Unbutu Linux and GIS

Check out my highlights and Open Source Links for information on Unbutu Linux and Open Source GIS information. The Wiki is informative and concise and has many links to various Open Source GIS info for those of you who are interested in Open Source and GIS. Many of the software packages are fairly well developed and have been around for awhile. They cover the gamut from GIS to Image Processing to Web-based and relational geodatabases.

Comments and other links are encouraged.



Routing Them Garbage Trucks 4-10 Good Buddy!

My latest endeavor from the JenningsPlanet is to help a Solid Waste Supervisor re-route Garbage, Recycling, Greenwaste, and Street Sweeping trucks throughout Sacramento for a possible 4 day/10 hr work day.

Using RouteSmart ($50,000) - sits on top of ArcGIS

9 days of training with RouteSmart - a definite necessity

Correcting some of our Customer data records and Geocoding so I can get the correct street segment for routing.

Many runs testing various parameters of RouteSmart to reduce routes, increase workload, and save the City of Sacramento some money.

Contact me for more details.

ESA SAR Toolbox - RADAR processing

I received a post regarding some RADAR processing software. This is open source. I have not yet checked it out, but it may be useful for those interested in processing RADAR data.

Next ESA SAR Toolbox


Tales from a Python Script

Much of this year has been spent writing Python code for a Rental Inspection Program for the City of Sacramento. I have developed a series of Python scripts that I manually start that creates several files for a 3rd party hosted application. The scripts I write process existing and new SDE feature classes (this is an experience in itself). I have learned a lot through this process:

- Creating SDE table views (very cool way to process large quantities of data, but somewhat difficult to track bugs)

- Finding bugs that a programmer would assume would be caught. For example, non-existent field mappings not being picked up through exception tracebacks

- Still in wonder why my SDE Table views to Feature Class processes don't want to transfer all the data in the table view to my output feature class.

Overall, my application development has proved worthy for the Code Enforcement Dept, since the data I am creating serves as the fundamental data for the citywide Rental Inspection Program.

For this project I have developed:

1. Python scripts to process the data
2. Develop a 5 year priority plan based on census tracts (all GIS Analysis based)
3. Create maps and templates to use for field maps and status maps.


American River College Student Projects

This is a first of what I hope to be many example projects that my students have completed as part of the GIS Certificate or GIS Associate of Science degrees at American River College.

Fui Fang conducted a rectification project on 2 sets of historical photos for the City of Sacramento. Below is her report on how she completed this task. The imagery will soon be up at the City of Sacramento's website. Go here for links to Student Projects.



GISCorps is a volunteer organization associated with URISA (Urban and Regional Information Systems Association). If you are interested in volunteering in global locations to help those in need, check it out! It will be a wonderful opportunity to share and gain experience on a national and international basis.


Mobile GIS Tablet PC

(Using the Motion F5 w/ built in bar code scanner, ArcPad, Water Meter Asset Collection. A slight red tinge on the bar code represents the bar code scanner in action.)

I have been testing a tablet pc from Motion Computing, F5 model,the last couple of days for some asset management we are doing for the City of Sacramento. So far, I love this thing. I have ArcPad loaded with a GIS layer that we are going to maintain through tapping the screen to log the location, then click the integrated bar code scanner button to log 2 different bar code values into two separate data fields. Works like a charm! Most of the common bar code format types are supported. Also built in to this little 3lb machine is an RFID reader and digital camera. Uses pen and Tablet PC technology. Pictures to come shortly.

We started looking at high-end GPS (see Topcon v. Trimble below). This is not going to work because of all of the overhead obstructions, plus we can get closer 99% of the time with just tapping the ArcPad screen. Although we have an option to use GIS Server, we don't have the proper licensing to build an editable GIS web app and serve up our GIS data and do data entry real-time. hand held PDAs were too small (visual real-estate).

Our other working alternative will be to use a tablet pc and a separate wireless bar code scanner (two gizmos rather than one).

1. Motion F5 using ArcPad
2. ArcPad shown with Water Meter number filled in from using built-in bar code scanner
3. Second image showing Motion F5 and ArcPad
4. Motion F5 docking station


Semi-rugged (not for dropping!)
Intel Centrino, 1.2 Ghz, 2 Gb RAM
35 Gb of hard disk space
Windows Tablet XP, SP 2
ArcPad 7.0 or later (not included, separate purchase)

Retail ($2600-$5200, depending on configuration)

Optional docking station (probably will need), includes 3 USB ports, Network port, Serial port for external monitor
Optional keyboard (probably will need if you also want a desktop system
Optional battery


Light weight
Can change screen orientations (landscape, portrait right handed, portrait left handed)
most of the tabular/text data entry is done through hand writing using the pen. For the most part accurate and easy to change mis written words.


