Month: November 2012
The Telegraph UK has an article on England’s Green Belt which provides an interactive Google map for residents to determine if they are in an area classified as green belt land. The most interesting part of the article is that it makes the data available to the public and states that in the past the data would have cost thousands of bounds despite the fact that it is funded using taxpayer money. It then provides a link to the downloadable data provided by The Department for Communities and Local Government. This is a common debate among the GIS community, but not one that is normally brought up in popular media. It will be interesting to see the comments left by the public about the article and if the topic of available data comes up.
The Wall Street Journal today has an article on map auctions coming up in December titled, “Here be Dragons – and Map Lovers“. The maps, globes, and other cartographic items they list sell for several thousand to several million dollars. One collector says that he spends up to 10% of his income on map collecting. According to the Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc. most map collectors start out by collecting themed maps such as a specific geographic region, historical time period, or even type of cartographic style. Geographaphicus, an antique map blog, says that one of the most frequent questions they get asked is how to determine if a map is authentic or a fake. This is a problem for collectors and also a staple plot device for literary novels and movies.
Antique maps have always made GIS users whistful and there are many requests on-line for how-tos on making a GIS map have more of the cartographic effect of an antique one, such as this post by James Fee from 2006 on creating historic map effects. The Yale Map Library has a dated but thorough document on how to do Classic Cartographic Techniques in ArcMap. The real question is though, how will online and interactive maps stand up to antiquity? Will collectors be bidding on printed out versions of the maps we make today?
The geospatial methods and technologies used in Forensic GIS are finally catching up to popular depictions in movies and television. Although most of the analysis done on shows like CSI is footwork done by geospatial professionals and not solely by a near omnipotent computer program. I have often debated the impact of the large number of forensic procedurals in popular T.V., movies, and books. Mainly because the word GIS and mapping never seems to be used, even though that is the method being demonstrated. However, that will probably change considering the integration of Forensic GIS into the everyday practices around the world.
Forensic GIS has been used for many years in crime mapping around the world. Companies such as CSIR in New Zealand have used GIS and cell phone data to provide forensic evidence for criminal cases. GIS is used in every part of the investigation process creating jobs in the public, private, and university sectors. New jobs like GIS Analysis Expert Witness support for litigation have been created for companies like Digital Data Service or Geographic Resource Solutions which provides wildfire litigation. Other facets of forensic GIS include fraud dection, crime scene data , geospatial modeling in civil law suits, accident simulation, and for agency collaboration.
According to American Sentinel University, GIS and geospatial skills are a critical part of forensic science education today. Many of these programs are offered at all levels of education from certificate programs to undergraduate, masters, and Ph. D. It has led to innovation that serves the needs of forensic analysists in a unique way. The Ohio State University Police Division used GIS mapping software to detect patterns inside human bones. Fellowships also exist for established professionals such as the The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory, which provides a five course fellowship to assist in excavation and identification in Laos or Vietnam. If you watch the popular T.V. show Bones, this is the program that the main forensic scientist was involved in helping. The U.S. Department of Justice and Crime Mapping Research Center provide an online Mapping Crime: Principle and Practice Book, which explains crime mapping from context, to methods, application, and ethics for law enforcement and others.
One of the ways to build up credibility and make it into the public and professional consciousness is to provide case studies of the real day to day work done by GIS professionals and any other type of GIS professional in the field. Many times people in the field think that calls for papers, book chapters, conferences, and journals are only for academics or journalists, however these same publications often have a hard time finding examples of real world projects to discuss. The same is true of other media such as television and online newspapers, who contact professionals and organizations that are visible. One of the most permanent ways to increase visibility and credibility is to publish in some format – editorials, blogs, conference papers, professional journals, popular press, and of course textbooks in the field.
If you are one of the many public, private, or academic professionals involved in the growing field of forensic GIS, there is a call for chapter proposals and chapter section contributions that can be considered for inclusion in the book at Forensic GIS: The Role of Geospatial Technologies for Investigating Crime and Providing Evidence, which is scheduled to be published by Springer in its popular Geotechnologies and the Environment series. The deadline is Friday, December 14, 2012. Forensic GIS the profession is catching up to the popular perception of Forensic GIS the T.V. profession, share your real world applications and experiences with the next generation of Forensic GIS students.