The Switch writer, Caitlin Dewey, reviewed a recent study on Twitter in her article on “Where do Twitter trends start? Try Cincinnati” for the Washington Post. It summarizes a study done at Indiana University on where Twitter topics trend and spread. It found that Twitter trends that start in Cincinnati tend to spread out and reach other cities more than would have been thought for a city of that size. It concluded that physical geography has an impact on social media, which is often popularly thought of as transcending geographic location, by everyone but geographers and geospatial scientists – or do they? It turns out that The Geography of Twitter is a trending topic itself in the research world. Continue reading
This past week, Democrat Natalie Tennant announced her run for Senate and it was covered by the Washington Post, “Natalie Tennant Officially Launches Senate Campaign in West Virginia“. However, the big news wasn’t her political platform, but rather the fact that her campaign video uses stock footage of a college campus – not West Virginia University, where she attended college, or another WV institute of higher learner but that of college rival, University of Pittsburgh. Twitter feeds in West Virginia lit up as people, who know their own local and feel very proud of it, pointed out the potential goof. Republican campaigners were quick to take to Twitter to denounce the mistake, but many did so by referencing The University of West Virginia or other variations that were not the correct place name of West Virginia University. A repeat of the cycle happened, Twitter feeds lit up again, as people who know their own local and feel very proud of it, pointed out the potential goof. After a day or two the whole thing died down and has mostly been forgotten.
As geo-spatial professionals, who sometimes work on projects outside the scope of our specific local knowledge, we can probably all sympathize with both mistakes – not choosing stock photos wisely and not double checking specific place names. However, as this incident and other incidents like it illustrate, it is often important to weigh the cost of double checking meta-data, when available, versus the cost of having to deal with the fallout if anyone notices a discrepancy that is important to them because they know the area very well.
To quote, former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill, “All politics is local”, which makes meta-data a politically charged issue that needs to be carefully considered when trying to reach the public.
The BBC News Science & Environment section has an article on “The Secret Life of the cat: What do our feline companions get up to?” with an interactive map of cats in a Surrey Village. It was created by BBC Two’s Horizon Program and researchers at the Royal Veterinary College. It is based on a study by Dr. Alan Wilson, an animal movement specialist, at the Structure & Motion Laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College. In his article, “Secret Life of the Cat: The Science of Tracking Our Pets“, he provides information on the technical challenges of using GPS to track domestic cats. Like many scientists working in the field, Dr. Wilson has had to develop his own tracking equipment in order to study the movement of pigeons, sheep, cheetahs, wild dogs, and of course, cats. He is currently working on developing unmanned arial vehicles for remote sensing and movement tracking. Cats are a great way to introduce the public to interactive mapping, tracking, and geospatial concepts because cats and birds are the most popular pets in the world.
The combination of cat popularity and GPS even resulted in a best selling book, “Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology” about a writer’s determination to find out what her cat did when he went off into the “wild”. CNET has a good video, “Using GPS to Track Exactly Where Cats Creep“, about how the authors learned to track Tibi. The convoluted way they had to map his tracks illustrates the need for education on using GIS or an easy to use cat GIS, to go along with the easy to use cat tracking GPS market.
Frank very jokingly sent me an io9 article on Science’s 2013 “Dance Your Ph.D.” Contest in which Ph.D’s, past or present, can win $500 for conveying their Ph.D concept through interpretive dance. The Grand Prize winner will present at the TEDxBrussels. I told him, the joke is on him, because the geospatial has always led itself to the beauty of dance. One of last year’s winners, Riccardo Da Re, created a video on “Governance of Natural Resources: Social Network Analysis and Good Governance Indicators” that many of us that work in the public sector and GIS planning would probably rather sit through than another three hour meeting on how organizations work together. Penn State has a website dedicated to “Teaching World Music with Geospatial Technology” that includes many innovate lessons.
