Geospatial Gif Party: Now with NASA LEGO

I like visiting the blog, i09: We come from THE FUTURE,  for my daily dose of fun science and science fiction news. This headline, “Here’s the first look at Lego’s official Curiosity Rover Model” is how I found out about the cool Lego model created by an actual NASA Mechanical Engineer who worked on parts for the Curiosity Rover. It’s suitably accurate enough to use in any classroom because space engineers are serious about accuracy  for spacecraft and LEGO spacecraft. What caught my eye was a reply post that started, “Hey, I work with the New Horizons team (Pluto 2015!), and we’re pretty jealous of the Curiosity and Hayabusa sets, so we asked one of our Lego-obsessed scientist friends to make a model of the New Horizons Spacecraft for us and submit it to Cuusoo too!” and asks readers to register at and support their LEGO New Horizons Model. Within that comment section were more discussions about the accuracy of the LEGO model and its remote sensing technology like, “The star trackers need to be a piece, or pair of pieces, with the telescopes pointing at 90 degrees relative to each other”.  It’s this attention to scientific accuracy and detail that makes i09 a fun site to visit.  Continue reading “Geospatial Gif Party: Now with NASA LEGO”

United Nation’s International Migrants Day and GIS

December 18th is the United Nation’s International Migrants Day to recognize the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide.  Migrant workers and migration has had a natural fit with geography and geospatial approaches from historic analysis to today’s global world.  The UN is taking a geospatial approach to recognizing  International Migrants Day. They asked global citizens to participate by sharing photos and videos tied to their personal stories about how migrants positively contribute to communities and economies worldwide on Facebook and Twitter using #IAmAMigrant which were then featured on the UN’s Storify page. Storify by Livefyre is a free online tool that collects location based social media and videos from around the web into a unified story.

Continue reading “United Nation’s International Migrants Day and GIS”

3D printing and GIS

It is difficult to remember that last year the 3D printing industry hadn’t inundated the public consciousness because 3D printing and 3D visualizations were still an innovative, but not yet wide-spread technology. What a difference a year can make and how quickly a technology can go from innovation to necessity. Forbes magazine recently advised its audience on, “How to Invest in the 3d Printing Industry”, CNBC gave a basic overview of “What Investors Need to Know to About 3D Printing“, while the Motley Fool said that despite the fact that, “3-D Printing Stocks Got Hammered” their performance in the past year has been “simply astounding”. There are an increasing number of business sites devoted to the 3D printing industry including 3dprinting Industry.com  and 3ders.org who predicts that the 3D printing market will be worth more than 8 billion by 2020. Continue reading “3D printing and GIS”

GIS Day in the News

Updated:

Today is GIS Day and it is making headlines in major newspapers around the globe. While some mainstream media sources are celebrating GIS Day by name, others are participating in spirit by having spatial news articles like the The New York Times, a newspaper of record, article on Mapping Bitcoin from November 19, 2013.  But the GIS news that will make you feel warm-hearted are the regional newspapers, whose coverage is more reflective about GIS, their community, and the impact it has had on their lives. It is a true celebration of GIS Day.

The Milwaukee -Wisconsin Sentinal has an in-depth article on “Mapping the possibilities with GIS technology” that focuses on GIS in Wisconsin. The Jamaica Observer’s article states that finds that the “Gov’t wants more professionals to use GIS”  The Austin Statesmen draws the community in by stating that ” GIS Day brings practical examples of geographic technologyPublic-based technology used daily” While, The Salisbury Post more succinctly puts it, “Pothole? Broken street light? Report them using your phone, GIS“.  Some towns such as Culpeper, even used the upcoming GIS Day opportunity to announce that their “Town launches new GIS system

The Chattanoogan.com Business section combined two great events in one, announcing that, “Connected Tennessee Releases New Broadband Availability Figures In Support Of GIS Day 2013“. In Pennsylvania, the Governor proclaimed Nov. 20 as GIS Day, while “Local High School Students Learn About High-Tech Careers at ‘GIS Day’” including the text of Governor Corbett’s proclamation in the PENNSlyvania News & Buzz.

The future of GIS And teaching children is often the focus of GIS Day news coverage. The Caller.com highlighted GIS DAY in their  Corpus Christi Photos round up with one symbolic photo of a young person, while the Killen Daily Herald states that not only did, “1,300 area sixth graders attend GIS Day” but the event is so big that “For more on GIS Day read tomorrow’s Killeen Daily Herald.”!

I will update this post throughout the day as GIS Day articles are posted online, keeping an eye on places such as the Winter Haven Library that will be holding a GIS Exhibit for the public on Thursday. Please send in your own local news.

 

Geocaching goes mainstream

In the world of advertising and marketing, it is fairly easy to guess that if something starts to show up on deal sites and clearance sections that it has either A. gone mainstream or B. jumped the shark and is no longer “cool”.  Either way, this is good news for geocaching which has shown up in some fairly mainstream places lately.

