Ignite Philly 13 – A Wrap Up

Michelle Schmitt, from Maneto Mapping, and I had a really good time presenting at Ignite Philly 13 on Public Labs and some of the balloon mapping flights and workshops we have been doing around the area.

Image Source: Technical.ly Philly

Technical.ly Philly has a really good article summarizing all of the presentations. Some of the projects I thought were pretty impressive:

  •  Fresh Artists – a nonprofit organization youth arts program that pairs some of Philly’s best chefs with students to work with food and create stills from the ingredients in the recipes
  • GunCrisis.org – a nonprofit journalism organization chronicling gun violence in Philadelphia and proposing solutions. Most sobering fact: more than 500 gunpoint robberies have occurred in Philadelphia since the start of the year.
  • Cooper River Distillery – distilling spirits in Camden, New Jersey. Changing the way we think about craft spirits and working within the community.

Recent Resources

Over the past few weeks, I have been lucky enough to get out of the office and attend a few meetups and conferences. In those, I have come across some pretty interesting resources and applications that I didn’t know were out there.

mrjob - helps write & test Python-based libraries that use Hadoop locally. When you are happy with what is going on, just point it at the cluster of your choice.

Nanocubes - developed by the AT&T Labs – Information Visualization team, it is a data structure to visualize large spatiotemporal data sets in a web browser.

GeoJson.io - a web-based tool to let you drag and drop, copy and paste or draw features in a map. The map and data then can be via url or downloaded and displayed in some other map visualization framework.

Docco - hat tip to  Andrew Thompson for this one. He was originally talking about Pycco, which is a Python port of Docco, but it immediately caught my interest. I really dislike writing documentation, and Docco was a really good solution for handling it for me.

Quadrigram - another tool in the data visualization toolbox. They offer a free 30-day trial, but after that point that point there is a fee to use it.

RAW – built and maintained by the Density Design Lab, it is another data visualization tool. A web-based application that uses a local spreadsheet to create a vector visualization of the data. The application can be run on the hosted site, or you can grab the code off Github and run it in your local environment.

Responsivator – I am not a designer, to be honest I was spoiled at Azavea working with Brian Jacobs. He definitely made the magic happen. But now I have to work (hack?) on the CSS to make the pages render. This application makes it easy to see how the page renders in different resolutions.

Open Data for NJ on GitHub & Gist

First off, let me say that the data posted on my GitHub and Gist repositories are my own instances and are NOT official State of New Jersey data releases.

Alright, now that being said…


W00t! Here are some open data formats to help with the use of New Jersey data outside of desktop GIS. It is a tough road to hoe when trying to change paradigms about data use perceptions. New Jersey has always been open about sharing GIS data, from the late 1990′s the NJ Office of GIS and NJ Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of GIS have been putting their data online for folks to download. But the focus has been desktop users, not addressing the shift towards web maps and people using it in “non-conventional” ways. But my belief is cost to build the data is returned when users actually start using it, so let’s look to ALL the users.

So there are the obvious issues that are wrestled with: internal and external data maintenance. But a more complicated conversation in regards to documenting the source when people are making decisions based upon a data set shared by a data steward organization. In talking with folks there is the rational position: It’s is the data user’s responsibility to understand what they are using. But often, rational thought goes out the window when people find something that promotes their position and defending it.

I would really like to hear how other folks are using open data formats as part of their Enterprise in particular to documentation and making decision makers comfortable in sharing the information in this format.

First Week with Google Glass


So I have had my Google Glass for a week now and to be honest they have been met by mixed responses.


I have held off on one of the ‘unboxing posts‘, there are a few out there. As you would it expect it came with the charger, plug, protective bag and a couple of lenses to actually make them a pair of glasses. I have to say I was really disappointed with my Glass pick up. No one in the fancy loft above Chelsea Market was able to answer any technical questions above the device. They were cheerleaders about the device and “How Cool It Was”, that was it, no one could discuss the Mirror API capabilities.

Another disappointment was finding out that a lot of the out-of-box location/navigation functionality requires an Android device. All of the Google people were saying that they will hopefully be able to get an application for iOS 7, but now there is nothing for the iPhone. That was pretty disappointing, but I have been able to get access to the location information via the API and am wrapping some logic to do location services in Glassware and not relying on a device native application.

I have been trying to use them and get used to wearing them and using them as something other than a camera on my head. But I admit, it is one of the biggest things it has going for it out of the box.


We have been getting a lot of rain here on the East Coast and I don’t think I’ve taken my boat off the rack except to paddle in over a week.

Hopefully next week I will be able to have my first publicly accessible application available, it is pretty simple right now. Basically it is a service are look up application, take the location information from the device and report back to the device information from an ArcGIS Server REST end point.