FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to Keynote Esri’s FedUC

Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will be the 2011 Esri Federal User Conference (FedUC) keynote speaker. Having managed the response to 11 presidentially declared disasters as well as Florida’s massive mutual aid effort after Hurricane Katrina, Fugate will share his insights on the importance and potential of technology in disaster management and throughout government operations.

FEMA has leveraged GIS to bring critical geospatial intelligence to more than 150 disaster response efforts across the country. Its ambitious GIS projects are enhancing FEMA’s capabilities to ensure more effective disaster management and response efforts for the nation. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear FEMA’s inspiring GIS story.

SSW 2011: IC3K 2nd International Workshop on Semantic Sensor Web

26-29 October 2011
Paris, France

Scope and Topics

During last years, sensors have been increasingly adopted in the context of several disciplines and applications (military, industrial, medical, homeland security, etc.) with the aim of collecting and distributing observations of our world in everyday life. Sensors progressively assumed the critical role of bridges between the real world and information systems, through an always more consolidated and efficient sensor technology that enables advanced heterogeneous sensor grids. Current sensor networks are able to detect and identify simple phenomena or measurements as well as complex events and situations. As imaginable, these sensor networks disseminated everywhere around the world are not connected between them as well as associated information systems are not integrated. This scenario can be summarized as too much data and not enough knowledge.

Sensor Web is commonly defined as: “Web-accessible sensor networks and archived sensor data that can be discovered and accessed using standard protocols and application interfaces”. Sensor Web is a progressive concept that, at the moment, is limited mainly by the lack of standardization.

Semantic Sensor Web would be an evolving extension of Sensor Web that introduces a semantic layer in which semantics, or meaning of information are formally defined. Semantics should integrate web-centric standard information infrastructures improving the capabilities of collecting, retrieving, sharing, manipulating and analyzing sensor data (or associate phenomena) as well as potential interoperability between systems through semantic interactions.

The aim of Workshop is promoting an open international discussion between researchers from both academia and industry about Semantic Sensor Web (and related issues) as well as the selection of a restricted number of high-quality selected papers about interest topics.

At the moment topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Modeling and Representation of Sensor Knowledge
  • Analysis and Modeling of Sensor Domain
  • Sensor/Sensor Network Ontology Engineering
  • Semantic Sensor Web
  • Data Models and Languages for Semantic Sensor Web
  • Semantic Sensor Systems and Applications
  • Architectures and Middleware for Semantic Sensor Web

Important Dates

  • Regular Paper Submission: July 8, 2011
    Authors Notification: July 29, 2011
    Final Paper Submission and Registration: August 9, 2011

Paper Submission

Prospective authors are invited to submit papers in any of the topics listed above.

Papers should be submitted electronically via the web-based submission system at http://www.insticc.org/Primoris

Publications

All accepted papers will be published in the workshop proceedings book, under an ISBN reference and on CD-ROM support.

All papers presented at the conference venue will be available at the SciTePress Digital Library (http://www.scitepress.org/DigitalLibrary/).

Registration Information

At least one author of an accepted paper must register for the workshop. If the registration fees are not received by August 9, 2011, the paper will not be published in the workshop proceedings book.

More Information

e-mail: ic3k.secretariat@insticc.org
website: http://www.ic3k.org/SSW.asp

Rural Electric Utility Uses GIS to Garner USDA Funding

Carroll Electric Cooperative Corporation recently enlisted geographic information system (GIS) technology from Esri to help secure funding from Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The utility, serving northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri, used GIS to prepare a new system analysis and facility planning report, both crucial for the loan justification.

“The maps and analysis made possible with Esri technology give us the whole picture, including the geographic details, of our electric system,” said Kean Steely, vice president of engineering and operations at Carroll Electric. “We are now able to provide an overall perspective of our utility improvement plans, which was particularly useful when preparing the system planning report for RUS.”

Carroll Electric’s move to GIS marks a significant improvement in how the utility maintains system records and displays data analysis—an improvement that was especially beneficial to the RUS reporting process.

GIS has changed the way Carroll Electric utility executives, engineers, operators, and crew visualize and study the electric network. Staff can access information about routing and cost to make confident recommendations for system improvements. The utility uses GIS to keep a record of these planned system improvements and to prepare appropriate documents for environmental reviews. Additionally, Carrol Electric can more easily maintain infrastructure data, analyze customer use for growth projection, and monitor the load flow of the electric network.

