The Wall Street Journal featured a health article on the need to map automated external defibrillators for heart attack response, “The Device that Saves Lives, But Can Be Hard To Find”. Like many health saving devices, such as fire hydrants, many locations aren’t compiled in one easy to access location. The University of Pennsylvania and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation used crowd sourcing and public participation to map AED locations. The project was called The My Heart Map Challenge , which utilized cash rewards to develop a smartphone app. They are currently creating a toolkit that other municipalities and cities can use to hold their own challenges.
NPR’s Pam Kessler has an interesting story about a study done on the geography of charitable giving in the United States by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. She provides an audio story, text, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s interactive map. The finding that is highlighted by the study will be one that is common to geospatial analysts, people with more money tend to give more if they live in an economically diverse neighborhood. To paraphrase Tobler’s First Law of Geography, the First Law of U.S. Philanthropy is that anyone can give to any charity, but charity tends to begin at home and moves out from there.
The study itself was compiled using data from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Census by zip code, and data from the Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics among others. The National Center for Charitable Statistics also created the Community Platform, a crowd-sourcing interactive map application designed to help communities and nonprofit organizations match community resources and needs.
The Telegraph UK has an article on England’s Green Belt which provides an interactive Google map for residents to determine if they are in an area classified as green belt land. The most interesting part of the article is that it makes the data available to the public and states that in the past the data would have cost thousands of bounds despite the fact that it is funded using taxpayer money. It then provides a link to the downloadable data provided by The Department for Communities and Local Government. This is a common debate among the GIS community, but not one that is normally brought up in popular media. It will be interesting to see the comments left by the public about the article and if the topic of available data comes up.
The geospatial methods and technologies used in Forensic GIS are finally catching up to popular depictions in movies and television. Although most of the analysis done on shows like CSI is footwork done by geospatial professionals and not solely by a near omnipotent computer program. I have often debated the impact of the large number of forensic procedurals in popular T.V., movies, and books. Mainly because the word GIS and mapping never seems to be used, even though that is the method being demonstrated. However, that will probably change considering the integration of Forensic GIS into the everyday practices around the world.
Forensic GIS has been used for many years in crime mapping around the world. Companies such as CSIR in New Zealand have used GIS and cell phone data to provide forensic evidence for criminal cases. GIS is used in every part of the investigation process creating jobs in the public, private, and university sectors. New jobs like GIS Analysis Expert Witness support for litigation have been created for companies like Digital Data Service or Geographic Resource Solutions which provides wildfire litigation. Other facets of forensic GIS include fraud dection, crime scene data , geospatial modeling in civil law suits, accident simulation, and for agency collaboration.
According to American Sentinel University, GIS and geospatial skills are a critical part of forensic science education today. Many of these programs are offered at all levels of education from certificate programs to undergraduate, masters, and Ph. D. It has led to innovation that serves the needs of forensic analysists in a unique way. The Ohio State University Police Division used GIS mapping software to detect patterns inside human bones. Fellowships also exist for established professionals such as the The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory, which provides a five course fellowship to assist in excavation and identification in Laos or Vietnam. If you watch the popular T.V. show Bones, this is the program that the main forensic scientist was involved in helping. The U.S. Department of Justice and Crime Mapping Research Center provide an online Mapping Crime: Principle and Practice Book, which explains crime mapping from context, to methods, application, and ethics for law enforcement and others.
One of the ways to build up credibility and make it into the public and professional consciousness is to provide case studies of the real day to day work done by GIS professionals and any other type of GIS professional in the field. Many times people in the field think that calls for papers, book chapters, conferences, and journals are only for academics or journalists, however these same publications often have a hard time finding examples of real world projects to discuss. The same is true of other media such as television and online newspapers, who contact professionals and organizations that are visible. One of the most permanent ways to increase visibility and credibility is to publish in some format – editorials, blogs, conference papers, professional journals, popular press, and of course textbooks in the field.
If you are one of the many public, private, or academic professionals involved in the growing field of forensic GIS, there is a call for chapter proposals and chapter section contributions that can be considered for inclusion in the book at Forensic GIS: The Role of Geospatial Technologies for Investigating Crime and Providing Evidence, which is scheduled to be published by Springer in its popular Geotechnologies and the Environment series. The deadline is Friday, December 14, 2012. Forensic GIS the profession is catching up to the popular perception of Forensic GIS the T.V. profession, share your real world applications and experiences with the next generation of Forensic GIS students.
Google has started adding Amber Alerts to its map and search results. They’re doing this through a partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Basically, they’re combining the local search information with NCMEC’s Amber Alert system. It should include any descriptive information and how to contact the system if you happen to know anything about the missing child.
It’s good to see companies using their technology to help communities and I hope other companies help these efforts in any way possible.
Anyone who spends more than an hour around me knows I like clever word manipulations. Yep, I find them punny. Christoph Niemann has just taken this to a whole new level with Clever Google Maps Manipulations. Some of them are funny (like My Way or the Highway) and some of them are pretty nifty visual illusions. I personally like the one above best as I’ve gotten HORRIBLY lost on Mail-In Rebate Way on more than one occasion. Either way, they’re a good reminder that maps can be as much art as information.
It’s fair to say we over at VerySpatial are big space nerds. And it’s fair to say we’re also pretty big remote sensing nerds. When the guys over at BoingBoing got to ask any question they wanted, they asked a pretty cool one about file compression (scroll down to see the answer). Sending images from Mars and back takes a bit of work and time, which means file compression has to be used. But we all know that we want as loss less file compression as possible, so what’s NASA to do? They turned to a custom implementation that uses a wavelet approach similar to Jpeg 2000. The difference in their compression is that it’s less computationally intensive, which means lower powered CPUs (both in computing and energy needs) can be used to create the compressed images. Pretty cool, huh?
