Johns Hopkins University is widely regarded as an authoritative source for COVID-19 data. Each day they update a ‘timeseries' cumulative count of cases and deaths for all counties in the USA. I wrote code that runs each night and (1) converts the Johns Hopkins cumulative counts into daily counts and then (2) converts those daily counts into 7-day-average counts for each of the prior 14 days.
Below is a link to a PDF file that will show you two things. First, anyone can download the COVID-19 daily count data from my server. This data covers all USA counties. Second, two GISsurfer map links are provided so you can see at a glance if the recent number of COVID-19 cases or deaths is increasing or decreasing. One map link is based on the daily count data. The other map link is based on a running 7 day average. Both maps have overlay layers that can display the data by county, by state or totals for the USA.
The csv files with the daily count data and the GISsurfer maps are automatically updated each night. These resources are made available as a public service and are free for all to use. The only limitation is that your use must be non-commercial.
Open PDF file:
At Property Line Maps we produce online maps for your cell phone or computer that show your approximate property lines on the Google aerial and on the USGS topographic map. Each client also receives a GPX file with approximate corner coordinates that can be loaded into many handheld GPS units.
If you are reading this on a cell phone or small tablet, then please visit FindPropertyLines.com for all the details and to place an order. But if you are reading this on a large tablet or other large screen then we recommend you visit PropertyLineMaps.com to learn more.
After we process your order, open the email we send you and click or tap the link to open your online map on almost any device from cell phones to desktop computers. If you open your online map with a cell phone then you can turn on a geolocation feature and see where you are as you walk around your land. No cell connection on your land? No worries! We show you how to use your cell phone offline.
Or instead of using a cell phone you can load the GPX file we send you into many Garmin GPS units and find survey stakes or find approximate property lines.
Most single parcels cost $74.98 and include the online map link and GPX file.
Although the property corner coordinates and property lines we produce are approximate, they are still the most accurate coordinates you can get without hiring a surveyor. But if you need to know exactly where your property corners and lines are located, then you will need to hire a surveyor.
Here is a PDF file with a list that I curate of 3,500+ addresses for government ArcGIS servers. These servers range from the federal level down to the city level. GISsurfer can display data that is hosted on these servers.
For COVID-19 GIS layers see p.7
Everyone is welcome to share this list. The list is automatically scanned once per week by my own code to ensure that dead links are promptly fixed or flagged. An updated list is usually posted each Wednesday morning.
There is a nice article about this work in the URISA national newsletter. This is an organization of GIS professionals. See page 12.
GISsurfer is a general purpose web map based on the free open-source Leaflet map API (Application Program Interface). It will work on most devices that have a browser. Depending on your device, you will see either a touch-friendly interface or mouse-oriented interface. An easy way to see the various features is to click the 'Menu' button or basemap button and then try the various choices.
In addition to the standard web map features (search, geolocation, save a custom map link and multiple basemaps) GISsurfer has a big impact feature you are unlikely to see on any other web map. You can open GISsurfer and then view data that is hosted on thousands of public-facing (i.e. no login required) GIS (Geographic Information System) servers. No GIS savvy required! You can split the screen and display the table of contents of an ArcGIS server on the left side with the map on the right side. Drill down on the table of contents to a data layer, click the layer and in a few seconds that data appears on the map. Click layer - See data. For more information please visit the GISsurfer homepage (see link below) and click Menu ==> Help.
This link takes you to the GISsurfer homepage.
https://gissurfer.com (You will be redirected)
The following link starts GISsurfer and displays the default map of the world.
In addition to opening GISsurfer and then 'surfing' data that is hosted on GIS servers, you can also make GISsurfer map links with pre-defined GIS overlay layers that can be turned on/off and restacked on the map. Below are links to a few GISsurfer maps that I made. Most of these maps have well over a dozen data overlay layers that you turn on/off and restack. These GIS maps do not display a static file where the data never changes. Instead, each time you open one of these maps or turn on a data overlay layer, the most recent data flows from the GIS server to your screen.
If you click the "Map Tips" link in the upper left corner of a GIS map then you can quickly learn how to (1) turn other GIS overlays on/off, (2) how to display GIS attribute data for the overlay that is "on top", (3) how to make your own custom map link so the map opens the way you want it to look and more useful tips. Also the map legend is usually part of the "Map Tips" page.
