IMIA is an international organization where mapmakers, publishers, geospatial technology companies, location-based services, content producers, and distributors come together to both connect and to conduct business in the spatial information and map related industry. It is a global organization and welcomes members from every corner of the globe. The Association is made up of three regions: IMIA EAME (Europe, Africa and Middle East), IMIA Americas (North America, South America, Canada, and Mexico) and IMIA Asia Pacific (Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific).
The IMIA Report reports the current issues of the worldwide mapping industry giving members information on new products, member news, plus items of interest to those in the industry. We encourage all our members to send to IMIA Headquarters their new product information and press releases for distribution. Advertising is available.
Happy 30th Birthday Carto Graphics!
Carto Graphics was founded 30 years ago, initially making topographic maps for the Australian Army. The company is still going strong, still making quality maps and retailing maps, travel guides, world globes, GPS, and other mapping products.
After a series of spam attacks and other obscene edits, Google has temporarily taken its crowdsourced map editing tool Map Maker offline. The online tool has, for years, allowed those in countries without detailed maps to be able to add various details and points of interest to Google Maps, like new roads or parks, for example.
But in more recent months, the tool has been instead used by some to upload inappropriate content to Google Maps – like the recent prank which added an image of the Android mascot urinating on the Apple logo, for instance.
Another prank saw a user adding a business called “Edwards Snow Den” located right in the White House by exploiting a loophole that allowed you to change a business listing’s address after its creation.
Now Google is shutting down access to the system entirely starting on Tuesday May 12, according to a new message that pops up if you try to make an edit on Google Maps using Map Maker. The message links to a more lengthy explanation in the Google Map Maker forum, where Product Manager Pavithra Kanakarajan confirms that the decision to shut the project down for the time being is directly related to the “escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months.”
She says that this most recent attack (referring to the image of the Android urinating), was “particularly troubling and unfortunate,” and that Google has now suspended auto-approval and user moderation across the globe. This will remain the case until Google figures out ways to add “more intelligent mechanisms to prevent such incidents,” Kanakarajan adds.
Currently, all edits are going through a manual review process, but obviously, that’s not a scalable solution for a platform as large as Google Maps. With Map Maker, users in over 200 countries worldwide have been able to add and update map information for Google Maps’ and Google Earth’s millions of users.
Kanakarajan’s post, which was first spotted by the blog SEO Roundtable, notes that Google has already made several changes to try to address the spam problem, but the company realized that a larger fix is going to take more than just a few days. To be fair to users, Google decided to close down Map Maker while the changes are in the works.
“As you can imagine, turning automated and user moderation off has the direct implication of very large backlogs of edits requiring manual review. This in turn means your edits will take a long time to get published.
Given the current state of the system, we have come to the conclusion that it is not fair to any of our users to let them continue to spend time editing. Every edit you make is essentially going to a backlog that is growing very fast. We believe that it is more fair to only say that if we do not have the capacity to review edits at roughly the rate they come in, we have to take a pause.”
The shutdown beginning on May 12 is meant to be temporary, however, and will continue until Google has an improved moderation system in place. But neither the forum posting nor the pop-up message presented to Map Maker users gives any indication of how long a process that may be. Implementing a more robust spam detection system for the platform is no small effort, though Google is well-versed in this technology thanks to its other products like Search and Gmail, for example, which require the company to be able to filter good content from the bad.
That said, Map Maker will require a unique solution. After all, one of the problems that led to Map Maker’s recent hacks is that the system relied too heavily on the power of the community to vet the changes and edits.
And for whatever reason, many in the community decided to allow the obscene edits to pass review – maybe they made a mistake, maybe thought it was funny, or maybe they were in on the prank themselves. It would have been difficult for Google’s system to catch these earlier hacks because some of the users had a good history of edits before approving the changes that allowed the obscene images to go live.
We’ve asked Google for more details regarding how long it thinks the system will be offline, and will update if the company responds.
