Dude, Where’s Your Map? Map Contests

ESRI recently sent out reminders about submitting static paper or interactive maps for the 2012 ESRI UC Map competition. This year they have added a User Software Applications contest for applications using Esri technology or customized Esri software product.  The map gallery and user software application fair are huge events with hundreds of submissions, but don’t let that discourage you from submitting to their or other upcoming map contests.

The North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) is sponsoring its 14th Annual Student Dynamic Map Competition to promote cartographic excellence and innovation. There are two competition categories: narrative maps and interactive maps. Entries must be submitted by Friday September 14, 2012.

National Geographic has several map competitions for college and young professionals through the  Association of American Geographers/Cartography award, British Cartographic Society award, and the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS) award

The Barbara Petchenik International World Map Design Competition has a new theme for their 2013 competition: My Place in Today’s World.  Many teachers worldwide use the competition as part of their geography or GIS curriculum. The rules for the 2013 competition can be downloaded in September.

And because I think that video game maps use many of the same geo-spatial skills and design techniques as other types of interactive maps, I have included video game layer map contests. The  Source engine based Multiplayer game, Nuclear Dawn, has a Nuclear Dawn map contestwith prizes due by June 25.  Beanstalk, a search engine optimization company, is promoting a contest to create Minecraft maps based on the beanstalk theme with prizes due by May 31st.

Whatever form they take map contests are a good way to encourage students, professionals, and the general public to think about maps in creative ways.

 

Zombies and Geospatial Analysis

If you have met me, you know that I would love to teach a geography class using  the book  World War Z by Max Brooks, a journalist who uses a zombie apocalypse to discuss current events and world geography. David Hunter, a middle school teacher in Seattle, Washington beat me to the punch. He is asking for help on Kickstarter to create a  Grade 5-8 Standards Based curriculum “Learning Geography skills through a Zombie Apocalypse Narrative”.  His concept is not as far fetched as it seems. At the WV Association for Geospatial Professionals conference this week Sheila Wilson, Executive Director of the GIS Certificate Institute (GISP) started off her talk with the CDC  Zombie Preparedness Guide. She talked about how in the guide a GIS team who were prepared to spatially analyze zombie hot spots, were prepared for anything.  According to Cartographia, Austin TX has been prepared for a zombie outbreak since 2007.

Joking aside, I think that the zombie apocalypse creates a “sandbox” for researchers, educators, and society to analyze and understand complex, interconnected geospatial issues in a non-threatening way.  I’m not the only one who feels this way. Edward Gonzalez-Tennant a geography professor at Monmouth University is hopefully going to be presenting a paper on “Popular Culture and GIS: Using Geospatial Technologies to Model and Prepare for the Zombie Apocalyze.” at the 2012 ESRI Education User’s Conference (EDUC). There is also a 2012 ESRI International User’s session dedicated to Health, Behavior, and Zombies.  Preparing for zombie outbreaks on Earth is inspiring geospatial professionals to innovate and think big much like Star Trek has inspired decades of engineers.

If you want to experience your own zombie attack, Class 3 Outbreak is a zombie outbreak simulator played via Google maps at hundreds of locations world wide.

Visuals Relieve Brain Overload

A BBC article, “Pretty Pictures: Can Images Stop Data Overload?” by business reporter, Fiona Graham, supports what many geospatial researchers have argued about the many reasons for business to use GIS and visual images. A neuroscience and psychology lecturer at Brunel University found using images help the brain process large amounts of data because they can use and retain the information more efficiently. They use David McCandless’s Information is Beautiful website as an example of data visualisation.

One thought that the article raises is the abscence of any spatial vocubulary even though data visualization leans heavily towards geospatial patterns, analysis, and mapping.  GIS and other geo-spatial techniques remain an invisible step in the process between data and visual outcome or “pretty pictures”.  Finding support for the use of images in the business world might be step towards raising awareness of the diverse applicability of GIS and geo-visualization.

