A GIS-based Back-propagation Neural Network Model and its Cross-application and Validation for Landslide Susceptibility Analyses

Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, Article in Press, 2010

Biswajeet Pradhan, Saro Lee, and Manfred F. Buchroithner

“Landslide-susceptibility mapping is one of the most critical issues in Malaysia. These landslides can be systematically assessed and mapped through a traditional mapping framework that uses geoinformation technologies (GIT). The main purpose of this paper is to investigate the possible application of an artificial neural network model and its cross-application of weights at three study areas in Malaysia, Penang Island, Cameron Highland and Selangor. Landslide locations were identified in the study areas from the interpretation of aerial photographs, field surveys and inventory reports. A landslide-related spatial database was constructed from topographic, soil, geology, and land-cover maps. For the calculation of the relative weight and importance of each factor to a particular landslide occurrence, an artificial neural network (ANN) method was applied. Landslide susceptibility was analyzed using the landslide occurrence factors provided by the artificial neural network model. Then, the landslide-susceptibility analysis results were validated and cross-validated using the landslide locations as study areas. Different training sites were randomly selected to train the neural network, and nine sets of landslide-susceptibility maps were prepared. The paper then illustrates the verification of those maps using an “area under the curve” (AUC) method. The verification results show that the case of the weight using the same test area showed slightly higher accuracy than the weight used for the cross-applied area. Among the three studied areas, the verification results showed similar accuracy trends while using the weight for the study area itself. Cameron showed the best accuracy and Penang showed the worst accuracy. Generally, the verification results showed satisfactory agreement between the susceptibility map and the existing data on the landslide location.”

Managing Sensor Traffic Data and Forecasting Unusual Behaviour Propagation

GeoInformatica, Volume 14, Number 3 / July, 2010

Claudia Bauzer Medeiros, Marc Joliveau, Geneviève Jomier, and Florian De Vuyst

“Sensor data on traffic events have prompted a wide range of research issues, related with the so-called ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems). Data are delivered for both static (fixed) and mobile (embedded) sensors, generating large and complex spatio-temporal series. This scenario presents several research challenges, in spatio-temporal data management and data analysis. Management issues involve, for instance, data cleaning and data fusion to support queries at distinct spatial and temporal granularities. Analysis issues include the characterization of traffic behavior for given space and/or time windows, and detection of anomalous behavior (either due to sensor malfunction, or to traffic events). This paper contributes to the solution of some of these issues through a new kind of framework to manage static sensor data. Our work is based on combining research on analytical methods to process sensor data, and data management strategies to query these data. The first aspect is geared towards supporting pattern matching. This leads to a model to study and predict unusual traffic behavior along an urban road network. The second aspect deals with spatio-temporal database issues, taking into account information produced by the model. This allows distinct granularities and modalities of analysis of sensor data in space and time. This work was conducted within a project that uses real data, with tests conducted on 1,000 sensors, during 3 years, in a large French city.”

Deadlines Approaching for URISA Awards and Student Competition

The May 2010 URISA Calendar is full of deadlines for URISA programs.

GIS Hall of Fame – Nominations Due May 1


URISA is seeking nominations for it’s GIS Hall of Fame which recognizes and honors the best in GIS. The selection criteria for this honor are:

  • At least 25 years of sustained professional involvement in the GIS field.
  • Original and creative contributions to the field.
  • Well known and respected by a wide range of peers.
  • Consistent demonstration of sound professional and personal ethics.

2010 Student Competition – Submissions Due May 1


This year’s Student Competition consists of a three-tiered approach:

  • Papers (graduate students)
  • Presentations (undergraduate students)
  • Posters (community college and GIS certificate students)

Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) Awards – Submissions Due May 3


URISA’s ESIG Awards recognize extraordinary achievement in the delivery and quality of government services through the application of geospatial information technology.

Information about all URISA Awards is detailed online: www.urisa.org

[Source: URISA press release]

Using GIS-based Multicriteria Evaluation and Path Optimization for Effective Forest Field Inventory

Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, Article in Press, 2010

Ron Store and Harri Antikainen

“The inventory practices concerning non-industrial privately owned forests are undergoing significant changes in Finland. In the future, the collection of information will be increasingly carried out by the means of remote sensing technologies, which is bound to have strong implications for the traditional and extensive field inventory practices. This study presents a new method for determining the importance of individual forest stands to the field inventory, including a technique for using this information to calculate efficient field inventory tours. The proposed method is essentially based on expert knowledge modeling and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which enable the production of an inventory importance map for any forest area. In a similar fashion, it is possible to produce a traversability map for the particular area, which serves as a basis for inventory tour planning. The method incorporates an optimization technique, which can be used to determine the forest stands encompassing the highest overall inventory utility and the optimal traversal path for inventorying them under the presence of time constraint. Preliminary tests on the method have been carried out in a case study area located in Kuortane, Finland. The results of the tests suggest that the method has a lot of application potential, but more information and experience is needed about the new forest inventory system for further development of the method.”