Earthquake Early Warning App “QuakeAlert” to Be Tested by USGS,
CalTech and Other University Researchers
The scenario in the upcoming fictional movie “San Andreas” depicts a doomsday seismic event that is all too possible on the West Coast of the US. It raises questions about how well prepared people are for a large earthquake. With new technology developed in partnership the USGS, Early Warning Labs can alert users BEFORE shaking strikes their specific location. In some scenarios, such as the one depicted in the new movie, warnings can be up to 60 seconds! With an early warning, people could take cover, trains could stop and oil rigs can be shut down.
The first app developed of its kind, QuakeAlert will alert users with a countdown to when shaking will strike their exact location and telling the user how severe the intensity is expected in their location. The app simultaneously delivers important safety instructions to the user on how to respond if indoors, outside or in a moving vehicle. QuakeAlert will be provided to users free of charge.
Developed by Early Warning Labs, of Santa Monica, CA, an official partner of the USGS, the QuakeAlert app utilizes state-of-the-art USGS seismic sensor network data, ESRI GIS backend and the Microsoft Azure cloud to deliver the earliest and most accurate earthquake early warnings soon to be available in the USA.
The app is currently in private beta testing with university researchers at CalTech and USGS scientists, and will be available to the public for free once the USGS receives full funding of their Early Warning program and approves the technology ready for the public.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to offer solutions including QuakeAlert free to the public in the hopes that it will help protect lives during the next big seismic event in the USA.” Joshua Bashioum, Founder, Early Warning Labs
About Early Warning Labs Early Warning Labs (EWL) is an Earthquake Early Warning technology developer and integrator located in Santa Monica, CA. EWL is an official Research & Development Partner with the USGS and is collaborating with university partners including Caltech, Berkeley and Univ. of Washington. EWL is also partnered with industry leading GIS & mapping provider ESRI, Inc.
EWL will retail turn-key Earthquake Early Warning solutions including alerting and automated response systems to individual consumers, government entities, and commercial users.
NEW YORK (PIX11) – Have you ever wondered what your NYC street looked like in the 1920s, 1930s or even the 1800s? Curious?
OldNYC is a new website launched just last week. It provides a snapshot into New York City’s history, block by block often right down to the address, street and intersection at times. Dan Vanderkam, a software engineer and Matt Knutzen, Map Curator at the New York Public library, are two of the main brains behind this massive undertaking.
Knutzen had already started to clean up the special indexing for thousands of photos at the library. His only guide were original typewritten notes on the back. Many were filed away by street and cross streets. Visitors to the site can take a trip back in time through all five boroughs at a time it was nothing but rural farmland.
“A lot of the photos were taken in the 1930s during the depression, which shows different social conditions,” said Vanderkam.
The images, more than 35,000 of them, were pulled from the Library’s Milstein Division. We found PIX11 studios, the Daily News building, or at least where it stands now. In 1869 it was only homes and hills. Some time later our streets were lined with above ground trolleys.
And where this project all began- The New York Public Library? A reservoir once in the exact same location and a crystal palace where Bryant park now sits. There are even more projects in store for the NYPL.
Hema Maps have moved their corporate headquarters to a new location, beginning an exciting era for the company and explorers everywhere.
After 15 years within Brisbane Technology Park, Hema has officially relocated to Garden City Office Park, a short distance from its previous Eight Mile Plains office in Brisbane’s south. The move to more modern premises (which you can view online as a 360? panorama) carries on Hema’s evolution, unlocking potential for digital product development as the company looks towards the future of adventure navigation.
“We’ve been transforming our business from the inside out, so it was time to break camp, leave behind our purpose-built publishing warehouse, and move to our new high-tech explorer hub,” said Rob Boegheim, Hema Managing Director.
The building reflects Hema’s culture inside and out, with open plan office space looking out on tall trees through countless windows on both floors. This new explorer hub will be used to create more advanced navigation products, and to use new data capture techniques for more immersive and detailed Hema maps than ever before.
Hema’s new office hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and as products are not kept on site, Hema’s corporate headquarters does not act as a shopfront for Hema Maps products. To learn more about our product range, make purchases and get online technical support for a Hema Navigator or Hema mobile app, go to www.hemamaps.com.au.
