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
Each year the number of media sources using interactive election maps increases, from search engines like Bing Elections to newspapers of record like the New York Times Elections 2014, to public television like PBS.org, or media like USA Today. Even Facebook has added an ‘I voted‘ button. Some are created in-house using geospatial software like ESRI GIS for Elections and Redistricting, others use mapping software like Google Maps, but interactive election maps are so important to election news reporting there is a market for companies like InstantAtlas, Axismaps, and others to sell election results reporting tools. In 2012, Visual.ly provided a critique of Eight Different Takes on Presidential Election Maps, which remains relevant to the U.S. 2014 mid-term elections.
However, an Electoral College Map Activity from Colonial Williamsburg for the election of 1800, 270 to Win’s historic presidential election maps, and a project on A New Commonwealth Votes: Using GIS to Analyze the Politics of Turn of the Century Massachusetts demonstrate that mapping and GIS are engaging no matter the time period or the election. Although it is nice to see an elected officials office littered with maps whether they be on multiple monitors or strewn around the office as In Jefferson’s Cabinet, 1803.
DigitalGlobe, a commercial high-resolution earth imagery company, launched its aptly named e-magazine, PERSPECTIVES, today. The trade magazine provides 52 pages of stunning imagery and detailed information on the satellite imagery and remote sensing industry. Although it focuses on DigitalGlobe technologies, the magazine provides insight into a broad swath of topic areas from mineral exploration to infrastructure to penguin migration. PERSPECTIVES will provide articles, case studies, and technical papers in their upcoming issues.
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 Center, Precipitation 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
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog article, “10 Maps that show how much time Americans spend grooming, eating, thinking, and praying” presents some crisp maps using data from the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey. The article is an interesting introduction to regional geography, but it is sometimes jarring to find a website presenting spatial information that lends itself to interactive mapping as analog maps. After spending a few seconds clicking and rolling over states before realizing the data I wanted was presented in a table at the end of the article, the analog maps raised the important cartographic question of when to use an interactive map.
Interactive maps have become such an ubiquitous method for visualizing complex spatial information that geospatial professionals sometimes don’t ask if an interactive maps is always the best one. An article in a 2013 Journal of Spatial Information Science by Robert E. Roth explores the question of “Interactive maps: What we know and what we need to know“. According to Roth, “Cartographic interaction is defined as the dialog between a human and map,mediated through a computing device, and is essential to the research into interactive cartography, geovisualization, and geovisual analytics”.
An article in Scientific America, “The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens” asks How exactly does the technology we use to read change the way we read? but it could also explain why we sometimes expect a static, analog map to be interactive.
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.
The June 2 deadline for the Esri Climate Resilience App Challenge is fast approaching. The challenge is open to geospatial developers, of all ages from the from the private sector and the general public, to create an app using the Esri ArcGIS Platform that conveys data on climate change risks and impacts in compelling and useful ways that help citizens, businesses, and communities make smart choices in the face of climate change.
The challenge is based on Climate Data Initiative needs outlined in the Climate Action Plan developed by the Obama Administration in June 2013. A new initiative in 2014, Climate.Data.gov provides resiliency data and tools on topics such as the vulnerability of the food supply and the threats to human health from climate change. Geographic map data for climate preparedness from different agencies has been collected and is made available via the geoplatform.gov and cliamate.data.gov. Several examples of existing flood and other tools are available for developers planning to enter the challenge.
Today, NASA, geospatial scientists, and people from around the world celebrate the first time that we saw Earth, in a now familiar view, from space. Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., the first American in space, took the famous photo from the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule on May 5, 1961. The Space Fellowship website and community discuss “The Pioneering Mercury Astronauts Launched America’s Future” . The Kennedy Space Center Historical Archive of Manned Space Flights gives a detailed mission objective for the Freedom 7 from May 5th. If you want to relive the moment, Extreme Tech provides a live video feed of Earth from Space, as part of the High Definition Earth Viewing experiment.
The Federation of American Scientists has an information rich remote sensing tutorial that states, “Before entering this Overview, ponder this slogan: REMOTE SENSING is the BACKBONE of the SPACE PROGRAM”. The backbone of modern remote sensing might well be education, innovation, and experimentation – Alan B. Shepard said that , “The first plane ride was in a homemade glider my buddy and I built. Unfortunately we didn’t get more than four feet off the ground, because it crashed.” Educators, citizen scientists, and hobbyists of all types are creating hands-on remote sensing and unmanned vehicle education that will inspire the next generation.
The Guardian this week has a nostalgic reflection by Rachel Hewitt asking if this is “The end of the road for Ordnance Survey? Ordnance Survey paper maps are under threat from digital devices. Rachel Hewitt celebrates an ‘icon of England’ beloved by generations of hikers, poets and artists” Continue reading
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.