UNM’s ISTEC Program Uses Modern Technology to Rebuild Abandoned Acequias

SVAcequias…from UNM Today

“Digging ditches isn’t how UNM students usually expect to spend their summers. But this low tech task is part of an ISTEC, Ibero-American Science and Technology Education Consortium program to remap and reestablish the old acequia system that Spanish and Tlaxcalteca settlers once used to irrigate Albuquerque’s South Valley with water from the Rio Grande.

“Garcia says that the final goal of the project is to develop a virtual system that will allow SVRAA to help water users to claim their water rights, while the data collected can be managed using a combination of GIS/GPS technology integrated into a community virtual management system. This process will allow ISTEC to do knowledge, information and technology transfer so community members have the technical expertise to maintain and use the database of all water systems and water users in the South Valley.”

OGC India Forum Established to Advance Geospatial Standards in India

ogcThe India Forum of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) was recently chartered to provide government, academic, research and industry organizations in India with opportunities to learn about and discuss issues related to interoperability of geographic information involving OGC standards. The Forum seeks to promote interoperability and create synergy between the various producers and users of geographic information and geomatics products and services in India. The Forum also provides a way for Indian organizations to  coordinate their efforts to ensure that Indian requirements are addressed by the international standards of the OGC.

Dr. Ashok Kaushal, Managing Director, PCI Geomatics (India), author of the India Forum charter, said, “Forum members want to work together in India to maximize the benefits of using open standards in dealing with geospatial information. This is important not only for the ICT industry here, but it is also important as India advances in areas such as transportation, energy, agriculture, defense and natural resource management.”

The OGC India Forum founding members are:

  • Director General Military Survey
  • Department of Science &Technology
  • DSM Soft Private Ltd
  • GIS Development Private Ltd
  • InfoTech Enterprises Ltd
  • PCI Geomatics
  • Rolta India Ltd

The members of the India Forum of the OGC invite other Indian organizations to join the Forum. Agencies can learn about the offerings of Indian companies and pool their interoperability requirements in standards development efforts; companies can meet potential customers and partners; universities and research centers can engage with government and industry and the OGC’s active worldwide interoperability research community; and all can explore together ways to take advantage of the OGC standards that are revolutionizing the geospatial industry.

The OGC® is an international consortium of more than 385 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. OpenGIS(R) Standards support interoperable solutions that “geo-enable” the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. OGC Standards empower technology developers to make geospatial information and services accessible and useful with any application that needs to be geospatially enabled. Visit the OGC website at http://www.opengeospatial.org.

[source: OGC press release]

Selecting Wind Farm Sites in Colorado With GIS: New ArcLesson

447New ArcLesson from the education team at ESRI:

“In this 50-question activity, you will determine the best locations to site a wind energy farm in Colorado. You will use GIS as your primary investigative tool and use spatial analysis techniques to consider the best site. You will consider highways, wind speed, cities, size of polygon, contiguity, elevation, federal land, and will perform a number of geoprocessing functions including dissolve, intersect, erase, join, and more to arrive at your conclusion.”

The Rise of Geoconsumerism

New Tools, the GeoWeb, Ubiquitous Data Bring “GIS for Everyone” Vision to Life

The vision of “GIS for everyone” has been around for a long time.  GIS is a transformational technology, with the ability to empower the masses to make better decisions. But from an implementation standpoint, for many years the “GIS for everyone” vision was not very practical.  For the most part, GIS use remained fairly exclusive; the tools, data, and decision making were relegated to a fairly small number of “GIS professionals.”

Happily, this landscape has changed over the course of the last few years.  Development of a new generation of geospatial tools, proliferation of the Internet as a backbone for sharing and collaborating, and widespread availability of geospatial data have laid the foundation.  The infrastructure is now in place to deliver powerful geospatial information and applications to almost every inhabitant of our planet.  We’re seeing the dawn of a new age; an age of “geoconsumerism,” where geospatial information developed by GIS professionals is packaged in a way that it is quickly and easily available for use by everyone.  “GIS for everyone” is here.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at an analogy: electricity.  Electricity has been around for a long time.  Scientists and researchers lead the “discovery” of many of the details of electricity.  Once many of the details were discovered, engineers set out designing and building the infrastructure to electrify the world.  Once the infrastructure was in place, inventors and industrial designers set about building products that leveraged the hard work of the engineers and delivered products to the masses—easy-to-use appliances for people who could benefit from this technology, but who didn’t need to know the details of amps and ohms, or how the electricity they were using was generated and where it actually came from.  Throughout this evolution, electricity became available to exponentially more people and the knowledge and skills needed to work with electricity became heavily stratified.


Evolution of the Electrical Consumption System.

We don’t often think of it in this way, because most of the world has reliable electricity infrastructure, but every time we do something as simple as flip a light switch or turn on a TV, we are touching one small end of a huge, complex, sophisticated system designed to generate and transmit electrical current across many miles and deliver it where, when, and how we need it, in the most transparent fashion possible.  The initial foundational work by the engineers to build the infrastructure, as well as ongoing work to maintain it and advance it, coupled with the brilliance of the inventors and industrial designers who give us products that leverage the electric infrastructure and make our lives easier and better, is often not fully appreciated by the consumer.  And in a mature system, that’s the way it should be: the consumer should flip the switch, and it should “just work” in the most transparent way possible.