Bar Code Scanner
Digital Camera
Finger print reader
Blue Tooth


A little difficult to use in bright sunny areas (can change the screen brightness)

I used this outside with air photos in the background which made it difficult to plot my points. If I turned the photos off, I could plot my points with other reference information (parcel boundaries, street centerlines, ROW lines, address points).

No external USB ports, but it does have BlueTooth. The only external port is a power port.

Laser Range Finder and GPS

This is a supplement to my previous post on high-end GPS. One possible solution for high end GPS in obstructed environments is the use of a Laser Range Finder (LRF). The latest versions of LRF offer blue tooth connections and can be hand held type binocular type devices or can be a "laser gun" typically mounted on a survey pole with a yoke. This is a good solution if you are going to be doing data collection day in/day out for thousands of assets (objects). If you are just going to conduct sporadic data collection or need a LRF for part of an overall asset collection, then it might be worth just renting a LRF (and/or the GPS unit as well).

The City of Sacramento uses Trimble GPS, LaserCraft LRF, GPS Analyst, GPS Correct and synchronizes with a transactional ArcSDE enterprise database. The City paid ~$13,000 for the hardware/sofwtare. The city uses these devices for:

Street Sign Inventory ~150,000 assets
Urban Forest ~150,000 (initial collection is contracted out). On going data management will use
GPS and ArcPad.

If you want to buy a GPS/LRF set up for use with GPS expect to pay for the following:


High-end GPS (~$4500-5000) [Trimble/TopCon]
LRF - ~$3000-4000, the City of Sacramento uses LaserCraft Contour (gun)
pole - $200
yoke - $100
GPS pole mounting bracket - $50

Software (Assuming ESRI shop)

ArcPad $500
GPS Correct $500
GPS Analyst $2000



Pathfinder Office $1500
TerraSync $1000

If the Trimble solution is used, the it will be more difficult to manage data collected by multiple users and to synchronize changes to a central GIS database.


FAST $2000 - form builder for TopCon units. Can integrate with ArcPad, but you can only see the current feature collected. Will need TopPad for a more integrated solution with ESRI.

TopPad $500, TopCons custom ArcPad for use with TopCon units

The software/hardware will have on-going maintenance and licensing fees. Be sure to add this to your budget.

If you want to purchase such a set up, here are some things to think about.

1. Budget for hardware/software
2. Skilled GIS staff (that can set up GPS, fully understands GPS issues, and can manipulate data and back end processing)
3. How many assets are going to be collected
4. Available staff to conduct collection and on-going data maintenance
5. Work out and test a data collection workflow. If this is done ad hoc, then you can waste time, hardware/software expenses, and data management time. This will lead to the data either difficult to use or not used.


EU GPS Satellite Launch

Check out the link for the latest GPS satellite to be launched from the EU. Supposed to rival US GPS satellite sources.


Opticks - Open Source Remote Sensing Software - Ball AeroSpace

Opticks is my new endeavor for developing an open source image processing software that I can provide to my Remote Sensing students at American River College. I am getting set up to begin plug-in development for Opticks hopefully to expand some functionality of the out-of-the-box Opticks.

Opticks has been the cleanest open source image processing softwares I have seen lately...so much so I am foregoing my Python Image Processing endeavor. In addition, it seems Opticks has a hyperspectral slant to it as well, definitely something that will be up and coming in the near future.

I will continue to update based on my findings so that others have an idea of what it will take to develop themselves and use the Opticks software.

Some of the things I would like to be able to add to Opticks is:

1. Various band raios. This looks pretty straight forward with using their Map Algebra tool and you can create your own "custom" band calculations.

2. Image processing using a moving window (edge detectors, specialized filters)

3. Add RADAR image processing such as slant-to-ground range correction and texture processing.

4. Image Classification. This may be a little tricky to do since it require spectral signatures. I need to check more on this.


Geospatial Emergency Responder Conference March 9-12, 2008 - Seattle, WA

This is a first ever Geospatial conference for emergency responders. Attend or join the discussion. Promoted by Delta State University in Mississippi.


