Tag Archives: mapping

Idaho Riding 2016 – #4

Day 4 of riding in Idaho was great as usual. Dwayne, Chip and I set out on the Little Casino trail around 9:30am or so. Dwayne hadn’t ridden this trail since the re-route they’d done 2-3 years ago. I’d only ridden it once when the trail followed the original route but honestly don’t remember much about it except that there were multiple creek crossings.

About three miles in we stopped and Dwayne said, “This new trail sucks!” He preferred the old route that had less exposed side hill, more creek crossings and a good climb to the top of the ridge. It is not a bad trail, its just not what he’d ridden for so many years. My understanding is that the new route gets you up to the ridge sooner and it never crosses the creek. This is all part of a strategy to keep trails further away from running water thus reducing erosion and sedimentation.

Next stop was a couple logs down across the trail. They weren’t huge so we stopped and cut them with the hand saw. This section of the trail had been cleared recently and whomever did the work certainly earned their wages. Dozens of logs were across the trail just a week or two beforehand and the sawdust piles were still visible from the fresh cuts.

Chip wanted to stop where there is a good view of Redfish Lake and the Sawtooth Range. With that in mind we made our way up the trail looking for the best place to get some photos. A little climb and a few corners later the perfect spot came into play. Ended up being a great view in all directions! Chip got the photos he wanted and I took a few as well.

Chip & Dwayne - Redfish Lake in the Background
Chip & Dwayne – Redfish Lake in the Background

When we headed up the trail from where we were in this photo, I rode Dwayne’s new Beta X-Trainer for about a mile. The bike was very nice for the type of riding that we do. It’s plushness and linear power delivery are perfect for mountain trail riding. Anyone with a short inseam should try the bike as well. Dwayne said it is 10% shorter in both directions which makes it very maneuverable. It is a 300cc engine and all you have to do is dial it back a bit and you’ll be reminded it is a big bore. Oh . . . and electric start too!

This view is along the way . . .
This view is along the way . . .

Onward to the “4-way” where the Casino Creek trails come together with the trail up to the Rough Creek Fire Tower and Martin Creek that leads down to the Warm Springs Meadow. On our way up the hill you pass the junction with Boundary Creek Trail. I went down that trail about a week ago at the recommendation of a local bicycle rider. He said that anyone who can climb up Boundary Creek without stopping on a bicycle has iron lungs and legs!

At this junction we saw a bicyclist coming up that trail. We stopped and talked with him for a few minutes. If I understood correctly, he only stopped once on the way up. One thing for sure . . . this guy was fit! We told him where we were headed and he indicated he’d be going the same way. I’d cleared several logs off the trail ahead the week before so I told him it was probably clear. He waited for us to depart and then headed up the hill.

Martin Creek Trail was the plan so we took the right hand turn and made our way down the trail. I’d forgotten how darn rocky it was. I’d been up it once and there is this one rock step up that is just plain tough. As we approached the Warm Springs Meadow, the downed timber became more and more frequent. Looked like a big game of pick up sticks. That is just the best way to describe it. Forward motion was slow at times throughout this mess.

Dwayne & Chip in the Pick Up Sticks
Dwayne & Chip in the Pick Up Sticks

So we are sitting here on the trail, taking a break after crossing 50+ downed logs, and the guy on the bicycle rolls up. Yep. he’d caught us. Very impressive to say the least. I know Martin Creek is almost all downhill but he’d climb another 750+ vertical feet since we’d seen him and made his way down the trail and across all those logs and over all the rocks. Wow!

We were just getting ready to leave so once again he let us go first. About 20 more log crossings and we rolled into Warm Springs Meadow. What an awesome place! For many years I’d eyed this valley on the aerial photography and topographic maps. It was 2013 before I actually made my way to the valley. Awesome views!

Dwayne on the Beta - Warm Springs Meadow
Dwayne on the Beta – Warm Springs Meadow

About 1/4 mile past the location shown in the photo above you take a right and head up the valley. It is really marshy in that area as beavers are active nearby. We carefully picked our way through the wet spot and as we were getting back on the main trail we saw the guy on the bicycle coming our way. Geez!

Warm Springs Meadow
Warm Springs Meadow

The next mile or so is flat and there were several downed trees along the way to the next creek crossing. This crossing has a “bridge” if you  want to call it that. Essentially, there are about two dozen logs laid lengthwise across the creek. No boards or anything on top. We came to a stop got off and carefully walked our bikes across.

