The benefits of eating locally has been in the news lately. I decided to look up what I would have to do to eat locally. 100 mile diet uses google maps to give you a 100 mile local eating radius. It actually includes more places than I thought and redefines by limited definition of local. Hmmm, it makes eating locally look doable. Of course, I don’t live in Vancouver, that’s just their demonstration map.
Inspired by an old Numb3rs episode on schools and rfid, I started to see what GIS related technologies are being used in schools. According to the BBC, a U.K. based company, Edexcel, has created technology to rfid tag exam papers. U.S. company, aptly named Graffiti Tracker inc. has created technology to track, analyze, and reduce graffiti. You can watch their case study. It has become almost routine for new school buses to come with GPS tracking. Student tracking is gaining momentum in schools. The increased use of technology in schools has caused controversy, some people argue that they aren’t cost effective or infringe on privacy rights. Others, like some bus drivers, believe technology will be used to justify lower salaries or hiring less employees. I wonder if kids who use GIS technologies so seamlesslly in everyday life, will be so tech savvy they will push technology to a higher level then anyone can imagine in highschool (even grade school) and later in life as working professionals.
It’s all over the tabloid news. Angelina Jolie showing off her new tattoos – geographical map coordinates of her children’s country of birth. Does anyone want to check that they are correct? What is funny is the amount of bloggers and journalists asking “what do they mean” and “the secret of angelina’s tattoos revealed”. She’s a walking geography lesson.
If you haven’t seen them, the images from the exhibit ‘Earth from the Air’ are breathtaking. You can even send them as e-cards. “Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s mission was to create a photographic record of the natural world at the start of a new millennium. The collection of 160 images takes viewers off the ground and into the air to witness a bird’s-eye view of the extraordinary patterns and colours created in landscapes all over the world. Some are the result of human activity – farming, industry or habitation. Others are entirely sculpted by nature itself. None of these images could be seen or even imagined if you were standing on the ground.”
There are so many possibilities for the Pileus umbrella which has wireless internet, GPS and a Google Earth digital compass. The main one being, when will it do everything Inspector Gadget’s umbrella does. 2. If everyone is using the umbrellas, will it lessen incidences of skin cancer. 3. When will they build it into baseball caps. Other famous umbrella technologies that could be adapted are The Penguin, and the Avengers.
An interesting BBC article on the the first international forum for indigenous peoples highlights the use of gis to preserve indigenous rainforest or pygmy communities. The DLH group which created the specialized non-expert user software and ruggedized PDA’s for the project have an interesting article on the project. Data is captured when a user touches “a recognizable symbol on the specially configured touch-screen of the handheld computer, for instance, every time they encounter a sacred tree, a burial site or a special tree with many caterpillars which make up an important protein
substitute in their diet.The exact GPS position is then stored in the PDA to eventually produce a complete overview for the community of its resources. The community owns the intellectual rights to the maps completely and are put in charge of the mapping process themselves. This then allows them to enter into negotiations with CIB to secure their livelihoods.” The original project won a world bank award in 2005. What is also intereseting is that according to the New Agriculturist “These areas are all seemingly devoid of human habitation as the satellite imaging fails to register such low level human activity deep in the forest”
Michael Crichton wrote a book a called Prey about nanotechnology gone wrong – a swarm of nanobots that function as a hive and try to Borg the human race. Now British scientists have developed “Tiny “smart” devices that can be borne on the wind like dust particles could be carried in space probes to explore other planets” According to Dr John Barker, from the University of Glasgow, “the particles could use wireless networking to form swarms.” Cue ominous music, is that foreshadowing I hear? It’s a brilliant idea and combines everything I would want in a real life science fiction movie – space, technology, and the feeling you get when dreams (or books) become reality.
We usually think about tracking objects, more than we do about how they are actually tagged. This BBC picture documentary shows the process scientists went through to tag walruses for observation. The best quote is, “The tags were deployed with three instruments: a crossbow, a CO2-powered gun, and a harpoon that the skipper had made.” You can follow the tagged walrus migration through the “Walrus Watch” map and website, “showing the animals’ day-to-day progress during the two-month project”
This is a school trip no one is going to forget. Two bus loads of school kids ended up at an alleyway of the same name instead of a historic landmark because the bus driver had problems with their sat-nav. To compound the problem, “To make matters worse, the children were riding in two coaches not yet fitted with a tracking device allowing staff back at base to pinpoint their location and re-direct them” The bus company owner stressed that it wasn’t the technology that was the problem it was the quality of the content. A map is only as good as the information it contains, no matter how advanced technology gets.