Hema’s relocation has now cleared the road ahead, allowing a company that’s been evolving since it was founded in 1983 to take the next step towards an even more prosperous and innovative future. “Moving is always a cleansing process, leaving behind all the stuff you no longer need for the journey ahead,” said Rob. “So here at Hema’s global explorer headquarters, we will continue to design and build the world’s best 4WD map and navigation products, and as always we’ll be out there mapping the road less travelled.”
MapQuest Seeking a Second Life
Once a game-changer, company now looking to reinvent itself
May 26, 2015 | 2:40 pm
DENVER – In the far corner of a typical-looking tech office, past the pingpong table and medicine balls, past the whiteboard covered with aspirational Post-it notes, there’s an old walk-in storage closet filled with reminders of a different era. In there, the old red MapQuest logo is everywhere: on giveaway knickknacks, on little tech gadgets, tokens from a time when MapQuest had nearly 100 percent of the online mapping market. MapQuest is even included in a dusty coffee-table book titled “America’s Best Brands,” along with Coca-Cola and Crest. The book was published in 2005. “The question we still get asked a lot,” said Brian McMahon, MapQuest’s top executive, is: “Does MapQuest still exist?”
It does – but in much smaller form. MapQuest is the rare American company that changed the world and then gradually became uncool, almost forgotten, in less than a generation. They are part of tech world lore – companies such as MySpace, which exists as a music network, and AOL, which became AOL, bought MapQuest for $1.1 billion in 1999 and then was acquired itself by Verizon this month for only about four times that amount.
Most Americans long ago stopped using MapQuest’s services, those turn-by-turn directions often printed out from the home desktop and scattered around the passenger seat of a car. In recent years, eclipsed by Google Maps and other swifter and better-funded competitors, MapQuest has sought a second life. “There are very few companies that can come back from that zombie-status,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw, a technology research firm.
The question is whether a tech company, leveraging a familiar name, can return from that brink. In MapQuest’s case, that means reminding people that it still exists, revamping its image and ultimately rebuilding its technology from the ground up. The journey is long. For every 20 smartphone users who have Google Maps, one has MapQuest’s mobile app.
A few companies have made it back from near-dead status. Apple is the classic example. AOL, after a disastrous merger with Time Warner and consumers’ shift to broadband, found a second act growing sideways into the less revolutionary territory of ad technology.
In a series of interviews at MapQuest headquarters, MapQuest’s designers and product managers said the company hit a low two years ago. Its maps were bad – simplistic grids outclassed by vivid and detailed landscapes produced by Google Maps and other competitors.
More troubling, using MapQuest was a headache. On Google Maps, one could type in “W-H-O …” and a series of grocery stores would pop up in the search field. In MapQuest, one had to type in, “Whole Foods, Denver, CO.”
“There had been a lack of innovation,” said McMahon, who took over in late 2012 as MapQuest’s top executive after more than a decade with AOL. During that time, he rose through the ranks, managing business development for, among other things, the company’s mail and instant messaging services.
More recently, MapQuest briefly debated changing its name, starting over with a new identity. But it decided not to, with good reason: Even now, some 40 million people – almost all of them in North America – use MapQuest at least once a month. And unlike Google Maps or Apple Maps, whose apps come preinstalled on Android or iOS smartphones, MapQuest had users who were actively seeking it out, searching for it in an app store or typing in the URL. Some analysts say those people are less valuable Internet users – slow adapters who are set in their ways – but McMahon said it’s “tough to give up” on them.
Though MapQuest still has the second-highest share of the domestic market in online mapping, about 25 percent, it’s a minnow when it comes to resources. Google dispatches cars across the world to map it; MapQuest’s mapping detail is limited beyond North America.
Nokia’s competing Here mapping system has 6,000 employees; MapQuest has 100. MapQuest began in 1967 as the cartographic services division of R.R. Donnelley & Sons, a commercial printing company, and it produced road maps for gas stations. The division became more computer-oriented and was spun off in the early-1990s as an independent company, backed by some venture capitalists, under the name of the GeoSystems Global Corp. In 1996, it launched MapQuest.com.
