TIL: GIS Cloud


Probably A Mammal
So last night in my spatial analysis class, we covered statistics ... very basic statistics. Since I finished my Python homework, I decided I'll just do some research! My database project this semester is going to focus on open source and web data interconnectivity. In this age, that means cloud computing. Next semester I'll probably try to offer some service like that when we set up ArcGIS servers. For now, I wanted to see what was on the market. Behold,

It's sort of hard to navigate their website to find their web API, but they offer REST and JavaScript API to access their tools. You find it by going to "Apps," and then going to "Web Map Portal" where they link to what that offers. THEN it finally links to their API which is an entirely different subdomain.

I actually found this from Google directly by porting through GitHub, but I went back to figure out where to find it on their website, and as I layout above, it isn't exactly easy to find! Nevertheless, check out their examples and demos.

The first thing I noticed, it was very fast. In fact, it was faster than Google and faster than running ArcGIS. I assume it is because the content is in the cloud. You request the information you need. It is cached on your system and in memory. Thus, unlike Google you don't need to download a bunch of information. You tailor it to exactly what you want to display. Unlike ArcGIS, you don't need the entire suite open. Thus, you're dealing with a minimal amount of content. Everything was snappy, easy to use, the JS is short and simple. I love it! I'll have to learn more about this and play with it later if I can.


TS Contributor
This is brilliant. Absolutely friggin' brilliant. I just uploaded a couple of my map layers to test this out, and you were right about how fast it was. This is a fantastic option for those who don't want to deal too much learning ArcGIS or the open-source versions (GRASS, SAGA, etc.) in order to accomplish simple tasks (creating maps of points, etc. or extracting information from those layers). I'm thoroughly impressed. Plus, it's good to reduce the workload on one's own computer as well.

Highly recommended thus far. I just sent an email to the company to inquire about pricing options.


Probably A Mammal
Cool. How did you use it? Is it free? I just ran across it last night and haven't played with it yet. I was absolutely impressed looking at their examples, though. My project this semester may make use of this, but I'm trying to keep to open source and free tools. I may not even use ArcGIS. If I have to do any desktop mapping, I'll use QGIS (which can interface with GRASS and maybe even SAGA I believe). I just never used them before. I think I'm going to give them a whirl this weekend. I don't think I'll even bother with the technical accuracy or clarity of an analysis. I just want to combine disparate data through various sources in a relatively automated way. As my web scraping example shows, I can grab and geocode data from a few lines of Linux shell commands in a uniform format not made for data transportation. I can access boundary files from Cal Atlas or the Census TIGER files through FTP and move them into any database. I think I'll keep a small data set I want on my own website and another in an SQLite DB. I'll store the larger data on my MS SQL ArcSDE server on campus. Then I can combine all three of these together in a way to cloud compute and present them for a local or distant audience. That's what I have in mind anyway :D


TS Contributor

I received two very nice replies from the GIS Cloud folks. They have a phone number that appears to be based in Croatia, though they have an HQ in London, it appears. From the parent company, Omnisdata (http://www.omnisdata.com/lang/en/):

"GIS Cloud is the first web based GIS, powered by cloud computing, that provides full desktop GIS features enriched with new web capabilities. It offers groundbreaking technology and game changing GIS business models through Software and Platform as a Service. It also eliminates upfront investment into high priced hardware and software, time waste on configuration and complex licensing. GIS Cloud enables you to do GIS with more cost efficiency and with more focus on the projects."
They seem to be very excited about having created the service, as evidenced by this line from their email to me. I don't think they'll have a problem with me posting it:

"I feel it could be really interesting experience as the way we have taken seems like the future of GIS. They will also have a chance to see latest innovation and technology in GIS with our HTML5 mapping engine that could render millions of features on the fly, some new tools in GIS, etc."
What the service includes:
  • 1.000.000 vector features
  • 5 GB raster storage
  • 100.000 public map views
  • 200.000 API calls

GIS Cloud subscription is $125 per user per month. Academic rates at 50% discount.


Probably A Mammal
Not bad for the service. Cheaper than Amazon Cloud services I believe, and there you'd have to design the GIS computations and API yourself! I'll definitely have to keep an eye on these people. I'll definitely make use of their services in the future.