Cornell Lab of Ornithology YardMap beta

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has introduced some very exciting backyard citizen science applications that utilize remote sensing data. One of them is The YardMap citizen science project funded by the National Science Foundation Information Education Program  or advancing informal STEM Learning (AISL), as it is known now. YardMap is designed to cultivate a richer understanding of bird habitat, for both professional scientists and people concerned with their local environments. It is also a great way to make your yard bird friendly.  So far they have had 8098 YardMaps drawn using the YardMap Tool.

 

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Xerces Society: Bumble Bees and Monarch Butterflies

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is about more than just bumble bees and monarch butterflies, although these are popular citizen science mapping projects.  A mind-blowing 94 percent of the more than one million species of animals in the world are invertebrates.

The Xerces Society do applied research projects to protect invertebrates ranging from how to effectively restore pollinator habitat on farms, biomonitoring of wetlands, and conserving endangered invertebrates.  Established as a non-profit in 1971, the Xerces Society is working with over 40 years of data, much of it geospatial data.  Their scientists and volunteers have been using GIS and mapping for many years. The Stable Isotope Project  analyzes patterns of reproduction, emergence, and movement among migrant species of dragonfly at different latitudes.   The Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute compare the hydrogen isotope ratio in its wings to that of the water body where the insect was captured to map migratory distance. 

 

 

The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

Maps and Music are both powerful and together they can convey very complex emotions in a short span of time. The U.S. Library of Congress spent more than two years making “Songs of America“, a digital collection of over 80,000 curated recordings, sheet music, recordings and videos, interactive maps and more.  Their goal is to explore America’s history through the prism of song. While the actual interactive maps that help navigate Songs of America are useful, it is the the illustrated song recordings where maps appear naturally in the context of American life and song using the Library of Congress collection that make a powerful combination.

Pins on the Map: George Washington Slept Here

As you shiver in the cold today during what The Weather Channel is predicting could be the coldest winter on record for decades in North America, reflect on the 1780 snowstorm that hit George Washington’s army at Jockey Hollow in Morristown, NJ, now a National Park that commemorates the Continental Army’s winter encampment (December 1779 – June 1780). Here the soldiers survived the tail end of what historians and paleoclimatologists dub, “the little ice age”.   Continue reading “Pins on the Map: George Washington Slept Here”

The United States Railroad Administration

On December 26, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson nationalized the U.S railroads from 1917 – 1920 in response to the infrastructure demands of WWI. While it only lasted four years, the nationalization and standardization needed for the war effort led to innovations in railway infrastructure and planning. Railways have always been closely tied with advances in cartography, mapping, and infrastructure.

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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.

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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”

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.

 

Geospatial Education and Interactive White Boards

Recently, I have been developing a tutorial for using electronic white boards for education. What I never noticed before, because they work so well together, is the symbiotic relationship between the use of electronic white boards and geospatial technologies. In an ENO by Polyvision demonstration, today’s modern classroom (of 4 years ago) includes a Google Earth based geography lesson. Other demonstrations include the use of Google Sketchup on an Eno Board.  A short video from Bayside Secondary in Ontario demonstrates the geography classroom of today using iPad apps and a Smartboard in a geography exercise. Interactive white boards are a natural fit for geography because of the creation of interactive wall maps by many former static map publishers, such as those developed by KIDS Interactive or StrataLogica NECC. According to ESRI’s educational model for building geospatial proficiency, presentation is the first rung in developing geospatial literacy. A conference paper on the “Place of the interactive whiteboard in higher education of the Polish educational system” specifically discusses its use in teaching GIS and spatial literacy.

However, the integration of geography, GIS, and electronic whiteboards doesn’t stop at K-12 education. At the GIS Conference 2012: Logica/CGI demonstrate their collaboration between ArcGIS and SMART Board that can be used with ArcGIS Online. The Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency in Tennessee likes to use a a Smartboard in conjunction with their GIS, in order to all be “on the same page”. I think I am so used to thinking of collaborative GIS as being done on a horizontal touch screen or table top device, like the TouchTableweTable, and other multi-touch environments, that I overlooked the power of the humble interactive white board.

Geography Bee on NatGeo tonight

A quick, and last minute, reminder that the 2013 National Geographic Bee finals will be televised tonight. Head over to NatGeo at 7:00PM EDT to watch live or catch one of the replays later.

This year’s 10 finalists are:

Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, California
Pranit Nanda, Colorado
Ricky Uppaluri, Georgia
Conrad Oberhaus, Illinois
Sathwik Karnik, Massachusetts
Neha Middela, Michigan
Neelam Sandhu, New Hampshire
Harish Palani, Oregon
Akhil Rekulapelli, Virginia
Asha Jain, Wisconsin

As we have said before, any of the state and territorial finalists generally know way more than we do and should know that they are amazing for having made it to DC.