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Archive for the 'GIS' Category Page 4 of 23

GeoCommons Relaunches

Been meaning to post about GeoCommons for quite a while now, and while I’d like to take credit for knowing that they had a major site reconstruction in order, it’s more like I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. GeoCommons lets you upload and map data in a number of formats:

  • Shapefile
  • KML (upload or web link)
  • Comma-separated variable CSV
  • GeoRSS (upload or web link)
  • RSS / ATOM (web link)

The “Commons” part comes because any data you upload is freely available to anyone else, so this isn’t a site for those who want to keep their data private or control it. Once uploaded, you can plot it in a variety of styles (with help from a Color Brewer color picker), against any number of available backgrounds:

  • Road:OpenStreetMap, Google, Bing, Yahoo, World Bank, MapQuest
  • Aerial: Google, Bing, Yahoo, NASA Blue Marble
  • Hybrid (roads and aerial): Google, Bing, Yahoo
  • Terrain: Google
  • Or a solid background color

Multiple layers can be plotted if desired. Once completed, you can send people to a permanent link at the GeoCommons page to view it, or embed it into a website (like below; feel free to scroll and zoom):

View full map

You can also view the data in 3D using the Google Earth browser plug-in.

I found the map creation process incredibly easy, but the data upload process needs some work. It took me five tries to get this fairly small Arizona faults shapefile uploaded; hopefully these bugs will be ironed out soon. This shapefile data was in geographic coordinates, WGS84; if you have shapefile data in any other coordinate system, you’ll need to upload  a .prj file with it; and if you don’t upload the .shx and .dbf files with your .shp file, it will ask for them. All other data formats have to be in latitude/longitude, WGS84 datum. And it will ask you for a substantial amount of metadata to be associated with the actual data files, although much of that isn’t mandatory.

Any data uploaded to GeoCommons can also be exported in shapefile, KML and CSV formats (Beta ATOM, JSON and Spatialite format export available). The recent release has also added address geocoding, time animation, and “GeoJoining” (connecting names with common datasets). A paid version of the service called GeoIQ offers a bigger feature set, including advanced analytical tools.

The Big List Of GeoStatistical / GeoSpatial Analysis Software III – R to Z

Descriptions come from the software’s website or documentation. I’ll probably put biologically-oriented software in a separate series. Click on the program title to go to its website.

R … free software environment for statistical computing and graphics

Some links for geographically-related R resources and software:

GeoDa link page for geo-R resources

CRAN page – source for stat module binaries

CRAN page on spatial analysis modules for R – Good place to start looking for specific modules.


Regional Crime Analysis Geographic Information System (RCAGIS)

The US Department of Justice Criminal Division GIS Staff, in conjunction with the Baltimore county Police department and the RCAS group, has developed a crime analysis system called RCAGIS (Regional Crime Analysis GIS). RCAGIS is an ESRI MapObjects® based system that is designed to facilitate the analysis of crime on a regional basis. RCAGIS also integrates the CrimeStat® spatial statistics software package developed by Ned Levine and Associates under a grant from the National Institute of Justice. The RCAGIS Crime Analysis System was designed specifically to assist in the analysis of crime incident data across jurisdictional boundaries.

Note: Requires ESRI MapObjects to be installed, and no longer under development.

Repast Simphony

Repast Simphony is a free and open source agent-based modeling toolkit that simplifies model creation and use … including 2D and 3D Geographical Information Systems (GIS) support

SANET: Spatial Analysis On Networks

SANET is a toolbox for analyzing events that occur on networks or alongside networks e.g., car crashes on roads and beauty parlors in downtown streets, respectively. Networks may be roads, rivers, pipe-lines, cables, etc. The user is supposed to use SANET for academic and educational purposes only.

ArcGIS extension only.


SaTScan™ is a free software that analyzes spatial, temporal and space-time data using the spatial, temporal, or space-time scan statistics. It is designed for any of the following interrelated purposes:

  • Perform geographical surveillance of disease, to detect spatial or space-time disease clusters, and to see if they are statistically significant.
  • Test whether a disease is randomly distributed over space, over time or over space and time.
  • Evaluate the statistical significance of disease cluster alarms.
  • Perform repeated time-periodic disease surveillance for early detection of disease outbreaks.

The software may also be used for similar problems in other fields such as archaeology, astronomy, botany, criminology, ecology, economics, engineering, forestry, genetics, geography, geology, history, neurology or zoology.


The Stanford Geostatistical Modeling Software (SGeMS) is an open-source computer package for solving problems involving spatially related variables. It provides geostatistics practitioners with a user-friendly interface, an interactive 3-D visualization, and a wide selection of algorithms.