 

GIS Summer Camps for Students

Summer time is a great time for students of all ages to learn about GIS and geospatial technologies because it is a very hands-on technology. There are often GIS summer camps being offered at local colleges or incorporated into the general activities of 4-H and other camps. Some examples of upcoming summer camps by age group include:

High School

The GeoX: Geosciences Exploration Summer Program  is a FREE one-week program for high-achieving high  school juniors and seniors by being offered by Texas A & M (June 1-8, 2012).  It combines a mixture of classroom, campus, and field trips, along with technical and career skills.  The geosciences, especially geography, is a field that takes more recruitment at the high school level because of the misconception that geography is only being able to name all the countries in the world. This is changing as more high school outreach programs like this one introduce students to real life applications of geospatial skills and awareness. Application deadline is: April 9

Junior High

The TwiST GIS Summer Camp is offered by the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technologies (IAGT), Cayuga Community College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the National Geospatial Technology Center, CIESIN and the New York State GIS Association to coincide with the Teaching with Spatial Technology (TwiST) Workshop for educators (June 28 – July 1).  Students learn geospatial technologies such as GIS, GPS, and remote sensing by working on a real world project.  Many STEM educators believe that junior high is one of the best times to get students interested in science, technology, and math related careers. Scholarships are available.

Grade School

The Harbor Discoveries Camp is offered by the New England Aquarium (July 9 – 24, 2012).  It is an interactive marine and environmental science program that uses geospatial technologies. Some of the activities include behind–the-scenes activities at Aquarium galleries, “excursions to Boston Harbor Islands, daily field trips to North and South Shore habitats, and an overnight experience.” Older students who have attended the camp are eligible to apply to be teachers and camp counselors. Many aquariums, museums, and nature preserves offer similar programs for students who don’t want to attend away camps.

Educators

The Teaching with Spatial Technology (TwiST) Workshop offered by the IAGT and Cayuga Community College (June 25-28, 2012) is designed to teach K-12 teachers and college faculty members in the United States how to teach and empower through geospatial technologies in the classroom. In 2011, the TwiST workshop was recognized in an Esri Special Achievements in GIS Award for  11 years of geospatial education. Scholarships are available.  Application deadline is: April 15

The “SATELLITES” (Students And Teachers Exploring Local Landscapes to Interpret The Earth from Space) K12 Summer Teacher Institute at the University of Toledo (July 9-13, 2012) is an award winning teacher education program focusing on geospatial technology and climate change and student research projects. The SATTELITES teachers have gone to the have gone to the White House Science Fair for the past two years.

Application Deadline: April 17, 2012

 

ESRI Kid’s Camp

Don’t forget that if you are attending the 2012 ESRI User’s Conference this year, they offer a GIS Kids Camp (July 24-26, 2012) Many summer conferences offer geospatial education programs for kids attending the conference with their parents.

If you know of any upcoming summer camps, post them in the comments section.

 

Kansas Caucus Results 2012 interactive maps

It’s always exciting to watch real time results for any type of polling and interactive map are becoming more prevalent with each election. Several news sites have real-time interactive maps of the Kansas Caucus Results.

The Huffington Post has posted a real-time map of the Kansas Caucus Results. It’s at almost 30% reporting and hasn’t crashed yet. For any news map it is important to identify where the information is coming from and who designed the map. In this case the only map metadata I could find was this disclaimer, “Delegate allocations are tentative and might be adjusted later. Credits: Jay Boice, Aaron Bycoffe, Daniel Lee and Christian Rocha” .  The comments section of the real-time article only has one criticism that not all of the  candidates were broken out separately on the interactive map.

KMBC-TV  has an interactive map of the Kansas Primary which appears to have been created using Microsoft MapPoint by Hearst Publications and the AP.  Their interactive map includes all of the candidates.  The Economist has an extensive interactive map of the Republican Nominations  which provides results from the primaries/caucuses in each state and other information. There are probably more than ten different news sites with ten different ways of creating an interactive map to involve their audience in the excitement of the political process. It will be interesting to look into how many people leave an interactive map up on their computer screens to keep tabs on the polling.

