In the GIS summer time

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.

Cicadas, Locusts, and Mapping

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,

Spatial mapping and fish

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.

The Royal Wedding and Neogeography

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, several official royal wedding tweeters will include Prince Harry and royal staffers.

Where on Earth?

I just played a fun online game called, “Where on Earth” by Point 2 which was developed for educational museums and science centers. It shows landmarks from across the globe using NASA satellite photos and a player has three guesses of the location. If you have ever attended any geo-spatial related conferences, it is a computer version of the raffles they often hold to see who can guess the location of printed satellite imagery.

Other fun remote sensing games online include several from NASA such as the adventures of Amelia the Pigeon and Echo the Bat and an older short one called “LandSat Game” from an extensive remote sensing tutorial.

NYC BigApps Winner

Laurie Segall’s article for CNN Money, “Bloomberg opens NYC data to entrepreneurs” announces the winner of this years NYC Bigapps using NYC public data sets. This year’s winner out of 50 apps was Roadify, a real-time app that sends alerts about subway, bus, and driving conditions. New York City, like many government agencies in recent years, wanted an innovative way to use many the unused or unexplored data sets that they don’t have the capacity to use. It is a great way to create jobs, create usable data, and involve the public.

Google: It’s a visual.

I have started to worry that I am creating an infinite loop back to Apartment Therapy (as Frank rolls his eyes) but I always enjoy the fun posts, especially the quirky spatial ones that crop up. Apartment Therapy’s Unplggd highlights artist Alejo Malia who pictures Google in a whole new way. I have to say that my favorite is called ‘Routes‘.

BUT then I read the reply posts and found someone who said that they had a friend who was creating maps called Mapuccino that uses Google maps to create artwork based on a person or person’s life. Now I want both for my house.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the almost one year anniversary of Google Street View Ireland, here is an enjoyable interview with Ed Parsons, Geospatial Technologist for Google Street View, discussing the launch of Google Street View Ireland for almost every urban center and rural road in Ireland. I have also included great video Google Street View Ireland in the Irish Language version. I make no claims for what they are saying but it has some very good graphics. And for your enjoyment a fun project that was done for Milford Hospice in Ireland by Interactive Media UL to use Google Street View Ireland and sensors to create a “real” interactive bike riding experience. The project, “Escapism, pedal through Google StreetView on a Stationary Bike” was created as part of a Masters of Science in Interactive Media at The University of Limerick, Ireland by Colette Moloney.

Your Spatial Backpack

When I was reading this month’s issue of Backpacker magazine, I started to fold down pages that contained geospatial apps and other features. After I had folded down most of the pages in this month’s magazine, I decided I would post some of my favorites. On their website, Backpacker has a section for app tools such as Backpacker Destinations which allows users to access trips and trails, save and upload trails, and share information via social media. There is a similar, less extensive type of app for Android called My Tracks which overlays routes onto Google maps. My favorite was the Backpacker Survival School which is like a course in being Bear Grylls. The iPad app teaches you what to do if you get lost or find yourself attacked by a bear. The magazine contained a full page ad for and their geocaching Bill of Rights.

To Space and Beyond

Several recent requests for proposals (RFPs) by NASA go along with this weeks theme. They are NASA’s 2011 Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) goals and most of them are spatially related. They include not only Earth surface observations and Earth systems modeling but data analysis and research related to space and MARS missions. According to the ROSES RFP, the NASA Strategic Plan is being revised. Some of these revisions are in keeping with what you hear from other agencies to meet the challenges of climate and environmental change but others are the stuff of kid’s (and adults) dreams. NASA wants to “understand the Sun and its interactions with the Earth and the solar system” is a given but how about search for Earth-like planets and the potential for life elsewhere. NASA is ready to go where no man has gone before and that is definantly a geo-spatial goal worth pursuing.