Smartphones,Urban Legends, and Grandmas

The geospatial community is so used to the growing use of geospatial technologies that it is easy to assume that everyone around you has been as immersed in how it works.  We take it for granted that everyone knows SmartPhones have geo-tagging or are location based, because it is the heart of many geospatial technologies that people use everyday. We also assume that people know how to turn geo-tagging on and off on their SmartPhones.  I was therefore surprised when several people I know posted this “Warning!!!! If you take photos with your cell phone” and were highly concerned about geo-tagging – because they had no idea that many of the applications they use on their SmartPhone use location based information.  cell_phone Continue reading “Smartphones,Urban Legends, and Grandmas”

GIS and Fine Art

My day was made brighter this morning by a Paris Metro Project by Hwan Lee, which is an Art Takes Paris project that details all 261 metro stations in Paris and the path of Hwan’s walking history. I know that it is an art exhibit and that it is an actual static map, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if interactive maps were so artistic. Frank LaFone and I have often discussed the need for artists to get involved in the geospatial process. It takes a certain eye to create a useful and aesthetically pleasing map. One that was either taught or engrained in many cartographers in the past. As the line of viewer’s at the ESRI Map Gallery and the People’s Choice Award Winner illustrates, art and maps create an enticing combination of human expression.   Continue reading “GIS and Fine Art”

A Review of Apps and Maps

We downloaded several apps for our Very Spatial Road Trip that were recommended by friends, online reviews, and VerySpatial podcasts. Since she was acting as navigator, Barbara insisted on stopping at AAA and picking up a stack of paper maps for back up.  We found that there is no better crucible for  road testing a travel app than a lengthy trip into the unknown under sometimes stressful and time imperative conditions. We felt like the explorers in Dava Sobel‘s book “Longitude” who were sent to sea with new technologies that we hoped would live up to their claims. It wasn’t until after our trip that we heard more honest opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the apps we packed.  A friend, who is a global traveler, told us that it is good travel etiquette to leave our own input on any crowd-sourced apps as our “payment” for using it and to “pass it on” to other travelers. In that spirit, we have written a review of the apps that we used on our road trip from WV to CA.

Continue reading “A Review of Apps and Maps”

Airport GIS

This July it is likely that more of the passengers arriving at San Diego International Airport  are asking themselves, “How geospatial is this airport?” than at any other time of year.  Many of the over 15,000 ESRI UC Conference attendees arrive through the airport. The answer is that San Diego’s airport is very spatial and so are an increasing number of airports worldwide. Even before getting into infrastructure management, San Diego International Airport provides a SanMap interactive map for passengers, tracks California Least Tern nests on its grounds as part of the California Least Tern Endangered Species Protection Program, and uses GIS in its Airport Noise Mitigation to respond to noise complaints from surrounding neighborhoods. A common saying I was told years ago by a  U.S. Department of Transportation official is to think of an airport as a small-sized city with all the same functions and services.

I was reminded of this saying when I reviewed the 2012 “Airport GIS Program Safety Benefits: A Change in Direction” presentation that explains the eALP or airport GIS initiative. It was made even clearer in detailed presentations by AECOM on the specific steps in developing an airport GIS for California, “An Introduction to Airports- GIS/electronic ALP (A-GIS/eALP)” and Arora Engineers presentation on how to implement an “FAA AGIS and Asset Management” program. While ESRI provides case studies of airports using GIS for Aviation.

There are several conferences dedicated to aviation GIS like The American Association of Airport Executives GIS (AAAE GIS) conference which focuses solely on the use of GIS at airports such as meeting FAA requirements, facilities management, safety, and marketing or the Aviation GIS Summit. The 3DVW: Spatial Blog of Jeff Thurstan’s has a good article on the “3rd Aviation GIS Summit 2013 – Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam” in relation to GIS, 3D planning, and airports.

If you are interested in an aviation GIS career or want to know the requirements for an aviation GIS Analyst there sites dedicated to aviation jobs. On Airline Job Finder, there were many GIS analyst jobs working for GIS offices or teams of aviation GIS analysts. The American Association of Airport Executives has a list of positions open.

Cat Tracks

The BBC News Science & Environment section has an article on “The Secret Life of the cat: What do our feline companions get up to?” with an interactive map of cats in a Surrey Village. It was created by BBC Two’s Horizon Program and researchers at the Royal Veterinary College. It is based on a study by Dr. Alan Wilson, an animal movement specialist, at the Structure & Motion Laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College. In his article, “Secret Life of the Cat: The Science of Tracking Our Pets“, he provides information on the technical challenges of using GPS to track domestic cats. Like many scientists working in the field, Dr. Wilson has had to develop his own tracking equipment in order to study the movement of pigeons, sheep, cheetahs, wild dogs, and of course, cats. He is currently working on developing unmanned arial vehicles for remote sensing and movement tracking. Cats are a great way to introduce the public to interactive mapping, tracking, and geospatial concepts because cats and birds are the most popular pets in the world.

