Latest Event Updates

Pros and Cons of using Smartphone as GPS Device

Posted on

In a statistical report entitled US Smartphone Use in 2015, it revealed that some 88 percent of American smartphone owners use their handset as a map or navigation device. There are various ways on how you can utilize your handset as a GPS device, either through its built-in map features or via other downloadable applications. If you are one of those planning to maximize their smartphone as a GPS locator, here are the pros and cons of using your handset as a digital geographical tool.


There are various reasons why you should opt to choose smartphones as a GPS device. Here are some of the benefits of using a smartphone for navigational purposes:

1. Convenience
Instead of bringing another device (your dedicated GPS), you can use a device that you always carry on your person. Smartphones today are initially pre-built with maps and GPS features. In particular, the latest iPhone 6 run iOS 8 with Apple Map powered by the GLONASS GPS service, a Russian space-based satellite navigation system. The M8 motion coprocessor chipset of the handset is able to provide accurate tracking of the user’s speed, distance, and elevation meter. Similarly, there is the infamous Google Maps that is pre-built into most Android smartphones today.

2. Lots of other options
Apart from the built-in GPS and map features, there are reliable iOS and Android apps that one can maximize, such as the following:
Scout by Telenav is a free Android app that turns your smartphone into a standalone GPS device.
Waze Social GPS Maps & Traffic is one of the famous GPS apps today that relies solely on its community for traffic information, accident reports, police traps, and road closures. Apart from its reliable GPS and map system, it also offers users unique features like the list of cheapest gas stations available on your route.
Maps.Me – Offline Map & Routing is a worthy app to install for those who do not have a connection to the internet at all times. This offline map service used to cost $4.99 at the Google Play Store, but now the app is free to install. Apart from the map service it provides its user base, it includes points of interests like ATM machines, petrol stations, subway and much more within its database.

Click here to view the top Navigation & GPS apps you can install.

3. Always there to help
Since smartphones have become a vital technology that we rely on everyday, it is very rare for someone to be without their trusty device. Thus, having GPS capabilities built-in to your smartphone eradicates the need to carry an extra device with you. In addition, features of the smartphones make the device an intuitive tool, such as the touchscreen display that makes operating the GPS easier, voice command features that people with disabilities can maximize, and an Internet connection that helps updates the maps in real-time.

Although smartphones can be a reliable device for GPS purposes, they also come with their own shortcomings. Given that it’s not a dedicated technology for mapping, it has its own disadvantages that a user must prepare for:
1. Short battery usage
If connected to the Internet and you have other apps running in the background, your smartphone’s battery will go down quick. It’s best to keep a car charger if you are on a long drive or invest in a portable battery charger that you can take with you wherever you go. It will help to take note of the tips Hongkiat offered on how you can improve and conserve more battery on your handset.

2. Cancelling all calls, texts, and other notifications
One of the most common feature on GPS apps is that it turns off all notifications – not allowing incoming calls and texts during use. Interruption can cause the maps’ information to skew. In addition, if you are the type of parent who lends their smartphone to their children during a long drive, then keep in mind that using it as a dedicated GPS device during a trip is not going to be an option.

3. Costly
Although there are apps that are free to be installed, some of the professional and premium navigation apps require a monthly fee, making it more expensive than owning a personal navigation device. Plus, if you do not own a premium handset, then it will cost you more to upgrade your handset than if you were to own a dedicated GPS.

With its potential as an assistive tool for everyone, it’s not impossible that smartphones may soon completely replace dedicated GPS devices in the future. How have your GPS apps performed in the past? Which do you recommend to our readership? Let us know your thoughts below.

Source: Digital Geography


UK Environment Agency Making LiDAR Data Open for All

Posted on Updated on

The UK Environment Agency (EA) is to make its LiDAR datasets freely available as open data to commercial entities from September this year.

Since 2013, LiDAR data has been published for non-commercial use to anybody who wanted it. The data can be use in many ways including creating flood models, assessing coastal change and analysing how land is used. According to Environment Agency, since the release, more than one million kmof data has been downloaded.

They are releasing two LiDAR products under the Open Government Licence and you will be able to access these through Datashare.

  1. Tiled LIDAR data
    The full tiled dataset consists of historic LIDAR data which has been gathered since 1998. For some areas we have carried out repeat surveys and data is available in a range of resolutions.
  2. Composite LIDAR data
    The composite dataset is derived from a combination of our full tiled dataset which has been merged and re-sampled to give the best possible spatial coverage.

By making the LIDAR data open to all, users will be able to access it free of charge, even for commercial use. We hope that by removing any cost barriers, our data will improve the quality of flood risk modelling used by businesses and local communities and allow for the development of innovative tools and techniques to further benefit the environment.

Read more on website

Hyderabad – First City in India to Get Google Street View

Posted on Updated on

The Telangana government has agreed to keep sensitive defence installations in Hyderabad out of Google Street View and the union home ministry is expected to soon give permission for the project.

As the city is home to some vital defence laboratories and other installations, the home ministry wanted the state government to not include them in the Street View.

