Thursday, January 26, 2012

Local governments on Google Plus

Even though most of the social networking still happens on Facebook, I personally prefer the much cleaner and more professional looking Google Plus by far. So naturally I also tried if there are any of the local governments - municipalities, TAO or PAO - who are using Google Plus as well, or at least have registered there. Sadly, most have just registered there (and many as a person and not as a page, the way Google intended it), but below is a table of those I have found so far.
  • Sao Thong Hin municipality (เทศบาลตำบลเสาธงหิน), Nonthaburi - a few flood photos from November last year are the only activity.
  • Bang Muang municipality (เทศบาลตำบลบางม่วง), Nonthaburi. Only activity so far was the upload of their emblem as the user picture.
  • Chanthanimit town (เทศบาลเมืองจันทนิมิต), Chanthaburi - no activity at all.
  • Nong Bua Sala TAO (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลหนองบัวศาลา), Nakhon Ratchasima - several post in October last year, but nothing since then.
  • Doi Saket municipality (เทศบาลตำบลดอยสะเก็ด), Chiang Mai - only uploaded emblem and a sketch map.
  • Thung Hua Chang municipality (เทศบาลตำบลทุ่งหัวช้าง), Lamphun - only two photos uploaded so far.
  • Ngao municipality (เทศบาลตําบลหงาวหงาว), Chiang Rai - only the emblem.
  • Mae Sariang municipality (เทศบาลตำบลแม่สะเรียง), Mae Hong Son - no activity at all.
  • Bang Bai Mai TAO (องค์การบริหารส่วนตำบลบางใบไม้), Surat Thani - no activity yet, at least they choose correctly to create a page and not a user profile.
  • Wang Mai municipality (เทศบาลตำบลวังใหม่), Chumphon - the only one really continually active, and correctly set up as a page as well.
  • Pa Bon municipality (เทศบาลตำบลป่าบอน), Phatthalung - only emblem.
  • Thung Hong municipality (เทศบาลตำบลทุ่งโฮ้ง), Phrae - only emblem.
The list might be incomplete, but there are for sure only very few of the 7000+ thousand local governments registered at all, only so far only one real active.

 Though Twitter is not exactly a social networking site, I have collected the few who have found their way there in a user list which can be easily followed as well - but not surprisingly there is very few activity, of all those who created an account on Twitter only few have actually used it for more than a short testing period. Currently active are only the municipalities Mueang Phon in Khon Kaen and Nong Khai. Whenever I discover a new Twitter account I will of course add it to that list, so anyone interested can just subscribe the list.

 Additionally, I also add all these links into my XML as well, which can then look like this


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A sad day as a Wikipedia author

Last night marked a sad first in my time as a Wikipedia author - it was the first time I was seriously insulted by a fellow Wikipedian as being an "arrogant wanker". Not counting those vandals calling me foul words after being disturbed in their fun back when I was more active monitoring the current edits, I nearly made it to the 9th anniversary at Wikipedia without any disagreement with other editors escalating on this level. Keeping away from controversial articles and staying in the small niche of Thailand topics helped this obviously, but still it is a bad experience to be called names while doing my best. It all started when I stumbled upon a newly created article on the subdistrict Wiang of Mueang Phayao district. The article basically read as following
Wiang (Thai: ?) is a small town and tambon (subdistrict) of Mueang Phayao District, in Phayao Province, Thailand.[1] In 2005 it had a total population of 10,701 people. [See here]
Only other things were the huge infobox showing the same information once again, and a link to - but not the page on that specific subdistrict. Not only does this article contain less information than the district article - the Thai spelling wasn't copied, neither the number of villages (0) and most significantly the fact that the subdistrict is completely within the town Phayao. And this points to the even bigger problem - there is nothing like a small town "Wiang" anywhere in Thailand, especially not within the albeit still small town of Phayao. And to complete the impression of a mindless copy-and-paste, the bottom of the article showed the boilerplate of being a "This Mae Hong Son Province location article is a stub." If it were just a single article of this kind, I would as usual go ahead and fix it, but this author has a strong horror vacui and believes every small geographical instance has to have a Wikipedia article, even if it contains nothing but the obvious - the first version on Bangkok Noi Museum is a real gem: "Bangkok Noi Museum is a museum in Bangkok, Thailand." And thus he had not only created one Tambon article, but covered most of the districts of Phayao in this time. To copy-and-paste such a stub is a matter of less then 5 minutes, but even with my big collection of data it takes me at least 30 minutes to convert it into something I could call a good starting point for an article. Granted, by now both the Bangkok Noi Museum article and Wiang subdistrict have been enlarged by him, but they still only contain information collected from secondary sources, and are still on a topic which is not much worth to be covered in the English Wikipedia at all - there are only a few Tambon articles at the Thai Wikipedia, which has lots of edits in other topics. So I went ahead and tried to explain why I think these stubs are not a good idea, why they are at best incomplete and much more often completely wrong, trying to explain the problems with several different administrative units sharing the same name and partially the same area (subdistrict, municipality and TAO, and then the Muban with the Tambon name), but instead of taking them as a well-meant guide to create better article, he apparently understood them as being a lecture, culminating in the above mentioned insults. Now this of course also annoyed me a lot, but instead of loosing my manners as well, I now simply ignore him and his contributions, even it is difficult to know that there is such bad stuff only one click away from the well-kept Amphoe articles. Maybe I should start with giving the Tambon of Surat Thani good articles to prevent them to be covered by such non-articles. It is only reassuring that probably almost nobody will ever see these bad article either, none of the districts made it into the top 500 in the Thai topics access statistics, so they won't hurt Wikipedia's image as a reliable source much either.

