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Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

Mini-series on Korean words, part 3: Agglutinative language

Posted by smathermather on August 31, 2015

Short linguistics aside

For me, understanding a language, beyond a memorization of terms, is predicated on the idea that I understand something of the underlying logic to the language. So today, instead of a Korean word, we’ll talk about the term agglutinative. (bless you)

In short, what it means is that a language uses a lot of prefixes, stem words, and suffixes, and that these components of larger words don’t change their sound in order to be put together.

Let’s take some English words as a counter example. When we look at English numbering, we have this weird thing that happens in the teens. The first thing we notice, is that for numbers between 10 and 20, we call them teens not tens. English is not agglutinative, it is fusional. When prefixes and suffixes come into play, often (but not always) the sounds change. Think of thirteen (not three-ten or three-teen) vs. Fourteen.  Fifteen is another departure — we might expect five-teen.

And don’t even get me started on twenty (two tens), or thirty (three tens)… .

Korean Numerals

By contrast, Sino-Korean numerals are agglutinative.

FYI, in the Korean Language, there are two numbering systems: the native Korean system, and the Sino-Korean system. More on that another time.

So, if I say the number three (sam), the number ten (sheep), and the number three again (still sam), I get 33, or sam sheep sam: 삼십삼. If I want to say 13, that’s just sheep sam, or 십삼. You prefer the number 88? Well that’s 팔십팔, or pal sheep pal.

FYI, the proper romanization of the word 10 (십) is “sip”, but as the s sound in front of the long e sound is pronounced sh, we’ll just consider the whole process an homage to counting sheep. Somehow apropos given the nation is 13 time zones away from me… .


Posted in Conference, FOSS4G, FOSS4G, National Park, Other | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mini-series on Korean words, part 2: Land of Mountains and Sea

Posted by smathermather on August 30, 2015

A good logo is hard to come by. I love the logo of Korean National Park Service. It’s simple, beautiful, has elements of complexity to it, and makes a simple statement: land of mountains and sea. The mountains and the sea are sources of life in Korea, from the resources and farming found on the edge of the mountains, the peace found hiking and visiting temples in the mountains, to the resources and seafood found in the sea. More to the point with KNPS, many of the national parks lands are reserves of mountains or protected ocean.

Today we will look at the second word in our mini-series on Korean words (see the first here): the Korean word for mountain: san.

The Korean character 'san'

Look to the individual characters that make up the syllable, and we see ㅅ(s),ㅏ(ah),ㄴ(n). This is a simple enough word.

As Seoul is surrounded by mountains, you will encounter san as a syllable in many contexts. Take for example a mountain to the north of Seoul, Bukhan Mountain, or Bukhansan: 북한. This name mirrors one of the names of North Korea: Bukhan. Buk means north, Han is the river that flows through Seoul. So the full name is “Mountain north of the Han”.

Buhkansan 북한산 is also the name of the national park that contains the mountain it is named for.

If you visit Seoul for FOSS4G, I highly recommend a hike in the mountains. It’s a rare megacity and capital that contains a 30 square mile national park inside its boundary. If you do visit, I recommend doing so during the week — weekend visits are very busy.

Posted in Other, Conference, National Park, FOSS4G, FOSS4G | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Google Maps won’t help you much in Seoul…

Posted by smathermather on August 29, 2015

That could be my whole blog post. Just a PSA. Google Maps in Seoul is like Apple Maps was when they launched — dangerously inaccurate. *I don’t know what is helpful on iOS. I traveled last year with Android only, and my searches so far on iOS are coming up short.*

So what should you use? Anything OSM-based isn’t too bad. I really like OSMAnd. I haven’t done any deep analyses in this space, but OSMAnd has served me well. Also, you can record tracks, so if you see something wrong or out of date, OSMAnd will help you fix it in OpenStreetMap.

Icon for OSMAnd

I adore Seoul’s subway system. It’s considered one of the largest in the world,  ranks among the best, cleanest, etc.. Many stations are like 5 story malls that happen to have trains at the bottom; it’s really surreal. Oh, and for an English speaker it is not hard at all to navigate. Almost everything is in romanized characters / English + Korean, and the trains play nice sounding music as they approach.

