[ Ø ] Harsh Prakash – GIS Blog

Quiet Musings On Applied Spatial (Health, Disaster, Technology, Planning et al.)

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Esri WebGIS Platform

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Customer Need, Deployment Option, Authority to Operate (ATO), Challenges, Solutions, Lessons

Esri WebGIS Platform

Written by Harsh

September 13th, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Posted in GIS,Health,Management,Technology

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Esri in AWS Cloud

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Background, Options, Opportunities

Esri in AWS Cloud

Written by Harsh

December 17th, 2016 at 11:48 pm

Posted in GIS,Management,Programming,Technology

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Geodata Based Decisions

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How to Use Location Analytics to Improve the Effectiveness of Public-Facing Sites

Geodata Based Decisions

Written by Harsh

March 17th, 2016 at 11:47 pm

How We Balanced Proprietary With Opensource Software And Saved Tax Dollars, And You Can Too

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It all began with a question – “Can we do with out?”.


Enterprise Architecture > Technology Architecture > Geographic Information System (GIS):
* Geographic Information System (GIS) Pattern
* GIS Desktop Brick
* GIS Virtual Globe Brick
* GIS IMS Brick
* GIS Web Service Brick

* GIS Market Study of Internet Mapping Server (IMS) – Summary – Requirements and Comparison Matrix (2006)

Conference Presentation: GIS TECH 201 – Mapping Mashups

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Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Spring 2013 (Conference Edition)

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Written by Harsh

April 8th, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

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Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Winter 2013

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Written by Harsh

February 19th, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

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Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Summer/Fall 2012

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Written by Harsh

October 5th, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

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Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Spring 2012

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Written by Harsh

April 12th, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

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Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Winter 2011

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Written by Harsh

April 11th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

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Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Report: Summer 2011

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This report provides a description of existing services, both external and in-house, available to APA divisions for hosting and broadcasting webcasts to their members and other interested professionals, and specifically looks at the external Planning Webcast series. In addition, it includes an analysis of options for expanding these services. The report was produced in response to a request from the APA Divisions Council (DC).

Options for Division Webinars: Summer 2011 (PDF, DOC)

* Planning Webcast series
* APA Audio/Web Conference series

Written by Harsh

September 30th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Education,Planning,Technology

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My Pick of Steve Jobs’ Technology Quotes

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“The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it to a nationwide communications network.” (1985)

“The desktop metaphor was invented because one, you were a stand-alone device, and two, you had to manage your own storage. And that may go away.” (1996)

* Letter
* Patents
* Bio

Written by Harsh

August 26th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Technology

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Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Newsletter: Summer 2011

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Written by Harsh

August 22nd, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Planning,Technology

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New Media

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Written by Harsh

June 25th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Awards for 2011

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Category 4: The award for the ‘Best Paper on Technology in Planning’ goes to Omar J. Peters’ (University at Albany, SUNY) ‘Why-Fi: A Look at Information Technology as a Strategy for Urban Development’ for the outstanding paper on the use of technology in planning.

Our Award Committee comprised of elected members from the Division Leadership, namely Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Amiy Varma and yours truly. Join us at the award distribution ceremony at our Division Business meeting (National Planning Conference) on Sunday, April the 10th (11:45 AM – 1:00 PM) in Beacon G, Sheraton Boston Hotel. Congratulations again to our award winner!

* Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Awards for 2010

Written by Harsh

March 30th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Education,Planning,Technology

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Interview: Senator Cardin, Maryland, speaks on transportation (2009)

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This is a little fresh air for an old post that was collecting cobwebs as a draftee:

During this year’s Planner’s Day on Capitol Hill, I got an opportunity to interview Senator Cardin on changing federal policies that affect planning. This is an excerpt from our interview. The full interview can be found at the Division’s website.

Harsh – What are some of your main expectations from the next federal surface transportation bill?

Senator – We face three fundamental challenges with the new transportation bill –

With bridges failing, congested roadways, and transit systems strained to the limit, we need to make a major new investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure. According to the US DOT, the average annual cost to maintain both highways and bridges at their current level for the next 20 years could reach $78.8 billion, while it would take approximately $131.7 billion per year to improve the condition of both highways and bridges Those figures don’t include the billions more needed for our transit systems and their needed expansions. We must act to make a major new investment in a system that is under extreme stress.

Our transportation policy needs to be reoriented to the nation’s needs in the new century. We need to better integrate our various modes of transportation for handling the nation’s commercial goods. That includes freight rail, harbors, and highway trucking routes, including their interconnection to air freight facilities. Our current system for moving people to and from their work, schools, and recreation also will need to be fundamentally rethought. That will mean a much greater focus on mass transit, alternative modes of transportation, smart growth, reduction in the number of vehicle miles traveled as a policy goal, and so much more. We need a transportation policy that supports our goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reduces the generation of greenhouse gases. The new surface transportation law will not accomplish all of these changes overnight, but the new bill should put us on a fundamentally different path than we have taken in the past.

We will need to explore new ways to fund our national transportation programs. Our current reliance on a static “gas tax” is already coming up short: $8 billion in the current fiscal year. If we are successful in moving more commuters out of their cars and into buses and subways, we will see those gas tax revenues decline, not increase. If we are successful in encouraging people to live where they work and to telecommute, gas tax receipts will fall even further.

Harsh – Given the bridge tragedy in Minneapolis last year and the subsequent findings of the National Transportation Safety Board, do you support in principle the National Plan for Infrastructure Investment, and also as a way to stimulate our economy in a time of financial uncertainty?

Senator – The collapse of the I-35 Bridge was a tragedy for Minnesota and for the nation. The bridge failure resulted in 13 deaths. The accident has already spurred the nation into action.

There are approximately 600,000 bridges on highways throughout the United States. About 51 percent of bridges are state owned, 47 percent are locally owned, and less than two percent are owned by the Federal government or private entities. National surveys indicate that nearly one-quarter of all these bridges are structurally deficient.

In addition to the funds provided directly for the repair of the I-35 Bridge, the Congress provided $1 billion in special funding to address our structurally deficient bridges. Of the 2,584 bridges along the Maryland State highway system, 411 (16 percent) are classified as functionally obsolete.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, the Nation, and others are calling for major infrastructure investments. I support a sustained effort to rebuild our national infrastructure. Doing so will provide an immediate stimulus to our economy and give us the network we need to restore the health of our commercial sector.

PS: Thanks to Mike Burke for arranging this!

* Senator Benjamin Cardin (Wikipedia)
* US Department of Transportation
* US National Transportation Safety Board
* Planning & Technology Today (2009)
* US Green Building Council
* Data 360

Written by Harsh

February 18th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Verizon iPhone or iNot?

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Back in the summer of 2010, as one of the million proud owners of iPhone 4, I noticed a certain setting to switch phone carrier. That setting then portended the change we will see tomorrow. But should you bite the bait? Assuming CDMA and GSM don’t matter, here’s part 1 of my guide:

There is a lot of spin around Apple’s flagship cash cow, or as we have come to know it- the iPhone, which only recently represented about 43% of its overall sales. Not all of the coverage is positive (remember Foxconn?). Apple’s growing pains also include a big lawsuit fight. But for those with out a blind searing faith in Steve Jobs, the genius patriarch, the iPhone may very well be suffocating. If true, could Jobs be repeating his original sin? And if so, should your phone follow his sin to the grave?

iOS works better than Android out-of-the-box. To better understand the genesis of its famed usability and cool minimalism, watch Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. If you decide to switch, be prepared to shell out monies in cool apps and media. From a quick glance, I paid around $750 over 2 years. To Apple. Not AT&T (that averaged around $2,400 for the same time). And remember that MP3s from Amazon, somethings you can’t buy on your iPhone, tend to be less expensive and redownloadable – a big plus for some. And all that precious data would cost even more to put into MobileMe, Apple’s own cloud solution, never mind the naysayers. So more additions to your ever burgeoning monthly bill (Tethering, Personal Hotspot, …).

iPhone’s Mythical Advantage: Apps

Apple still disallows Adobe Flash (or Oracle Java) from iOS. It appears to be more a business decision than a technology constraint, designed to control the sprawl of Flash-based gaming mobile websites where you could buy outside of Apple’s walled-garden. How this affects HTML5 gaming websites is still unfolding, but it certainly helps the lagging QuickTime in the meantime. In any case, it goes against the customer’s best interests by taking away her choice to enjoy multimedia content in one of the industry’s most prolific formats. But Apple has you covered with the most commonly used app: the browser. Mobile Safari, hands down is the best mobile browser out there between the platforms that I tested, namely iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. For the GIS pros among you, Joben blogs about GIS apps for the iPhone. You can always find an increasing number at the App Store, like the iGIS.

Jailbreaking Folsom

So you switch and finally get that toy you were waiting for? Why jailbreak it? Jailbreaking the iPhone isn’t worth the effort, even if it is legal. And even if not upgrading to the latest and greatest release (something that iTunes would handle seamlessly for you, but something that you can’t always do with Cydia because Cydia often trots a step behind) is an acceptable risk, ask yourself if your precious data is too important to jailbreak. After all, you could brick your iPhone and quite possibly provide no way for iTunes to restore it. But if your phone data is not critical ahem, then you can add some developer functionalities by jailbreaking and escape the infamous iTunes bloat. Now jailbreaking could also introduce your spanking iOS to new viruses, but if you must, hope over to Cydia. If you need a copy of the old firmware during jailbreak, grab it from here. Once you jailbreak, remember to download a file browser or explorer, like iFunBox or iPhoneBrowser. You may also want to jailbreak if you want to install a phone firewall out of privacy concerns. After all, Apple did confess to collecting GPS data from iOS 3 and iOS 4 daily. Then again, if that is what propels you, why share your payment info with Cydia’s marketplace (just asking)?

Some quick notes on iFunBox or iPhoneBrowser – You can’t watch your uploaded pics or videos, or play your uploaded songs in their native app, even if you upload them to the folders that the iPhone looks under, say //var/mobile/Media/DCIM/100APPLE/. This is because the iPhone, much like the Android, extensively uses SQLite as its Swiss Army database, and all your uploads need to be first registered in the database, say //private/var/mobile/Media/PhotoData/Photos.sqlite which links your IMG_0001.JPG or IMG_0002.MOV. Now there are Cydia apps like iFile that help add your photos, but videos are still no go. But if you are brave enough to try, download the SQLite Manager add-on for Firefox and test your luck.

