Live Reports and Gmail 10-12-15

If you use a Gmail account for your live reports email you may have had a frustrating experience of the Live-Reports giving you an error message.  Turns out Google has made a change and they won’t allow “unsecured” applications to log in unless you give your permission.

From Google’s website:

Allow less secure apps to access accounts

We have added a feature that allows you to block sign in attempts at the domain or Organizational Unit level from some apps or devices that do not use modern security standards.

See the Frequently Asked Questions section below for examples of apps that do not support the latest security standards.

Since these apps and devices are easier to break into, blocking them helps keep your users’ accounts safer.

Default less secure apps account access

Existing users with any programmatic login requests with plain passwords in the last 90 days will be able to use less secure apps by default. New Google Apps users and existing Google Apps users with no programmatic login requests with plain passwords in the last 90 days will not. Instead, by default, they will see a “Password incorrect” error when trying to sign in to less secure apps.

Enabling less secure apps to access accounts

  1. Sign in to the Google Admin console .
  2. Click Security > Basic settings.
    Where is it?
  3. Under Less secure apps, select Go to settings for less secure apps.
  4. In the subwindow, check Allow users to manage their access to less secure apps .

Once you’ve set Allow users to manage their access to less secure apps to on, affected users within the selected group or Organizational Unit will be able to toggle access for less secure apps on or off themselves.

In order to give it permission log into your Gmail account and choose Sign-in and Security.

scroll to the bottom of the page. Turn on “Allow less secure Apps”

10 Iphone apps that could save your life.

Here is a link to webpage that describes and links to 10 iPhone apps that could be helpful in an emergency.

Why export data to a CSV file.

In our recent Depiction 101 Q&A webinar  ( 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:

  1. Backup your data in a pre-geocoded format.
  2. If you moved elements to their geographically correct location, to save them in case you have to reload the elements at some point.
  3. To more easily make mass changes to the elements.
  4. To backup a subset of a large shape file.
  5. 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:

  1. Import your shape file
  2. Delete unwanted shapes (if necessary)
  3. Export your shapes to a CSV file
  4. Open the CSV file
  5. Change the property name of your key field i.e. zip code to EID and save the file
  6. In your depiction delete the shapes
  7. Re-import your CSV file of shapes
  8. Open your spreadsheet of data that you wish to merge.
  9. 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.
  10. Delete any other properties that aren’t of interest and then save that file
  11. In your Depiction chose Add by File and chose your csv file
  12. 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
  13. 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.

Revealers in the Reader, DepictionPrep & Depiction

Revealers are among the most unique and powerful tools in the Depiction platform. Most mapping programs use the concept of “layers,” hearkening back to 19th century technology that was used to develop separate parts of the map on different photographic plates, and then combine them together. Because a depiction is both a map and an interactive simulation environment, elements in Depiction are not divided into separate layers like this. Everything is together in the same scenario.

However, Revealers give Depiction the same capabilities that traditional mapping programs have with layers, plus a great deal more. A Revealer is a movable, Resizable window that shows you specific elements–any and all elements that you choose. A Revealer could show you Quickstart data, like aerial imagery or a street map, or data you have added yourself, like a scanned paper map, GIS data, or elements you imported from a spreadsheet or added with the mouse. Any combination of elements can be added to a Revealer, then viewed–or hidden–in any way you like.

With the Free Reader you can move, hide, resize, and even change the shape and transparency of any Revealer in a depiction you are viewing. Each of the sample depictions on our downloads page uses Revealers to provide information in different ways.

In both DepictionPrep and the full version of Depiction, you have complete control over creating, removing and editing the content of Revealers. In DepictionPrep, for example, you might plot out your home’s floorplan and the distribution of emergency supplies, putting each floor into a different Revealer, letting you view and work with each floor separately. In Depiction, you might build two different logistics or response plans, putting each one in a different Revealer, to more easily compare and present them.

To learn more about Revealers, watch this Depiction 101: Revealers session, or, if you own a copy of Depiction, take a look at the “Using Revealers” sample depiction.

Revealers example

In this example, NAIP imagery is in one revealer, while building elements are in another.

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

Depiction on an iPad

We’ve had quite a few people express interest in running Depiction on an iPad–if you’re one of them, check out the video below!
YouTube Preview Image

UPDATE: The app being used here is Splashtop, which is available for the iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

“GIS 101” whitepaper helps everyday people harness the power of GIS

As mapping technology progresses, more and more people are gaining the capability to work with geospatial data. To help everyday people make better use of this data, Depiction, Inc. today released the free whitepaper “GIS 101: Understanding Concepts and Terms,” outlining some very basic ideas and terminology used in the field of geographic information systems (GIS).

“Before inexpensive word processing software, the only people who needed to worry about things like ‘fonts’ and ‘margins’ were the experts,” said Depiction, Inc. president Richard Smith, primary author of the whitepaper. “And today, understanding concepts like latitude and longitude, or vector data versus raster data is important for more than just GIS experts. We hope that ‘GIS 101’ will be valuable to the many non-experts who are finding the increasing amount of publicly available GIS data important to their decision-making processes and responsibilities.”

To download the free whitepaper, visit and register for the Depiction Newsletter.

Depiction, Inc. makes Depiction mapping, simulation and collaboration software, which brings expert level GIS, modeling and other tools to everyday users around the world. Depiction 1.3 can be purchased risk-free and downloaded for just $199 at, and requires no subscription or maintenance agreement. Volume discounts and discounts for volunteers are available.

Using a User-created Depiction Interaction Rule to Aid in Tornado Damage Assessment

For our Depiction of the Week, we have a guest post from Ric Skinner, GISP, a Depiction Preferred Consultant.

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.

Click here to download the depiction.

Screenshot of the depiction

Depiction of the Week - Tracking Tornado Damage

Depicting Fukushima Video

Tim posted a new video on YouTube, discussing his depiction of the Fukushima Daiichi plant issues.YouTube Preview Image

This is a powerful use of our software, I must say. Please comment or contact us if you have any questions.

Emergency managers to share tech & Depiction tips

Our next National Preparedness Month webinar is for those folks right on the front lines of preparedness, emergency managers. But we at Depiction know that we’re not the experts on emergency management, so instead of just putting something together ourselves, we have invited three emergency managers who are also Depiction users to share there thoughts in a panel discussion. They’ll be talking about how they use Depiction as well as other technology tools in order to do their jobs more effectively.

Peter Lamb has 30 years fire service experience, and currently serves as Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director of the Town of North Attleboro in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Gordon McCraw is the Director of Emergency Management for Tillamook County, which has been described by the former Director of Oregon Emergency Management as Oregon’s most disaster rich county.

Alan Woodward has worked as an analyst for the Emergency Operations Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 8 years. He supports emergency response and training activities and conducts consequence assessments for hazardous material release scenarios. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree and has published several peer-reviewed articles on the application of GIS. Currently he is working on developing the GIS program to support time-urgent emergency response objectives for Los Alamos emergency operations.

To register for this webinar, “Preparedness Technology Empowering Emergency Managers”, click here.

Preparedness Technology Empowering Emergency Managers