Human Geography

Landscape Epidemiology and geospatial technologies

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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

Other examples include projects studying West Nile Virus and this 2003 project to study Ebola

The ZevRoss website has a nice overview article here


Beyond Einstein Live Webcast

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Although it’s not strictly geography, this is still pretty cool. A 12-hour live global webcast will be going on today to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity, a revolutionary idea no matter what your area of expertise. I have been having trouble with the video myself, but the audio seems OK.

It began at 6:00am EST in the US (3:00am PST) and will run for 12 hours live.

Even if you aren’t that interested in physics, it’s still a nice tribute to Einsein.

Via BBCNews


EPBG Specialty Group blog

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The AAG is filled with specialty groups that focus on most any major topic in Geography. I had a blog up for the Graduate Student Affinity Group for a while, but then there was the server crash and the laziness, you get the idea. The Environmental Perception and Behavioral Geography Specialty Group of the AAG are using blogspot to host their website, in addition to their AAG communities space (which is members only)

EPBG Specialty Group

Remote Sensing

Landsat 5 in trouble

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On November 26th, Landsat 5 began experiencing problems with its back-up solar array drive, which maintains the proper pointing angle between the array and the sun to charge the batteries. The primary solar array failed last January, so this is pretty serious. Imaging operations have been suspended at least for the next 2 weeks. Landsat 5 was launched in 1984, and was originally designed with a 3-year lifespan, so it has already performed well beyond expectations, capturing over 125,000 images of the Earth’s surface. The loss of Landsat 5 would certainly be a blow to the Landsat program, and those who use its imagery in their research and work.

Via USGS News release and Dr. Tim Warner

Landsat Program website


MapServer Foundation

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Monday marked the launch of the MapServer Foundation, a “nonprofit legal entity established to support the needs of the open source web mapping community.” Included among the 11 people who created the MapServer Foundation are Steve Lime, the creator and lead developer of MapServer, and Tyler Mitchell, geographer and author of Web Mapping Illustrated. The website has just gotten up and running, but it does have an open letter announcing the creation of the foundation, an FAQs section, and some other resources.

Via ZDNet Open Source blog

Jesse adds: Also check out the barrage of discussion in the geospatial blogosphere including (newest at top):

  • More from Spatially Adjusted
    He also points out, again, that the foundation’s MapServer Enterprise will be based on the soon to be released MapGuide code which we didn’t specify in the original post above
  • Ed McNierney from the MapServer Listserv
  • Allan Doyle from the think blog
  • Sean Gillies at import cartography
  • James Fee at Spatially Adjusted
  • Glenn at GISUser Blog
  • Tyler Mitchell at O’Reilly includes link to open letter
  • WebMapping

    Microsoft selects 15-meter imagery for Windows Live Local

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    Harris Corporation announced on Monday that Microsoft will be using their 15-meter Global Dataset imagery for their Windows Live Local Powered by Virtual Earth. I couldn’t find a definite release date for it, but a demo application was previewed in San Francisco on November 1st, which you can read about here.
    Windows Live Local will be part of Microsoft’s Windows Live offerings and some of the beta products are already available at the Windows Live Ideas page. However, Windows Live Local is not yet one of them. Someone did post a screenshot from the recent preview on Flickr