PS: More

Written by Harsh

February 9th, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Mashup on iPad

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OK, so tested Google, Bing, Yahoo, ESRI, Openlayers and MapServer mashups on the iPad, and much like on the iPhone, the slippy drag-and-droll interface doesn’t work. Except for one mashup. Take a guess?

* Safari
* WebKit

Written by Harsh

April 15th, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Webinar Series: GIS TECH 101 – Mapping Mashups

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Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Awards for 2010

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Category 1: The award for the ‘Best Use of Technology to Improve a Plan or Planning Process’ goes to Marc Schlossberg‘s (University of Oregon) ‘Engaging Citizens in Active Transportation Planning with Mobile GIS‘ for its creative use of technology in improving planning processes.

Category 2: The award for the ‘Best Use of Technology for Public Participation’ goes to Michael Baker Jr.‘s ‘More For 1604 Social Media Program‘ for its good use of technology to enhance public involvement and participation in planning and decision making processes.

Category 3: The award for the ‘Best Use of Technology for a University Urban and Regional Planning Program’ goes to the School of Policy Planning and Development‘s (University of Southern California) ‘Multimedia Boot Camps‘ for its effective use of teaching with technology in preparing future planners for professional work.

Our Award Committee comprised of elected members from the Division Leadership, namely Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Amiy Varma and yours truly. Join us at the award distribution ceremony at our Division Business meeting (National Planning Conference) on Monday, April the 12th (7 AM) in the Hilton New Orleans Trafalgar Room. Congratulations again to all our award winners!

* Technology Division of APA
* Planning & Technology Today

Written by Harsh

March 30th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Follow Up [1]: A Touch of Play

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Nearly 6 months after starting work on a Touch mapping project for kiosk deployment running Windows 7 RC on a HP TouchSmart, it sure is good to see touch taking-off. Slowly but surely:

* Gateway One ZX6810-01

* Sony next with Windows 7 multitouch all-in-one

And yes, I used 3rd-party x64 drivers to turn it from single-touch to double-touch.

So any of you guys working with touch?

Written by Harsh

November 17th, 2009 at 9:44 pm


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Those investors who are rushing to their brokers for a piece of TeleNav’s IPO (TeleNav GPS Navigator needs extra cash to fight Google Map Navigation, or prep itself for a buyout), note that TeleNav (read LBS) has nothing to do with TeleAtlas of TomTom (read data). Yet.

* LBS’ Halloween – Interesting post @ Google Redefines Disruption: The “Less Than Free” Business Model.

Written by Harsh

November 2nd, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Taking Wolfram|Alpha on an Alpha Run

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Wolfram|Alpha is being billed as an Answer Engine for the scientifically-minded, as opposed to a Search Engine: It takes your query, implied or otherwise, that critical step further by selecting from its list of matches, the one objective description, image etc, and lays them out in context. Not that Google never attempts definitive answers [chord], but when it does, Wolfram|Alpha [note] handily beats it to it with background information. START, on the other hand, is sometimes embarrassing. Note that it may not know what to do, but it does not give the wrong answer. Yet.

So Wolfram|Alpha dares to do more than say, Google or Yahoo or Microsoft, and impresses despite its alpha status.

There are inherent risks in such an approach in that it hopes our queries are frequently specific enough, which in some cases, will not be because that is how we generally are. There is also that small issue of assigning culpability to its user for a dumb query. But through consistent performance and by avoiding curation, link-fraud etc pitfalls, Wolfram|Alpha has the potential to wean away some of the Google fan-base, notwithstanding Google Squared. And by targeting the scientific community, it has the potential to emerge as a niche Answer Engine despite semantic ambiguity or crowd-sourcing.

Bookmark it now. And keep checking.

Here are some stumpers:
* What is the elevation above sea level at 38.889483,-77.035254? Wolfram|Alpha v Google v START
* What was the annual revenue of the state of Maryland for Fiscal Year 2007?
Wolfram|Alpha v Google v START
* What is the maximum height of the Guggenheim Museum NY? Wolfram|Alpha v Google v START
* How many symphonies did Sergei Rachmaninoff compose? Wolfram|Alpha v Google v START

* Developers

Written by Harsh

May 17th, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Backdoor Buyer

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Oracle -> Sun -> MySQL

Positioning Timeline

* Oracle buys PeopleSoft (2004)
Ending a long-running and bitter battle: “We won’t do any other major mergers ($200 million plus) until it’s clear to us we have integrated this one to our satisfaction.” (Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle)

* Oracle buys Siebel (2005)
Customer Relationship Management: “Oracle becomes CRM applications company.” (Larry Ellison)

* Oracle buys InnoDB used by MySQL (2005)
Oracle buying Innobase: “If Oracle thought it was threatened by MySQL, this was a very easy move.” (Paola Lubet, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, Solid Information Technology)

* Oracle tries to buy MySQL (2006)
Why he turned down Oracle’s offer: the desire to keep his company’s independence: “They’re obviously entrenched in different areas of the market. But is there overlap in the middle? Sure.” (Stephen O’Grady, Analyst, Redmonk)

* Oracle buys opensource embedded Sleepycat (2006)
Linux and BSD UNIX operating systems, and Apache web server, embed Berkeley DB: Embedded databases also include Oracle Lite (mobile) and Oracle TimesTen (in-memory). (Oracle)

* Sun buys MySQL (2008)
We’re acquiring MySQL: “The world’s most popular opensource database.” (Jonathan Schwartz, CEO and President, Sun)

* Oracle buys Sun (2009)
Solaris is the leading platform for the Oracle database, Oracle’s largest business: While Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle’s fastest growing business, is built on top of Java. (Sun)

* Gartner (2007)
Oracle’s database etc sales: $8.3 billion (up 14.9%) | Market share: 47.9%->48.6%
IBM’s DB2 etc sales: $3.5 billion (up 10%) | Market share: 21.3%->20.7%
Microsoft’s SQL Server etc sales: $3.1 billion (up 16.5%) | Market share: 17.6%->18.1%
Total database sales: $17.1 billion
* Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle
* Jonathan Schwartz (conspicuously MIA from his blog in recent days)
* MySQL Resurrection?
* PostgreSQL > MySQL > Drizzle > SQLite
* My Pick of FOSS4G 2007 Presentation Submissions

Written by Harsh

April 20th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Posted in Database,Technology

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Technology Division of the American Planning Association (APA) Webinar Series – TECH 101: Mashups for Planning

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Written by Harsh

February 18th, 2009 at 7:30 am

A Touch of Play

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First impressions after testing Microsoft’s Surface Table:

Pi: Quite MusingIt is a coffee-table sized hardware running Windows Vista and allowing collaborative interaction from up to 4-6 participants. The number of hand-gestures it can recognize is obviously higher than that of a standard touch-screen which can typically handle only a single tap and drag, and maybe multi-touch. On the other hand, the Surface Table can recognize multiple taps, imprecise flicks and resizes, and touch-intensity. Actually, much like a TouchSmart, it can even detect movement just above its surface. Simply put, it is like a giant iPhone.


So how does it lend itself to GIS/Planning application development? Well, it is more eye-candy than useful for its cost at this point and appropriate application ideas may not come readily. If you try to recreate a similar collaborative environment with a series of Tablet PCs, TouchSmarts and Windows 7, you might just be successful. Note that it can’t be detached from its base and wall-mounted since it has a projector underneath.

The Surface Table’s biggest strength lies in its enabling a collaborative environment, and therefore, it is more suited towards “playful infotainment”-type applications. If you develop GIS/Planning applications for the Surface Table, note this: It would be a lot of fun, but maybe not a lot useful. And also, it doesn’t carry any browser application (!) so you can’t simply start using your planning mash-up and development would present its own WPF learning curve for the web savvy. For an elegant GUI design, remember that fat shaky fingers need big buttons. In terms of pricing, Microsoft is currently also charging for its SDK (approx. $3K): Not sure of their pricing model, but it doesn’t seem like a smart idea if their goal is to also encourage the Viral Phenomenon. And although, they don’t yet come pre-installed (!), a wireless card and wheels can easily be mounted to turn your Surface Table into a self-contained unit to enhance its portability.


There are already some creative applications in-use: Soldiers returning from a patrol dump their head gears onto the Surface Table, and its docking corner instantly syncs their captured data with their sync folder- no fumbling there! Special ID tags can “identify” themselves to the Surface Table, but cell phones running Windows Mobile require a download before they can sync. Selected Omni Sheraton hotels and others are currently showcasing Surface Tables.


So how does it work? Well, conventional technologies detect touch-location by interrupting:
* Infrared
* Optical Field
* Surface Acoustic Wave
This interception happens just above the screen substrata and its grid coordinates are then translated to screen position. Alternatively, you can do a makeover of your current display using Dispersive Signal Technology (DST). DST integrates chemically-strengthened glass onto existing display. It detects bending wave within the glass radiating to the 4 corners where it gets converted to electric signals. This approach also makes it ideal for heavy-duty use to filter out “noise”, say when outdoors or think glass spills and crumbs in a snack-rich community planning meeting. Then there is Proximity Capacitive Resistance (PCR) for touch-across-surface.

Written by Harsh

January 20th, 2009 at 4:54 am

Follow Up [2]: Debating Net Neutrality: A Nutshell

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Quotes from the recent Net Neutrality Hearings:

David L. Cohen, Vice-President, Comcast– ‘…on a “very limited basis” Comcast was delaying traffic in limited areas when there is heavy traffic.'”Don’t let the rhetoric of some of the critics scare you- there is nothing wrong with network management. Every network is managed.”

Tim Wu, Professor, Columbia Law School– “I have this terrible fear we are going to have an exam after this on what is reasonable network management. And we are all going to fail.”

FCC to Act on Delaying of Broadband Traffic [NYT]
Network Management

Written by Harsh

February 25th, 2008 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Social,Technology,Web

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I started the year with thisTime Management‘ video by Randy Pausch. You may know him from ‘The Last Lecture‘. His introduction is by Gabe– my website mentor at UVA Computer Science Web Team. A must-watch if you haven’t already.

