Google Buys Smart Travel Guide Start-up Jetpac
Google has bought the travel app startup Jetpac which managed to perfectly combine location and image recognition. Jetpac analyzes location-based images from Instagram using neural networks to match up types of people with locations. This allowed Jetpac to create unique city guides which identify places in a city most frequently visited by various personalities: pet lovers, foodies, business travelers, students, etc. Jetpac CEO Julian Green explained to concept of the app:
You can now search for places to go to in the way that you naturally visualize it, rather than reading through an amenities list or parsing text reviews. People use it to quickly get a sense of a place and the people who go there – photos don’t lie.
So basically speaking “a picture is worth a thousand words”. I totally agree. The question is why Google needs Jetpac? First of all Google has been already experimenting with travel guides apps. Do you remember Field Trip app by Google from 2012? No…? This is why they need Jetpac – to create some really cool city guides which could add another layer on the top of Google Maps.
But that’s not everything. Remember that Google earns over 95% of it’s revenues ($50 bln in 2013) from advertising… Companies including Pinterest and Tumblr are openly admitting to run brand recognition projects using images uploaded by its users. Will Google do the same? We’ll see but imagine what can be done with real-time image recognition and Google Glass… Fascinating and scary.
Learning GIS programming: An overview
As Geospatial professionals/graduates/students, some of us overlook the importance of programming in our careers. Some of us believe that our spatial skill sets are niche enough to compensate for the lack of our programming expertise. Well that might not be totally wrong. However, knowledge of programming is most certainly going to open up a whole new array of possibilities! It might be a good idea to have a look at recent job postings in the Geospatial industry to get an overview of the requirements 🙂
So which language(s) should you be learning to excel in the Geospatial industry? Here’s an overview of programming languages that are widely used in the Geospatial industry.
Overview of Programming languages for GIS
Java: Java is one of the most commonly taught programming language in universities and many Geospatial solutions like GeoServer and GeoTools are written using Java and is certainly one of the most popular languages among Open Source GIS developers.
C++: A vast majority of the software we use is written using C++. Most companies still prefer to develop applications using C++ due to this very reason. In fact, GRASS GIS, QGIS and many other GIS software were written using C++ (and python). Most GPS receivers have their firmwares written in C++. If you are look at Geospatial industry as a whole, C++ is a certainly good language to know.
SQL: GIS is incomplete without a database and SQL is a arguably the most famous database access and management language. Most databases have their own additional SQL extensions but the syntax for common tasks is standard. It is definitely worth spending sometime to learn at least the basics of SQL.
Python: Very popular with Geospatial professionals working in the ESRI environment and is considered as the primary scripting language for ArcGIS. Python is a great “integrator” and is fairly easy to work with and is sometimes regarded as more of a scripting language but that debate is still raging.
There are a many more programming languages like C, C#, Visual Basic.NET, Flex, ActionScript, PHP, VBA for ArcObjects, etc that are being used in the Geospatial industry. If you want a complete overview of all the languages used in GIS programming, have a look at this link (Penn State – Geography Department).
Python for ArcGIS: Really useful article on resources for learning to use python for ArcGIS.
Geospatial for Java by GeoTools: A good platform to begin your Java adventures.
Learn C++: This is just one of the many tutorials out there for C++. It might be a good idea to start your journey side by side with some examples from GEOS. Here’s an OpencourseWare on C++ by University of Southern Queensland.
Coursera MOOC on Algorithms (starts September 5th, 2014). Fundamentals of algorithms will definitely come in handy.
Of course, people have different opinions on what makes a good programmer and what is the best way to learn programming. In my experience, I always found it engaging to build something and learn the language on the way rather than just follow a tutorial to the T. Learning GIS Programming or programming for GIS is without any arguments, a great addition to your resume as a Geospatial professional.
Please leave a comment with links to your favorite tutorials/resources to learn a particular programming language. It would be awesome if you shared your experiences regarding programming in the Geospatial industry as well 🙂 Looking forward to all your comments/experiences!