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The best global forest map ever

University of Maryland has done an amazing job in analyzing and compiling more than a half million Landsat images to make a global map on forest change. And not just any kind of map, it’s zoomable to a very local level and extremely detailed. And embeddable on any website, as you can see below. You can also choose between several data product and visualization alternatives.

Play with the map here:

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Winter image

My colleague George Rybakov flew over Fiskars, Raseborg a few days ago to collect test data for an AERIA project with the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Some of the images were beutifully graphical, like this one:


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Images, finally images!

So after letting myself be immersed in the UAV world for half a year including buying a hexacopter for myself and a Quest 200 for the project I’m heading at Novia UAS, we are finally getting good aerial images. Not from the hexacopter, because the transmitter (Graupner mx-20) was faulty and was sent to Germany for repair, but from the fixed-wing plane.

Here is a screenshot from Google Earth with the original Google imagery visible (coarse, gross georeferencing error ) and ours taken from close to 150 meters height.

Our image was georeferenced in Quantum GIS and exported to KMZ in ArcGIS (because QGIS doesn’t seem to have an exporter for rasters to KMZ).


Aerial image from Västankvarn, Ingå, Finland July 2012 from around 140 meters.

The export makes the image quality lower, here is a sample from the original, mosaicked image. The black spot is an artefact from the mosaicking process.


Part of mosaicked image from Västankvarn, Ingå, Finland July 2012

You can easily see the electric power lines here.

Next week we will get an IR-camera to play with, and another plane (Quest 100) for shooting 45 degree imagery.

It is Georg Rybakov, student at the ICZM programme at Novia UAS who has done most of the work when it comes to planning and executing the flights.

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It makes me kind of angry…

Couldn’t agree more:

It makes me kind of angry that historians, human geographers, anthropologists, and at least 50 other academic disciplines, on top of practitioner disciplines, don’t talk to each other the way they should.  And, that the way they organize their knowledge makes it far to inaccessible to every day people who would really like to have a better understanding of their world!

Chris Tucker, MapStory Foundation

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GIS-videor på webben

För den som vill lära sig grunderna i ArcGIS 10 kan de skärmvideofilmer jag producerar som bäst vara till nytta. Det kommer troligen att bli ca 25 filmer på 5-15 minuter före slutet av året. Jag gör filmerna för en virtuell grundkurs i GIS jag drar för lantmäteristuderande i Vasa nu under hösten.

Jag har för flera år sedan proklamerat att det undervisningsmaterial jag skapar omfattas av en Creative Commons-licens, se nedan. Ingen har problematiserat detta, så jag sprider mina alster mer eller mindre fritt i enlighet med tidens anda.

Creative Commons License
GIS training by Romi Rancken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

For English-speaking people: I have about 10 videos in English too, made for ArcGIS 9.3 and Spatial Analyst. If anyone is interested, I could put them up on the site as well. Ask for it in the comments!

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Visit to ASU

I had the opportunity to visit Arizona State University during the last week of October. The journey there was just as troublesome as I feared, but my stay there was rewarding.

The reason for my traveling there was the Decision Theater ASU built 6 years ago – Novia UAS where I work is planning to build something similar, but in a smaller scale. The Decision Theater (DT) at ASU cost 7 million USD when it was built and employs around 10 people, and many students work there as well. If we get financing for something along the same lines, I guess we are talking about less than 10 percent of that amount, and 3-4 people, max.

Apart from talking with Chief Operating Officer and Interim Director Sandy Epstein and a few other people at the DT, I also met the former Director, George Basile, with whom I was in contact already 2,5 years ago. The discussions strengthened my own thoughts about the direction in which our university should develop the concept and also gave me some new ideas. I final discussion with Clark Miller of the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU made the pieces fall in place for me.

It was amazing to see how a large university had been able to renew itself in less than 10 years, ASU calls itself ”A New American University” and that’s not only marketing speech. A small university like the one I’m working for could be even more agile, one would think.

From ASU
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Geografiska informationssystem – bara ett verktyg

Det finns de som säger om GIS att "det ju bara är ett verktyg". Och de har alldeles rätt. Det är ett verktyg på samma sätt som statistik, vetenskap, interkontinentala missiler eller internet är verktyg. De är alla verktyg som har potentialen att ändra vår syn på världen.

Den förstärkta verklighet som förmedlas via min Iphone och Layar gör "synen på världen" ännu mer konkret.

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Saturday night activities

So what does a nerd do on a Saturday night? Registering a domain name of course! Soon I have ten of them. This one is Don’t know how I will use it, it depends on how events are unfolding during the coming months.

Wikipedia has something to say about geodesign.

Hyvä vastaanottaja

Viestintävirasto on myöntänyt verkkotunnuksen, johon liittyvät seuraavat tiedot:


Myöntämispäivä: 24.09.2011
Voimassaolo päättyy: 24.09.2012

Verkkotunnuksen haltija
Romi Rancken

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Google Earth imagery in Raseborg

The new Google Earth imagery of large areas of Raseborg, Finland is from July 10th 2010 and of a higher resolution than before. Unfortunately it is a little misty due to thin clouds, but quite useful still. The best thing with it is that it is properly georeferenced, which means that a coordinate sits in the picture where it should, not 40 meters (!) to the east as it used to and as it still does in many places in Southern Finland since the last update a few years ago.
The roads in Google Earth/Maps are a little roughly drawn, but they are, and have always been, placed much more correctly than the old imagery which meant that you could see the error in the background map easily.

Here is a screenshot of a GPS-track that I collected today, overlayed on Google Maps (left, with the old imagery) and Google Earth (right, with the new). See how nicely the track fits with the road in Google Earth!

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I participated in a NordPlus meeting in Jelgava, Latvia at the beginning of the week. Apart from the meeting itself, there were two nice forest excursions. The first one was to Tervete Nature Park, the other to Cenu mire.

Here is the track for the visit to the mire:

Visa Latvia 2011 på en större karta

Zoom in to the north east part of the track to see the details.

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