— π

The Legacy of Randy Pausch

Written by Harsh

January 31st, 2008 at 9:35 pm

Posted in Technology,Web

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The Power of Ten

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Medium Maximization: “A medium, for example, points or money, is a token people receive as the immediate reward of their effort. It has no value in and of itself, but it can be traded for a desired outcome. Experiments demonstrate that, when people are faced with options entailing different outcomes, the presence of a medium can alter what option they choose. This effect occurs because the medium presents an illusion of advantage to an otherwise not so advantageous option, an illusion of certainty to an otherwise uncertain option, or an illusion of linearity to an otherwise concave effort-outcome return relationship. This work has implications for how points influence consumer choice and how money influences human behavior.”

• “With the lure of points added to the mix, more than half of students chose the longer task and the less desirable pistachio prize that went with it. Independent of their actual value, ‘points’ apparently give people some satisfaction. That’s just one reason that frequent-flier programs have been so successful for so long.” [NYT]

* “It is claimed that a satisfied customer tells an average of three people about a product or service he/she likes, and eleven people about a product or service which he/she did not like [Silverman, George. Secrets of Word Of Mouth Marketing. 2001]. Viral marketing is based on this natural human behavior.
* Bizsum Book Summary [Amazon]

Written by Harsh

December 28th, 2007 at 7:20 pm

Posted in Technology,Web

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Follow Up [1]: Never the Twain Shall Meet

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Written by Harsh

November 21st, 2007 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Technology,Web

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The OpenHandset Alliance and the Mozilla Foundation

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As far as the OpenHandset Alliance SDK is concerned, in spite of how Jonathan Schwartz feels about it and the 10 million that Google is giving away in developer prizes, the SDK could become an albatross around Google neck, courtesy Java.

Google appears to also have successfully convinced the opensource Mozilla Foundation to promote its own services above and before other compelling interests. This may be akin to special interest groups’ manoeuvrings on Capitol Hill, and certainly begs the question – did Google push the Foundation to go slow on mobile? Certainly, Minimo with its XUL environment and many extensions could have made for a speedier development cycle.


* Back in 2005, realizing the potential of WAP, I tested XHTML/WML/WMLscript v HTML/Javascript on Nokia emulators, and wondered how best to balance the 2 different development requirements. After all, you want to get the many more people who own a mobile but not a computer, access your services.

* Symbian Python

Written by Harsh

November 14th, 2007 at 10:50 pm

Posted in LBS,Mobile,Technology

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Follow Up [1]: Debating Net Neutrality: A Nutshell

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Written by Harsh

June 24th, 2007 at 4:30 am

Posted in Technology,Web

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Technology Leaders and Political Bent, 2007

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Top 3 Contributions Over $2,000 from the Big 3:
• Chen, Ling | Bellevue WA 98006 | – | $4,600 | Hillary Clinton
• Giblett, Leslie | Seattle WA 98119 | Microsoft Visual C++ Box Program Manager | $4,600 | John Edwards
• Gonzalez, Christopher | Glen Ellyn IL 60137 | – | $2,300 | Barack Obama

• Lee, Alissa | San Francisco CA 94114 | Senior Corporate Counsel, International Affairs | $4,600 | Barack Obama
• Merrill, Douglas | Danville CA 94526 | Vice President, Engineering | $4,600 | Barack Obama
• Cerf, Vinton | Mc Lean VA 22102 | Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist | $4,200 | Hillary Clinton

• Goldberg, David | Atherton CA 94027 | Vice President and General Manager of Music | $4,600 | Hillary Clinton
• Semel, Terry | Beverly Hills CA 90212 | Chairman and Chief Executive Officer | $4,600 | Hillary Clinton
• Garlinghouse, Brad | Menlo Park CA 94025 | Senior Vice President, Communications, Communities, and Front Doors | $2,300 | Barack Obama
• Map of Contributions to Presidential Campaigns, New York Times [NYT]
• Presidential Campaign Finance Map, Federal Election Commission [FEC]


• Political Equilibrium
• Godin, Seth | Irvington NY 10533 | Author, Speaker and Blogger | $999 | John Edwards
• US Technology Administration

Written by Harsh

June 16th, 2007 at 10:30 pm

Debating Net Neutrality: A Nutshell

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• [my comment]
The Coming Internet Traffic Jam: “…argument on government legislation. It is a false argument that some proponents of non-neutrality wish to spread. Surely, in this age of war-profiteers turning in record-breaking quarters, loose monopolies of mergers and bundles, debatable price gouging etc, it is a little naive to want to believe that all the companies involved will tow some good line on the other side of short-term profits for the greater common good.

If anything, some private companies interfere with day-to-day governance through unabashed lobbying and kickback offerings, creating grossly unfair access to government.

If a government legislation has caused long-term damage in the past, the legislation must be refined or redone and the legislators should be unelected, not have the people’s say through ‘smart legislation’ be silenced.”
[/my comment]
• Making Public Policy: A Nutshell
• Wanted: Proactive Policies

Written by Harsh

May 13th, 2007 at 11:05 pm

Posted in Technology,Web

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Here are four “events” from 2006 that I consider as evolutionary milestones of our burgeoning SIS industry:

• E2– ESRI finally catches up to GE. Almost
• Virtual Earth– Microsoft adds the ability to add and save shapes, and browser-based GE-esque 3D views
• GE– Google gulps SketchUp and consolidates GE’s usergroups by jumping head-first in collaborations
• Spatial Web Services- Be it ESRI’s ArcWeb Services with GlobeXplorer, or DM Solutions Group‘s MapSherpa Spatial Web Services and Mapgears, spatial web services gain a firmer footing at the enterprise level.


Written by Harsh

December 24th, 2006 at 10:05 pm

Posted in Technology,Web

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Interview: Ric Stephens, Immediate Past Editor, Technology Division of the American Planning Association [APA]

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As the Secretary/Treasurer of the Technology Division of APA, I recently had the opportunity to interview Ric Stephens, our Immediate Past Editor:

Harsh: So what got you into planning and publishing/editing?
Ric: I worked as a cartographer/German language translator for USAID during college and was hired by a civil engineering firm to prepare maps during summer break.

After school, the firm offered me a job in their planning department and …voila! There are still some plat maps on file from the late 70s with elaborate compass roses for north arrows. I began helping with a local APA section newsletter out of curiosity. A quarter of a century and thousands of newsletters later, I am still interested in desktop publishing.

InfoTEXT began as a paste-up effort ten years ago and is now ‘completely digital’. I’m still helping with two APA newsletters, ‘Private Practice Perspectives’ and ‘Mountains and Shores’. I’ve also published two books: ‘Plannerese Dictionary’ and ‘International Planning Organizations’ and am working on a third, ‘Dark and Stormy Planning Prose’.

Harsh: Any favorite planning story that you edited?
Ric: There are three unique stories-

Pi: Quiet Musing
Ric Stephens at the Street of Dreams

For several years, I organized the ‘Dark and Stormy Planning Prose Contest’ to collect and share humorous planning stories. One of my favorites is the 2002 Winner, ‘Zone Noir’ by Michael Young who merged the feel of a 50s detective novel with current planning issues. It’s hard to imagine, but Dr. Seuss wrote a humorous poem on regulating signage for the city of La Jolla, California!

Lastly, while living in California, I received ‘The Story of Sexton Mountain Meadows‘. It revolves around the continuous removal of the ‘t’ from ‘Sexton’. I now live a few miles from this very street in Beaverton, Oregon and am a Planning Commissioner for the City. I found the listed author, but he denies writing the story and referred me to a blog author who remembers the incident, but also denies writing the story. The mystery continues to this day.

I am still collecting stories and if you have a ‘hearing from hell’, ‘purple planning prose’ or other contributions, please email a copy to ric@alphacommunity.com.

Harsh: Any thoughts on the New Media?
Ric: We are far from reaching a paperless office environment, but we are clearly moving towards digital information and communication technologies.

For planning in particular, it is an exciting time to expand GIS with numerous databases including satellite imagery. The REAL CORP 007 event will showcase some of these outstanding IT innovations. Our firm, Alpha Community Development, is developing software to link our projects with these databases. We are also developing project-specific websites and looking for new ways to provide online project management.

Harsh: Any thoughts on increasing readership for the Technology Division?
Ric: InfoTEXT contributors have provided outstanding content that is very relevant to practicing planners, agency officials, educators and students. I believe the missing element is visibility.

It would also be helpful for APA to actively promote the Divisions, and for the Divisions to have programs to promote the newsletters to planning departments, governmental agencies, universities and other institutions.

Harsh: And finally, any advice to the new editor[s] of the Technology Division?
Ric: It’s very difficult to find contributors for articles- I’m several weeks late in responding to this interview.

Having a large group of people to help gather material would be ideal. As the newsletter migrates to the web, the publication should probably adapt a monitor-friendly format and be rich in hyperlinks. I enjoyed editing InfoTEXT and am indebted to all who helped make this a memorable experience.

Harsh: Thank you and good luck!
Ric: Thanks!

• Planning Publications Directory
• What’s New: Books and Documents

Written by Harsh

October 29th, 2006 at 10:03 pm

International Outreach

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One of the pleasures of my current job is the annual opportunity to interact with professionals from around the world, thanks to the International Visitor Leadership Program. During these interactions, I share with the visiting delegations how regional government works in the Virginias.

Pi: Quiet Musing
Mayoral Delegation from the Republic of Tajikistan, 2006

Pi: Quiet Musing
Public and Private Sector Delegation from the Russian Federation, 2005

I always end my presentation on regional governance and SIS with a quick display of Google Earth when we try to locate the remote places the delegation members come from. As can be deduced from these pictures, the members stand in rapt attention of how one private enterprise gives back to the greater common good.

