Work at RFF: Development and Spatial Modeling of a Major Climate Change and Forestry GIS Tool

Resources for the Future (RFF) seeks a highly-motivated individual to lead the development and spatial modeling of a major climate change and forestry GIS tool for policy makers, stakeholders and investors. Qualified candidates will have a graduate degree in a quantitative social science such as geography, economics, environmental science and management or related field. Must have demonstrated experience with raster datasets and raster-based spatial analysis using large global raster datasets. Familiarity with policy related to climate change, forestry, agriculture, and REDD+ and experience with forestry and land use datasets preferred. Government or peer-reviewed publications using GIS should be mentioned in application materials.

GIS Data Show Relationship Between Violence, Liquor Retailers

Annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

18 – 22 February 2010, San Diego, California

As cities grapple with liquor-related violence, new data suggests zoning commissions may want to take a second look at where they put liquor retailers. IU Bloomington criminologist William Pridemore and Geographer Tony Grubesic are in the midst of analyzing new Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data that seem to suggest violent crime is more likely to occur in the vicinity of stores that sell liquor expressly for off-premise consumption. Violence, they are learning, is less likely to occur near other types of establishments that offer alcohol, such as bars, pubs and restaurants. Pridemore and Grubesic have conducted their studies in Cincinnati (Ohio) neighborhoods using blocks as a unit of analysis. Pridemore led the research and is the session organizer. Grubesic will speak about the scientists’ collaborative research, which is using GIS and other spatial analysis techniques to learn more about human behavior patterns.

“Using GIS and Spatial Analysis To Better Understand Patterns and Causes of Violence,” Monday, Feb. 22, from 9:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., Room 5A

Grubesic and Pridemore will take part in a press briefing regarding “Using GIS and Spatial Analysis to Better Understand Patterns and Causes of Violence,” at 2:00 p.m. PST on Sunday, Feb. 21, at the San Diego Convention Center. Please visit the Press Room beforehand for the event’s location (TBD).

To speak with Pridemore or Grubesic, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 606-356-6551 or stjchap@indiana.edu.

[Source: Indiana University press release]

Croatia Launches First Spatial Data Infrastructure in Southeast Europe

ArcGIS Server Geoportal Extension Helps Reduce Real Property Time Registration Processing from 400 Days to 37 Days

The Republic of Croatia has simplified access to countrywide geographic data through an online geoportal, a type of Web site that makes it easier for citizens, government, and private-sector users to find and access vast quantities of geographic information and related services. The geoportal has already proven its value as an essential component of the country’s Organized Land Project, which streamlines and regulates the real property registration of land in the republic. By making data more accessible, the average time for processing changes to land titles has dropped from a 400-day average to 37 days.

The geoportal is hosted by the State Geodetic Authority (SGA) of Croatia and can be found at www.geo-portal.hr/Portal. Dr. Željko Bačić, head of SGA, states, “Simple access to geospatial data is the key prerequisite for an efficient and economically prosperous society. The geoportal in active operation means that other governmental organizations can use SGA data but also make their data accessible. This is the first step to establishing a Croatian national geoportal as part of a national SDI.”

The geoportal is modeled after the European Union’s Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe (INSPIRE) directive to share geographic information across Europe. “The Croatian geoportal is the first comprehensive NSDI [National Spatial Data Infrastructure] in southeastern Europe,” says Mark Cygan, ESRI manager of map, chart, and data production and SDI. “Croatia continues to be a leader in the region when it comes to the collection, management, and distribution of geospatial data.”

SGA is able to support the discovery and purchase of national data through the geoportal while also providing strict access control and data quality policies. Data available through the geoportal includes digital orthophotos, basemaps, administrative units, and land survey information.

The geoportal was developed by ESRI distributor GISDATA d.o.o. and con terra GmbH, the professional services arm of ESRI Deutschland GmbH, using ESRI’s ArcGIS Server Geoportal extension. The Geoportal extension provides the platform for organizations to quickly access geospatial resources regardless of location or type.

“The implementation of this portal is enabling a change in behavior from a restrictive data policy to a more open, transparent, and efficient use of spatial information,” says Andrej Lončarić, director of GISDATA in Croatia and the southeastern region of Europe.

For more information on how ESRI GIS software helps organizations create effective and efficient SDIs, visit www.esri.com/SDI.

[Source: ESRI press release]

At TED2010, ESRI President Jack Dangermond Spreads a New Idea: GeoDesign

He Says the Concept Enables Architects, Urban Planners, and Others to Design with Nature and Geography in Mind

Creating a more ecofriendly, efficient, and safer world calls for instilling geographic science into wise design, ESRI president Jack Dangermond said last week at the TED2010 conference in Long Beach, California.

Watch the video

Dangermond introduced the audience to the concept of GeoDesign, which in simple terms means designing with nature in mind by integrating geospatial technologies into the design process. This gives architects, urban planners, and others the geographic information and analysis they need to design well.

He compared beautiful Japanese temples, homes, and gardens—created by master designers who take nature into account—to sprawling, suburban housing tracts built with little thought to the surrounding environment.

“Japan is famous for the master designers who harmonized the use of land and structures with the environment around them, finding the right balance between building and nature,” Dangermond said. “Contrast this with the sprawling, monotonous suburbia so familiar today. It’s a kind of crime against nature.”

