Toni Fisher Takes Position as ESRI Higher Education Manager

Fisher Will Use Education and Experience to Promote Campuswide Use of GIS

Longtime geographic information system (GIS) educator Toni Fisher has joined ESRI’s Industry Solutions Group as the higher education manager, where she will encourage the use of GIS in building effective learning environments.

Fisher has undergraduate degrees in philosophy and environmental studies and a master of science degree in geographic information science conferred by Birkbeck College, University of London. Her GIS career spans a number of industries including forestry, telecommunications, city and county government, and mass transit. Working within these fields, Fisher was responsible for implementing and deploying GIS as well as training staff in GIS and GIS applications.

“One of my goals is to support institutes of higher education with enterprise deployment and browser-based GIS,” says Fisher. “Many schools have ESRI software but are not yet taking full advantage of the learning opportunities that an enterprise GIS installation can bring to interdepartmental projects.”

She adds that in these times of budget constraint, enterprise implementation is a key component to the efficiencies and cost reductions that can be realized with the use of GIS for administrative projects such as facilities management, asset inventories, and scheduled maintenance.

Michael Gould, ESRI’s director of education in Industry Solutions, says, “Toni’s comprehensive knowledge of our software and extensive teaching experience, as well as previous industry experience, make her the perfect person to assist higher education users in moving to enterprise GIS across the whole campus.”

For more information about ESRI’s higher education program, visit

[Source: ESRI news release]

CorridorDesigner: A Toolbox for Creating Habitat and Corridor Models with ArcGIS


“CorridorDesigner includes an ArcToolbox toolbox for creating habitat and corridor models with ArcGIS and an ArcMap extension for evaluating corridors.

“The Arizona CorridorDesigner toolbox was designed to work in conjunction with the general CorridorDesigner toolbox to streamline the design of wildlife corridors within Arizona. The AZ toolbox includes habitat parameterizations for species throughout Arizona modeled for the Arizona Missing Linkages project, and must be used in conjunction with the land cover and elevation layers downloadable from the website.”

Movebank: An Online Data Repository and Community for Animal Tracking and Photo Monitoring

“Thousands of Biologists collect animal movement data but there are no tools to save or compare these. Most data are used once and then disappear into a filing cabinet.  Movebank facilitates long-term comparisons of these data making it possible to address pressing questions such as the effects of global climate change and human-caused landscape change.  It also compliments new technologies for collecting data in real-time by providing live interaction and alerts.”

Movebank Community Web Site

“We are are an open community with the common interest of remotely monitoring organisms in their habitats. We are biologists and engineers engaged in a dialog across disciplines and backgrounds. We hope this web site will serve as a venue to further communication among the diverse parties interested in the development and deployment of technologies for gathering data on free-ranging organisms.”

Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Tornado Fatalities in the United States: 1880–2005

…from Weather and Forecasting, Volume 22…

Walker S. Ashley

“A dataset of killer tornadoes is compiled and analyzed spatially in order to assess region-specific vulnerabilities in the United States from 1880 to 2005. Results reveal that most tornado fatalities occur in the lower–Arkansas, Tennessee, and lower–Mississippi River valleys of the southeastern United States—a region outside of traditional “tornado alley.” Analysis of variables including tornado frequency, land cover, mobile home density, population density, and nocturnal tornado probabilities demonstrates that the relative maximum of fatalities in the Deep South and minimum in the Great Plains may be due to the unique juxtaposition of both physical and social vulnerabilities. The spatial distribution of these killer tornadoes suggests that the above the national average mobile home density in the Southeast may be a key reason for the fatality maximum found in this area. A demographic analysis of fatalities during the latter part of the database record illustrates that the middle aged and elderly are at a much greater risk than are younger people during these events. Data issues discovered during this investigation reveal the need for a concerted effort to obtain critical information about how and where all casualties occur during future tornado and hazardous weather events. These new, enhanced data, combined with results of spatially explicit studies exploring the human sociology and psychology of these hazardous events, could be utilized to improve future warning dissemination and mitigation techniques.”

Download Datasets from the World Wildlife Fund’s Conservation Science Program

“The Conservation Science Program is developing its capacity to make available more of the data that WWF have created and/or improved. Currently this site only has a few datasets but our plan is to increase the available datasets on a regular basis.

“These data are available for use for valid scientific, conservation, and educational purposes and we request that the proper citations are used. Any modification of the original data by users should be noted.

  • WildFinder Database
  • Marine Ecoregions of the World
  • Terrestrial Ecoregions Base Global Dataset
  • Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World
  • HydroSHEDS (global hydrological database)
  • Global Lakes and Wetlands Database (GLWD)
  • Global 200 Ecoregions

Download datasets

Why we need to improve geographic literacy

…from the Kansas City Star

“Year after year surveys reveal that only 37 percent of young Americans know where Iraq is and a large minority cannot locate the Pacific Ocean on a map.

“Like clockwork, commentators then write how horrible it is that America is so geographically illiterate. While it is true that geographic ignorance is a big problem, these commentators do geography no favors.

“Geography has long been thought of as merely the memorization of places. This is how it is taught by many schools.

“The notion that geography is just a memory game and not a science led some of the nation’s finest educational institutions including Harvard University to stop teaching geography in the 1940s and 1950s. Geography has been in exile ever since.”