Tag Archive: mapping

In my search for Open Source GIS programs, I stumbled across something called OSGeo Live, which was considered a geospatial package tool, mentioned in a website.  Not ever hearing about anything like this before, I decided to research what it is since I am always looking for new geospatial tools and softwares to experiment with for GIS purposes.   After searching through the web, I came across OSGeo Live’s website (http://live.osgeo.org/en/index.html).  It seemed fascinating that I could use a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything (A list installed softwares can be found at http://live.osgeo.org/en/overview/overview.html).  So I thought to myself, “Let’s give it a try!”

Once I downloaded the application and extracted it (which is about 2.7GB) it had a file extension I never heard of before <*.7z> and that my computer did not recognize.  This ended up needing to be open in a WinZip like application called 7zip.  Once I unzipped this file download, another file extension popped up that my computer did not recognize, nor did I recognize it: <*.vmdk>  –  So again, I was on a search to figure out this file extension since I was walking into a new world of applications, softwares, file extensions, that I have never dealt with before.  After this research, I came across what it was – VMware Virtual Disk File.  In order to open this I needed a Virtual Desktop.  I searched in Google’s search engine “what is the best virtual machine application” and I came across a website that listed VirtualBox (https://www.virtualbox.org/) as the number one choice with a description from http://lifehacker.com/5714966/five-best-virtual-machine-applications as follows:

“VirtualBox has a loyal following thanks to a combination of a free-as-in-beer price tag, cross-platform support, and a huge number of features that make running and maintaining virtual machines a breeze. Virtual machine descriptions and parameters are stored entirely in plain-text XML files for easy portability and easy folder sharing. Its “Guest Additions” feature, available for Windows, Linux, and Solaris virtual machines, makes VirtualBox user friendly, allowing you to install software on the virtual machine that grants extra privileges to the host machine for tasks like sharing files, sharing drives and peripherals, and more.”

Then follows the steps to get it started: http://live.osgeo.org/en/quickstart/virtualization_quickstart.html

Once inside of the virtual machine for OS Geo Live, perform the following functions before getting started in any of the programs:

  1. Click on Applications/System/Terminal ;
  2. Type sudo su to become a super-user
  3. Update your APT database with sudo apt-get update, and typing your password, if requested;
  4. Install the latest security updates with sudo apt-get upgrade;
  5. Install required packages with sudo apt-get install build-essential module-assistant;
  6. Configure your system for building kernel modules by running sudo m-a prepare;
  7. Click on Install Guest Additions… from the Devices menu, then choose to browse the content of the CD when requested.
  8. type sudo apt-get install linux-headers-‘uname -r‘
  9. type cd /media/VBOXADDITIONS_4.2.6_82870/
  10. type sudo ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run
  11. type mkdir <name of your shared drive folder>
  12. type sudo mount -t vboxsf -o uid=user,rw <name of your shared drive folder> /home/user/<name of your shared drive folder>

Another option for the a virtual machine is the free VMWare Player (http://www.vmware.com/products/player/?src=WWW_BestMatch_US#utm_source=WWW_BestMatch_US&utm_medium=src&utm_campaign=src-tagged-url).  The same aforementioned website provided the following description:

“VMware for desktop users comes in two primary flavors: VMware Player and VMware Workstation. VMware Player is a free solution aimed at casual users who need to create and run virtual machines but don’t need advanced enterprise-level solutions. VMware Workstation includes all the features of VMWare Player—easy virtual machine creation, hardware optimization, driver-less guest OS printing—and adds in the ability to clone machines, take multiple snapshots of the guest OS, and a replay changes made to the guest OS for testing software and recording the results within the virtual machine.”

I also came across another GIS virtual desktop called GISVM (Geographic Information System Virtual Machine) which can be founded at http://gisvm.com/- I will give this a try at a latter date and then compare the two GIS virtual desktops.

Case Study Proposal:

