Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

RFID+Geospatial Relief for Haiti

I recommend FRONTLINE’s Quake documentary which aired last night. They examined a lot of the issues surrounding distribution of supplies following the earthquake in Haiti.

They showed supplies piling up at the airport, without any system in place to distribute it. They showed a doctor rushing all over town searching for blood, only to find it was available at a nearby clinic. They showed supply trucks being looted by mobs.

It seems like RFID could be leveraged to resolve this situation. Sure enough, after a bit of searching, I see this UN worker quoted in RFID Journal Blog:

The problem we have is that when a natural disaster strikes, you usually have no electrical power and little cell phone coverage in the affected area. Relief supplies come pouring in from around the world, but when you are on the ground, you don’t know what is arriving and you can’t call anyone. I’ve seen millions of dollars worth of life-saving drugs spoil on the tarmac of an airport, because no one knew what was in the cartons and didn’t distribute it.

It seems like it would be possible to create a mobile network for tracking relief materials. At the airport, scan supplies as they arrive. In the field, request supplies as patients are presented. Between the airport and the field, track the vehicles. Geospatial tools would allow routes to be geodesigned transparently to optimally allocate supplies to areas of demand.

The Government of Haiti presented an Action Plan for rebuilding the nation at a donors conference today. Maybe the infrastructure needed to support RFID should be part of the plan. I expect more aid will be rushed to Haiti once the rainy season begins.


MIX10 Notes

I’ve been watching some of the live video feed from Microsoft’s MIX10 presentations. I found these interesting:

The Open Data specification looks promising. Netflix open data catalog was used for demonstration. I wish Netflix provided a way to query popularity rank by zipcode for a particular title. This would make it easy to make a map showing where a title is popular.

Microsoft’s Dallas Project seems similar to WeoGeo. I saw no mention of when Azure will support spatial types.

Silverlight continues to improve, but I saw no mention of support for DirectX. IE9 will leverage DirectX – why can’t Silverlight? If you need a highly dynamic map you might be better off with javascript.

LinqPad Spatial Challenge

To get up to speed with new things in C# 4.0, I’ve been reading C# 4.0 In A Nutshell by Joseph and Ben Albahari.

To illustrate examples, the book uses LinqPad, a freely downloadable tool. I recommend the book, and I highly recommend LinqPad.

Still, there is room for improvement with LinqPad. The author of LinqPad has presented the LINQPad Challenge, with the following rules:

1. Locate the shortcut for SQL Management Studio (SSMS) on your Start Menu and move it some place else.
2. In its place, insert a shortcut to LINQPad.
3. For the next week, perform all your ad-hoc SQL queries using only LINQPad.

If you’re like me though, you may not feel up to this challenge. I have grown attached to SSMS’s spatial query viewer, which is lacking in LinqPad. It would be great if someone would write a custom Data Context Driver for LinqPad so that spatial query output from ArcObjects could be displayed on a map, just as it is in SSMS.

It seems like this would also allow the geodatabase implementation to be abstracted, removing dependencies on SQL Server, so maybe someone from ESRI could justify doing this.