New Esri Video Site Delivers a Wealth of Insight and Instruction

Speakers Showcase the Power of Geographic Thinking

A new Esri Web site provides an extensive library of videos demonstrating the far-reaching use and potential of geographic knowledge. The site offers inspiring presentations and resources for longtime geographic information system (GIS) users as well as those who are simply interested in exploring the increasingly important role geography plays in society today.

The collection of videos on Esri Video ( is expanding rapidly and features expert insights on a variety of geospatial topics, full-length technical sessions, and software demonstrations. Presenters include thought leaders such as Harvard University landscape architecture professor Carl Steinitz, GIS pioneer Roger Tomlinson, and Technology/Entertainment/Design (TED) conferences founder Richard Saul Wurman.

The site features an intuitive design and offers several ways to search for content. Video transcripts allow viewers to follow along with the presenter and navigate to desired sections. Viewers can also comment on videos, mark their favorites, download full transcripts, and click to instantly share videos via social media. Visit to explore Esri Video content.

[Source: Esri press release]

The Use of Spatial Analysis and Participatory Approaches in Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

Identifying and Predicting the Ecological Impacts of Development on the Kwazulu-Natal North Coast of South Africa

Doctor of Philosophy (D. Phil) dissertation, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Fathima Ahmed

“The high pressures for coastal development, translated as prolific land cover transformation, coupled with the weaknesses of management to protect the environment has led to the gradual deterioration of environmental conditions in many coastal areas. Land use decisions in coastal areas are based on opportunities and constraints affected by both biophysical and socio-economic drivers, and hence present one of the main issues integrating the large debate on sustainable development in coastal zones (Lourenço and Machado, 2007: 1). The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of the integration of spatial analysis and participatory approaches in SEA (particularly its ability to identify and predict ecological impacts) on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast of South Africa. The study adopted a conceptual framework based on landscape ecology, which was underpinned within the overarching political ecology framework. The former underscores the importance of integration, while the latter critiques the institutionalization of environmental concerns, which are characterized by inequalities in terms of social and political power and of how problems are defined, mediated and resolved. Hence this conceptual framework was considered appropriate to assess the strategic environmental issues pertaining to the coastal zone on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast. The researcher used participatory methods, primarily focus group discussions (which included venn diagramming, ranking exercises and participatory mapping) which were triangulated with both quantitative and qualitative methods as part of an integrated impact assessment. These relate to the use of semistructured questionnaires which were administered to a purposive sample of six key stakeholder interest groups within the study area. A spatial GIS time series analysis of land use and cover change was employed to determine baseline conditions, changes in the state of key ecosystems, key development drivers and emerging threats. Additionally, a policy and institutional review was undertaken. The analysis revealed that major natural land cover classes are in decline in the study area,within a time period of less than 10 years. The most sensitive ecosystems were found to be grasslands (-19.99%), coastal forest (-40%), wetlands (-37.49%) and secondary dunes (-21.44%). Furthermore, agriculture and forestry are also indicating severe declines. The reasons attributed to this transformation of land cover are increasingly being linked with economic motives such as individual private land-owner dynamics, tourism growth and development in the area. Furthermore, the policy agendas are clearly economically motivated. These losses signify the cumulative decline in ecosystem goods and services, and could undermine pose risks to the society that relies on them either directly or indirectly. One of the main considerations in this research endeavor was to formulate a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Framework to inform future ICZM in the study area. SEA is planning with a long-term perspective, with a focus on a spatial rather than a project level, an element that is clearly lacking in the current development scenario of this coastline. It is critical that the SEA Framework advocated in this study include a range of variables that will permit short-term, medium-term and long-term monitoring and evaluation aimed at ensuring sustainable planning in the area.”

Carl Steinitz: Eight Design Strategies

Carl Steinitz, Emeritus Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Design, spoke yesterday evening at the Esri auditorium. The subject of his talk was “GeoDesign: Eight Design Strategies.”

Steinitz spoke about the different cultures of geographic science and design; described different change models and presented case studies based on past projects he and his students have completed; and shared his thoughts on integrating GeoDesign in to education.

Steinitz is currently working on a book with Esri Press titled “A Framework for GeoDesign,” and will be speaking at the 2011 GeoDesign Summit this coming January.  You can also view the video online of his 2010 GeoDesign Summit talk, “Ways of Designing.”

Using Space–time Visual Analytic Methods for Exploring the Dynamics of Ethnic Groups’ Residential Patterns

International Journal of Geographical Information Science, Volume 24 Issue 10 2010, Pages 1481 – 1496: Geospatial Visual Analytics: Focus on Time Special Issue of the ICA Commission on GeoVisualization

Itzhak Omer; Peter Bak; Tobias Schreck

“In this article, we present a methodological framework, based on georeferenced house-level socio-demographic and infrastructure data, for investigating minority (or ethnic) group residential pattern dynamics in cities. This methodology, which uses visual analytical tools, is meant to help researchers examine how local land-use configurations shape minorities’ residential dynamics and, thereby, affect the level of minority-majority segregation. This methodology responds to the need to refer to the relationship between local land-use configurations and the identity of a building’s residents, without simultaneously revealing sensitive house-related details. The research was instantiated on the residential patterns exhibited by the Arab community in Jaffa, Israel. The residential data were collected for over 40 years at four different moments, each associated with the population and housing censuses conducted by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of the Interior. Using this methodology enabled us to remain on the level of the individual building when identifying the relationships between spatial land-use configurations and rates of change in ethnic composition and the Arab community’s residence pattern dynamics at different geographical scales. It likewise allowed us to identify the qualitative changes in the population’s residential preferences during the pattern’s development.”