The Next Step for Agency GIS: Government Computer News Interviews ESRI’s Jack Dangermond

JackDangermondESRI160…from Government Computer News

GCN: The Homeland Security Department is looking to build on GIS-based programs such as Virtual Alabama, which uses Google Enterprise, and the Virginia Interoperability Picture for Emergency Response system, which is built on the ESRI platform. How would you characterize the differences between those two platforms — and how do they reflect the state of GIS tools?

“DANGERMOND: The Google environment in Alabama is focused on visualization. ESRI’s technology is actually a complete GIS system, including visualization, mapping, data management and a rich library of spatial analysis functions. This system works in a distributed environment and uses a variety of open standards to interconnect and integrate different types of services — such as 3-D services, mapping data editing and spatial analysis. Those services can be mashed up with other services and made available through a variety of rich Internet applications for the Web, mobile and geobrowsers.”

Kansas State University Team Creates Tools to Show how Decisions about Aquifer affect People, Local Economies

k-stateWhen water use policies and practices change, they produce a ripple effect in communities, impacting everything from what types of crops a farmer will grow to how many people will move in or out of a town.

That’s why Kansas State University is pooling experts from multiple disciplines to understand how these changes affect people in communities that depend on the Ogallala Aquifer in western Kansas.

David Steward, associate professor of civil engineering, is leading the team of K-State experts in fields as diverse as agronomy, computer science and sociology. Using a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the team is developing a scientific understanding of how changes in policy and water use practices could sustain the aquifer without jeopardizing the viability of the Kansas towns and people depending on it as an abundant source of water.

The interdisciplinary team is creating tools that can predict the consequences that water policy decisions would have on all aspects of a community, from the viability of the local economy to land use practices. These tools will help policymakers understand the how their decisions about the Ogallala Aquifer could play out for people living in communities that depend on the water source.

“One of the things that we’re trying to do is develop information that can be used in risk assessment,” Steward said. “Some of the policies that we will be looking at are rules the state already has in place that could be enforced now. We’re trying to understand what the impacts of those are, not just on the water supply, crops and cattle production, but also on people.”

The Ogallala Aquifer, which lies underneath southwest Kansas, is one of the world’s largest underground sources of fresh water. The water source offsets the region’s dry climate and supports irrigated crops, the meat packing industry and the Kansans for whom such agricultural practices are their livelihood and the backbone of their towns’ economies.

There are places where the aquifer will not be able to sustain the industries and people now dependent on the water supply. These areas of decline are where the interdisciplinary team of K-State researchers is focusing its study of the intersection of people and the water supply.

The research team includes two agronomy professors, Scott Staggenborg and Stephen Welch, who are studying how water policy changes outcomes like crop yield. Jeffrey Peterson, associate professor of agricultural economics, and Bill Golden, a research assistant professor, are examining the economic consequences. Peterson is studying how changes could impact practices like what types of crops farmers can grow while Golden is modeling the effect of water policy changes on the structure of local economies.

Joe Aistrup, professor of political science, is giving the team the policymakers’ perspective, while Laszlo Kulcsar, associate professor of sociology, is contributing information about how water policies could affect population shifts in the region. Eric Bernard is an associate professor of landscape architecture and regional and community planning. He is using geospatial data to look at how communities make land use decisions.

And bringing all of the data together is Daniel Andresen, associate professor of computing and information science. Using the state’s largest academic research supercomputer, K-State’s Beocat, Andresen will be able to run policy scenarios and show their outcomes in the various categories.

This project builds on work by K-State’s Consortium for Global Research on Water-Based Economies, an interdisciplinary team formed in 2001.

“We assembled because each one of us was dealing with something important in the area of water, and we all realized that we had limitations in our disciplinary perspectives,” Steward said. “We have been learning from one another to analyze a water system from various disciplinary perspectives, and we’ve been able to develop some cross-discipline approaches because of it.”

[Source: Kansas State University news release]

Kerala, India Moves Moves Forward with Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI)

…from CIOL

Kerala Government has taken the lead to create, maintain and deliver geospatial data and metadata for their external clients, in real time. It has announced setting up of a Spatial Data Infrastructure called Kerala State Spatial Data Infrastructure (KSSDI) and has already approved Rs.9.37 crore for the project, said a press release issued today.

“The objective of the SSDI is to provide a basis for spatial data discovery, evaluation and application for users and providers within all levels of government, the commercial sector, the non-profit sector, academia and by citizens in general.

“The Geo portal once set up will allow the users spread across the Internet, to view and query the spatial information and the related maps. KSSDI will act as a web-gateway to access geospatial data content with facility to search, locate and publish geospatial data which the end users can access, download, integrate, share and publish in response to the needs of diverse user groups. The portal will maintain process, store, distribute and improve the utilization of geo-spatial data for planners, decision makers and public, said the release.”

Microsoft Demonstrates Interactive Map of Greenhouse Gas Emission Rates at University of Illinois

…from the Daily Illini

“Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, visited the University on Wednesday to show the development of the company’s technology. His visit marks one of the four he will make to Universities across the nation.

