar (http://www.depiction.com/101/QA/Jan12)one of our customers asked the question about why one would want to export data to a CSV file if they had already imported it. It was a good question and I came up with at least 5 reasons one might want to do that:
- Backup your data in a pre-geocoded format.
- If you moved elements to their geographically correct location, to save them in case you have to reload the elements at some point.
- To more easily make mass changes to the elements.
- To backup a subset of a large shape file.
- To change a shape file property to EID in order to merge data with it.
I wanted to elaborate a bit more on those reasons.
1. Backup your data in a pre-geocoded format.
When you import a CSV file with addresses. Depiction goes out to the USC geo-coder and gets the latitude and longitude for each address and places the appropriate icon at that location. Once you have done this, if you export those elements to a CSV file then they will include the lat/long of each element. This way if you ever have to reload those elements or want to share them with somebody else, then the file won’t have to be geo-coded the next time. If you have a large CSV file this can save some time. It helps us too because every time you geo-code an address it costs us a few cents.
2. If you moved elements to their geographically correct location, to save them in case you have to reload the elements at some point.
This second item is similar to the first but with a little twist. When the geo-coder geo-codes an address it will usually get it to the right block but not necessarily on the right lot in the block. The reason for this is that if you an address of lets say 2025 main st, the geo-coder thinks that the address range for that block is 2000 to 2099. It calculates that 25 is one fourth of 99 and so it places the icon 1/4 of the way down that block. Where in reality the real address range may be 2000 to 2032 and so the icon really should be at 9/10’s of the way down the block. So if it is important to you to have the icons in the exact location you will have to go in and move each one. Now if for some reason you have to reload that original file then you are going to have to move all of those icons again. Unless you had first exported it to a CSV file, in which case the program would have saved the new lat/long for each element. So if you have to move a lot of icons to their geographically correct locations then backing them up to a CSV file is a really good idea.
3. To more easily make mass changes to the elements.
If you are using Depiction as a data base manager and are storing a lot of data along with each element, sometimes it is easier to make changes to the data in a spreadsheet program. So if you export them to a CSV file you can edit them in the spreadsheet program and then reload them.
4. To backup a subset of a large shape file.
A fairly new feature to Depiction in the 1.3 series is the ability to export shape files to a csv file. So to give a specific example of when you might use this. I was working with a community that was attempting to do a community wide map your neighborhood exercise. One person had the entire community and a shape file was loaded that had all of the parcel boundaries for the community. Using the shape drawing tool, we drew the neighborhood boundaries for all of the neighborhoods. Then using the select tool we selected all of parcel shapes that were in a particular neighborhood. Then using the export to CSV function we exported the selected shapes to a CSV file. Then we could start a new Depiction story and import that CSV file and we would have a depiction for just that neighborhood. That file could then be given to the neighborhood coordinator who could use DepictionPrep to load the file and then make the appropriate changes and maps for their neighborhood.
5. To change a shape file property to EID in order to merge data with it.
This is really a neat feature. Before we could export shapes to a CSV file this particular task was fairly complicated.
So lets say you have a shape file of zip codes and you also have some tabular data based on zip codes. In this tabular data file you have the zip code and lets say median income, population, etc. You want to be able to colorize your zip codes based on this numeric data. But how do you get the tabular data into the zip code shape elements. Here is a step by step process:
- Import your shape file
- Delete unwanted shapes (if necessary)
- Export your shapes to a CSV file
- Open the CSV file
- Change the property name of your key field i.e. zip code to EID and save the file
- In your depiction delete the shapes
- Re-import your CSV file of shapes
- Open your spreadsheet of data that you wish to merge.
- In our example we are saying the key field is Zip Code so in this file change the name of the zip code field to EID.
- Delete any other properties that aren’t of interest and then save that file
- In your Depiction chose Add by File and chose your csv file
- Select import by EID and then select Import – the data in this file will now be merged with the data in the shape file based on zip code
- Now if you open a shape element you should see the data fields you just imported and you can now colorize the shapes based on those fields.
Here are view other tips when dealing with CSV files.
TIP #1 – When you export elements it is best to export just one kind of element to a CSV file. If you export multiple element types at once then you will get all of the properties for all of the elements in your resulting file, which is OK. But when you go to re-import that file all of the elements will have all of the properties of all of the elements which is probably not what you wanted.
TIP #2 - When you export to CSV it includes all of the default properties, any properties you have added and a bunch of depiction descriptive fields. If you want can delete all of the descriptive fields to make the file easier to work with. We are looking to add a feature in a later release that would allow you to not have these fields show up on the export.
TIP #3 - If you are exporting a shape file and the shape is a fairly complex polygon it is possible that the number of points in that polygon will exceed the total amount of characters allowed in a single cell. In this particular situation we don’t have a solution to this and that shape may not be able to be re-imported properly.
I hope you find this information useful and feel free to send me any questions you have on any of it.
National Preparedness Month is observed each September in the US. It’s a time when Americans take simple steps to prepare for the unknown. Depiction is partaking in this year’s event by featuring Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and how they use Depiction to prepare for such events as wild fire, potential security threats and scenarios on chemical leaks.
