Posts tagged usgs

USGS Topographical Background Tiler seems to still be working!

We had removed the topo background tiler back in May because they said that they were stopping the service.  We had created a topo add-on to allow those users that had the topo tiles in their cache to continue to access them.  But recently we have noticed that with the Topo add-on installed it is still bringing in topo maps even for areas where we have not been before.  So if you want to have topographical background maps, and you haven’t downloaded the topo tiler add-on, then please do so.  Of course we can’t guarantee how long they will continue to offer this but for now it is working.  You can find the topo add-on download here.

Earthquake in Indiana

A magnitude 3.8 earthquake shook Indiana just north of Indianapolis this morning, apparently causing little damage. Read this article for more details. The USGS has data posted here, though it apparently hasn’t been reviewed yet. This makes the Formidable Footprint (January) and Great Shakeout (April) exercises coming up seem very well timed.

I downloaded the USGS shapefile and did a quick depiction of the MMI (a relative intensity index). Indianapolis is to the south and Fort Wayne to the Northeast in this image.

Depicting the epicenter and relative feel of the quake

Depicting the epicenter and relative feel of the quake

Drop me a line if you’d like more info on how I depicted this.

Depiction encourages all our staff, readers and users to prepare for the hazards in your area. For more info, visit

Have a safe and happy New Year!

Three New Tutorial Videos

The tireless Kim Buike has put together three new tutorial videos that are really excellent–if you own the software, you really should take the time to watch these, as it will enhance your understanding of the software even if you’ve used it for a while. If you don’t own Depiction, you should still take a look–they give a good demonstration of Depiction’s powerful capabilities.

First up is “Depiction Elements Explained,” which goes through the different types of elements that make up a depiction.

“Route Elements Explained” gives a great overview of the way Depiction route elements function.

Finally, “Elevation Data Retrieval” outlines how you can easily retrieve high resolution elevation data from the USGS website and import it into Depiction.

“Terraserver” Imagery Hotfix

Depiction users may have noticed that the USGS imagery denoted as coming from “Terraserver” has been spotty recently–this includes the USGS topographic map, both tiling and Quickstart, the USGS Hi-Res Urban imagery, both tiling and Quickstart, and the USGS 1m satellite imagery Quickstart source. This occurred because Microsoft, which hosts that USGS imagery, recently changed their domain name from to (Microsoft Research Maps). They did set up a redirect, but we’ve found that it is very unreliable.

To solve the problem, we’re putting out a hotfix–changing the URL where its present in a few system files. If you don’t use any of the Terraserver (or MSRMaps) imagery, then you don’t need to run the hotfix. Everything will continue to run as normal, and you’ll even be able to access the Terraserver imagery occasionally. If you want more consistent access, though, you’ll want the hotfix.

Click here to download the 1.8 mb zip file containing the executable. Running the program will install the hotfix, and you should be able to access the imagery immediately. If you have any questions, just email support -at-

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.

Depicting floods using higher resolution elevation data

Using Depiction to create and display floods requires having elevation data. The elevation data available through Depiction’s Quickstart resource list is from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) – it is their default “30 meter resolution” – in other words, every 100 feet or so, it measures the height of the terrain. In general, this is good enough for big picture stuff.

For community or neighborhood level flood depictions, higher resolution elevation data works much better. You can access 10 meter elevation data from the USGS NED (National Elevation Dataset) site at though the process is bit cumbersome. Fortunately, there are other sites where publicly accessible 10 meter DEM (Digital Elevation Model) data can be found, easily downloaded to your computer and imported into your depiction. More >