On our heels once again was the guy on the bicycle. He was incredible. Chip told him it was all “downhill” just ahead and onto the Williams Creek Trail. Chip had forgotten there were two more small ridges to traverse before the final descent. Oh well, this guy was in the for the long haul.

Warm Springs Meadow Pano
Warm Springs Meadow Pano

Dwayne took off and I rode just behind his dust all the way to the Williams Creek trailhead just of ID75 near Obsidian. Chip rolled in about 3 minutes later and we took advantage of some shade offered by a pine near the trailhead sign. There were two vehicles parked there and within 8-10 minutes bicyclists arrived, loaded up and drove away. About 5 minutes after that, the bicyclist rolled right up to us. I was amazed! He’d climbed up and over those two ridges and cruised down Williams Creek with ease.

In the end, we learned he was from Washington State and was not acclimated to the high altitude as he lived at about 800 feet above mean sea level. His bicycle was a “Felt” and from what I figured the frame alone cost around $10K . . . yep, just the frame. He’d been “glamping” (his term) with his family at Redfish Lake.  He was impressed with how we got our bikes over all the downed logs but we were blown away with the fact that he’d been keeping up with us for nearly 30 miles!!

Before he pedaled down the road, he took some pictures of us and grabbed a selfie or two. It is about 6.5 miles of flat pavement to the turn off for Redfish Lake from the trailhead. I estimate that the loop he’d ridden was ~36 miles. Wow! Dwayne put it best when he described the guy as “sculpted” . . . you can probably get the picture.

We too made our way up the road and back to the turn off for Boundary Creek. I was looking forward to climbing the trail back up to Little Casino. A group of horses was coming down and we all got off the trail as best as we could. One horse was spooked by the whole thing and almost bucked off the rider. It was kinda scary. Didn’t like it that that happened.

I met a hiker half way up so I shut off my bike. She walked by, said hello and high-fived me! Wasn’t expecting that! The trail was clear up to the junction and all the way back down to the Casino Creeks Trailhead. Simply awesome single track compared to anything we have in Kentucky.

Dwayne had an iced downed watermelon in his cooler so Chip cut it up and we enjoyed it before loading the bikes. What a wonderful way to finish up another great day of riding in Idaho. No doubt I’m fortunate to ride with these guys!

It was good to shed my gear and I was certainly getting hungry. Jumped into the Sprinter and pointed it towards the hotel for a shower and dinner. Already thinking about the next riding adventure!

See you on the trail!

 

Kentucky’s Enterprise GIS Implementation – A Decennial Update

Background

A little over ten years ago an article entitled “GIS as a Utility: Kentucky’s Enterprise Implementation” appeared in Esri’s 2005 summer edition of ArcNews. The article provided an overview of Kentucky’s new Enterprise GIS implementation, discussed the challenges associated with making spatial data accessible in a networked environment, and highlighted how various agencies were beginning to leverage this new resource. It has been over a decade since that article’s publication, and the Commonwealth’s enterprise GIS has matured and become a critical component of business processes both within and outside State Government. This article outlines the efforts managed by the Kentucky Division of Geographic Information (DGI) that have made this implementation successful and sustainable throughout evolving technologies, tight budget cycles and changing policy directions.

The Keystone

One of the least desirable tasks in information technology is documentation. No one likes to document code, routine processes, or data for that matter. In the GIS world, creating “metadata” is the task that no one likes to see on their “to do” list but successful implementations require that it is completed on a layer-by-layer basis without exception. Like it or not, metadata is the keystone of Kentucky’s spatial data services. It has been tough at times to get agencies on this bandwagon, but once they’ve bought in, the value becomes more apparent. The policy states, “All spatial data resources shall have a complete metadata record in order to be included in the Commonwealth’s spatial data repository.” The existence of and strict adherence to this policy has had a positive impact on geospatial data integrity that carries on today.

Back in 2005, the Kentucky Geography Network (KyGeoNet) was based upon ArcIMS Metadata services, and there were less than 50 metadata records created by a half a dozen publishers. The whole concept of creating metadata was new and many just saw it as something else they had to do on top of everything else on their plate. For many GIS practitioners, it was a low priority until they realized that the Commonwealth’s spatial data repository would not grow if metadata was not created for the valuable resources scattered across the GIS community.

