(h/t M. L.)
After delivering countless presents and tidings of joy to the people of the world, Santa Claus is finally taking his operations into the twenty-first century. Data was painstakingly collected by magical GPS technicians, statisticians and advertising companies, and all the Christmas elves have been trained to use state-of-the-art GIS software to improve the efficiency of Santaâ€™s Christmas Eve global journey.
The elves created numerous layers of data, both raster and vector, that will provide Santa and his reindeer with vital information. A vector layer of lines joining cities around the world allows the elves to do shortest path analysis to ensure the trip is completed well before sunrise. Another vector layer consists of points representing every house in the world; symbology is used to differentiate houses with chimneys from those that will require a little more Christmas magic to infiltrate. Also within this layer is data on the location of naughty and nice children, which permitted Santaâ€™s apprentices to make selections and create a new layer consisting only of the houses where nice children live. Raster layers were also created, namely one representing population densities within cities worldwide. The reindeer must know the location of suitable landing areas, and by creating buffer zones around these areas, Santa knows how many houses he can visit without using his sleigh. Finally, another raster layer representing the distribution of Christmas cheer will serve as an indicator of his success in bringing happiness to the people of the world.
Although this information will speed up the Christmas Eve rush, the ridiculous amount of received gift lists was also taken into account. Santa paired up with Google to determine the interests and wants of each person in the world, young and old. The elves simply scrape relevant search subjects and relate it to the attribute table containing house points. Hence, there is no longer a need to check each list twice, which will greatly increase productivity in the workshop.
Evidently, governments are scrambling to get ahold of Santaâ€™s new geodatabase. However, the GIS technology at the elvesâ€™ disposal is far too advanced for non-magically assisted computers. Besides, jolly old Saint Nick is keeping his data as elusive as his formula for Christmas spirit.
For a “real world” implementation geospatial technologies for Santa, NORAD created a system to track Santa Claus along his Christmas Eve journey. They use satellites, radars, fighter jets and Santa Cams to collect data for visualization on the Google Earth platform.
Forty seven radars positioned along the northern border of North America closely detect Santa’s sleigh taking off from the workshop. Then, geo-synchronous satellites, that is satellites that remain in the same spot over Earth, detect heat generated from Rudolph’s nose as the sleigh travels all over the world. Throughout the night of Christmas Eve, information on Santa’s whereabouts is loaded onto Google Earth and updated frequently. Numerous cameras used only on Christmas Eve photograph Santa and his reindeer. As the sleigh approaches North America, Norad fighter jets take off from Newfoundland to escort it in safely.
Another clever system for tracking Santa is SantaGPS, but unlike NORAD Tracks Santa, users must pay for the full version. According to feedback entries, the interface is quite easy to use and is easily understandable by children. The system has features like World Map Tracking View, Satellite Tracking View and other novelties like Santa Sounds and Christmas music.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find blogs by other people who viewed GIS as an asset for Santa himself.