In 20012, Sarah Bennett , a Ph.D student from the University of Wisconsin, presented her poster on “Mapping the Qualitative Spaces of Dance” at the 2012 Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting. She used cartographic design techniques to map a relationship between the body and space in dance. Her poster was very popular because everyone who passed it wanted to try out her concepts. A 2012 GIScience paper titled, “RElative MOtion (REMO) Analysis of Dance” explored how geospatial methods could help better understand the movement of dancer’s including their azimuth and other patterns.
Sometimes it is just for the fun of it. The Land Surveyors United enjoyed the video on “How to Make Your Backhoe Dance” enough to put it on their official website. National GIS conference often feature dance such as the recent NGIS conference were Shiva dance troupe performed and the ESRI User’s Conference that often feature themed dances, such as the 2009 Southern Hemisphere parade. Of course, I have to include Frank’s talking head dance at a geospatial conference.
It isn’t often in geography that you are able to get a 1:1 ratio on anything but a post this week by Luke Y. Thompson about the classic table top game The game of LIFE shows that Yoron Island in Japan is going to give it a try or “Super Terrific Japanese Thing: Yoron Island to become Real-Scale Game of Life.” The post references news by RocketNews24 and Yoron Island Tourism. The shape of Yoron Island mirrors the shape of the game board in the The Game of LIFE. The Yoron Town Chamber of Commerce youth were brainstorming ways to increase tourism, since the island is still in reconstruction following typhoons last year. At the same time, Hasbro’s game of The Game of LIFE is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year and is enjoyed by families across Japan and the world. Therefore, they decided to create a real life – “Game of Life Island, Yoron.” Visitors to the island will be able to play LIFE in real scale from July 20, 2013 – September 16, 2013. Yoron Island is part of the Amani Islands Quasi- National Park and is located in the Kagoshima prefecture. Kagoshima is home to Kagoshima University and the Kagoshima Institute of GIS and GPS Technology.
The question of what size would a game environment be to scale in the real world is one that gamers and artists often ask themselves. In 2011, artist Aram Bartholl provided a good background essay on why he wanted to build a full-sized Counter-Strike game map in the Game Informer Show. In his proposal, he says that games are a form of cultural heritage because millions of people have a shared spatial memory of the game space. While he was talking about 3D game environments, this is could possibly be even more true of older board games such as LIFE.
I must issue a mea culpa because when I first looked at the sponsors and participants in the National Day of Civic Hacking June 1 – 2, 2013 I saw no mention of GIS, geographers, or geospatial technologies, even though the data itself was very spatial. Today, ESRI announced that it is sponsoring National Day of Civic Hacking geospatial events in four US cities: Los Angeles; Denver; St. Louis, and Minneapolis in order to bring geospatial awareness to civic hacking by providing subscriptions to ArcGIS Online, Esri’s cloud-based mapping platform, for hacker teams to use in their projects. They are also providing Esri developer tools for anyone who wants to participate in other locations at their ArcGIS for Developers page. This is a great way for people who want to get involved in the U.S. or anywhere in the world to participate in two days of civic engagement.
If you know of any other geospatial organizations that are sponsoring or participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking, please post them below.
Many geospatial professionals, such as those on the GIS Stack Exchange, have asked what they can do with geospatial technologies to help in the aftermath of the tornadoes in Oklahoma or for other disasters. There are several crisis maps online including Google’s Oklahoma Crisis Map and ESRI’s Public Information Map. The American Red Cross has the Safe and Well Communication site and a map of available shelters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the NOAA National Weather Service, and other
There are organizations that do crisis mapping, the most well-known being the URISA GIS Corps. Many times local areas have their own crisis mappers organizations which work with local geospatial groups, first responders, and municipalities. The volunteer profile for Sean Bohac from RECON Environmental gives a good insight into what it is like to be a GIS volunteer in a disaster situation. Anahi Ayala Iacucci talks about other types of crisis mapping on her Diary of a Crisis Mapper website.
