McNutt to become USGS Director

usgs…from The Stanford Daily

“President Obama announced last week that he will nominate Marcia McNutt, professor of geophysics at Stanford, as the next director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and science advisor to the Secretary of the Interior.

“‘Marcia is a strong and experienced leader and a great scientist, and she understands the breath of issues that the USGS deals with,’ said Pamela Matson, dean of the School of Earth Sciences. ‘She’s a perfect choice.'”

A Customization of the Arc Marine Data Model to Support Whale Tracking via Satellite Telemetry

122467470By Brett K Lord-Castillo, Bruce R Mate, Dawn J Wright, and Tomas Follett

Transactions in GIS, Volume 13 Issue s1, Pages 63 – 83

Abstract: The Arc Marine data model is a generalized template to guide the implementation of geographic information systems (GIS) projects in the marine environment. It developed out of a collaborative process involving research and industry shareholders in coastal and marine research. This template models and attempts to standardize common ocean and coastal data types to facilitate data sharing and analytical tool development. In this study, Arc Marine is extended from its core model to fit the research goals of the whale satellite-telemetry-tagging program of the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute (MMI). The study sought the best customization of the generic Arc Marine data model to enhance the key advantages of satellite telemetry for mapping the distribution and movement of endangered marine mammal species. It was found that three new groups of object classes were needed (Animal, Telemetry, and Operations). Further customization involved the development of a comprehensive framework for animal tracking with Argos satellite telemetry data. A new multidimensional data cube model was also devised, showing how this extension of Arc Marine serves as an appropriate target schema for the application of on-line analytical processing (OLAP) tools and spatial data mining of satellite telemetry tracking datasets.

Beyond the Map: Digital Data Supports Applied and Scientific Projects

qmapnaki…from Stratford Press

“A new geological map covering the Taranaki and Central North Island area has been completed by a team of geologists following six years of fieldwork.

“The map, which shows the region’s geology in more detail than before, has been generated from a computer database using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, which means it can be updated regularly as new information comes to hand. The map replaces existing geological maps of the area, published in the 1960s, and combines a vast amount of published and unpublished material, plus new research, to produce a valuable resource about Taranaki geology.

“Digital data from which the map was produced is already being used extensively in a number of applied and scientific projects. End users expected to benefit include regional councils, engineers, developers, scientists, and mineral and petroleum exploration companies. People with an interest in geology and in the Taranaki region would also find the map useful.”

Read the article

Multivariable Value Densification Modeling Using GIS

122467470By Constance C Bodurow, Calvin Creech, Alan Hoback, and Jordan Martin

Transactions in GIS, Volume 13 Issue s1, Pages 147 – 175

Abstract: A team of researchers comprised of architects, urbanists, planners and civil engineers from Lawrence Technological University and the University of Detroit Mercy developed a value densification tool used primarily to evaluate density of resources and physical features within Southwest Detroit, Michigan. This community is a diverse and vibrant neighborhood that is currently transforming socially, physically and economically. This project – the Value Densification Community Mapping Project (VDCmp) – was developed to explore how aspects of the post-industrial city can be understood, communicated and leveraged in service of equity and sustainability and to use technology to reveal data about the city in order to convince community, political and economic leadership to embrace a broader interpretation of value. Building on an asset-based, community empowerment planning model, the research team is collaborating to create a unique “free-ware” GIS incorporating and merging components of Google Earth, Sketch Up and ERSI ArcGIS to model physical and social density and value in three dimensions. The resultant digital interface empowers the community through asset identification and creation of an accessible tool to assist in envisioning its environmental, social and economic future. The VDCmp digital interface is unique in that it models “social exchanges” in three dimensions and allows the user to overlay social and infrastructure layers with physical density. With funding from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the VDCmp and research team is engaging nonprofit groups in Southwest Detroit to determine how they can best utilize data and mapping in planning, design, development and evaluative tools. The focus of this work has been on creating a comprehensive tool that can support community design and development policy decisions. Community members have become active partners in evolving the digital interface as a tool for strategic planning at the agency/organization, coalition, city and regional levels. The active community members have either provided to the research team the self-generated data found to be significant to them (the stakeholders) or requested certain publicly available data sets to be incorporated in the interface. Significant geoprocessing using ArcGIS was used on these data sets (of various formats) in order to pre-process and evaluate the data for accuracy and quality assurance. These data were then exported to keyhole markup language (kml) or keyhole markup zip (kmz) files and the visualization of these data were developed in Google Earth, which included significant polygon and polyline extrusion (used to display multivariable attributes for single features). Sketch Up models were also used to display density of historic sites, green infrastructure, parking and other features. The team will also incorporate three dimensional network diagrams in GIS to display the interactions and relationships that residential households have with religious, cultural and commercial assets, among others. These techniques have allowed the community groups to visually identify over- or under-served resources, conflicting planning objectives, environmental health impacts, or areas of social inequality, with an end-goal of developing a dynamic, unified development and preservation strategy for the community. The VDCmp has evolved from a pilot project to an ever expanding collaborative initiative featuring multiple institutions, clients, stakeholders and geographies. The VDCmp has a tripartite nature. It is at once a Research Initiative; a Tool; and a Community Process, each requiring very different approaches to collaboration, deliverables and dissemination. Now developed, this framework may be replicated in other Detroit neighborhoods or across the region or country to further advance the concepts of Value Densification mapping.

