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.
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
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.
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 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?
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.
This week’s podcast (episode 274) looked at the 2D/3D question, but as we tend to do, we talked a good bit more about 3D than 2D. We each, of course, have worked with 2D and 3D applications, but again and again we have returned to 3D for a particular use. Urban environments scream for 3D. Sue has blogged about her efforts in creating 3D visualizations for historic environments, 3D models for planning activities, and the plain old fun of looking at city data in a 3D viewer.
But how can you get into the 3D city modeling game? Well there are lots of options.
These are just a few of the resources online that you could check out to get on the road to creating your own 3D cities.
This week’s main topic on the podcast focused on the role of Remote Sensing and Earth Observation. It seems to have been an unintentionally timely topic as the International Astronautical Conference is going on this week (Sept 27-Oct 1). News/press has already come out of the conference about some future satellites that will be up and running in the next few years. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) plans to launch 3 satellites by 2013. The sensors on these satellites will range from high resolutions (1m and 4m pixel) to moderate resolution (20m pixel) with the potential to capture 600km swaths.
In association with the announcement, Sir Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of SSTL discussed the seed money that allowed SSTL to spin off of University of Surrey going on to say: “We’re not asking government to fund grand space programmes,” he told BBC News. “But there are some technologies and some business cases that we need the help of government just to get us over the hump – to get the wheels turning.”
I still think that we should of course continue to spend government money on satellites for earth observation purposes, though I am excited about the growth of the commercial sector in this area as well.
Mashable (perhaps one of the cooler sites I visit each day) has a nifty story about an artist who drew Google Maps icons as if they existed in the real world. It’s rather interesting to think about these big push pins existing in real life, or a pop-up box over a building. Take away the surprised looking people and I think we’ll have a pretty good idea of what large scale augmented reality is likely to look in the near future.
Adam DuVander over at O’Reilly has written a decent summation article on the current state of mapping apis in the world. It’s a short read and highlights some issues, but I think the more important take-away is the lack of cross pollination between geographers and internet mappers. He doesn’t even discuss ESRI’s api, for instance, and it offers many of the capabilities for which Adam is asking. There’s simply too much stove piping between the ‘experts’, meaning traditional geospatial experts, and the ‘amateurs’, which are mostly people coming from more traditional computer backgrounds. Unfortuantely, I fear it might be on the shoulders of the geospatial experts to teach the rest that what we do is important and relevant. Otherwise we’re libel to see much re-inventing of our spatial wheels… except maybe with added spinners.