About and Contact

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My name is Joseph Elfelt and I am a software developer in the field of online maps living near Redmond, Washington, USA. In the past I have been a programmer for Boeing working with database technology and also spent many years as a real estate investor. Those two skill sets have been combined into a one-of-a-kind consulting service I offer producing interactive property line maps for clients. If you need to find existing survey stakes or approximate property lines, then please take a look at this service to see what I can do for you.

In addition, I also produce several map-related public service projects that are part of my way to “pay it forward”. If you like maps, check out GISsurfer which is a general purpose web map based on the free open-source Leaflet map API (Application Program Interface). In addition to the standard web map features such as search, geolocation and saving your own custom map links, GISsurfer has a big impact unique feature.

Government agencies at all levels are hosting vast amounts of data on GIS (Geographic Information System) servers. GISsurfer lets you view that data almost as easily as you surf the internet. No GIS savvy required! Whatever you are interesting in, if it is related to a location on the earth then there likely are data layers on a GIS server that you would enjoy seeing on a map.

Of course to view data that is hosted on GIS servers you need to know the internet addresses for those servers. Another public service project of mine is curating a PDF file which has 3,500+ ArcGIS server addresses. These are public-facing (i.e. no login required) USA-based government servers from the federal level down to the local level. All address links are scanned by my code once per week and any bad links are either fixed or flagged.

Now think about calling 911 with your cell phone. A few years ago I read a news story about the difficulties that 911 call centers have sometimes in locating wireless callers. As a result I wrote FindMeSAR which is a simple web page that displays the user's coordinates and accuracy value. The yellow screen displays your coordinates in the format used by all 911 call centers in the USA. The first time you open FindMeSAR your browser has to be online. After that, it will work fine offline. There is a icon you can save on your home screen and a ‘Tips’ button with more information.

And if you are interest in politics, I have produced a PDF file with detailed step-by-step instructions showing how to make a Google map for *any* state legislature district or congressional district. Anyone with basic computer skills should be able to follow those instructions.

For more information about my property line consulting service or any of my public service projects you can click the appropriate button below.

For the most recent updates on my work, you can follow MappingSupport on twitter (https://twitter.com/MappingSupport) and/or follow GISsurfer on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GISsurfer).

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COVID-19 Maps

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Covid-19 map with county data for USA

Johns Hopkins University is making county level data available for all USA counties with cases. That data is hosted on a GIS (Geographic Information System) server and available for anyone to display. The map link you see below displays data directly from that server. Each time you open the map you will see the most recent data.

The map has several COVID-19 overlay layers that you can turn on/off/restack. When the map opens, it shows the COVID cases by county. A different overlay lay will display symbols for the deaths by county. Each symbol has the data for one county. If you zoom in then county boundary lines should appear.

Please take a moment to read the "Map tips". That link is in the upper left corner. On that page you will find the map legend and learn (1) how to make your own custom map links, (2) how to make any overlay clickable and (3) learn more about the data the map can display.

Open GISsurfer map:
https://mappingsupport.com/p2/gissurfer.php?center=37.157050,-96.328125&zoom=4&basemap=USA_basemap&overlay=County_boundaries,COVID-19_cases_by_county&txtfile=https://mappingsupport.com/p2/disaster/coronavirus/john_hopkins.txt

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Political District Maps

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First, I have produced a GISsurfer map link for each state that can show the state legislature districts and congressional districts. A number 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 at:

https://mappingsupport.com/p2/gissurfer-political-district-maps.html

Second, anyone with basic computer skills can make a Google map for *any* state legislature or congressional district in *any* state. The U.S. Census Bureau operates a GIS (Geographic Information System) server that has 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 the Census Bureau server and import that data into Google maps.

If you already know the district or area for which you want to make a Google political district map, then follow the instructions in this PDF file.

https://mappingsupport.com/p2/political/google-map-political-district.pdf

Third, if you are fighting gerrymandering and looking for state or federal districts to use as examples, then take a look at the following PDF file. You will learn how to use the GISsurfer political district maps to (1) find districts that are likely gerrymandered and (2) make a Google map for any district you find.

https://mappingsupport.com/p2/political/google-map-gerrymandering.pdf

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Property Line Maps


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Website - Cell Phone
Website - Desktop
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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 $59.98 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.

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GISsurfer
A General Purpose Web Map

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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.
https://mappingsupport.com/p2/gissurfer.php

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3,500+ Government ArcGIS Servers

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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.

https://mappingsupport.com/p/surf_gis/list-federal-state-county-city-GIS-servers.pdf

There is a nice article about this work in the URISA national newsletter. This is an organization of GIS professionals. See page 12.
https://www.urisa.org/clientuploads/directory/Documents/The%20GIS%20Professional/2019/MayJune2019.pdf

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GISsurfer Special Maps

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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.

Disaster Maps

Rain and Flood Map
https://mappingsupport.com/p2/gissurfer.php?center=34.884782,-98.525391&zoom=4&basemap=USA_basemap&overlay=Weather_watch_warning&txtfile=https://mappingsupport.com/p2/special_maps/disaster/USA_rain_flood.txt

Wildland Fire Map
https://mappingsupport.com/p2/gissurfer.php?center=40.749596,-111.533203&zoom=5&basemap=USA_basemap&overlay=VIIRS_24_hours,MODIS_24_hours&txtfile=https://mappingsupport.com/p2/special_maps/disaster/USA_wildland_fire.txt

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

Recreation Maps

National Forest Recreation Map
https://mappingsupport.com/p2/gissurfer.php?center=47.423543,-121.550976&zoom=14&basemap=USA_basemap&overlay=Trail_yellow,Trail&txtfile=https://mappingsupport.com/p2/special_maps/recreation/USFS_recreation.txt

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
https://mappingsupport.com/p2/gissurfer.php?center=36.047569,-97.294922&zoom=4&basemap=NOAA_nautical_charts&txtfile=https://mappingsupport.com/p2/special_maps/recreation/USA_NOAA_nautical.txt

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Grids: MGRS, USNG, UTM

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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

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FindMeSAR

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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! 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.

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FindMePro

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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.

Open FindMePro

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.

About button
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.

Offline use
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.

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Calling 911 With a Cell Phone
Tips That Might Save Your Life

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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:
https://mappingsupport.com/p/sar/smart-way-call-911-with-cell-phone.pdf

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