March 2015
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Geospatial LA visit to the LA County Public Library Map Collection

Geospatial LA  has arranged a tour of the LA County Public Library Map Collection with LAPL map librarian Glen Creason, with drinks and GIS shop talk to follow.

There are a few cool things to check out at the Map Collection (see this link), but I am excited to hear about the John Feathers Map Collection, which doubled the size of LAPL’s collection in one donation in 2012.

Check out CurbedLA’s article at this link: The Story of the Incredible Mt. Washington Map Trove

And check out this video:


Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

5:30 – 6:30


LA Central Library

Microsoft Power Map – not quite GIS, but pretty cool

powermapExcel is an awesome tool – I use it a lot for data integrity, data entry, etc.  Microsoft has enabled some data visualization inside of Excel.  It’s not GIS, but it’s pretty cool.  Of course you can’t actually get XY coordinates from their geocoding engine, but it can be useful.  It’s a 3D engine, which has plusses and minuses.

Here is Microsoft’s intro:

Microsoft Power Map for Excel is a three-dimensional (3-D) data visualization tool for Microsoft Excel 2013 which provides a powerful method for people to look at information in new ways. It enables the data discoveries that might not be seen in traditional two-dimensional (2-D) tables and charts. With Power Map you can plot geographic and temporal data visually, analyze that data on a 3-D globe and over time, and create visual tours to share with others.

Fred Dominguez passed along the instructions for it.  Here they are: Started-with-Power-Map-Preview

Blank areas in caches – how to avoid 404 areas

blank_tilesThis was passed along to me by Yoko Myers, one of our crack analysts.  As we developed our map caches, we did not want to spend time caching the entire area of the map service (for example the water areas between the mainland and Catalina Island) so we generally use the actual county boundary as our area of interest for caching.

Apparently this causes ArcGIS Server, when serving tiles, to spit out 404 errors (basically telling the client that the information is missing).  As we GIS people know, sometimes NULL values are actually valid, so a 404 error isn’t correct.

I didn’t know about a workaround, but Yoko gave me a trick I didn’t know about.  Create a blank image file called “missing.png” or “blank.png” – ArcGIS server will automatically replace blank tiles with this tile instead.

CA GIS Council Agenda for April 6th, 2015

Hello everyone,

The next meeting of the California GIS Council is April 6th from 1-3 PM.  If you are in Southern California you can join us at my office, otherwise there will be an online meeting option as well.  The CA GIS council is the primary forum for enabling GIS across the state, providing feedback about critical GIS issues, and helping to drive GIS forward in California.  I recommend that, if you can, you attend!

Please find the agenda for the April 6th meeting of the California GIS Council attached. CA GIS Council Meeting Agenda (April 6th 2015)

We will be going through the changes to the Council charter (California GIS Council Charter – Adopted January 7th, 2015), the new website and communication tools, and how we plan to fill the executive committee.

Guest Lecture at Pasadena City College


GeoTech PCC Guest Lecture Series Spring 2015

Thursday, April 2 from 7-9pm

Pasadena City College, Room E220



  • 7-8 PM Jonathan Robinson (City of Pasadena) – An Evening with City of Pasadena GIS
  • 8-9 PM Chandler Sterling (City of Pasadena and MaptimeLA) – Anatomy of a Web Map
  • RSVP at

Enterprise GIS Committee – Agenda for March 17th 2015

Please find the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting here: eGIS meeting notice and Agenda – March 2015

We will have a couple of GIS demonstrations that I look forward to:  One from Regional Planning, and one from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).


It’s About Time: University of Redlands Integrates High-Tech Mapping Throughout Curriculum

Hmmm, should we think about inviting them to GIS Day?

For the first time, geographic information system technology is extending into traditionally non-technological majors at the California university, where information of all sorts is merged and analyzed with computerized maps.

(Tribune News Service) — The reach of geographic information system technology extends across Redlands, the home of Esri, a supplier of GIS software and services.

But for the first time now, it’s extending into traditionally non-technological majors at the University of Redlands, where information of all sorts is merged and analyzed with computerized maps.

The university wants to “fuse spatial thinking throughout the curriculum,” said Steven Moore, the director of the university’s Center for Spatial Studies, which was founded last year.

“Digital data is becoming such a ubiquitous part of our lives,” Moore said. “We think it’s a key part of literacy.”

The university’s faculty seems to be jumping at the opportunities provided by the center:

“A couple of years ago, it was only in environmental science, but last year, it really stated to get baked into other departments,” Lisa Benvenuti, spatial resource manager with the center.

By providing experts to help create or customize the tools they need, the University has seen more faculty taking advantage of the technology, across a wide variety of disciplines. Redlands faculty has incorporated the technology into coursework in the humanities, business, education and, of course, the sciences.

“Yesterday, we had a new biology professor come in,” Benvenuti said. “He wants to build an app — he’s an entomologist.”

Already, spatial studies is the most popular minor at the university, according to Moore.

