Frank got a tour of the San Bernardino County Sheriff office’s Mobile Mapping Unit. The video gives you a glimpse but just doesn’t do it justice, the RV is basically a GIS office on wheels.
I love cool projects that really show science at work, especially when they include education for kids and the general public, and the Lost Ladybug Project is one that I really like. It seems that researchers noticed that native species of ladybugs are disappearing (largely being replaced by Asian ladybugs that were introduced into North America by the USDA to combat crop pests) and nobody knows for sure what happened to them. Especially of interest is a species known as C-9 (for its nine spots), which used to be so common that it was made the state insect of New York in 1989. Unfortunately, there hadn’t really been a confirmed sighting of C. 9 ladybugs since the 1970s and a survey in 1992 could not find a single one. However, one of the big problems with field surveys is that there is always too much ground to cover and not enough people, so entomologists at Cornell University came up with the idea of the Lost Ladybug Project, which is being supported by a large grant from the NSF. Basically, the idea is to get as many people out there looking for ladybugs, and documenting the specimens they find with pictures, which are then uploaded to the Lost Ladybug website. Anyone can help, and you can get all the particulars here
(There is a simple Google Maps mashup showing the locations of some of the ladybug finds, but there is so much more they could be doing with the mapping end of this project, so I hope there are plans to improve it)
This is the last reminder of the New Media in Education survey we would like you to complete to support a paper that we are finishing up. The survey, which closes Wednesday, is intended for anyone who is involved in education/training at any level. It is a short survey that should only take 2-4 minutes of your day. The general results will be shared on the VerySpatial and will be included in a paper we will be submitting in the next month or so.
Thanks for your time!
We often talk about our ever greening ways in our daily lives at the VerySpatial office, but we are still pretty much light weights. Our lack of weightiness is reinforced when I watch Discovery’s newish channel, Planet Green. Topics cover the gamut from greening your home, your meals, and to your general lifestyle. If you have access to Planet Green (channel 194 on DishNetwork) check it out and see if it gives you any ideas on greening your life.
Schmap continues to do things right. I have been interested in their Guides and excited about the iPhone implementation of the Guides (still love the rotate to map UI). Their latest open beta, Schmap.me, flips their regular model of helping you find places to bringing a way to help others find you, or at least your address. While the concept of creating a webmap to share your location isn’t new, but it is a great implementation. You can choose your own path (mine is Schmap.me/jesse.rouse for instance) that will link to your map. The map is Schmap’s standard Google Map base and it has a simple interface. The simple interface would be a great place for Schmap to expand to allow users to add different types of information (which you already can with a little html in the notes field). Overall, Schmap continues to approach location/map user interfaces in simple and effective ways.
Researchers are Cornell have discovered that GPS signals can be spoofed! By placing a signal near the receiving device, gradually the navigation device would accept the spoofed signal as real. The article doesn’t say exactly how near “near” is, but I’d bet that it would have to be at least a couple dozen yards or more for this to be effective. Apparently the researchers are confident they could get around any protections suggested by the DOD back in 2003!
Does anyone start thinking of the bad guys in Die Hard 2 when they think about this? It’s kinda scary to think about from a safety point of view. However, I’m equally confident that someone industrious will use it to muck up location based services so that all queries for “Joe’s Pizza” in such and such area get diverted to “Bob’s Pizza” instead.
Another great art as education/activism has apparently been going on this summer and will be continuing through the fall and into next year. The project, CoolGlobes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet, is an exhibit that began in Chicago last summer (’07) that features sculpted globes, each about 5 feet in diameter which were intended to “to create awareness and provoke discussion about a potential solution to global warming”. Some of the globes are currently on display in Washington DC and San Francisco with an exhibit coming soon to San Diego and to London in 2009. If you see one of these exhibits, send us a picture of video.