Each of these map links includes a txtfile parameter that points to a txt file that I made. The pre-defined GIS layers the map can display are defined in that txt file. If you are curious to see what that looks like, simply copy the address for any of those txtfiles and paste it into a browser.
Rain and Flood Map
Wildland Fire Map
For some of the larger fires I also produce a daily map that shows the latest fire perimeter. This perimeter data is produced by fire staff that analyze infrared data collected by a nighttime overflight. The best place to see those map links is the MappingSupport Twitter feed
National Forest Recreation Map
National Park maps
A project is underway to produce a GISsurfer map link for each national park. To see which parks already have a GISsurfer map link and to look at those maps, open GISsurfer then click Menu ==> "GISsurfer special maps" and scroll down.
NOAA Nautical Charts Map
If you want to see online gridded maps, GISsurfer can help you do so. Three kinds of gridded maps can be displayed.
GISsurfer map with MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) grid
GISsurfer map with USNG (U.S. National Grid) grid
GISsurfer map with UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) grid
FindMeSAR (https://findmesar.com) is a browser app for smartphones that displays the user's coordinates and accuracy value. Within 30 seconds many users will see an accuracy value of about 5 meters (~16 1/2 feet).
The "Next Format" button will scroll through four coordinate formats. Each one has a different colored screen.
Tip: If you call or text 911 then the dispatcher might not know your location unless you tell them! Are you curious why Uber can find you but 911 might not be able to find you? Here is a report I prepared that explains the reasons with links to documents on the FCC's website.
Everyone with a cell phone needs a super easy way to display their coordinates and accuracy value in a stressful emergency situation. Whether you have FindMeSAR or a similar app on your phone is not important. What is important is that everyone have an app that easily and quickly displays (1) their coordinates in decimal degrees and (2) the accuracy value.
How to make FindMeSAR ready for when you need it in a hurry:
1. Open FindMeSAR
2. Tap the "Next Format" button until the yellow screen appears. This screen shows your coordinates in decimal degrees which is the format used by 911 dispatchers.
3. Save the app's icon on your home screen.
When you tap the icon to open the app, it will automatically display the yellow screen. If you provide your coordinates to 911, then also be certain to give the equally important accuracy value.
To learn more about the app and get additional tips, please open FindMeSAR and tap the About button.
Test your cell phone location accuracy
FindMePro (https://findmesar.com/p/findmepro.html) is a browser app that anyone can use to find out which settings on their cell phone or tablet produce the most accurate latitude longitude coordinates showing their location. I produced this browser app after discovering that my iPhone 4s sometimes produces coordinates with a good accuracy value but which in reality are wrong by several miles.
While you can try FindMePro on desktop and laptop computers, typically the accuracy will be very poor. FindMePro is intended to run in browsers on cell phones and tablets.
This app lets you:
1. Ask your browser to keep giving you your location coordinates while improving the accuracy.
2. Display the details for each set of coordinates on your screen.
3. Display each location on the Google aerial. Smaller circles indicate more accurate coordinates than bigger circles.
4. Adjust certain settings that are used by the app. For example, you could ask your browser to give you just a single coordinate instead of a stream of coordinates.
Typically when you tell this app to start collecting data the first locations returned are not very accurate and result in big circles on the map. Fairly quickly the accuracy should improve until the circles have about a 5 meter radius.
The app’s “About” button has more information on how you can test your cell phone to find out which settings on your phone produce the best and worst coordinate data.
Crowd sourced buttons
The two "Crowd Sourced" buttons have information on sharing your results so we all learn how to get the most accurate coordinates from our phones and how to recognize bad coordinates.
Two reasons for poor coordinate accuracy
First, certain settings on your phone can influence the accuracy of the coordinates your phone produces. Please read the text under the "About" button for suggestions on which settings you might want to test. Second, FindMePro tells your browser to only report coordinates for your current location and to *not* report any cached coordinates for any prior location. Some (all?) browsers ignore this instruction and sometimes report cached coordinates that can be wrong by several miles. For more information tap the "Crowd Sourced Results" button.