“One program he demonstrated was an interactive map displaying greenhouse gas emission rates in South American rainforests and their effect on global temperatures. The map, incorporating Microsoft’s “Science Studio” program, can make climate predictions 100 years into the future, Mundie said.”

Research Assistant: School of Geography, Planning, and Environmental Management, University of Queensland

uqThe School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management is a vibrant, multidisciplinary school with extensive teaching and research programs covering the fields of geography, environmental management, and planning and development. The school has a strong research profile and supports research activity across all of its fields of expertise, organised into a number of research groups and research centres. The Centre for Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Science (CRSSIS) is a dynamic research centre within the School consisting of around 50 academics, researchers and students working in the fields of remote sensing, landscape ecology and conservation and spatial analysis.

The successful appointee’s primary role will be to manage and conduct the field work component of an Australian Research Council Linkage Project. This will involve live trapping of native mammals and vegetation surveys in South-east Queensland. Some laboratory and computer based work will also be required.

Applicants should possess a degree (or equivalent) in ecology, conservation biology, environmental management or similar discipline, or relevant work experience/training. You must also have demonstrated experience in conducting live trapping, handling and tissue sampling of native mammals and flora surveys. Knowledge of the flora and fauna or South-east Queensland, or ability to rapidly acquire this knowledge is also essential. Computer skills and strong communication skills are also highly desirable.

Call for Papers: 52°North Student Innovation Prize for Geoinformatics 2010

52northThis innovation prize aims to encourage students to contribute to the development and practical realization of innovative concepts in the field of Geoinformatics. In return, the students gain valuable, practical experience working in an international team of researchers and developers, benefit from a new social environment, individualized supervision and support for their work, and acquire additional qualification resulting from successful completion of the work.

This call is open to all students of geoinformatics, computer science, business informatics, media informatics and other fields associated with geoinformatics, who have not yet completed a master’s degree or diploma in geoinformatics/informatics/computer science. Students are invited to apply, as individuals or in small teams (2 – 3 members).

A jury of prominent members of the GI community will evaluate the submissions and choose the winner:

  • Prof. Dr. Edzer Pebesma, Institute for Geoinformatics, University of Muenster
  • Prof. Dr. Menno Jan Kraak, ITC International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
  • Dr. Ir. Rob Lemmens, ITC International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
  • Dr. Andreas Wytzisk, con terra GmbH
  • Günther Pichler, ESRI Europe
  • Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger, Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Streit, 52°North Initiative.

The winning team has the unique opportunity to further develop its concept together with 52°North students and academic personnel from the sponsoring organizations. Their work should culminate in the implementation of a fully functioning open source software program as a proof-of-concept.  A stay at the 52°North Initiative in Muenster is intended for this purpose. Prize money of 1,000 Euros per team member and a maximum of 3,000 Euros per team will be awarded. The prize money is to be paid upon successful completion of the entire work (see applicant information).

Jack Dangermond talks about the Harvard Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis

ESRI president Jack Dangermond is interviewed by Nick Chrisman for his 2006 ESRI Press book “Charting the Unknown: How Computer Mapping at Harvard Became GIS.”

Jack Dangermond was a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a research assistant at the Harvard Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis from 1968 to 1969.  He is now president of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI).

Map of the Day: Basse-Normandie Seen through a Deer’s Eyes

…from the ESRI Map Book, Volume 24


“With nearly 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles) of motorway, 25,500 kilometers (15,845 miles) of trunk roads, and 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) of high-speed train lines in Basse-Normandie, transport networks dividing up natural habitats can have two main effects on animal and plant species. One, they reduce the size of the habitat such that populations of species with large home ranges can no longer survive in them. The other effect is the isolation of the remaining habitat patches, such that species have little chance of moving from one to the other.

“In this situation, the species concerned are threatened with local or regional extinction. It is through these processes that habitat fragmentation by transport networks and the resulting secondary phenomena have become the most serious threats to biological diversity on the planetary scale.

“As part of the French national strategy for biodiversity, and in response to the alarming report on the assessment of the A84 motorway concerning collisions with wildlife, the Environment and Geomatics department of the CETE Normandie Centre set up this study of ecological networks in order to propose development plans in favor of the species concerned and to improve the safety of road users.

“Courtesy of CETE Normandie Centre.”

Designing for Doubt: Citizen Science and the Challenge of Change

…presented at “Engaging Data: First International Forum on the Application and Management of Personal Electronic Information”, MIT,  12 – 13 October 2009…

Designing for Doubt: Citizen Science and the Challenge of Change

Eric Paulos, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

“Vast quantities of data are collected about us and our world: credit card transactions, movements and traffic flows, social networks, disease outbreaks, bird migrations, and flowers blossoming. These datasets span a wide range of public and private information and contexts. However, it is the emergence of a host of mobile phone based citizen sensing platforms that is poised to become the dominant contributor to our datasets. In this paper we outline this important new shift in mobile phone usage – from communication tool to “networked mobile personal measurement instrument”. We propose to explore how these new personal measurement instruments enable an entirely novel and empowering genre of mobile computing and research called citizen science. More importantly we highlight a set of challenges and focus specifically on the need for introducing design strategies for engaging these datasets that encourage doubt rather than promoting blind acceptance of fact as a path towards social change.”