Q: What's the application for?
A: IraqiAlert is primarly a demonstration of the location-aware infrastructure
that AnnotatedEarth provides. It uses the AE site to retrieve information
about what's around your current location, and lets you know of anything of
interest (in this case, a possible Iraqi weapons site).
It's not only a demo of the technology, but the source code
is available as a sample of how to develop your own AnnotatedEarth-enabled
Q: What's location-aware?
A: Location-aware technology allows a computer based device to figure
out what's around it. Usually "around" translates to "what's directly
around me, right now". As you move, the various things (buildings,
places, et al) change - and location-aware technology allows computers to know
about that change. You can think of any given area (say, a town) to be a
mass of location information, or annotations. Buildings, streets,
restaurants, houses, stores, interesting art work, a spot to meet your friends
every Monday, just about anything. AnnotatedEarth enables any
computer device (laptops, cell phones, and PDA's among a few) to understand
where you are and what's around you. Location-aware is sometimes also
Q: Do I need a GPS to use IraqiAlert?
A: If you're going to be walking around Iraqi, and want to know when you
get close to a Weapons Site, then yes. Otherwise, you can click the
"Simulate" button to make the program think you're near one of those locations
(so it will demo how it works).
Q: I clicked on a simulated location once, but when I click on it again, nothing
A: When you're near a location, you want to know about it - but probably
don't want to know about it every few seconds. So, IraqiAlert won't
re-alert you about a location until a hour passes. Other
AnnotatedEarth-enabled applications allow you to configure this (IraqiAlert,
being a demo of both users and developers, is as simple and straight forward as
Q: How accurate is this location-aware stuff,
A: Well, that depends on a few
things. The GPS unit your using, how good a lock you have on the
satellites, and how many you lock on to. Generally the best it will do is
15 meters. If you have a WAAS-enabled receiver, that goes down to 3
meters. If you're using a cell phone or LAN node-based location
information, that can get better (or worse).
The accuracy on the Iraqi alert isn't as good as
that, as the location information itself has some inaccuracies built in.
If a coordinate is only 4 decimal places instead of 5, the accuracy is reduced
by ~30 feet. Some of these locations are also just approximate. If
we have a chance to go over to Iraqi and take better readings, then the quality
of the information will go up... which is unlikely to happen. If anyone
over in Iraqi wants to take a better reading, please feel free to enter that
information into our database. The US military isn't using AE to guide
it's missiles as of yet, so you should be safe :)
Q: Are these real locations? How do you know?
A: As far as we know :) We got most of the information from
http://www.fas.org. They got most of their information from
various public sources. A lot of this is out of date or unknow these
days. Many of the sites were taken from damage assemenets from the Gulf
war; the sites may or may not contain weapons. As news comes out on new
sites, we add them.
Q: What are the requirments for using
A: It fully use it, you need some type of computer running windows, a GPS,
and a connection to the internet. In the case of IraqiAlert, you just need the
connection to the internet, as you can use the application in simulation mode.
Q: Who can develop AnnotatedEarth-aware applications?
A: Anyone! The information to interface to the AnnotatedEarth location
service is free for anyone to use. It specifically uses HTTP as input (like
your web browser does; a url), and text-based XML documents as output.
Look here for more information. Want to see
what AE sends back on a request? Look