Even in the darkest times, MapQuest made money. It kept a bare-bones staff, sold technology and welcomed in-your-face ads. On its site now, one need only click a sponsored button to find any nearby Holiday Inn, Best Western or Comfort Inn. MapQuest also found ways, partnering with businesses, to burrow into less-noticed parts of the Internet. Want to find the closest Papa John’s? Plug your Zip code into the pizza company’s website and a MapQuest map will pop up.
MapQuest does not disclose its earnings, but McMahon said the company is profitable, with “multiple lucrative revenue streams.” The challenge, for MapQuest, is taking that business model and using it to fund an operation that now fancies itself a quasi startup.
The goal of the rebranding is relatively modest: providing good, usable maps. Google Maps may try to be a platform that pulls together your whole life – syncing with your calendar and pulling flight times and restaurant reservations from your email. But MapQuest offers online mapping for people who don’t want to be tracked, who don’t mind having to ask when they want a little extra information. Click on a restaurant, MapQuest will show you a Yelp review. Click on a hotel, you’ll find content from Priceline.
It’s unclear if this is enough to win people back. “Fifteen years ago, if you said I’m going to get directions, you’d say, ‘Let me MapQuest the directions,'” said Bill Dollins, a geospatial consultant who has done advanced mapping for the federal government. “And nobody says that now. It’s seen as something old.” Since then, some of the planet’s largest tech companies – Apple, Amazon, Nokia, Microsoft – have also turned into mapmakers, in part looking for a way to gather better geolocation information from users. Uber recently placed a $3 billion bid for Nokia’s mapping division, seeking in-house technology for its ride-hailing service. According to tech experts, digital mapping has a future in everything from driverless cars to drone deliveries.
Unlike Nokia and Google, MapQuest doesn’t own the little bits of core data that create a digital map; it buys that information from a Dutch company, TomTom. MapQuest is competing with Google and Nokia only on the next step: What is done with that data and how it’s stitched together into something people can use.
Those at MapQuest are unsure about the impact of the Verizon purchase and say it isn’t changing their business model, although, conceivably, Verizon could create a higher profile for MapQuest’s app.
In an earnings call last November, Tim Armstrong, AOL’s chief executive, called MapQuest a “very strategic asset.” “I think it’s one of those assets that people probably don’t pay that close attention to overall,” Armstrong said, “but we do internally.” He added, “And you’ve seen us roll out probably more new products in the last year on MapQuest than the prior 10 years on MapQuest.”
Brad Maglinger, MapQuest’s chief marketing officer, compared the reboot that began two years ago to razing a house rather than remodeling. Many tech workers were hired.
The company also began a low-budget tour of America – the MapQuest Listening Tour, product Vice President Nate Abbott called it. A handful of MapQuest employees met with users in cities from Washington to Los Angeles, watching how they used the app and the website. Other employees walked the streets of downtown Denver, ducking into coffee shops and offering a $5 gift card to everyone who’d sit down and share their user experiences.
Those conversations, though unscientific, helped give the company a set of common-sense ways to improve the experience, MapQuest officials said. One woman, for instance, said she worried about driving the wrong way down a one-way street, and MapQuest realized there was a better way to mark such roads. When the mobile app was introduced in late 2013, one-way streets were more easily identifiable, marked like the vanes of a bird feather.
“It’s a quick, small change,” Abbott said. Of course, it’s also noteworthy what MapQuest is not doing. Its maps have no 3D views of buildings, no put-you-there images of streets. In its digital cities, buildings are traced in outline but aren’t marked “Starbucks” or “White House.”
The mobile app is now vector-based (which keeps images crisp when re-sized) and has received good reviews from tech outlets. But its Web page, viewed on laptops or desktops, hasn’t been updated and looks much as it did six years ago. During a recent demo at the MapQuest office, SuAnne Hall, the company’s design director, groaned lightly as she used her MacBook to chart directions for driving from Denver to Los Angeles – 16 hours and 33 minutes. She noted one of the features she likes: One can easily locate the coffee shops or hotels along the way. But the widgets – or user interfaces – are clunky, she said, and the map is grainy.
