If you are a student team or professional start-up anywhere in the world, The MIT Clean Energy Entrepreneurship Prize $100K Entrepreneurship Competition is now open. According to their website, “MIT student teams, other student teams, and professional start-up teams are eligible to participate in the Energy Track only. The process will include networking and team building events, professional mentoring and skills development, along with a unified judging process.” Entries are due February 28th and must include a 1,000 word business plan executive summary and small 10 page power point presentation. Their vision includes enabling technologies such as sensors and integrated systems or planning.
The interdisciplinary linguistic geographies research project funded by the Arts & Humanities Council (AHRC) conjures up all the “old school” components of geography as a romantic, intellectual discipline but with the addition of new technology. For the past year, a team of researchers with backgrounds in geography, cartography, history, paleograhics, and linguistics have been developing techniques to use “linguistic geographies” to better study maps of “unknown origin” , specifically the Gough Map.
The Gough Map is the oldest known geographic map showing the whole of Britain (c.1360) and is housed at the Bodleian Library. Despite being noted and visually represented in books, documentaries, and articles not much is actually known about the Gough Map’s origins. The researchers wanted to “learn more about the Gough Map, specifically, but more generally to contribute to ongoing intellectual debates about how maps can be read and interpreted; about how maps are created and disseminated across time and space; and about technologies of collating and representing geographical information in visual, cartographic form.”
A significant outcome of their project has been a searchable digital version of the Gough Map available on their website. They also direct researchers to another version of a digital Gough map at Mapping the Realm which was funded through the British Academy.
A colloquium and exhibition of the linguistic geographies research project and the Gough Map will be held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford from Thursday June 23 to Saturday June 25 2011. At The Language of Maps colloquium, presenters will discuss the language and linguistics of medieval maps and mapping.
I have noticed lately that increasingly conferences outside of the geospatial sphere are specifically requesting geospatially related topics. I think it shows the integration and acceptance or growing need for “every day” geospatial skills and geospatial literacy outside of fields normally thought of as being obviously geo-related. It means that for geospatial users who often could not find people who “spoke their language” except at specialized conferences (American Association of Geographers (AAG), Esri International User Conference among others), there is growing opportunity for learning and sharing skills with other people within their specific profession.
Some of the places I have seen this trend are in the recent Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) which has a 20 Year history of technology & teacher education. They included both geospatial technologies, 3D modeling for manufacturing, and serious gaming in their topics for the upcoming 2011 conference. They state that skills in these areas are becoming an important part of education and future job preparation for students.
The prestigious EPA Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowships For Graduate Environmental Study included this special note which states that awards, “may involve the collection of “Geospatial Information,” which includes information that identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features or boundaries on the Earth or applications, tools, and hardware associated with the generation, maintenance, or distribution of such information. This information may be derived from, among other things, a Geographic Positioning System (GPS), remote sensing, mapping, charting, and surveying technologies, or statistical data.”
The 26th International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management also created a section for Geotechnical topics due to the increasing number of papers being submitted on the subject of solid waste and geospatial analysis such as route planning, design, administration, and cross-boundary environmental issues.
Like many recent weather-related disasters, the media and on-line websites have started to increasingly use interactive maps to explain disasters such as Guardian UK and other news outlets coverage of the current Australian flooding. In most areas where flooding is a problem, flood maps are very important not only for planning, such as the work done by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, but also for insurance purposes. In fact, flood insurance has been a major topic of debate over the past few years in Australia, and GIS plays an important part in it as demonstrated in a 2009 ESRI Australia Insurance Flood Map and Risk Policy Pricing video.
The flooding reminded me of a 1988 science fiction disaster book I read called “The Drowning Towers” by distinguished Australian writer George Turner, which explored what would happen to society, if Australia flooded. It is considered one of the top science fiction novels of all time, but at the time it was written the idea of a flood on such a huge scale was considered to be unbelievable. It is interesting to me because disaster fiction always seems related to the geographical background of the person writing it, flooding has always been a very real problem in Australia. Corbis images has pictures of the Brisbane, Australia flood of 1893, Walking Melbourne has many historic photos includes ones of the 1863 flood, while the Australian Bureau of Meteorology provides a brief history of Queensland floods.
Finally, a national appeal has been started to raise funds, accept donations, and provide resources through the Queensland government.
There are many restaurant apps around that rely on users to input location on their locale or sites they visit to create a national or international database.
The most recent one I have found out about is The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood WATCH Project FishMap which asks users to share information on the locations of restaurants and markets for sustainable seafood. It provides seafood pictures and a list of seafood that is ocean friendly.
