The Globe and Mail has an interesting article today on a site called HealthMap, created by epidemiologists at the Children’s Hospital Boston which uses participatory GIS and other information mined from the Internet to quickly identify potential patterns of disease outbreaks. According to the HealthMap website partners and supporters include Google, NIH, CDC, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Wildlife Conservation Society, International Society for Disease Surveillance and International Society for Travel Medicine which make it quite a large undertaking. Their advanced search options are very robust including being able to turn on and off layers for news feeds for sources such as ProMed, types of diseases, locations, and dates.

BBC talks about CryoSat

With the roll out of Cryosat’s first sea-ice map the BBC has posted (reposted?) an interview between Jonathan Amos, Science writer with BBC (does a lot of the space topics) and Dr Katherine Giles about how Cryosat works…which most of you already know, but it is a great description for a broad audience. Take a listen:

National Geospatial Technology Skills Competition heads to Round 3 at the Esri EdUC

We have talked about the GeoTech Center’s National Geospatial Skills Competition a couple of times on the podcast during the first two rounds, including an interview with Amy Bullard outlining the competition. Round one was an online test, and those who scored at a certain level were able to move on to Round two. Those in Round two created a video highlighting a software based project. The fourteen videos submitted to Round two have been judged and six finalists are heading to Round 3 to present their project at the Esri EdUC in San Diego. Those finalists are:

  • Evan Maier from Central Piedmont Community College
  • Feather Stolzenbach from the Community College of Baltimore County
  • Felicia Glapion from Northern Virginia Community College
  • Nathanial Wigington from Monterey Peninsula College
  • Paul Giers from Central Piedmont Community College
  • Sarah Tucker from White Mountains Community College
  • If one of the finalists can not make it to the presentation the next highest rank runner up will be invited.

    The presentations are currently scheduled for Sunday, 10 July at 3:15 in Marina – Salon F according to the EdUC schedule.

    Good luck to each of the finalists and well done to all of those who have competed in the first 2 rounds!

    Sony SmartAR – markerless augmented reality

    Augmented reality is one of those technologies that has seemed like it would be next big thing for the last couple of years, but it has proven pretty difficult to translate from WOW factor proof-of-concept prototypes to actual commercial implementations. When I saw this demo video of Sony’s Smart AR, though, I have to say I was pretty impressed with how good the AR model looks in the real-world environment it’s being projected into, and how responsive it is. The SmartAR seems to be able to handle movement in the 3D space really well, and the virtual object is not tied to the marker surface, which is really important in making the augmented reality compelling. Another aspect of SmartAR technology allows a user to capture an image of an object and then access additional information about that object through the device. For Sony, of course, implementing technology like Smart AR for gaming and other commercial uses is certainly a main focus, but I can see tons of other applications for markerless, high-speed augmented reality.

    Via Engadget

    Spatial mapping and fish

    The R2 Fish School Kit that has been featured on TV shows like ABC News and Animal Planet teaches your fish to play basketball, fetch, and more. It was developed by Dr. Dean Pomerleau and his son Kyle. Their goldfish “Albert Einstein” is the current Guinness World Record holder for the pet fish with the most tricks. These aren’t just parlor tricks, researchers like Dr. Pomerleau have been studying fish intelligence, especially spatial intelligence for a long time.

    A study by Seraphina Chung, of the Department of Human Biology, University of Toronto examined the use of different type of mazes to better understand the use of spatial learning by fish in their daily life. Other companies, such as FishBio use different spatial technologies like remote sensing, sensors, and 3-D side-scanning sonar to GPS fish habitats and migration routes.

    If you are interested in learning more about fish intelligence and considering the amazing spatial ability of migrating fish, spring is a great time to participate in a citizen science fish count. The Town of Plymouth, Maine Environmental Resources and many others have already started participation in fish counts. If it is too late to do it now in your area, you can mark your calendar for next year.

    Where on Earth?

    I just played a fun online game called, “Where on Earth” by Point 2 which was developed for educational museums and science centers. It shows landmarks from across the globe using NASA satellite photos and a player has three guesses of the location. If you have ever attended any geo-spatial related conferences, it is a computer version of the raffles they often hold to see who can guess the location of printed satellite imagery.

    Other fun remote sensing games online include several from NASA such as the adventures of Amelia the Pigeon and Echo the Bat and an older short one called “LandSat Game” from an extensive remote sensing tutorial.

    “Local Information is The Final Frontier”

    That’s a great quote from Google Maps product manager Manik Gupta! What led him to say such a thing is that Google is now opening their map to user input. Users will be able to edit the map to make it better. They’ve already launched the tool in 183 countries who do not have an adequate abundance of “official” data. It’s like the world’s largest Participatory GIS project! If you want to get started editing, head over to Google’s Mapmaker tool and start adding information to Google Maps.

    And if you’re curious who’s doing what, you can watch edits in real-ish time via their new Mapmaker Pulse tool. I gotta say, it’s fascinating to watch people digitize in real time around the globe!

    NYC BigApps Winner

    Laurie Segall’s article for CNN Money, “Bloomberg opens NYC data to entrepreneurs” announces the winner of this years NYC Bigapps using NYC public data sets. This year’s winner out of 50 apps was Roadify, a real-time app that sends alerts about subway, bus, and driving conditions. New York City, like many government agencies in recent years, wanted an innovative way to use many the unused or unexplored data sets that they don’t have the capacity to use. It is a great way to create jobs, create usable data, and involve the public.

    NASA’s Messenger gives us the first ever image from orbit above Mercury

    NASA’s Messenger (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft is already sending us amazing imagery of the surface of Mercury as it orbits the planet on a mission to obtain information about Mercury and what it’s made of. This image, released by NASA yesterday, is the first image of Mercury taken from orbit:

    Messenger is the first man-made satellite to orbit Mercury, although Mariner 10 sent back images during a flyby in the mid-1970s. Check out NASA’s Messenger mission page for lots more information and images as the mission progresses.

    Via Gizmodo