Monday, March 17, 2014

Maps - where we will be, how we will get there and what we have done there

Post by Daniel Sheehan

My path towards my profession as a GIS Specialist began with an interest in maps.  I have always been interested in where I am and what is around me.  To this day, either as an armchair traveler, preparing to travel, or while traveling, I remain very interested in maps.  This is particularly true as a participant in the Mission 2017 field trip to South Africa.  As a GIS Specialist, I work with and find new tools for mapping that are accessible not only to me, as a specialist with GIS technology available to me, but to everyone who is interested in maps and has a computer without a GIS installed.  Here are some maps that I have been working on.

This map shows the great circle routes for the MIT group's flight to South Africa and back.  The great circle route is the shortest distance between two points.  Because the map is projected (web maps are usually in the Web Mercator projection) the line isn't straight.  I made this map with the Google Maps API.  The API has tools for drawing great circle routes.  Here is the map with the great circle routes.

This map is currently just a base map.  It links to a Google Fusion Table, which we will fill in as we go.  It is also made with the Google Maps API  The maps will have clickable points on it.  The points will be linked to photographs that we take, web pages describing places we will go to, and blog posts about where we are going.  To get an idea of what we did in the past, see the blog post about the Sirsi, India blog for Mission 2014 (the map is linked from this page).  Here is the map for this year's trip.  I will be carrying a couple of GPS units for the MIT and NMMU students to borrow so they can contribute to the map.

Finally, I have been experimenting with the MapBox.  MapBox offers an incredibly easy interface for making a map with a GPX file from a GPS unit in less than 5 minutes.  The map can be embedded in a blog post with code easily accessible from MapBox.  I'll be working with students who are interested in this technology to put maps in this blog.  Here is a sample, showing approximately where we will be traveling.

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