GIS Day in the News

Updated:

Today is GIS Day and it is making headlines in major newspapers around the globe. While some mainstream media sources are celebrating GIS Day by name, others are participating in spirit by having spatial news articles like the The New York Times, a newspaper of record, article on Mapping Bitcoin from November 19, 2013.  But the GIS news that will make you feel warm-hearted are the regional newspapers, whose coverage is more reflective about GIS, their community, and the impact it has had on their lives. It is a true celebration of GIS Day.

The Milwaukee -Wisconsin Sentinal has an in-depth article on “Mapping the possibilities with GIS technology” that focuses on GIS in Wisconsin. The Jamaica Observer’s article states that finds that the “Gov’t wants more professionals to use GIS”  The Austin Statesmen draws the community in by stating that ” GIS Day brings practical examples of geographic technologyPublic-based technology used daily” While, The Salisbury Post more succinctly puts it, “Pothole? Broken street light? Report them using your phone, GIS“.  Some towns such as Culpeper, even used the upcoming GIS Day opportunity to announce that their “Town launches new GIS system

The Chattanoogan.com Business section combined two great events in one, announcing that, “Connected Tennessee Releases New Broadband Availability Figures In Support Of GIS Day 2013“. In Pennsylvania, the Governor proclaimed Nov. 20 as GIS Day, while “Local High School Students Learn About High-Tech Careers at ‘GIS Day’” including the text of Governor Corbett’s proclamation in the PENNSlyvania News & Buzz.

The future of GIS And teaching children is often the focus of GIS Day news coverage. The Caller.com highlighted GIS DAY in their  Corpus Christi Photos round up with one symbolic photo of a young person, while the Killen Daily Herald states that not only did, “1,300 area sixth graders attend GIS Day” but the event is so big that “For more on GIS Day read tomorrow’s Killeen Daily Herald.”!

I will update this post throughout the day as GIS Day articles are posted online, keeping an eye on places such as the Winter Haven Library that will be holding a GIS Exhibit for the public on Thursday. Please send in your own local news.

 

Geocaching goes mainstream

In the world of advertising and marketing, it is fairly easy to guess that if something starts to show up on deal sites and clearance sections that it has either A. gone mainstream or B. jumped the shark and is no longer “cool”.  Either way, this is good news for geocaching which has shown up in some fairly mainstream places lately.

Todays, Woot megadeal site has an entertaining video, Mortimer’s Adventures in Geocaching, to sell geocaching items on sale that features their mascot, Mortimer.  Statements like “Geocaching is like a real life treasure hunt you can go on almost anywhere there is a steady population of nerds” might indicate that the Woot Seattle office has some veteran geocachers in the office.  However, finding cool Lego figurines might just be a geocacher’s dream item. Continue reading “Geocaching goes mainstream”

Geospatial Analysis of “America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy”

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting in-depth report on Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy and an interactive map of the status of cleanup by state. While they call the interactive map an “interactive database” in their document on The Journal’s Methodology, it is good to see such in-depth meta-data and open methodology being used by a news site. They discuss where they found their data, how they used it, and missing data.

The Waste Lands project is also a venture into citizen science and digital humanities because, “Now that this database has been released to the public, the Journal welcomes additional information on these sites from the public. Send relevant tips, photographs, and documents to wastelands@wsj.com

Other than not using the words spatial, geospatial, geography, or spatial database anywhere in the project, it is an excellent example of how interactive maps can be a part of the investigative journalism process and not just a visual that draws the eye to an article.

The Geography of Twitter

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 “The Geography of Twitter”

Meta-Data, Locality, and WV-Gate

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.

Cat Tracks

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.

Dance Your GIS

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.

Scaling Up for Tourism

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.

ESRI and National Day of Civic Hacking

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.

 

GIS and Oklahoma Disaster

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.