March 2008

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Underground Railroad Locations

Very cool tourism and historical project – Passage to FreedomUnderground Railroad Locations and information.

Via: Spatial Sustain

1. The Value of Spatial Information (Exec. Sum, Full Report) a ACIL Tasman report commissioned by the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI).

2. the 1999 Oxera Report (Oxford Ecomomic Research Associates Ltd.) commissioned by the UK Ordnance Survey.

3. U.S. CODATA Reports published by the National Science Foundation (Free to read online)

4. The European Commission GI and GIS - Documents

5. Commercial Exploitation of Europe’s Public Sector Information, PIRA International study of 2000, Summary, Full Report

There is a very good discussion on how to deconstruct and compare the methodologies and results of the two first documents on the GSDI Legal and Economic Working Group Discussion List. This list has some of the top thinkers in the field of data access from an academic, legal, scientific and public institution standpoint. The list includes an archive that is well worth searching if ever looking for resources on this topic and to hear folks debate the details of these and many other data related issues.

Guardian UK’s Data Crusade Winning?

From Free Our Data:

Following on from the trading standards report, today’s Guardian examines what it could mean, and what the government – and other – response so far has been.

In sight of victory notes about the study that:

The findings will be hard to dismiss. Unlike previous studies, they are based on hard figures from the trading funds affected. It also takes a holistic view, for example taking into account the overall cost to society of the extra taxation needed to pay for free data.

Unfortunately, the government says, we’ll leave it the way it is. More here.

udell with malamud

Some great audio from Jon Udell and Carl Malamud:

This week’s ITConversations show is a chat with Carl Malamud, whose exploits I’ve followed ever since he launched podcasting a decade ahead of schedule with a project called Internet Talk Radio. Since then, Carl’s mainly known for his tireless crusade to release troves of public information to the Net: SEC filings, patents, Congressional video, historical photographs, and most recently, U.S. case law.

>Listen here.

Casualty Count

Coalition Casualty Count is a site managed by independent US citizens who analytically count the coalition casualties

for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom [Afghanistan]. We attempt to be up to date, precise, accurate and reliable.

There are many other sites on the web that list information of Fatalities from Iraq , but few if any of them do this in an analytical fashion. We endeavor to provide not just a list of names but a resource detailing when, where and how fatalities occurred.

You can read their methodology here.  I am always happy when I get to see the data and read how they were assembled, this provides me with the means to critically assess what is being presented to me.  I love the myriad visualization tools that are emerging on the net however, I wish they were accompanied by metadata which helps me better understand and decide whether or not I trust what is being said to me.

There are alot of data points and even some maps on this site and these folks are commended for doing this work and telling this important story.  There is also a list of the Canadian men and women causalities in Afghanistan.

via: Spatial Sustain

ParlVu

ParlVu is apparently bringing Parliament to your desktop! Well then! It seems like you can access live feeds of meetings in progress while access to

archived audio files are only accessible to those within the parliamentary Intranet (members, senators, press gallery, and staff within the parliamentary precinct).   I am told eventually they will be made accessible to the public, but no idea when.   If you`re willing to contact someone with access to ParlVu archives you could hear it.   Otherwise, ParlVu is a tool for a live feed. (email correspondence from a helpful clerk)

Earth Observation Data Policies

I discovered a very nice 4 pager primer on access to satellite and radar data prepared by Athena Global. The paper explains that EO data (satellite and radar) policy is the set of public decisions and guidelines about:

• what data will be produced or purchased;
• how it will be managed and by whom;
• who will have access to it (availability, confidentiality);
• how the costs of data will be paid;
• the price charged to users;
• who makes these decisions and through what processes.

The paper also discusses how Canadian EO data is determined by the type of sensor, whether it is framework data or specialized data, by who is asking for or wanting to purchase those data and that data policy has an impact

on data usage, and consequently on the integration of EO information into applications, products and services. In this way data policy shapes the potential promise of space programs in EO.

This is the direct link to the innovation rhetoric we are constantly bombarded with and to the argument that the private sector will flourish in interesting ways if data are made available to it and most importantly the direction of an entire industry. The paper also includes the following which is an excellent way to think about data pricing and its effects:

  • A direct association exists between pricing and its effects on public access and commercialisation of government agency information. Current pricing problems are having a deleterious effect on the affordability of spatial data in Canada, France, and the United Kingdom;
  • A direct association exists between the application of intellectual property rights and the degree of public access and commercialisation of government agency information. The greater the restrictions on access, the less successful dissemination programs will be;
  • Reducing prices and relaxing intellectual property restrictions on government datasets are significant factors improving opportunities for access and commercialization for stakeholders in the geographic information community.

The organization also prepared a brief on ways to think about EO users, and it may be a nice way for CivicAccess.ca to think about when framing debates around citizens and who and what their interests are.  EO users are viewed from the perspective of consumers, patrons and partners while recognizing there are different types of users:

scientific, commercial and operational (government, IOs NGOs, universities, research institutions, companies) that have different characteristics and technical skills, different data needs (long term – short term, information – data) and use data for different types of applications.

The paper explains the EO data use obstacles related to how the data are delivered, cost, lack of knowledge, and so on.  In essence the paper argues to match data supply with data needs.

Data Policy and Engaging EO Users by Athena Global.

banks & dataviz

It’s amazing the flowering of data visualization projects – and how well they sometimes bring to life abstract issues.

Here is a beautiful little project, which helps you understand the scale of the financial woes brought on by the subprime mortgage troubles in the US. It’s a complex problem with all sorts of reasons and ramifications, but the simplest explanation is this: in the past decade, banks have been falling over themselves to give out loans to really, really bad credit risks. This means that lots of money that’s gone out in loans isn’t coming back. Which means banks are going to start to fail.

You can see this by asking: how many loan repayments are more than 90 days late? And you could split that out among various banks, and track it over the period from 2002-2007, and see not just how many, but the value of those overdue payments. And if you did that, you’d get this:

bank mortgage

If you made that graph into a little movie over time, you’d be in good shape. Which is what and still i persist has done.

PS time to dump your shares of Wells Fargo, I’d say.

[thanks, as always, to infosthetics]

New Cartographers

Great article, The New The New Cartographers, by Jessica Clark, from In These Times:

Maps are everywhere these days. The ubiquity of global positioning systems (GPS) and mobile directional devices, interactive mapping tools and social networks is feeding a mapping boom. Amateur geographers are assigning coordinates to everything they can get their hands on—and many things they can’t. “Locative artists” are attaching virtual installations to specific locales, generating imaginary landscapes brought vividly to life in William Gibson’s latest novel, Spook Country. Indeed, proponents of “augmented reality” suggest that soon our current reality will be one of many “layers” of information available to us as we stroll down the street. winding up a company | venus factor

[more...]

aboriginal australia map

A great map of Australia, as seen by traditional aboriginal tribes. I can’t imagine the Canadian government doing something like this.

One curious note, below the map, the fine print says:

Disclaimer and Warning: Not suitable for use in native title and other land claims

[via: foe]

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