We’re thrilled to be making a repeat appearance at the annual Wolfram Alpha Summit in Washington DC. This year Ian’s talk will focus on the all-important (but oft-neglected) subject of metadata. Please join us September 5-6 in Washington DC at the Park Hyatt!
We’re at the Tableau customer conference in London and just announced our CDN. This is exciting news if you are located, um, anywhere in the world. Depending on location, Tableau map performance will range from 2 to 10 times faster. This is because we can’t move the internet, but we can move our content closer to customers.
As Tableau’s official mapping partner, Urban Mapping allows Tableau customers to access base maps, create custom geographic overlays and other visualizations, including demographics and high-resolution imagery, and utilize additional data from the Mapfluence on-demand data catalog, all within Tableau products. Some choice words from Tableau:
“As a global software company committed to pushing the envelope with visualization technologies, mapping is a must have,” commented James Eiloart, Vice President of Europe, Middle East and Asia at Tableau. “With the CDN, Urban Mapping is not only helping deliver value-added capabilities to our customers, they have also taken the extra step to develop an innovative delivery platform to provide those capabilities as fast as possible.”
Because Mapfluence maintains native access to Tableau, it offers higher performance, reliability and service offerings over legacy mapping technologies. Interested customers can access a free evaluation of enhanced mapping capabilities in Tableau. These capabilities include:
- Overlay high resolution satellite and aerial imagery
- Access 10,000 variables to overlay from the Mapfluence On-demand Data Catalog
- Host proprietary customer data in Mapfluence for easy visualization in Tableau
- Create additional map styles including heat maps, raster data, great arcs
- Address-level geocoding
- Custom-styled base maps
- Sales territory definition and management
- Custom data sourcing
- Advanced spatial queries and geographic operations
When The Guardian broke the story about the NSA demanding ‘telephony metadata’ from Verizon, a new word was introduced into the public lexicon. In the world of maps and geographic data, metadata gets a bad rap. It’s generally perceived as a pain in the ass– something that must be tended to, like a perpetually leaky bike tire or cleaning up your room. At Urban Mapping, we’ve always viewed this differently. Poor documentation or an inability to readily know things about data, especially geographic information, is costly.
Since the dawn of library science at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, where Callimachus in the third century BC conceived of the first bibliographic system (Pinakes), metadata developed as a way to catalog key elements of printed works and make them easily searchable. Unfortunately this also introduced an unintended consequence of divorcing metadata from data.
The next significant development in metadata was two millennia later. In 1595 AD, Johan van der Does of Leiden University published Nomenclator, the first definitive publication of library holdings. While this index was fairly crude, it took a few thousand years to arrive. Next up was Melville Dewey who created The Dewey Decimal System to organize all knowledge into ten main classes (further subdivided into ten divisions, each division into ten sections). This approach allowed for infinite hierarchy. Other systems followed, such as the Universal Decimal Classification and Library of Congress Classification.
Fast-forward a few decades. Libraries, archives, bookstores and other repositories of knowledge are filled to the brim with card catalogs and the like. Tremendous human effort was dedicated to manually draft, distribute and maintain indices about their collections. What to do with these massive storehouses of index cards? Thankfully the information age helped to solve the real estate problem by creating digital archives of metadata that could be searched. Beginning in the late-1960s, the OCLC took the lead to centralize the digitization and storage of metadata for all types of content. Content had become completely divorced from that which it describes– metadata and data had undergone a bifurcation, simultaneously advancing society and holding it back. If I was interested in, say, a book about musical scores and want to know more about New York, New York, I might be SOL. Searching by “Sinatra” might help me get what I want, but the limitations of searching metadata remained a function of that which was indexed.
Then the Internet happened. Moore’s Law took root and processing power went exponential, storage costs dropped like rocks. The cost to purge data became greater than to maintain. Bookstores, newspapers, libraries and anything dead tree oriented faced irrelevance. After a long separation, metadata was reunited with data, but not from the world of library science. Google Books and Amazon’s Search Inside are great examples of bringing content together with data, allowing users to simultaneously perform full text searches and query metadata.
Contrast this with the world of geospatial data, where metadata remained off to the side, completely divorced from content. This is effectively not much more advanced or useful than the days of card catalogs. This is why we take it so seriously at Urban Mapping. In the next few months we’ll be unveiling a significant improvement over current geospatial metadata, but more on that later…
Ok, what does this have to do with domestic surveillance you are thinking? With the NSA demanding telephony metadata from Verizon and President Obama assuring Americans that nobody is listening to your phone calls, what exactly is the big deal? Below is a list of what could be provided. On the left is the demand, the center column is a list of derivative information (meta-metadata?) that could be compiled based on logs from Verizon, and the right column indicates what this could mean.
The bottom line in Mapland is a mantra we’ve had in place for years: One person’s metadata is another person’s data. The Verizon-NSA issue is case study #1 in how metadata plays a critical role in surfacing actionable insights. In this case, political and security considerations are paramount, but it very clearly illustrates the concept. It’s been taken from wonky to pedestrian in a matter of days and hopefully future uses of metadata cease containing the term in quotes.
We’re taking it on the road! UMI’s own Jessy and John will be representin’ in Minneapolis, May 22-24 at FOSS4G North America. We are a Gold level sponsor and will be on hand to spread the word about how powerful and user-focused geospatial software combined with a rich collection of high-value data is the way to go! If your travels call for FOSS4G, please drop us a note and let us kn0w!
Map conference season is upon us! And the State of the Map confab will be happening in San Francisco this June 8-9. Urban Mapping is proud to be a Gold level sponsor–we’re underwriting several scholarships and will have a presence at the event. OpenStreetMap has served us very well over the past five plus years–we love the ability to custom style and render tiles for use within Mapfluence and for customers like Tableau Software. It’s a sort of reunion for extended family, some of whom we haven’t yet met. If you are attending the conference, please be sure to drop us a note or say hi at the event!
PyPg Day 2013, otherwise known as PostgreSQL Day at PyCon US is happening on March 13 at the Santa Clara Convention Center and UMI is proud to sponsor the event, getting us premium logo placement on banners and tees! We’ll have some of our engineering staff there to learn, educate, mingle and have fun. If you are interested in attending, don’t delay, register today!
Postgres and Python are both vibrant communities that have much in common. Both at their core are open communities that believe in making the world better through the software they release. Beyond the similarities in the communities, many Python users are Postgres users and vice-versa. The overlap in users between these communities allowing the opportunity for both to benefit from closely timed and coordinated events it makes it easier on attendees of both.
PyPgDay 2013 will be a full-day event with talks about PostgreSQL and Python, including talks by contributors to PostgreSQL, Django, PostGIS, and Python. Half the talks will help PostgreSQL DBAs, and the other half will focus on developing Python applications using Postgres features. There will also be a party in the evening.
This year’s Urban Mapping holiday party is planned and ready for execution! Bring your season’s finest and be prepared to enjoy! This year we’ll be at Ozumo, right near the historic Embarcadero. Festivities begin early in the evening, but that’s only for Umibot and friends. We hope you can make it from 9pm until late.
For those cartographers out there, you are no doubt familiar with the adulterated “Chevalier” Commercial, Pictorial and Tourist Map of San Francisco From Latest U.S. Gov. and Official Surveys.