Mapping defibrillators

The Wall Street Journal featured a health article on the need to map automated external defibrillators for heart attack response, “The Device that Saves Lives, But Can Be Hard To Find”.    Like many health saving devices, such as fire hydrants, many locations aren’t compiled in one easy to access location. The University of Pennsylvania and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation used crowd sourcing and public participation to map AED locations. The  project was called The My Heart Map Challenge , which utilized cash rewards to develop a smartphone app. They are currently creating a toolkit that other municipalities and cities can use to hold their own challenges.

Last year for the Hallmark Geography Teacher Barbie Ornament

I was told by my local Hallmark Store that this is the last year that Hallmark will  be making the Barbie series of ornaments including the Geography Teacher Barbie Ornament. It is called the Student Teacher Barbie Ornament but she is carrying a geography textbook, has a map pointer, and it comes with a globe background (circa 1965).

If you are more of a do it yourself ornament maker, Maps.com has directions for an origami globe ornament,which would be good as a project any time of the year. If anyone has used the smashed orange to teach map projections, as recommended in many geographical literacy toolkits, this would be another good activity. 

 

Geography of U.S. Charity

NPR’s Pam Kessler has an interesting story about a study done on the geography of charitable giving in the United States by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. She provides an audio story, text, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s interactive map. The finding that is highlighted by the study will be one that is common to geospatial analysts, people with more money tend to give more if they live in an economically diverse neighborhood. To paraphrase Tobler’s First Law of Geography, the First Law of U.S. Philanthropy is that anyone can give to any charity, but charity tends to begin at home and moves out from there.

The study itself was compiled using data from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service,  the U.S. Census by zip code, and data from the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics among others. The National Center for Charitable Statistics also created the Community Platform, a crowd-sourcing interactive map application designed to help communities and nonprofit organizations match community resources and needs.

Interactive Greenbelt Map

The Telegraph UK has an article on England’s Green Belt which provides an interactive Google map for residents to determine if they are in an area classified as green belt land. The most interesting part of the article is that it makes the data available to the public and states that in the past the data would have cost thousands of bounds despite the fact that it is funded using taxpayer money. It then provides a link to the downloadable data provided by The Department for Communities and Local Government.  This is a common debate among the GIS community, but not one that is normally brought up in popular media. It will be interesting to see the comments left by the public about the article and if the topic of available data comes up.

 

 

 

 

Map Auctions Collections, and Effects

The Wall Street Journal today has an article on map auctions coming up in December titled, “Here be Dragons – and Map Lovers“.  The maps, globes, and other cartographic items they list sell for several thousand to several million dollars. One collector says that he spends up to 10% of his income on map collecting. According to the Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc. most map collectors start out by collecting themed maps such as a specific geographic region, historical time period, or even type of cartographic style.  Geographaphicus, an antique map blog, says that one of the most frequent questions they get asked is how to determine if a map is authentic or a fake. This is a problem for collectors and also a staple plot device for literary novels and movies.

Antique maps have always made GIS users whistful and there are many requests on-line for how-tos on making a GIS map have more of the cartographic effect of an antique one, such as this post by James Fee from 2006 on creating historic map effects.  The Yale Map Library has a dated but thorough document on how  to do Classic Cartographic Techniques in ArcMap.  The real question is though, how will online and interactive maps stand up to antiquity? Will collectors be bidding on printed out versions of the maps we make today?

Forensic GIS: A Fast Growing Profession and CFP

The geospatial methods and technologies used in Forensic GIS are finally catching up to popular depictions in movies and television. Although most of the analysis done on shows like CSI is footwork done by geospatial professionals and not solely by a near omnipotent computer program. I have often debated the impact of the large number of forensic procedurals in popular T.V.,  movies, and books.  Mainly because the word GIS and mapping never seems to be used, even though that is the method being demonstrated. However, that will probably change considering the integration of Forensic GIS into the everyday practices around the world.

Forensic GIS has been used for many years in crime mapping around the world. Companies such as CSIR in New Zealand have used GIS and cell phone data to provide forensic evidence for criminal cases. GIS is used in every part of the investigation process creating jobs in the public, private, and university sectors. New jobs like GIS Analysis Expert Witness support for litigation have been created for companies like Digital Data Service or Geographic Resource Solutions which provides wildfire litigation. Other facets of forensic GIS include fraud dection, crime scene data , geospatial modeling in civil law suits, accident simulation, and for agency collaboration.

According to American Sentinel University, GIS and geospatial skills are a critical part of forensic science education today.  Many of these programs are offered at all levels of education from certificate programs to undergraduate, masters, and Ph. D.  It has led to innovation that serves the needs of forensic analysists in a unique way.  The Ohio State University Police Division used GIS mapping software to detect patterns inside human bones. Fellowships also exist for established professionals such as the  The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory, which provides a five course fellowship to assist in excavation and identification in Laos or Vietnam.  If you watch the  popular T.V. show Bones, this is the program that the main forensic scientist was involved in helping.  The U.S. Department of Justice and Crime Mapping Research Center provide an online Mapping Crime: Principle and Practice Book, which explains crime mapping from context, to methods, application, and ethics for law enforcement and others.

