GIS Response to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: An Update from Drew Stephens at The GIS Institute

“Friends – Here’s an update from the Houma Incident Command Post (ICP) in Louisiana. Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and sinking, the ICP was established in Houma. As you can imagine, GIS was quickly a major component of the response. Beginning April 30, a team of  “GIS Smoke Jumpers” from across the USA deployed to Houma, LA to build and operate an enterprise-class GIS for the ICP. Waypoint Mapping’s Devon Humphrey served as the initial GIS Team Leader and was transferred to serve as Geographic Intelligence Officer for ICP Houma. Drew Stephens of The GIS Institute was named GIS Unit Lead. Mr. Humphrey served as liaison to Incident Command and NIMS-compliant system architect advisor, while Mr. Stephens recruited and managed a team of GIS professionals to operate the GIS Unit, most having 10-20 years GIS experience.

“At first, GIS staff & products were primarily serving US Coast Guard task forces on the water, and overflight / plume mapping. The team quickly migrated away from the fragmented skills, flash drives and personal laptops, to a networked drive with a file geodatabase, then to an Enterprise SDE and ArcGIS Server. ArcGIS Mobile figured prominently into the overall design, and by last Friday, The Louisiana National Guard was posting data directly to a server from the field. There are now over 150 layers of base map and operational data served to users of ArcGIS desktop, a browser-based Flex viewer and a Google Earth app. The system, which would have normally taken a year or more to plan and implement, was fully operational in less than two weeks. Map requests were dominating the GIS staff time, so standardized map products were created on a schedule, each following a data deliverable to the team – for example, the twice-daily airborne SLAR imagery would be followed by a map product available from the document management team.

Drew Stephens briefing US Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp in the GIS Unit, Houma, LA

“The range and depth of talent was truly remarkable. As the demand for GIS products and services grew, so did the GIS team, and its ability to deliver. Federal and Intelligence assets were put into play against the spill, as were staff. The GIS lab was a common stop by visiting Admirals, Captains, Colonels, and many others. The team had the honor of meeting various members of the Unified Command, including the outgoing Commandant of the Coast Guard (Admiral Thad Allen), Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, Area Command FOSC Admiral Landry, Admiral Watson, Tom Strickland (Chief of Staff for Interior Secretary Salazar), David Hayes (Deputy Secretary of Department of Interior), Jane Lute (Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security), representatives from the State of Louisiana Governor’s Office, Army National Guard, Air Force, US Fish & Wildlife and many others.

“There are now many more senior-level administrators who understand the power of GIS! I just returned from 21 days of service, resting and standing-by to go back…

“Also, it’s tough to watch the news these days without being swept-up in the anger and blame – please know, that regardless of your take on all of this, there are many hard-working and passionate oil spill responders working really long hours with no time off in support of this ecological disaster.  Thanks for your support!

“PS: if you see this by 5:20PM EDT Friday June 4, Drew will be on 880 AM in Asheville, NC and – it will be saved as podcast at the site under Local Edge Radio.

“We believe adventure is present in all GIS endeavors. The GIS Insitute strives to build community by bringing education, work, and service to the GIS community.

“Drew Stephens, Director,
“The GIS Institute”

[Source: email update from Drew Stephens]

Impact of the Spatial and Temporal Arrangement of Pastoral Use on Land Degradation around Animal Concentration Points

Land Degradation & Development, Volume 21, Issue 3, Date: May/June 2010, Pages: 248-259

T. Okayasu, T. Okuro, U. Jamsran, and K. Takeuchi

“In mobile pastoral systems, the spatial movement of herders is tied to requirements such as water, markets and medical services, resulting in the concentration of livestock in particular areas and subsequent desertification in those areas. The spatial and temporal distributions of these requirements are subject to changes in external forces, such as political regimes and economic systems. To assess and counteract desertification requires an understanding of, and ability to predict, the spatial and temporal arrangements of such concentration points and how these arrangements cause or inhibit desertification. To this end we developed a model that explicitly simulates how animals and vegetation interact. The model has spatial settings for extensive pasture to represent the points at which animals concentrate. We found that the spatial dynamics of the interaction between animal behavior and vegetation were nonlinear and markedly affected the size of the area desertified, and that the distribution of grazing pressure was more important than total grazing pressure, which had only a limited influence on desertification. These findings indicate that application of the carrying capacity concept is not capable of preventing desertification in extensive pasture, even under equilibrium conditions. Therefore, explicit management of the spatial distribution of animals is essential to prevent desertification in extensively grazed rangelands.”

An Ecosystem-scale Predictive Model of Coastal Seagrass Distribution

Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, Volume 20, Issue 4, Date: June 2010, Pages: 437-444

A. Grech and R. G. Coles

“Maintaining ecological processes that underpin the functioning of marine ecosystems requires planning and management of marine resources at an appropriate spatial scale.