* Theories and Approaches in Local Government Studies

Written by Harsh

January 24th, 2006 at 8:09 pm

Top 10 Technology Trends for 2006 [“comment”]

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1. First there were WiFi hotspots, then hot zones [“even more so”]
2. Cell phones do everything [“right-on”]
3. Internet phone calls become more popular now that major Web companies are making it easier [“about time”]
4. The [MS] Office moves to the Web. Documents, e-mail and spreadsheets move off your desktop computer to the Web [“about time”]
5. Stem-cell research advances despite legal challenges [“right-on”]
6. Biotechs target flu vaccines [“right-on, same for other vaccines”]
7. Even small start-ups go global [“even more so”]
8. Video comes to the blog [“refer to 9”]
9. On-demand video everywhere [“refer to 2”]
10. Clean technologies [“even more so”]

More crystal ball gazing:

• A tough year ahead for Sony [“fate deserved, although XBox would probably hurt more”]
• AJAX cleans up the Web [“impressive”]
• Cracks appear in Apple’s iTunes shiny armor [“would take more, but also refer to hymn“]
• Telco companies get ensnared in a domestic eavesdropping scandal [“a very tight-rope”]
• A video search company is acquired by a major player [“iFilm?”]
• Municipal Wi-Fi [“refer to South Korea and Japan“]
• Silicon Photonics [ ~ ‘integrating light with silicon’]
• Social Machines [ ~ ‘social web’]
• Search [“Google“!]
• Feeds [“RSS and podcasting and videos, need I say more?”]

Technology Review

• Gates on Vista
• Directions Magazine takes a swing

Written by Harsh

January 6th, 2006 at 6:04 pm

Posted in Technology,Web

Tagged with , ,

Memorandum Excerpt, Alleged

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From: Bill Gates
Sent: Sunday, October 30, 2005 9:56 PM
To: Executive Staff and Direct Reports; Distinguished Engineers
Subject: Internet Software Services

“… Ten years ago this December, I wrote a memo entitled The Internet Tidal Wave which described how the internet was going to forever change the landscape of computing… Five years ago we focused our strategy on .NET making a huge bet on XML and web services… We will build our strategies around internet services and we will provide a broad set of service APIs and use them in all of our key applications… This coming ‘services wave’ will be very disruptive… This next generation of the internet is being shaped by its ‘grassroots’ adoption and popularization model, and the cost-effective ‘seamless experiences’ delivered through the intentional fusion of services, software and sometimes hardware… I’ve attached a memo from Ray which I feel sure we will look back on as being as critical as The Internet Tidal Wave memo was when it came out…”


From: Ray Ozzie
Date: October 28, 2005
To: Executive Staff and direct reports
Subject: The Internet Services Disruption

“… This isn?t the first time of such great change: we?ve needed to reflect upon our core strategy and direction just about every five years… In 1990, there was actually a question about whether the graphical-user-interface had merit… When we reflected upon our dreams just five years later in 1995, the impetus for our new center of gravity came from the then-nascent web… In 2000, in the waning days of the dot com bubble, we yet again reflected on our strategy and refined our direction… It is now 2005, and the environment has changed yet again- this time around services…

The Landscape:

… In the US, there are more than 100MM broadband users, 190MM mobile phone subscribers, and WiFi networks blanket the urban landscape… We should?ve been leaders with all our web properties in harnessing the potential of AJAX, following our pioneering work in OWA [Outlook Web Access]. We knew search would be important, but through Google?s focus they?ve gained a tremendously strong position. RSS is the internet?s answer to the notification scenarios we?ve discussed and worked on for some time, and is filling a role as ?the UNIX pipe of the internet? as people use it to connect data and systems in unanticipated ways. For all its tremendous innovation and its embracing of HTML and XML, Office is not yet the source of key web data formats- surely not to the level of PDF. While we?ve led with great capabilities in Messenger and Communicator, it was Skype, not us, who made VoIP broadly popular and created a new category. We have long understood the importance of mobile messaging scenarios and have made significant investment in device software, yet only now are we surpassing the Blackberry… The same is true of Apple, which has done an enviable job integrating hardware, software and services into a seamless experience with .Mac, iPod and iTunes, but seems less focused on enabling developers to build substantial products and businesses.

… Only a few years ago I?d have pointed to the Weblog and the Wiki as significant emerging trends; by now they?re mainstream and have moved into the enterprise. Flickr and others have done innovative work around community sharing and tagging based on simple data formats and metadata. GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting are very popular low-end solutions to remote PC access and online meetings… VoIP seems on the verge of exploding- not just in Skype, but also as indicated by things such as the Asterisk soft-PBX. Innovations abound from small developers- from RAD frameworks to lightweight project management services and solutions…

Key Tenets:

… 1. The power of the advertising-supported economic model… 2. The effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model… 3. The demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that ‘just work’…

The Opportunities:

Seamless OS… Seamless Communications… Seamless Productivity… Seamless Entertainment… Seamless Marketplace… Seamless Solutions… Seamless IT…

Moving Forward:

… Platform Products and Services Division- a. Base v. Additive Experiences… b. Services Platform… c. Service/Server Synergy… d. Lightweight Development- The rapid growth of application assembly using things such as REST, JavaScript and PHP suggests that many developers gravitate toward very rapid, lightweight ways to create and compose solutions. We have always appreciated the need for lightweight development by power users in the form of products such as Access and SharePoint… e. Responsible Competition…

Business Division- a. Connected Office… Should PowerPoint directly ?broadcast to the web?, or let the audience take notes and respond?… b. Telecom Transformation… c. Rapid Solutions- How can we utilize our extant products and our knowledge of the broad historical adoption of forms-based applications to jump-start an effort that could dramatically surpass offerings from Quickbase to Salesforce.com?…

Entertainment and Devices Division- a. Connected Entertainment… b. Grassroots Mobile Services… c. Device/Service Fusion…

What’s Different?:

… Complexity kills… Another simple tool I?ve used involves attracting developers to use common physical workspaces to naturally catalyze ad hoc face-time between those who need to coordinate, rather than relying solely upon meetings and streams of email and document reviews for such interaction…”


* “Building a Better Boom: …The Internet is exciting again, and once again folks are rushing in. In some categories – like search or social networking, for example – there are scores of start-ups vying for pretty much the same market, and it’s certain that, just like last time, most of them will fail.

But regardless of all this déjà vu, we are not in a bubble. Instead we are witnessing the Web’s second coming, and it’s even got a name- ‘Web 2.0’, although exactly what that moniker stands for is the topic of debate in the technology industry. For most it signifies a new way of starting and running companies – with less capital, more focus on the customer and a far more open business model when it comes to working with others. Archetypal Web 2.0 companies include Flickr– a photo sharing site; Bloglines– a blog reading service; and MySpace– a music and social networking site…

Start-ups are leveraging nearly a decade’s worth of work on technologies that are now not only proven, but also free, or very nearly so. Open-source software can now do nearly everything that Oracle, I.B.M. and Microsoft specialized in back in the 90’s. And the cost of computing and bandwidth? You can now lease a platform that can handle millions of customers for less than $500 a month. In the 90’s, such a platform would have run tens of thousands of dollars or more a month…

Or just ask Joe Kraus– a founder of the once high-flying Excite portal. Excite ran through millions in venture capital, then tens of millions of I.P.O. money, before its spectacular demise [Mr. Kraus had left before then]. His latest start-up- JotSpot, is built on open-source software, and cost less than $200,000 to begin.

Mr. Kraus exemplifies the second reason I believe we are not in a bubble: this time, the financiers aren’t driving. Instead, the entrepreneurs and geeks – often one and the same – are. The lessons of Web 1.0 are never far from their minds, and the desire to create something cool that might foster some good in the world is often equally paramount with the desire to make money. The culture of Web 2.0 is, in fact, decidedly missionary – from the communitarian ethos of Craigslist to Google‘s informal motto- ‘don’t be evil’.

Ah, yes, Google. That brings us to the third reason we are not in a bubble: vastly improved search technologies. Recall that the demise of Web 1.0 was predicated in large part on the collapse of the Internet advertising business – people were spending millions buying billboard-like ads that, it turns out, nobody was paying attention to…”

John Battelle; Co-producer, Web 2.0 conference; Author, “The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Reinvented Business and Transformed Our Culture”
* “What is Web 2.0”: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software
* NYT Article
* Memorandum Excerpt, Alleged

Written by Harsh

November 18th, 2005 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Technology,Web

Tagged with ,

Never the Twain Shall Meet

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On the eve of the launch of Virtual Earth, as Microsoft plays catch-up with Google‘s high-rate of innovation, here’s a transcript of some tete-a-tete:

[Sometime before 2000]
Bill Gates: Now that we are in the email business with Hotmail, we need to think of ways to fatten the bottom-line.
Steve Ballmer: Online marketing is the way to go Bill! Let’s just create ahem ahem unnecessary page-views when the user logs-in and put as many graphic-intensive ads on each one of them as possible.
Bill Gates: …something like that SNL skit about advertisements on MSNBC flooding the screen and blocking the anchor’s face?!
Steve Ballmer: …hehehe, something like that! Hey, it’s a free service- the user might as well pay for it through ad views. You’ve got to market these goodies aggressively!
Bill Gates: Yeah, the bottom-line is the key!

[Sometime before 2004]
Larry Page: We need to get into the email business with a Google mail. The current services aren’t up to par.
Sergey Brin: Yeah, but given our relative size we must offer something that is significantly superior to what the market currently offers to make any reasonable in-roads.
Larry Page: OK, let’s start with a clean slate- how do we offer a better email service?
Sergey Brin: It’s all about the user-experience. At the end, if the user likes it, she will come back for more.
Larry Page: So we don’t flood the page with pop-ups and such junk??
Sergey Brin: That’s right! Advertisements should be useful but as unobtrusive as possible.
Larry Page: Agreed, the user-experience is the key!

• Follow Up [2]: Map Viewer and Google


• Rudyard Kipling

Written by Harsh

July 24th, 2005 at 7:37 pm

Posted in Technology,Web

Tagged with ,

Digital conversion of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs): White Paper

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I have also added this post to this Wiki, in case you want to expound and guide those who follow – The post just helps me ensure the data doesn’t get spammed-out that easily:

Parent document copied with permission from the original white paper at the GIS Technical Center. The objective was to add notes reflecting procedural changes brought about by the integration of CITRIX WISE Tools. The initial notes were created during a 2005 DFIRM Production.