The combination of cat popularity and GPS even resulted in a best selling book, “Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology” about a writer’s determination to find out what her cat did when he went off into the “wild”.  CNET has a good video, “Using GPS to Track Exactly Where Cats Creep“, about how the authors learned to track Tibi.  The convoluted way they had to map his tracks illustrates the need for education on using GIS or an easy to use cat GIS, to go along with the easy to use cat tracking GPS market.

Dance Your GIS

Frank very jokingly sent me an io9 article on Science’s 2013 “Dance Your Ph.D.” Contest in which Ph.D’s, past or present, can win $500 for conveying their Ph.D concept through interpretive dance. The Grand Prize winner will present at the TEDxBrussels. I told him, the joke is on him, because the geospatial has always led itself to the beauty of dance. One of last year’s winners, Riccardo Da Re, created a video on “Governance of Natural Resources: Social Network Analysis and Good Governance Indicators” that many of us that work in the public sector and GIS planning would probably rather sit through than another three hour meeting on how organizations work together. Penn State has a website dedicated to “Teaching World Music with Geospatial Technology” that includes many innovate lessons.

In 20012, Sarah Bennett , a Ph.D student from the University of Wisconsin, presented her poster on “Mapping the Qualitative Spaces of Dance” at the 2012 Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting. She used cartographic design techniques to map a relationship between the body and space in dance. Her poster was very popular because everyone who passed it wanted to try out her concepts.  A 2012 GIScience paper titled, “RElative MOtion (REMO) Analysis of Dance”  explored how geospatial methods could help better understand the movement of dancer’s including their azimuth and other patterns.

Sometimes it is just for the fun of it. The Land Surveyors United enjoyed the video on “How to Make Your Backhoe Dance” enough to put it on their official website.  National GIS conference often feature dance such as the recent NGIS conference were Shiva dance troupe performed and the ESRI User’s Conference that often feature themed dances, such as the 2009 Southern Hemisphere parade. Of course, I have to include Frank’s talking head dance at a geospatial conference.

Scaling Up for Tourism

It isn’t often in geography that you are able to get a 1:1 ratio on anything but a post this week by Luke Y. Thompson about the classic table top game The game of LIFE shows that Yoron Island in Japan is going to give it a try or “Super Terrific Japanese Thing: Yoron Island to become Real-Scale Game of Life.”   The post references news by RocketNews24 and Yoron Island Tourism.   The shape of Yoron Island mirrors the shape of the game board in the The Game of LIFE.  The Yoron Town Chamber of Commerce youth were brainstorming ways to increase tourism, since the island is still in reconstruction following typhoons last year. At the same time,  Hasbro’s game of The Game of LIFE is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year and is enjoyed by families across Japan and the world. Therefore, they decided to create a real life –  “Game of Life Island, Yoron.” Visitors to the island will be able to play LIFE in real scale from July 20, 2013 – September 16, 2013.  Yoron Island is part of the Amani Islands Quasi- National Park and is located in the Kagoshima prefecture. Kagoshima is home to Kagoshima University and the Kagoshima Institute of GIS and GPS Technology.

The question of what size would a game environment be to scale in the real world is one that gamers and artists often ask themselves. In 2011, artist Aram Bartholl provided a good background essay on why he wanted to build a full-sized Counter-Strike game map in the Game Informer Show. In his proposal, he says that games are a form of cultural heritage because millions of people have a shared spatial memory of the game space. While he was talking about 3D game environments, this is could possibly be even more true of older board games such as LIFE.

ESRI and National Day of Civic Hacking

I must issue a mea culpa because when I first looked at the sponsors and participants in the National Day of Civic Hacking June 1 – 2, 2013  I saw no mention of GIS, geographers, or geospatial technologies, even though the data itself was very spatial. Today, ESRI announced that it is sponsoring National Day of Civic Hacking geospatial events in four US cities: Los Angeles; Denver; St. Louis, and Minneapolis in order to bring geospatial awareness to civic hacking by providing subscriptions to ArcGIS Online, Esri’s cloud-based mapping platform, for hacker teams to use in their projects.  They are also providing Esri developer tools for anyone who wants to participate in other locations at their  ArcGIS for Developers page. This is a great way for people who want to get involved in the U.S. or anywhere in the world to participate in two days of civic engagement.

If you know of any other geospatial organizations that are sponsoring or participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking, please post them below.