KyGeoNet Homepage
KyGeoNet Homepage

The value in making geospatial data accessible certainly outweighs the amount of effort required to complete a minimal metadata record and publish it to a repository. Essentially, this is a form of “cost avoidance” in that if users can find a resource, read the metadata to learn about its characteristics, and then download it for their use, they are less likely to call or e-mail with questions or requests. This becomes quite apparent once you’ve fielded 20+ calls about a given dataset and then realize that a published metadata record could have answered questions about the resource. Being asked the same question over and over again makes for grumpy GIS staff.

Fast forward to 2016 and there are now approximately 700 metadata records being actively managed by over two-dozen responsible publishers on what is known as the KyGeoPortal. The service is currently based upon a recent release of Esri’s open source product known as Geoportal Server. This solution includes the ability to search for and create metadata records associated with web mapping and image services, as well as downloadable datasets, static map images, standards documents and web mapping applications. It is a wonderful resource that is leveraged frequently by thousands of users on a monthly basis.

KyGeoPortal Search Page
KyGeoPortal Search Page

Average Monthly FTP Server Requests for 2016 (through July):
5.9 million requests/several thousand unique visitors

Enterprise Approach

As noted in the 2005 article, KyVector and KyRaster are the primary enterprise-based services that are accessible to the hundreds of ArcGIS Desktop and CAD users within Kentucky State Government. Each user is on the Wide Area Network (WAN) and enjoys fast, network-based access to these geospatial services hosted at the Commonwealth Computing Center in Frankfort, Kentucky. This level of service would not be possible without Commonwealth Office of Technology’s (COT) robust WAN and server infrastructure as the delivery mechanism.

Centralizing the data repository has reduced direct agency storage costs and eliminated the issue of outdated data residing on agency-based file servers. Agencies no longer have to expend resources on updating data that originates from external sources. All data is current, easily accessible, and includes associated metadata. This level of data availability and integrity promotes confidence in results when GIS technologies are utilized for inventory, planning, response, or business process decision support.

KyVector

KyVector, an ArcSDE-based server solution that runs in conjunction with Microsoft SQL Server is hosted on three separate physical boxes. One server (kysdewww) is dedicated to providing vector-based data to State Government agencies that host their own web mapping services and applications. Another server (kysdewan) is reserved for the hundreds of ArcGIS Desktop users on the WAN, while the third is used for staging and failover/outage scenarios. This proven configuration reduces contention for server resources and ensures that data delivery to users and applications is carried out in the most efficient and effective manner.

KyVector Layers in ArcMap
KyVector Layers in ArcMap

All data resources housed in KyVector have met the prerequisites of having a full metadata record and having been published to the KyGeoNet. In 2005, it was noted that 125 layers were in KyVector. Today, the number has more than doubled and stands at just over 300 layers. New layers are added periodically as they are created or if there is a need to share the resource across the enterprise.

Access to KyVector has been streamlined by using layerfiles that include connectivity properties, appropriate display scale thresholds, and suggested symbology settings. The organization, maintenance and distribution of the layerfiles is carried out by DGI. Users can start a new, or add to an existing, map document with ease by browsing a thematically organized folder of layerfiles.

Weekly data updates to KyVector, are fed from the agencies to the staging server then subsequently moved to production during the update procedure. Users access this resource with confidence knowing that it is the most current version available at any given time.

KyRaster

A decade ago, KyRaster was ArcSDE-based but newer technologies have prevailed. ArcGIS Image Server is now employed to provide users with access to raster-based data such as aerial photography, topographic maps, digital elevation models, and land cover. The primary benefit of ArcGIS Image Server over raster datasets stored in ArcSDE is the significant reduction in the time needed to process raster data so that it is accessible to end users. In the past, days or even weeks would be consumed just loading imagery into a raster dataset in ArcSDE. But now, with mosaic datasets and Image Server, we are able to get data out to the users in hours, or days at the very most.

KyRaster Layer in ArcMap
KyRaster Layer in ArcMap

Additionally, DGI’s raster storage footprint has been reduced by employing function chains within mosaic datasets. This functionality allows us to store the data once but serve it up in multiple projections, with different band combinations, or with special rendering options. For example, a function can be inserted into the chain of a digital elevation model (DEM) that allows it to be rendered as hillshade, shaded relief, or percent slope. The DEM is only stored once on disk, however the functions can be applied to each request on the fly.