“The state government is ready for this. The matter is now under the consideration of the union home ministry,” said Jayesh Ranjan, secretary, information technology, government of Telangana.

He told reporters on the sidelines of an event here that a global team of Google maps, which is already positioned in Hyderabad, is working on the project.

“They are working in the background. As soon as we get permission, we will go ahead with its implementation,” the official said.

This will make Hyderabad the first city in India to be entirely covered by Google Street View, which lets one explore places through 360-degree, panoramic and street-level imagery.

The state government also plans to extend the project to other parts of Telangana in the subsequent phase. The official said the project would prove helpful for the common man as he will be able to trace ATM, bank, post office or other locations quite easily.

Google had last month agreed to cover Hyderabad under Street View. This was decided during Information and Technology Minister K. Tarakarama Rao’s visit to the US.

It was during this visit that the Internet services giant signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government to build its campus in Hyderabad, which will be its biggest campus outside the US.

The campus will be coming up with an investment of Rs.1,000 crore on 7.2 acres of land at Gachibowli, the IT corridor.



QGIS 2.10 symbology preview

Posted on Updated on

With the release of 2.10 right around the corner, it’s time to have a look at the new features this version of QGIS will bring. One area which has received a lot of development attention is layer styling. In particular, I want to point out the following new features:

1. Graduated symbol size

The graduated renderer has been expanded. Formerly, only color-graduated symbols could be created automatically. Now, it is possible to choose between color and size-graduated styles:

2. Symbol size assistant

On a similar note, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the size assistant for data-defined size:

3. Interactive class exploration and definition

Another great addition to the graduated renderer dialog is the histogram tab which visualizes the distribution of values as well as the defined class borders. Additionally, the user can interactively change the classes by moving the class borders:

4. Live layer effects

Since Nyall’s crowd funding initiative for live layer effects was a resounding success, it is now possible to create amazing effects for your vector styles such as shadows, glow, and blur effects:



Release of Landsat 8 Data User Handbook

Posted on

Landsat 8 data users will be glad to hear that the new Landsat 8 Data User Handbook is now available online in PDF format from USGS.

Excerpted from the Handbook’s Executive Summary:
The Landsat 8 Data User’s Handbook is a living document prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey Landsat Project Science Office at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, SD and the NASA Landsat Project Science Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Its purpose is to provide a basic understanding and associated reference material for the Landsat 8 observatory and its science data products. The document focuses on the information needed by the users to gain an understanding of the science data products.

The Landsat 8 Data User’s Handbook includes various sections that provide an overview of reference material and a more detailed description of applicable data user and product information. This document describes the background for the Landsat 8 mission as well as previous Landsat missions before providing a comprehensive overview of the current Landsat 8 observatory, including the spacecraft, both the OLI and TIRS instruments and the Landsat 8 concept of operations.

The document also includes an overview of radiometric and geometric instrument calibration as well as a description of the observatory component reference systems and the calibration parameter file, followed by a comprehensive description of Level 1 Products and product generation.

Importantly, the handbook also describes the conversion of digital numbers (DNS) to physical units. An overview of data search and access using the various on-line tools is also included.

Download Landsat 8 Data Users Handbook

Read more at website


Google Maps includes real time traffic updates for 12 more cities in India

Posted on

Ever missed your movie at Priya Cinema because you were stuck in Kolkata traffic? Starting today, Google Maps can help you better plan your drive around traffic and save time on the road by showing you real time traffic information directly on the map. Today’s update to Google Maps brings you new traffic information for 12 cities in India —  Kolkata, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Indore, Ludhiana, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Kochi, Madurai, Bhopal — as well as a real time look at traffic conditions across all national highways and expressways in India.

Once the Traffic layer is turned on Google Maps for mobile or desktop, you’ll be able to see routes mapped out in different colors, indicating the different speed of traffic on those roads. While green means there are no traffic delays on the road, orange indicates a medium amount of traffic and red alerts to you beware of heavier traffic congestion.

Being able to see what local traffic is typically like at any given day and time can help you plan your drives easier than ever on Google Maps. If you’re already on the road and in Navigation mode, Google Maps will also use real time traffic information to more accurately estimate your time of arrival, and to provide options for alternate routes if there are faster options available.

We hope this new traffic information within Google Maps will help you in planning your way around local streets and expressways. Happy traveling!

A guide to seeing traffic on map


“Soil Moisture Active Passive” (SMAP) generates high resolution soil data

Posted on

NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed has begun science operations.

Launched Jan. 31, early this year, on a minimum three-year mission, SMAP will help scientists understand links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles; reduce uncertainties in predicting climate; and enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards like floods and droughts. SMAP data have additional practical applications, including improved weather forecasting and crop yield predictions.

“SMAP data will eventually reveal how soil moisture conditions are changing over time in response to climate and how this impacts regional water availability,” said Dara Entekhabi, SMAP science team leader at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “SMAP data will be combined with data from other missions like NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement, Aquarius and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment to reveal deeper insights into how the water cycle is evolving at global and regional scales.”

Read more about SMAP