The identification of 25 potential sites to construct cell phone towers around the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area
This study will examine the potential for a design of a project in regards to a wireless phone company who is interested in expanding their communication network to receive better coverage in the Greater Boston Metropolitan area of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.   The project will consist of sorting through many datasets available online via http://www.mass.gov/mgis/massgis.htmand then downloading key features that may assist in the creation of geodatabases.  Ultimately, this will align the various analyses of determining which datasets will reveal ideal locations for the new cell towers.  Furthermore, new developments have boosted the population in and around Boston creating a greater demand for communication technologies, especially as the networks are expanding into 4G standards.
The following layers will establish a base foundation dataset in order to perform several different types of analyses.  Some of these datasets may be repetitive (i.e. some of the data will be downloaded for awareness) or may only be used as a reference and not in the actual analyses  (which are located immediately below).
·         Shaded Relief (1:5,000)
Census/Statistical Data
Ground Suitability Data
·         Impervious Surface (raster to vector conversion)
Conservation/Recreation (merge into one shapefile)
Other Facilities (merge into one shapefile)
Physical Resources
Water Features (Merge into one shapefile)
Additional layers can be found at http://wireless.fcc.gov/geographic/index.htm– it is important to understand the current cell tower infrastructure in identifying gaps in coverage or where they may lay in regards to more population density in one area over another.  Also, major thoroughfares need to have consistent connectivity for travelers as well as be able to handle the influx of users on a cellular network.  This site provides maps showing FCC licensing data, regulated towers, and market area boundaries.  These maps then need to be converted into a raster file and eventually digitize to extract the generated information on the map into vector files.  Another website I would extract data from would be www.cloudmade.com.  There are no guarantees on what type of data will be available, but cloudmade.com allows you to download various shapefiles of landmarks, infrastructure, and other user-generated data that has been uploaded to openstreetmaps.com.  Acquiring traffic data will also be of value for this project in order to identify high trafficked areas of cars along major thoroughfares.
There are several types of analyses I would use within ArcGIS in order to conduct this project.  Proximity analysis is useful in several different ways.  First and foremost, in this project the geographic constraint is 25 miles outside of the Boston city limits.  I will create an extent polygon in order to clip out each of the attributes of my shapefiles that fall outside of this area.  This will allow me to use smaller datasets and not have to be concerned with highways and schools (including colleges and universities) outside of the constraint, among many other shapefiles’ attributes.   On the other hand, some of the features are not necessarily that important by themselves.  For example, there are various types of water features or conservation/recreation layers that do not need to be standalone files.  Merging these various datasets in order to eliminate unnecessary cluster is important so there is less data to work with.  The important factor as a result is that at least the water features and conservation layers are captured since building a cell tower is not an option within these locations.  Another type of proximity analysis is buffering.  In order to identify build zones, a 1 mile buffer must be conducted around the MassDOT Roads (attribute: highway) shapefile and then the lines must be dissolved in case several highways are in close proximity to one another.   In addition, buffering must be done with a radius of 1 mile around all schools.  Once the new shapefiles are generated as a result of the buffering tool, I will overlay each of the buffer files and delete from the highway buffer, wherever the school buffer file overlaps to minimize the amount of ideal locations.
Besides proximity analysis, other types of analyses will be useful in finding ideal locations for the new cell towers.  Towers need to be located in areas where population density is higher than normal to cater toward the influx of people utilizing the network.  As a result, a population density analysis must be conducted based from census data.  Elevation data can assist in terrain analysis in order to identify any hills or peaks above and beyond 250’ above sea level.  Once this area is identified, soil and hydrographic analysis will be conducted in order to determine the ground suitability for building the tower to ensure it is placed in a strong foundation.  Lastly, since cell towers need to be in a close proximity to other cell towers, the next type of analysis I will conduct is a Line of sight analysis to ensure the newly identified locations are within a certain distance from other towers and there are no vertical obstructions and to identify the potential cell coverage. 
The results of this project should determine what areas within the Greater Boston Metropolitan region are ideal in order to build new cellular towers.  The additional datasets from the FCC website will help to alleviate any overlapping towers in order to improve the communications network.  Geospatial data of the amount of users per cell towers in and around the ideal locations would probably improve this study.  Since urban and rural areas have different needs in regards to cell tower use, towers need to be located in ideal locations, but since cell towers are known to possibly cause health issues, towers must stand clear of schools and recreational areas.
This most anticipated roadblock will be the accuracy of all of the data.  Not all the data in the files being used has been captured in the past year.  Therefore, some of the data may be missing components crucial to a full and complete analysis of identifying ideal locations.  Further research needs to be done to confirm the validity of all the data.  For example, have any schools closed down since the shapefiles were generated or have new school been built would be questions that need to be answered.   Also, an urban legend about cell towers is often told that they cause cancer and serious health risks.  Cellular technology is a relatively newer technology and the health community is unable to confirm this suspicion as of yet; however, the public still has some reservations about them being erected nearby to residential areas.  Lastly, the wireless company may have to pay rent for the location of the tower especially if it’s close to residential areas because of the depreciation of property that it will affect the neighborhoods the towers are being built around.
  1. December 23, 2011 8:38:31 PM EST
  2. #Arab mapmaker whose magnum opus lit the way for all who came after him. bit.ly/tlohQ8 #explorer #cartography
    December 23, 2011 8:28:04 PM EST
  3. @beyondmaps tweeting top map posts of viewsoftheworld.net – what was your favourite in 2011 and why? #cartography #geography
    December 23, 2011 4:05:39 AM EST
  4. Historical cartographic mapping of Massachusetts, 1600-1750 – ArtfixDaily (blog) | #cartography bit.ly/tNhDdj
    December 21, 2011 1:43:00 PM EST
  5. RT @spatialanalysis: The best of 2011 in #maps: spatial.ly/rFDSOv #cartography #dataviz
    December 20, 2011 9:51:47 PM EST
  6. Anthropocene Cartography – Mapping Human Influence on Planet Earth
    September 3, 2011 11:47:03 AM EDT

Interesting article/blog posting on how organizations are using remote sensing and GIS mapping technologies for socioeconomic issues and natural disasters.

Social Impact through Satellite Remote Sensing – Visualizing acute and Chronic Crises beyond the visible spectrum

I believe this neogeographic concept is the future of mapping.

From Social Mapping to Crisis Mapping

Interesting concept…what are your thoughts?

Google Maps Rolls Out Indoor Mapping

desktop explorer

Geography and stuff for Urbanists


Where Industry Discovers Geospatial Image Analysis


High on maps and GIS


Stay in the know

The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.