As with KyVector, ArcGIS Desktop users connect to KyRaster using layerfiles that include connection properties, display scale thresholds, compression settings and custom rendering options. The performance of Image Server is on par with ArcSDE on the WAN, and those that aren’t on the State’s network have learned to change compression settings on the client-side to achieve better performance on slower networks. This approach has worked well in state field offices, at local governments, and by private sector users such as engineers, surveyors, and consultants.

Web Mapping Services

Both KyVector and KyRaster are the backbone of the Commonwealth’s publically accessible web mapping and image services. Dynamic and cached map services are hosted on kygisserver.ky.gov and provided in Web Mercator projection using ArcGIS Server. These services power hundreds of web mapping applications internal and external to State Government. The Commonwealth Base Map and the Commonwealth Street Base Map are the two primary cached services, but other statewide imagery and land cover layers have been cached as well.

The Commonwealth Base Map Cached Service
The Commonwealth Base Map Cached Service

The balance of the services are considered to be dynamic, as they pull data directly from KyVector to fulfill every single server request. Each time a user zooms in, zooms out, pans one direction or another, a request is made to the map server which in turn reaches out to KyVector for the data.

Average Monthly Map Server Requests for 2016 (through July):
9 million requests/several thousand unique visitors

Kentucky’s image and elevation services are hosted on kyraster.ky.gov in Kentucky Single Zone Projection using ArcGIS Server and the Image Server extension. Employees with ArcGIS Desktop in State Government are the primary users of this server, however there are a growing number of users outside the WAN. When ArcSDE was the server solution for imagery, only users on the WAN could gain access. Image Server now allows the Commonwealth to meet the needs of internal and external users with the same computing infrastructure yet still maintain a high level of performance and availability.

KyFromAbove Image Service Rendered Using an IR Function Chain
KyFromAbove Image Service Rendered Using an IR Function Chain

Average Monthly Image Server Requests for 2016 (through July):
7.5 million requests/several thousand unique visitors

KyGovMaps

Like many other users of geospatial technologies, DGI has incorporated ArcGIS Online (AGOL) into its solutions and workflows. AGOL is Esri’s scalable and secure software-as-a-service cloud-based mapping platform. It includes a rich collection of web mapping application templates, visualization and analytical tools, and ready-to-use data sources that make geospatial resources more accessible and user friendly. DGI’s organizational site on AGOL, KyGovMaps, showcases a wide variety of Kentucky-specific web maps, applications, and services. Data and maps that were once only usable by those with expensive GIS software are now available to most everyone. GIS isn’t just for propeller heads anymore!

KyGovMaps on AGOL
KyGovMaps on AGOL

A customized gallery page on the KyGeoNet makes it easy to locate featured web maps, mapping applications, and thematic galleries that interest a wide array of users. Lately, some of the most popular applications have been those in our collection of Story Maps. Recreational resources, imagery, historic landmarks, demographics, elevation data, and physiographic regions are a sampling of the topics covered using story map templates that we’ve customized.

Kentucky Weather Mapping Application
Kentucky Weather Mapping Application

All of the current web mapping applications hosted by DGI were built using a customizable Javascript-based template. These applications employ a responsive framework and thus can be used within any browser and on any platform. Find a trailhead at a State Park, check the weather, get the soil characteristics for where you are standing, or locate the closest place to put your boat in the water and do it using your desktop, tablet or phone!

Kentucky Bucket List Story Map
Kentucky Bucket List Story Map

The Next Decade

If the pattern continues, combined total server requests for the 2016 calendar year will easily exceed 250 million. This alone is a true testatment to the success of the Commonwealth’s Enterprise GIS implementation. The growth in adoption and usage of geospatial technologies during the past decade has been astounding, and Kentucky’s capabilities in this realm have kept up with the pace of advancement. It will be interesting to look back at this, and the preceding 2005 article, during the middle of the next decade to see where we stand. Live data feeds, UAV acquired imagery, and 3D visualization are just some of the new trends that will shape the makeup of the Kentucky’s Enterprise GIS down the line. Stay tuned!

The New Travel Machine (KyMotoVan) – Report #8

Fender Well Box: I found several references to fender well boxes or covers on the Sprinter-Source forum. After noting how my motorcycle tie downs were routed it appeared that I could have one, but maybe not two.

