New Jersey’s lost acres

It’s amazing how often life immitates blog. For a class on qualitative GIS, I put together a Google Earth narrative history of growing up in north west New Jersey. I started with an up close Google Earth view of the lush green forested mountains and rolling farmland hills that I think of when I think of my home state, but I didn’t actually say where I was from until I zoomed out to show the shape of NJ. If I could have found a heart shaped shape file to use, I would have. It is interesting to geospatially visualize the dramatic growth that has happened in New Jersey in a relatively short period of time.

This is why I enjoyed reading the New York Times article from August 2010 which reviews a report done on “Changing Landscapes in the Garden State” by Rowen and Rutgers Universities. Rowan University hosts an interactive companion site of animated maps from their report to illustrate two decades of urban growth and open space loss in New Jersey from 1986 through 2007. The report and interactive maps are part of an ongoing collaboration between the Geospatial Research Lab at Rowan University and the Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis at Rutgers University examining New Jersey’s urban growth and land use change.

2011 DigitalGlobe – IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest

Until I got an email today, I had forgotten I’d signed up for the 2011 DigitalGlobe – IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest which is due by by May 31, 2011. I am under no illusions that I know enough to win the contest or even enough to finish a contest entry, but I know that many of you could give it a good show. The Data Fusion Contest has been organized by the Data Fusion Technical Committee. It is uses a set of WorldView-2 multi-sequence images collected over Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) that have been provided by DigitalGlobe. Each participant decides the research topic and application they want to submit. Submissions are in accordance with the IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium guidelines.

The IEEE is also asking for survey input on a new IEEE-GRSS journal tentatively entitled the “IEEE Journal of Geoinformation Science and Engineering” (JGSE) created do to the increasing crossover of geoinformation science and engineering

2012 Federal Budget: A Visual

You have to love Facebook because many times friends will post news articles that you might have missed. Everyone is talking about the new 2012 U.S. Government Budget that just came out. The New York Times has created a visual of the budget with different size blocks representing spending with a rollover to show the percentage of change from 2010. It is nifty to play with and gets across the big (or not) spending picture. The Washington Post uses a similar visual forrmat to show spending priorities from Reagan to Obama. Both visuals are interesting on their own but it is the surrounding budget articles that provide a good context for understanding their “rectangles”.

The spatial sound of the NY Subway

Treehugger has a an article that demonstrates the nexus of spatial technology, visualization, art, and travel. It was an interactive art piece crated by artist Alexander Chen turning the New York City’s MTA subway schedule virtual string instrument. In a more literal interpretation of virtual music, Wesleyan University hosts the World’s Virtual Music Museum which is a map of the origin of instruments in their collection, which is one of the largest in the world.

The MIT Clean Energy Entrepreneurship Prize

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.

Gough Map of Britain:Linguistic Geographies research project

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.

The Integration of Geospatial Technologies in Professions

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.

Australian Flood Maps

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.

Sustainable Seafood App

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.

Forensic modeling: then, now and on TV

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.