A Promising Tool to Assess Long Term Public Health Effects of Natural Disasters

PLOS_ONECombining Routine Health Survey Data and Geographic Information Systems to Assess Stunting after the 2001 Earthquake in Peru

PLOS | One, Published Online 19 June 2015

By Henny Rydberg, Gaetano Marrone, Susanne Strömdahl, and Johan von Schreeb

Background: Research on long-term health effects of earthquakes is scarce, especially in low- and middle-income countries, which are disproportionately affected by disasters. To date, progress in this area has been hampered by the lack of tools to accurately measure these effects. Here, we explored whether long-term public health effects of earthquakes can be assessed using a combination of readily available data sources on public health and geographic distribution of seismic activity.

ShakeMap image of the 2001 southern Peru earthquake.

ShakeMap image of the 2001 southern Peru earthquake.

Methods: We used childhood stunting as a proxy for public health effects. Data on stunting were attained from Demographic and Health Surveys. Earthquake data were obtained from U.S. Geological Survey’s ShakeMaps, geographic information system-based maps that divide earthquake affected areas into different shaking intensity zones. We combined these two data sources to categorize the surveyed children into different earthquake exposure groups, based on how much their area of residence was affected by the earthquake. We assessed the feasibility of the approach using a real earthquake case – an 8.4 magnitude earthquake that hit southern Peru in 2001.

 GIS-based map of the areas affected by the 2001 southern Peru earthquake.

GIS-based map of the areas affected by the 2001 southern Peru earthquake.

Results and conclusions: Our results indicate that the combination of health survey data and disaster data may offer a readily accessible and accurate method for determining the long-term public health consequences of a natural disaster. Our work allowed us to make pre- and post- earthquake comparisons of stunting, an important indicator of the well-being of a society, as well as comparisons between populations with different levels of exposure to the earthquake. Furthermore, the detailed GIS based data provided a precise and objective definition of earthquake exposure. Our approach should be considered in future public health and disaster research exploring the long-term effects of earthquakes and potentially other natural disasters.”

Spatial analysis of the effect of the 2010 heat wave on stroke mortality in Nanjing, China

Scientific Reports 5, Published 02 June 2015

By Kai Chen, Lei Huang, Lian Zhou, Zongwei Ma, Jun Bi, and Tiantian Li

“To examine the spatial variation of stroke mortality risk during heat wave, we collected 418 stroke mortality cases with permanent addresses for a severe heat wave (July 28–August 15, 2010) and 624 cases for the reference period (July 29–August 16, 2009 and July 27–August 14, 2011) in Nanjing, China. Generalized additive models were used to explore the association between location and stroke mortality risk during the heat wave while controlling individual-level risk factors. Heat wave vulnerability was then applied to explain the possible spatial variations of heat-wave-related mortality risk.

(1) Using reference period 1 (A2); (2) Using reference period 2 (A3). Maximum of daytime land surface temperatures (Terra/MODIS, 1 km resolution) in each period (19 days) was used as the temperature exposure indicator. White areas indicate that land surface temperatures were not available due to cloud cover. Maps were generated using ArcGIS (version 10.0; ESRI, Redlands, CA).

(1) Using reference period 1 (A2); (2) Using reference period 2 (A3). Maximum of daytime land surface temperatures (Terra/MODIS, 1 km resolution) in each period (19 days) was used as the temperature exposure indicator. White areas indicate that land surface temperatures were not available due to cloud cover. Maps were generated using ArcGIS (version 10.0; ESRI, Redlands, CA).

“The overall risk ratio (95% confidence intervals) of stroke mortality due to the heat wave in Nanjing was 1.34 (1.21 to 1.47). Geolocation was found to be significantly associated with the heat-wave-related stroke mortality risk. Using alternative reference periods generated similar results. A district-level risk assessment revealed similar spatial patterns. The highest stroke mortality risk observed in Luhe district was due to the combination of high heat exposure and high vulnerability. Our findings provide evidence that stroke mortality risk is higher in rural areas during heat waves and that these areas require future interventions to reduce vulnerability.”

OGC calls for participation in GeoSemantics Summit

OGC_newOn 3 June 2015, the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) GeoSemantics Domain Working Group will host a summit, “GeoSemantics: Standards Intersect Ontologies”. This summit will be part of the OGC’s June 2015 Technical Committee meeting in Boulder, Colorado. The Summit’s central topic is the application of ontologies in standards-based geo-information infrastructures.

