If you’re going to be in the Washington, DC area this week, the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian is celebrating Geography Awareness Week with a number of activities. Check out their website for details.
By: Jesse, November 14, 2005
With only a few days left before the release of the 4th movie in the Harry Potter series, The Goblet of Fire, I thought it might be time to follow in Mapz‘s lead and look at how an item from the magical world compares to our muggle technology. The Marauder’s Map is a piece of parchment enchanted by four rapscallions in their younger days at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which finds its way into the hands of Harry (thanks to the boundless generosity of the Weasley twins). This magical map is a detailed representation of the school: the different rooms, hallways, floors, and many of the objects within the school…all of these things AND a Ã¢â‚¬Å“real-timeÃ¢â‚¬? tracking of the location and movements of each person (even pets!) within the school.
This is similar in concept, if not operationalization, to the current vision of the use of RFID tags on students and employees to track their movements. In the Ã¢â‚¬Å“muggleÃ¢â‚¬? (non-magic users) world, we have a GIS, desktop or mobile, a way to map the features of our own castle and grounds. We also have a GPS to track ourselves and others wirelessly as we wander the grounds of our castle. But what about inside, indoors within our castle, how do we know and therefore show where we are? No matter the size of our castle (or shack) we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t reliably use standard GPS-enabled devices. This is tied to issues of signal strength and in our courtyard there is the issue of the urban canyon, or signal bounce. But there are options, as we walk into our castle. Our RFID tag embedded in our wand, I mean wallet, is read as we walk through a doorway. If each doorway has a reader we can know what room we are in. Brilliant, Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ but not yet a true MarauderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Map. We do not yet have the accurate real-time tracking.
So, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s toss our RFID aside for the moment and use our wireless connection. MITÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s iSpot gets us close to a userÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s location, gives us a building, a floor, probably a room. If we switch over to EkahauÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s approach, then we can get fairly close to our real-time location through wireless, but the problem is that someone has to wander through prerecording relative signal strengths in order to use later. Good, but time consuming, and it may not be reliable if you add different hardware to the system. I think the closest we can get right now, outside of the DOD, is probably QualcommÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s GPSone. This assisted GPS solution integrates GPS information with wireless network signals to yield a pervasive location solution. Now, I speak from the documentation on GPSone not the use of it, and we all have a cell phone after all. Your first grade child or niece or nephew has one right?
So, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s see, we have our magical tool, the MarauderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Map, and our muggle options to make it happen. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to do it just one way; we have choices to make based on what we really want (I, for one, do not wish to know which stall you are in). And with our results I think it is safe to say that we could convince all but the most jaded that any of our muggle ways of creating a MarauderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Map Lite Ã¯?Å really is magic. Of course, now that we have it, the question is: who will get to use it and what will they use it for? Important questions to be sure, but maybe we will leave the issue of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Big BrotherÃ¢â‚¬? and civil liberties to another day.
This article from BBC News follows on today’s GAW topic Physical Geography. Just a month ago we referenced an article stating that we were losing portions of the rainforests at faster than expected rates. Today we find out it is slowing, if only there were a universal data set that everyone could use. BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Deforestation slowing, UN says
As I have mentioned before, I see Geography as a series of relationships and as we look back through the history of Geography we see three main areas that we can use as umbrellas for the broad aspects of Geography: cartography, human geography and physical geography. Physical Geography covers the relationships within the environment around us, a broad area to be sure, but an important one in our daily lives.
This week we will be taking a look at five broad areas within Geography, beginning today with Physical Geography with the rest of the week as:
Tuesday – Human Geography
Wednesday – GIS Day complete with podcast
Thursday – Cartography
Friday – A round-up of the myriad of topics that we won’t be covering
We will have the first up later today.
This a short article on GIS from stuff.co.nz and features comments by Jack Dangermond of ESRI. Nothing earth-shattering, but it’s always interesting for me to see how GIS technology has a global reach.
I was waiting for my ride to campus this morning and I stumbled across a program on the History Channel called Battlefield Detectives. This episode was about the Battle of Hastings in England in 1066. But what was interesting was a discussion and demonstration of the use of GIS in historic landscape interpretation and reconstruction. It was pretty strange to see the GIS up on a monitor in the background and the closeups of aerial photos draped over terrain as the researchers explained how the reconstruction is generated. It’s next airing is today at 2pm, but I don’t know after that.
History Channel Battlefield Detectives webpage
As we have mentioned in the podcasts and show notes, we are hosting our first give away. We will be conducting a drawing on December 2, 2005 of post cards that you send in. Send us a post card, preferably one that shows your area of the world, with your contact information, especially email, to:
PO Box 1026
Morgantown, WV 26507
All entries must be received by December 1, 2005 to be eligible. We will be giving away SWAG from the VerySpatial store. Winners will be announced on Episode 20 of the podcast on December 4, 2005.
Main Topic: Public and private information. News: Virtual Earth winner, Rand McNally MapEngine, Google Local mobile