Old poll, new poll: March 2011

Back in January we asked the question “Which Esri Tech Certification are you thinking about?” and we received 88 responses which broke down to:

  • ArcGIS Desktop Associate/Professional – 39%
  • Web Application Developer Associate – 8%
  • Enterprise Geodatabase Management Associate – 1%
  • Enterprise Administration Associate – 1%
  • More than one – 14%
  • Not interested – 37%
  • Our new poll takes up to the sky and the sensors looking down on us. The question is “What type of plans do you have for Earth Observation Day (April 8)?” Your choice of answer is:

  • Hosting an event
  • Attending an event
  • No plans
  • New Jersey’s lost acres

    It’s amazing how often life immitates blog. For a class on qualitative GIS, I put together a Google Earth narrative history of growing up in north west New Jersey. I started with an up close Google Earth view of the lush green forested mountains and rolling farmland hills that I think of when I think of my home state, but I didn’t actually say where I was from until I zoomed out to show the shape of NJ. If I could have found a heart shaped shape file to use, I would have. It is interesting to geospatially visualize the dramatic growth that has happened in New Jersey in a relatively short period of time.

    This is why I enjoyed reading the New York Times article from August 2010 which reviews a report done on “Changing Landscapes in the Garden State” by Rowen and Rutgers Universities. Rowan University hosts an interactive companion site of animated maps from their report to illustrate two decades of urban growth and open space loss in New Jersey from 1986 through 2007. The report and interactive maps are part of an ongoing collaboration between the Geospatial Research Lab at Rowan University and the Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis at Rutgers University examining New Jersey’s urban growth and land use change.

    2011 DigitalGlobe – IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest

    Until I got an email today, I had forgotten I’d signed up for the 2011 DigitalGlobe – IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest which is due by by May 31, 2011. I am under no illusions that I know enough to win the contest or even enough to finish a contest entry, but I know that many of you could give it a good show. The Data Fusion Contest has been organized by the Data Fusion Technical Committee. It is uses a set of WorldView-2 multi-sequence images collected over Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) that have been provided by DigitalGlobe. Each participant decides the research topic and application they want to submit. Submissions are in accordance with the IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium guidelines.

    The IEEE is also asking for survey input on a new IEEE-GRSS journal tentatively entitled the “IEEE Journal of Geoinformation Science and Engineering” (JGSE) created do to the increasing crossover of geoinformation science and engineering

    Project Galileo

    Since I seem to be highlighting software that I am interested in getting time to work with lately, I thought I would return to Project Galileo, a great project that is currently going on over at Autodesk Labs. Building on many Autodesk desktop technologies (such as LandXplorer) and labs projects, Project Galileo is:

    an easy-to-use planning tool for creating 3D city models from civil, geospatial and building data, and 3D models. Galileo also enables users to sketch conceptual infrastructure ideas within the 3D city model.

    Only so much can be said about a technology, so instead of fumbling over a description I will point you to Autodesk Labs where Project Galileo will be available for your hands-on experience through mid-August, 2011. And of course there are always the videos that software manufacturers are providing to tempt us with their (soft)wares. This particular video looks at Project Galileo’s potential in GeoDesign.

    Bime and maps

    I came across an interesting demo video on YouTube today for a web-based analytics tool named Bime. While I haven’t had a chance to sit down and delve into the web app it seems to offer quite a few geo friendly tools including recognizing geographic data and the ability to create visualizations for both exploring data and presenting your results. This video focuses on their heat and graduated symbol map output options.

    New free stuff from Esri

    Today a couple of education and information materials came to my attention from Esri. The first is the third volume of the Essays on Geography and GIS, a volume of collected articles. This time around the Table of Contents look a little like this:

    What Is GIS?
    Geospatial Responses to Disasters: The Role of Cyberspace
    Governance of the NSDI
    What Is the Geographic Approach?
    Kingston University London: 20 Years of GIS Education
    Building INSPIRE: The Spatial Data Infrastructure for Europe
    GIS in a Changing World
    Getting to Know the Mapping Sciences Committee
    Opening the World to Everyone

    The other new item is a new 6 module Web Course titled Turning Data into Information Using ArcGIS 10. The web course was created to accentuate Geographic Information Systems and Science, Third Edition by Paul A. Longley Ph.D., Michael F. Goodchild Ph.D., David J. Maguire Ph.D., and David W. Rhind Ph.D. The course is made of:

    Module 1: Basics of Data and Information
    Module 2: Cartography, Map Production, and Geovisualization
    Module 3: Query and Measurement
    Module 4: Transformations and Descriptive Summaries
    Module 5: Optimization and Hypothesis Testing
    Module 6: Uncertainty