“The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBR) is the world’s largest World Heritage Area (approximately 348 000 km2) and second largest marine protected area. It is difficult to inform the planning and management of marine ecosystems at that scale because of the high cost associated with collecting data. To address this and to inform the management of coastal (approximately 15 m below mean sea level) habitats at the scale of the GBR, this study determined the presence and distribution of seagrass by generating a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based habitat suitability model.

“A Bayesian belief network was used to quantify the relationship (dependencies) between seagrass and eight environmental drivers: relative wave exposure, bathymetry, spatial extent of flood plumes, season, substrate, region, tidal range and sea surface temperature. The analysis showed at the scale of the entire coastal GBR that the main drivers of seagrass presence were tidal range and relative wave exposure. Outputs of the model include probabilistic GIS-surfaces of seagrass habitat suitability in two seasons and at a planning unit of cell size 2 km×2 km.

“The habitat suitability maps developed in this study extend along the entire GBR coast, and can inform the management of coastal seagrasses at an ecosystem scale. The predictive modelling approach addresses the problems associated with delineating habitats at the scale appropriate for the management of ecosystems and the cost of collecting field data”

Pete Dangermond of the Save the Redwoods League to Speak at Redlands Forum

Pete Dangermond, President of the Dangermond Group, Will Speak about the Redlands Emerald Necklace Project and State Parks Rescue Initiatives

The next Redlands Forum event, which will be held Wednesday, June 16, at 5:30 p.m., will feature Pete Dangermond, who will speak about his 1980s design of Redlands’ own Emerald Necklace Project as well as recent conservation projects and legislation. California’s open spaces provide people, wildlife, and plants with a guaranteed place of refuge from urban expansion, but today they are in danger. The presentation—Land Conservation Challenges: Redlands Emerald Necklace, the Save the Redwoods League, and the Save State Parks Initiative—will take place at the ESRI Conference Center, 380 New York Street in Redlands. Admission is free.

Dangermond is a Redlands native and president of the Dangermond Group, a Sacramento, California-based planning and implementation firm with an emphasis on park, recreation, and resource conservation projects. He also serves as president of the Save the Redwoods League and consultant for the Riverside Land Conservancy. He is also a former director of the California State Park System.

He will speak on issues that affect California’s open spaces, beginning with the status of the Emerald Necklace Project, which establishes a cohesive plan for open spaces around Redlands. Dangermond will explain how that project represents a link in a larger conservation chain that includes the proposed San Timoteo Canyon State Park south of Redlands and other areas in the region. The San Timoteo park project will encompass more than 10,000 acres and will be the first state park established in conjunction with habitat preservation for multiple endangered species. The park’s historical features include Native American sites; stagecoach and railroad routes; a schoolhouse; and a eucalyptus grove planted by the Smiley brothers, who established the A.K. Smiley Public Library in 1889.

Dangermond will also touch on what various individuals and conservation organizations are doing to preserve these open spaces and wildlife habitats. He will speak specifically about what people can do to support a current initiative to secure a dependable source of operating funds for California’s 278 state parks, which are suffering from extreme state budget cuts. The measure will also support the operation of state wildlife areas and conservancies and urban rivers throughout California. The California State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, a statewide ballot measure, will secure these funds if voters pass it in November 2010.

Following the June event, the Redlands Forum series will be on hiatus for the summer and return again in the fall.

Redlands Forum events are sponsored by ESRI and the University of Redlands through the university’s Town & Gown organization. To guarantee seating, attendees should register via the Internet at or call 909-748-8011.

[Source: ESRI press release]

Using Participatory Methods and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to Prepare for an HIV Community-based Trial in Vulindlela, South Africa

Journal of Community Psychology, Volume 37, Issue 1, Date: January 2009, Pages: 41-57

Admire Chirowodza, Heidi van Rooyen, Philip Joseph, Sindisiwe Sikotoyi, Linda Richter, and Thomas Coates

“Recent attempts to integrate geographic information systems (GIS) and participatory techniques, have given rise to terminologies such as participatory GIS and community-integrated GIS. Although GIS was initially developed for physical geographic application, it can be used for the management and analysis of health and health care data. Geographic information systems, combined with participatory methodology, have facilitated the analysis of access to health facilities and disease risk in different populations. Little has been published about the usefulness of combining participatory methodologies and GIS technology in an effort to understand and inform community-based intervention studies, especially in the context of HIV. This article attempts to address this perceived gap in the literature. The authors describe the application of participatory research methods with GIS in the formative phase of a multisite community-based social mobilization trial, using voluntary counseling and testing and post-test support as the intervention.”