“More and more utilities are expanding the use of GIS beyond mapping,” said Bill Meehan, Esri director of utility solutions. “What Esri provides is a vital technology for utility planning and analysis as well as a means for effective communication with government agencies.”

For more information, visit esri.com/electric.

Read and download a new best practices book for municipalities, cooperatives, and rural electric utilities at esri.com/library/bestpractices/municipalities-cooperatives.pdf.

[Source: Esri press release]

Satellite Images Show Disappearance of Armenian Artifacts in Azerbaijan

A high-resolution satellite image of a medieval Armenian cemetery in Azerbaijan taken in September 2003 shows hundreds of khachkars, intricate 15th and 16th century burial monuments. In a satellite image from May 2009, however, the khachkars are missing, suggesting that they were either destroyed or removed.

A comparison of the images by analysts from the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program found evidence of significant destruction and changes in the grade of the cemetery’s terrain. The image from September 2003 shows rocky and uneven terrain, as well as shadows cast by the khachkars, while the May 2009 image shows a much flatter landscape and the khachkars’ absence.

“As can be seen in the 2009 image, the appearance of additional dirt roads that traverse the cemetery and visibly smoother terrain suggest that the khachkars may have been destroyed or removed by earthmoving equipment,” said Susan Wolfinbarger, senior program associate for the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project, a part of the Science and Human Rights Program. “Our analysis of the satellite evidence is consistent with that of observers on the ground who have attested to the destruction of the khachkars and the leveling of the terrain in the Djulfa cemetery.”

The geospatial team determined the exact location of the cemetery using a map hand-drawn by those with local knowledge of the area. It is located in Djulfa, part of Nakhchivan, an Azerbaijani exclave near the Iranian border.

Following reports that sledgehammer-wielding Azerbaijani soldiers destroyed hundreds of khachkars, a delegation of European Parliament members were rebuffed when they sought access to the cemetery in May 2006 to conduct a fact-finding mission. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) also observed the phased destruction of the khachkars in Djulfa in reports published in 2003 and 2006-2007.

“Geospatial images allow us to shed light on regions that are not accessible, providing a visualization tool for events or circumstances that are important to bring to the public’s attention but which, without some visual evidence, are less likely to attract attention and interest,” said Jessica Wyndham, senior project director of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program.

The AAAS team has used geospatial technology previously to document a number of human rights violations, including the 2005 destruction of structures and villages in Darfur, Sudan; civilian attacks in Burma in 2006 and 2009; structure damage in South Ossetia, Georgia in 2008; and mortar fights in Sri Lanka.

Decreasing computing costs, the growth of available geospatial data, and the increase of earth-imaging satellite sensors that provide high-resolution images have coalesced to improve the potential applications of geospatial technology in the field of human rights. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of State, international governments, the United Nations, and nongovernmental organizations including Human Rights Watch have all used geospatial technology for humanitarian as well as human rights purposes.

In the future, Wolfinbarger anticipates that the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project will use newer, higher resolution satellites for detailed vegetation analysis, while lower resolution satellites could facilitate deforestation analysis. “While in the past we have focused on the destruction of structures, we may be able to develop greater expertise in environment-related human rights through the use of these other satellites,” she said.

The multispectral satellite images from September 2003 and May 2009 were taken by DigitalGlobe’s QuickBird satellite. The AAAS analysts used ERDAS Imagine and ESRI’s ArcMap software to do a side-by-side comparison of the images.

[Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) press release]

The Promise & Challenges of Social Media in Public Health & Medicine

Spatio-Temporal Constraints on Social Networks Workshop, University of California, Santa Barbara, Center for Spatial Studies, 13-14 December 2010

Leah Vaughan

“The utilization of social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook & mobile continues to grow rapidly world-wide. Professionals and laypersons have adopted these communication and information platforms. Public Health providers may be both generators and professional consumers of content distributed through social media networks.

“The consideration of how social media can be leveraged by providers to improve the Public’s Health should incorporate data-driven, evidence-based measures. This is particularly true in environments where resources are scarce and there are competing priorities of known benefit and duty.

“There are a number of ways in which social media are currently implemented in Public Health. These frameworks can impact the data compiled & analyses conducted.”