The University of Colorado at Boulder’s Center for Lifelong Learning & Design is working on a cool project called Silence of the Lands. Participants use handheld devices to record and geoerefence ambient sounds which are then added to a GIS to generate a collaborative soundscape. The researchers “look at digital cartography as a form of storytelling capable of pervasively feeding back social debate over long periods of time.” They have completed several thought-provoking papers on a number of research foci, including affective geography and metadesign.
Gentrification, which is basically the re-development of older urban neighborhoods into more upscale retail, professional and residential space, is an important area of study in urban geography and often a controversial issue in many cities. A recent article on the Toronto Star website discusses some of the issues surrounding gentrification in Toronto, Canada. I think a lot of the themes in this article could apply to many cities around the world.
As many of you know, GIS analysis is based on the notion that alorithms within the computer can be used to analyze the digital representations of real-world physical features such as topography that are stored in the GIS. An example of an algorithm-based analysis would be a Least Cost Path, which analyzes the elevation values between two points and calculates the path between them that would require the least cost to traverse. The cost can be defined in any number of ways. The C5 Landscape Initiative is a series of projects that explore using GIS to represent different conceptions of the landscape as we move through it. One of their GIS-related projects, which incorporates virtual hiking, is called The Other Path. They trekked the Great Wall of China and mapping it using GPS, then returned to California and used various techniques to map out a path in a virtual California landscape using a virtual hiker, “an algorithm that produces computationally derived paths from data in such a way that allows them to be re-followed through the actual world.” The analysis created a virtual path in California that matched the path of the Great Wall in China. Then, they physically hiked the path to compare the experience. It’s pretty amazing stuff and only one of their projects. They have also created the C5 Landscape Database, which has an open-source API for Digital Elevation Model processing and analysis.
The BBC has an interesting article on the scanning and modeling of heritage sites in Africa. This is along the same lines as some of the work that Sue and I have worked on here in the US and are starting to work on in Japan (now if we can just talk someone to sending us to Japan on their dime ). Much of the work to date has not contextualized the individual structures in their landscape which is what we are trying to push in the presentations we have been involved in with Trevor Harris, our committee chair.
this story offers up some information on a drought in Africa 70k years ago found through soil cores. The story also offers up an interpretation that is related to our GAW discussion on human migration.
Understanding how diseases spread is not a new discipline of study, but with increased concerns about the effects of our global world on the spread of dangerous viruses like SARS, AIDS, and yes, bird flu, I thought it would be timely to mention yet another use of GIS, Remote Sensing, and other geospatial technologies: landscape epidemiology. As a discipline, it dates back to the 1960s, when the notion that understanding the landscape and environment in areas where certain diseases develop or are particularly dangerous could help in predicting where diseases will spread and how severe outbreaks will be. Satellite imagery and GIS are being used successfully in landscape epidemiology studies, and a number of examples can be found on the Web, including a GIS project mapping SARS featured at GISUser.com
The ZevRoss website has a nice overview article here
Although definitions vary, most agree that human geography focuses on the interactions between humans and their environment, and the spatial relationships that define and are defined by those interactions. Human geography has many sub-disciplines, from cultural geography to urban geography to historical geography and many others (Wikipedia lists 18 fields of Human Geography, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not even all of them).
Over on the Digital Divide Network, they mentioned an online interactive map illustrating the digital divide. I went to the website, Maplecroft maps, and found a nice interactive mapping tool that has thematic maps for a number of environmental, social, economic, and political topics, including military expenditures, perceptions of corruption, climate change, and poverty. The interface is pretty straightforward, and users access information about each country via a mouseover. It’s a interesting project, and they plan to add more thematic maps in the future.
Maplecroft itself is a
Canadian British consulting firm that helps companies address social, environmental, and ethical issues.
Back in the fall of 2004 the BBC news site started a series called “Planet under pressure”. It covers alot of the important issues facing the world including global warming, pollution, and hunger.