Starting us off for the night was Tracy Jin Cui, with a fast-moving slide deck (47 slides!) on spatial in China; and one thing was astonishingly clear -not only is the spatial industry growing – it’s booming; and is now worth about 42 billion (US) dollars. Demand for location products and services continues to grow at a fast pace, and predominantly the platform of demand/use is mobile.
Bringing us back to more local extents, Marcia Schneider walked us through the ‘Historical Panoramas: Perth and Fremantle’ project which was borne out of a collaboration between Curtin University’s HIVE and the State Library of Western Australia. The project sourced historical images dating as far back as 1860, and stitched these into seamless panoramas. A sample set was then selected and georeferenced; and a task then set to capture modern-day panoramas of the same locations. Challenges faced included trying to access locations that were no longer accessible (but luckily drone technology was on hand). The resulting product was a beautiful virtual tour of the selected locations with the ability to fade/time-slide the panoramas. The tour can be accessed online here; and more locations are in the pipeline.
Next up, we had Voon Li Chung speaking to the keen georabblers about a possible method to optimise database queries involving GPS coordinates. The kernel of the issue is when performing a proximity search for coordinates stored as part of a larger database/dataset, there generally is no spatial relationship or index component to speed up the search. Either you go row-by-row or store all coordinates in memory…. Not particularly desirable when your computational device is a smartphone (and a cheap one at that). The aim was to devise a solution that could use the at-hand, off-the-shelf smartphone database technology (sqlite3), which already had desirable features – it’s fast, simple and taps into inherent database qualities – such as integer searches. The solution proposed would allow one to set a point of reference (of a certain distance from an interest point) and pre-calculate distances of other points from this reference point; and then perform search for those points falling within a certain (pre-calculated) distance range. This concept was further refined upon by introducing bearing values between a point and the reference point. These combined heuristics reduced a sample search set of coordinates from 133354 points to just 98 points! Impressive stuff!
Carrying on from Voon Li, we had Onno Benschop talking to us about his experiences participating in this year’s GovHack; and he walked us through his team’s hack on public housing in WA. They attempted to answer the ‘flipside’ of the more commonly known/asked question of ‘where should we not build public housing’ in order to address the ‘where should we build public housing?’ question. To do this, they tried to ascertain housing demand and accessibility to key services (in areas such as health & education) in order to rank areas by their desirability for public housing; and then produced visualisation of this in a geographical format – a map. Onno also spoke to us about experiences in the hackerspace environment and what it’s like to be a part of such an event. The link to their project page is here.
To conclude the evening, we had John Bryant speaking to us about a wonderful local initiative called ‘GeoGeeks’ which is an open-source based geospatial hack group that brings together an inspiring bunch of people fortnightly to tackle geospatial projects. John talked us through a couple of projects on the go: the ‘Maps for Lost Towns’, a venture aiming to bring 6000 historical map images to keen georeferencers through crowdsourcing technology; and the ‘WA Media Statements’ project which seeks to geocode all existing media statements to enable location-based searching/viewing. And many more projects are on the books – such as spatially tracking food trucks through tweets, or solar panel crowdsourcing. John also touched on the reasons to become involved as geospatial professional, regardless of your level of experience. You can learn new geo skills and improve problem solving abilities; it’s also an opportunity to give yourself the time/space to actually work on your own ideas, network and build meaningful connections with other industry professionals. And, because people from all industry-walks of life are welcome, you might even have the opportunity to open your mind to new ways of tackling age-old geospatial problems. To find out more, head this way.
A huge thanks also to our sponsor – Survey Results. Cheers! We couldn’t run events like this without the generous support of organisations in our industry.
We’re also making a call-out for some new organisers to join the local Georabble team. If you have ideas for topics, even if that means dobbing someone else in, or can help us with some drinks and nibbles for next time, we’d love to hear from you via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned via #georabbleper for news about our next event coming up soon.