“If there was a major in GIS, that’s what I would have done,” said environmental science senior Jason Berney, 22, of Portland.

In an era when nearly everyone has access to live updating traffic maps on cellphones, the more advanced GIS skills being learned by Redlands students are in high demand, according to Lucas Wilgers, 22, a senior in environmental science from Palm Desert.

“When I (interned) at the Nature Conservancy, they said they liked getting Redlands kids, because they had that GIS knowledge,” he said.

Beyond just collecting data in the field that’s automatically imported into maps — which Redlands students have done when tracking threatened wildlife, following the travels of Holocaust survivors and looking at the distribution of California’s native tribes — students also learn to present the data in ways that allows deep analysis and reveals sometimes-hidden relationships.

“I think that’s really essential,” Emily Irish, 22, a senior in environmental studies and graphic design from Seattle. “Being able to pull up a story map really helps.”

The center’s resources are being made available to all aspects of the campus, including the alumni association, disaster management and personnel management.

“The goal is to be able to be a support group, like the library,” Moore said. “An essential part of the school.”

©2015 the San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, Calif.) Dristibuted by Tribune Content Agency

Recent Changes to California’s Offshore Boundary

Last week, American Surveyor published an article regarding a recent United States Supreme Court decree that changed how California’s offshore boundary is defined.

For many years, the boundary between California’s and United States federal offshore territory was ‘ambulatory’, meaning its location was controlled by a coastline that moved, subject to natural erosion and accretion. More specifically, this line was defined as three geographical miles seaward from the line of mean lower low water per 382 U.S. 448, 1966. On December 15, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court decree made this offshore boundary fixed (non-ambulatory) per a legal description in UTM coordinates.

For anyone studying Land Surveying, Boundary Law, Littoral Rights, or GIS Boundary Mapping, this article cites numerous historical cases and provides useful insight on some potentially controversial legal precedents.

PS – We owe sincere thanks to Dr. Fareed Nader at CSU Fresno’s Geomatics Engineering program for bringing this to our attention, and to Mr. Pallamary for the article.


GIS Case Study – LA County Regional Storm Drain System

Department of Public Works (DPW)

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Problem: Los Angeles County’s urbanization took place in a region prone to periodic droughts and flooding.  Designed to protect life and property from flooding caused by major storm events, a drainage infrastructure of debris basins, catch basins, inlet structures, underground storm drains, and channels was built in the County by local, state, and federal governmental agencies, such as Los Angeles County Flood Control District (LACFCD), cities, Caltrans, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.  The LACFCD alone owns and/or maintains approximately 3,800 miles of storm drains, 500 miles of open channels, and over 80,000 catch basins.  The operation and maintenance, as well as improvement planning for the countywide drainage system resulted in extensive labor costs due to the high frequency of locating, retrieving, and reviewing old maps and drawings as well as cross-checking multiple databases by staff in several jurisdictions.  Unnecessary redundancy, duplication of efforts, and errors were inherent in a system that was often based on paper drawings stored in separate field offices.
Solution:The Storm Drain System (SDS) is a Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping project with the purpose of collecting information on extensive and disparate drainage infrastructure (such as geographic location, design specifications, maintenance responsibility, ownership, flow rate, and flow direction) and integrating it into an efficient seamless countywide GIS network model as well as web-based and mobile applications for a more efficient operation and maintenance, planning and free public access.  Users can access LACFCD design drawings and right of way maps through the system.  Though links are provided for downloading data, users are encouraged to visit the Storm Drain System page on the Los Angeles County GIS Data Portal, which provides additional information about the downloads.
Summary:For many years, a storm drain GIS system of this scale and detail was a mere vision.  The project began in 2004, when the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County needed to satisfy an environmental consent decree. In 2008, Public Works selected a GIS editing team to complete the network schema and map the remaining LACFCD-owned or maintained infrastructure and populate the attributes.Though still considered a work in progress, numerous benefits are being realized.  Detailed facility information is already helping field crews realize substantial savings due to reductions in operation and maintenance labor hours and inquiries from the public.  Also, customers can easily apply for permits to connect their drainage systems to the LACFCD-maintained infrastructure and Public Works is better able to plan and carry out the periodic catch basin cleanout activities.
Contact:  Thierno Diallo, PE ( – (626) 458-6920



GIS Tutorial for Health – March 7th, 2015

charles_drew_gisThe Charles Drew Medical GIS laboratory is pleased to announce the CDU GIS Workshop series in GISc and Health. In these trainings, the CDU GIS Lab director, Paul Robinson, PhD and his team will open up their research lab for intensive training in the use of GISc in Public Health and Medicine. The workshop includes a GIS Health Tutorial Book with 180-day free trial ArcGIS software.

Sliding fees to participate:

  • CDU Students $150
  • Other Students $200
  • CDU Staff $250
  • CDU Faculty $350
  • All Others $450

Click here to download the flyer