MapQuest’s tech team has been working for more than a year on a new Web version. It will be ready in the next few months. “This map,” Hall said, “still needs a lot of love.”
Waypoint Ventures – New IMIA Asia Pacific Member
Waypoint Ventures is a start-up by co-founders Russell Bolden and Jesse Little of Sydney, Australia. They have developed a web-app that enables anyone to create a toposcope for any location on earth. You define a ‘home’ location either by searching an address or placing a pin on Google Maps. It’s then the same process for defining POI’s. The result is a personalized azimuthal equi-distant map projection that they then make by laser engraving the image in a range of materials including timber and stainless steel.
While people in the cartographic and GIS space might geek-out on this idea, Russell and Jesse’s intention is to make toposcopes or MapWheels as they have branded them, accessible to everyone. “Traditionally toposcopes are found at look-outs to help the visitor identify key landscape features and POI’s. We want MapWheels to be very personal and sentimental pieces of home decor that everyone should consider having” Russell said. “We encourage people to include locations that are special to them such as places they’ve travelled, where friends and loved ones live and where major life events have taken place such as where you ran your first half-marathon.” At less than $70 (USD) they are also priced at a level accessible to everyone.
They’ve made the user experience quite engaging by allowing personalization beyond choosing the locations. The user gets to choose from a range decorative features such as a border pattern, a font and what material it’s to be made from. You can also include a personal message which is great if you want to gift a MapWheel.
To date they have been pursuing the direct-to-consumer market, however they see tremendous opportunity for business and government, in particular in tourism. As an example they recently installed 3 MapWheels at a visitor information centre in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. They are simply glued down in the middle of 3 tables located just out-side the entrance to the centre. The idea is that as people sit down to plan their day with a coffee and a handful of brochures, they can easily see the direction and distance to important attractions in the area. There’s a photo of these MapWheels in the gallery page of their website.
Russell & Jesse have another new product in the pipeline. “Again it’s a form of traditional directional signage screaming out for some modern cartographic love to make them accessible to all. ” Russell said.
New Autonomous Flying Drones Don’t Require GPS to Navigate
Press Trust of India, 27 May 2015
Scientists have developed a new drone navigation system that allows these aerial vehicles to navigate without relying on a GPS signal or trained personnel.
With the goal of achieving autonomous flight of drones, Jose Martinez Carranza from the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) in Mexico, developed a vision and learning system to control and navigate them.
Martinez structured an innovative method to estimate the position and orientation of the vehicle, allowing it to recognise its environment, hence to replace the Global Positioning System (GPS) for low-cost sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes and camcorders.
The main idea was to avoid the use of GPS and use video cameras on board the vehicle for visual information and applying an algorithm to locate and orient the drone during its flight to use such information, researchers said.
To do this, a function that allows to draw a specific route on a map using aerial view was also adapted. Similar to Google Maps, it indicates autonomous navigation to a particular destination.
Researchers wanted to investigate different methods to perform autonomous flight of a drone on the outside environment where several challenges as wind currents occur and in areas where there is no GPS signal and have limited computational processing capabilities.
“At the stage of repeating, the pilot just makes the drone take off, but once in the air, autonomous flight algorithms kick into action and, by processing visual information captured by the camera, the vehicle recognises where in the environment it is positioned,” said Martinez.
Once it has recognised its location, visual information estimates vehicle position, which is sent to the control algorithms, responsible for moving the drone, so that it navigates to each of the points made in the route recorded during the stage teaching.
Software for ground control station was also developed, where the visual transmission from the drone is received in real time. This allows the inspection chamber in-charge to take photos or videos needed to detect fractures or flaws in structures.
History Prof Mapping a New View of the Medieval World
Maps do more than show us the way and identify major landmarks – rivers, towns, roads, and hills. For centuries, they also offered a perspective on how societies viewed themselves in comparison to the rest of the world.
