Weblog for the UW-Madison SLIS summer GIS and information agencies course run by Greg Downey. Members may post something new.
posted by Greg Downey @ 4:07 PM
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Wasn't a fan of this site - I thought the information it provided was done better on different sites. Satellite images are neat to look at, but the one of my neighborhood was at least 5 years old. Same goes for the topography map - 15 years old. What I did like was the inclusion of latitude/longitude markings - it’s pretty cool to know that I live at longitude -89.38525, latitude 43.07220. Beyond that, though, was a lack of other features/spatial data to incorporate into the map.
I rather like TerraServer, but I think topos and aerial photos are pretty cool. Admittedly the stuff is out of date but you have to blame the source (USGS for topos - they are notoriously slow updating topos) although 1991 is pretty recent for them. 2000 is also pretty recent for aerial photos. I thought it was very easy to navigate and you can zoom in to a very small scale with the aerial photos. I could easily find the church across the street from my house.
I have mixed feeling about this site. I liked the information and the formats but everything is old. Although, I could still find my apartment building on the satellite image. Disappointed that I couldn't link more information to the map like on some other sites.
Microsoft Terraserver gives me aerial photo as well as topographic map of my house and the community and the degree of longitude and latitude. It seems to have a possibility to be used for GIS since it provides aerial photo and community profile according to zip code. However, it is more likely to contribute to real estate market.
Unlike others, I was pleased to find an aerial image from 1994 of the IA farm I then called home. In '99, a vertical wind storm claimed a silo and barn. However, they are highly visible in the Terraserver aerial shot. The Google maps image seems to be after the '99 storm. But, beyond sentiment and the neato latitude and longitude feature, I do not think the aerial would be too useful in ArcView. Maybe the topography would be useful in some applications. The scale provided in Terraserver is helpful and accurate--I compared the 100M scale to the track when looking at the aerial of the school I work at.
The thing that amazes me most about this site is the money and power behind it. To put into perspective how incredible it is to have complete topo map and aerial photo coverage for most of the USA available instantly on a web interface, think of the Robinson map library here at UW. They are going through the process of scanning the aerials and topos just for the state of Wisconsin, and it's taking lots of hard-fought grant money and lots of people hours to get it done. The work is tedious and requires multi thousand dollar scanning and computing equipment. Granted the resolution and quality of the map library's project will be higher, but Terraserver has managed to get a "quick and dirty" version for the whole country! I don't think this would be possible without the 2 powerhouses of private Microsoft and governmental USGS. Scary, admittedly, but a cool project that we expect these people to do. The urban areas have great detail, often in color, which is a great feature. I also liked the latitude/longitude information, but really liked the quantity of other info that they provide uder the info heading.Image Information:Projection ProviderResolutionSize Type
I loved the aerial photos, too. And, in this particular instance, I liked them being out of date. I was able to see the house I grew up in before the neighborhood filled up. In many instances though, an old photo means nothing unless it can be compared to a recent photo. My neighborhood picture allowed me to understand the shapes of and distances between certain features. For example, the neighborhood has a pond that is completely surrounded by trees and is not visible from the street. It's near my house, but only as the crow flies. The photo told me just how big it is and just how close it is.
I thought this site was fun and failry easy to play around with. It was neat to compare the satellite images with the topo maps, but frustrating that the map links were no longer displayed when you were viewing a map. I think that it was kind of annoying to have to always click back to see a different map. This made it harder to remember the map previously viewed in order to make comparisons. I did like the fact that they linked a weather site to the page so that you could see the current weather for the area you were viewing. I also found it kind of amusing that from the start page you are to click on one of the green areas on the world map to view the smaller maps - the only green area is the U.S. While this is probably a sign of projects and maps to come, it looks strange. Could anyone see any differences between the advanced search and the regular search? I couldn't. Although I did like the link to famous places, the ease of downloading, printing, and e-mailing maps and photos, and the opportunity to purchase a "real" photo copy of the images.
In Microsoft House and Home was able to get a locater map of McFarland with main roads and a table of data including population, median income, and median age--34.6, which is suggestive of the community mix. In terms of data of immediate usefulness to someone moving to the area, this site is excellent. From Terraserver I printed an aerial photo with a contour map, with and without coordinates superimposed. The quality of the photo is good; again, the quality of the information on current municipal boundaries is shaky.
One more thing - in regards to the age of the topography maps, I'm curious, does anyone know how up to date a topo map has to be to be up to date? I felt that the 1991 map was fine for the areas I was looking at because the topography hasn't really changed over that time...unless it has and I just never noticed! In other words, would there be noticable differences between a topo map for this area created in 1991 as opposed to 2001?
mekliss - regarding topos - I think they are basically out of date as soon as they are printed. They use aerial photography to update any features - if there have been new roads, significant housing construction, wastewater treatment plants, that sort of thing. So rural areas covered by topos tend to be left out of the updating loop since they don't change much, while topos covering urban areas get updated more often (but not often enough). The topos -Madison East & West- current version is 1984! Hope that maybe answered your question...
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