Luckily, I had plenty of 3/4″ plywood leftover from making my partition and rear wall panels. All I had to do was figure out how I was going to put it together and secure it to the floor and walls. Making a template for the curvature of the wheel well was easy and with a few key measurements in-hand I went to work.

Initially the plan was to cover all of the box with the same Olympic deck coating that I’d used on the lower partition panel and door. However, I ended up having enough of the very nice maple hardwood plywood for the box top so I stained it with some black stain – polyurethane made by Minwax. Three sides are wrapped with 3/4″ aluminum channel to make for a nice look.

Fender Well Box
Fender Well Box

RattleTrap was employed for insulation and sound damping (not dampening) on the surface of the wheel well. Wrapping something that is square and flat over a rounded surface is never fun. Cartographers faced this issue centuries and decades ago when trying to “map” our “round” globe with flat, paper maps! As a result, there were some compromises made in this process.

I cut 1.75″ lengths of 1″ x 1″ aluminum angle and used those along with some allen-head stainless steel bolts and nylon-based stainless lock nuts in each corner. This approach ensured that the box would be very square and solid. Both of the leading corners (front and back) were encased with 1″ x 1″ aluminum angle as I knew they’d endure some abuse while loading and unloading bike and such. Those were attached with some #6 stainless screws and a bit of caulk.

Fender Well Box
Fender Well Box

The hinges I used were Austrian-made and ended up being the perfect solution. They are fully-adjustable in all directions, have a zero-clearance factor on the back side, and are soft-closing. Some foam-based weatherstripping pieces were temporarily added on the two front corners until I can come up with a permanent solution that is both functional and appealing.

Fender Well Box
Fender Well Box

Attaching it to the van was easy just above the wheel well and two 1″ x 1″ aluminum angles attached it to the floor. Once again I used stainless hardware to secure everything. It is very solid. Actually nice to sit on.

I now have my tow chain, a cable, spare tie downs, garbage bags, rags, along with stuff that was previously under the passenger seats. This is good. I’ve cleared up space up front and have shifted a bit of weight towards the rear which will further improve the ride.

Fluids Box:  I’ve really been worried about carrying “fluids” in the back of the van. That wasn’t a big deal in the truck but having them “internal” to the van is a different story. About three weeks were spent trying to identify good options for holding things like antifreeze, motor oil, premix, filter oil, chain saw pre-mix, chain saw chain oil, and so forth. In the end, an aluminum tool box made by Better-Built was acquired and deployed (see photo below).

Fluids Box
Fluids Box

It fit perfectly on the floor where I’d planned but when the top was raised it rubbed my nice black panel rails. After some contemplation, I figured out how to space it out from side just enough so it would clear and not scratch anything at all. Very good. So far, I’ve been able to put all my “fluids” in here and with the top being sealed and only two small holes (caulked) on the bottom it should be good to go!

My next project is to mount a fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, tire pump, and come up with a great option for securing the partition door. I’m also going to place some small D-Rings on either side of where a rear tire is situated. Once that is done, I’m taking a break from all this and getting back to more riding and bike maintenance. Spring is just around the corner and I need to get some trail work done before it gets all hot and nasty!

See you on the trail!

Red Bird Crest Trail Ride Report (05-25-14)

Well for the first time, Philip tagged along with us to do the Red Bird Crest Trail. He’d ridden a couple portions of it back in 2007 but that was over by the Begley Trailhead and we only hit a few miles of it back then. He’d never done the entire 70+ mile loop.

The crew consisted of Bo, Jesse, Philip, and I. We had intentions of leaving the trailhead @ 10am but after getting our trail passes and so forth it was closer to 10:20 when we pulled onto the trail. This concerned me a bit but I knew that we’d have plenty of daylight if we kept moving and didn’t spend too much time at the store having lunch.

Getting Ready at the Peabody Trailhead
Getting Ready at the Peabody Trailhead

There had been a very windy storm a few days before and I’d heard that schools were closed down that way due to flooding and wind damage. Well I should have considered that before planning our trip. About 1 mile into the trail we came across some LARGE trees on the ground but they’d been recently cut and cleared from the trail. There was fresh sawdust on the ground so I figured the Forest Service had been working hard getting the trail opened up for the Holiday weekend. We made our way onward and each time we’d come to a downed tree it was obvious that someone had been busy clearing the trail.