Friday, January 20, 2012

1:50000 map index

L7018 Index around Ko Samui
It was an innocent question by Tom Isaan on whether I know a simple way of how to find the right 1:50000 map sheet when from the geographical coordinates which should be shown. The Royal Thai Survey Department (กรมแผนที่ทหาร) has its 1:50000 topographic maps indexed with a four digit number and a Roman numeral from I to IV, and at first look the index map looks relatively straightforward - every map covers an area of 15 arc minutes in longitude as well as in latitude, and start at either the exact degree line, or 15, 30 or 45 arc minutes offset. And the number and roman numeral follow a logical order as well - the first two digits encode the longitude in half degree steps, the next two the latitude, and the Roman numeral finally the four sheets within the half degree square. If it were just this, it'd be easy, only would have to make sure that the algorithm does not return squares outside the country area and thus not covered by any map in this series.

But starting at around Hua Hin it gets messy. Due to the narrow but tilted Isthmus some of the sheets have a different longitude offset, in order to reduce the number of sheets necessary. And further down one even finds sheets more wide than the 15 arc minutes, and for Ko Samui and Ko Pha Nga the maps cover more than 15" in latitude - see the detail of the index map above. And finally, the map with the Tarutao archipelago has both latitude and longitude at an odd offset.

Since there are only the PDF index files, but no list with the actual coordinates for each sheet, I had to measure in the PDF to get the special sized or located sheets, thus I am not completely sure if I used the correct offsets in all cases. But at least it comes close, the result is seen in the map below.

View Larger Map or download KML

What is left to do? Obviously, I need to compare my coordinates of those sheets with unusual offsets with those actually printed on the maps, and also check whether L7018 and L7017 are completely the same (except that L7018 uses WGS84 instead of Indian75 as the map datum) - from the index map it looks like the Tarutao sheet 4822 II was changed. Other things I could add are the Bangkok 1:20000 maps, and the 1:250000 1501 series. And also interesting would be to see what was done at those parts which seem to be not covered by any of the L7018 maps, for example the area around Tha Song Yang district office - it might be in placed in the Burmese area of 4643 II, but without seeing that map I can only say that it seems there is no 1:50,000 map of that area.

I will publish a new version of my coordinate conversion tool to include the map indices once I could address those open issues.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three subdistrict municipalities upgraded to towns

Yesterday, three announcement were published in the Royal Gazette, making the change of municipal status (เปลี่ยนแปลงฐานะเทศบาล) for three municipalities official. In all three cases, a subdistrict municipality (Thesaban Tambon) becomes a town municipality (Thesaban Mueang), and also all three were originally Tambon Administrative Organizations (TAO) upgraded to municipalities not so long ago.
Interestingly, for none of these three the announcements to upgrade the TAO to subdistrict municipality were published in the Gazette, the only thing published at that time were the definitions of the constituencies for the municipal council elections.

Monday, January 9, 2012

FIPS 10-4 code for Bueng Kan

The US Standard FIPS 10-4 contains codes for the country subdivisions all over the world, thus also including Thailand. However, in 2008 the standard was withdrawn, so I this was off my radar since then - I only occasionally try find the first two versions of this standard (FIPS 10-1 and FIPS 10-2) to see how a few oddities with the codes could be explained.

