Science for All Seasons: Communicating Science to Diverse Audiences

header_nalogoNational Academies Communication Fair 2009

“On June 23, 2009 the National Academies Office of Communications, in cooperation with Staff Development Programs and the communications officers from the various program divisions here at the Academies, presented the third Communications Fair for National Academies staff.

“This year the fair featured an exciting new format with two panel discussions and a mid-day speaker to inspire new and creative ways to communicate science. We invite you to take part in what we’ve learned about communicating science by listening to podcasts of the events.”

Applying Advanced Technology for Threat Assessment: A Case Study of the BTC Pipeline

iags…from the Journal of Energy Security

“The study focuses on a risk analysis of the BTC pipeline and integrates state-of-the-art technologies for a comprehensive advanced security analysis (ASA) that includes critical issues such as the geographical and socio-political context along the BTC pipeline. This was addressed in the GIS (Geographical Information System) developed for purpose of integrating satellite imagery together with a number of map layers reflecting both physical and human factors along the BTC pipeline (road networks, topography, vegetation, population density, etc.).

“During the course of this analysis, the BTC pipeline was sabotaged by PKK insurgents in August 6th 2008. The geographical and socio-political factors of this sabotage have been weighted and extrapolated to the whole of the pipeline by a geospatial analysis on the GIS layers. As a result, the pipeline has been segmented into several degrees of risks which may prompt additional security actions as proposed in this paper.”

Predictive Archaeological Modeling Using GIS-Based Fuzzy Set Estimation

trbA Case Study of Woodford County, Kentucky

Authors: Bailey, Keiron; Grossardt, Ted H; Ripy, John; Mink, Philip; Shields, Carl; Davis, Dan; and Hixon, James

Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting 2009, Paper #09-2475


“Analytic predictive archaeological models can have great utility for state Departments of Transportation, but it is difficult to model the likelihood of prehistoric settlement using geographical proxy predictor variables because of the complexity of how settlement choices were actually made, and the complex interaction between these variables using GIS. In many cases classic statistical modeling approaches require too much data to be useful. This research reports on a preliminary predictive model that combines spatial analysis and fuzzy logic modeling to capture expert archaeological knowledge and convert this into predictive surface. A test area was defined in Woodford County, Kentucky, and five influencing factors were defined and calculated using the ArcGIS platform. Points were sampled and probabilities estimated using both small and large group structured processes from a broad range of archeologists that fed a forward-backward fuzzy logic induction process. It was used to generate and refine a knowledge base that mapped all inputs to an output probability function. These data were extracted from the fuzzy logic model to a lookup table and then geocoded into the ArcGIS platform, generating output surfaces showing the probability of encountering artifacts across the entire study area. The predictive results were tested using a blind control protocol with known archaeological data and established model testing statistics. The six models delivered predictive efficiencies that equaled and exceeded comparable statistical predictive models while using a much smaller number of variables as inputs.”

Spatial Analysis Aids Pandemic Preparation

…from The ISN Blog

“As countries prepare for the expected swine flu surge this fall, the ISN is taking this week to examine how they’re steeling themselves for the possible rise in cases.

“In the ISN Special Report, Preparing for a Pandemic, Sara Kuepfer looks at the links between swine flu and globalization, while Shirya Malhotra suggests that visual and spatial analysis could help strengthen public health systems in the fight against the virus.”

Environmental Protection Agency Maps Recovery Obligations and Outlays

enviromapperOnline GIS Application Shows where EPA Is Investing and How Much It Has Spent to Date

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is using geographic information system (GIS) technology to show how it is administering its $7.22 billion allotment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The ESRI ArcGIS Server software-based Web mapping application (click the link on shows total financial obligations and outlays by state. Once a state is selected, visitors can see how much money is going to State and Tribal Assistance Grants, Environmental Program and Management, the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, and Hazardous Substance Superfund.

“Providing this rich set of information to the public in an easy-to-use mapping application is one important way that we are operating in an open and transparent way,” says Jerry Johnston, geospatial information officer, EPA. “By allowing the public to see exactly how EPA’s ARRA funds are being disbursed in their states and, ultimately, in their neighborhoods, this application and the ones that will follow will help ensure an unprecedented level of accountability and transparency in the execution of these programs.”

EPA has used ESRI GIS technology for years to manage its geographic data and deliver information to the public. The EnviroMapper portal, for example, provides access to GIS-based applications that map data related to air, water, and land issues across the United States including EnviroMapper for Environmental Justice and EnviroMapper for the Toxics Release Inventory Program. Most recently, EPA added MyEnvironment to its home page, which allows visitors to input a location and discover detailed information in the specified area such as air quality, cancer risk estimates, and water conditions. MyEnvironment is powered by ArcGIS Server and uses Microsoft Bing Maps.

“GIS supports EPA’s mission to safeguard human health and the environment,” says ESRI president Jack Dangermond. “Using GIS for research, reporting, and decision making has allowed the agency to quickly respond to environmental events and keep the public informed and protected.”