Just coming off a session where we were talking about how user generated content can offer great advantages to local communities it was interesting to read this article which talks about a new wiki map called WikiCrimes that allows users to report crimes and their location in Brazil. Apparently the Brazilian police do not provide access to crime data, plus there seems to be an underrepresentation of crime as people do not always report crimes. Given these issues there still seems to be some apathy about the mapping initiative not only from the police (which is expected) but also by some of the public. The BBC’s article is definitely worth a read to see an interesting take on public mapping.
Google has put up an interactive Google Map where you can share Earth events and ideas with people around the world. It’s a fairly basic site, but there are some neat stuff people are planning to do. For instance in Very Spatial’s own home turf, people are planning on doing more composting. What’s going on in your area for Earth Day?
The Surui people, who have been so remote in the Brazilian forests that they were only ‘discovered’ in 1969, have turned to the high tech tools of Google Earth to help them protect their existence. Initial contacts with outsiders led them to fight, but bows and arrows proved rather useless compared to modern weapons. Since then, they have negotiated a peace, but their lands are continuously encroached upon. Enter Google Earth, which the tribe uses to monitor treaty breaking moves by logging companies. The whole story is a testament to how far web mapping has spread into our modern (and sometimes ancient) lives.
The Vulcan project is an interesting project out of Purdue University. They seek to “quantify North American fossil fuel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at space and time scales much finer than has been achieved in the past.” They’ve just released a new carbon footprint map detailing fossil fuel based CO2 emissions from around the US. One of the interesting findings to come out of their effort is that we previously assumed that the North East portion of the country was the primary emitter in the country. Turns out while there’s a lot of truth in that, the coal fired plants of the South add nearly as much.
What’s interesting to me are the comments section of the Wired article that pointed me towards this site. People have come up with lots of interesting ways to expand and extend this research by including other bits of data, particularly human geography pieces.
As geographers, I know everyone out there is thinking, “I get the the home buying industry in the US is imploding like a black hole, but I still am having trouble understanding what’s going on.” Fear not dear reader, the wonderful people at the Federal Reserve have given us – Dynamic Maps of Nonprime Mortgage Conditions in the United States! Now you can browse the mortgage meltdown in map form. All of the maps are color ramps with a few layers of reference data to help you find your way. You can search by zip code as well. My only issue with the maps themselves lies with the fact that it’s hard to see a lot of the graduations in the ramps, especially for themes with lower absolute numbers.
Continuing my Twitter focus on my trip to New Orleans I saw this great bit of news on growth statistics. Apparently the two fastest growing county populations in the US are St. Bernard’s and Orleans parishes. Check out Episode 141 for my take on visiting New Orleans (go, spend your money and have a good time).
The Vatican has released a new set of mortal sins, one of which includes polluting the environment. Mortal sins, for those not aware of Catholic dogma, are sins which get you a “go directly to hell” card unless you repent. The new batch of sins have a more social aspect to them, including becoming obscenely wealthy and causing poverty. I’m curious how much these new sins will impact the world, particularly in areas heavily Catholic. The most interesting aspect of it to me is the number of new sins, three of the seven by my count, that are rooted in human geography.
Not according to a study conducted at the University of California-Santa Barbara and reported recently in the Wall Street Journal. The prevailing wisdom of Daylight Savings Time is that having more time in the afternoon with sun means we’ll leave the lights off longer. That might be true, but it also happens to mean we turn the AC on longer, run our computers longer, and watch TV longer. None of these concerns really weighed heavily on Ben Franklin’s head when he invented the concept. Researchers at USC Santa Barbara have concluded that moving to daylight savings time has cost at leas their study area millions of additional dollars in energy expense. So think of that this weekend when you “spring forward” and loose a hour of precious sleep!
The map is in French, so the details are a bit hazy if you don’t speak the language (which I don’t). However, if you’ve ever wondered how popular various social networking sites were around the world, it’s a map you need to see. To me, at their base functionality of socially networking people, I don’t see a humongous difference in each of these tools. Clearly different regions around the world strongly disagree with me, as sites like My Space, Friendster, Facebook, and Live Journal have different distributions around the world. If you live in South East Asia, it looks like you’re more likely to have a preference for Friendster. Whereas we in the US apparently eat up My Space more than any other site.
I’m sure there’s some sort of International Relations/Psychology/Sociology dissertation potential here. Then again, when it comes to social networking on the Internet, I’m the proverbial old guy asking the proverbial kids to get off his darn Internet, so what do I know?
That’s the question Nokia set out to find the answer to yesterday. They equipped 100 students with GPS and software equipped Nokia phones and had them drive a 10 mile stretch of road all day. The data was sent back to a central server to analysis traffic patterns. Nokia hopes to be able to create a system to allow their users to use their phones to help travel through traffic patterns more effectively. Hopefully Nokia publishes anything that’s non-proprietary because I would be interested in seeing their results.