Esri International User Conference Brings GIS to Everyone

At the 2010 Esri International User Conference (Esri UC), experts described how technological advancements in geographic information systems (GIS) have changed the global geospatial landscape. During the weeklong event held in San Diego, California, in July, 13,000 attendees participated in talks, watched software demonstrations, and attended paper sessions describing the ways that geospatial information and analysis are available to everyone.

Esri president Jack Dangermond’s plenary address described the collaborative capability of GIS and its role in a new era of information sharing. “Converging forces of advancements in computers, the Web, mobile devices, real-time measurement, and GIS software are making this possible,” he said. “A Web-based geospatial platform is emerging that is a distributed network of data and services. This is changing the way we work together.”

Esri technology experts demonstrated how ArcGIS 10 is a system that can be used to collaborate in an enterprise environment. They demonstrated Community Maps, ArcGIS Online,, ArcGIS for iOS, productivity in ArcGIS 10, the integration of Python scripting, imagery, GIS processing integration, ArcGIS Network Analyst, and analysis using 3D and new space and time enhancements.

The success of GIS is community based. Representatives from more than 6,000 organizations and 138 countries attended the conference. Esri recognized ArcGIS users whose work has been outstanding:

  • Special Achievement in GIS Award―Two hundred organizations
  • Making a Difference Award―The Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre, United Arab Emirates
  • President’s Award―City of Frisco, Texas
  • Lifetime Achievement Award―Carlos Salmán Gonzalez, president and CEO of Sistemas de Información Geográfica, S.A.

National Geographic Society board chairman Gil Grosvenor awarded the society’s highest honor, the Alexander Graham Bell Medal, to Dangermond for innovations that are transforming the world of geography and to Roger Tomlinson for his role as the “father of GIS.”

Conference keynote speaker Richard Saul Wurman described his project 19.20.21, a study of the 19 cities in the world with populations of more than 20 million people in the twenty-first century. He considers the world a globe of cities.

Attendees had the opportunity to talk with experts in their fields, geospatial technology vendors, and consultants; mingle with groups during Special Interest Group sessions; share their GIS maps in the poster and digital map galleries; attend ArcGIS software technical sessions; participate in Lightning Talks for fast application synopses; see demonstrations of software applications, tools, and solutions; and sit in on session and panel discussions provided by fellow users.

Next year’s Esri UC will be held July 11–15, 2011, at the San Diego Convention Center in California. A call for papers for the more than 40 tracks to be offered next year will open in mid-August 2010. Highlights and presentations at this year’s Esri International User Conference can be viewed on the conference Web site.

[Source: Esri press release]

CAUSTA: Clifford Algebra-based Unified Spatio-Temporal Analysis

Transactions in GIS, Volume 14 Issue s1, Pages 59 – 83

Linwang Yuan, Zhaoyuan Yu, Shaofei Chen, Wen Luo, Yongjun Wang, and Guonian Lü

“Introducing Clifford algebra as the mathematical foundation, a unified spatio-temporal data model and hierarchical spatio-temporal index are constructed by linking basic data objects, like pointclouds and Spatio-Temporal Hyper Cubes of different dimensions, within the multivector structure of Clifford algebra. The transformation from geographic space into homogeneous and conformal space means that geometric, metric and many other kinds of operators of Clifford algebra can be implemented and we then design the shortest path, high-dimensional Voronoi and unified spatial-temporal process analyses with spacetime algebra. Tests with real world data suggest these traditional GIS analysis algorithms can be extended and constructed under Clifford Algebra framework, which can accommodate multiple dimensions. The prototype software system CAUSTA (Clifford Algebra based Unified Spatial-Temporal Analysis) provides a useful tool for investigating and modeling the distribution characteristics and dynamic process of complex geographical phenomena under the unified spatio-temporal structure.”

Analyze the Risks of Biological Invasion: An Agent Based Simulation Model for Introducing Non-native Oysters in Chesapeake Bay, USA

Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment, published online February 08, 2010

Meifeng Luo and James J. Opaluch

“Introducing non-native species can create serious environmental risks, such as changing the attributes of ecosystem, displacing the native species, clogging the natural waterways and channels. Careful examination of the possible consequences before implementation can prevent the adverse consequences of invasive species. However, policy analysis for such an action is often difficult, due to the complexity of the marine environment, and the interactions among the species therein.

“This paper presents a spatial-explicit agent-based simulation model for analyzing the environmental risks of introducing non-native species, Suminoe oyster (Crassostrea ariakensis). It is considered to be introduced into the Chesapeake Bay, USA, where there is a native Oyster species (Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica) with declining population. The simulation result indicates that the non-native species will likely displace the native species, but this can be controlled by setting up a different harvest plan, and the location and the number of initial spat introduced.”