Robust Geographically Weighted Regression: A Technique for Quantifying Spatial Relationships Between Freshwater Acidification Critical Loads and Catchment Attributes

Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Volume 100, Issue 2 April 2010 , pages 286 – 306

Paul Harris; A. Stewart Fotheringham; Steve Juggins

“Geographically weighted regression (GWR) is used to investigate spatial relationships between freshwater acidification critical load data and contextual catchment data across Great Britain. Although this analysis is important in developing a greater understanding of the critical load process, the study also examines the application of the GWR technique itself. In particular, and unlike many previous presentations of GWR, the steps taken in choosing a particular GWR model form are presented in detail. A further important advance here is that the calibration results of the chosen GWR model are scrutinized for robustness to outlying observations. With respect to the critical load process itself, the results of this study largely agree with those of earlier research, where relationships between critical load and catchment data can vary across space. The more sophisticated spatial statistical models used here, however, are shown to be more flexible and informative, allowing a clearer picture of process heterogeneities to be revealed.”

SDI of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the Hamburg Metropolitan Region in the Context of the Community Programme eContentplus Co-funded Project Plan4all and in the Context of INSPIRE

REAL CORP 2010 Proceedings/Tagungsband, Vienna, 18-20 May 2010

Winfried Hawerk, Kai-Uwe KRAUSE

“The harmonisation of spatial planning data according to the INSPIRE Directive based on the existing best practices in EU regions and municipalities and the results of current research projects is the main focus of the eContentplus project, Plan4all. The project involves detailed description and summarising of the current situation and standards, proposal, testing and implementation of spatial planning metadata profile, common data model and harmonisation procedures. Plan4all will focus on implementation of the INSPIRE Directive into spatial planning processes, mainly based on building spatial planning data models for selected Themes and implementing recommendations of INSPIRE Drafting Teams for Metadata and Network services. The objective of Plan4all is to build a network of local, regional and national public bodies, stakeholders, ICT industry, organisations dealing with planning issues and regional development, universities and international organisations to find consensus about harmonisation of Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for spatial planning according to the INSPIRE Directive and also to contribute to standardisation of related Spatial Data Themes from the INSPIRE Annexes.

“SDI of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the Hamburg Metropolitan Region (SDI-MRH) is part of the Plan4all network. Hamburg Metropolitan Region represents the cooperation between 14 districts in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony and the Hanseatic City of Hamburg. SDI-MRH brings datasets from the three federal states Hamburg, Lower Saxony (partly) and Schleswig Holstein (partly) together in one map client. The project mainly focuses on comprehensive regional planning at federal state and county level, urban land-use planning, protected sites, tourism, education and commercial areas related datasets. Datasets from different servers are shown together in one web mapping application. Data layout and data classification are harmonised so that datasets become comparable (e.g. harmonisation of spatial planning based on XPlanung data models and data-exchange format (XPlanGML)).”

Seasonal Synchronization of Influenza in the United States Older Adult Population

PLoS ONE 5(4): April 15, 2010

Julia B. Wenger and Elena N. Naumova

“In temperate regions, influenza epidemics occur annually with the highest activity occurring during the winter months. While seasonal dynamics of the influenza virus, such as time of onset and circulating strains, are well documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza Surveillance System, an accurate prediction of timing, magnitude, and composition of circulating strains of seasonal influenza remains elusive. To facilitate public health preparedness for seasonal influenza and to obtain better insights into the spatiotemporal behavior of emerging strains, it is important to develop measurable characteristics of seasonal oscillation and to quantify the relationships between those parameters on a spatial scale. The objectives of our research were to examine the seasonality of influenza on a national and state level as well as the relationship between peak timing and intensity of influenza in the United States older adult population.”

GeoDesign: GIS Applications for Planning and Smart Growth at the 2010 ESRI User Conference

“The value of using GIS-based applications lies in their capabilities to enhance data analysis, access and dissemination. The ability to design and monitor economic, environmental, and social impacts of land use changes provides a comprehensive lens for collaborative community decision making that goes beyond mapping and cartographic purposes. This presentation will establish the need to develop a functional definition of the notion of “geo-design” as it relates to smart growth and land use planning. It will also demonstrate the value of using ArcGIS editing tools in land use planning, modeling, and policy making. By utilizing the customized modeling and sketching capabilities of ArcGIS, planners and policy makers can successfully enhance collaboration, scenario generation, monitoring of implications, evaluation and ongoing feedback, and selection of preferred scenarios that mitigate environmental ramifications, enhance economic vitality, and foster social equity.”

Thursday, 15 July 2010, 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Marina – Salon F

Dr. Ahmed Abukhater, GISP (Global Industry Manager for Community Development at ESRI)
Matthew Baker (ESRI Educational Services)