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.

Place Names / POI Interest Group Launches

Over the past few years, a strong community of interest has evolved around information technologies for developing databases of place names and points of interest, and also the search interfaces and gazetteers that provide the query tools for these databases.

You’re invited to join an ad hoc, international group of people interested in implementing these systems, which I’ll just call POIs for short. I’ve been involved in the World Wide Web POI Working Group, which approached the topic from an information modeling standpoint, and the American Association of Geographers workshop, where practitioners shared their experiences.

Many of us now feel the time is right to keep the momentum going, and have a slightly more formal channel for occasional communication. Some of us are implementing the W3C’s draft spec, and are looking to partner in my effort to create a unified, global linked database of all POI information with the OpenPOIs Repository. And some are just looking for data modeling commiseration. No matter what your take on the POI world is, please join us.

We’re starting with informal, monthly “brown bag” teleconferences at 3pm UTC / 11am US Eastern on the first Thursday of each month with the first gathering this Thursday, May 3rd. If you’re interested, please subscribe to the mailing list. All details about meeting times and phone numbers will be announced there.

OpenPOIs Launches

I’ve struggled with writing the first blog post about OpenPOIs because there’s so much to say it’s hard to know where or how to begin. So after much procrastination, I’ll just start with the practical, tangible aspects and expand later on. OpenPOIs is an initiative of the Open Geospatial Consortium to build a global, comprehensive database of POIs — points of interest — which are basically all public places. The database is being seeded with existing open place databases such as Geonames and OpenStreetMap, and we plan to expand on what these great services already offer, by specializing in some key areas:

  1. OpenPOIs will index all web resources related to a POI as possible
  2. OpenPOIs will be the best source of correct place name spellings
  3. OpenPOIs will be multi-lingual
  4. OpenPOIs is open for third-party contributions and corrections

The system went public in alpha stage earlier this month with some US data. We are currently rebuilding the database with global coverage in preparation for a beta launch in a few weeks. It’s limited to a basic map and some read-only RESTful queries right now, with a full geographic search API coming soon.

Join the public announcement mailing list and read this blog to stay abreast of the advances coming soon.

Finally, for those of you interested in working with OpenPOIs, or building your own place name database or gazetteer, a “birds of a feather” interest group has formed with a mailing list here, and a monthly teleconference (join the list for access information).