The idea of the Semantic Web has been around for well over 10 years, and more recently principles of Linked Data have been gaining a lot of momentum. The Semantic Web involves data elements and connections between them being published on the Web in order to provide concrete opportunities for experimentation in semantic applications. Well defined, community agreements on semantics hold considerable promise for solving harmonization and integration of geospatial data sources from different regions, domains, and communities. Due to the universality of location and time geospatial (and temporal) semantics particularly have potential for advancing integration of both geospatial and non-geospatial data. At the same time, ontologies are increasingly a part of formal information specifications and models. This OGC summit is focused on bringing the informal linked data and formal ontology worlds closer together in the geospatial standards development process. This Call is for participants to share knowledge, present examples, and address issues involving geospatial ontologies. Topics of particular relevance include:

  1. Existing generic ontologies or vocabularies for the geospatial domain. GeoSPARQL is the only current standard, but it is focused on geometry; are there improvements to be suggested? Which other candidates are there? For example, there is the U.S. government’s National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG) Enterprise Ontology (NEO) and NSG Feature Data Dictionary (NFDD). The W3C/OGC Spatial Data on the Web Working Group will address this topic in its “Best Practice” deliverable. However, the geospatial domain has specialized needs not likely to be addressed by the W3C. Should OGC address these needs with a central geospatial ontology standard, an assortment of geospatial ontology patterns, or general rules for formation of geospatial ontologies from other semantic / syntactic representations?
  2. Should OGC register existing or proposed domain specific ontologies/vocabularies such as Semantic Sensor Networks (SSN), USGS National Map (TNM) ontologies, OWS-10 geospatial ontologies, etc.
  3. There are many standardized spatial information models available as UML from ISO and OGC, as well as from INSPIRE and various national bodies. Work is ongoing in deriving OWL ontologies from these models; one approach is being developed in ISO 19150-2. What is the state of the art and any current issues with this sort of rule-based mapping?
  4. Linked Data and graph data models. Besides facilitating formal semantics, do graph models add value to spatial data representation in and of themselves? Are there problems yet to solve with graph models in relation to spatial data?
  5. Another application of semantics involves the use of ontologies in conjunction with OGC web services. What are the practices and issues here?
  6. Geosemantics issues have been worked on in the present OGC Testbed 11 as well as in several previous OWS testbeds. What are their lessons for the adoption of ontology and formal semantics?

To be considered for participation in the summit, please send a short abstract of your proposed contribution (200 – 400 words) to Linda van den Brink (l.vandenbrink [at] geonovum.nl) so that we can develop a final agenda appropriate to the interests and backgrounds of the participants.

Event Registration

To register for the event please visit the registration page.

[Source: OGC press release]

OGC Calls for participation in major sensor IoT interoperability pilot project

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has issued a Request for Quotations/Call for Participation (RFQ/CFP) in the OGC Incident Management Information Sharing Internet of Things Pilot Project (IMIS IoT Pilot). Participants in the IMIS IoT Pilot will prototype and demonstrate standards-based approaches to a series of challenges that hinder effective use of large numbers of diverse sensors for use in emergency response and disaster response situations.

OGC pilot projects apply and test OGC standards in real world applications using Standards Based Commercial Off-The-Shelf (SCOTS) products that implement OGC standards and other related standards.

IMIS IoT Pilot sponsors have documented interoperability requirements and objectives for this pilot activity. Organizations selected to participate in the IMIS IoT Pilot will develop solutions based on the sponsors’ use cases, requirements and scenarios, which are described in detail in the RFQ/CFP. Participants’ solutions will implement existing OGC standards as well as new prototype interface and encoding specifications introduced or developed in OGC testbeds. Outcomes will be documented in public OGC Engineering Reports. These may result in OGC discussion papers, best practices or new standards-prototyping activities.

Initial notional system design for the IMIS IoT Pilot. (SWE: OGC Sensor Web Enablement Standards. S-Hub: Sensor Hub. HubCat: Catalog of registered sensors and sensor types. WMS: OGC Web Map Service Interface Standard. SOS/STA: OGC Sensor Observation Service Interface Standard/OGC Lightweight SOS Profile for Stationary In-Situ Sensor Best Practice. WNS: OGC Web Notification Service Discussion Paper.)

Initial notional system design for the IMIS IoT Pilot. (SWE: OGC Sensor Web Enablement Standards. S-Hub: Sensor Hub. HubCat: Catalog of registered sensors and sensor types. WMS: OGC Web Map Service Interface Standard. SOS/STA: OGC Sensor Observation Service Interface Standard/OGC Lightweight SOS Profile for Stationary In-Situ Sensor Best Practice. WNS: OGC Web Notification Service Discussion Paper.)

IMIS sponsors include:

The RFQ/CFP and information about the IMIS pilot project are available at http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/requests/133. Responses are due by 5:00 pm EDT on 22 May 2015.

If you want to learn more about this opportunity, please contact Lew Leinenweber, Director Interoperability Programs (imis-iot-responses@opengeopatial.org). See http://www.opengeospatial.org/ogc/programs/ip for more information about the 15-year-old OGC Interoperability Program in which OGC testbeds, pilot projects and interoperability experiments are organized, planned and managed.

