National Public Radio (NPR) has been closely following the story of Happy Feet, the penguin who got off course and ended up in New Zealand. They recently posted a heart warming story about the NZEmperor website created by SIRTRACK, the makers of the Sirtrack KiwiSat 202 Satellite Transmitter donated to keep tabs and map Happy Feet’s location. Dr Gareth Morgan, a scientist raising New Zealanders’ awareness of the importance of the area between Stewart Island and the South Pole, is sponsoring the satellite costs. He has a Happy Feet tracking page on his Our Far South website. Everyone interested in the story is waiting with baited breath to see if Happy Feet’s tracking system starts working or why it might have stopped. No matter what happens this was a great news story that might get many citizen scientists involved in learning more about the issues and technology involved in a part of the world they might not normally think about. Dr. Gareth Morgan’s website also discusses his upcoming trip to raise awareness of the region and features a very diverse crew of researchers, conservationists, and others, who are going to be on the trip as well.
I get to make a cheesy statement here about how Garmin-Cervelo race team has found their way to the top in August with Garmin, but I think the picture on their home page explains it better. You can follow the official Garmin Team on Garmin Connect or sign up to support them via Facebook or Twitter. They have some really cool team apparel including some national champion bike jerseys. Jean-François Phillips has a blog called Tour de France or Bust where he is going to us a Garmin GPS to track the route of the 2011 Tour de France on a day-by-day basis starting August 27, 2011. He is doing it to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes. You can also visit the official Le Tour de France site to find out more about the route or its famous history.
EarthScope is an NSF program that, “that deploys thousands of seismic, GPS, and other geophysical instruments to study the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the processes the cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It involves collaboration between scientists, educators, policy makers, and the public to learn about and utilize exciting scientific discoveries as they are being made”. In other words, it is very, very, cool with lots of interactive data! The EarthScope data portal provides GPS,seismic, lidar, and other layers for students and researchers. As of July 1, EarthScope National Office is being hosted at Arizona State University School of Earth & Space Exploration, prior to that it had been hosted at Oregon State Department of Geosciences.
The Wall Street Journal has an article on GroupMe, an Android application that allows multiple users to text together at the same time as a group. According to the article, “The secret behind GroupMe is that it assigns one phone number to a group, so the most basic cellphones will be able to send text messages to this number, like it’s one person’s phone when it really represents several users. People can also call this single number to initiate a conference call.” While the article naturally focuses on the business benefits of the application, I was more interested in the geospatial and family benefits. Many times my family members from ages 10 – 90+ like to use conference calling to keep in touch as if we were at the kitchen table together. I can imagine using group texting in situations such as coordinating efforts at huge places like the ESRI User’s Conference or Disney World.
The Globe and Mail has an interesting Vox article on investing in Zynga, which has created free online social media games such as Farmville on Facebook versus other social media applications. It hearkens me back to the Internet investment boom of the 1990’s when investors took the first steps and risks to invest in new online companies such as Amazon. The title is accurately, “Zynga’s virtual items may turn into real cash for investors“. Market Watch by the Wall Street Journal has an article, “How to invest in the social-networking IPO boom: What to know about Groupon, Twitter and Wall Street’s next tech craze” which further explores the question if the tech world is setting itself up for another bubble with social media apps. It will be interesting to see what happens as more and more apps reach broader audiences.
The Globe and Mail has an interesting article today on a site called HealthMap, created by epidemiologists at the Children’s Hospital Boston which uses participatory GIS and other information mined from the Internet to quickly identify potential patterns of disease outbreaks. According to the HealthMap website partners and supporters include Google, NIH, CDC, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Wildlife Conservation Society, International Society for Disease Surveillance and International Society for Travel Medicine which make it quite a large undertaking. Their advanced search options are very robust including being able to turn on and off layers for news feeds for sources such as ProMed, types of diseases, locations, and dates.
