University of Nebraska Geography Profs.: Fewer Counties Mean Less Spending


“A study conducted by University of Nebraska at Kearney geography professors Paul Burger and Jason Combs examined the possibility of having 28 counties in the state.

“Nebraska currently has 93 counties. “We’re looking at what’s the feasibility here given a geographical perspective, the current county seats, the population settlement pattern, transportation networks, how might it look, what would it cost taxpayers, and then posing the question: Are there any services or functions that could be improved in such a way?” Burger said.

“The study, which was released Wednesday by the Omaha-based Platte Institute for Economic Research, says Nebraska counties were established during pioneer days when citizens rode horses to the county seat and home within the same day.

“Burger and Combs found that proximity is no longer a priority because technology has changed.”

OGC Seeks Participants for International Hydrology Interoperability Experiment

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) will launch a Hydrology Interoperability Experiment (HDWG_IE1) on December 8, 2009. The initiators of the experiment seek participation by other organizations interested in developing standard ways of discovering, sharing and interpreting groundwater data using OGC Web Services (OWS) interface and encoding standards.

This interoperability experiment will advance the development of WaterML 2.0 and test its use with various OWS standards, including the OGC Sensor Observation Service (SOS), Web Map Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), and Catalog Service Web (CSW) Interface Standards. The experiment will also investigate the interaction of WaterML 2.0 with GroundwaterML (GWML) in scenarios involving the sharing of groundwater data between the USA and Canada.

Initiators of the experiment are: Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), US Geological Survey (USGS), and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Organizations participating in the experiment will include the Geology Survey of Canada (GSC), NRCan; USGS; CSIRO, the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science (CUAHSI) and others.

Applications for participation are due by December 8, 2009. For further details or to register as a participant visit:

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. The OGC’s OpenGIS® standards Support interoperable solutions that “geo-enable” the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. These 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

[Source: OGC press release]

ESRI Issues a Call for Papers for GIScience Track at 2010 International User Conference

Deadline for Submitting Abstracts Is December 15, 2009

Recognizing the growing importance of geographic information science (GIScience), ESRI has expanded the GIScience Research Track for the 2010 ESRI International User Conference (ESRI UC) to be held in San Diego, California. Geographic information scientists are invited to submit papers that focus on cutting-edge research in GIScience. Accepted papers will be published in a special issue of the journal Transactions in GIS, to be distributed at the conference July 12–16, 2010.

Says Michael Gould, ESRI’s director of education, Industry Solutions, “Furthering advances in GIScience is the key to fully developing the potential of this discipline. This special track is just one of the ways that ESRI provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information among the GIScience community. It is open to all geographic information scientists, whether or not their research utilized ESRI software.”

Abstracts of approximately 500 words must be e-mailed to Dr. John Wilson (, University of Southern California, by December 15, 2009. Include “ESRI GIScience Abstract” and the author’s last name in the e-mail’s subject line.

The Transactions in GIS editorial team will review the abstracts based on their GIScience content and select nine for development into full papers. Notice of acceptance will be announced by December 22, 2009.

The completed papers must be submitted to Wilson for independent review by February 15, 2010. They should include no more than 6,000 words plus figures, tables, and references. Reviewed papers will be returned to their authors for editing by March 15, 2010, and final manuscripts will be due by April 8, 2010, for inclusion in the special issue of Transactions in GIS.

For more information on the GIScience Research Track at the ESRI International User Conference, contact Michael Gould at

Studying Climate Change: A New Tool Mixes Weather Data and GIS

…an article written by Helen M. Cox, associate professor of Geography at California State University, Northridge, appearing at GeoReport

“A tool developed at California State University, Northridge, now converts NCDC historical climate data to a feature-class format. A menu-driven interface provides access to point temperature and precipitation data that can be interpolated easily through the tools provided in the Spatial Analyst toolbox to generate raster layers for any region in the United States averaged over any desired temporal period. Thirty-year baseline averages for the 1950-1980 period, for example, have been pre-calculated and stored in a geodatabase to permit easy calculation of anomalies relative to this period, providing the framework for climate-change studies.

“This GIS climate tool was written in Visual Basic using ArcObjects and reads data from the daily weather observations of more than 20,000 cooperative weather stations in the United States. Although the period of record can begin as early as 1850, most station histories begin in 1948 or soon thereafter. The data were obtained from NCDC.

Graduate Research Assistantships at Ohio University for Study of Local Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation in Tanzania

Department of Geography, Ohio University

Two two-year research assistantships at the M.A. level are available through a new project on local knowledge and climate change adaptation in Tanzania supported by the National Science Foundation’s Geography and Spatial Science (GSS) Program. The project – Linking Local Knowledge and Local Institutions for the Study of Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change: Participatory GIS in Northern Tanzania – investigates the myriad ways in which human, social, and institutional capital enable households and communities to draw on local knowledge and outside specialist knowledge to moderate the negative effects of greater climatic instability on rural livelihoods.

In addition to completing required courses for the M.A. program over two academic years (2010-2011 and 2011-2012), the successful candidates will contribute to an international interdisciplinary research project. We expect applicants to develop a thesis project that contributes to the project’s research objectives.

One graduate research assistant will work on the development of online multimedia applications derived from a participatory GIS. Background or interest in cartography and web-based mapping is desirable.

A second research assistant will work with the research team on the implementation of the project’s participatory field methodology and
contribute to data analysis. The student’s interests should be focused on environment- development interactions (e.g., the dynamics of resource access, political, environmental or cultural-linguistic dimensions of local knowledge systems, gendered aspects of climate change adaptation). Proficiency in Kiswahili or interest in learning Kiswahili at Ohio University is a plus.

The assistantships include two academic years of tuition waiver and stipend for students enrolled in the Geography M.A. program. Additional support is available for student field research activities in Tanzania.

Eligible students may also apply for a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship from OU’s Center for African Studies: http://www.internat ionalstudies. app-info/ flas.html

The Ohio University Department of Geography is a dynamic department with 150 undergraduate majors and a graduate program that has expanded to 25. Faculty in the department offer coursework and conduct research on topics that bring together the Earth’s human and physical components and focus on issues from local to global scales. Graduate students also benefit from the resources of Ohio University’s Center for African Studies, a National Resource Center (NRC) for Africa, which creates additional opportunity for the interdisciplinary study of African languages, societies, and environments.

The application deadline is February 15 for Fall 2010 admission.

For more information regarding the application procedure, consult the department and Graduate College websites: http://www.ohio. edu/geography& http://www.ohio. edu/graduate/ ).

For more information about the assistantships, contact Tom Smucker smucker@ohio. edu.

Map of the Day: Influenza Vaccine Inventory by Health District

…from the ESRI Map Book Volume 1: GIS in State Government

Nebraska Health and Human Services System

“The state of Nebraska conducts annual surveys of influenza activity in the state. There are multiple tools in place to collect and report data about health status related to influenza activity.

“During the current vaccine shortage and the shortage that occurred last year, the state of Nebraska used the Health Alert Network to communicate with providers and public health departments. Various automated surveys, fax surveys, and phone calls helped determine vaccine supply, antiviral supply, and vaccine need across the state. Many of these data sources were integrated into GIS and printed as maps for public health communication purposes and for data analysis by public health professionals.

“The map shows the number of doses of flu vaccine interpolated by the population by health district. The product is the number of doses per resident.”