One of the ways to build up credibility and make it into the public and professional consciousness is to provide case studies of the real day to day work done by GIS professionals and any other type of GIS professional in the field. Many times people in the field think that calls for papers, book chapters, conferences, and journals are only for academics or journalists, however these same publications often have a hard time finding examples of real world projects to discuss. The same is true of other media such as television and online newspapers, who contact professionals and organizations that are visible. One of the most permanent ways to increase visibility and credibility is to publish in some format – editorials, blogs, conference papers, professional journals, popular press, and of course textbooks in the field.

If you are one of the many public, private, or academic professionals involved in the growing field of forensic GIS, there is a call for chapter proposals and chapter section contributions that can be considered for inclusion in the book at Forensic GIS: The Role of Geospatial Technologies for Investigating Crime and Providing Evidence, which is scheduled to be published by Springer in its popular Geotechnologies and the Environment series. The deadline is Friday, December 14, 2012.  Forensic GIS the profession is catching up to the popular perception of Forensic GIS the T.V. profession, share your real world applications and experiences with the next generation of Forensic GIS students.

Hurricane Sandy and Metadata

Many online news outlets are posting real-time or interactive maps of the impact of Hurricane Sandy.  It is nice to see that many of them are including meta-data on the source of their information. It is something that is often missing from online news maps, which is strange because of the normally strict rules about citing sources in news articles. The Guardian UK has posted interactive Google Map of every verified event along with a downloadable Google Fusion Table of citations. Mashable U.S. & World has provided an article on How to Follow Hurricane Sandy On-line including webcams, interactive maps, and apps. Many news sources such as the New York Times are using information from the National Weather Service or Google’s Hurricane Crisis Map. Being able to verify the source of information is important, but especially during a disaster event.

 

Geospatial Games and Crowd Sourcing a Catalog

It’s never too early to get kids interested in geospatial technologies and geography. I was searching for a fun gift for a young kid and ran across the Daily Grommet, which is an online catalog that practices what it has termed “Citizen Commerce”. The site uses crowd sourcing to identify products and companies that people want to support. Their product lineup is constantly changing, but many of them are geospatial in nature. The ones that caught my eye were a number of games that teach 3D spatial skills such as a 3D maze game, the OGO build set which is basically a point, line, and polygon game, and the spatial 3d Challenge game.

The one that I thought might be really interesting was the  GeoPalz Activity Tracker. It combines a pedometer tracker with an online interactive site that allows kids to earn prizes.  When I initially read the description I thought that kids would be able to upload a map of their daily activity to the GeoPalz website and use it for interactive games, sort of like a mash-up of Google Maps with GPS Tracker and a Family Circus cartoon. The site looks like it uses the actual pedometer count,which is still really cool. It just goes to show how much we have come to expect of our geospatial technology in everyday life. More, More, More even for a kid’s toy.

From Hereford Mappa Mundi to Google Maps

The Observer Arts & Media section has an interesting review of several upcoming books and exhibits that discuss the continued power of maps and cartography. Vanessa Thorpe’s article, “From Shopping to warfare, why maps shape our minds as well as our planet” provides a review Simon Garfield’s new book On The Map, Jerry Brotton’s new book A History of the World in Twelve Maps, and an upcoming exhibition of globes at the Royal Geographical Society in London. She succinctly discusses how cartography helps to shape commerce and politics from ancient times until today.

What I found most interesting were the World Views at the end of the article because of the way they were truncated. The history of mapping jumps from Atlas Maior (1665) to Google Maps (21st Century). It made me ask myself, “Is Google Maps really the biggest cartographic world view of the 21st century?” and “What would I think of as significant between 1665-today?”  It raises many interesting questions for geographers to discuss.

Geospatial and Marketing Gimmicks

Many popular news sites, such as the Telegraph, have picked up the story of Nestle UK’s  campaign that embeds GPS trackers in candy bars, comparing it to the Golden Ticket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Using geospatial technologies as part of a marketing campaign has been around as long as the technologies themselves.

In 2006, The Charlotte County Visitor’s Bureau used a geocaching campaign to start a word of mouth marketing campaign by reaching over 3,000 geocachers, according to an article in the Herald Tribune.  A 2011 article in The Drum: Modern Marketing & Media, cites a Google study that found mapping and geospatial technology were one of the fastest growing types of marketing and were a major part of marketing strategy. Many marketing and public relations firms such as Blast Companies are using GPS enabled target marketing to reach customers. Specialized companies such as GoldRun focus on geospatial technologies such as GPS-linked and augmented reality environments. Popular types of geospatial campaigns include social media, QR codes, geocaching, and GPS-tracking.

 Using geospatial technologies in promotional campaigns hasn’t been without its hurdles. According to the Google study, like in many industries it has been difficult to introduce GIS and geospatial technologies for marketing and analysis because it requires a lot of work and a different mind set about how things are done. NetworkWorld raised questions about the security implications of GPS campaigns, while several other trade journals were skeptical about the effectiveness of the campaign. Only time (and sales numbers) will show how effective the Nestle UK campaign will be and determine if there will be an increase in GPS marketing campaigns in the future.