In August 2003, the GIS Technical Center (WVGISTC) became a Cooperating Technical Partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Our mission, to create digital flood themes from paper Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and Floodway Boundary and Floodway Map (FBFM) panels and to deliver the data in specified formats and with appropriate documentation. FEMA prepares Mapping Activity Statements (MAS) that outline the scope of work and deliverables for each county-based project. Final products are primarily seamless, countywide geospatial data files in the ESRI shapefile format, along with associated metadata.

According to FEMA (Michael Craghan, pers. comm.), the final vector products will have the following qualities:

1. A seamless county-wide dataset, with no gaps or overlaps
2. The lines and polygons end up in their real-world locations
3. There is no scale distortion (i.e. spatial relationships are maintained; if paper map is 1”=500’, digital version should be too).

The FIRM/FBFM features collected by WVGISTC are:

1. Base Flood Elevations (BFE-lines)
2. Cross Sections (Xsection-lines)
3. Flood Hazard Areas (polygons in final format)

The current Mapping Activity Statement for conversion of Jefferson and Berkeley counties specifies these deliverables:

1. Written certification that the digital base data meet the minimum standards and specifications.
2. DFIRM database and mapping files, prepared in accordance with the requirements in Guidelines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners (see references for citation); (S_ Base_Index, S_Fld_Haz_Ar, S_BFE, S_XS, S_FIRM_Pan).
3. Metadata files describing the DFIRM data, including all required information shown in Guidelines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners.
4. Printed work maps showing the 1- and 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain boundary delineations, regulatory floodway boundary delineations, cross sections, and BFEs at a scale of 1:100,000 or larger.
5. A Summary Report that describes and provides the results of all automated or manual QA/QC review steps taken during the preparation of the DFIRM.
6. An ESRI shape file showing points where mapping problems are discovered during the digitizing process.

The following sections describe the procedures we follow to (1) prepare the base material for digitizing, (2) digitize features, (3) perform quality control, and (4) prepare final files using ESRI Arcmap 8.x software. This document assumes the user is skilled with ESRI Arcmap 8.x GIS software and has the ability to use reference materials. For help using ESRI Arcmap consult the help files or ESRI on-line support.


Source Material (Source Material Inspection)
In the MAS cost estimation phase it is advantageous to become familiar with the FIRM and FBFM panels that cover the geographic extent of the county. In the back of our FEMA binder, there are 3 CDs with scanned panels for 10 high priority counties. The scanned or paper FIRM and FBFM panels should be visually inspected to check for insets and other format issues that may impact the amount of time it takes to digitize and attribute. At the on-line FEMA Flood Map Store search for FEMA issued flood maps. Follow the prompts for state, county, and community. This is one way to become familiar with the number of panels in a county and also to gather information on the effective date. The effective date on-line may be compared to the effective date on the paper panels to determine if we have the newest source. This is important because FEMA may have done some digital conversion in the counties we are digitizing; in Berkeley County, for instance, 2 of the panels were available in a digital CAD format. We received the CAD files (DLG) and copied the line vectors into our Arcmap project.

Base Layer Compilation
As part of the MAS, a ‘base map’ is obtained for georeferencing the FIRM and FBFM panels in a county. The MAS states: “the base map is to be the USGS digital orthophoto 3.75-minute quarter-quadrangles (DOQQs), or other digital orthophotography that meets FEMA standards.” Currently, we use the DOQQs to georeference the panels; when it becomes available, we will use the Statewide Addressing and Mapping photography. Countywide mosaics of the DOQQs are available either from CDs in our office or from the NRCS geospatial data gateway. Before beginning panel georeferencing, gather all the base map photography to cover the geographic extent of the county. Check DOQQ tiles and the ortho mosaic, if used, for agreement with each other. Also check the individual DOQQ tiles against the quarter quadrangle index to make sure that they are NAD83 and not NAD27. Finally, check to make sure that the spatial properties (coordinate system and projection) are defined for each quarter quad.

FEMA provides scanned (TIFF) images of the paper FIRMs and FBFMs. Not all counties have separate floodway panels (FBFMs).

You can download county FIRMs and FBFMs from the FEMA Map Store. For Summers and Fayette Counties WV, aerial photographs from the SAMB were reprojected on-the-fly and used as base.

“ArcMap will not project data on-the-fly if the coordinate system for the dataset has not been defined. The coordinate system for any dataset can be defined using ArcCatalog” [ESRI Help].

It is advisable to load the aerials, FIRMs and FBFMs in different Raster Catalogs for quicker refreshes. It is best to start-off with geoferencing the index and then nailing each semi-transparent panel in its approximate location through corner points [“spreading in all the right directions”]. Again, it is best to concentrate around your area of interest, in this case, the floodplain. It is also advisable to adjust the visible scale for the aerials for easier navigation.

Also, try to keep the clipboard empty since on aging systems that may cause incomplete raster refreshes. To avoid related spikes in CPU usage, you may adjust the display settings, page file size and Task Manager priorities accordingly. Also, if you have upgraded to ArcGIS 9.1 minus the patch and are having raster display problems, consult the following ESRI thread.

“In general, if your raster dataset needs to be stretched, scaled, and rotated, use a first-order transformation. If, however, the raster dataset must be bent or curved, use a second- or third-order transformation. Add enough links for the transformation order. You need a minimum of 3 links for a first-order transformation, 6 links for a second-order, and 10 links for a third-order” [ESRI Help].

Priority should be given to georeferencing individual panels over interlocking adjacent panels. Once satisfied with the adjustments and associated RMS Error, you may either update if using first-order transformation, or rectify if using higher-order transformation.

Note that first-order transformations update the *.TWF files, however higher-order transformations also update the *.AUX files.

Once the groundwork is done, it takes less than 1/2 an hour per panel on a machine with the following specifications:

MS Windows 2000 SP4 Dell PWS 340 Pentium [4] CPU 1700 MHz 1.05 GB RAM

The steps taken to georeference the scanned FIRMs/FBFMs using Arcmap are:

1. Start an Arcmap project in the desired coordinate system. When using West Virginia DOQQs that will primarily be UTM 83 zone 17 (although Jefferson County was zone 18).
2. Add the DOQQs for the area of interest to the project.
3. Add the scanned TIFF to the project. The first panel to be georeferenced is the most difficult, because locating the correct spot on the base map photographs using the landmarks on the panel can be frustrating without a good reference system. One way to do this is to warp the panel index first—hence giving a rough estimate of panel location on the photographs. Alternatively, after warping one panel, work with adjacent panels to make landmark location easier.
4. Use “fit to display” on the georeferencing toolbar pull-down menu to move the TIFF to the current extent.
5. Use the georeferencing toolbar to create control points on the DOQQs and the scanned TIFF, using roads and other major features appearing on the FIRM.
6. It is recommended that “Auto Adjust” be checked on the georeferencing dropdown and that the layer being georeferenced is partially transparent. As control point links are added the scanned TIFF will be shifted over the DOQQs, making finding and adding additional links easier.
7. As you are adding control points, check the residual values and total RMS value in the link table. The goal is for a total RMS value of 10 or less (units are mapping units, meters). After adding as many control points as possible it is sometimes useful to remove links that have very high residual values to improve the overall RMS value of the warp. Sometimes it is not possible to get an RMS below 10.
8. Concentrate control points around areas with flood features to improve the fit of areas that will be digitized. We recommend adding at least 10 sets of control points, although in some cases we used over 20 sets to improve fit.
9. Record the total RMS value of the transformation for each panel in a spreadsheet for the county.

Vertical Datum Conversion [optional]
The estimate of the basic shape of the earth was inconsistent under the National Geodetic Vertical Datum [NGVD] 1929. This resulted in less accurate vertical data computations. Hence, it was decided to shift to the North American Vertical Datum [NAVD] 1988 that uses more reliable means for this estimation. Vertical Datum is required for DFIRM panels and the D_V_Datum table. Note that Vertical Datum conversion will not result in any change in flood depths.

Begin with 7.5-minute USGS Quadrangles. For Summers and Fayette Counties WV, this data was downloaded from the WV GIS Technical Center. Next buffer your County by 2.5 miles to select all the Quad corners that fall inside the buffer. Then reproject the corner points thus selected to GCS_North_American_1983 and add XY coordinates. Now you have all the latitude/longitude coordinates required for orthometric height-difference computations using the National Geodetic Survey’s VERTCON software. Alternatively, you may use the Corps of Engineers’s CORPSCON software.

In VERTCON, if you have generated an input data file for your latitude/longitude coordinates, you would typically select the ‘Free Format Type 2’ option. Else, you would simply enter individual Station Names and associated latitude/longitude coordinates. VERTCON generates an output data file for use in the following calculations [Sample Worksheet].

Once Conversion Factors for all points have been determined, calculate the Average, Range and Maximum Offset for the Conversion Factors. If the Average is less than 0.1 foot, only a “passive” Vertical Datum conversion may be applied. Typically, when the Maximum Offset is <= 0.25 feet, a single Conversion Factor can be applied. Else, stream-by-stream Conversion Factors need to be applied.


dd = 37.87511679110 degrees ~ 37 degrees
mm = .87511679110*60 = 52.50700746600 ~ 52 minutes
ss = .50700746600*60 = 30.42044796 ~ 30 seconds
==> 37 degrees 52 minutes 30 seconds
2. Appendix B: Guidance for Converting to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988
3. FIA-20 June 1992, Ada County OH

Digitizing and Attributing Flood Features (Arcmap Project and File Specifications)
The UTM NAD83 projection, zone 17 is used for all West Virginia countywide flood mapping projects, with the exception of Jefferson County, which is zone 18. All features are initially collected as lines, although special flood hazard areas (e.g., Zone A, AE) are later converted to polygons. All features are drawn in one line shapefile and are later separated into the separate files required to meet MAS deliverables. For the purposes of drawing the flood feature lines we are using a line shapefile with the following attribute fields: Type (text, 10), Letter (text 2), Elev (long integer, precision 5). A description of the values we use in those fields is given below with each different feature type. In the first round of digitizing the shapefile was named All_Lines.shp, although in the future we may switch to using a county name in combination with employee name. Save edits frequently while digitizing, both by using the save edits button in Arcmap and by making backup copies of the file with Arccatalog.