It doesn’t hurt to have a good app, however. Subway Korea, though a little strange in interface is absolutely amazing once you use it. I say the interface is weird — it’s just transit graphic at a single static scale (it doesn’t change appearance as you zoom). But that graphic allows you to route between locations calculating train changes as necessary, let’s you optimize for time vs. number of train changes, and allows you to do routes by way of particular stops you may want to take on the way. It is great in large part because it’s designed with a deep understanding of how transit works and the kinds of questions people who don’t know the system need answers to. That’s a tall task. I can recall my first time navigating public transit in Boston, Cleveland, New York, DC, San Francisco, Portland, and Denver. Each of the above (even Portland!) was a little more difficult than Subway Korea and Seoul’s amazing wayfinding.

Icon for Subway Korea

Posted in Conference, Conferences, FOSS4G, FOSS4G Korea, Other | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

And I will fly ten thousand miles…

Posted by smathermather on July 22, 2015

Contemplating FOSS4G 2015, Seoul, South Korea | SEPTEMBER 14TH – 19TH, 2015, but don’t speak Korean? That’s ok. You will be treated oh so well even without Korean.

But…  if you want to show your hosts and hostesses a little care in return, maybe learn a little basic Korean. I highly recommend the sweetandtasty channel on YouTube, starting with the word “Love” or “sarang”. You’ll love the place, the people, and the food.


Posted in FOSS4G, FOSS4G2015 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

OpenDroneMap — Humanitarian uses of outputs

Posted by smathermather on January 12, 2015

OpenDroneMap Logo


In response to a recent query about OpenDroneMap, I’m writing a quick summary here, and then a brief write-up on how it could relate to humanitarian response / crisis mapping applications, as discussed in my Deep Dive session at International Conference of Crisis Mappers in New York, this past November.  Ahem. The summary:

OpenDroneMap: Open Source Toolkit for processing Civilian Drone Imagery

“OpenDroneMap is an Open Source Toolkit for processing Civilian Drone Imagery. As small unmanned aerial systems have dropped in price and become readily affordable, software for making meaningful geographic data from civilian drones has not. Until now.

“OpenDroneMap is fully Free and Open Source postprocessing tool for highly overlapping unreferenced imagery, turning unstructured data (simple photos) into structured geographic data such as colorized point clouds, digital surface models, textured digital surface models, and highly detailed orthophotography.

The project can be found at”

So, cool stuff. But what does that mean? What do we really get at the end of the day, so to speak, at least within the context of crisis response. To answer this question, I’ll divide this into two categories — goodies we get now and goodies we will get later as the project matures.

Products we get now from OpenDroneMap:

  1. Point Cloud
  2. Textured Mesh
  3. Up to 1-2cm (or so) orthophotos

What can we do with 2cm imagery in the crisis response context? My colleagues at ICCM addressed this question:

  • Structural Mapping
  • Logistics and Supply Planning
  • Count People — IDPs, Protests
  • Identify Equipment / Weaponry
  • Finding people (search and rescue)
  • Finding Animals (conservation)

Products we get later from OpenDroneMap (as the project matures and adds features):

As to future products from the toolchain we will derive the following:

  • 4cm Terrain / Surface Models
  • Off-Nadir Imagery

Again, drawing from the brainstorming at ICCM:

4cm Terrain / Surface Models yield us:

  • Off-road route planning
  • Hydrology / innundation estimation
  • Damage assessment — rubble volume estimation
  • Agricultural Planning

Off-Nadir Imagery:

  • Forensics
  • Damage Assessment (useful for building especially which often won’t show damage on roof)
  • Context for video footage


The UAViators site lists the following (complementary and otherwise related to the above) uses of UAVs to support humanitarian efforts:

Together, these teams work collaborate to facilitate various uses of UAVs to support humanitarian efforts. These include:   

  • Rapid assessment of disaster damage to building infrastructure
  • Rapid assessment of powerlines and other electricity infrastructure
  • Identify usable roads and transportation infrastructure
  • Identify useful areas for humantiarians to set up base camp
  • Aerial support for road clearance activities
  • Estimate population displacement
  • Identify temporary shelters
  • Identify best locations to set up new temporary shelters
  • Survey impact of disaster on agriculture, farmland
  • Search and Rescue
  • Identifying whether radio transmitters/comms on the ground still work

