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Civicaccess.ca is about liberating public data from public institutions and finding new ways to make these accessible and useful. So far we have been doing a good job talking about data access, some members on the list are doing some interesting work with postal code files and electoral boundaries, and some of us are writing on this blog to share new technologies, ideas, projects and issues. For the most part and so far cool technology and science examples are from the US and not many derive from home – Canada. Sigh! And alas this one is no different.

Everyscape is really interesting to me as it merges panoramic photographs and a building’s blueprint, a type of data and communication form I learned to draw and read in college, but is generally illegible/inaccessible to most not involved in building things. When I look at a blue print I see the 3 dimensions of a structure and its composition but it is hard to get a sense of space and the place. That’s why architects start with maquetes and sketches. Blue prints happen after that process to communicate to engineers, builders, and workmen (some workwomen) who will actualize the space. This software builds a 3d space from the plane views of the blue print – building’s map – and panoramic photos.

Within each photograph, a user can swivel through a full sphere of motion. To move users from within one panoramic photograph to the next, Everyscape’s servers estimate the locations of the cameras in each photograph and use that information to build sparse 3-D geometry that forms the building blocks for an animated 3-D transition.

The technology is not about getting somewhere it is about being somewhere. When I viewed the MIT hallway 3 MoK video, I was reminded of my architectural walking tours of old Chicago buildings, how my eye navigated the contours, paused at detail, moved through boring stuff quickly to get to a more interesting space.Everscape in MIT Technology Review

This may be a disruptive technology to the 3D viz scientists and 3d modeller geomaticians as google earth was to cartographers and GISers. Mostly though, I like the fact that it seems to make space and place data more accessible, usable, understandable and immersive. Hopefully there will be some interesting public applications!

This is an older post (May 2007) from Michael Geist, but well worth a read, regarding Canada’s National Science and Tech Strategy. He argues that opening up government-funded R&D data will result in more innovation. He has two specific recommendations:

  1. the government should identify the raw data under its control and set it free. Onerous licensing conditions are a hinderance to commercialization and accountability for taxpayer funded research.
  2. Federal research granting institutions should build open access requirements into their research mandates.

From the post:

I argue that maximizing the value of Canada’s investment in research requires far more than tax breaks and improved accountability mechanisms. Instead, government must rethink how publicly-funded scientific data and research results flow into the hands of researchers, businesses, and individuals.

Achieving that goal requires action on two fronts. First, the government should identify the raw, scientific data currently under its control and set it free. Implementing expensive or onerous licensing conditions for this publicly-funded data runs counter to the goals of commercialization and to government accountability for taxpayer expenditures….

Second, Ottawa must pressure the three federal research granting institutions to build open access requirements into their research mandates.


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