Space-Time Analysis of Regional Systems (STARS)

Space-Time Analysis of Regional Systems (STARS) is an open source package designed for the analysis of areal data measured over time. STARS brings together a number of recently developed methods of space-time analysis into a user-friendly graphical environment offering an array of dynamically linked graphical views. It is intended to be used as an exploratory data analysis tool. STARS can also be used from the command line to support more flexible and specialized types of analyses by advanced users. As such STARS should appeal to a wide array of users. Written entirely in Python, STARS is crossplatform and easy to install (and expand).

Note: Alternate homepage link is given on the main page, but it leads to a page informing you that you don’t have Java 1.4.2 installed. Status of this program is unclear.

Spatial Analysis and Decision Assistance (SADA)

Spatial Analysis and Decision Assistance (SADA) is free software that incorporates tools from environmental assessment fields into an effective problem solving environment. These tools include integrated modules for visualization, geospatial analysis, statistical analysis, human health risk assessment, ecological risk assessment, cost/benefit analysis, sampling design, and decision analysis

Spatial Analysis Utilities

S.A.U. was developed for archaeological intersite studies. However archaeology is not the only discipline that study point distribution maps. This tool will help everybody that has to deal with point pattern analysis.

STEM: The Spatiotemporal Epidemiological Modeler Project

The Spatiotemporal Epidemiological Modeler (STEM) tool is designed to help scientists and public health officials create and use spatial and temporal models of emerging infectious diseases. These models can aid in understanding and potentially preventing the spread of such diseases.


VESPER is a PC-Windows program developed by the Australian Centre for Precision Agriculture (ACPA) for spatial prediction that is capable of performing kriging with local variograms (Haas, 1990). Kriging with local variograms involves searching for the closest neighbourhood for each prediction site, estimating the variogram from the neighbourhood, fitting a variogram model to the data and predicting the value and its uncertainty. The local variogram is modelled in the program by fitting a variogram model automatically through the nonlinear least-squares method. Several variogram models are available, namely spherical, exponential, Gaussian and linear with sill. Punctual and block kriging is available as interpolation options. This program adapts itself spatially in the presence of distinct differences in local structure over the whole field.

Note: Nudgeware; doesn’t seem to be under development anymore.


The Bonn Archaeological Software Package (BASP) is a non-profit software project for and by archaeologists which has been developed cooperatively since 1973. It now includes more than 70 functions for seriation, clustering, correspondance analysis, and mapping tools for archaeologists working with IBM compatible PC’s under DOS and all versions of Windows.

No longer supported or maintained; authors suggest PAST as an alternative.

The Big List Of Geostatistical / Geospatial Analysis Software II – G to Q

Continued from Part I (A-F) yesterday. Descriptions come from the software’s website or documentation. I’ll probably put biologically-oriented software in a separate series. Click on the program title to go to its website.

GAM: Cluster hunting software

The Geographical Analysis Machine (GAM) is an attempt at automated exploratory spatial data analysis of point or small area data that is easy to understand. The purpose is to answer a simple practical question; where are clusters in geographical data? Please note it is an exploratory analysis and does not prove existence – clusters may, for example, be down to pockets of poor data or, very unusually, be due to just the random scattering of occurrences.


GeoBUGS has been developed by a team at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health of Imperial College at St Mary’s Hospital London. It is an add-on to WinBUGS that fits spatial models and produces a range of maps as output.


Luc Anselin’s group at Arizona State University; hosts a number of geospatial analysis programs and web apps, including

  • Several versions of GeoDA (old Windows version, and newer multi-platform version (GeoDaSpace and GeoDaNet).
  • PySAL, a cross-platform library of spatial analysis functions written in Python.
  • A Web-Based Tool for Spatial Data Analysis (incl. weights conversion & transformation, spatial lag, smoothing, LISAs)
  • Java tools for spatial analysis: EB & SR smoothing, excess risk maps, global Moran scatterplot and spatial reference distribution

And more, including lots of documentation and links.

GeoVISTA Studio

GeoVISTA Studio is an open software development environment designed for geospatial data.Studio is a programming-free environment that allows users to quickly build applications for geocomputation and geographic visualization.

GRNN_2 –  General Regression Neural Networks

GRNN are a class of neural networks widely used for the continuous function mapping. They are based on a well known nonparametric (kernel) statistical estimators. An important advantage of the GRNN is that training is very fast.


GSLIB is an acronym for Geostatistical Software LIBrary. This name was originally used for a collection of geostatistical programs developed at Stanford University over the last 15 years.