Anyway, just today the page on the Thai provinces at statoids was updated, adding one sentence to it.
Update 6 to "Geopolitical Entities and Codes" is dated 2011-11-30. For Thailand, it assigns a FIPS code to Bueng Kan province.
It turns out that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency of the US military - the same agency which was responsible for maintaining the FIPS 10 standard - continues to maintain the codes of this former standard under the name Geopolitical Codes. In fact, without the bureaucracy of the National Institute of Standards, it issues many more updates in a more timely manner. The latest update 6 from November 2011 now adds the code for Bueng Kan, 10 months after it was created.
Add :
TH81 Bueng Kan
Unlike the previous changes in the FIPS codes, this time the province which was split did not receive a new code - e.g. Udon Thani changed from TH19 to TH76 with the creation of Nong Bua Lamphu. So I would have expected to see Nong Khai receiving the new code TH82 with this change.

The latest newsletter with updates of the ISO 3166-2 list from December 2011 still has no mention of Bueng Kan however, even though they just need to copy the code from TIS 1099. Or to be more exact the working copy by the Ministry of Interior, as there was no update for the Thai standard since 2005.

Update 2010-01-10:
I sent an email to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency if the retaining of the code for Bueng Kan was intentionally or not, and today received the answer that it was in fact intentionally and a change in the policy of handling the splitting of subdivisions.

Friday, January 6, 2012

First Royal Gazette announcement of the year

Though it was not exactly the first announcement of this year - those were published on January 3rd - yesterday the first announcement was published covering one of those topics I monitor. It was the definition of the constituencies for a municipality.

The municipality Thung Luilai (เทศบาลตำบลทุ่งลุยลาย), Khon San district of Chaiyaphum province was just upgraded effective September 30, the corresponding announcement with the upgrade has been published yet however - and judging from the time between the upgrade and the announcement it should not take too long to show.

And to make an advisement for my XML collection of the content of such announcements, here is how this first one now looks withing my coding project. If the boundaries of the two constituencies would be identical with the Muban boundaries, I could even add which Muban belongs to which constituency in that code (a new feature I added for the Buriram PAO) - but at least from the description in the PDF it is not clear which Muban belong to which constituency.

<year value="2012">
  <entry description="Constituencies of Thesaban Thung Luilai, Chaiyaphum" 
    title="ประกาศคณะกรรมการการเลือกตั้ง เรื่อง การแบ่งเขตเลือกตั้งสมาชิกสภาเทศบาลในจังหวัดชัยภูมิ [เทศบาลตำบลทุ่งลุยลาย อำเภอคอนสาร]" 
    volume="129" page="9-11" issue="1 ก" uri="2555/A/001/9.PDF" publication="2012-01-05" 
    sign="2011-12-28" signedby="อภิชาติ สุขัคคานนท์" 
    <constituency type="ThesabanTambon" name="ทุ่งลุยลาย" english="Thung Luilai" tambon="361305" />

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday linkage

Mark at travelfish takes a quick look at the most common words found in geographical names in Thailand, like the word Chiang found for several northern Thai provinces and districts.

 Richard Barrow visited Nakhon Phanom recently and posted a photo of the former residence of the province governor. This historic building now houses a local museum, photos of the interior are found in Richards Facebook gallery. If I'd ever make it to this remote northeastern province, this museum will be on the list of places I have to visit.

 Bangkok Library has posted two sets [1,2] of Bangkok district maps taken from documents of the BMA - see for example this map of Taling Chan showing the peculiar shape of Khlong Chakphra subdistrict (แขวงคลองชักพระ), covering just a narrow strip of land along the canal. The maps are however a bit outdated, the latest subdistricts aren't included, e.g. at Don Mueang.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Province governor reshuffle 2011, part II