Posted in 3D, Bundler, Camera Calibration, Conference, FOSS4G 2014, Image Processing, International Conference of Crisis Mappers, OpenDroneMap, Optics, Photogrammetry, PMVS | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

OpenDroneMap — Orthophotos and Textured Mesh

Posted by smathermather on December 22, 2014

Textured mesh of Langley Dataset from Aaron Racicot

Textured mesh of Langley Dataset from Aaron Racicot

Good news to report, though I haven’t finished my own testing yet… but OpenDroneMap, which previously would just create point clouds from drone images, now also produces:

  1. Meshes!
  2. Textured meshes!
  3. Georeferenced textured meshes (if the exif data has geographic coordinates)
  4. Georeferenced orthophotos! (if the exif data has geographic coordinates)

Now, I’d like those ifs to go away, but that requires a bit of thoughtful interface work. In the mean time, give it a whirl on your data.

Work left to do:

  • Refine processing chain
  • Allow for input of GCPs for images without GPS in their exif
  • Blending / brightness correction, etc. of input images
  • Digital surface model output

See this branch on github for the whole package : A special thanks to Spotscale ( for undertaking and executing this work.

(Just integrated with the main branch January 20, 2015)

These are Spotscale’s screenshots. I’m re-running on my own test machine for validation as we speak (so to speak):

Textured mesh of Seneca test dataset (flown by Fred Judson and others of ODOT with Sensefly Swinglet). Ignore curves-- they are all in the no-data areas.

Textured mesh of Seneca test dataset (flown by Fred Judson and others of ODOT with Sensefly Swinglet). Ignore curves– they are all in the no-data areas.


Orthophoto of Seneca test dataset (flown by Fred Judson and others of ODOT with Sensefly Swinglet).


Posted in 3D, Bundler, Camera Calibration, Conference, FOSS4G, FOSS4G 2014, Image Processing, OpenDroneMap, Optics, Photogrammetry, PMVS | 3 Comments »

Korean and Hangul

Posted by smathermather on December 10, 2014

As I am contemplating FOSS4G 2015 (save the date! Seoul, South Korea | SEPTEMBER 14TH – 19TH, 2015) I contemplate what it means to be functionally illiterate for the first time in 30 years.

You see, when, if you are an American born, English and Spanish (kinda) speaking guy and you get dropped into East Asia, there is no alphabet for you to rely on for even the slightest clue about street signs and restaurant names, and everything else.

Now, to be fair, my experience in Seoul this year was not too bad — many signs are written both in English and Korean. But, as I encourage the FOSS4G world to descend upon Korea (especially prompting the Europeans and Americans to go out of their comfort zone a little), I highly encourage a little study of Hangul, the phonetic alphabet of Korea.

Hangul is pretty easy to learn, it’s phonetic (unlike if you try to read Japanese or Chinese), and it will serve you well to study it even a little bit, so you can recognize patterns.


So, learn some hangul, save the date, and I hope to see you there.

Posted in FOSS4G, FOSS4G2015 | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

And I will fly ten thousand miles…

Posted by smathermather on December 7, 2014

Contemplating FOSS4G 2015, Seoul, South Korea | SEPTEMBER 14TH – 19TH, 2015. It’s only 18 cents a mile to get there from Cleveland, but only 0.11 dollars a kilometer, because the metric system is more economical.

If you need inspiration for your own travels to Korea, Mr. Sanghee Shin has that for you. He starts with technology, food, arts, culture, economic potential, but also solicits your love of booze as incentives to go. I think he might know his audience.

Posted in FOSS4G, FOSS4G2015 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

ICCM — International Conference of Crisis Mappers

Posted by smathermather on November 9, 2014

Screen shot of Crisis Mappers landing page

Screen shot of Crisis Mappers landing page

The mark of a great conference is one that not only is well run and orchestrated, interesting from a content perspective, and full of bright minds, but also one that experiments with elements of interactions to maximize the value delivered to attendees. By these measures, the International Conference of Crisis Mappers (ICCM) succeeds. Normally, I struggle with the call to attend sessions vs. the conference hallway conversations which can be of such great value. ICCM provided enough context and structure for enjoying both, plus a number of other participatory structures in which to interact with and learn from other ICCM attendees.