    3D Street-style Mapping with Kinect

    Almost daily, I see a new cool and amazing hack that someone has accomplished with Microsoft’s Kinect that tops the last one. I’m hoping to try my hand at some much more modest attempts this summer related to my immersive simulation project, but I couldn’t come close to what Martin Szarski has done: 3D street mapping with a Kinect, his Google Nexus One phone for GPS, and his trusty car. If you haven’t seen this yet, the results are pretty awesome. The Kinect captures images for real-world objects as he drives along the street, and his phone GPS allows him to tie the image data to real-world coordinates. Up till now, you had to have some pretty expensive equipment to pull this off, and he demonstrates that you can do it with fairly inexpensive hardware and some great coding ability, of course. Martin already has some plans on how to improve on his first setup which began as an indoor experiment, and you can read his explanation of how he did it over on his blog.

    Via TechTree

    Sustainable Seafood App

    There are many restaurant apps around that rely on users to input location on their locale or sites they visit to create a national or international database.

    The most recent one I have found out about is The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood WATCH Project FishMap which asks users to share information on the locations of restaurants and markets for sustainable seafood. It provides seafood pictures and a list of seafood that is ocean friendly.

    According to the Seafood WATCH website, they make
    recommendations using science-based, peer reviewed, and ecosystem-based criteria. They state that “Since 1999, we’ve distributed tens of millions of pocket guides, our iPhone application has been downloaded more than 240,000 times, and we have close to 200 partners across North America, including the two largest food service companies in the U.S.”

    The downloads and partners are important because voluntary apps are only as useful as the quantity of participants and quality/reliability of the information they enter.

    Mapping Facebook

    Mapping social networks isn’t anything new, but I find this lovely map of Facebook users in the BBC to be incredibly striking.  First, because it’s obviously beautiful.  Second, because you can use it as a proxy for the digital divide.  The map details connections between friends on Facebook with the bright points at the end being conjoined pairs of friends.  The spidery lines are the connections between those pairs.  It’s pretty striking that it creates a pretty good replica of a map of the Earth.  However, there are clear missing points, most notably lower population and lower wealth places.  China is the really interesting hole because of their restrictions and not because of wealth or population.  It would be really interesting to look at a finer scale map with some demographic data on top of it.  Are there places in even populated areas, such as the US, where Facebook just isn’t that popular?

    Remote Sensing and Freshwater

    This post was written as a guest post for the MyWonderfulWorld blog for Geography Awareness Week. Be sure to head over and check out more of the MWW blog-a-thon for GAW.

    Continuing Geography Awareness Week, we would like to talk about a topic that brings together geospatial technologies (it is GIS Day after all) with this year’s Geography Awareness Week theme of Freshwater. Water quality assessment is a crucial issue in many parts of the world due to causes such as pollution in manufacturing countries, scarcity in arid regions, and issues of access in urban areas. While Earth Observation Day is still a few months away (April 8, 2011), we wanted to take a look at geographic information gathered from remote sensing technologies to understand how this imagery can be used in studying water quality and other water-related issues.

    There are a number of remote sensing studies that have taken advantage of spectral responses of specific phenomena to look at how light of different wavelengths can capture various water quality issues including sediments suspended in water, algae blooms, aquatic plants, and water temperature. Additional studies of these spectral responses have also been used to derive information on salinity (pdf) , water clarity, and other water topics. The United States and the European Union, for instance, both have water quality mandates that have been supported through the use of remote sensing imagery, and they are not alone in the use of such imagery to address this need.

    In addition to studies that look at water quality, remotely sensed data has also been used to support a wide range of studies that deal with other water issues, such as identifying spatial changes in water bodies, by providing researchers with detailed views of an area. For example, remotely sensed data has been crucial in monitoring the contraction of the Aral Sea in central Asia, as well as other important bodies of water throughout the world. Other examples include mapping oil spills such as the spill this past summer in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill or change detection to track snow pack or glacial melt.

    While information derived from aerial or satellite images can support the large area assessment of surface water sources, it is often supported through the use of other location information/technologies. In-situ sensors are used by agencies such as the USGS. A network of fixed location sensors is maintained that can be used to ground truth certain aspects of water quality. In the case of studies that look at locations other than those with static location sensors, GPS receivers are used to record locations, such as in the case of randomly sampled ground truth test sites.

    Of course, the information that is captured and classified using remote sensing can be fused with other types geographic information to provide users and consumers with a contextual, and often richer, understanding of water quality issues. An article from the Summer 2009 issue of Imaging Notes, for example, talks about some of the GIS tools that are used in water quality modeling. The wealth of tools that can be brought to bear to assess water quality issues are growing and now include a number of geospatial technologies. So remember, even though we only celebrate Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day once a year, there are many amazing resources and research projects out there that utilize remotely-sensed information to help us understand and try to solve many of today’s pressing environmental issues, including water quality and availability.