First Open Source GIS UK Conference

The Centre for Geospatial Science of the University of Nottingham, Open Source Geospatial Foundation (UK Chapter), ICA Working Group on Open Source Geospatial Technologies, SOSoRNET and Open Knowledge Foundation are organizing the First Open Source GIS UK Conference on Monday 22nd June, 2009 at the University of Nottingham.

The conference has a strong international focus and takes a holistic approach bringing together speakers and delegates from government, academe, industry and open source communities. High profile speakers from North America and the EU will be giving presentations and running hands-on workshops within the conference schedule.

For more information visit

Google Latitude

Google Latitude, the company’s new geo-location tool, allows you to see the geographical location of your friends and provides you with a way to contact them via SMS, instant message, or a phone call.Using mobile devices’ GPS features and Google Maps, Google Latitude allows folks to share their location and status. However, as with similar products (such as whereyougonnabe), it really relies on the network effect for its usefulness.

The big question for those following social media is whether Latitude might be Google's secret "Twitter killer." After all, if your cell phone can tell your social network where you are, is there really a need for a microblogging platform that asks, "What are you doing?" The Map Room (02/09) Mashable (02/04) (02/05)

Toronto team portrayed in Ryerson research news and student newspaper

The Toronto node of the project is portrayed in a

Under the headline "Geography prof's map tool lets citizens have their say", The Ryersonian student newspaper of January 28, 2009, discusses the Argoomap tool developed by Ryerson students and researchers. A scan of the article is included below.


WattzOn: Crowdsourcing a Solution to Climate Change

There are today hundreds of innovative tools for personal energy tracking littered across the Internet (e.g. carbon calculators). However, these are often static and therefore do not react to improvement in knowledge or allow for addition of data.

Wattz On is dynamic tool that not only allows the public to track their energy consumption (in watts) and compare it with other individuals but also provides the entire community with a collaborative environment to understand and manipulate how the numbers are calculated. This is all achieved by a back-end database nicknamed “holmz” – a structured wiki-engine that allows people to not only manipulate and share text, but also lets people collectively edit structured data and workflows. As such, crowds can collaborate on getting all the individual parts of the equation correct so that everybody may benefit.  



TomTom and Garmin, the world’s leading navigation solutions providers, have put their own customers to work improving their maps. In early 2008, TomTom launched a feature called MapShare in which their customers can make improvements to their map instantly on their navigation device. Once verified by TomTom moderators, there updates are relayed to the entire MapShare community.  As such, the user community collectively acts to provide updates and fixes to the map. This example of crowdsourcing ensures users have access to the most up-to-date information. Today, the success of MapShare is reflected in the size of the community, which has grown from half a million users at the beginning of 2008 to more than five million users today.     

Crowd-Sourcing the World

A startup hopes to tap into the expertise of developing nations via mobile phones.

CitySense - An Open, Urban-Scale Sensor Network Testbed

Engineers at Harvard and BNN Technologies are working on a project that will cover the city of Cambridge, MA, with wireless-sensor nodes mounted to telephone poles that could allow researchers to see the specific locations and times of day when pollution peaks. The researchers could also track the city's weather with more precision and help test new wireless technology for better Wi-Fi. The network will be an open test bed on which anyone can run experiments, says Matt Welsh, a professor of computer science at Harvard. Read more.

Google Uses Searches to Track Flu’s Spread

Want to know how bad the flu is in your state? Ask Google.

The all-knowing search engine has a new tool, Google Flu Trends, that estimates U.S. flu activity a week to 10 days earlier than government disease trackers such as hospital visits and other reports to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The gadget compiles the info by aggregating search queries for the virus geographically. It then spits out daily estimates of where outbreaks are likely. Read more.

Health Map: Global Disease Alert Mapping System

Health Map is a Google Maps mashup that plots real-time worldwide infectious disease outbreaks from around the world:

Currently the map mashes up with a variety of sources including proMED-Mail, the World Health Organisations, and Google News to give way to a useful world health maps mashup application. More sources and finer-grained mapping are apparently in the works according to the mashup geo developers Clark Freifeld and John Brownstein. Alerts can be filtered by most recent alerts or within the past 30 days. You can also look at only certain continents or countries. When you really stop to think about what power this mashup has it really serves to help millions of people to stay up to date on what health-related sources are currently reporting all over the world.

Social Networks Exploding, May Appear in Government

A VP analyst at Gartner and distinguished analyst Andrea Di Maio says it's time for government departments to move past previous failed endeavors and wake up and smell the social. Considering the explosive social networking growth revealed by a survey Nielsen just published, now may be a great time to begin transitioning some government operations to social media tools.

Clearly, social networking has proven to be an efficient tool for information exchange, and a large chunk of the greater US population seems to have the hang of things. Moving forward, Gartner's report postulates that government processes ranging from human services, tax and revenue, health care, and education could one day incorporate social networking tools.

The report steered very clear of the security and privacy implications of the use of social networking in government functions, though there will undoubtedly be discussion of this sort if governments start going this route. Read more.

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