Begin an edit session and set up the snapping environment. Having snapping turned on is important to allow snapping of BFEs to the edges of flood hazard areas and for snapping the flood zone line segments together. We generally usually use a snapping tolerance between 7 and 10 pixels; this is a personal drawing preference and may vary from person to person. Use the appropriate snapping mode for each type of feature, i.e. ‘vertex’ for closing zone boundaries, ‘end’ for snapping arc ends together and ‘edge’ for snapping BFE lines to zone boundaries. Note that having ‘vertex’ snapping on can make it more difficult to accurately place BFE endpoints. The goal is clean intersections and BFEs that are snapped to flood hazard area boundaries.

Feature Collection
We generally draw flood map features in this order: floodway, flood zone, BFE, and cross-sections. Some counties have floodway features on a separate map (FBFM) from the FIRM. When working with two maps, collect floodways and cross sections from the FBFM and collect flood hazard zones, BFEs, and streams and channels from the FIRM maps. When working with a FIRM and a FBFM for a panel, it is recommended that lines are drawn from the FBFM first and the FIRM second. Features are to be seamless across panel boundaries, meaning when the same feature type occurs on both sides of a panel boundary, it should be drawn with no interruption. Adjacent panels digitized by different people should have the endpoints of flood feature lines snapped together in the final line shapefile. Be sure to check panel edges carefully for small flood zone polygons.

Panel Index and Base Index
Collection and attribution of flood features will be discussed in detail below. In addition to the flood features, we also submit 2 polygon index shapefiles to FEMA for each county. One of the shapefiles is called S_FIRM_Pan and is an index of the FIRM panels for a county. It is created by digitizing the lines on the scanned and warped county FIRM index. Only unincorporated areas are included the in the panel index, not the incorporated areas. Secondly, an index of the “base” data for a county is to be provided in a polygon shapefile called S_Base_Index. In our case, the base data is the DOQQs. The S_Base_Index shapefile can be generated by clipping out the appropriate quarter quads from the DOQQ index. As with all other shapefiles we submit, both the S_FIRM_Pan and S_Base_Index shapefiles have a required attribute table format, discussed later in this document.

Flood Feature Symbology and Attributes

The floodway is the channel of a river plus any adjacent floodplain areas. Floodways won’t be found on all panels. There are 2 different presentations of floodways on FEMA panels, which vary by county. In some counties, Berkeley for example, floodway symbology is included on the FIRM (Figure1a). Other counties have separate floodway panels (FBFM, Figure 1b) and they must be added as a separate layer for floodway line collection.

In the initial drawing, lines defining the floodway are given the following attributes:

Type: floodway

Flood Hazard Areas
Flood hazard areas will also be referred to as ‘flood zones’ or ‘zones’ and they identify areas of different levels of flood risk. Flood zones are labeled on the FIRMs with letters; commonly used zone names are A, AE, B, C, X and they are shown on the paper maps with different densities of shading and text labels (Figure 2a). Zones are collected as lines, although later they will be converted to polygons. Digitizing proceeds from the inside out, i.e., collect the innermost zones first (In Figure 2a, the floodway would be collected first, and then AE, then X). Where an outer zone line flows into an interior zone line, they should be snapped (Figure 2c). Each line defining flood zones should be collected only ONCE. In areas where zone boundaries are coincident, only one line is collected (Figure 2c). There are zone division lines (Figure 2c and d, also referred to as gutter lines), which separate “special” flood hazard areas (generally zones A and AE). The zone division lines are thin white strips that are hard to see in the shaded zones. Gutter lines should be considered the border of those particular zones and treated as any zone boundary would be (i.e., collected once, continuous with other zone lines).

In the initial drawing, lines defining the flood hazard areas are given the following attributes:

Type: zone

Base Flood Elevations
Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is the height of the base (100-year) flood in relation to a specified datum. BFEs are symbolized on the FIRM panels with a wavy line (Figure 3a) but the feature is usually collected as a straight line (Figure 3b) that is snapped to the edge of the flood hazard area. IF there is a significant bend in the BFE as drawn on the panel, then additional points may be added to follow the curve. Ends should always be snapped to the flood hazard area.

In the initial drawing, lines defining the BFEs are given the following attributes:

Type: bfe
Elev: numeric elevation value on FIRM (e.g., 405)

Cross Sections
Cross sections (Figure 4a) show the location of floodplain cross sections used for computing base flood elevations. Cross sections are normally collected as a straight line, crossing and exiting the flood hazard area (Figure 4b). It is not necessary to follow bends in the cross section line that occur outside of the flood hazard area, nor is it necessary to extend the line through the hexagons at the end of the line symbol. If there are bends in the cross section within the flood hazard area, place only as many vertices needed to maintain shape. Cross section lines should not be snapped to the flood hazard area lines, and instead should extend beyond them.

In the initial drawing, lines defining the cross sections are given the following attributes:

Type: xsection
Letter: letter of cross section, found in hexagon symbol (e.g., z)

Channels and Streams
Channels and streams (Figure 5a and 5b) are collected in the flood hazard areas for QC purposes. No snapping is required and the stream or channel line should extend just beyond the flood hazard area when applicable. Streams are collected as single lines and both lines of a channel are collected.

In the initial drawing, lines defining the channels and streams are given the following attributes:

Type: channel or stream, as appropriate


Visual QC Of Linework
After all lines are digitized and in a countywide, seamless file, a visual check is done to ensure that all features have been collected. The “Type” field in the line shapefile can be used to categorically symbolize the different feature types for the visual QC. Different colors and line styles can be used to represent separate feature types and the legend symbols can be saved as a layer file to preserve the symbol assignments. Turn on the labels for BFEs (elevation) and xsections (letter) and select a font style and color that allows them to be easily seen and checked in the visual QC process. Each person will probably have a different method of doing a systematic visual inspection. Some suggestions: a grid could be used to scan the linework, drainages can be followed, or the check can be done panel by panel. The important thing is to scan at a level such that all of the panel raster features can be identified and vectors examined. The person doing the QC should have a full understanding of what features are supposed to be collected and the symbology variations (e.g., floodways on FIRMs vs FBFMs). Any missed features should be digitized. This is also a good time to make note of any unusual problems or non-conformities in the scanned panels (e.g., zone type changes at panel or corporate boundary). This is the time to check that features are seamless across panel boundaries; BFEs and cross sections in particular should be checked at panel boundaries because there is no further geometric processing with these lines that will reveal continuity errors.

Spatial Adjustments (otherwise known as “Adjusting To The Real World”)
Post-drawing manipulation of lines to improve “fit” is hard-to-quantify and subjective. As stated in the introduction, FEMA requires the digital data to have a reasonably good fit to the “real world”. The “real world” in our case is the DOQQs. The scanned panels do not warp perfectly and in some areas the digitized lines will not overlay real world features very well. Current adjustment procedures involve these steps:

1. Compile the following layers in Arcmap:
a. DOQQs
b. Line shapefile with county-wide seamless flood features
c. 1:24,000-scale NHD centerline data layer (route.rch, in catalog unit coverages)
d. Problem point file (discussed in the next section)
2. Determine a systematic method for visually scanning the data (similar to that used in the visual QC) and adjust “Type” symbology for easy differentiation.
3. Begin a visual check of the linework, this time concentrating on how well the streams and channels drawn from the flood panels line up with the DOQQ and the NHD data. It is strongly recommended that you do not use the FIRM panels at this point, as they will increase confusion.
4. NHD data are a fairly good guide to where the flood panel waterways “should” be; however they are not perfect. While visually scanning the linework, check that the streams and channels collected from FEMA panels line up fairly well with the NHD data, while also checking to see that NHD data appears to overlay the hydrologic feature on the DOQQ. There is never going to be a perfect fit; the panels streams will wander back and forth over the NHD vectors. What you are looking for is areas of consistent difference that extend for a noticeable distance (again, hard to quantify). In Figure 6a, the blue dashed panel stream channel lines are not aligned with the DOQQ stream channel edges.
5. When areas of consistent difference are found, ALL the linework surrounding the area is shifted at the same time, until the panel stream has a better fit to the real world stream. This is accomplished by first breaking all the continuous flood zone, floodway, and stream lines at about the same point on 2 imaginary lines that run perpendicular to the “flow,” one at each end of the area to be shifted. Then, the cut lines are selected, along with any BFEs or cross sections that are in the area (Figure 6b), and all the selected features are moved until the streams are better aligned (Figure 6c). The adjustment is accomplished mostly with the move tool in Arcmap, although in occasion the rotate tool may be used to improve the fit of the selected lines with the DOQQ.
6. Lastly, snap the dangling ends together and smooth out the curves of the reattached lines by moving or adding vertices (Figure 6d). This is the only time lines should be moved or stretched individually, as it distorts proportions.

Mapping Problem File
One of the required deliverables is a point file indicating areas where certain “problem” situations arise. At the same time as adjustments are being performed, the problem point file can be edited. FEMA defined mapping problems are outlined in the draft Technical Memo, dated October 3, 2003, a copy of which is found in the FEMA project notebook; they have also been listed below for convenience. A point shapefile is created for each county with the following fields: Error_type (text, 10) and Descrip (text, 75).

Error_type Descrip
BFE Base Flood Elevation problem
XSECT Cross-section problem
SFHA-PAN Special Flood Hazard Area changes at map panel edge
SFHA-BDY Special Flood Hazard Area changes at a political boundary
SFHA-STR Special Flood Hazard Area different on each side of a stream
SFHA-OTH Other Special Flood Hazard Area problems
STR-FW Stream outside of floodway
STR-SFHA Stream outside of Special Flood Hazard Area

As of this writing, we have primarily found the STR-SFHA, STR-FW, and SFHA-BDY types of errors. Note: errors should be determined AFTER lines are adjusted in a given area, as the adjustment may correct the problem. Place a point in the shapefile at the location where the problem occurs. In Figure 7 the pink point indicates a location where the stream (orange) is outside of the flood hazard area (blue line).


