GeoCommons refresh - now with more text

We've been very busy at FortiusOne on a number of projects and finally taking a breath to push an update to GeoCommons.com. They're mostly light refreshing of the front pages. We wanted to highlight both our commercial offerings (did you know you can get GeoCommons in a box?) as well as make it easier to see the benefits and how to use Finder and Maker. Here are a few others I think are worth highlighting:

Data in, Maps out

GeoCommons Finder!.jpgUploading data shouldn't be difficult - so we now have a very easy, tabless uploader that detects the type of data you're trying to upload. So providing a CSV or KML file is easy to just select the file and upload - we'll even pre-populate the metadata using the information we find in the file. Uploading a Shapefile? We help you walk through having to include all the necessary slew of files - and even better, we now support Projections. It's not just a EPSG:4326 world anywmore.

Along with the simplified uploader - you may notice some new neighbors to the familiar old KML, Shapefile, and CSV crew. GeoRSS and Text documents are now accepted uploads to GeoCommons. GeoRSS clearly makes sense - but text documents?

There is undeniably a large amount of very valuable data, non-georeferenced data, just laying about on the web and computers. We've teamed up with MetaCarta to geoparse these text documents and extract locations. For example, check out the CNN article on Obama Middle East Talks or chapter 1 of War and Peace.

US EPA Assessing Outdoor Air Near Schools at GeoCommons Maker!-1.jpgAnother key principle of GeoCommons is that your data should be just as easy to pull out as it is to put in. You can already download styled KML of any map for viewing in Google Earth or in your mashup - but some people just want to put their nice Maker map in a site with no muss or fuss.

So now you can easily embed any GeoCommons map. Just click "Details", and then copy the short HTML and JavaScript snippet, then paste into your blog or site - and voila! A deep, live, interactive map. You can see good examples in the Vancouver Sun's FOIA'd data on ticketed areas, or the Toronto Star's 1,063 bicycle accident locations in 2008.

It's about the community

One of the most important features that I consider in this update is linking to our GetSatisfaction public forums. And look - already a bug filed! I love user feedback. We have a lot of users creating compelling maps and sharing data and want to hear and talk about your suggestions, frustrations, and lessons learned. Have a dataset that you're having some problem cleaning up and uploading? Ask on the Open Data forum and I'm sure someone from the community or our data team can help you out.

Check out the official Off the Map article for more details. Consider these updates as a light appetizer for some much larger releases we're putting the final glaze on.

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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.