Climate Helped Bring Angkor to Its Knees

Tree ring record reveals abrupt end to empire

Throughout written history there have been many abrupt ends to empires and civilizations that have little explanation. Political climates deteriorate, passions rise, revolts happen and the next thing you know–the culture is a thing of the past relegated to a short chapter in a textbook.

The natural world leaves a record in the form of tree rings, which can be read like a very detailed book, covering a long period of human history. Now a team of researchers has correlated the demise of Angkor, the capitol of the Khmer Empire in Cambodia, with a decades-long drought interspersed with intense monsoons in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Brendan Buckley of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and his colleagues have put together a high-resolution record of periods of drought and moisture in Southeast Asia that is over three quarters of a millennium long from 1250 to 2008 AD. Their research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Paleoclimate Program, which is part of the directorate for geosciences.

Just as satellite photos do–large sets of information like this tree ring data bring into focus patterns and phenomena that are larger than one lifetime. In fact they are on the scale of civilizations.

A look at tree ring data, and an analysis of rain, drought and temperature can show a remarkable link from climate in the environment to climate in the king’s court. And this has been shown to be true for the enigmatic demise of Angkor, an empire that stood strong from the 9th to 13th centuries.

Angkor was a city that relied heavily on water. The National Science Foundation-funded work of Buckley and his colleagues reveals that the mid- to late 1300’s experienced persistently dry conditions that spanned decades, followed by several years of severe wetness that may have caused damage to the city’s infrastructure. Afterwards, a shorter but more severe drought in the early 1400’s may have been more than this urban complex could handle.

Bringing insights such as these into focus in the 21st century, there is a sense of urgency in interpreting what the natural world is telling us. The very cypress trees (Fokienia hodginsii) that allow the long-range glimpse backwards are becoming more and more rare as their wood is harvested for the illicit timber trade. The highlands of Vietnam and Laos are home to some of the region’s most diverse biota, and are under threat of over-exploitation.

[Source: NSF press release]

Economist Hernando de Soto to Speak in Redlands

Town & Gown Cultural Series Presents Expert on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor in Developing Nations

Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto will speak in Redlands on Thursday, April 8, 2010. De Soto is president of Peru’s Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), a Lima, Peru-based think tank that promotes property rights in developing countries. The public is invited to the event, which will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the ESRI Conference Center, 380 New York Street.

Known for his expertise on informal economies, de Soto works to bring property rights to the poor in developing nations as a means of helping them lift themselves out of poverty. His ideas are documented in his 2000 book The Mystery of Capital and more recently in the film The Power of the Poor with Hernando de Soto, which was broadcast by the PBS television system in 2009. De Soto has based his work in Peru and around the world on the premise that free markets, individual freedom, and especially the right to property can transform the poor into the most powerful resource in the world.

With ILD, de Soto has worked with governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and the former Soviet nations to generate reform programs that bring businesses, as well as property sectors, into mainstream economies. In the 1980s and 1990s, ILD was responsible for new initiatives, laws, and regulations that reformed Peru’s administrative system. The programs gave property titles to more than 1.2 million families and, through reductions in bureaucratic procedures, helped more than 300,000 businesses in Peru leave the black market and enter the formal economy. Currently, ILD is working with the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon to explore their concepts of property rights and ownership.

De Soto received recognition from Time magazine in 1999 as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century and again in 2004 as among the 100 most influential people in the world. He was also listed by Forbes magazine in 2002 as one of the 15 innovators “who will reinvent your future.”

Admission is free; to guarantee seating, attendees should register for the event on the Internet at www.esri.com/culturalseries or by calling 909-748-8011.

[Source:  ESRI press release]

Interactions Between Humans and Environment Focus of National Science Foundation Symposium

Topics include Pandas and People; Mississippi River Nutrients; Suburbanization Effects; Mediterranean Landscapes; Sea-level Rise and Storms

How do humans and their environment interact, and how can we use knowledge of these links to adapt to a planet undergoing radical climate and other environmental changes?

To answer these and related questions, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded more than 30 grants to scientists, engineers and educators across the country to study coupled natural and human systems (CNH).

To showcase recent CNH accomplishments and to discuss opportunities for this research in the future, a symposium will take place at NSF on the afternoon of Thursday, April 15, 2010.