The flood hazard zones and floodways must be converted to polygons for final processing. Select all lines with a “Type” of zone or floodway and export to a separate line shapefile. Topological checks will be performed on the line file before polygons are built. Topology work can only be done in Arcmap via the geodatabase model. Import the line shapefile into a geodatabase feature class that is under a feature dataset (must have a feature dataset to create a topology). If you are starting with a geodatabase / feature class, then use Export | Geodatabase to Geodatabase in Arccatalog to transfer the feature class into the dataset.

Add a new topology under the feature dataset. Set the cluster tolerance relatively high (0.1 was used in the first 2 MAS, which corresponds to 10 centimeters on the ground) to reduce the number of small pieces formed. Only the flood hazard zone lines feature class will participate in the topology. The topology rules used are: must not have pseudos, must not have dangles, and must not self-overlap. After creating the topology for the lines, validate it. Bring the validated topology layer into an Arcmap project to view the errors found. Use the topology tools to analyze and correct all errors before proceeding. See the Topology section in the ArcGIS book “Building a Geodatabase” for help.

After validating the topology and fixing all topological errors, convert the lines feature class to a polygon feature class. To do this, right click on the feature dataset in Arccatalog and select ‘new’ and then ‘polygon feature class from lines’. A wizard helps with the conversion; accept the default tolerance.

Once the polygon layer is created, create a new topology for it. Use the default cluster tolerance, which is very small. Only the polygon feature class participates in the topology, and the rules are: must not overlap and must not have gaps. Bring the validated polygon topology into Arcmap as with the line topology. Ideally, there will be no errors in this topology. After checking for and fixing topological errors, another check should be done for sliver polygons. This can be done by viewing the polygon attribute table in Arcmap and sorting the table based on the shape_area attribute field in ascending order. Examine the smallest polygons to be sure they are not slivers.

Next, the polygon flood hazard features need to be attributed. This can be done in the geodatabase, setting up a domain so that attributes can be chosen from a drop down list. Overlay the flood hazard polygon layer with the FIRM/FBFM panels and attribute the polygons. It saves time if the shapefile you are using to add attributes has the same column structure as the required final product (see Table 2). In the future we hope to have template files available for use, so that the required structure will already be in place. We have tried merging with a template file in the geodatabase, but that resulted in features shifting. This process is still being developed.


For the final deliverables, the flood features collected in the line shapefile must be processed into separate shapefiles with specified fields. Table 1 gives an overview of the shapefile names and contents. Attribute fields have required field types (e.g., text, number) and sizes; details can be found on the pages of Guidelines & Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners Appendix L referred to in Table 1. These pages from Appendix L have been printed out and are in the guidelines/technical section of the FEMA project binder. Table 2 provides details on the required fields.

Table 1. Deliverable shapefile description
Shapefile Name Contents Pages in Appendix L
S_Base_Index Grid of base data, in our case, DOQQs. Polygons. L-270 to L-271
S_FIRM_Pan Grid of FEMA panels; digitized from county panel index. Polygons. L-286 to L-290
S_Fld_Haz_Ar Flood hazard zone polygons L-291 to L-293
S_BFE Base flood elevation lines collected from FEMA panel L-272 to L-273
S_XS Cross section lines collected from FEMA panel L-350 to L-354

Table 2. Shapefile attribute field requirements
Shapefile Field Name What Goes In It
S_Fld_Haz_Ar (polygon) FLD_AR_ID A unique feature number. Can be copied from FID field. [Text, 11]
FLD_ZONE Flood zone from FIRM. Use values in FLD_ZONE field of Table D_Zone on pg L-452 of Appendix L. [Text 55]
FLOODWAY “FLOODWAY” if polygon is a floodway. Null if not. [Text, 30]
SFHA_TF “T” if any zone beginning with A. “F” for any other zone. True or false. [Text, 1]
SOURCE_CIT 11-digit FIRM panel number that majority of feature is on. If polygon crosses many panels, use downstream panel. [Text, 11]

S_XS (line) XS_LN_ID A unique feature number. Can be copied from FID field. [Text, 11]
XS_LTR Upper case letter(s) of cross-section from FIRM. [Text, 12]
XS_LN_TYP “LETTERED” in all cases. [Text, 20]
WTR_NM Name of water feature (stream) cross section is on. From FIRM or FIS. [Text, 100]
SOURCE_CIT 11-digit FIRM panel number cross section is on. If on two, list panel with majority. [Text, 11]

S_BFE (line) BFE_LN_ID A unique feature number. Can be copied from FID field. [Text, 11]
ELEV Numeric elevation of BFE, from FIRM [Double, Prec. 13, Scale 2]
LEN_UNIT “FEET” in all cases. [Text, 20]
V_DATUM Vertical datum of panel. Listed on panel, and values must come from the V_DATUM field of the D_V_Datum table on page L-444 of Appendix L. [Text, 6]
SOURCE_CIT 11-digit FIRM panel number BFE is on. If on two, list panel with majority. [Text, 11]

S_ Base_Index (polygon) BASE_ID A unique feature number. Can be copied from FID field. [Text, 11]
FILENAME Name of DOQQ or other image file used as base map. [Text, 50]
BASE_DATE Date image was captured. For DOQQs can be found in header file. [Date]
SOURCE_CIT BASE1 or other abbreviation that corresponds to metadata [Text, 11]

S_FIRM_Pan (polygon) FIRM_ID A unique feature number. Can be copied from FID field. [Text, 11]
FIRM_PAN FIRM panel number. [Text, 11]
EFF_DATE Effective date on FIRM panel. [Date]
SCALE Scale of FIRM panel. If map scale on FIRM is 1” = 500’, then scale is 6000. Multiply feet by 12 to get true scale. [Text, 5]
SOURCE_CIT 11-digit FIRM panel number. [Text, 11]
BFE Shapefile Creation

From the line shapefile that was used for digitizing, use the Type field to select and export BFEs to a separate shapefile. Either modify the resulting shapefile to match the required format, or, merge the digitized lines with a pre-formatted template. The output merge file can be a geodatabase feature class, which allows for the use of an attribute domain drop-down for the SOURCE_CIT field. Use Arcmap editing tools to assign attributes to the fields shown in the preceding table. BFE lines are submitted in the S_BFE shapefile.

Cross-section Shapefile Creation
From the line shapefile that was used for digitizing, use the Type field to select and export cross-sections to a separate shapefile. Either modify the resulting shapefile to match the required format, or, merge the digitized lines with a pre-formatted template. The output, as with BFE, can be a geodatabase feature class. Attribute domains can be created for the XS_LTR, XS_ LN_TYP, WTR_NM (a list of stream names is available in the county FIS book) and SOURCE_CIT fields. Cross-section lines are submitted in the X_Xs shapefile.

One of the required deliverables relating to the base map (DOQQs in our case) is a “written certification that the digital data meet the minimum standards and specifications.” A text file with the following statement was created:

“This text file serves as written certification that the base map digital data meet the minimum standards and specifications in Guidelines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners Appendix K. On page K-42 (Section K.4.1.1) of that document it is written “The most common form of raster image map is the digital orthophoto, especially the standard Digital Orthophoto Quadrangle (DOQ) produced by the U.S. Geological Survey.” DOQQ’s were used as the base map for georeferencing scanned paper FIRMs and for visually locating features of interest.


Refer to the DOQQ Metadata and the Digital Orthophoto Standards. Appendix L is the primary document of interest.

Refer to the NHD website.

Retrieve the 1:24:000 NHD coverages to use as reference

FEMA flood documents in the black FEMA 3 ring binder

Arcmap editing and geodatabase manuals.

Mapping Activity Statement documents – be sure to understand all deliverables.




Summary Report
QA/QC Review Steps During Digital Conversion of Flood Insurance Rate Maps
Mapping Activity Statement 2003-02, West Virginia GIS Technical Center
Prepared 4/15/04

The following QA/QC checks were performed during the digital conversion of Flood Insurance Rate Maps by the West Virginia GIS Technical Center (WVGISTC):

1) Source Material Inspection
a) Visually reviewed scanned panels received in .tif format; compared with printed paper maps to check for completeness

2) Base Layer Compilation/Verification
a) Used a vector quarter quad index certified by WVGISTC to confirm that the USGS Digital Ortho Quarter Quads (DOQQs) were in the UTM NAD83 projection; DOQQS were used for the georegistration base map
b) Checked the spatial integrity of a county-wide ortho mosaic (used as a reference; obtained from the NRCS Geospatial Data Gateway

3) Georegistration of Scanned Panel Source Material
a) Ensured data were correctly referenced to the UTM coordinate system
i) Set Arcmap software data frame projection to UTM NAD83, Zone 17 or 18, as appropriate
ii) Georeferenced scanned panels to real-world coordinates using DOQQs to establish reference links
(1) The mean RMS value for warped panels was 5.63 meters (mapping units). This was the best attainable georeferencing that could be accomplished without stretching features and impacting length relationships
iii) Re-warped portions of scanned panels in areas of poor fit to attain a better visual real-world correlation
b) Checked that the scale of warped raster (.tif) and original paper maps were compatible
i) Plotted georeferenced FIRMS at the same scale as paper maps; conducted manual ruler measurements on paper map in comparison to plotted data to confirm accuracy of feature location and length relationships

4) Digitizing of Flood Features
a) Digitized SFHA, BFE, and cross section features from the georeferenced panels as line feature types
i) SFHAs and Floodways were digitized first; BFEs and Xsections were digitized next and BFEs were snapped to AE zone boundaries (Arcmap snapping tolerance set to 10 pixels)
ii) Streams and channel banks were partially digitized as additional reference features
b) Systematically visually scanned collected vectors and compared them with underlying georeferenced paper flood maps
i) Checked that character of features was maintained
ii) Checked that required features were collected
c) Edgematched features on adjacent panels
i) Checked that features were snapped seamlessly at panel boundaries

5) Spatial Adjustments
a) National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) vector stream centerlines were used to assist in identifying real-world (DOQQ) stream position
b) Proportional piecewise adjustments
i) Adjusted all features (SFHAs, BFEs, cross sections) in small sections of the floodplain when:
(1) the DOQQ stream was not located within the SFHA or
(2) there was a visibly constant difference between location of the DOQQ stream and location of the digitized stream
ii) Attempted to bring the digitized FIRM stream in line with the NHD stream or the stream on the ground, if it was visible on the DOQQ
iii) Used Arcmap editing functions such as line moving and rotating
c) Created a point shapefile to mark location of “mapping problems” as defined in the FEMA technical memo dated October 3, 2003. Examples of problems found:
i) Stream outside of SFHA
ii) Stream outside of floodway
iii) SFHA changes at political boundary

6) Topology
a) Used the ArcGIS geodatabase model and topology rules on SFHA and floodway line features
i) Corrected pseudo-nodes, dangles, and self-overlapping lines
b) Generated polygons from SFHA and floodway line features and used the ArcGIS geodatabase model and topology rules for polygons
i) Confirmed there were no polygon overlaps or gaps
ii) Removed sliver polygons

7) Feature Attribution
a) Reviewed technical memo and MAS to format the 5 required shapefiles (S_Base_Index, S_FIRM_Pan, S_Fld_Haz_ar, S_BFE, S_Xs)
i) Checked that file names, attribute names, types and sizes meet specs
b) Checked that correct attributes were assigned to digitized flood features
i) Completed a systematic visual scan of vector flood features overlaid with georeferenced panels; used symbology variation and labeling to confirm proper attributes had been applied
ii) Checked that valid domain values were used in attribute table columns

8) Map plot for final visual inspection and scale check


File Backup
Everything pertaining to the current flood mapping project should be backed up to Vesta. This includes warped panels, line shapefiles, and other reference documents.

