A VerySpatial Podcast
Shownotes – Episode 288
January 23, 2011
Main Topic: Our conversation on Internet/Web mapping for managers
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Some transportation engineers at NS State University have published a new study that shows left turns aren’t needed. We can create what are called “superstreets” that allow only right hand turns. This improves both travel times and safety, not to mention fuel economy. This isn’t exactly a new idea. Michigan already has this type of system (hence the “Michigan left” nickname) and it seems to invoke a love/hate relationship with drivers. UPS implemented a virtual system of no left turns years ago to save fuel and increase safety. There are a couple of things left out of the news reports on this, however. A system like this would take more land for roads, not less. Also, crossing 2-3 lanes of traffic to get to the U-turn can be problematic, I’d imagine, especially in rush hour. I’d also imagine the British would suggest this problem can be fixed with a good old ’round about’, although they’ve not really caught on in the US.
What do you guys think? Should left turns be a thing of the past we tell our grandkids about, like Atari and TV tubes, or do left turns make the most sense if you’re going left?
In about a month, the US Census Bureau will be releasing the 2010 Census data to states so that they can begin the process of redistricting for the House of Representatives, as well as state legislatures that use those boundaries for election districts. This process happens every ten years, and is a vital part of the process of governing here in the US. Redistricting is also an incredibly controversial political process, as political parties and other groups at all levels of government have a keen interest in how groups of voters are aggregated into districts. In the past, redistricting has often led to conflicts and lawsuits, as those with the power to make the redistricting maps can translate that power into electoral victories. Many people are at least familiar with the notion of gerrymandering, which is a term that dates back to the early 19th century, and refers to the deliberate drawing of electoral boundaries to try to increase a candidate’s or party’s chances of winning an election. There is even a new documentary film coming out called Gerrymandering, which is an in-depth look at mapping electoral districts and its impact on recent elections.
While searching to find out how closely Bones TV show 3D rendering is to real life forensics, I ran across the history of Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death models which are housed at the Maryland Medical Examiner‘s Office in Baltimore, MD. From the amount of documentaries, stories, articles, and books, as well as the number of fields she touched (medicine,law, law enforcement, education…)I couldn’t believe I had never heard of her before.
Frances Glessner Lee, an International Harvester Co. heiress in the 1940′s is often called the “mother of modern forensic science” because of her dedication and support of legal medical studies and her construction of miniatures to teach inexperiences law enforcement about crime scenes. A 1949 Coronet article from Sameshield.com explains her contributions at a time when her techniques were the height of forensic technology. Frances Lee still contributes to modern forensics modeling through the Harvard Associates in Police Science, Inc. which she founded in 1945.
And back to Bones and modern day modeling… I found lots of exciting and surprisingly reasonably priced geospatial tools for forensics like PhotoModeler photogrammetry software that replaces time consuming surveyor measurements. Modern technologies aren’t the magic geospatial modeling bullet viewers expect from TV but I think Frances Lee would approve.
A little movie with our holidays wishes to all our listeners and readers out there….
By now, almost everyone has seen the cool You Tube video of the Japanese students fake skydiving using a projector and Google Earth. However, all the posts and comments focus on the skydiving part and how realistic, non-realistic, or just plain awesome it is. When I watched it my first thought was, “that is a really cool way to build a cheap, portable virtual environment.” The closest approximation I could find to what they did are electronic art canvases which cost about $3,000. They are used at the really cool Collaborative Advanced Navigation Virtual Art Studio at the Krannert Art Museum/University of Illinois, Champaign. To do truly immersive research and projects, virtual environments such as the EON Icube cost upwards of $50,000 to over $1 million dollars. Which brings me to the other thought I had while watching the Google Skydiving video, “There is no way anyone would let you do that in a commercial virtual environment, especially if there is a chance someone would get motion sick or worse bring down a sensor or mirror.” But I can add this to my list of things I would do if I had my own CAVE, along with play massive multi-player online video games and make my own music video.