Dangermond joined a roster of diverse and influential speakers at the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference, February 10–13. TED is a private, nonprofit foundation that hosts conferences to explore and promote what its Web site says are “ideas worth spreading.”

A landscape architect by training, Dangermond founded ESRI in 1969 with a vision that computer mapping and analysis could help people design a better future. Under Dangermond’s leadership, that vision has continued to guide ESRI in creating cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) and GeoDesign technologies used in many industries to make a difference worldwide.

Photo: TED / James Duncan Davidson

A student of the influential landscape architect Ian McHarg, Dangermond praised McHarg’s pioneering concepts in ecological planning and explained how those ideas mirrored those put into practice by the Japanese master designers.

Dangermond said he believes that designing with nature, or GeoDesign, with all the best geospatial technology behind it, is the next evolutionary step in the design field.

“GeoDesign is both an old idea and a new idea. It reopens our minds and hearts; it puts in our hands the means to achieve what the Japanese masters did so many years ago—designing with geographic knowledge, thus living harmoniously with nature.”

[Source: ESRI press release]

Ohio University Geographers to use GIS to Study Climate Change Adaptation in East Africa

NSF grant supports innovative approach to community-based environmental research

Environmental experts fear that climate change—rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns—could have a devastating impact on agricultural and pastoral communities in Africa. An innovative research project led by Ohio University geographers uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to draw on the local knowledge of these rural societies, in an effort to explore options for community-based adaptation to climate change.

Ohio University geographer Thomas Smucker and colleagues received a $571,859 grant from the National Science Foundation to support the participatory research project. Communities in Northern Tanzania will work with the research team to collect information on rural livelihoods and environmental management.

Ohio University geographer Elizabeth Wangui conducts field work in the Maasai community in northern Tanzania. Photo courtesy of Thomas Smucker.

The project will use the latest mapping technologies and develop a GIS for integrating field data and climate change projections. GIS-based analysis will enable the team to better assess future climate stresses and ways local communities can adapt to them.

The researchers hope that community organizations will learn the benefits of using GIS to assess adaptation options in East Africa, which has a heavy concentration of agricultural and pastoral communities vulnerable to drought.

“One goal of the project is to empower local civil society organizations to interact and collaborate with local government entities,” said Smucker, a visiting assistant professor of geography and director of the International Development Studies Program at Ohio University. “Not only does this create layers of information that can help us to understand what’s going on, but it can further mobilize critical thinking within the community.”

The researchers want to avoid the pitfalls of many past development projects in Africa in which outside experts have implemented unsustainable or inappropriate projects for local communities, Smucker noted.

GIS, a computer system that analyzes geographic information and creates maps, traditionally has been used mainly by experts, explains co-investigator Daniel Weiner, a geography professor and executive director of Ohio University’s Center for International Studies. Participatory GIS (PGIS) expands the conventional scope of GIS by incorporating local knowledge and perceptions into the program. For example, in a related project in South Africa, community input created a more accurate, detailed understanding of soil quality than would have been possible using the conventional data collection methods used by GIS experts, he said.

“There is a lot of debate going on about environmental and climate change in general, and we seem overly reliant on computer models for information,” Weiner said. “Local communities have a lot of knowledge about this issue that could be helpful in interpreting data coming out of the models.”

The project brings together the diverse expertise of scholars at various universities—Ohio University, Michigan State University, Oberlin College, University of Florida, the University of Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture, the Center for Energy, Environment, Science and Technology and the LINKS Trust—that include geospatial techniques, cartography and human-environment analysis.

In addition to Smucker and Weiner’s past work in East Africa, the project builds on the work of Ohio University geographer and co-investigator Elizabeth Wangui, who has studied gender and pastoralist development in the region. Gaurav Sinha’s expertise in Geographic Information Science (GIScience) will help the team incorporate qualitative data on local knowledge systems into the GIS. Cartographer Margaret Pearce’s work on geovisualization and indigenous cartographies will inform the production of maps derived from the GIS for use in community forums.

The new National Science Foundation grant also will support graduate assistantships and field research for three geography graduate students.

The team will travel to Tanzania this summer to conduct field research with Tanzanian colleagues. The field work will include a household survey and collaboration with community-based organizations whose activities address climate-sensitive aspects of livelihood and rural development, such as soil/water conservation groups and beekeeping associations. Additionally, the research team hopes to learn how communities perceive, discuss and anticipate climate change.

Next, the geographers will work with community organizations to design local field research activities that create additional data layers in the PGIS. This might include mapping land use change or changes in use and management of resources in livestock grazing and fuel wood collection areas. In the third year of the project, the research team will explore ways that PGIS can be used for proactive planning that reduces peoples’ vulnerability to new patterns of climatic variability associated with global climate change.

The project will result in maps the community can use to document climate change impacts over time. An online version of the PGIS and curriculum development workshops will contribute to modules that will be integrated into university courses in Tanzania and the United States, Smucker added.

Contacts: Thomas Smucker, (740) 593-1832, smucker@ohio.edu; Daniel Weiner, (740) 593-1889, weinerd1@ohio.edu;Director of Research Communications Andrea Gibson, (740) 597-2166, gibsona@ohio.edu.

[Source: Ohio University press release]