Looking at geospatial information, GIS professionals have been working hard over the last couple of decades to build the infrastructure.  While not “complete,” this infrastructure is to the point where it is comprehensive enough that it can be of great value to many people beyond the traditional GIS audience.  Making the infrastructure accessible to “everyone” is now in the hands of developers.


Evolution of the Geospatial Information Consumption System.

Some developers are taking a more traditional approach, often developing sophisticated applications for very specific uses, while others are looking at ways to bring more simple applications to a much larger audience.  Both approaches are valuable and needed, and the line between them is beginning to blur as developers focus on using the most appropriate techniques, tools, and methods for the intended audience.

The next generation of geospatial applications will have broad relevance across society, will leverage the infrastructure built and maintained by GIS professionals, will make people’s lives easier and better, and will be transparent and “just work.”  Developers, this is your time.  “Everyone” is waiting.

Geoweb Services for Sharing Modelling Results in Biodiversity Networks

122570989…from Transactions in GIS

“Biodiversity researchers in different institutions deal with predictive models for species distribution. These models are useful for biodiversity conservation policies. Species distribution modelling tools need large datasets from different sources and use many algorithms. To improve biodiversity science, scientists need to share models, data and results, and should be able to reproduce experiments from others. This article presents a geoweb service architecture that supports sharing of modelling results and enables researchers to perform new modelling experiments. We show the feasibility of the proposed architecture by developing a set of prototype services, called Web Biodiversity Collaborative Modelling Services – WBCMS. They provide a set of geospatial web services that support the sharing of species distribution models. The article includes an example of a model instance that explains the WBCMS prototype. We believe that WBCMS shows how to set up a cooperative research network on biodiversity research.”

International Encyclopedia of Human Geography

hg“The International Encyclopedia of Human Geography provides an authoritative and comprehensive source of information on the discipline of human geography and its constituent, and related, subject areas. The encyclopedia includes over 1,000 detailed entries on philosophy and theory, key concepts, methods and practices, biographies of notable geographers, and geographical thought and praxis in different parts of the world.

“This groundbreaking project covers every field of human geography and the discipline’s relationships to other disciplines, and is global in scope, involving an international set of contributors. Given its broad, inclusive scope and unique online accessibility, it is anticipated that the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography will become the major reference work for the discipline over the coming decades.”

The GIS Management Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide and Reference for GIS Managers

croswell“The book is comprehensive guide and reference to the field of GIS management. It provides practical information on the development, implementation, and operation of GIS programs and projects and is valuable resource for seasoned and new GIS managers and aspiring managers. IT managers with a requirement to understand more about GIS programs in their organizations will benefit from this book as will providers of technical and management services needing to learn more about the GIS programs they serve. The book is also a useful reference for academicians and students studying or researching GIS management issues.”

Frontiers in Soil Science Research: Report of a Workshop

sswsFrom the Steering Committee for Frontiers in Soil Science Research; National Research Council comes a new National Academies Press book titled Frontiers in Soil Science Research: Report of a Workshop.

There has been renewed interest in soil and soil science in recent years as the recognition that biogeochemical processes that occur at the Earth’s surface influence global climate change, land degradation and remediation, the fate and transport of nutrients and contaminants, soil and water conservation, soil and water quality, food sufficiency and safety, and many other issues pertinent to the stewardship and conservation of land and water resources. In some areas of the Earth we have approached near irreversible soil conditions that may threaten the existence of future generations. Understanding the long-term implications of decreased soil quality and addressing the aforementioned challenges will require new information based on advances and breakthroughs in soil science research that need to be effectively communicated to stakeholders, policy makers, and the general public.

On December 12-14, 2005, the National Academies convened the Frontiers in Soil Science Research Workshop, summarized in this volume, to identify emerging areas for research in soil science by addressing the interaction of soil science subdisciplines, collaborative research with other disciplines, and the use of new technologies in research. The workshop focused around seven key questions addressing research frontiers for the individual soil science disciplines, and also addressing the need for integration across soil science with other disciplines.

New Book: Science and Decisions

0309120462From the Committee on Improving Risk Analysis Approaches Used by the U.S. EPA, National Research Council, comes a new National Academies Press book titled Science and Decisions.

Risk assessment has become a dominant public policy tool for making choices, based on limited resources, to protect public health and the environment. It has been instrumental to the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as other federal agencies in evaluating public health concerns, informing regulatory and technological decisions, prioritizing research needs and funding, and in developing approaches for cost-benefit analysis.

However, risk assessment is at a crossroads. Despite advances in the field, risk assessment faces a number of significant challenges including lengthy delays in making complex decisions; lack of data leading to significant uncertainty in risk assessments; and many chemicals in the marketplace that have not been evaluated and emerging agents requiring assessment.

Science and Decisions makes practical scientific and technical recommendations to address these challenges. This book is a complement to the widely used 1983 National Academies book, Risk Assessment in he Federal Government (also known as the Red Book). The earlier book established a framework for the concepts and conduct of risk assessment that has been adopted by numerous expert committees, regulatory agencies, and public health institutions. The new book embeds these concepts within a broader framework for risk-based decision-making. Together, these are essential references for those working in the regulatory and public health fields.

“The report is a major accomplishment. It courageously addresses questions that many of its legendary predecessors and most other works on risk assessment either don’t ask or fail to answer.”
Science, 8/28/09