USNG Google Mashup

The site below is a Google mashup that shows the US National Grid locator and grid system. Very neat! Also is a Google Group that has some brief discussion on the use of the USNG for disaster.


Google Discussion Group on the USNG Google Mashup

This is something that the Sacramento EOC (Emergency Operation Center) is looking into. We are evaluating the use of Google Maps and similar Internet ready maps where we can just load up GIS data for our EOC members (that are not GIS). In past trainings and activations, the EOC membership needs data rapidly and in an environment that is easy to navigate, update, and present on large screens (in addition to creating paper maps and GIS analyses).


Mobile GIS Field Data Collection Prospects

In my search for a Tablet PC that can run ArcPad and connect a bar code scanner, I have come up with two possibilities that I am hoping to test.

1. Dell Samsung (~$1000)

This little job offers a 7" display screen running Tablet XP OS, only 1.5 lbs and a little more display real estate than a PDA, makes this a good candidate for the City of Sacramento's water meter mapping. We should be able to connect a bar code scanner to collect the necessary water meter information.

2. HP C5 Mobile Computer (~$2800)

I am even more impressed with this little gizmo. 10.4" screen with a built in bar code scanner, 3 lbs. Runs Tablet PC and will run ArcPad.

I hope to test both products and report back. I am also hoping that our utilities dept. settles on one of these items.



TopCon (GMS-2) v. Trimble (GeoXT) for GIS Data Collection

Here is a rough assessment of the two GPS units. I recently conducted a field trial on the GMS-2. Most of my experience is with a GeoXT. Both of these work pretty much the same with the same kinds of data collection issues. If the GPS receiver is obstructed, the accuracy goes down, even with post processing). In Sacramento ("The City of Trees") we have this problem and with tall buildings or near the sides of buildings (i.e. water meters, tree inventory, sign inventory).



-Accept Glonass (Russian) Satellites (i.e. more satellite coverage than other GPS units)
-Built in Digital Camera (very cool!)
-Pictures are automatically downloaded and hotlink field is automatically maintained
-Can add Flash memory
-WAAS correction
-Post processing or real-time correction with additional modules/software

FAST (Form Building software)

-Easy to create
-Easy to import to GPS unit
-Can add a component for Digital Camera and/or GPS if desired
-GIS add-on will allow for export to shapefile and can see GPS data on ArcPad


-Form and ArcPad do not integrate
-Can only see current point within ArcPad interface
-Must convert .DBF file to Access Table, then import into the FAST Form to update existing records
-GIS workflow is not as streamlined as GeoXT (more steps and must build a process to manage and maintain a unique ID)

Accuracy (submeter - 2-3 meters, depending on satellite coverage and post processing capability)


(~$5000-6000, includes all hardware/software - GMS-2, FAST with GIS capability, post processing software)

Trimble GeoXT


-Straight forward GIS workflow (must use Trimble GPS Analyst and GPS Correct)
-Completely integrated with ArcPad
-WAAS Correction
-Post processing with GPS Analyst or add-on real-time correction beacon and software

Form Builder software

-Build forms through ArcPad or ArcPad Builder

NOTE: You can use TerraSync (field data collection) and Pathfinder Office (post processing and form building), but this will not work very effectively for use in an ArcGIS environment, thus I don't mention it.


-Digital Camera separately attached
-Photo management on back end or through additional software
-No Glonass satellite reception

Accuracy (submeter - 2-3 meters, depending on satellite coverage and post processing capability)


(~$4000-5500, includes all hardware/software - GeoXT, GPS Analyst/GPS Correct, ArcPad)

Field Data Collection and Bar Code Scanners

I am working on a solution for collecting field data on water meters using a Tablet PC with ArcPad and a connected bar code scanner. If anyone has any experience in integrating a Tablet PC (not a GPS or PDA), a bar coder, and ArcPad, I would like to hear about it. I am trying to get a bar code scanner that will be able to direct connect to the Tablet PC through a serial port so I can directly record the bar code in an ArcPad text field.



Back from the Sea

I have had a serious hiatus from my blog, but I am back. I hope to continue to add comments and posts as time permits. I have a full fledged website www.jenningsplanet.com. Check it out! You will find a full description of what I do professionally as well as a whole host of GIS, Remote Sensing, GPS, Programming, Free Spatial Data, and Internet Mapping resources.