A VerySpatial Podcast
Shownotes – Episode 410
May 26, 2013
Main Topic: Catching up on some geo news
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A quick, and last minute, reminder that the 2013 National Geographic Bee finals will be televised tonight. Head over to NatGeo at 7:00PM EDT to watch live or catch one of the replays later.
This year’s 10 finalists are:
Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, California
Pranit Nanda, Colorado
Ricky Uppaluri, Georgia
Conrad Oberhaus, Illinois
Sathwik Karnik, Massachusetts
Neha Middela, Michigan
Neelam Sandhu, New Hampshire
Harish Palani, Oregon
Akhil Rekulapelli, Virginia
Asha Jain, Wisconsin
As we have said before, any of the state and territorial finalists generally know way more than we do and should know that they are amazing for having made it to DC.
Intel Labs is sponsoring a national civic hacking event June 1 -2, 2013 in order to solve community challenges using publicly-released data. They are calling it the National Day of Civic Hacking, probably because national day of collaborative software coding sounds like work. The event is supported by 20 government agencies including NASA, U.S. Census Bureau, FEMA, NSF and other offices. The event challenges are place specific and are focused on addressing the local needs of each community. According to the Hackforchange about page people, sponsors,organizations, and city, state, federal, government looking to get involved can attend, contribute data, or promote the event in their community.
The concept was created by the same researchers who started wethedata.org to address grand societal data challenges using open source data. These four topics have often been discussed on VerySpatial in regards to geospatial technologies and neogeography including digital access, digital literacy, digital trust, and openness. However, despite the fact that generally over 75% of local data is geospatial and their specific data is very location heavy, the Civic Hackers identified are engineers, technologists, civil servants, designers, artists…. but no geographers, neogeographers, geospatial analysts, or GIS is mentioned. Maybe everyone from the GIS community should get involved so that next year we all get a shout out.
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.
Today’s XKCD coincides with today’s podcast!
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting, spatially relevant article on regulation and standardization of place names and the disappearing apostrophe in U.S. signage, “Theres a Question Mark Hanging Over the Apostrophes Future: Its Practically Against the Law to Use the Mark in a Places Name; Sorry, Pikes Peak.” Read the title again to catch the humor that Barry Newman uses to construct a brief history of place signage.
He states that the U.S. is the only country that standardized out apostrophes because they were seen as conveying private ownership of a public place. The USGS Board on Geographic Names set up in 1890 by President Harrison has eradicated around 250,000 apostrophes from federal maps. In contrast, the Apostrophe Protection Society kept the Mid Devon council in England from banning the use of apostrophes in street signs. According to an in-depth article on the loss of the apostrophe and the history of Fell’s Point or Fells Point, Maryland, “What’s the Point?” from the Underbelly: From the Deepest Corners of the Maryland Historical Society Library, only five natural features have official license to use the possessive apostrophe in 2013.
The quoted arguments for the apostrophe is that it is part of proper English language usage, that it connotes information about the history of a place, and that not using them can cause confusion and miscommunication. What is most interesting about the WSJ article is who isn’t quoted – cartographers. How do cartographers feel about the vanishing apostrophe in place names?
It’s all well and good you can rattle off that most of the worlds population is in Southeast Asia. However, conceptualizing that is sometimes really challenging. It’s almost too abstract. That’s why this graphic is so amazing – more than half the world’s population lives inside this ‘circle’. That’s AMAZING! That tiny little circle encompasses the majority of the human population. The visual is just staggering.
Who says Geography isn’t cool?