Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pennsic Map

This has been one of my back burner projects for a long time.  I've been doing A LOT of ArcGIS Online maps for my day job lately.  Figured it was about time to get this one done before we head off to Pennsic 44 this year.

I downloaded the overlap map from the Pennsic War site today, 7/23/15.  The map image is from last year, Pennsic XLIII (43; 2014).  It was made by "Aakin".  I don't know Aakin, but would like to thank him for his excellent map.  I hope he doesn't mind me georeferencing and loading it up to ArcGIS Online for all to use and admire.  I'll ask around Pennsic when I get there.  Hopefully he'll be there.

Also, Cooper's Lake Campground has had a lot of rain this year and have had to close some camping blocks.  Here is a link to the Facebook post.  Check the Facebook page for the latest updates.

View larger map

If you would like to save a direct connection to this map on your iOS device, read this post to see how:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"[It's] not dead."

Apparently the SCA Board of Directors had a meeting recently:

I was quite surprised to read the Society Seneschal's comment, "The Known World map project is running into issues because of problems with zip code reporting."

I can't believe it has already been a year since I last worked on this project.  Over the summer, at Pennsic, I got to show Master Phillip Reed, Society Seneschal, the project on my iPhone.  He was super excited about it.

Now that I have stepped-down as the Seneschal of my local branch (Chapter President), maybe I'll finally have time to jump back on this project.  It was really interesting and fun.

Also, I don't know if I mentioned it previously or not, but I have stepped-up as the East Kingdom Postal Legatus (Keeper of the Kingdom postal codes.  Also, interestingly, an office created by Master Phillip when he was East Kingdom Seneschal.)  That's been an interesting job too.

Anyway, "I feel happy!"

Monday, January 6, 2014

First Draft of SCA Kingdoms of the Eastern US & Canada Interactive Map

Woohoo! The first draft of SCA Kingdoms of the Eastern US and Canada Interactive Map is done! (See the link to the right.)  Conceptually, this hasn't been the most difficult project to work on, but in practice, well, that's a story in itself.  Let's just say it was much more challenging and tedious than expected.  Anyway, the data have been uploaded, maps made, and results shared!  Huzzah! Now for the next steps.

So I worked on the project on and off over the past few months, but decided to finish it over the holidays, sans SCA events and work.  The last bit was to consolidate or dissolve ZIP/FSA (postal) codes (areas) to the local groups and add website and Facebook URLs.  It also took a bit of work to add in the coastal buffers (to minimize the complex geometry and maximize website performance).  It's at this point, I was feeling done with it.  "But wait, there's more!"

A few things needed to happen in order to share the mapping results.  First, the data needed to be uploaded to the ArcGIS Online website.  Without getting too detailed, there is a very specific method for uploading the data in a way that maps can be made.  From here, each map layer is configured for visibility, symbology, and pop-up information.  It's pretty quick once you've worked out the details of the process.  I also learned that these configurations can be saved as layers and reused in other online maps.  The process was repeated for each kingdom then compiled using the layer files in the SCA Kingdoms of the Eastern US and Canada Interactive Map.  Once all of this information was made public, I embedded the HTML code into the blog page, wrote an FAQ, and started to share the good word.  I finally have time to write about it.  =)

As I've shared the information with the other team members, I'm coming to realize what's next. At some point we'll need to consolidate our map information as well as prepare for the initial round of updates.  Hopefully edge-matching Kingdoms will go pretty well, but there will probably be some editing.  The updates should be interesting.  As far as I know, branch seneschals are responsible for maintaining the complete list of postal codes for their branch.  The problem is postal codes, and seneschals, change over time.  As new neighborhoods get built, postal routes change.  Often new ones are added and occasionally old ones are removed due to shrinking populations in rural areas.  Not to mention, changes in post office box locations and newly opened/closed businesses that get their own ZIP code (i.e. large corporations).  It's likely seneschals don't check or have the means to look for postal code changes in their areas.  While working on the project I also noted that many groups define their boarders based on counties, not postal codes.  This is problematic because postal codes can have more area outside their target county than in it.  In other cases, I found unclaimed postal codes.  Sometimes it's obvious which group a postal code belongs to, but not always.  I labelled them "Crown Lands" until branches and Kingdoms decide where to allocate them.  Needless to say, there will be corrections.  And as a by-product of this project, each Kingdom will get a complete list of regions, primary branches, subsidiary branches, and URLs for websites and Facebook pages.