[Source: OGC press release]

An Environmental Assessment of School Shade Tree Canopy and Implications for Sun Safety Policies: The Los Angeles Unified School District

isprsISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 2015, 4(2), 607-625

By April Moreno, John Tangenberg, Brian N. Hilton, and June K. Hilton

“In an effort to reforest school sites with limited resources, communities and non-profits have implemented projects on Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school sites, often without thought for the best location, long-term maintenance, or appropriateness of the tree type. Although studies exist related to sun safety policies in schools, there has been little emphasis on the environmental public health benefits of trees in public schools. The LAUSD School Shade Tree Canopy Study was a response to this issue in which data was analyzed (a total of 33,729 trees in the LAUSD were mapped) regarding tree canopy coverage, pervious/impervious areas, and buildings for 509 elementary schools to assess urban forestry management issues and environmental injustices within communities of the district.”

Website showing map layers, data, and report access.

Website showing map layers, data, and report access.

“The results of these analyses indicate that there is a wide range of school site size, tree canopy coverage as a percentage of school site size, tree canopy coverage as a percentage of play area, and percentage of unpaved surface play areas (e.g., (~20%) of the schools have both (0.0%) tree canopy coverage play areas and 100% paved surfaces). This finding alone has implications in how the LAUSD may implement sun safe polices which would aid in preventing skin cancer and other adverse health outcomes for students within the school district.”

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Sustainable Development under Population Pressure: Lessons from Developed Land Consumption in the Conterminous U.S.

PLOS One, Published Online 25 March 2015

By George Grekousis and Giorgos Mountrakis

“Population growth will result in a significant anthropogenic environmental change worldwide through increases in developed land (DL) consumption. DL consumption is an important environmental and socioeconomic process affecting humans and ecosystems. Attention has been given to DL modeling inside highly populated cities. However, modeling DL consumption should expand to non-metropolitan areas where arguably the environmental consequences are more significant. Here, we study all counties within the conterminous U.S. and based on satellite-derived product (National Land Cover Dataset 2001) we calculate the associated DL for each county. By using county population data from the 2000 census we present a comparative study on DL consumption and we propose a model linking population with expected DL consumption.

County relative DL consumption ranking contrasted with 100 counties of similar population.

County relative DL consumption ranking contrasted with 100 counties of similar population.

“Results indicate distinct geographic patterns of comparatively low and high consuming counties moving from east to west. We also demonstrate that the relationship of DL consumption with population is mostly linear, altering the notion that expected population growth will have lower DL consumption if added in counties with larger population. Added DL consumption is independent of a county’s starting population and only dependent on whether the county belongs to a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). In the overlapping MSA and non-MSA population range there is also a constant DL efficiency gain of approximately 20km2 for a given population for MSA counties which suggests that transitioning from rural to urban counties has significantly higher benefits in lower populations. In addition, we analyze the socioeconomic composition of counties with extremely high or low DL consumption. High DL consumption counties have statistically lower Black/African American population, higher poverty rate and lower income per capita than average in both NMSA and MSA counties. Our analysis offers a baseline to investigate further land consumption strategies in anticipation of growing population pressures.”

URISA GISCorps Volunteers Respond to the Call for Typhoon Pam

URISATwenty-two GISCorps volunteers responded to the call for Typhoon Pam, which devastated the island nation of Vanuatu on March 13, 2015.  The Digital Humanitarian Network was activated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and member organizations formed interdisciplinary teams to quickly monitor, process, and analyze incoming information from social media.  GISCorps partnered with Humanity Road and PeaceGeeks to provide spatial context to social media input, resulting in data and maps to share with the humanitarian community.

Examples of these data can be seen in two maps created within Esri ArcGIS Online:

The GISCorps team was led by Heather Milton, with additional coordination and technical support from Carol Kraemer and David Litke in the five-day around-the-clock online operation.  Volunteers assisted with geo-locating needed information and creating the maps. The GISCorps team utilized Skype, Google Apps, and ArcGIS Online for the effort.

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About URISA’s GISCorps: A program of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) since 2003, GISCorps coordinates short term, volunteer GIS services to underprivileged communities worldwide. Our services support humanitarian relief, community development, local capacity building, health and education. GISCorps is run by a Core Committee who e-meet monthly but e-communicate daily. Since its inception, GISCorps has attracted over 3,450 volunteers from 96 countries. To date, GISCorps has deployed 664 volunteers (from 47 countries) to 160 missions in 56 countries around the globe. These volunteers have contributed over 20,000 working hours towards those missions. For more information, visit www.giscorps.org

[Source: URISA news release]