Alaska School District Plans Geomentoring Program by Local Agencies and Visiting Scientists

Alaska School District Implements ESRI GIS Site License; Plans Include Geomentoring by Local Agencies and Visiting Scientists

The North Slope Borough (NSB) in Alaska has used ESRI’s geographic information system (GIS) software for more than 30 years. Recognizing the potential of the technology to provide future employment for its students, the borough recently signed an agreement facilitating the instruction of GIS throughout its entire school district.

Comments Barrow High School science teacher Tim Buckley, “We began instruction 10 years ago [after receiving] a grant for a GIS lab. At that time, we were using ESRI’s Mapping Our World lesson plans. The lab was recently refurbished, and the new software license is perfectly timed.”

Under the supervision of Buckley and Paul McNeil, former GIS analyst at NSB’s GIS Division, students at Barrow High School have begun a customized educational program using ESRI’s self-paced Virtual Campus courses supplemented with local data from NSB. This allowed McNeil to bring his geomentoring skills to the classroom for applied instruction and real-world experience.

Says McNeil, “Using local data helps the students better visualize the power of GIS and how it can impact their own lives, as well as the lives of others in their village. In addition, it provides them with some insight into the many uses of GIS here in the North Slope and in other areas.”

By structuring the training around ESRI’s self-paced Virtual Campus, the district can give students the ability and confidence to continue their GIS studies at a university or immediately seek employment from the growing list of local government agencies and private companies that use the technology.

A number of scientists who use GIS in their research visit the North Slope on a regular basis. Several large companies with local offices, such as Shell Oil, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), ASRC Energy Services, and the Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation, also use GIS as part of their day-to-day business activities. Buckley hopes to develop a visiting geomentoring program that would invite GIS specialists in the area to come to the school and talk about their work.

“We believe that providing a comprehensive program of ArcGIS instruction, supplemented by visiting experts and field trips to gather georeferenced data, will help students develop GIS technical skills that are much sought after by local employers,” concludes Buckley.

[source: ESRI press release]

Geospatial Experts Converge at GISCA Conference in Bishkek

…from GeoConnexion

“The 3rd successful Central Asia GIS Conference was concluded by conference chairs Akylbek Chymyrov and Josef Strobl from the Austria-Central Asia Centre for GIScience on August 28 at the University of Construction, Transportation and Architecture in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. The two-day conference program brought together speakers from Central Asian countries with their counterparts from Central Europe, with representatives from Russia, India, Iran, USA and several other countries making this a truly international event.”

CREST Summer Students Take Technology Back into the Community

wwf_frontpage…from Working Waterfront

“Operated by the Island Institute (which publishes Working Waterfront), CREST’s Summer Institute gives 16 coastal and island schools access to state-of-the-art technologies in a camp-style environment. CREST is a five-year program that provides 55 teachers and 110 students from Maine’s island and remote coastal communities with intensive training in technology and career path development.

“CREST focuses on delivering database development, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, web design and ethnographic research skills in an interdisciplinary approach that reconnects students to their communities and provides insight into applicable science and technology careers through local service-learning projects.”

Spatial Analysis of an Archaeological Site in Montana

montanaA Spatial Analysis of 24HL1085: A Prehistoric Site in the Bear’s Paw Mountains

By Jessica Jo Bush

“This thesis is a spatial analysis of 24HL1085 and attempts to discern the use areas of two prehistoric components, Late Archaic and Late Prehistoric, through the identification of spatial patterns created by the excavated lithics, faunal remains, and fire cracked rock (FCR). I also wanted to show that understanding the spatial layout of FCR is just as important as understanding the spatial layout of lithics and faunal remains. In order to complete this analysis the three ring model developed by Stevenson (1985) was adapted and combined with the trend surface analysis created by Hodder and Orton (1976). Theory behind this analysis was based heavily on work done by Binford (1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1987). Results from this study showed that both components were comprised of several discernible use areas that provided a better understanding of how the site was created and used. Despite being separated by several thousand years, both components are representative of campsites at which people were hunting and gathering resources locally before leaving. Without the spatial data obtained from the FCR, a spatial analysis would have been almost impossible to complete to the same degree of certainty.”

The Use of LiDAR in Digital Surface Modelling: Issues and Errors

122570989…from Transactions in GIS

“Modelling and extracting 3D geographical data presents numerous challenges that require continual research to attempt to evolve an efficient, reliable and accurate solution. LiDAR data capture and analysis has become a preferred acquisition choice for elevation data because the resulting quality and level of detail far exceeds traditional methods for large survey areas. As with any data collection system, LiDAR is prone to errors. Analysing these errors, ascertaining causes and producing error correction strategies is vital if accurate and confident results are to be obtained. Eight years of LiDAR datasets (from 1998 to 2005) have been closely analysed for a large coastal area of South Wales. This article provides a detailed and accurate summary of the identified LiDAR data issues and subsequent errors which affect the accuracy of end products such as Digital Surface Models (DSMs).”

openModeller: A Generic Approach to Species’ Potential Distribution Modelling

cover-medium…from GeoInformatica

“Species’ potential distribution modelling is the process of building a representation of the fundamental ecological requirements for a species and extrapolating these requirements into a geographical region. The importance of being able to predict the distribution of species is currently highlighted by issues like global climate change, public health problems caused by disease vectors, anthropogenic impacts that can lead to massive species extinction, among other challenges. There are several computational approaches that can be used to generate potential distribution models, each achieving optimal results under different conditions. However, the existing software packages available for this purpose typically implement a single algorithm, and each software package presents a new learning curve to the user. Whenever new software is developed for species’ potential distribution modelling, significant duplication of effort results because many feature requirements are shared between the different packages. Additionally, data preparation and comparison between algorithms becomes difficult when using separate software applications, since each application has different data input and output capabilities. This paper describes a generic approach for building a single computing framework capable of handling different data formats and multiple algorithms that can be used in potential distribution modelling. The ideas described in this paper have been implemented in a free and open source software package called openModeller. The main concepts of species’ potential distribution modelling are also explained and an example use case illustrates potential distribution maps generated by the framework.”