Todays, Woot megadeal site has an entertaining video, Mortimer’s Adventures in Geocaching, to sell geocaching items on sale that features their mascot, Mortimer.  Statements like “Geocaching is like a real life treasure hunt you can go on almost anywhere there is a steady population of nerds” might indicate that the Woot Seattle office has some veteran geocachers in the office.  However, finding cool Lego figurines might just be a geocacher’s dream item. Continue reading “Geocaching goes mainstream”

Geospatial Analysis of “America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy”

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting in-depth report on Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy and an interactive map of the status of cleanup by state. While they call the interactive map an “interactive database” in their document on The Journal’s Methodology, it is good to see such in-depth meta-data and open methodology being used by a news site. They discuss where they found their data, how they used it, and missing data.

The Waste Lands project is also a venture into citizen science and digital humanities because, “Now that this database has been released to the public, the Journal welcomes additional information on these sites from the public. Send relevant tips, photographs, and documents to wastelands@wsj.com

Other than not using the words spatial, geospatial, geography, or spatial database anywhere in the project, it is an excellent example of how interactive maps can be a part of the investigative journalism process and not just a visual that draws the eye to an article.

The Geography of Twitter

The Switch writer, Caitlin Dewey, reviewed a recent study on Twitter in her article on “Where do Twitter trends start? Try Cincinnati” for the Washington Post.  It summarizes a study done at Indiana University on where Twitter topics trend and spread.  It found that Twitter trends that start in Cincinnati tend to spread out and reach other cities more than would have been thought for a city of that size. It concluded that physical geography has an impact on social media, which is often popularly thought of as transcending geographic location, by everyone but geographers and geospatial scientists – or do they? It turns out that The Geography of Twitter is a trending topic itself in the research world. Continue reading “The Geography of Twitter”

Remote Sensing as Art

A few years ago, I ran across a fun website, called Be My Satellite, which promotes geoliteracy through collaborative satellite image-hacking. It is a type of large scale art installment that uses the spatial pixel grid as a creative tool, typically for Google satellite views.   Another type of satellite art uses prints of images cut from Google Satellite View, Jenny Odell is a well known artist in this medium. Google Earth has generated many new types of art and revived others.  Google Earth Art blog asks if Google Earth is the inspiration that revival landscape painting needs. Other artists and photographers, such as Mishka Henner featured in DPReview are creating open-source art from Google Earth images that provide new perspective about life on Earth – much like geospatial analysis. While in late October, Clyde Space and iam8bit is releasing an Andy Warhol-inspired satellite created by artists Jon Gibson and Amanda White into space, making it the first space art installment.

Therefore, when a local artist told me that she had been experimenting with large scale art that you can only view from the air, I got excited. I told her that she was talking about geo-spatial art and that it was an actual movement in the art world. I was able to discuss geographic information science, remote sensing, satellites, NASA, Google, and the crossover of geospatial technologies and art.  It is always enjoyable when the topics that you like discussing and those that a friend enjoy discussing coincide – no matter how seemingly esoteric.  The next step is to use one of the many satellite trackers to identify a potential satellite and ArcGIS to mock up the installation. The hard part will be the attempts to align the two up just right – which  makes art and geospatial technologies a challenge.

Meta-Data, Locality, and WV-Gate

This past week, Democrat Natalie Tennant announced her run for Senate and it was covered by the Washington Post, “Natalie Tennant Officially Launches Senate Campaign in West Virginia“. However, the big news wasn’t her political platform, but rather the fact that her campaign video uses stock footage of a college campus – not West Virginia University, where she attended college, or another WV institute of higher learner but that of college rival, University of Pittsburgh. Twitter feeds in West Virginia lit up as people, who know their own local and feel very proud of it, pointed out the potential goof. Republican campaigners were quick to take to Twitter to denounce the mistake, but many did so by referencing The University of West Virginia or other variations that were not the correct place name of West Virginia University. A repeat of the cycle happened, Twitter feeds lit up again, as people who know their own local and feel very proud of it, pointed out the potential goof. After a day or two the whole thing died down and has mostly been forgotten.

As geo-spatial professionals, who sometimes work on projects outside the scope of our specific local knowledge, we can probably all sympathize with both mistakes – not choosing stock photos wisely and not double checking specific place names. However, as this incident and other incidents like it illustrate, it is often important to weigh the cost of double checking meta-data, when available, versus the cost of having to deal with the fallout if anyone notices a discrepancy that is important to them because they know the area very well.

To quote, former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill, “All politics is local”, which makes meta-data a politically charged issue that needs to be carefully considered when trying to reach the public.

San Fran Bay Bridge: The most spatial bridge in the world

According to NPR, when the newly completed San Francisco Bay Bridge reopened, “There was little fanfare, but the gleaming white and newly built $6.4-billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge reopened to the public as vehicles began crossing it after more than a decade of construction delays”. This lack of fanfare is surprising because for the past several years the Bay Bridge has been an ubiquitously geo-spatially explored bridge construction project owing to its proximity to innovative government, company, and residents and its importance in their lives. It is also the World’s Largest Self-Anchored Suspension Bridge.

To list a few spatial projects from over the years:

EarthCam released a time-lapse video of six years of construction on the bridge.