In the cabinet meeting on December 27th, the second part of the province governor reshuffle was approved, filling the vacancies left by the first part of the reshuffle.
  • Kamthon Thawonsathit (นายกำธร ถาวรสถิตย์, governor of Mae Hong Son becomes governor of Amnat Charoen.
  • Sutthiphong Chuncharoen (นายสุทธิพงษ์ จุลเจริญ), governor of Nakhon Nayok becomes inspector-general in the Ministry.
  • Siriphong Thantrakun (นายศิริพงษ์ ห่านตระกูล), governor of Prachinburi becomes inspector-general.
  • Samarot Loifa (นายสามารถ ลอยฟ้า), governor of Tak becomes inspector-general.
  • Chaiwat Limwanta (นายชัยวัฒน์ ลิมป์วรรณธะ), deputy govenor of Kanchanaburi become governor of Kanchanaburi.
  • Chana Napsuwan(นายชนะ นพสุวรรณ), deputy governor of Samut Prakan becomes governor of Chaiyaphum.
  • Thanin Suphasaen (นายธานินทร์ สุภาแสน), deputy governor of Mae Hong Son becomes governor of Chiang Rai.
  • Nimit Chanwimon (นายนิมิต จันทน์วิมล), deputy governor of Nakhon Pathom becomes governor of Nakhon Pathom.
  • Anukun Tangkhananukunchai (นายอนุกูล ตังคณานุกูลชัย), deputy governor of Khon Kaen becomes governor of Nakhon Phanom.
  • Aphinan Suethanuwong (นายอภินันท์ ซื่อธานุวงศ์), deputy governor of Yala to become governor of Narathiwat.
  • Khanit Iamrahong (นายคณิต เอี่ยมระหงษ์), deputy governor of Uttaradit to become governor of Buriram.
  • Chirayut Watnarat (นายจิรายุทธ วัจนะรัตน์), deputy governor of Phetchabun to become goveror of Phetchabun.
  • Kasem Watanaram (นายเกษม วัฒนธรรม), deputy governor of Nan to become governor of Phrae.
  • Wirawat Chinwarin (นายวีระวัฒน์ ชื่นวาริน), deputy director-general at the Department of Local Administration to become governor of Maha Sarakham.
  • Prawat Thithakaeo (นายประวัติ ถีถะแก้ว), deputy governor of Yasothon to become governor of Yasothon.
  • Decharat Simsiri (นายเดชรัฐ สิมศิริ), deputy governor of Narathiwat to become governor of Yala.
  • Bunchoet Khithen (นายบุญเชิด คิดเห็น), deputy director-general at the Land Department to become governor of Lampang.
  • Prathip Kintirecha (นายประทีป กีรติเรขา), deputy director-general at the Department of Disaster Prevention to become governor of Sisaket.
  • Phisan Thongloet (นายพิศาล ทองเลิศ), duputy governor of Songkhla to become governor of Satun
  • Narumon Panwat (นางนฤมล ปาลวัฒน์), deputy governor of Chiang Mai becomes governor of Mae Hong Son
With the last entry in this list, there's now again one female province governor and 75 male governors...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Buriram PAO constituencies

End of December, the constituencies for the PAO elections in Buriram were announced in the Royal Gazette - a welcome reminder that a new round of local elections will be held this year. Looking at the website of the Election Commission, I found that this local election is really imminent, as it well be held on January 15 already. For the PAO chairmen, four candidates are contesting including the incumbent Karuna Chitchop (นางกรุณา ชิดชอบ), wife of the de facto Bhum Jai Thai party leader Newin Chidchop [EC website]. Therefore this election will receive quite some media attention, especially as it is also the only PAO election at this time - in 2004 when all PAO held elections on March 14, Buriram started early on December 14 2003 as the term of its council ended shortly before the nation-wide election date. However, if I am not mistaken, then the previous election was on January 20 2008, thus Karuna resigned before her term ended, and therefore now the PAO chairman election will be held one month before the PAO council election. Anyway, this announcement will only be the first in a series of several more, at least Chiang Mai needs new constituencies due to the creation of the new district Galyani Vadhana. And also Nong Khai and Bueng Kan will need a new constituency list - strangely there was none posted yet despite there were by-elections already to fill up both councils after the split of the province. Comparing the constituencies for Buriram in this announcement and the previous one dating from 2003 shows not that many changes.
  • Mueang Buriram district now has 6 constituencies instead of 5, with the subdistrict Nai Mueang now forming the constituency 1.
  • Lam Plai Mat district was reduced from four to three constituencies.
  • In the districts Nong Ki and Prakhon Chai, the constituencies changed their boundaries.
Since both in 2003 and 2011 the constituencies cover only full subdistricts, I was able to write down the constituencies into XML format, and include them into my code project. If possible (and time allows) I'll do the same for the forthcoming further announcements as well.