We’ll that all came to an end just after the Sugar Creek trailhead. We fought our way under a large tree, climbed up the ridge and were greeted with some monster trees blocking the trail. Hmmm . . . maybe we should have ridden somewhere closer to home? Jesse had his hand saw but neither of us brought our little Stihls. Cutting these trees with the hand saw would take hours. So, we started lifting . . . the hard way.

The Hard Way
The Hard Way

So, reluctantly, we moved onward hoping we’d not find many more situations like that one. Things were “Ok” but not great. We didn’t have to do any more “team lifting” across logs but there were dozens of trips up or down the hill from the trail that were necessary to keep us moving forward. If all else failed, we’d get to the store and then ride the road back to the trailhead.

We finally made it to the store and it was about 2PM. If we could maintain the same pace we’d make it around the whole loop but I was still unsure. The owner of the store said that there had been lots of damage along KY66 and ridges above so things could get interesting as the crew pressed forward.

It was certainly good to have some lunch and re-hydrate. As we topped the bikes off with gas, a crew we’d passed early arrived at the store. They said our tracks gave them hope that they too could make it to the store. I chatted with them a bit and learned they were from Indy and were down for the entire weekend. A couple of them knew Trail Rider Charlie which was cool. Jesse took a photo of them at lunch and sent it to Charlie this morning. He said, “They are all too old for me to know them!” Gotta love it. He commented on my cool “Ride or Die” jersey from the High Sierra Motorcycle Club which I have adorned on my last two Red Bird outings.

Lunch at Collett's Store
Lunch at Collett’s Store

My favorite parts of the loop are after the store so the plan was to forge onward until we just couldn’t go any further. It always amazes me how little traffic this portion of the loop actually gets. There are places where it is quad width but essentially it is just one beat down single track path. Few riders make it that far and the rocky ascents and descents keep many of the locals at bay. Philip was bored with the trail before the store but was really enjoying the last sections.

One view I always enjoy seeing the is the power line cut on a ridge that is on the extreme southern portion of the loop. You can see for miles in three directions! Philip was glad we stopped for photos as was Bo. The panoramic view would be even more awesome if those darned power line polls weren’t in the way, however, there wouldn’t be a view at all if the power line cut didn’t exist!

Power Line View
Power Line View

The next stop was where you cross KY66 by the Bear Creek Trailhead. Jesse was ready to bail on us but we talked him into to forging onward to the next bailout point. We were still finding some downed trees but there was always a way around, or at least we made one! There is about 3 miles of gravel and 4 miles of road in this portion of the loop but everyone was a bit tired and welcomed the rest.

I stopped when we arrived at the turn down the hill to the goat trail to see if Jesse was good to go or if he wanted to continue. He stuck with us and was then committed to completing the entire loop. He’d only done that once before so I was glad for him. Plus, he had a hand saw, so I was glad for us!!

I really like these last sections of the loop. They see very little traffic and I like the nice single track sidehill trails. There were a few BIG trees down once again but we found ways up and around each one without eating too much time. Forward progress was essential but based on the timing of things I knew we’d make it around.

We came down the trail to Section 21 and there was a massive tree down right across the entry. It had smashed the trail marker and there was no apparent way around. I sat there for a minute and decided to just take the fire road down to Big Double and back to the trailhead. It was the wise thing to do. About 10 minutes later we arrived back at the Peabody trailhead with no broken bikes or riders. Bo’s odometer showed exactly 73 miles and mine was at 70.53. I explained that was because my Yamaha’s front wheel was off the ground so much more than his KTM.

Another successful and hard fought loop was completed. Not everyone can do it in one day so I feel that it is a worthy accomplishment. Give it try someday if you haven’t made the entire loop. Get some good maps and take along a good guide. It is worth the effort.

See you on the trail!

 

 

Customizing your Story Map

NOTE:  My blog was hacked in late 2014 and some of the content from this post is missing. Click here to download a PDF version of the post that contains all content. Sorry for any inconvenience.

The idea of using a map to tell a story is nothing new at all. Maps have always been the perfect tool for explaining “where” something exists (or occurred) and how that relates to other “events” that are part of a story or message being delivered. Well, the GIS gurus at esri have come up with a nifty “template” that makes it easy to build an interactive “Story Map” using your own data. So, if you have a story to tell, all you need is some simple point data, photos or videos, a little narrative text, and a login to ArcGIS.com.

