Category: general

 

The United States Railroad Administration

On December 26, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson nationalized the U.S railroads from 1917 – 1920 in response to the infrastructure demands of WWI. While it only lasted four years, the nationalization and standardization needed for the war effort led to innovations in railway infrastructure and planning. Railways have always been closely tied with advances in cartography, mapping, and infrastructure.

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What is Geography

A fun video celebrating Geography Awareness Week by folks from Queens University

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. Read More

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.

GIS and Fine Art

My day was made brighter this morning by a Paris Metro Project by Hwan Lee, which is an Art Takes Paris project that details all 261 metro stations in Paris and the path of Hwan’s walking history. I know that it is an art exhibit and that it is an actual static map, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if interactive maps were so artistic. Frank LaFone and I have often discussed the need for artists to get involved in the geospatial process. It takes a certain eye to create a useful and aesthetically pleasing map. One that was either taught or engrained in many cartographers in the past. As the line of viewer’s at the ESRI Map Gallery and the People’s Choice Award Winner illustrates, art and maps create an enticing combination of human expression.   Read More

A Very Spatial Road Trip: Day 5

Sorry for the long delay between the post for day 4 and day 5.  Like most travelogues, not everything goes as smoothly as anticipated and documentation gets overridden by circumstances. Then, we got distracted by the ESRI User’s Conference and then by all the stuff we didn’t get done back home because of the Road Trip and the User’s Conference.  But we’re back at it and have lots more to report!

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A VerySpatial Road Trip: Day 1

We started off the day bright and early leaving Morgantown at 7am on our route south toward Bluefield, WV.  We loaded down our car with lots of good treats, some spare undies, and lots of VerySpatial swag to hand out along the way.  We gave our cats some last minute pats on the head, made sure the sitter had enough cat toys for the time we’d be gone, and we were off on A VerySpatial Road Trip across the US!

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The Most Popular Cars in Each State

The cartography kinda sucks, but this map on Jalopnik.com is pretty cool.  It details the most popular new cars by state.  As you can see, most of the US is fond of their F-150’s.  Toyota is big in the South East.  Subaru has Washington state locked up (not a huge surprise there).  I was moderately surprised the Accord took Pennsylvania.  Where does your state stack up on new car sales?

Airport GIS

This July it is likely that more of the passengers arriving at San Diego International Airport  are asking themselves, “How geospatial is this airport?” than at any other time of year.  Many of the over 15,000 ESRI UC Conference attendees arrive through the airport. The answer is that San Diego’s airport is very spatial and so are an increasing number of airports worldwide. Even before getting into infrastructure management, San Diego International Airport provides a SanMap interactive map for passengers, tracks California Least Tern nests on its grounds as part of the California Least Tern Endangered Species Protection Program, and uses GIS in its Airport Noise Mitigation to respond to noise complaints from surrounding neighborhoods. A common saying I was told years ago by a  U.S. Department of Transportation official is to think of an airport as a small-sized city with all the same functions and services.

I was reminded of this saying when I reviewed the 2012 “Airport GIS Program Safety Benefits: A Change in Direction” presentation that explains the eALP or airport GIS initiative. It was made even clearer in detailed presentations by AECOM on the specific steps in developing an airport GIS for California, “An Introduction to Airports- GIS/electronic ALP (A-GIS/eALP)” and Arora Engineers presentation on how to implement an “FAA AGIS and Asset Management” program. While ESRI provides case studies of airports using GIS for Aviation.

There are several conferences dedicated to aviation GIS like The American Association of Airport Executives GIS (AAAE GIS) conference which focuses solely on the use of GIS at airports such as meeting FAA requirements, facilities management, safety, and marketing or the Aviation GIS Summit. The 3DVW: Spatial Blog of Jeff Thurstan’s has a good article on the “3rd Aviation GIS Summit 2013 – Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam” in relation to GIS, 3D planning, and airports.

If you are interested in an aviation GIS career or want to know the requirements for an aviation GIS Analyst there sites dedicated to aviation jobs. On Airline Job Finder, there were many GIS analyst jobs working for GIS offices or teams of aviation GIS analysts. The American Association of Airport Executives has a list of positions open.

Space Between My Ears – The Geography of Cars

2010 - PGP - XK120 Front - small

I love cars. I’m a proper gear head, or petrol head if you’re in the UK.  Each and every year, I eagerly gobble up all the new cars news from the various car shows from around the world.  Designers and engineers are always tweaking this and playing with that, trying to eek out more power, better fuel economy, and prettier designs to get the public to buy.  And I can’t get enough of every little change, every little evolution, every revolution of car design and technology.  It isn’t just the supercars that cost 80 bagillion dollars and I couldn’t hope of buying sans a really lucky lottery ticket.  I dig the small cars that designed for the intro market (current object of fascination – Fiat 500 now available in the States).  I dig the cheap rear wheel drive sports cars for the people under a tight budget (I lust after the new BRZ/FR-S/GT86).  Even the idea of a returned Ford Ranger pickup gets my heart a racing.  I just love all cars.

As much as I love all these new cars and their ever greater technology, my real car passion is in the classics.  Every year for the last three years, you’ll see my ESRI User’s Conference badge reads, “Ask me about classic cars”.I especially have a weakness for classic British cars, particularly the roadsters.  I can talk for hours about the average MGB roadster (heaven help you if you get around ESRI’s Elvin Slavik and myself when the subject of MG’s come up).  I’d almost give a toe for the chance to own an old Mini at a decent price. That doesn’t keep me from loving other cars from other countries.  The Camaro is clearly a thing of beauty.  The People’s Car, despite it’s questionable heritage, is a marvel of engineering.  Honestly, how can you not be impressed by a car you can remove the engine in under 2 minutes with no power tools?  For that matter, I’ll always lust after a VW GTI Mk1, the originator of the ‘hot hatchback’.  If there’s someone that isn’t just blown away by the sheer beauty of the Ferrari California GT Spyder, I’m not sure I want to meet them.  The ‘49 Shoebox Ford is just such the definition of classic it practically screams to be in a parade or at least on a long Sunday drive.  Is there anything more American than the classic Ford F100 truck?  Or anything more British than the Land Rover Series I, II, and II (except, of course, the sexist car that ever existed)?

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