How to compare coordinates produced by other apps
1. Use FindMePro to collect coordinate data and display the map.
2. Tap Menu ==> Search
3. Enter coordinates from any other app into search bar at the top of the screen.
4. Tap Go
The map will center at the coordinate you enter. You can see how, that location compares to the green circles (last three coordinates) produced by FindMePro.
Currently FindMePro only works if you are online. The browser technology needed to implement offline use is currently undergoing a major change (from 'appcache' to 'service workers'). After most browsers implement this new technology and it is stable, then support for offline use will be added to FindMePro.
Big picture most important take home point:
The 911 system does not make any use of the coordinates produced by your cell phone. Instead, the 911 system uses coordinates that are intentionally dumbed down and less accurate than the coordinates produced by your phone. In short, Uber uses more accurate coordinates to give you a ride than 911 uses to try and save your life.
These tips for calling 911 with a cell phone were developed in part after an extensive review of documents on the FCC website. In addition, input was received by people working in the telcom industry.
Among other things you will learn why it is important to try calling 911 even if your phone says 'no service' and why everyone needs an app on their phone that will display their coordinates and the equally important accuracy value.
The tips are in this PDF file:
Here is a surprising insight into the upcoming election. If Biden and Trump are tied in the Electoral College then the U.S. House might elect Trump to a second term and the Senate might elect Kamala Harris as Vice President. Honest. That’s too weird to make up.
There is a 100+ year old federal law known as the “Electoral Count Act” that describes what happens if the voting in the Electoral College is tied. This Act also attempts to set forth a process for resolving any controversy related to the Electoral College. However, a key sentence in that Act contains 21 commas and 2 semi-colons! Obviously this dusty federal statute is not exactly a model of clarity.
But wait - it gets worse. A number of legal scholars have concluded that the “Electoral Count Act” is unconstitutional.
Below is a link to a PDF file I prepared with a detailed chronology of events starting with election day and going to January 20th when, no matter what else is happening, someone (it might be the Speaker of the House) will be sworn in as President. My goal in preparing this report is to help us all have an accurate understanding of the process that takes place after the election and prior to swearing in day. As the late Senator Daniel Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
It is my hope that you will (1) read my report and then if you found it to be informative please (2) share it with others. Let’s work together to equip as many people as possible with accurate facts about the electoral college process and what happens when those votes are reported to Congress. Having accurate facts is a strong antidote to confusion.
Open PDF file:
In late 2020 I started researching the topic of "priority recognition" in the senate. Since some people are seeing that term for the first time, here is what it means.
Assume the following:
1. Republicans retain the senate majority after the Georgia runoff elections.
2. VP Kamala Harris is presiding over the senate.
3. At the same time, both majority leader McConnell and minority leader Schumer seek to be recognized.
Which senator does VP Harris recognize as having the floor and being allowed to speak? Whichever senator gets to ‘speak first’ on an issue has great power. Thus "priority recognition" means being recognized by the presiding officer to speak first.
There is a strong senate precedent from 1915 that (1) VP Harris has complete discretion to decide which senator gets priority recognition to speak first and (2) that decision cannot be appealed to the full senate. Nothing the senate did or said in 1937 changed that 1915 precedent.
Below is a link to a report I prepared on this topic including links to the congressional record and related material. I have mailed a letter to my two senators with a link to my report and asked them to get this information to VP-elect Harris.
Everyone is invited to share this information in any manner.
Below are links to two PDF files that show you how to use GISsurfer to display maps showing political districts and how to use Google maps to make your own custom map link for a political district. While these instructions are non-partisan and can be used by anyone, I am only offering to provide support to democratic candidates.
First, there are several ways to use GISsurfer to display maps showing congressional and state legislature political districts. There are built-in overlay layers that you can turn on. Also I have produced GISsurfer map links that let you show the district lines in different colors and with labels. You can use those maps to easily see where two different types of districts overlap. Some of these maps include semi-transparent coloring based on the party holding the seat. You can find these map links and more information about them in the following PDF file.
Second, anyone with ordinary computer skills can make a custom Google map for *any* state legislature or congressional district in *any* state. The federal government operates GIS (Geographic Information System) servers that have district boundary data for the state legislature districts and congressional districts. Below is a link to a PDF file with step-by-step instructions showing how to download data from those GIS servers and import that data into Google maps.