This is certainly a big project. To date, I think I've put in 50 to 60 hours.  It hasn't been terribly difficult, just tedious organizing, sorting, standardizing, and configuring it all.  Database and GIS people are crazy.  ;-)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Posters, Events, and Progress

OK, OK. I haven't posted anything in a month, but I have been working on this project! Really! I've made posters and displayed them at events to get the word out and cut regions into the Kingdom polygons. With the deadline of December 31, 2013 looming, I'm focusing on mapping kingdom branches.

There was an East Kingdom Service University on November 23, 2013 in Concord, NH (  There were some great classes and I wanted to lead a round-table discussion on SCA recruitment (or "talent scouting") with Sir Kyppyn Kirkcaldy.  As far as I know, there haven't been too many Service Universities over the years, so I figured this would be a good venue for some posters.

The first poster was one I made for The Fort Knox Medieval Tournament in September, which is an SCA public demonstration hosted by the Barony of Endewearde at Fort Knox in Bucksport, ME.  Over the years, I've come to realize that people from all over Maine visit the Fort and see our demo.  Some want to know if there is an SCA group where they live. What a great opportunity for a map!  I collected contact information from each of the groups (including groups just getting started) in Maine and made a QR code for their website or social media page.  I need to work on a few things, but it turned out pretty well.  My goal is to print more of these and share them with the other groups so that we can all benefit from them at other SCA demos.  I'll be elated if anyone pulls out a smart phone, scans the QR code, and contacts the local representative.  Fingers-crossed!

The next poster was for the SCA Known World Mapping Project.  Because the East Kingdom is mostly mapped, I used it as a proof of concept.  It show the extent of the East Kingdom, the regions and Principality of Tir Mara, and the local branches.  It introduces the project team, goals, progress, the smart phone/tablet app, and this blog.  I kept the "WGS 1984 Web Mercator Auxiliary Sphere" projection in the three main maps, which I should probably change.  It makes Canada look HUGE and the rest of the Kingdom tiny.  Labeling the state-side branches was a bit of a challenge and later discovered that a couple didn't get labeled.  Oops.  All-in-all, it's a good start.  I even saw a slight bump in blog views!

The maps are taped down to foam-core, poster board which I left in the trunk of my car after the Service University.  I brought them to our fighting and fencing practice the following Sunday, where my daughter is a youth fencer.  Mistress Mercedes, EK Seneschal & New Groups person, was there and had a question about the location of a group.  I brought the Known World Mapping Project map of the East Kingdom in and she quickly discovered that it would make sense for a certain incipient group to be part of the Central Region instead of the Southern Region.  Maps can certainly help make informed decisions!

Both maps have since made trips to the Herne the Hunter event in the Barony of Ruantallan (Halifax, NS) and the Barony of Endewearde holiday revel.  The feedback has been positive and suggestions for improvement or corrections have been made.  I certainly appreciate the interest and cooperation.

Cutting the Kingdom regions into a copy of the Kingdom polygons was pretty easy.  From what I can tell, Trimaris doesn't use regions, Meridies and goes by state boarders, Atlantia, AEthelmearc, and the East use state/country boundaries and branch divisions.  There were a few hiccups along the way for unaccounted ZIP/ZCTAs codes, but they are mostly figured out.  I hope to post that map data shortly.