Pack your bags and your GPS, June – August are GIS Summer camp months! All over the world GIS themed summer camps, summer internships, and classes are taking place for everyone from kids to adults. The Harbor Discovery Camps, an interactive marine and environmental science program that teaches GIS among other skills is hosted by the New England Aquarium. This summer, the Hip Hop Scientist’s Summer Science & Technology camp in NC is focusing on the achievements of African Americans in robotics, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Washington College is offering a Geospatial Technology Summer Camp for students in grades 7 -12 where kids will make a 3D model of their local town and help preserve its watershed. If you wonder where traditional camp crafts like macrame and bead work have gone, you can always create a bead work map like the one created by Haraldur Thorleifsson.
For “big kids” or adults who miss going to summer camp, there are many GIS summer camp opportunities. GIS Taiwan is one of many GIS symposium going on this summer for undergraduate and graduate students. GIS Taiwan theme is global initiatives. Like many summer courses taking advantage of teacher’s being out of school during the summer, The WV GIS Technical Center is offering GIS in K-12 summer camp for educators in August. Don’t forget the biggest GIS summer camp of all the ESRI User’s Conference and Education User’s Conference.
Throughout history, cicada and locusts have produced fascination, food, and frustration, among other f words. The Cicada Mania site “Dedicated to cicadas, the most amazing insects in the world.” provides TONS of information on cicadas. Other calls for citizen scientists include those of University of Georgia, Dept. of Entomology, asking for pictures and locations of cicadas and shed cicada skins. Their call recommends that parents participate with their young children because their children will not see this amazing event again until they are adults.
Many countries have set up citizen science watches to keep tabs on what is happening this year. According to a Charlotte news report, the 14 state Cicada Watch citizen science project had hundreds of volunteers in Mechlenberg County, NC alone this year. Other watch projects across take place across the globe. The Australian Government of Agriculture,Fisheries, and Forestry has an up to date section for “Current Locust Situation and News“. The Desert Locust Watch is produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for desert regions such as the Sudan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia,
The R2 Fish School Kit that has been featured on TV shows like ABC News and Animal Planet teaches your fish to play basketball, fetch, and more. It was developed by Dr. Dean Pomerleau and his son Kyle. Their goldfish “Albert Einstein” is the current Guinness World Record holder for the pet fish with the most tricks. These aren’t just parlor tricks, researchers like Dr. Pomerleau have been studying fish intelligence, especially spatial intelligence for a long time.
A study by Seraphina Chung, of the Department of Human Biology, University of Toronto examined the use of different type of mazes to better understand the use of spatial learning by fish in their daily life. Other companies, such as FishBio use different spatial technologies like remote sensing, sensors, and 3-D side-scanning sonar to GPS fish habitats and migration routes.
If you are interested in learning more about fish intelligence and considering the amazing spatial ability of migrating fish, spring is a great time to participate in a citizen science fish count. The Town of Plymouth, Maine Environmental Resources and many others have already started participation in fish counts. If it is too late to do it now in your area, you can mark your calendar for next year.
One of the most fascinating aspects of how the media is covering the upcoming U.K. Royal Wedding, is the use of geospatial tools, social media, and almost every bell and whistle they can think up to build interest and momentum in the event. It is a good contrast to the way huge media coverage was done for previous royal weddings and shows how much geospatial technologies and public participation have become embedded in the media. I can’t think of a recent news story that has used so many multiple sources of new geospatial technology to cover one event. Although I suspect the next presidential election might come close.
CNN’s press room states that “CNN’s global coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton will uniquely incorporate Facebook, Twitter and iReport, the network’s global participatory news community, into its television programming. These on-air integrations will enable consumers to share in the experience with their family and friends in real-time, as well as contribute first-person perspectives on the day’s events – all while witnessing the biggest royal wedding event since Charles married Diana.” While the Royal Channel, the official channel of the British Monarchy provides an interactive procession route map and live video among other coverage. According to Tweetings.com, several official royal wedding tweeters will include Prince Harry and royal staffers.