Spatial Analysis of Illegal Drug Use using Wastewater Samples

…from Science Codex

“A team of researchers has mapped patterns of illicit drug use across the state of Oregon using a method of sampling municipal wastewater before it is treated.

“Their findings provide a one-day snapshot of drug excretion that can be used to better understand patterns of drug use in multiple municipalities over time. Municipal water treatment facilities across Oregon volunteered for the study to help further the development of this methodology as a proactive tool for health officials.”

Accuracy of iPhone Locations: A Comparison of Assisted GPS, WiFi, and Cellular Positioning

122467470By Paul A Zandbergen
Transactions in GIS, Volume 13 Issue s1, Pages 5 – 25

Abstract: The 3G iPhone was the first consumer device to provide a seamless integration of three positioning technologies: Assisted GPS (A-GPS), WiFi positioning and cellular network positioning. This study presents an evaluation of the accuracy of locations obtained using these three positioning modes on the 3G iPhone. A-GPS locations were validated using surveyed benchmarks and compared to a traditional low-cost GPS receiver running simultaneously. WiFi and cellular positions for indoor locations were validated using high resolution orthophotography. Results indicate that A-GPS locations obtained using the 3G iPhone are much less accurate than those from regular autonomous GPS units (average median error of 8 m for ten 20-minute field tests) but appear sufficient for most Location Based Services (LBS). WiFi locations using the 3G iPhone are much less accurate (median error of 74 m for 58 observations) and fail to meet the published accuracy specifications. Positional errors in WiFi also reveal erratic spatial patterns resulting from the design of the calibration effort underlying the WiFi positioning system. Cellular positioning using the 3G iPhone is the least accurate positioning method (median error of 600 m for 64 observations), consistent with previous studies. Pros and cons of the three positioning technologies are presented in terms of coverage, accuracy and reliability, followed by a discussion of the implications for LBS using the 3G iPhone and similar mobile devices.

Investigating Hologram-Based Route Planning

122467470By Sven Fuhrmann, Oleg Komogortsev, Dan Tamir

Transactions in GIS, Volume 13 Issue s1, Pages 177 – 196

Abstract: It is often assumed that three-dimensional topographic maps provide more effective route planning, navigation, orientation, and way-finding results than traditional two-dimensional representations. The research reported here investigates whether three-dimensional spatial mappings provide better support for route planning than two-dimensional representations. In a set of experiments performed as part of this research, human subjects were randomly shown either a two- or three-dimensional hologram of San Francisco and were asked to plan a bicycling route between an origin and a destination point. In a second task, participants used these holograms to identify the highest elevation point in the displayed area. The eye-movements of the participants, throughout the process of looking at the geospatial holograms and executing the tasks, were recorded. The eye-tracking metrics analysis indicates with a high statistical level of confidence that three-dimensional holographic maps enable more efficient route planning. In addition, the research group is developing a new algorithm to analyze the differences between participant-selected routes and a set of “good routes.” The algorithm employs techniques used to represent the boundary of objects and methods for assessing the difference between objects in modern digital image recognition, image registration, and image alignment applications. The overall goal is to create a theoretical framework for investigating and quantifying route planning effectiveness.

Conceptual Framework for Modeling Dynamic Paths from Natural Language Expressions

122467470By Kathleen Stewart Hornsby and Naicong Li.
Transactions in GIS, Volume 13 Issue s1, Pages 27 – 45

Abstract: Text documents frequently contain descriptions of different kinds of movements by individual persons, groups, animals, vehicles, or other moving objects. Comprehending and modeling the semantics of movement is an area of interest for geographic information science. In this article, we show how text documents that contain movement verbs can be analyzed for deriving representations of movement or dynamic paths. A conceptual framework is presented that provides the foundations necessary for deriving dynamic paths automatically from natural language descriptions and representing these dynamic paths in an information system, such as a geographic information system. In this research, a linguistic analysis of dynamic paths is presented and linked to a spatiotemporal representation of paths. We show how movement descriptions in text can be mapped to a set of elemental components including source, destination, route, direction, distance, start time, end time, and duration. Together, this set of path components captures the spatiotemporal characteristics of the path of a moving object as described using natural language. A systematic examination of these components builds a foundation for understanding more complex scenarios involving discourse (composed of consecutive sentences). Additional aspects reflecting important semantics about the movement characteristics of objects and discussed here are the shape of the path and granularity of modeling.

Does Inclusion of Landmarks Improve Navigation?

watoday…from WAToday

“Whereis.com approached Melbourne University’s geomatics department – “the science and technologies of three-dimensional measurement, mapping and visualisation” – about a year ago, asking it to test its theory that the inclusion of landmarks would improve map directions and to help determine the qualities that make a landmark worth using.”

Citizen Science Helps Build a Case for Climate Action

audWilliam B. Monahan, Senior GIS Scientist with Audubon California, has written an essay on (published at Grist.org) 0n how data collected by volunteer scientists is helping to build a case for climate action.

“They traipse through forest, grass and wetland, through mud, rain and even snow. They carry binoculars and take careful notes of everything they see.

“These are the folks—thousands of dedicated bird watchers—that for more than 100 years have been taking part in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, documenting fluctuations in bird populations the old-fashioned way: counting birds one by one, year after year.

“Old fashioned as it is, this data has proven invaluable for researchers through several generations. Now, we at Audubon California have found a way to use the work of these volunteers to shed new light on climate change, one of the most challenging issues for bird conservation today.”