Crisis mapping is often an overlap of existing geospatial infrastructure, when available, and disaster response by geospatial professionals and neogeographers. The National Academy of Sciences has an open book called, “Successful Response Starts with a Map: Improving Geospatial Support for Disaster Management (2007)” by the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR). The City of Moore, Oklahoma publicly available interactive map includes tornado damaged parcels from 2003 and many utilities including fire hydrants, which many towns have not located and mapped yet. They also ask that donations be made through The Red Cross.
I wasn’t able to locate any information related to directly related volunteer efforts, so please feel free to post any information you might have. Thank you.
April 15, 2013 is Tax Day in the U.S. when state and federal taxes are due to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state tax offices. By it’s very nature, taxation is highly geospatial. According to an article on the history of U.S. property tax in The Assessment Journal, property taxation has existed in the U.S. in basically the same form since colonial days because of “the relative ease with which land and buildings can be located and identified, and their stability over time”. It continues to be the largest single source of autonomous local revenue for most cities and towns. President Lincoln passed the Revenue Act of 1861, during the Civil War Congress, but it wasn’t official until the Revenue Act of 1913 was signed by President Woodrow Wilson on Oct. 3, 1913 as part of the 16h Amendment, making the Internal Revenue Code 100 years old.
While being a property tax assessor is still a field work heavy job, in the past several years, many local municipalities are moving towards interactive maps, computer assisted mass appraisal for property taxes and online tax maps. Residents have come to expect to be able to access tax parcel viewers, but moving to an online system, like many municipal projects, takes time and money. Many county assessors are becoming expected to have GIS skills and training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics most appraisers and assessors have an associate or bachelor’s degree, must be certified by their state, and earn about $50,000/yr. In 1913, an assessors salary couldn’t exceed five cents for every $1,000 appraised, according to A Treatise on the Federal Income Tax under the Act of 1913.
In honor of March Madness, Gizmodo has a series of NCAA college basketball affiliation as measured by Facebook likes. So if you’re into college basketball and into maps, you’ll really dig that link (note I fit only one of these criteria, and I kinda dig’em). Note on the bottom for Sue…. most people hate Duke
I only recently started to watch reruns of Doc Martin on Hulu. The show is about a gruff London surgeon who relocates to the picture book seaside village of Portwenn, Cornwall. Like many seaside towns, the fictional village relies on tourism and fishing for most of its revenue, which makes its reliance on a single doctor to handle track down health outbreaks on a fairly regular basis surprising. In one specific episode (Season 1, Episode 3) entitled “Sh*t Happens” a virus hits Portwenn that the doctor assumes is caused by the community swimming pool, which he announces on the radio and tries to close down before finding out that it originates from someone selling contaminated bottled water. Considering how many outbreaks of various ailments happen on the show, it is surprising that even after this event he never calls a public health official or has an epidemiologist on speed dial.
Anyone who has worked in local government, public health, or other fields that interact with the public will recognize the realistic situation of dealing with a virus or other event that impacts the public health. These situations usually must be handled quickly with a lack of information that makes analyzing the situation difficult. However, they are usually addressed collaboratively with the help of medical staff, state and local government, public health officials, and schools, many times using GIS.
I was therefore relieved to find that in the real world setting of Port Isaac (Port Wenn) there is more than one doctor to handle emergencies. In fact, the Port Isaac Practice, which has been in existence since the 1940′s, has a Primary Care Health Team including seven doctors, practice nurses, community nurses and other vital personnel. The South West Peninsula Health Protection Unit, Cornwall Council and the Environment Agency have worked together to create handbooks such as the “Viral Gastroenteritis (Norovirus) Outbreak Guidance for Caravan and Campsites“. While the Combined Universities in Cornwall has several epidemiology professors on staff.
The “Sh*t Happens” episode would be a great one to use in a geography, geospatial, or public health class when covering the work of John Snow. It demonstrates that because of the work of epidemiologists and other geospatial analysts, doctors no longer have to tackle community outbreaks alone. Doc Martin is enjoyable and it is good that he isn’t portrayed as a super star epidemiologist. It would be nice for the fictional Portwenn, and the doctor himself, if he had as much support as the real life Port Isaac.