Spatial Behavior and Linguistic Representation: Collaborative Interdisciplinary Specialized Workshop

Journal of Spatial Information Science, Number 1 (2010), pp. 115-120

Thora Tenbrink, Jan Wiener, Christophe Claramunt, Marios Avraamides, Rainer Malaka, and Hanspeter A Mallot

“The Collaborative Interdisciplinary Specialized Workshop on Spatial Behavior and Linguistic Representation took place on April 23-24, 2010, at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg, Institute for Advanced Study (HWK), in Delmenhorst, Germany. We report the scientific motivation for this workshop and report its outcomes together with the impact of a gathering of this kind for the scientific community.”

Mass Fraction Spatiotemporal Geostatistics and its Application to Map Atmospheric Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons after 9/11

Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment, Volume 23, Number 8 / December, 2009

William B. Allshouse, Joachim D. Pleil, Stephen M. Rappaport, and Marc L. Serr

“This work proposes a space/time estimation method for atmospheric PM2.5 components by modelling the mass fraction at a selection of space/time locations where the component is measured and applying the model to the extensive PM2.5 monitoring network. The method we developed utilizes the nonlinear Bayesian maximum entropy framework to perform the geostatistical estimation. We implemented this approach using data from nine carcinogenic, particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) measured from archived PM2.5 samples collected at four locations around the World Trade Center (WTC) from September 22, 2001 to March 27, 2002. The mass fraction model developed at these four sites was used to estimate PAH concentrations at additional PM2.5 monitors. Even with limited PAH data, a spatial validation showed the application of the mass fraction model reduced the mean squared error (MSE) by 7–22%, while in the temporal validation there was an exponential improvement in MSE positively associated with the number of days of PAH data removed. Our results include space/time maps of atmospheric PAH concentrations in the New York area after 9/11.”

Predicting Map Error by Modeling the Sacramento River Floodplain

2010 ESRI International User Conference, San Diego, CA

Joshua Viers, Alexander Fremier, and Rachel Hutchinson

“We quantified the map accuracy for the Sacramento River Monitoring and Assessment Project to help land and water managers better plan for restoration efforts. While map errors are quantifiable and even predictable, linking the causes of error to complex environmental and geographic variables would improve decision making. We evaluated patterns of GIS-induced map error on over 32,000 acres based on environmental and GIS variables like floodplain age and edge complexity. We conducted extensive field validation and used spatial statistics to compare environmental variables with vegetation map inaccuracies. We then constructed a multivariate model to predict errors in certain vegetation types. We field validated 15% of map polygons (n=8,067) which were 85% correct (K=0.83). Using validated polygons, we found errors occurred most frequently on older floodplains but rates varied by vegetation type. By incorporating error in attribution and spatial assignment, restoration planners have a more realistic assessment of current conditions.”

Space-Time Integration in Geography and GIScience

AAG Newsletter of the Association of American Geographers, July/August 2010

Doug Richardson

“Every year, the Association of American Geographers (AAG) identifies a particularly timely or relevant set of themes to feature during its Annual Meetings. Last year an over-riding theme was climate change, for example, and previous years have included featured sessions on topics on as human rights, landscape and literature, sustainable development in Africa, geography of water, and many other topics.

“Among several special themes at its upcoming Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 12- 16, 2011, will be multiple sessions focused on the research status, recent advances and research needs of space-time integration, modeling and analysis in geography and GIScience. This special set of invited papers will feature many leading GIScience researchers from Asia and Europe as well nas from other regions of the world, and will form a three-day high-profile symposium within the AAG Annual Meeting.”

New Perspectives on the Energy Return on (Energy) Investment (EROI) of Corn Ethanol

Environment, Development and Sustainability, published online 11 July 2010

David J. Murphy, Charles A. S. Hall, and Bobby Powers

“Research on corn ethanol is overly focused on whether corn ethanol is a net energy yielder and, consequently, has missed some other fundamental issues, including (1) whether there is significant error associated with current estimates of the EROI of corn ethanol, (2) whether there is significant spatial variability in the EROI of corn ethanol production, (3) whether yield increases will translate linearly to increases in EROI, (4) the extent to which assumptions about co-product credits impact the EROI of corn ethanol, and (5) how much of the ethanol production from biorefineries is net energy. We address all of these concerns in this research by: (1) performing a meta-error analysis of the calculation of EROI, (2) calculating the EROI for 1,287 counties across the United States, and (3) performing a sensitivity analysis for the values of both yield and co-products within the calculation of EROI. Our results show that the average EROI calculated from the meta-error analysis was 1.07 ± 0.2, meaning that we are unable to assert whether the EROI of corn ethanol is greater than one. The average EROI calculated across 1,287 counties in our spatial analysis was 1.01, indicating that the literature tended to use optimal values for energy inputs and outputs compared to the average conditions across the Unites States. Increases in yield had a trivial impact on EROI, while co-product credits had a large impact on EROI. Based on our results from the spatial analysis and the location of biorefineries across the United States, we conclude that the net energy supplied to society by ethanol is only 0.8% of that supplied from gasoline. Recent work indicates that only energy sources extracted at EROIs of 3:1 or greater have the requisite net energy to sustain the infrastructure of the transportation system of the United States. In light of this work, we conclude that production of corn ethanol within the United States is unsustainable and requires energy subsidies from the larger oil economy.”