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
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.
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.
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. Continue reading
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.
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 TouchTable, weTable, and other multi-touch environments, that I overlooked the power of the humble interactive white board.
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.
Intel Labs is sponsoring a national civic hacking event June 1 -2, 2013 in order to solve community challenges using publicly-released data. They are calling it the National Day of Civic Hacking, probably because national day of collaborative software coding sounds like work. The event is supported by 20 government agencies including NASA, U.S. Census Bureau, FEMA, NSF and other offices. The event challenges are place specific and are focused on addressing the local needs of each community. According to the Hackforchange about page people, sponsors,organizations, and city, state, federal, government looking to get involved can attend, contribute data, or promote the event in their community.
The concept was created by the same researchers who started wethedata.org to address grand societal data challenges using open source data. These four topics have often been discussed on VerySpatial in regards to geospatial technologies and neogeography including digital access, digital literacy, digital trust, and openness. However, despite the fact that generally over 75% of local data is geospatial and their specific data is very location heavy, the Civic Hackers identified are engineers, technologists, civil servants, designers, artists…. but no geographers, neogeographers, geospatial analysts, or GIS is mentioned. Maybe everyone from the GIS community should get involved so that next year we all get a shout out.
NPR had a March story on “The Cicadas are Coming! Crowdsourcing An Underground Movement” about the public’s involvement in predicting cicada emergence, and the time is now. If you live on the East Coast, where the Magicicada Brood II is making its “squishy and crunchy” 17-year reappearance according to Radiolab’s Cicada Tracker, be a part of citizen science tracking cicada’s. Research Scientist’s at the University of Connecticut Ecology & Evolutionary Biology department provide a tracking form, Radiolab provides instructions for a cool home made cicada sensor or a cheap soil thermometer detection method to map “Swarmageddon”.
Other cicada projects include: The Mid-Atlantic Cicada database project is collecting brood reports to map for the mid-Atlantic region. The College of Mount St.Joseph and the Indian Academy of Science have a self-report site for mapping the Indiana brood at the IAS Cicada Web site. According to the IAS website, Gene Kritsky, author of the Indiana Academy of Science’s book “Periodical Cicadas, the Plague and the Puzzle” found that Magicicada Brood II was mentioned by Thomas Jefferson in 1724 and are still found in the same place today. Leon Weinman’s poem, “Cicadas, Monticello” for Cerise Press begins, “Numberless, in cradled isolation, they nurse their common fate. Years, beneath cool pines, they wait in their white silence, emerging finally, at once, in thick surrender to the air.” While I am not sure if it refers to Jefferson’s Monticello, Georgia‘s, or somewhere else, it captures the spirit of a cicada emergence.
If you want more information on cicadas, Cicada Mania is a website “Dedicated to cicadas, the most amazing insects in the world”! with detailed information, maps, videos, photos, songs and a gift store. Other sources for information include: National Geographic provides information on Cicadas at it’s website, Animal Planet explains “Why are Cicadas so Noisy?”, and University of Maryland the Cicadamanics reveal “Cicada-licoious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas” for the exceptionally curious.
By now almost everyone with a computer and some spare time has taken the Harvard Mouse Click Age Test, which tries to determine a person’s age by how proficient they are at using a computer mouse. I personally scored about 15 years younger than my real age making me almost a teenager again, so thank you: 1. Harvard, and 2. geospatial computing. A younger “computer age” might not have the same impact on a person’s quality of life as the results of The Real Age health assessment test, but it can often have an impact on your career.
Keeping up with new technology has always been a challenge in the job world, but today’s employee is faced with the intersecting need to keep up with the huge growth and changing type of technologies, the use of these technologies following them outside of work, the cost associated with the technologies and training, and many other factors. Several recent Wall Street Journal articles highlight the influence of social media, cloud computing, mobile recruiting, and other new technologies in finding and keeping a job, such as the increased use of smart phone apps for advertising and filling out applications. Many of these technologies have geospatial underpinnings that drive the technology. In addition, over the past few years the number of professions using GIS, remote sensing, and other geospatial technologies in their work on a routine basis is rapidly expanding. Careers such as facilities management, utilities, weather, municipal government, and a myriad others. Larry Wall blogged about how he thought that retiring from the oil & gas industry would mean he no longer had to keep up with technology, found that even part time jobs at the mall requires knowing how to use the latest devises.
Despite the ability to keep up with technology, age discrimination is a very real problem, even if there is no skills gap. The Statesman.com newspaper has a insightful article, “Older Workers Without Jobs Face Uphill Climb“, about the technology job scene in Austin that describes the situation faced by older IT workers. However, although HR departments often confuse professionals who work with geospatial data with IT workers, it is a different profession that involves complex skill sets that are both art and science. Many times this is developed over years of education, experience, and continued training. The geospatial workforce shortage that was explored as early as a 2005/2006 ESRI ArcNews Online article on “Defining the Components of the Geospatial Workforce – Who Are We?” and continues in reports such as The National Academies Press “Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence” and Geospatial Today’s “The Who’s Who in the Geospatial Sector Share Their Views on How The Industry Will Unfold in the Days To Come… Outlook 2013” which highlights the need for geospatial professionals across fields that are able to think dynamically and adapt quickly.
It would be interesting to find out if geospatial professionals were quicker “on the draw” or on the click, than other professions thanks to using ArcGIS and other geospatial software.