The LAS format - introduced in 2004 by the ASPRS - has become the de-facto international standard for storing and exchanging point data acquired by airborne LIDAR scanners. It has wide acceptance and can be read and written by almost any LIDAR processing software. There now exist Exabytes of LIDAR that can easily be exchanged via the LAS format thanks to the foresight of the ASPRS in creating this standard. However, these accomplishments will be blemished by a broken LAS 1.4 specification that - if ratified - will crash software and corrupt data.
GIS has its roots in what a geographer or cartographer might call “small-scale” information, information primarily related to issues of land management and the environment. In the early days, there were many competing acronyms for what is now known as GIS, such as Land Information Systems (LIS), and Facility Information or Facility Management Systems (FMS). As people began to realize that all of these different concepts were based on a common set of underlying capabilities (e.g. the ability to represent, manage, and visualize 2D geometry), these other terms came to describe various types of GIS applications, a situation which continues today.
The concept of geolocation privacy is now receiving a good deal of attention in the United States. For example, nine bills are being considered on Capitol Hill that would would regulate the collection, use and/or transfer of geolocation information. Many of the bills include geolocation as part of larger privacy bills and treat an individual's geolocation information the same as an individual's social security number or financial records. While protecting geolocation privacy is certainly an important issue, any legislation should take into account some important aspects of geolocation information that makes it different than other types of ‘sensitive information’ that is generally protected for privacy reasons.
Not that long ago, I considered “web mapping” an advanced topic, best left to be taught in a senior GIS course. While that can still be the case, depending on how it is defined, the fact is that creating a map of your own data on a web page has become something anyone can do in a matter of minutes. I was struck by how useful this would be for my introductory GIS course to quickly get students’ attention, establish the relevance of what they would be learning, and promote discussion of several topics that would be covered in the course, including data input, map design, coordinate systems, projections, and interpretation and analysis of geographic data.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is replacing Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) as the tool in which building designs are created. BIM is a graphic and data model of a building prepared by designers, enhanced by builders, and can be used by owners. BIM enables all parties involved in a project to communicate in a more collaborative manner, develop useful information sooner about a project, reduce errors, and shorten project delivery times.