The big hurdle is corroborating ZIP code lists by the Kingdoms to the ZCTAs.  So far I have found orphaned ZCTAs and a few claimed by more than one group.   There are also questions based on published maps compared to what the Kingdom list/mapped ZCTAs are showing.  I suspect one is more current than the other.  I think there is going to be a beta period to work out the errors.  Once this is done, I'm sure the Kingdoms will appreciated updated ZIP code lists for their local branches.  It's easy to see that this project is going to take a bit of work to keep it updated.  (Let's worry about that later...).

That's it for now.  The work continues!  =)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Progress Report for Friday, 11/8/13

Over the last week or so, I've had a chance to consider the data structure, start looking at linking tabular data to spatial data, think about deadlines, and add a ZIP code basemap to my EK demo map. Here's where we're at to date:

There are 5 people working on this project, so naturally, we'll have 5 methods for getting to our goal. It was agreed we wanted an interactive map that would make it easy to find which SCA branch a particular ZIP/FSA code fell into. One way would be to simply assign a branch to a ZIP/FSA code and show it on a map. That's fine in a desktop software application, but we also want to serve it up in a map on the internet. The limitations here are file size, the number of features (records in the table), and complexity of the geometry. Basically, we can't upload all of the ZIP/FSA codes to the website and expect the back-end servers to render that much data. We have to dumb it down a bit. This means dissolving the ZIP/FSA codes to the branches. Then, if we want to zoom out to see Kingdoms, zoom halfway to see regions, or zoom in further past Baronies & Shires to see cantons, ridings, colleges, ports, or stongholds, that has to be in the dataset as well. We can dissolve the ZIP/FSA polygons to each level. That means there will be a Kingdom level, regional level (Principalities or groups of branches for those kingdoms that have them), a Barony/Province/Shire level, and a canton/riding/college/port/stonghold level. Breaking the ZIP/FSA codes down this way means that at a minimum, the table must have these four columns. The added benefit is that we can show which local levels belong to which parent levels. OK, so I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, but it seems logical to me. (Another complication will be islands and coastlines, but I'll get to that later.)

So now that I have spreadsheets of branches by ZIP/FSA codes, I'll need to link them to the corresponding ZIP/FSA polygons. Linking the data based on ZIP/FSA codes is pretty easy, it's the clean-up that stinks. There will undoubtedly be orphaned ZIP codes because the polygons are ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs). ZCTAs are ZIP codes used by the U.S. Census Bureau. You can read more about ZCTAs at this website:  Anyway, there are more ZIP Codes than ZCTAs.  Also, ZIP Codes get added and deleted all the time, so we're bound to find some that local Seneschal's missed or are legitimately "Crown Lands" unclaimed by local branches.  This clean-up will probably be the most time consuming part.

With so much work to do, knowing timelines and deadlines will help.  Most of the SCA Known World Mapping Team will be discussing this Saturday evening (11/9/13).  One deadline mentioned so far was by the end of the year.  That's about seven weeks from today.  Seems reasonable (I hope).

Finally, there has been this idea that we would want to see the ZIP (ZCTAs) code boundaries.  Luckily ESRI has done this work for us!  I'm not sure how they did it, but the layer can be added to the map and rendered the way we want to see it.  I've added another page to the blog called, "SCA EK Branches with ZIP Code Basemap".  If you zoom down to the local branch level, you'll see the ZIP code polygons.  Pretty neat!  I'd still prefer to enter a ZIP code and search/zoom to it though.

This project is still a work in progress, but a labor of love.  I'm excited for people to use it.  =)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Embedded Maps

Out of the blue this morning, it occurred to me that it's possible to embed ArcGIS Online maps in websites and Blogger allows you to create additional pages and view the HTML code in the editor.  Putting the two together, you'll notice a "Pages" section to the left and a link to "SCA East Kingdom Branches Demo Page".  Go ahead and click it.  I'll wait....

Cool, eh?  I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.  I imaging Kingdom Web Ministers will want to do this with their sites too.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Working Smarter, Not Harder

If one had a field of barley to harvest or bushels of grapes to crush, it would be good to have friends.  Medieval crowd sourcing?  Well, I'm glad to have friends willing to comb the inter-webs for website info.  You can read more about it here: