Google Maps press event video

I am just beginning to watch the video from today’s press event at Mountain View, and while it apparently ends with a few announcements it begins with a great history of Google Earth/Maps going all the way back to SGI and Keyhole to the process of building (and filling) Google Maps. Take a look to see the history, uses, and future of Googles approach to geo.

Minute Physics and Geography

I have this thing where, when I am stuck on a Cultural Geography idea or thought or, more commonly, writing a paper one of the best ways to kick my brain into gear again is to feed it a few pages of a popular Physics book (preferably something quantum’y or maybe a little chaos theory). For me, there are so many similarities between quantum physics and phenomenology that it just gets me be on track…maybe not on the same one, but, you know, Newton’s first and all that.

So as I was recouping from Maymester (1 semester/10 days) I found that not only had Ze Frank started a new show, but that there is a great illustrated video podcast called Minute Physics. It is a weekly show that walks you through a concept from physics in around a minute with a nice twist of humor (great for physics teachers I would guess). I am only up to the beginning of this year, so I still have plenty of episodes to watch, but they have sprinkled in a good deal of content about the world so far. The GPS episode is a good example from the geospatial side of things:

But there is even a few episodes for the physical geographer (so far my favorite is Hairy Ball Theorem which is more math than physics, but what are you going to do).

Climate Models Ignored by Media

Ars Technica is reporting an interesting article for science, I think. Researchers at George Mason University have looked at climate reporting in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today between 1998 and 2010 to see how often climate change models are referenced. The answer? A depressingly few number of times – 100 out of 4,000. Why does it matter? Well, how can anyone really understand the conclusions without at least understanding some of the methodology that went into the conclusion? Without understanding the utility of models in general and climate change models in particular, it is all too easy to cast aside climate change as junky science.

If you ask me, irrespective of the climate change debate, I fear we don’t do enough to explain the science behind the conclusions, particularly with highly politically charged issues like climate change. It seems a bit disingenuous to me that we would present one argument without explaining the logic behind it. It is then up to the reader to decide which argument makes more sense to them. At the very least, we potentially raise scientific knowledge among the general population, and that can’t be a bad thing.

U.K. and the summer of GIS

The U.K. is experiencing a summer of GIS with several overlapping large and unique events taking place that use geospatial tools for planning, management, analysis and public outreach. Like many instances of GIS integration for event planning, it might seem as if it happened overnight but in fact took more than five and in some cases ten years of planning and cooperation between many different organizations and agencies.

Olympic Torch and the 2012 Olympics

According to Public Service UK,  The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) Learning Strategy Department has trained all 250,000 police officers and staff in the UK to use geospatial tools for safety operations for the London Olympics and Paralympics. This would be a big enough job, if the London Olympics only took place in London. However, the Olympic Torch Relay travels within an hour of 95% of people in the UK. The training was available through a GIS e-learning module and provides maps and plans of venues and locations for use in operational planning, briefings and deployments.

Transportation is another big area of concern for the upcoming Olympics. The interactive map website, Get Ahead of the Games, is a collaboration between the Mayor of London, National Rail, Department for Transport, Highways Agency, and Transport for London to make planning and travel easier during the Olympics and Paralympics. It includes travel by public transport, National Rail, road and river services.

The Ordnance Survey has documented the creation of the 2012 Olympics siteusing detailed ariel imagery from 2001 through to 2010.  The planning and construction of the London 2012 Games was funded by the National Lottery, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Mayor of London and the London Development Agency. They presented about the “Learning Legacy: Lessons Learned from the London 2012 Games construction project“. A web-based GIS viewer and spatial visualization tool was created to all contractors to access and share information. Over 2 million individual pieces of data were created and are part of the infrastructure planning and continued venue management.

The Queens Diamond Jubilee

The Olympics aren’t the only event that has had an impact on geospatial awareness in the U.K.  this summer. The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) also had to prepare for The Queens Diamond Jubilee, along with routine events such as Wimbledon Tennis, Notting Hill Carnival, and football. According to a presentation entitled “Securing the 2012 Olympics: A Milestone in the UK Policing Improvement Programme”  geospatial planning and integrated situational awareness has been happening behind the scenes for years before being implemented in time for the U.K.’s summer of GIS.

ESRI UK have created interactive map of the over 41,000 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons being lit on Monday, June 4th, throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, along with Commonwealth and UK territories overseas. The beacon chain itself has been used for communication and celebration for hundreds of years making it a very old form of geospatial communication.

A little recognition for the GeoBee

If you have watched the GeoBee then you probably feel as though you need to spend more time with your globe and atlas. It was great to see President Obama ask one of the questions showing that someone at the White House gets the importance of Geography and its impact on the world.