What is Your Real Geospatial Age?

By now almost everyone with a computer and some spare time has taken the Harvard Mouse Click Age Test, which tries to determine a person’s age by how proficient they are at using a computer mouse. I personally scored about 15 years younger than my real age making me almost a teenager again, so thank you: 1. Harvard, and 2. geospatial computing.   A younger “computer age” might not have the same impact on a person’s quality of life as the results of The Real Age health assessment test, but it can often have an impact on your career.

Keeping up with new technology has always been a challenge in the job world, but today’s employee is faced with the intersecting need to keep up with the huge growth and changing type of technologies, the use of these technologies following them outside of work, the cost associated with the technologies and training, and many other factors. Several recent Wall Street Journal articles highlight the influence of social media, cloud computing, mobile recruiting, and other new technologies in finding and keeping a job, such as the increased use of smart phone apps for advertising and filling out applications. Many of these technologies have geospatial underpinnings that drive the technology. In addition, over the past few years the number of professions using  GIS, remote sensing, and other geospatial technologies  in their work on a routine basis is rapidly expanding.  Careers such as facilities management, utilities, weather, municipal government, and a myriad others. Larry Wall blogged about how he thought that retiring from the oil & gas industry would mean he no longer had to keep up with technology, found that even part time jobs at the mall requires knowing how to use the latest devises.

Despite the ability to keep up with technology, age discrimination is a very real problem, even if there is no skills gap.  The Statesman.com newspaper has a insightful article, “Older Workers Without Jobs Face Uphill Climb“, about the technology job scene in Austin that describes the situation faced by older IT workers.  However, although HR departments often confuse professionals who work with geospatial data with IT workers, it is a different profession that involves complex skill sets that are both art and science.  Many times this is developed over years of education, experience, and continued training. The geospatial workforce shortage that was explored as early as a 2005/2006 ESRI ArcNews Online article on “Defining the Components of the Geospatial Workforce – Who Are We?” and continues in reports such as The National Academies Press “Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence” and Geospatial Today’s “The Who’s Who in the Geospatial Sector Share Their Views on How The Industry Will Unfold in the Days To Come… Outlook 2013” which highlights the need for geospatial professionals across fields that are able to think dynamically and adapt quickly.

It would be interesting to find out if geospatial professionals were quicker “on the draw” or on the click, than other professions thanks to using ArcGIS and other geospatial software.

New Poll: DIY Imagery

5990888651_7cdbf146ae_zThere is a wealth of ways to get imagery today from buying or downloading satellite imagery to hiring a company to fly your project, but it is the low cost, low effort DIY imagery that is the most exciting and fun. The picture to the right is one of many that is available from Flickr, and other photo sites, that was taken with one of these methods (in this case a kite). With that in mind, the new poll wants to know what technology you prefer to use or are interested in using to capture low altitude imagery. Head over and share your thoughts. If you have a method that isn’t listed leave a comment on this post and I will add it to the list.

Mapping Baseball Statues and Google

The Guardian UK online has a media section called, “Data Store: Show and Tell“, which true to its name uses visualizations to tell a story about data. According to The Guardian Data Store team, infographics and data visualization have become the language of the Internet because everyone has access to free tools that make it possible to visualize complex data. In the past few months they have shown, among others, visualizations of  Italian election resultsTwitter’s languages of New York mapped, and an animation of Britain’s new rail network.

Their recent Show and Tell is about “US Baseball stars immortalized in statue-explore our interactive map” that shows how The Sporting Statues Project  at the University of Sheffield  mapped every baseball statue in North America. The mission of the Sporting Statues Project is to record and research statues of sportsmen and women around the world. To date they have collected information on over 600 statues; 249 of them U.S. baseball statues. The interesting part of their website is not just the maps and data, but also that the project itself grew out of a “labour of love”.  Like many GIS mapping database projects, the data was collected and mapped by people who have an interest in the topic, the geospatial skills to map it, and the desire to share that data with other interested users.  They were able to use maps, posters, conference papers, and their website to show that what they were doing was about more than just a physical statue and points on a map, but connected to world history and current events.

The Data Store team mention a disclaimer several times that Google have paid to sponsor this page but all editorial is overseen and controlled by the Guardian Datastore team.”  Google and The Guardian Datastore have a close relationship. In 2012, they hosted a live Q&A debate event focusing on the role data has to play in policy making and transparency around international development and foreign aid. Google has sponsored other journalism events, including journalism skills conferences to educate the next generation of digital journalists.




New Hampshire to Consider Aerial Photography Ban

New Hampshire has a new bill circulating through its legislature that would ban aerial photography by anyone who isn’t the government. They’ve apparently amended the ban in committee that changes some of the major concerns, but a lot still remain. The original bill include kite cams or any other form of aerial photography collection, but the amended ban has scaled that back. The focus seems to be upon drones and, oddly enough, arming drones. If the ban goes into effect, flying a drone would be a misdemeanor, with certain licensed exceptions. The bill also specifies that drones can only be used by law enforcement to collect data if they’ve received a warrant, and even then the information needs to be destroyed within 24 hours.

Drones and the legalities surrounding them are likely to dominate a lot of remote sensing legalese over the next few years. This may be the first such attempt at banning for non-governmental use, but I’m willing to almost bet real money it won’t be the last.

2013 IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest – registration open until May submission dates

The 2013 IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest scientific challenge has been held annually since 2006.  The Data Fusion Contest is organized by the Data Fusion Technical Committee of the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) in order to educate and promote best practices in data fusion applications. It is comprised of two individual contests: 1) Best Paper Award and 2) Best Classification Award, users can participate in one or both contests. This year’s contest uses hyperspectral and LiDAR fusion datasets of the University of Houston campus and neighboring area.

The Best Classification Award results must be submitted between February 16, 2013 and May 1, 2013.  The Best Paper Award manuscripts need to be submitted by May 31, 2013

2013 IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest winners will receive one 16GB WiFi iPad (provided by DigitalGlobe, Inc.), their results submitted for peer review to an IEEE-GRSS Journal, and attendance at the Data Fusion Technical Committees and Chapters Luncheon of the 2013 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2013.

Book Review – Python Scripting for ArcGIS

PrintPython Scripting for ArcGIS is a new text from Esri Press by Paul A. Zandbergen (2013). It isn’t the first Python book for the geospatial community or even focused on ArcGIS, but it is the first that has the Esri logo on it. Much like other recent books on Geo/Python we have seen, it focuses on integrating an introduction to Python with the industry specific materials. As Frank mentioned when he highlighted the book in a previous podcast, this allows users to gain exposure to Python, but it doesn’t fall back on the (in my opinion) bad habit of most programming texts of spending half of the book on the language and concepts before even getting to the application in the specific area. There is a time and place for that approach in Python specific books. When you add another software library to a book, then use it from the get go.

The text is broken into four parts including 1) learning fundamentals, 2) writing scripts, 3) carrying out specialized tasks, and 4) creating and using scripting tools. As you can imagine each of these parts builds on the previous through the book fourteen chapters. Early chapters take advantage of Model Builder to help the reader get into Python through geoprocessing tools, but by Chapter 4 the focus is on building and running code. The book comes with a DVD which includes data and code samples so that you can use the same data and code that the authors are running.

If you are looking to learn Python for use with your ArcGIS workflow, or a reference on the topic, this book is a good option for a growing bookshelf on the topic. The fact that you are using both Python and ArcGIS all the way through the book gets our support. With an MSRP of $79.95 and a current Amazon price of $48.45 the cost puts it in the range of similar books.