Karen Pinto, assistant professor of history at Boise State University, is researching a book project titled “TheMediterranean in the Islamic Cartographic Imagination,” which looks at maps from the medieval and early-modern Muslim world. Her research is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In an age before GPS and detailed images of Earth captured by astronauts in the International Space Station, maps and charts focused less on mathematical scale than a subjective perception of superior might and privilege. In the case of pre-Renaissance Islamic maps, the many visual inaccuracies caused scholars to largely ignore the maps for centuries in favor of more geographically precise European cartography.
Instead of an hour of geography in the morning and an hour of English in the afternoon, for example, students will now study the European Union as a …
IMIA Asia Pacific Region Conference 15 – 17 November 2015
This year the IMIA Asia Pacific conference has been planned prior to the Brisbane International GIS Day 2015 on 18 November to allow delegates to attend both events. We look forward to your participation and encourage you to attend and show your support for the IMIA Asia Pacific Region and for ‘International Map Year 2015 – 2016.’
Like many cartographers, I am always fascinated with maps. I could be staring at any floating globe or spending quality time with my atlases. Maps has been one of the best graphical tools to convey knowledge. Knowledge is Power. Hence, Map is Power too!
Through my personal globe and many atlases, I came to know the vastness and complexities of the world. Maps simplify the complexity of world into chunks of knowledge relevant for the audience. For example, atlases have many thematic maps which shows the interrelationships of nature and mankind. A thematic map reduces multiple relationships to a simpler one where you and I can understand the world. Since the dawn of mankind, maps has served to further progress of humanity. From finding food to 3D modelling of disasters, maps have informed us what to do. Hence, Map is Power!
Like what other blog contributors mentioned, most of the map history is dictated by the professional surveyors and cartographers. Vast majority of the populace lives by and accept the standards and shapes determined by map-makers. Hence, the power of maps and the knowledge conveyed to the world is predetermined. With the advent of technologies and global geographical volunteers, the centre of power has shifted away from the map-makers. Today, non-cartographers(or surveyors / GISers) are the forefront in providing the new geographical information and most importantly, new maps.
I captured a lot of free geographic information for many years but there wasn’t a platform for me to make it publicly available. Then, I stumbled upon the OpenStreetMap and it was Power in action. As I am from Malaysia, freely available datasets (we take granted this in developed world) is very hard to be obtained. OpenStreetMap provided me and other geographic volunteers to break down the mammoth dataset barrier in front of us. Before Google Maps showed all the bus stops locations of my home state, I filled up the bus stops and route paths on Open Street Maps. Other users also chipped in by updating the attributes. It is clear example how new technologies are bringing power of maps to a bigger audience. Maps impact people and people impact maps.
With the advent open source datasets and open source technologies, maps are empowering more people than ever. Civil society and individuals are creating maps more than ever in history of mankind and interpreting the world in their unique ways. Barriers are coming down and map mashups are everywhere. Geographical analysis is advancing further and giving new insights to businesses and governments. We know exactly where to put our store or next school. We can visualize predictions using time-lapse features of various GIS software. Don’t you feel map is so empowering? Map is Power.
In conclusion, in our current lifetime, we have seen how maps have empowered us. More importantly, we, both the consumers and producers, have been empowered to shape the maps. Maps will continue to evolve (from drawings on ground to virtual reality) but always to stick to its main purpose. Conveying knowledge in a simplified manner and giving us the power to act. Map is Power!
IMIA Americas Conference Guest Speakers
September 27 – 29, 2015
Washington, D.C. USA
Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory
University of Maryland
Kari J. Craun
National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC)
U.S. Geological Survey
Marketing Manager, Geospatial
Humanitarian Information Unit
Office of the Geographer and Global Issues
Bureau of Intelligence / Research (INR/GGI/HIU) / U.S. Department of State
Location Tech Working Group with the Eclipse Foundation
Michael E. Senn
Content Management at National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
Senior Editor, Cartography
More Speakers to be Announced…
Conference Registration / Schedule of Events / Hotel Reservations / Map Award Program / Student Map Award Program / Special VIP Tours at: