Sensors on the MBTA public transit

Saw this today at Boston’s South Station – “Passenger Counting Sensors in Use.” What does it mean? According to this article, this is a limited trial project just for the month of May (and just at South Station), wherein the MBTA (our regional transit authority) is trying to figure out if their contractor is doing a good job of collecting fares on the commuter rail line. Sounds like an innovative way to use sensor technology to solve a problem cheaply with very little “big brother”-ish implications.
Passenger Counting Sensors in Use

Nationwide electric utility service territories in delicious GeoJSON

Faraday has shared a nice data set in GeoJSON combining USDOE data with utility service boundaries.

Developer Apps challenges from OGC and others

Developer apps competitions seem to be all the rage lately. Even OGC is having one — a Student APP Challenge focused on geospatial interoperability of course. It’s sponsored by Google and features a Nexus tablet as part of the prize.

Here are a couple others:

NYC Big Apps 2013

This year, NYC BigApps is tapping the best and brightest minds to work together to help solve major challenges – or as we like to call them, BigIssues – affecting New York City residents, visitors, and businesses. We’ve selected four focus areas for the 2013 competition and invited experts to develop problem briefs that vividly describe BigIssues within each category. You can choose to solve any of the BigIssues outlined in the problem briefs or create your own BigIssue to tackle.

In addition to problem briefs, NYC BigApps will feature a range of diverse experts who will help advise participants through ongoing events, virtual office hours, and project page feedback. Check back here for our list of experts, which will be up shortly.

ArcGIS Javascript Code Challenge

(looks like this one just ended)

Information Sharing is a Cultural Commitment

I sat on a panel Friday at the IJIS WIS3 Information Sharing and Safeguarding event where we were asked to think about the big problems with making cross-domain information sharing work. What I take away from the afternoon is this.

We have an abundance of technology tools and options available to us. Developing more technology isn’t the answer. The toughest problem right now is developing a cultural practice of information sharing. Creating an information sharing profession, and training a generation of information sharing professionals to have a baseline of skills, practices and values.

It’s already happening in the open data movement. When will it happen in all the vast recesses of federal government?

The Library of Congress is a flickr user

Apparently, The Library of Congress is a “pro” flickr user. I haven’t looked at the flickr API in awhile, but as I was refreshing my memory of the flickr.photos.search API, I noticed this parameter I didn’t remember:

is_commons (optional): Limit the scope of the search to only photos that are part of the Flickr Commons project.

What? Never heard of the “Flickr Commons project.” I nervously clicked on the link, expecting as usual to find a major let-down — a cool idea with an underwhelming follow-through on content. The first thing you see is the mission:

The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer.

OK. Sounds good. So who’s participating? I quickly click that link, and right at the top is…the Stockholm Transport Museum!?!? Nothing against Stockholm, or transportation for that matter, but not exactly the huge important photo archive I was hoping for. But all is not lost, there’s a lot more organizations listed. NASA…good…National Archives UK…good…New York Public Library…interesting…

Screen Shot 2012-10-03 at Oct 3, 12.47.30 AM.png

And then I saw it. Last on the list was what I wanted to see — The US Library of Congress! They have “some 14 million items” with “more than one million” online at their web site! Are they all in flickr and searchable through the API? No. But it looks like over 10,000 are. Not a bad start. Flickr just became interesting again.