Highlighted will be human effects on the Mississippi River; causes and consequences of suburbanization in Boston and other cities; sea-level rise and the changing frequency and severity of storms; landscape dynamics in the Mediterranean; and what pandas, people and policies have to tell us about the complexity of our planet.

The CNH program is supported by NSF’s directorates for Geosciences; Biological Sciences; and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

Research conducted with CNH funding is providing a better understanding of natural processes and cycles, and human behavior and decisions and how and where they intersect.

Understanding coupled natural and human systems lies at the heart of the quest for global sustainability, and generates crucial knowledge for solutions to environmental and socioeconomic challenges.

To promote collaborations among projects and to mentor a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists, NSF also supports the International Network of Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS-Net), based at Michigan State University.


Symposium on Frontiers in Research on Coupled Natural and Human Systems

Scientists conducting research on CNH topics

Thursday, April 15, 2010, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 110, Arlington, VA 22230
Detailed Agenda:
2 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
Welcome and Introductions
2:10 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Hypoxia and the Mississippi River Basin as a Model System: What are the Key Linkages Governing the Social-Ecological Interface?
Laurie Drinkwater, Cornell University
2:30 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.
Mapping and Modeling the Causes and Consequences of Suburbanization in Boston
Colin Polsky, Clark University
2:50 p.m. – 3:10 p.m.
With Sea-Level Rise and Changing Storms, Humans React To Shoreline Erosion-but Shorelines React Back
Brad Murray, Duke University
3:10 p.m. – 3:25 p.m.
3:25 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Coupling the Past, Present and Future of Socio-Ecological Systems: The Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics Project
Michael Barton, Arizona State University
3:45 p.m. – 4:05 p.m.
From Local to Global Coupled Human and Natural Systems: Pandas, People, Policies and Planet
Jianguo (Jack) Liu, Michigan State University
4:05 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Prospects and Opportunities
Open Discussion – All Participants

[Source: NSF media advisory]

Workshop: VGI for SDI, Wageningen University, Netherlands, 16 April 2010

“Traditionally geographic data are captured by well trained specialist using state of the art technology. Recent developments like Web 2.0 platforms, GPS enabled cell phones and sensor technology make capturing of geographic data no longer the exclusive domain of well trained professionals, but opens new possibilities for involvement of citizens. Every human is able to capture geographic information about social and environmental phenomena. Internet provides the means to upload those observations and share it with other users. Information about places of interests, bird species, GPS tracking of bike and hiking routes are examples of this user generated content. The term Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) is used to describe user generated geographic information.

“In this one day workshop, on the occasion of the PhD defence of Lukasz Grus, the nature, developments and challenges of voluntary geographic information will be presented. The (potential) influence of VGI on Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) will  be discussed.”

Spatio-temporal Analysis of the Indus Urbanization

Current Science, Vol. 98, No. 6, 25 March 2010

Kavita Gangal, M. N. Vahia, and R. Adhikari

“The greater Indus valley was home to Neolithic cultures starting from 7000 BCE. They formed the antecedents of the urban Harappan civilization, whose rise and decline are dated to 2600 BCE and 1900 BCE
respectively. At its peak, the Harappan civilization covered an area of more than a million square kilometres, making it the largest urbanized civilization of the Bronze Age. In this communication, we integrate GIS information on topography and hydrology with radiocarbon and archaeological dates of 1874 sites, to analyse the spatio-temporal growth and decline of the Indus urbanization. Our analysis reveals several large-scale patterns in the growth and decline of urbanism. In the growth phase, urbanism appears to nucleate in three distinct geographical locations, situated in Baluchistan, Gujarat and the Ghaggar–Hakra valley. In the mature phase when urbanism is fully developed, the area distribution of sites follows a Zipfian power law, a feature common to modern urban agglomerations. In the decline phase, the pace of de-urbanization is nonuniform with a strong geographical variation. The decline starts in the Ghaggar–Hakra region, followed by a large-scale collapse in the lower Indus plain, leaving, however, a resilient zone in Gujarat which has a delayed decline. The patterns discerned through our analysis will find use within a Bayesian framework to test hypotheses for the growth and decline of the Harappan civilization.”

Understanding the Changing Planet: Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences

New book from the Committee on Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences in the Next Decade, National Research Council:

“From the oceans to continental heartlands, human activities have altered the physical characteristics of Earth’s surface. With Earth’s population projected to peak at 8 to 12 billion people by 2050 and the additional stress of climate change, it is more important than ever to understand how and where these changes are happening. Innovation in the geographical sciences has the potential to advance knowledge of place-based environmental change, sustainability, and the impacts of a rapidly changing economy and society.

Understanding the Changing Planet outlines eleven strategic directions to focus research and leverage new technologies to harness the potential that the geographical sciences offer.”