Here in the Bluegrass State, we are very lucky to have an abundance of thematic data layers that are appropriate for this type of “Storytelling” so the staff at DGI began working to pull together the resources that are necessary to create an effective Story Map. The decision was made to create Feature Services on our ArcGIS Server instance but we could have just as easily uploaded shapefiles or CSVs to ArcGIS.com.

The first Story Map to get completed was the one that highlights the Lodges at Kentucky’s State Parks. We were able to collaborate with the marketing and GIS Staff over at State Parks to make this happen. They supplied some outstanding photos and reviewed their GIS data to make sure everything was in order. A web map was created on ArcGIS.com using the data, the photos were placed on a web server, and a Story Map template was downloaded from esri. Wiring up the template to our data was a breeze but our app had the same look and feel of all the other Story Maps out there. We needed to do something to set ours apart from the crowd.

Ky State Park Lodges
Ky State Park Lodges

Well here’s the ticket . . . check out this blog post. If you understand CSS, can leverage the developer tools in your browser, and know your way around Photoshop then you are in luck. You can easily “brand” your Story Map using those techniques. Below is an outline of the steps I used to customize the Kentucky State Forest Story Map.

Ky State Forests Story Map
Ky State Forests Story Map

I started off by visiting the web page for the Kentucky Division of Forestry

Looking forward . . .

Just like March, April came and went quickly. Today is the first day of May so that means I have 18 days left to finish the course in Wolfe County. After that race on May 20th I’ll have 5 weekends to get the one in Mercer County completed. I’m going to let Jesse and David take care of Horseshoe Bend which is just 3 weekends after the Wolfe County event. I have little to no desire to work at that place especially since I learned that mud buggies are going down in those woods now. I’ve never been a fan, but lots of racers really like that venue . . . just not one of my favorites. You can check out the locations of all the KORHS races on our new interactive map. It has some neat tools and base layers with aerial photos and topographic information. You can use the bookmarks to zoom directly to each of the venues. Check it out!

KORHS 2012 Interactive Map
KORHS 2012 Interactive Map

It’s has been fun working on a new piece of property. Wolfe County has a different variety of plants, soil types, and critters that we get to see here in central Kentucky. The problem is that this time of year I start to get burnt out on the whole course layout thing. I start to dread doing the course work when it is hot outside and it got quite warm this past weekend. This is when I start to look forward to doing some traveling and riding out West. Just plain fun . . . no worries about course layout deadlines or any work-related items at all. Getting away from it all and having no schedules to pin me down for a while is a worthy recharge for Kim and me. This is something we both look forward to all year long!

What are you looking forward to?

See you on the Trail!

The view from above . . .

One nice part about my job doing GIS for State Government is the access to the most current aerial photography and other data layers. The Federal Government through the National Aerial Inventory Program (NAIP) has acquired leaf-on aerial photography of the entire state at a 1 meter resolution every two years since 2004. In 2006 2 foot resolution (much better) was obtained. We just got the 2010 photography a couple weeks ago and have been working to mosaic it all together and make it available for everyone to use and/or view.

Horseshoe Bend - Summer 2010
Horseshoe Bend - Summer 2010

Checkout the photo above of Horseshoe Bend taken this summer as a part of the NAIP effort. You can see every twist and turn of the MX track and if you know where to look you’ll see where the KORHS course crossed some fields and where it tied into the MX track. If you look closely you can see where scoring was just inside the little kids track. Also, every jump and corner is very clear on the Supercross track on the left hand side of the image.

I cruised around the state looking at the new imagery and in most of the KORHS race locations there were few indications of our presence that were visible in the imagery. Mainly, the scoring areas and some corners on the grass track sections. These types of things are visible at the Sawmill in the area next to the road. Now in the case of Salt River Run, the imagery was acquired before the event. Thus, there is no sign there was a race there this year, but you can count the roll bales in one of his fields with great precision!

Below is a link that will allow you to view the new 2010 imagery. We haven’t exposed it in any of our public facing sites yet, but these public “services” are accessible and allow you to view it in a simple Javascript viewer in the interim.

2010 Imagery Service Javascript Viewer – Use the little buttons to zoom in and out or Shift+Click and drag to define an extent to zoom to.

Let me know if you have any questions about the aerials and when we get it out in an easy to use viewer I’ll let everyone know.

See you on the trail!