A FEMA backup folder is set up at this location:


It is visible from the TechCenter network under Vesta and is shared openly. This is where all the files for a MAS in progress should be stored. Use sensible file and folder names to help everyone identify the pieces of the project.

A final backup of everything was kept in this location:


It is recommended that drawing shapefiles be backed up every time they are changed; a file versioning system may be preferable to overwriting the same file each time.

Naming Conventions/Path Structure
FEMA has requested that we name the metadata files in this format:


So, for example, the metadata files submitted for Jefferson County were named:


On the CD containing the final deliverable files, this is the requested structure:


The county name behind the first backslash will change for each countywide project completed and submitted. The Arcshape folder contains the S_Base_Index, S_FIRM_Pan, S_Xs, S_BFE, and S_FLD_Haz_Ar shapefiles, plus the problem shapefile. The Ortho_photos subdirectory contains the DOQQs or other imagery used for the base map. The document subfolder contains the metadata, QA/QC report, and base map certification. I made subfolders for each of those items under the document folder. The RFIRM folder contains all the georeferenced panels.

* Digital conversion of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)
* WIKI: Edit Lock Schema

Written by Harsh

July 7th, 2005 at 10:03 am

Follow Up [1]: Wireless Application Protocol

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Written by Harsh

May 19th, 2005 at 6:54 pm

Posted in LBS,Technology

Tagged with , , ,

Tech One

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My pick of technology-related headlines from The New York Times Page One 1851-2002:

• Pi: Quiet Musing
[10/18/1907] Signalizing the opening of the Marconi Service to the public, and conveying a message of congratulation from Privy Councillor Baron Avebury, formerly Sir John Lubbock
• Pi: Quiet Musing
[01/08/1927] Opening new radiophone service; First private call to The New York Times
• Pi: Quiet Musing
[10/05/1957] The Naval Research Laboratory announced early today that it had recorded four crossings of the Soviet earth satellite over the United States
• Pi: Quiet Musing
[07/21/1969] Astronauts land on plain; Collect rocks; Plant flag

Since the most important technological developments in the time period covered occured in the western world, and since The New York Times can safely be assumed to best mirror these developments, notwithstanding the selective sample included in Page One, I consider these to be our most important technology-related headlines from 1851 to 2002. Although, sometimes technological change can seep in without so much as a loud knock or one bold headline [think Internet].

For those wondering about a headline that may seem conspicuous by its absence, say one that heralds the omnipresent automobile, keep in mind the time period covered. It is widely accepted that the automobile, for example, was invented by France’s Nicolas Cugnot between 1725-1804.

• LoC: Auto
• Wikipedia: Automobile
• Encyclopedia: Automobile
• Encarta: Automobile
• About: Automobile History
• Mercedes-Benz: History


• From the same source, my pick of highly arguable socio-political turning points important to a broad American psyche:

[12/08/1941] Japan wars on US and Britain
[08/07/1945] First atomic bomb dropped on Japan
[05/18/1954] High Court bans school segregation
[04/30/1975] Minh surrenders, Vietcong in Saigon
[09/12/2001] US attacked

Written by Harsh

March 29th, 2005 at 10:12 pm

Posted in Social,Technology

Tagged with ,


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I have also added this post to this Wiki, in case you want to expound and guide those who follow – The post just helps me ensure the data doesn’t get spammed-out that easily:

  • I am getting a ‘jsForm.htm not found’ error? If you are using Internet Explorer, first make sure you have the latest version of that browser. Then remove the Arcims site from your browser favorites, reopen the browser and try again.

  • How do I import Arcims maps inside ESRI Arcmap? If you have Arcmap 9.x, you can import Arcims maps by connecting to the services of an Arcims server. In Arccatalog 9.x, simply click on ‘GIS Servers’ to add the Arcims server and type-in its URL. Note that this does lead to a noticeable performance drop.

  • How do I accurately rescale the map when that functionality is provided? True scale depends on monitor resolution, the default being 96 DPI (Dots Per Inch). To make sure that your monitor is configured correctly, for MS Windows, check Display Properties–>Settings–>Advanced–>General. Note that when the map is rescaled to, say 1:12000, 1 inch on the map should represent 12,000 inches. Also note that you can use the Esc button on your keyboard to stop the map from rescaling at any time. Refer to Map Scales for related information.

  • I click on the print button but nothing happens? Make sure pop-ups are allowed for your Arcims site, then try the Print Tool again.

* ESRI Support
* WIKI: Edit Lock Schema

Written by Harsh

January 6th, 2005 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Education,GIS,IMS,Technology,Web

Tagged with , ,

Tsunami Links

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Written by Harsh

January 5th, 2005 at 6:10 pm

Digital conversion of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs): Summary

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I have also added this post to this Wiki, in case you want to expound and guide those who follow – The post just helps me ensure the data doesn’t get spammed-out that easily:

My notes reflect procedural changes brought about by the integration of DFIRM Production Tools.


  • Request jurisdiction(s) for existing geodata like new political boundaries and road names for use as base map. Base map geodata must NOT be older than 7 years.
  • Request GEOPOP from the MOD team and use it to create an empty DFIRM geodatabase. Use existing political boundaries for its geographic extent.
  • GEOPOP creates 3 table types- S (Spatial), L (Lookup) and D (Domain). Edit the main lookup tables:

L_COMM_INFO (community information)
L_SOURCE_CIT (source citation)
L_WTR_NM (hydrographic feature information- stream names etc)
L_STN_START (properties of starting points for stream distance measurements)

  • Create panel index and data catalogs
  • Georeference, scan and rectify geodata at its recommended scale to capture required floodplain features. Refer to FEMA MSC for full-sized PDFs of FIRM panels.


* HEC-RAS Online Help
* WIKI: Edit Lock Schema

Written by Harsh

December 27th, 2004 at 8:12 pm

Wireless Application Protocol

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As the year-end inches closer, let us look at one significant industry trend:
A potential increase in location-based wireless services [“Where are my kids …no really, WHERE are my kids …and give me that in Lat/Long”]? This could be brought about by a spread of handy ‘location-aware’ productivity tools, such as a GPS-enabled internet-ready Blackberry phone that also functions as a TV. Such tools could tell you when your family members or selected friends move into your vicinity. Based on industry reports, this might be old news in parts of Japan.

• SmartPhlow: Real-time Traffic Monitoring
• Real-time Mobile Mapping

• Social Software

The earliest benefit could be in emergency-response which just might be the area most likely to get heavy government funding. Ex: Volunteer Fire Departments being able to access critical layout and hydrant information that they need for machine placement and egress route planning as they respond to a distress call. Or, first-responders being able to retrieve medical history on-the-go. Check out an earlier National Incident Management System memo. Also, take a look at the developments at the WV Statewide Addressing and Mapping Board which plans to implement a statewide Spatial Information System [SIS] using aerial photography etc. The project has been funded in part by Verizon. Its objective is to help emergency-response by integrating mapping with E911, postal and public utility services, and telephone companies. This project was initially started to provide city-style addresses for rural areas so that all areas receive the same level of emergency services. With this broadening of its scope, it could serve as a guide for other states.

• ESRI Library: Challenges for GIS in Emergency Preparedness
and Response

• “Efficient Operations and Emergency Response”

• Google: SMS, Froogle, [http://www.google.com/wml]
• “U.S. launches a new Global Positioning Satellite”

Written by Harsh

November 6th, 2004 at 7:30 pm

Posted in LBS,Technology

Tagged with , , ,

Social Software

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Interesting blog on Life With Alacrity about Social Software. For the ignoramus, crudely put Social Software or Groupware or Collaborative Software is software that facilitates group interaction. Often, there is “no overt coordination with the group functioning as an aggregation of interested individuals” rather than as a cohesive unit.

Two intriguing perspectives on the internet from the blog:
• “By ‘augmenting human intellect’ we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems” [Engelbart. Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. 1962].
• “To appreciate the importance the new computer-aided communication can have, one must consider the dynamics of ‘critical mass,’ as it applies to cooperation in creative endeavor. Take any problem worthy of the name, and you find only a few people who can contribute effectively to its solution. Those people must be brought into close intellectual partnership so that their ideas can come into contact with one another. But bring these people together physically in one place to form a team, and you have trouble, for the most creative people are often not the best team players, and there are not enough top positions in a single organization to keep them all happy. Let them go their separate ways, and each creates his own empire, large or small, and devotes more time to the role of emperor than to the role of problem solver” [Licklider. The Computer as a Communication Device. 1968].

• Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems
• Open Groupware
• “A group is its own worst enemy”
• Friend of a Friend
• Applications: E-voting, WAP, Blogging […of course!]

• “Friendly foxes are cleverer”

Written by Harsh

October 30th, 2004 at 7:02 pm