The software GUIDOS (Graphical User Interface for the Description of image Objects and their Shapes) can be used to perform a Morphological Spatial Pattern Analysis (MSPA) on raster image data.  MSPA conducts a segmentation of the image foreground data into mutual exclusive feature classes.


A spatial modeling framework for scientific analyses. Additional to fundamental GIS functions, many unique libraries such as Network, Fractal, 3D, Simulatoin and LP Solver have also been supported as built-in functions to facilitate scientific modeling.

PAST: PAleontological STatistics

PAST is a free, easy-to-use data analysis package originally aimed at paleontology but now also popular in many other fields. It includes common statistical, plotting and modelling functions.

Pattern Analysis, Spatial Statistics, and Geographic Exegesis (PASSAGE)

PASSaGE is a free, integrated, easy-to-use software package for performing spatial analysis and statistics on biological and other data.

The Big List Of Geostatistical / Geospatial Analysis Software I – A to F

Now, a series of posts listing a large number of free programs / services for doing geostatistical / geospatial analysis. Programs included will be those that specialize in this area; other general purpose GIS apps with statistical functionality (e.g. SAGA, MicroDEM, gvSIG) won’t be included.  Descriptions come from the software’s website or documentation; this has the advantage of concealing my vast ignorance in this subject area. I’ll probably put biologically-oriented software in a separate series. Click on the program title to go to its website.


BayesX is a software tool for estimating structured additive regression models…BayesX is able to manipulate and draw geographical maps. The regions of the map may be colored according to some numerical characteristics.

CrimeStat III

CrimeStat III is a spatial statistics program for the analysis of crime incident locations.

CSPro: Census And Survey Processing System

CSPro (Census and Survey Processing System) is a public-domain software package for entering, editing, tabulating and mapping census and survey data.


Cyze And Associates Software

GeoSpatial Explorer

Geospatial Explorer has been written to enable geologists, environmental scientists, and engineers to apply innovative science and technology to enhance and expedite the reduction of risk to human health and the environment. Geospatial Explorer permits the user to identify, understand, and solve complex environmental problems better, faster, and cheaper.

GeoStatistics Package

As part of Cyze & Associates’ support for Geostatistical Analysis, Cyze & Associates provides a free Geostatistics package that compliments Geospatial Explorer by providing an interface to the SAGE 2005 variogram reports and GSLIB 2.0 kriging and simulation executables.


Distance Mapping and Analysis Program (DMAP)

DMAP is a Windows compatible program that produces disease rates using variable spatial filters and tests for their statistical significance using Monte Carlo simulations. The program computes values that are inputs to GIS software that will produce disease rate maps and maps of statistical significance. Input data are either individual disease records and individual at risk records or are aggregates of the above.


Epigrass is a software for visualizing, analyzing and simulating of epidemic processes on geo-referenced networks.

EpiInfo – Closed Edition

With Epi Info™ and a personal computer, epidemiologists and other public health and medical professionals can rapidly develop a questionnaire or form, customize the data entry process, and enter and analyze data. Epidemiologic statistics, tables, graphs, and maps are produced with simple commands such as READ, FREQ, LIST, TABLES, GRAPH, and MAP. Epi Map displays geographic maps with data from Epi Info™.

EpiInfo – Community Edition

Epi Info™ is a public domain suite of software tools designed for the global community of public health practitioners and researchers. It provides for easy data entry form and database construction, a customized data entry experience, and data analyses with epidemiologic statistics, maps, and graphs for public health professionals who may lack an information technology background…. Epi Info™ Community Edition is the open source project to reproduce the popular Epi Info™ suite of tools in C#, with the goal of developing a data collection and analytics system for public health that is highly scalable, platform independent, and database agnostic.

ESTAT – The Exploratory Spatio-Temporal Analysis Toolkit

Developed by the GeoVISTA Center in close cooperation with users at the National Cancer Institute, the ESTAT toolkit provides user-friendly, open-source software designed to support exploratory geographic visualization. While developed initially to support cancer research, ESTAT is designed to handle any kind of spatial data with attributes. If you have an ESRI ArcGIS shapefile, you can … quickly convert your data into something ESTAT can use.


Flowmap is a software package dedicated to analyzing and displaying interaction or flow data. This type of data is special in the sense that there are two different geographic locations connected to each data item: An origin location where the flow starts and an destination location where the flow ends. The flow data itself can be people (e.g. commuters, shoppers, hospital visitors), goods, usage of agricultural services or telecommunication and so on.

Free Tools For ArcGIS

Several free tools for ArcGIS from Jenness Enterprises, including ESRI International User Conference prize winners. Don’t currently work on ArcGIS 10, but that may change.

