The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) today announced the DARPA Network Challenge to mark the 40th anniversary of the Internet. The competition requires participants to discover the exact position of 10 large, red weather balloons that DARPA will place in undisclosed locations across the continental United States. The first person to identify the location of all the balloons will win a $40,000 cash prize. The balloons will be positioned on December 5, 2009.
The U.K. Daily Mail must have a geographer on staff because they always have interesting geospatial related stories. They recently have an article about a white water rafting company in Colorado that is using a “pigeon express” to deliver memory cards to the their home base. According to the article, Rocky Mountain Adventures found that trained pigeons were the quickest way cover the 30 miles to Fort Collins to get pictures developed before rafters got back to town. They follow in the great tradition of other homing pigeons such as Cher Ami, who during WWI flew 12 critical missions and was presented with the French Croix de guerre. The American Racing Pigeon Union (Homing Pigeons) which has been active in several forms since 1872 is still going strong today. All registered pigeons have a GPS chip on its leg band and electronic monitors, landing pad scans, and software keep track of race times and competitions.
Whenever anyone creates a crime map for an area, it always seems to raise the same questions about house values, safety, etc. According to the UK Daily Mail, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) believe a new interactive crime map could seriously hurt home values. The National Policing Improvement Agency provides information on crime and antisocial behaviour in England and Wales. The UK Home Office offers a crime mapping tool allows users to create maps showing counts and rates of crime at local authority level for England and Wales. What is especially interesting is that they ask users to provide feed-back of experience using the tools. The BBC has its own crime statistics map in its The Truth About Crime section. The U.S. National Institute of Justice has a good overview of crime mapping including reviews of a book titled, “Mapping Crime: Principle and Practice”
According to the Daily Mail, the famous Alton Barnes white horse landmark is being restored with 150 tons of chalk. It was last refreshed 25 years ago. A recent story in the Telegraph states that an older landmark, Osmington White Horse, was damaged by a 1989 attempt to refresh it as part of a television challenge involving teams of Scouts. I wonder if geospatial technologies have improved our ability to identify and possibly repair megalithic and similar sites.
The Foliage Network is a site that uses citizen scientists or foliage watchers to give them up to date reports on autumn leaves throught the U.S. and sends it to newspapers, television stations, and web sites. Highlighting the importance of participatory GIS is the fact that they can’t report on Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island because they don’t have any volunteers from those states. Anyone have any thing to report on how the fall leaves look there? Other countries that have fall foliage tours include the U.K., Transylvania, and Canada among others.
The United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service in partnership with NASA has a Crop Explorer mapping global food supply by region. It can be searched by region or commodity. One of the things I found most interesting was the visitor’s map which shows where people who visit the site are logging in from by date and country location.
I was looking up some old movies online and found tons of fun information on movies and their associated landmarks or states. Rotten Tomatoes has a fun “50 Movies for 50 States” U.S. map. It has some obvious ones like Kansas and the Wizard of Oz or Oklahoma and Oklahoma! but also many that you go “That’s right” when you click on them. I found that there are other people such as Scott Myers at NC-Chapel Hill and Matt Soergel of the Florida Times who have made their own lists. WebUrbanist has a creepy list of abandoned places used in movies, just in time for Halloween.
ABC News has a revisited the story of escape maps and tools hidden inside Monopoly games during WWII. According to the article, “The British secret service conspired with the U.K. manufacturer to stuff a compass, small metal tools, such as files, and, most importantly, a map, into cut-out compartments in the Monopoly board itself.” A very cute story about what happened to RAF escape maps after WWII is a picture in the book, “To The End Of The Earth” by Jeremy Hardwood, which shows women in 1945 buying a maps as scarves. A more in-depth story is in the book “The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit”. The Ebay U.K. site has many silk-printed escape maps for sale on their website.
There are several sites on-line where people have set up controllable Halloween decorations for various causes. Alek’s Halloween site is a little crowded but that’s part of its charm. He’s been doing it since 2005, has a Google map of the people who have participated, and all the decorations are wind-powered. Halloween Addict has a 2008 link to a “This American Life” podcast about a guy who maps Jack O’Lanterns in his NC neighborhood. Finally, A&E’s Paranormal States and Unexplained Mysteries provide the most comprehensive maps throughout their sites of any I have found on-line so far.