As you might imagine from our previous conversations on the podcast, we are just a little excited about the LDCM. NASA/USGS have released the first scene from the new sensor focusing on the Fort Collins area. Head over the NASA site to take a look at the scene and associated information. Hopefully we will hear more next week as the ASPRS annual conference hits Boston.
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 results, Twitter’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 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.
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.
The American Geosciences Institute sent out a press release today about the release of their video series on geoscience on YouTube. The series is available as a playlist on the AGI YouTube channel. The video above is the first episode, Building the Planet, which actually starts off with a flight to collect AVIRIS data and a quick discussion of remote sensing and talks a little about ground-based Lidar later in the episode.
Python 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.
The Telegraph recently published an article, “How Supermarkets Prop Up Our Class System” by Harry Wallop introducing his book “Consumed: How Shopping Fed the Class System“. In the article, he discusses how marketers use census data and other location based data to aggregate postcodes into 60 different social groupings that they then repackage and sell back to retailers who use the analysis to micro-target potential shoppers. He believes that instead of creating more opportunities for shoppers, spatial targeting is reinforcing class stereotypes and creating structural inequality.
Geospatial marketing for supermarkets and grocery stores is growing in popularity for industry and public health. The Food Trust documented how Pennsylvania is using geospatial and GIS to target underserved communities for Penn State Public Broadcasting’s Geospatial Revolution Project. Job search databases advertise for positions such as geospatial marketing facilitator, interactive marketer, and geospatial marketing analyst. The Shopper Marketing trade journal lists mobile applications, QR codes, location based shopping, and augmented reality among the trends it uses to both reach and collect data from shoppers.
In today’s society it is difficult for shoppers to take advantage of grocery deals without providing personal information. A LifeHacker article on saving money, “Use “Jenny’s Number” to Get Club Discounts at Stores without Providing Personal Information” jokingly suggested trying to use the phone number from the popular 80’s song. Which semi-seriously raises the question of which social grouping the people who provide her number would fall under or how many shoppers give fake geospatial data.
Influenza or “flu” is on the rise this month and so are the number of interactive maps being used to track it. Interactive maps have become an integrated part of social marketing, advertising, and educational outreach campaigns. The official tracking site is the CDC influenza map, which is part of their dedicated Flu.gov educational site. Their map shows widespread influenza in all but 3 U.S. states. Although, Google.org has a flu trend site that uses certain search terms to indicate flu activity and aggregates the search data. Currently, every state in the U.S. is red to indicate high intensity. Most sites such as Triaminic children’s medicine are using their interactive flu tracker to increase traffic to their website and boost sales, based upon the CDC data. Multiple media outlets have reported on the Facebook flu app, “Help, my friend gave me the flu” that supposedly tracks who made you sick. It was created by Help Remedies Inc., a drug company to help increase its profile.
McGraw-Hill publisher has an interactive map of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic from A Survey of American History by Alan Brinkley. PBS.org has a complete transcript of their program on the Influenza of 1918 and then views on how it was spread and how to stop it. Not much had changed more than 20 years after John Snow’s pioneering epidemiology mapping, dynamically described in Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. According to the CDC, while many public officials were advocating quarantine and still believed that the flu was caused by poor body humors, medical professionals were beginning to better understand flu outbreaks and how to track them.
The ZSL London Zoo‘s annual census of every zoo animal as part of their zoo license renewal is an example of how to turn a seemingly routine geospatial task into international news. The media and public discuss the event in a way that evokes the celebration of an annual holiday like Ground Hog’s day. While the zoo keepers use clipboards to count each animal in the field, it is logged into the International Species Information System (ISIS) software to manage international breeding programs for endangered animals from zoos around the world. ZSL London Zoo participates in breeding programs for 130 species. An interactive map on the ZSL London Zoo website gives visitors an idea of the animals being counted during the census. It is a great way to highlight the work of everyone involved and introduce them to aspects of zoo management beyond watching animals.
The Zoological Society of London opened the London Zoo as the world’s first scientific zoo in 1828 and continues to add new technology, innovations, and discoveries as they develop.They award a scientific medal, like the one awarded to Prof. Simon Hay for his work investigating the spatial and temporal aspects of mosquito born disease epidemiology and manages the Malaria Atlas Project to improve cartography of malaria. It is one of several different divisions that fall under the Zoological Society’s umbrella including the Whipsnade Zoo and the ZSL Institute of Zoology. The Zoological Society utilizes geospatial professionals in capacities from Dr. Chris Yesson‘s work on phyloclimatic modeling and classes in GIS to field scientists using remote sensing data donated by GeoEye for gorilla conservation. The ZSL created the EDGE Evolutionary Distinct & Globally Endangered program as a global conservation effort to protect species with unique evolutionary history using Google Earth to create awareness and interest. The ZSL encourages partnerships, collaborations, and opportunities for citizen science and volunteers on their website.
The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been in the news this week for it’s new Subway Time app, but that isn’t the only transportation app that they or several other creative individuals have created to use in the city. There are over 65 officially sanctioned MTA apps including the Exit Strategy NYC which allows users to determine the most ideal place to stand on a subway car or platform to real time bus schedules, historic bus tours, and 3d Maps to explore New York City. One of the most interesting facts about these apps is the backstory of how and why they were created. Most of them begin with someone who has an idea, problem, or need and spends time making a geospatial solution that meets their needs and in doing so meets the needs of a section of the larger population.
The MTA serves North America’s largest transportation network providing over 14.9 million people with 5,000 square miles of inspiration. This inspiration is supported by the fact that the MTA has an in house geospatial technology department and provides a Developer’s Resources page to encourage application development. In the past, the MTA created a Challenge Quest – MTA App Quest to challenge software developers to use MTA developers to create new apps. The use of the word software developers, highlights its use as an umbrella term to capture anything related to app development, such as geospatial developers, graphic designers, and others. A review of the plethora of different types of contributers to the over 65 MTA apps indicates that it might be time to begin thinking of a more accurate term to describe app developers.