Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


USGS: 18 million electronic maps downloaded

USGS: 18 million electronic maps downloaded

The U.S. Geological Survey, through the National Geospatial Program, announced that more than 18 million US Topo quadrangles and Historic Topographic Maps have been downloaded in the past six years from the USGS Store or The National Map Viewer.

In late 2009, the USGS began releasing electronic topographic maps, called US Topo maps. In 2012, the National Geospatial Program added high-resolution scans featuring more than 178,000 historical topographic maps of the United States, known as the Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC). Both of these digital products are accessible free of charge.

The HTMC database features high-resolution digital scans of legacy paper USGS maps, some as old as 1884. The most popular HTMC map is the Half Dome, Calif., quadrangle, which has been downloaded 4,257 times. The most viewed and downloaded US Topo map is the Washington West, DC, quadrangle, having been downloaded 2,785 times, according to USGS.

On average nearly 280,000 US Topo and HTMC maps are downloaded each month. That adds up to more than 9,300 downloads per day or nearly 400 every hour. The majority of downloads are downloaded to .net or .com domains, USGS said.

To further encourage public use, USGS has also posted various videos that explain how to download and manipulate the maps. 

Posted on Apr 09, 2015 at 8:21 AM0 comments


NASA gets practical with 3D printing

NASA gets practical with 3D printing

Remember the film [insert any space drama here] with the damaged space ship and the astronaut who needs a specific tool to return to Earth? Sorry Hollywood, you need a new plot.

NASA is using the 3D printing technology to manufacture tools on the job, in space. While the technology is still in the testing phase, NASA hopes 3D printing will eventually provide supplies for long-term space exploration – think Mars, asteroids, space undiscovered.  

Following the 3D printer’s installation aboard the International Space Station late last year, the crew built 21 items, including a ratchet wrench, the first tool built in space. The 3D printer used on the space station created each item by layering heated plastic filaments on top of each other using design programs supplied to the machine.

The crew sent the tools down to Earth via the SpaceX Dragon so engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama could inspect their durability, strength and structure. The examination, which began April 6, will compare each tool against an identical set made with the same printer before it left Earth. Experimentation with the printer aboard the Space Station will continue over the course of the year.

But 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, isn’t meant for space alone and isn’t limited to plastic tools. The technology to print food and other necessities is also in the works for federal and commercial use. 

Posted on Apr 09, 2015 at 8:21 AM0 comments


Raising the bar on smartcards for physical access

Raising the bar on smartcards for physical access

Smartcards can be even smarter when organizations follow a new individualized implementation guide, says the Smart Card Alliance. The step-by-step, insert-your-needs-here publication released April 7 is meant to help companies employ more accessible and secure physical access control systems (PACS) for their specific facilities.

Written in industry-standard language, and meant to work with a variety of PACS, the information is directed to the architects, engineers, consultants and others in charge of a procuring a company’s PAC design and engineering. There is even a version that answers questions about terminology to bring all those involved onto even ground.

While this Smart Card Alliance initiative is explicitly aimed at non-government systems, it comes as both the private and public sectors alike are struggling to balance security and accessibility when deploying smartcards.   

Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance believes this guide can help. The specification, he said, "sets forward clearly defined and industry-validated recommendations surrounding smartcards and PACS, ensuring that the full security benefits are achieved with each implementation."

The Smart Card Alliance’s guide, however, makes clear that it is just that – a guide – putting the onus of success on those in charge of implementation. “Proper installations not only involve the specification but also include the responsibilities of the manufacturer, integrator and end user to deploy, operate and maintain the solution,” the report states in its opening pages.

Read the Guide Specification for Architects and Engineers for Smart Card-based PACS Cards and Readers for Non-government PACS.

Posted on Apr 08, 2015 at 8:21 AM0 comments


NYC launches portal for city agency reports

NYC launches portal for city agency reports

New York City is now making city agency reports available for public viewing in one consolidated hub. 

The new online portal, currently in beta for gathering feedback and hosted on GitHub, stores thousands of reports issued by NYC agencies—for which the city’s records department serves as the historical repository.

The site lets the public easily and quickly search through city reports by document title, description, agency, type of report and category. The portal features a mobile-friendly design and embedded PDFs, which allow users to view documents without manually saving to their computer.

So far, about 12,000 publications are currently online, the city said in its announcement, with 7,000 more submitted and others being added as they are issued. 

Led by the Department of Records and Information Services and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the portal was built with the help of students from NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. 

Upcoming features include full-text search, relevancy scores, CSV export and APIs that will allow other applications to access the database.

Posted on Apr 06, 2015 at 8:21 AM0 comments


Atlantic cod

NOAA partners with fisherman to save cod populations

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is partnering with local fisherman in Massachusetts to develop a tech-based solution for saving cod populations. But first they have to find the fish.

The scientists plan to locate mating and spawning clusters, once favorite targets for fishermen, and cordon them off as a way of protecting the species and allowing it to repopulate.  Using microphones on the sea floor and unmanned autonomous underwater vehicles, scientists are trying to get better information on the locations of spawning cod.

Local fishermen are contributing their knowledge about the “dynamics of fish populations and how patterns of distribution change in space and time,” said Bill Karp, director of science and research at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass. “That knowledge is extremely difficult for a scientist to obtain, so the opportunity to work with fishermen and learn from them is very advantageous.”

Using information gleaned from the microphones and unmanned underwater vehicles that transmit data each time they resurface, scientists hope to turn that information into verifiable, measurable ways to track and protect the cod.

Posted on Apr 03, 2015 at 8:21 AM0 comments