For attending ICCM, I had plans to only hallway chat about, in order to get a measure of the culture and needs, and also of the interest for such a project from digital humanitarians in an effort to get enough interest to begin to garnish users and contributors. Thanks to some last minute slots opening up, and on the kind recommendation of Jen Ziemke, I was able to show OpenDroneMap at the Tech & Analysis Fair at Google at the start of the conference and also do a well attended deep dive session on Saturday. In each, I got great questions and recommendations, did a brainstorming session on use in the deep dive session, and had a thoroughly great time.

More later, but I will end with this — if you like technology, have empathy and a desire to apply empathetic design, development, and sweat equity to humanitarian needs, then get signed up at, become a participant in HOT, join the Standby Task Force, and / or all the other work done by digital humanitarians, and make your way to Boston next year for the next ICCM.

Bravo, all.

Posted in 3D, International Conference of Crisis Mappers, OpenDroneMap | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Public Sector GIS done extraordinarily well

Posted by smathermather on September 28, 2014

Today I’ll highlight the work of Photo of Mr. Yu, B.J. Jang, and Stephen Mather at Smart GeoSpatial Expo 2014Mr. Byeong-Hyeok Yu, one of two GIS people at Korea National Park Service (KNPS). The other GIS person is (if memory serves) in the research branch of that institution.

I’ll highlight a few of Mr. Yu’s projects. To start with, we have the classic natural resource management projects — you remember — those analyses that you did in your college GIS programs that were the promise of what was to come, what you were to do in a career of GIS? Ya. He gets to do those for his real job.endangered_species_mapping

In fairness, based on all he does, I suspect he doesn’t sleep many hours each night.

What else though — that is what you’d hope a parks GIS guy would do. Mr. Yu has piloted KNPS’s drone program, flying a variety of sites which require high resolution aerial imagery with 8 rotor UAS’s.


One of the great gaps in understanding natural resource management is getting both synoptic and detailed spatially explicit information. Drones promise to do both in projects from a few acres to adrones1

few square miles. It’s really refreshing to see KNPS leading the way in this category.


There are just two more projects I want to touch on. The first, like drones, is address the question of how do we, as managers of parks, steward high resolution info, in this case both for operations and park users. To this end, Mr. Yu has a small army of park rangers wandering around with backpack camera units mapping out trail view (like streetview) imagery for Naver Daum, (one of Korea’s Google equivalents). I like projects like this, as they leverage existing work within the organization (a small army of park rangers hiking the trails of KNPS and interacting with and helping visitors), and external partnership, in this case Naver to achieve an exceedingly useful product that has the following benefits: documentation of the state KNPS trail system (these data become historical some day), addresses recreational needs and questions of the public, and likely aids in operational and planning questions that would be difficult to address otherwise. (As a side note, for application in the US, I’d be interested in the licensing of the resultant data — I’m an advocate of such data being as liberally licensed as possible, something difficult to accomplish with some of our native tech giants).

OK.  One last project. My organization has been working for a few years on really great online mapping products to ensure that we engage people on the platforms that they occupy, i.e. the physical world, and that embodied in their phone. It is a project of which I am most proud. Not surprisingly, I’m going to steal some ideas from KNPS equivalent. Many ideas, actually… . Mr. Yu has initiated something similar (and in usual fashion, of highest quality) in rolling KNPS native trails app (shown here on a Samsung phone :)


This app serves two purposes.

The first is that engagement piece I reference above — the app is an exercise in how to use the smart phone as a platform for engaging, educating, and making comfortable park users.

The second purpose is simple. The app becomes a tool for connecting injured hikers with rescue personnel. To this end, it has already been used twice.


So. Is this public sector GIS as you think of it? Bravo Mr. Yu. For the record, Mr. Byeong-Hyeok Yu has been in his position 3 Years.

Posted in FOSS4G Korea | Tagged: | 3 Comments »


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