Tracking Apps

Traveling a lot these days, and hiking and biking. There must be a way to keep track of my travels, organize and georeference photos and video’s, take notes, maybe even record comments as I move around. So, I am looking at iPhone and android tracking apps. Here’s my starter list:

MyTracks, for Android

MyTracks for Apple (different publisher)

A collection of apps for tracking other people (e.g. kids)


A collection of apps for longer trips

Polarsteps for Android, and for iPhone.

Avenza is an mapp app which requires that you download maps to use offline – some free, need to explore — looks like an amazing map collection. You can search the database of maps online.

The David Rumsey Collection

I’ve known about the exciting David Rumsey Historical Map Collection for more than a decade, and have used it from time to time as a resource for research. The physical collection has more than 150,000 maps, mostly of North and South America, but also the rest of the world. About two thirds of the collection have been digitized and with this database are easily searchable.
The technology used includes LUNA software (by Luna Imaging in L.A.) for creation and processing, and Georeferencer software from the Swiss company Klokan Technologies. With this software, the transparency of the historical map can be adjusted to see the google-maps layer below. Fascinating!

Gerrymandering – the Line Dance

The 2020 U.S. Census controversy brings attention to many mapping issues, most importantly the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Partisan Gerrymandering.  GIS Software is sometimes viewed as the guardian angel, abut more often the devil in the bizarre American governmental process of “redistricting”.  This occurs on a state-by-state basis after the completion of the census, which is held every 10 years, with the purpose of readjusting voting districts to take into account changes in population and demographics.  The idea is to improve representation, but the process has become deeply politicized.  This is a good, simplified explanation:  The Line Dance, by Chris Satullo, director of the Draw the Lines Project.  Along with the website providing a wealth of information, links and instructions for Pennsylvania’s version of DistrictBuilder open source map application, designed by Azavea, encourages the public to understand the redistricting process and submit their own maps which reflect their wishes.  Here is an excellent video tutorial.

Geospatial trends in 2019

Time to get up to speed again. In January, this article appeared in Geospatialworld. Review of terms:

  • EO = Earth Observation
  • LIDAR = Light Detection and Ranging (also, remote sensing)
  • AWS Ground Station = An Amazon service – “a fully managed service that lets you control satellite communications, downlink and process satellite data, and scale your satellite operations quickly, easily and cost-effectively without having to worry about building or managing your own ground station infrastructure.”
  • Geospatial (Geo) AI = Processing Big Geo Data – Machine learning with spatial component
  • BIM = Building Information Modeling
  • Smart Cities
  • Drones!

Open Data in the Netherlands – BAG

The BAG Viewer (in Beta) allows access to the Basisregistratie Addressen en Gebouwen (BAG) database of addresses and buildings maintained by Kadester, the Dutch organization responsible for national mapping. Information for each structure includes square meters, type of object and age, plus parcel data for each address within a structure.

Open Data in the Netherlands – PDOK

The PDOK Viewer released to the public in September 2013 makes it possible to see all open datasets currently available. To download a dataset, search in the Nationaal Georegister.

(Update 12/1/2019: New PDOC viewer available.)

Driveway Decisions

I parked this car (and changed its color) in my neighborhood, with the Driveway Decision Maker (Updatge 12/1/2019: No longer available.)This nice google maps hack was created by Hyundai marketing guys Innocean for an Elantra model launch. I learned about it, and another nice spot-the-VW map hack, on PSFK website. Wouldn’t it be cool if this advertisement/app were released for the general public, so you could pick a car you REALLY want.
Updatge 12/1/2019: PSFK site is now members only.

Magic Planet

An exciting approach to understanding the Earth is offered by Global Imagination based in Santa Clara CA. This article in the New York Times describes applications in schools, museums, industry and government. Magic Planet globes range in size from 40 cm to 3 meters with a projection system which is either built into the base or external, and software for showing or creating custom geography-based stories. China is a booming market, and worldwide the education technology market is expected to grow from 31 billion to 60 billion during the next five years.

Onion on Apple

The Onion, as always, brilliant.

Who Owns the North Pole

Just watched a wonderful BBC documentary series, “Mapping the World“, which focuses on the use of maps throughout history for national power.  The last segment focuses on the current amazing new competition to claim the rapidly melting arctic region because of its enormous oil and gas reserves.  This has been in the news for some time, especially since the Russians planted a titanium flag on the sea floor directly below the North Pole in August 2007.  This map was designed by cartographers at Durham University, updated in 2010 to include negotiated boundaries between Norway and Russia, in attempt to make agreements before the free-for-all which could result from competing national interests as the area is explored.