Repeating Shapes Tool – “This tool generates an array of repeating shapes over a user-specified area. These shapes can be hexagons, squares, triangles, circles or points, and they can be generated with any directional orientation.”

Tools For Graphics and Shapes – “This extension includes a large suite of tools for calculating geometric attributes of vector features and for selecting and naming graphics. All tools are available at the ArcView license level. Among many other functions, this extension offers tools for calculating the true area and centroid of polygons as they lay on the sphere, thereby avoiding errors caused by projection distortions. This extension also offers tools to calculate true lengths of polylines as they lie on the spheroid, using Vincenty’s equations. This manual thoroughly explains all algorithms used to calculate geometric attributes on the sphere and spheroid.”

DEM Surface Tools – “This extension provides you with tools to generate a variety of surface characteristics of a landscape, using both projected and unprojected (i.e. latitude / longitude) digital elevation model (DEM) rasters. These tools include:

  1. Surface Area and Ratio of a landscape
  2. Slope, with 3 slope algorithm options
  3. Aspect, with 3 aspect algorithm options
  4. Hillshade, with optional hypsometric tinting
  5. Multi-directional Oblique-Weighted Hillshade, with optional hypsometric tinting
  6. Six types of Landscape Curvature”

Raster Extractor – “The Raster Extractor tool allows you to extract any number of rasters from an existing raster catalog and load them as individual rasters in your map, thereby allowing you to analyze them in ways that the Raster Catalog does not allow. The tool also gives you the option to mosaic all the rasters into a single raster dataset, modify the cell size and trim the final raster to the visible extent.”

Corridor Designer Toolbox – For designing corridors for the free flow of wildlife through urban landscapes. Includes a general designer, corridor evaluation tool, and land facet corridor design tool. Notes on website suggest that this is unlikely to be upgraded to ArcGIS 10 compatibility.

Inexpensive(?) Copies Of ESRI Products For Non-Profits

ESRI’s GIS And Science blog posts about a new ESRI program to provide GIS software for non-profits:

The program allows qualified nonprofit organizations to request up to 75 seats of ArcGIS Desktop and 2 seats of ArcGIS Server software per organization. Alternatively, organizations can choose from four levels of a special nonprofit organization enterprise license agreement (ELA) designed to meet the needs of larger operations. Both ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server software include all extensions.

You have to sign up for membership to find out how much it costs; the page for ArcGIS Desktop mentions an administrative fee, but for full info you have to sign up for a membership (which I can’t). If anyone does find out cost info, please drop a note in the comments section.

Given that a full copy of ArcGIS Desktop with all the extensions can cost close to $10K, this is worth a look if you’re eligible and need the software. The Free Geo Tools site is all about free, and free is great for many uses, but having  cheap copies of industry-standard software for some applications doesn’t hurt.

Crowdsourcing And Coordinating Data Collection With Handheld GPS Units

Got an email today from someone with a data collection/coordination/assembly problem. They have multiple people out in the field with Garmin GPS units recording data, and bringing it back to a central location for collation/combination when they’re done. Since Garmin GPS units have limited capabilities for data storage – coordinates, name, comment, date and time, elevation, and that’s pretty much it – additional data associated with a point has to be recorded by hand. Once back from the field, data has to be downloaded from individual units, associated with the additional attribute data from forms, all the data combined together into a single dataset, then converted into GIS-friendly format. And the process they had come up with wasn’t really working well for them.

I think this highlights some of the major limitations of classic stand-alone handheld GPS units. They’re really designed for us in personal data collection, not combined data collection; assembling data from multiple units can take a lot of work. Plus, their limited data collection capabilities require offloading data attribute acquisition to other formats (e.g. pencil and paper), adding the addition problem of associating that data with coordinates later on. There are lots of professional solutions for these problems, like Trimble or MobileMapper GPS units, Terrasync and ArcPad software, but these can be complicated and expensive. I challenge you to find anyone with enough patience to use Terrasync for a single day without swearing at least once; I know I can’t  ;-).