According to the Seafood WATCH website, they make
recommendations using science-based, peer reviewed, and ecosystem-based criteria. They state that “Since 1999, we’ve distributed tens of millions of pocket guides, our iPhone application has been downloaded more than 240,000 times, and we have close to 200 partners across North America, including the two largest food service companies in the U.S.”
The downloads and partners are important because voluntary apps are only as useful as the quantity of participants and quality/reliability of the information they enter.
While searching to find out how closely Bones TV show 3D rendering is to real life forensics, I ran across the history of Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death models which are housed at the Maryland Medical Examiner‘s Office in Baltimore, MD. From the amount of documentaries, stories, articles, and books, as well as the number of fields she touched (medicine,law, law enforcement, education…)I couldn’t believe I had never heard of her before.
Frances Glessner Lee, an International Harvester Co. heiress in the 1940’s is often called the “mother of modern forensic science” because of her dedication and support of legal medical studies and her construction of miniatures to teach inexperiences law enforcement about crime scenes. A 1949 Coronet article from Sameshield.com explains her contributions at a time when her techniques were the height of forensic technology. Frances Lee still contributes to modern forensics modeling through the Harvard Associates in Police Science, Inc. which she founded in 1945.
And back to Bones and modern day modeling… I found lots of exciting and surprisingly reasonably priced geospatial tools for forensics like PhotoModeler photogrammetry software that replaces time consuming surveyor measurements. Modern technologies aren’t the magic geospatial modeling bullet viewers expect from TV but I think Frances Lee would approve.
In 2008, Sue posted about the U.S. Department of Energy‘s National Renewable Energy Laboratory Atlas that was in development. I ran across the completed NREL FTP site with geospatial toolkits and GIS data by the NREL GIS team. They analyze wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and other energy resources and provide corresponding GIS data. This includes a beta version of their MapSearch of maps created by the team. I had the honor of attending (sitting in the audience) a surprisingly tense and exciting National Middle School Science Bowl many years ago, so it was interesting to find out that NREL manages the National Middle School Science Bowl for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.
By now, almost everyone has seen the cool You Tube video of the Japanese students fake skydiving using a projector and Google Earth. However, all the posts and comments focus on the skydiving part and how realistic, non-realistic, or just plain awesome it is. When I watched it my first thought was, “that is a really cool way to build a cheap, portable virtual environment.” The closest approximation I could find to what they did are electronic art canvases which cost about $3,000. They are used at the really cool Collaborative Advanced Navigation Virtual Art Studio at the Krannert Art Museum/University of Illinois, Champaign. To do truly immersive research and projects, virtual environments such as the EON Icube cost upwards of $50,000 to over $1 million dollars. Which brings me to the other thought I had while watching the Google Skydiving video, “There is no way anyone would let you do that in a commercial virtual environment, especially if there is a chance someone would get motion sick or worse bring down a sensor or mirror.” But I can add this to my list of things I would do if I had my own CAVE, along with play massive multi-player online video games and make my own music video.
The New-York Historical Society (N-YHS) is attempting to document Times Square at this moment and time and space by requesting photos from anyone in the public. According to the NY Historical Society guidelines, “The original digital photographs of contemporary Times Square in New York City (from West 42nd to 47th Streets at Broadway or Seventh Avenue) taken between November 21, 2010 and March 31, 2011. Digital photographs must be e-mailed to email@example.com in either GIF, JPG or PNG format. N-YHS is interested in exterior architectural photographs, outdoor portraits, group snapshots, photographs depicting billboards and advertisements, and interior images of notable area buildings. Images should be at least 1,200 X 1,500 pixels (or 8″ by 10″). Minor color correction and/or cropping is acceptable as long as the original subject matter of the photograph remains in tact.”
If you are looking for inspiration there are many books such as On the Town: One Hundred Years of Spectacle in Times Square by Marshall Berman, and Where the Ball Drops: Days and Nights in Times Square by Daniel Makagon, which document Time Square through words and photographs. If you can’t get to Times Square to take photos, but want to see what all the fuss is about, EarthCam has a Times Square webcam set up.
The news that NASA discovered a new type of microorganism has overshadowed new findings on Pluto. The Christian Science Monitor presents both sides of the debate, “Should Pluto be Restored as a Planet?” According to Mike Wall from Space.com, Pluto was found to be slightly larger than Eris, the entity that supplanted it, re-opening the debate if it should be restored as a full-fledged planet. Discovery News details the method used to compare the size of Eris and Pluto. In several articles Mike Brown, who discovered Eris and wrote the appropriately titled book, “How I Killed Pluto and Why it Had it Coming” states that the most important part of the discovery isn’t about size but the fact that Eris is much denser than Pluto and thus a totally different composition and origin. In his posts on Mike Brown’s Planets he describes the Skymapper project to survey the whole southern skies by Australian National University.