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.”

Improving Spatial Analysis and Advancing Geographic Science in ArcGIS 9.4

…adapted from Jack Dangermond’s plenary talk at the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego,California in July of 2009…

j1For me, spatial analysis is the heart of GIS. ArcGIS 9.4 makes a huge step forward in the sreas of spatial analysis and geographic science. Python, the open source scripting language that is rapidly becoming the accepted standard for scientific programming, is being integrating inside of ArcGIS. This will give you a great language to support geoprocessing and spatial analysis, and I think it will bring a lot of advances in geographic science. We’re also going to integrate other software packages for statistics, math, and modeling.

j2At 9.4 we are adding a lot of functionality such as fuzzy overlay modeling. We’re improving the math-algebra integration. We’re radically improving raster performance for analytic operations, especially on very large data cells. We’re integrating time. And we’re introducing an ecological sampling tool, which brings a lot of geostatistics into play. All of these are examples of extending the quantitative methods that we apply.

j3A good friend of mine once said, “For each new advance, each new technology, it’s both a technical advance but it’s also an advance in method.” And this science theorem really rings home here as we expand the analytic language of what we can do with geography.


Top Nine Favorite Innovations in ArcGIS 9.4


Each year at the International User Conference, detailed demonstrations present major new functionality in upcoming releases of ESRI software.  ESRI’s John Calkins presedes these demos with a brief overview of his favorite innovations that won’t be covered in those more detailed demonstrations.  Here are John’s  “Top Nine Favorite Innovations in ArcGIS 9.4” as presented at the 2009 ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, California, in July.

9. User Interface. ArcGIS 9.4 presents a new user experience. The upgraded look includes dockable windows that can automatically hide. Also, a new Catalog window is embedded in ArcMap. We expect these and other underlying framework changes will greatly improve your productivity.

8. Attribute Tables. At 9.4, attribute tables are now displayed in a dockable window. You’ll see a new toolbar across the top, giving you easier access to the tools you need. And you can open multiple tables using the tabbed interface at the bottom.

7.  Search. A new search capability complements the Add Data dialog. The new search tool allows you to type in search criteria and with subsecond response time locate the data you’re interested in. You can use special keywords like points, lines, polygons, or layer—to further refine your search.

6.  Reporting. ArcGIS 9.4 includes a new reporting capability. A series of predefined templates makes it easier to make nice, formatted reports. Once you’ve created a report, you can now save the report so that you can later re-execute it with a different selected set.

5.  Geoprocessing Tools. With ArcGIS 9.4, we’ve enhanced the customization capability so you have access to all the analysis tools. You can drag and drop the Buffer tool or a geoprocessing model onto a toolbar. There’s also a new geoprocessing option that allows you to enable background processing.

4. Table of Contents Views. The table of contents now supports multiple views. The Group By Visibility view organizes layers in your map into visible, scale range, or not visible groups, making it easier to work with complex maps with a lot of layers.  It’s is a nice innovation to complement the traditional table of contents.

3. Symbol Search. To change symbols, you no longer have to browse through 20,000 different symbols looking for the right one, you can simply do a search. It is far more efficient to search for symbols than browsing through the multitude of symbols that are included with ArcGIS.

2. Temporal Mapping. ArcGIS 9.4 is becoming time aware, making it easier to make temporal maps with ArcGIS. There’s a new Time tab in the layer properties, as well as a new clock tool that allows you to set the display’s date and time.

1. Fast Basemaps. Prior to 9.4, when ArcMap updates the display, it redraws each layer sequentially. A new basemap layer in 9.4 enables continuous fast redraw.

Putting Global Warming On Trial?

llatimesogoSmall…from the Los Angeles Times

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.

“Chamber officials say it would be “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” — complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect.”

Mapping Antarctica: Latest Satellite Imagery Brings Continent into High-Res Focus

antsun…from The Antarctic Sun

“Maps of Antarctica date back to when Roman geographer and astronomer Ptolemy envisioned a land in the southern hemisphere to counterbalance that in the north to satisfy an ancient sense of proportion. Terra Australis would remain terra incognita for more than 1,500 years, though that didn’t stop cartographers from drawing fanciful depictions of the southern continent, varying widely in size and location.

“Today, the average person can zoom across Antarctica with Google Earth. It’s even possible to download high-definition images of ice and mountaintops thanks to an International Polar Year External U.S. government site project that created a map mosaic of the continent from more than 1,000 satellite images — the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (LIMA) External U.S. government site. [See previous story: Getting on the map.]

“But Paul Morin knows those images and the maps created from them can get even better, practically proselytizing about a new promised land of high-resolution imagery in which one can literally count the boulders on the ground.”

Flexible Soil Model Maps Remote Areas

innovlogo…from Innovations Report

“Soil scientists often face the dilemma of wishing to study soil in remote areas because they are ideal places to study soil formation and distribution under natural conditions, but mapping them requires a huge investment of time and resources. Computer-based models offer an efficient alternative. Researchers used ArcGIS geodatabase software to develop the Remote Area Soil Proxy (RASP) modeling technique to predict natural occurrence of soils in remote areas.

“Bruce Frazier and Richard Rupp of Washington State University and Toby Rodgers and Crystal Briggs of Soil Survey conducted this work in the Pasayten River watershed in north-central Washington. Their results are reported in the summer issue of Soil Survey Horizons. Data were collected from dominant landscape facets accessible by or near trails, and soil formation was modeled using surrogates for the soil forming factors.”

The Need for Comprehensive 3D City Models

stu_rich22Stu Rich has a new post on his Spatial Explorations blog titled “The Need for Comprehensive 3D City Models (Part 1)“.  Here’s an excerpt:

“On my recent trip to Vancouver to speak at the GeoWeb 2009 conference, however, I was inspired by Thomas Kolbe’s work on CityGML to think more about collections of buildings and how they work together in an urban environment. As we move to this city and regional scale, the level of granularity at which we model our buildings has big implications on scalability, performance, and the tool sets that we use for visualization and analysis.  For the purposes of our discussion here, let’s define a “City” is a reasonably large collection of buildings in a condensed area. This city might be a traditional municipality like Philadelphia or Chicago, it might be a military city like Langley Air Force Base, or it might be a college campus like Boston University.”

Looking forward to reading Part 2, Stu!