For a few years, I’ve had CyberTracker on my list of potential topics to post on. CyberTracker is a terrific data acquisition and collation tool for field data with tons of great features, like custom data acquisition form design for easy data entry, moving maps, easy data collation and conversion to GIS-friendly format. Plus, the software is free, and the hardware is (relatively) affordable. But unfortunately, I think time and technology are passing Cybertracker by:

  • While the central data software runs on Windows, the field data collection software runs on old-school Palm OS and Windows Mobile. Palm OS is dead; Windows Mobile development has stopped with version 6.5, and only maintenance updates are scheduled. So the useful lifetime of any data collection system built around CyberTracker is limited. If you need a fast/cheap/short-term solution, CyberTracker is free for non-profit use, and you could probably pick up the hardware very cheaply on eBay. Long-term, I don’t see it having much of a future in its current form.
  • The data collation model is also becoming obsolete. With CyberTracker, you have to bring all the data units to a single data download/collation computer. While there are still places in the world where this might make sense, an increasingly-connected world means that data download/collation to the cloud instead of an individual computer makes more sense.

I’m really excited about the possibilities for crowdsourced geographic data collection and collation using portable devices running Android OS (yeah, iOS too). There are already several interesting apps for doing this, and I hope to cover some of those soon on my AndroGeoid website. And I suspect that the small number of apps that can currently do this will be quickly joined by far more apps, and far more capable apps, in the very near future. But that doesn’t help with my emailer’s current problem. I suspect there are many different ways you could do this, but here’s the first approach that came to me using all-free software and services.

1. Make sure that everyone on the project has a Google account (i.e. Gmail); completely free.

2. Have the project leader created a single main data spreadsheet on Google Docs, with all the desired data attributes (e.g. point name, coordinates, comments, additional data fields from the paper forms, etc.) and share a link to that spreadsheet with other project members so that they can edit it as well.

3. Project members can download data from their Garmin units using DNRGarmin, and then export the data from DNRGarmin in CSV format.

4. Load the data into the spreadsheet program of your choice, and add/edit data from data forms to make it conform to the data structure of the main Google Docs spreadsheet.

5. Copy the data cells in the spreadsheet program, and paste them into the main Google Docs spreadsheet. Note: Use Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V to copy and paste cells into Google Docs instead of using the Google Docs Edit menu to perform those operations, as the latter doesn’t seem to work for pasting data from different applications into Google Docs. You no longer have a single computer as a choke point for data entry; multiple people can add data to a spreadsheet at the same time, and Google Docs will coordinate data entry so that nothing is lost. And if you save the spreadsheet data from steps 3 and 4 as separate files, you’ll have backup copies of the original data as well.

For those who aren’t comfortable with working with spreadsheets, Google Docs lets you set up a “Form” to let anyone add data to a Google Docs spreadsheet directly; however, this increases the chances of coordinate data entry error.

6. Now that you have all the data centralized in Google Docs, you have lots of flexibility in how you can handle it:

  • Export the data in CSV format, and you can then import it into any GIS program that supports CSV data. If your GIS program doesn’t, use MapWindow to convert your CSV file into shapefile format first.
  • Unlike shapefile attribute tables, where adding/removing/re-ordering attribute data columns can be a pain, you can easily perform those operations in Google Docs and then re-export the data in CSV format.
  • Convert the data directly into a continuously-updated KML network link for display in Google Earth or Maps using Google’s Spreadsheet Mapper tool.
  • Use any of Google Docs built-in tools to analyze/plot/sort/visualize data, including their way-cool Fusion Tables.
  • And I’m sure there are more options I haven’t thought of.

Know an alternate approach? Have any additional ideas?  I welcome your links and suggestions in the Comments section below.

OpenDragon: New Open-Source Imagery Analysis Program

The Global Software Institute announces that their Open Dragon software, a variant of Goldin-Rudahl’s Dragon/ips software for aerial/satellite imagery analysis, is now freely available for non-commercial use, and the Java source code will be released as open source sometime in the near future. From their press release:

OpenDragon offers a full suite of image analysis and raster GIS capabilities including image enhancement, supervised and unsupervised classification, geometric correction, measurement and statistics, vector capture and display, slope, aspect and buffer calculations and multi-criterion decision making. Open Dragon also includes the Open Dragon Toolkit, which allows users who can program in C to extend the software functionality. GSI will also make the source code for OpenDragon available for non-commercial use under an Open Source license during the next six to nine months.

Installation is currently kind of a pain – you have to register for a key code just to download the software, and then unzip all files to a directory. The setup program in the main directory doesn’t create the program directory but requires you to select one, so you should create that (and a Temp directory) before starting program installation. Registration requires an internet server connection that the program seems to have trouble establishing; this process will supposedly be simplified in the near future. And, at least under Windows 7, running the program downgrades the color scheme to Windows 7 Basic for some unknown reason; first time I’ve seen this with a Java program. No uninstall listing added, either, though with Java software just deleting the program directory and icons is usually good enough.

A full PDF manual is included with the installation package.

Added to The Big List Of Satellite/Aerial Imagery Analysis Software.