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Tech: New apps enable offline smart phone topo map access

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Topo maps in the palm of your hand. Photo via USGS.

Available data include USGS imagery and topographic maps from The National Map, as well as road and contour layers

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Smart phone users already make good use of online mapping technology, but some recently developed apps also enable access to digital topo maps stored offline, which means they can be accessed even if there’s no internet connection.

Both Android and iPhone users can now use their mobile devices as digital topo maps, leveraging USGS maps together with the power of GPS to zoom in on their precise location while hiking, biking, running, or any other activity that benefits from precision navigation, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The type of data that are available includes USGS imagery and topographic maps from The National Map, as well as road and contour layers.

Currently, two Android applications are using USGS data, OruxMaps (http://www.oruxmaps.com/index_en.html) and AlpineQuest (http://alpinequest.psyberia.net/). These apps include USGS services in the list of available online maps. Continue reading

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Colorado Mountain Express says it’s happy with propane-fueled vans, may add more alt-fuel vehicles to mountain fleet

Colorado Mountain Express says happy with tests of propane autogas-fueled vans. Photo courtesy CME.

Lower costs and reduced emissions help drive shift to gas-fueled passenger vehicles

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — If you’ve taken a ride to or from DIA recently in a Colorado Mountain Express van, there’s a chance you were aboard one of the four vehicles powered by propane, a relatively clean-burning fossil fuel that generates less greenhouse gas emissions.

CME, which operates about 200 vans in Colorado, has been testing the propane-powered vans recently and may add more of the vehicles to its fleet, especially if the refueling infrastructure grows in coming years, according to marketing and sales director John Dawsey. Continue reading

April conference to discuss mountain tourism 2.0

Emerging tourism technologies and social media the focus of international shindig in Andorra

Grand Mesa, near Grand Junction, Colorado.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Tourism experts from mountain communities around the world will focus on the role of emerging technologies when they meet next month in Andorra at the 7th World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism.

Leading experts will discuss the new technologies that have emerged over the past years and their role in revolutionizing tourism marketing, as well as consumer behavior before, during and after a trip. Under the title, Mountain Tourism 2.0: New Strategies for Success, the Congress — organized by the World Tourism Organization, will outline  strategies needed to attract new visitors and open up mountain destinations to the world market. @UNWTO for Twitter updates.

“Snow and mountain tourism is an extremely popular market, but one that faces a number of challenges,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Innovation and new technologies can play an exciting role in helping these destinations to remain competitive and diversify their tourism product, ensuring year-round tourism, and should be put to greater use.”  Continue reading

Microsoft teams up with World Tourism Organization

Online in the lobby of the Broadmoor, Colorado Springs.

Partnership aimed at helping tourism businesses make the most of latest web technologies; cloud computing seen as key

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Web 3.0 technologies and cloud computing could help grow small and mid-size tourism businesses, especially in emerging-economy countries, officials with the UN’s World Tourism Organization said this week as they announced an innovative partnership with Microsoft. Under the agreement, tourism businesses could become testbeds for emerging information technologies.

“The tourism sector has undergone a drastic transformation over the past years and has been evolving towards Tourism 3.0, where users connect to travel websites and interact by sharing their experiences,” said Microsoft International president Jean-Philippe Courtois. “That directly influences the perceptions and decisions of other users and potential travelers. Because of this, it is more and more important for tourism sector enterprises to develop their online businesses by looking to the most advanced technology. In this regard, the adoption of cloud computing is key, as it provides access to a solid web platform that will make it possible to offer more productive, efficient and competitive services,” he said. Continue reading

Photovoltaic systems add to home resale values

A new study suggests photovoltaic systems add to the resale value of homes. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY.

Berkeley Lab study quantifies economic benefits of solar installations

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Adding a photovoltaic solar system to your home is a good environmental move, and now, new research by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that those homes sell for a premium over homes without solar systems.

“We find compelling evidence that solar PV systems in California have boosted home sales prices,” said lead author Ben Hoen, a researcher at Berkeley Lab. “These average sales price premiums appear to be comparable with the average investment that homeowners have made to install PV systems in California, and of course homeowners also benefit from energy bill savings after PV system installation and prior to home sale.”

The research finds that homes with PV in California have sold for a premium, expressed in dollars per watt of installed PV, of approximately $3.90 to $6.40/watt. This corresponds to an average home sales price premium of approximately $17,000 for a relatively new 3,100 watt PV system (the average size of PV systems in the Berkeley Lab dataset), and compares to an average investment that homeowners have made to install PV systems in California of approximately $5/W over the 2001-2009 period. Continue reading

Environment: Nano-pollution in the Arctic?

Silver nanoparticles may be killing nitrogen-fixing bacteria

Eidsfjord in Vesterålen, Norway, is situated 250 km inside the Arctic Circle. New research by Queens University scientists suggests that these remote areas may be affected by nanoparticle pollution. PHOTO VIA WIKIPEDIA UNDER A FREE ART LICENSE.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Studies of Arctic soil samples suggest that silver nanoparticles — commonly used in anti-bacterial agents — are killing important nitrogen-fixing bacteria in remote areas generally thought to be free of pollution.

“Millions of tons of nanoparticles are now manufactured every year, including silver nanoparticles which are popular as antibacterial agents,” said Virginia Walker, a professor in the Queens University Department of Biology. “We started to wonder what the impact of all these nanoparticles might be on the environment, particularly on soil.”

The scientists said that the nanoparticles, which are now present in everything from socks to salad dressing and suntan lotion, may have irreparably damaging effects on soil systems and the environment. Continue reading

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