This webinar is free to attend! Alan Woodward, EOC Planning Sections Chief at LANL, will highlight several tabletop exercises, scenario simulations and take questions from attendees. This webinar is great for individuals, organizations and companies interested in preparedness planning and consequence assessment. Alan comments that LANL uses Depiction for its “ease of use, flat learning curve, professionalism and fast in-field collaboration capability”.
Attendees will learn how Depiction can be used to create simulations and facilitate ‘in the moment’ cooperation whether for a national laboratory, your neighborhood, fire department, police department, local government organizations or emergency field teams.
Alan Woodward joins us as our guest presenter September 22nd at 10:30am PST. He has worked in the Emergency Operations Division for 10 years as an analyst, emergency planner, and Section chief with over thirteen years experience developing geographic information systems (GIS) and GIS products. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Washington State University (in Physics) and a Master of Science degree from Oklahoma State University (in Plant and Soil Sciences). Currently, he is focused on developing GIS applications for emergency responders that can be used in an EOC or at the site of an emergency.
Also joining in to field questions and provide additional information are Rachel Hixson, Dave McClard and Bill Purtymun.
Rachel Hixson is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist with a Master of Arts degree in Geography from Arizona State University. She is helping to develop the GIS capabilities of LANL’s Emergency Operations Center. She has also been working on reverse plume modeling for a national bio-surveillance program at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for three years.
Dave McClard works in the EO-EM Group as an Emergency Manager. Current responsibilities: Focus on response management, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) operability, planning and preparedness activities, communication operations, aviation operations, and wildland fire operations. Dave began emergency management work in 1986 as a search and rescue (SAR) pilot and search and rescue trainer. His last five years were spent as the State Emergency Services Director and squadron commander for an auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
Bill Purtymun originally became involved in emergency management as a Firefighter III/ EMT Paramedic. He graduated from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology with a BS in Geology. He has been employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1989, initially as a Site Safety Officer for a non-reactor nuclear facility. In the mid 1990’s he became a LANL Emergency Manager and Incident Commander for the Emergency Operations Division. For the past several years he has worked in Hazard and Consequence Assessment at the LANL Emergency Operations Center. In his spare time he volunteers with the local ski and mountain bike patrol and is a Nationally Registered Paramedic. He is currently working on his masters in Emergency Management through Arizona State University.
Join us on September 22nd at 10:30am PST to learn more about how your organization can be better prepared, cross collaborate more efficiently and benefit from the Depiction software platform.
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: http://nowcoast.noaa.gov/wms/com.esri.wms.Esrimap/obs
- 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 http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/gis/ 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.
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 depiction.com 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!
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):
- August 17, Elements
- August 24, Using Revealers
- August 31, Spreadsheets
- September 7, Shapefiles
- September 14, Images
- September 21, Live Reports
- September 28, Elevation Data
- October 5, Custom Elements
- October 12, Simulation Elements
- October 19, Interaction Rules
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.
The Small Business Add-on is an easy way to get started using Depiction for business purposes, from strategic planning to business continuity and more. We’ve put together a new tutorial on how to use the Small Business Add-on to map employees–though you can follow the same instructions to map employees without the add-on, or to map anything in a spreadsheet, not just employees!
The 2010 census has made a huge amount of demographic information available.
See more mapping tutorials at the Depiction website.
I needed a simple way to do a damage estimate of a tornado path through a town for the Formidable Footprint Tornado tabletop exercise which will be staged on Saturday April 30. After placing a User-defined Shape on my depiction I noticed it looked a lot like a flood map. Knowing that the flood interaction rule interacts with specified elements to disable them if they occur in the flood zone area. So I created a “tornado path” interaction rule as follows:
1. I created a tornado path from the explosion element, deleting all the points not needed.
2. I saved the new shape to my element library, naming it “tornado path.”
3. I copied the flood interaction rule, renamed it “tornado path”, indicating the cause as “tornado path”, and checked the elements I wanted it to interact with – for this simple example just buildings.
4. Because I don’t like the clutter that the red “X” causes for disabled buildings, I created a separate layer of disabled (=destroyed, in my example) by exporting the buildings as a CSV.
5. I added a new field (attribute) named “Status”
6. I saved the file a “all building” to keep for backup.
7. I saved it again as “buildings OK” and deleted all records with “Active = False”. I added the value “No Damage” to the “Status” field. These are the buildings outside the tornado path.
8. I saved “all buildings” again and deleted all records with “Active = True”. I added the value “Destroyed” to the “Status” field. These are the building inside the tornado path.
9. Then I “turned off” the tornado path” interaction rule by un-checking the box indicating to use the rule “in this depiction”. This is so the interaction rule doesn’t run again when new building files are added.
10. I deleted the buildings layer (i.e., all the original buildings) in my depiction and re-imported the two new buildings files, using two different symbols indicating their status. Additional levels of damage were indicated in the Status attribute by manually editing each element.
11. Then using the new status value to filter certain buildings, the symbol outline color was specified to indicate “destroyed”, “major damage” or “minor damage”.
With the tornado path interaction disabled it is easy to see (without the red “X”) which buildings were spared and which were damaged, along with any additional hover text information desired.