Earth Microbiome Project

An article by Alan Boyle in MSNBC’s Cosmic Log discusses How Scientist’s Map the World’s Microbes.  The Earth Microbiome Project is a project to collect and analyze microbial communities from areas around the world and map them to their region of origin. In the project website’s own words it is going to be a “massively multidisciplinary effort to analyze microbial communities across the globe”,  which requires a large scale coordinated field work effort. However, creating an atlas of the unknown and often thought uncountable microbial communities will take more than large numbers of participants and time to analyze the data. In a refrain understood well by geospatial analysts the project is going to require more computing power.

The Earth Microbiome Project provides an information page for people wanting to be involved in the project including working with samples, analyzing data, or creating new types of analytical tools.

Geography Web Comics

It isn’t often that world geography and international relations can make you laugh out loud, but the web comic Scandinavia and the World manages to do it very well.  A friend who teaches Eastern European languages posted their comic about Scotland joining the Nordics. The BBC did a good article on “How Scandinavian is Scotland”,        I found it almost as funny as Eddie Izzard’s comedy about the flag of England.

However, the  SATW comic I found the most interesting geo-spatially was the one that depicts humanoid countries in relative “country” ages. Like how a dog year equals seven human years, the comic says, “I’ve drawn Denmark as younger than Sweden and Norway a few times, but that had to do with the age of the landmass. This shows how old the Nordics are as countries.”  I like the fact that they took the time to explain the background of everything in their comics and thought that hard about how to accurately represent them. I wonder what other countries would be depicted as for their land mass and country ages are?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Geographer's Valentine

A fellow geographer just gave me the cutest and most appropriate Valentine’s Day card he created. He printed them out in the traditional small Valentine’s Day Card style used in grade school to give to other geographers.  Clinton Davis has it posted to his WVU student website but he is also letting me use the image on Very Spatial. Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Truly Mobile App Market

Web Map Solutions, a mobile application development company, recently posted their “Hot Topics in Mobile GIS” in which they reflect on the development trends they see in the applications they have developed or are developing for clients. Their list includes applications such as cultural resource management, genealogy, political campaigning, and mining. This list would be an accurate reflection of overall trends in mobile web applications. One of the hottest is related to true mobile applications – one’s developed for the automobile industry.

The Wall Street Journal has a recent article on the mobile app market, “Mobile Hot Spots: Web Radio, Apps Move to the Dashboard“. They say that mobile apps such a huge growth market that car manufacturers are setting up mobile and spatial app shops in Silicon Valley to be more integrated into the development process.

According to ReadWriteMobile, a web channel devoted to the mobile application industry, the projected growth of the mobile web app market is over $100 Billion by 2015. Of course, they have an interest in seeing that market increase but the spatial application market seems to be growing as more and more people expect it as a matter of course during their every day routines.

 

,

King’s College [geography] quiz

In December, the Guardian UK website posted the questions for the notoriously difficult King William’s College quiz or General Knowledge Paper (GKP) given to students (and parents) at King William’s College on the Isle of Man.  In another article on, “The Story of the King Wiliams’s College Quiz” quizmaster Dr Pat Cullen discusses the impact of the Internet on the 106 year old quiz and attempts to Google and social media proof the quiz to keep it intellectually challenging. MacLean’s Canada article on the history of the quiz is simply titled, “The World’s Most Difficult Quiz. Really.

While only section 2 relates specifically to geography and cartography, I estimated that about 70  of the 180 questions could be considered geo-spatial.  These range from questions such as, “4 Who first used continuous and broken lines to indicate fenced and unfenced roads?”  to  5 Where did close neighbours claim the invention of a device for observing at a distance?  The answers to last year’s questions were posted in February, so you will have to wait a while if you get stumped.

The quizmaster Dr. Pat Cullen doesn’t live in a dusty library tower, he is also a birder and citizen scientist for the Isle of Man which is home to several rare species of birds.