The Story of NORAD Santa… Believe!

I first shared this post several years ago and its still a favorite of mine this time of year and never gets old! I’ve actually penned several articles on the topic, you can find them all HERE.

Over the years one of our favorite topics of discussion in December here at GISuser has been NORAD Santa… the fine efforts of the NORAD team implemented each year to track and secure Santa Claus during his long journey. It was back in 1955 out of the Continental Air Defence Command (CONAD) when Colonel Harry Shoup (The “Santa Colonel”) began communicating with Santa and radar sites in order to track Santa. A special phone line started receiving calls from children all over the country when Sears Roebuck accidentally made a mis-print in an ad about how to call Santa, routing the calls to Col. Shoup… the rest is history!

santa map

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San Francisco 49ers Tackle Drone Safety

Working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers are tackling the issue of unmanned aircraft safety. The team recently became the first professional sports franchise to record a video reminding fans – and everyone else – to abide by the laws covering personal drone use.

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Top Mobile Apps for Local Governance and Planners

A recent survey of planners by Planetizen looked at mobile app that enhance public participation in local governance and planning to improve efficiency and data collection for planners. A number of fine productivity tools were mentioned in the findings, many of them can possibly be useful to some of you I’m sure! From the results…  common apps mentioned include such apps as Todoist, Constant Contact, Mediafire, GoogleMapsDropboxArcGISGoToMeeting, and SlideShark, among others. Planners report regularly using Trulia and Zillow, which are helpful in finding information about properties.

social cyclist

Social Cyclist app for improving your community

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Report Shows Rapid and Widespread Adoption of Open Data By Governments #opengov

Socrata ( has announced the launch of the Socrata 2014 Open Data Benchmark Reportdesigned to measure and report public-sector use of open data in the United States.  The report reveals that an increasing number of public-sector organizations have embraced open data as a way to boost visibility into government decision-making and performance.

“This benchmark study clearly and dramatically confirms what we’ve been seeing during the past few years – open data adoption and usage is exploding in governments all over the world,” says Kevin Merritt, Founder and CEO of Socrata. “Open data has gone mainstream. It’s a viral movement that’s now unstoppable. And, as the lifeblood of connected global networks, it’s improving the lives of people on just about every continent.”

Source: Socrata

Socrata’s New 2014 Benchmark Report

Esri Connecting Citizens and business With Open Data

Recall it was in February (seems ages ago!) when Esri’s Andrew Turner (@ajturner) lifted the lid off the Esri Open Data initiative,  and effort to help Governments meet their mandate to be more transparent and serve the public with more open data – enter ArcGIS Open Data. I’m a huge fan of such efforts, mainly as they support Governent’s true mandate of serving the public and acting as the platform for innovation!

See more in this blog post from Esri

For all the deets direct from Esri see this resource devoted to ArcGIS Open data

Esri Story Map Shows Regions Most Impacted by Government Shutdown

Another fine, interactive story map from Esri…  Esri’s interactive Federal Government Shutdown map is available for the media to embed or share as part of ongoing government, economic, and political coverage. This map uses data from to show the 10 areas in the US that have the highest percentage of local wages going to federal workers. You can also explore demographic data from Esri that compares median household income and unemployment in these areas to the national average to better understand the local impacts of the federal government shutdown. Continue reading “Esri Story Map Shows Regions Most Impacted by Government Shutdown”

Government Shutdown Effect – Data.Gov is Closed, Sorry, Please Come Again!

Indeed the Federal Government shutdown in the US has affected many web sites and web services. Seems that all of the “non-essential” sites have been pretty much turned off with splash screens replaced to greet visitors… essentially meaning that not only are any sites updated (although most do have feeds from real-time sensors and the like) but the existing legacy data and information that was available (think and is also gone – obviously the reason being that there are no support workers or IT folks around to keep the sites humming along… Yes indeed, this also means that there are no data available to you from either! Oh, and the Whitehouse is also affected and as a result is no longer being updated

Note, if you are looking for the rare sites that are operational try and the NHCC (although the main NOAA page is closed) is closed - please come again!

The Complete List of What’s Affected by the US Government Shutdown #Furlough

There’s no doubt that many companies and many people that you know personally have been affected by the US Government shutdown.  Indeed there’s also many GeoTech professionals and those charged with managing Federal assets and lands with GIS and supporting technologies that are currently out of work.

US Government ShutdownBelow, find an overview of some of the government services and operations that will be impacted until Congress passes a budget to fund them again. For detailed information about specific activities at Federal agencies, please see federal government contingency plans.