After the ESRI User’s Conference Plenary, I began to think about the many fictional organizations that would benefit from using ArcGIS online and other GIS technologies. So I began compiling a top 10 list by asking other attendees, ESRI employees, and organizations at booths on the conference center floor. Which fictional organization do you think is in the most dire need of using ArcGIS online or GIS in general.
Top Ten Organizations that need to use ArcGIS online
1. Eureka!/Warehouse 13
The overwhelmingly number 1 suggestion, which is also the first one I thought of, is the parent organization that runs the town of Eureka and Warehouse 13. They are both awesome tv shows which showcase the power of science and technology, but they are desperately missing any form of GIS. Most of the problems they face fall into two categories: 1) Scientists didn’t realize that projects they were working on individually, usually within proximity of each other, would interact in a way that would spell DOOM., 2) Scientists didn’t realize that projects they have been working on individually could have been integrated and collaborated together to prevent The End of the World, until the very last minutes of the show. They could be a case study in why a large organization spread out over the world needs ArcGIS online.
2 – 4. The number 2 suggestions all fell into the realm of, all ethics aside…, because these organizations are not working towards the good of mankind, like all the organizations showcased in the ESRI plenary. Instead, they are organizations that could use ArcGIS online to make their nefarious organizations more effective.
2. District 9
3. The Hunger Games/ Panem Districts
4. Lost/ Dharma Initiative
5-6. These organizations and some not listed (Like the IMF from Mission Impossible) are intelligence related agencies that have a habit of losing people or things that lead to big problems. Cloud mapping or on-line mapping would be very useful to them to keep track of all of their differenct cells, groups, and projects.
5. The Bourne Legacy/ Operation Outcome
7. & 8. Daily Planet (Superman) /Daily Bugle (Spiderman). For internationally recognized newspapers of record, the Daily Planet and the Daily Bugle operate like old gumshoe type newspapers instead of the technology driven newsrooms of today’s modern media – news is location driven. They need to use ArcGIS online just to collaborate on stories about Superman and Spiderman alone. Speaking of which, wouldn’t the Justice League operate more effectively using it as well?
9. The Day After Tomorrow. There is a special place in the heart of scientists for the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow because on one hand it is an enjoyable movie, but on the other hand, they got so much of the science wrong. They could have used ArcGIS online and ArcPad several times throughout the movie, especially when they would hold up a handheld device, look at a sky map, and declare – “I know where I’m going. The library is that way!”
10. Caddy Shack/ Bushwood Country Club . The top 10 fictional organization that needs ArcGIS Online is the Bushwood Country Club from Caddy Shack. There wouldn’t have been so many extra holes on the golf course, if they had used cloud computing to report any unusual gopher activity.
Honorable mentions: I would like to mention another two organizations that people mentioned could benefit from ArcGIS online or other product.
11. The Big Bang Theory/Harold Walowitz. It has been pointed out that Harold Walowitz spends a lot of time developing technology for space. It makes sense that he would be working with remote sensing.
12. Diablo III. Would there be a Diablo III video game if Cain was able to hold onto his knapsack that contained important information or if people could report finding Cain’s knapsack and uploading the location and his research. They could have analyzed it all via ArcGIS online and solved the game in half the time. Or maybe that is just my own frustration at being stuck on Level 11.
Do you have any suggestions for companies that could have benefited from using ArcGIS online or other GIS products?
Landsat, the moderate-resolution imagery satellite program that we all know and love, turns forty today. In 1972, Landsat 1 was launched with new technologies that along with its successors would lead the world, over the intervening years, to a better understanding of the environment, human impacts, and, perhaps most importantly today, human/environment interaction.
With access to the ever increasing spectral resolution through the MultiSpectral Sensor (MSS) and Thematic Mapper (TM) instrument packs we discovered, mapped, and used information about longterm, and short-term, change to reflect on everything from land use and land cover to soil moisture and water issues to viewing these multiband images and the landscape they represent as art. While the Landsat Program is not alone in these endeavors, it does deserve special recognition for its longevity, durability (Landsat 5, a workhorse even if it isn’t capturing TM data any longer), and initiative in leading many areas of the remote sensing/earth observation industry of today.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is its accessibility. From getting disks from EROS Data Center to recent initiatives that brought the referenced data online for download, the Landsat program has helped industry, researchers, teachers, and students all look at the world in a new way, often with a broader perspective.
Here’s to the Landsat Program’s first 40 years, and, with the much anticipated launch of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (or simply Landsat 8) just around the corner in 2013, here is to many more years of moderate-resolution data to come.
Happy Birthday Landsat!
Europeans and Americans just give directions differently. Who knew? Researchers conducted an experiment to see if people gave directions differently if they thought the person was driving verses looking at a map. Turns out that while that does have an impact, where you’re from has a larger impact on how you describe directions. Americans tend to give directions by saying street names and giving cardinal directions, e.g. “Go North on Main St”. Europeans tend to give directions by saying the number of streets to go and whether to go left or right, e.g. “Go up two streets, then take a left”. The article proposes a number of theories as to why this might be the case, but they don’t actually test any of them fully. Still, it’s a pretty interesting finding, I think. Also, it’s yet another point suggesting that I’m secretly European and didn’t know it