GIS and California: The Alarming Revelation

Another guest post by this semester’s journalism intern.

Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, are computer systems that allow individuals to map, model, and analyze large amounts of data through a single database. Recently, through the help of GIS maps, significant data have turned up some alarming realizations in regards to a very crucial and life-changing matter: water supply. This new information shows how important the use of GIS is, and how it is utilized in a matter that can effect everyday living.

Californians have a lot to worry about nowadays on top of the mudslides, wildfires, and battles with oil companies. The state referred to by some as “unsustainable” has always had issues with water supply. Now, with new information brought forth by NASA scientists, a strict and frightening op-ed has been released to Californians regarding their water: The state only has about one year of water supply left.

Other information also found by NASA satellites indicate that water basins in Sacramento and San Joaquin are 34 million acre-feet below normal compared to the 2014 year, which started October 1, 2013 and ended September 30, 2014. With it being the hottest year yet for California, water gages from The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California indicate that last year was mostly responsible for damage to the water supply for the state, and the lack of snowfall and overall precipitation didn’t help the drought. The Sierra Nevada (Sacramento) is responsible for more than 60 percent of water supply to the state. It sources drinking water for 23 million people, and irrigation water for agricultural land.
Continue reading “GIS and California: The Alarming Revelation”

GIS DAY 15th Anniversary: Take the way back machine

Take the way back machine to the first GIS Day in Spring of 1999. ESRI ARC News Online announced GIS Day 1999 Slated for November!  According to the press release, ESRI told users to “Get ready to learn more about GIS and geography. The National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers (AAG), and Esri are announcing the first annual GIS Day to be held November 19, 1999–the Friday of Geography Awareness Week (November 14-20, 1999)”.  According to Jack Dangermond, “The idea behind GIS Day is to create a single, worldwide event that effectively communicates the benefits and significance of GIS to the rest of society. There are about half a million GIS users in the world, but most of the public is unaware of this growing technology.”  It is difficult to comprehend that in the span of a little more than short years since that inaugural GIS Day, the world has experienced what Penn State calls the geospatial revolution significantly impacting the number of GIS users worldwide. Continue reading “GIS DAY 15th Anniversary: Take the way back machine”

NASA, Big Data, and a Real World Jigsaw Puzzle

NASA has posted two news items that illustrate the large amounts of data that they are generating. NASA| The Data Downpour is a  video describing how the GPM constellation turns observed radiances and reflectivities of global precipitation – falling snow and rain – into data products.  They detail this huge task in “GPM Mission’s How-to Guide for Making Global Rain Maps“. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight CenterPrecipitation Processing System (Greenbelt, Maryland)  is tasked with compiling remote sensing data from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.  The  data set will eventually become one unified global data set.  A simplified version of a very exacting process, as any geospatial professional will tell you. Continue reading “NASA, Big Data, and a Real World Jigsaw Puzzle”

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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Spatial Easter Egg Hunts

Easter Basket with Easter EggsLocation-based technologies are helping Easter Egg hunts go high-tech with the assistance of geospatial professionals taking their love of spatial technologies into their communities.

The funniest quote from an article in the Fairbanks News-Miner about how “To Hunt Easter Eggs the modern way, Fairbanks students grab GPS” is “When students in Kuntz’s multi-grade class raised the idea of holding an Easter egg hunt with their buddies, fourth-grader Tanja Gens volunteered her mother, Anupma Prakash, to lead it. Prakash is a professor of Remote Sensing Geology and Geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.”  The North Central Ohio Geocachers hosted a “Hunt Easter Eggs with GPS Units” event at The Crawford Park District. Danbury Park in Essex UK held a GPS Easter Egg Hunt for their Young Rangers.

Some towns are holding GPS Easter Egg Hunts for fun and to increase tourism. Many of these are more challenging than regular Easter Egg Hunts. They charge per team and require teams to bring their own handheld GPS unit. The town of Ninety Six held a GPS Easter Egg Hunt at Lake Greenwood State Park. The Vermillion River Reservation in Lorain County held one. The Northern Life Canada found that the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area combined “Easter Eggs, GPS, and Nature” into an Earth Day EGG-Stravaganza. Even REI Outdoor Outfitters held a class on Family Geocaching: Easter Egg Hunt.

Cherry Blossom Season 2014

japanese_cherryblossomsOne of the heralds of spring in our region is the arrival of the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C.  In the past, it was difficult to time visits just right in time to see them in bloom. The Washington Post has made a crowd sourced map for Cherry Blossom Season 2014 all around the DC area.

The Washington Post make it easy to post geotagged #DCblooms photos via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Phoebe Connelly, one of the map creators, created easy to follow instructions on “How to geotag Cherry Blossom Festival photos and videos on Twitter, Instagram“.  A nice service that many media sites leave out of their crowd sourcing events, which makes crowd sourcing more accessible to the general population and useful as a collaborative learning tool.

The Technical Services Department at Casey Trees, a tree preservation non-profit in Washington D.C. created a  “Mapping the Blossoms” tool which identifies each individual cherry tree in the D.C. Tidal Basin along with its background information who it was planted by and its geographic coordinates. 

Japan’s National Tourism Site has a beautiful “The Bloom of Cherry Blossoms 2014” interactive map which combines usefulness with beautiful cartography. The most amazing Cherry Blossom Season map is Google Street View Guide to Japan: Sakura Edition.

 

GIS Day in the News

Updated:

Today is GIS Day and it is making headlines in major newspapers around the globe. While some mainstream media sources are celebrating GIS Day by name, others are participating in spirit by having spatial news articles like the The New York Times, a newspaper of record, article on Mapping Bitcoin from November 19, 2013.  But the GIS news that will make you feel warm-hearted are the regional newspapers, whose coverage is more reflective about GIS, their community, and the impact it has had on their lives. It is a true celebration of GIS Day.

The Milwaukee -Wisconsin Sentinal has an in-depth article on “Mapping the possibilities with GIS technology” that focuses on GIS in Wisconsin. The Jamaica Observer’s article states that finds that the “Gov’t wants more professionals to use GIS”  The Austin Statesmen draws the community in by stating that ” GIS Day brings practical examples of geographic technologyPublic-based technology used daily” While, The Salisbury Post more succinctly puts it, “Pothole? Broken street light? Report them using your phone, GIS“.  Some towns such as Culpeper, even used the upcoming GIS Day opportunity to announce that their “Town launches new GIS system

The Chattanoogan.com Business section combined two great events in one, announcing that, “Connected Tennessee Releases New Broadband Availability Figures In Support Of GIS Day 2013“. In Pennsylvania, the Governor proclaimed Nov. 20 as GIS Day, while “Local High School Students Learn About High-Tech Careers at ‘GIS Day’” including the text of Governor Corbett’s proclamation in the PENNSlyvania News & Buzz.

The future of GIS And teaching children is often the focus of GIS Day news coverage. The Caller.com highlighted GIS DAY in their  Corpus Christi Photos round up with one symbolic photo of a young person, while the Killen Daily Herald states that not only did, “1,300 area sixth graders attend GIS Day” but the event is so big that “For more on GIS Day read tomorrow’s Killeen Daily Herald.”!

I will update this post throughout the day as GIS Day articles are posted online, keeping an eye on places such as the Winter Haven Library that will be holding a GIS Exhibit for the public on Thursday. Please send in your own local news.