Esri Opens Software Research and Development Center in China

Esri has established a research and development (R&D) center in Beijing, China. The center will provide geographic information system (GIS) software development to support China’s many growing industries.

Using ArcGIS, Esri’s Chinese software engineers will be developing core technologies for web- and cloud-based mapping systems, advanced spatial information visualization, and mobile mapping solutions.

“The Esri (Beijing) Software Research and Development Center allows Esri to bring its expertise in advanced spatial technology, software development, and information management to China and provide localized software and services that meet the needs of GIS users,” said Scott Morehouse, Esri’s director of software development.

Esri has been supporting GIS users in China for 20 years. The R&D center in Beijing affirms Esri’s commitment to continue to nurture and support GIS technology for the country. Furthermore, by employing local software developers, Esri will help advance the spatial technology expertise of the Chinese workforce and enable China’s GIS community to extend its influence to Esri’s global customer base. Find out more at esri/beijingcareers.

{Source: Esri press release]

Supporting Synthesis in Geovisualization

International Journal of Geographical Information Science. In Press.

Anthony C. Robinson

“Geovisualization tools are intended to support analysts in complex task domains like 5 crisis management, disease surveillance, and threat analysis. It is likely that analysts in these domains will use geovisualizations to develop many analytical results over time. This calls for attention to the problem of collecting, organizing, and making sense out of groups of analytical results – a stage of analysis called synthesis. The research reported here aims to characterize the process of synthesis as it is conducted by analysts working 10 alone, and to suggest design guidelines for new tools to support synthesis in that setting. We have developed a new experimental method for observing and characterizing the process of synthesis. This approach has participants work with a collection of physical data artifacts on a paper-covered workspace to devise hypotheses under the guise of a disease outbreak scenario. From experiment video recordings we identified and coded 15 actions that participants undertook to complete the synthesis task. In this article we report results from synthesis experiments with analysts from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and experts from The Pennsylvania State University. Experiment results are then distilled into a design framework that can be used to shape the development of geovisual synthesis tools.”


Development of a Bayesian Geostatistical Data Assimilation Method and Application to the Hanford 300 Area

Ph.D. dissertation, UC Berkeley, Fall 2010

Haruko Murakami

“Probabilistic risk assessment of groundwater contamination requires us to incorporate large and diverse datasets at the site into the stochastic modeling of flow and transport for prediction. In quantifying the uncertainty in our predictions, we must not only combine the best estimates of the parameters based on each dataset, but also integrate the uncertainty associated with each dataset caused by measurement errors and limited number of measurements. This dissertation presents a Bayesian geostatistical data assimilation method that integrates various types of field data for characterizing heterogeneous hydrological properties. It quantifies the parameter uncertainty as a posterior distribution conditioned on all the datasets, which can be directly used in stochastic simulations to compute possible outcomes of flow and transport processes. The goal of this framework is to remove the discontinuity between data analysis and prediction. Such a direct connection between data and prediction also makes it possible to evaluate the worth of each dataset or combined worth of multiple datasets. The synthetic studies described here confirm that the data assimilation method introduced in this dissertation successfully captures the true parameter values and predicted values within the posterior distribution. The shape of the inferred posterior distributions from the method indicates the importance of estimating the entire distribution in fully accounting for parameter uncertainty. The method is then applied to integrate multiple types of datasets at the Hanford 300 Area for characterizing a three-dimensional heterogeneous hydraulic conductivity field. Comparing the results based on the different numbers or combinations of datasets shows that increasing data do not always contribute in a straightforward way to improving the posterior distribution: increasing numbers of the same data type would not necessarily be beneficial above a certain number, and also the combined effect of multiple datasets could be very different from the individual effects. This research thus shows that any site characterization should consider not only the worth of individual datasets, but also the combined effects of multiple datasets and the sequence in which they are assimilated.”

Geographer Named Chief Scientist at NASA

Waleed Abdalati, associate professor of geography at the University of Colorado and Director of the Earth Science and Observation Center, has been named Chief Scientist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The two-year appointment began January 3, 2011.

According to NASA, “Abdalati will represent all of the scientific endeavors in the agency, ensuring they are aligned with and fulfill the administration’s science objectives. He will advocate for NASA science in the context of those broader government science agendas.”

Abdalati will serve as chief adviser to NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden on matters relating to agency science programs, strategic planning and the evaluation of NASA’s current science investments. He will also work with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget.

Abdalati, whose research focuses on understanding changes in the Earth’s ice cover and what that means for the future of climate change, would seem to be a particularly timely choice as NASA’s Chief Scientist. A Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), Abdalati and his colleagues use satellite and airborne remote sensing techniques along with field observations and modeling to learn about ice sheets and high-latitude glaciers, their vulnerability to climate change and their contributions to sea-level rise.

Previously, Abdalati worked at NASA from 1998-2008, where he served as head of the Cryospheric Sciences Branch of NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He also managed the Cryospheric Sciences Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He was presented with the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 2004 and the NASA Agency Group Honor Award in 2003. He joined the Department of Geography at the University of Colorado in 2008. Abdalati earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Syracuse University in 1986. He later received master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado.

Although Abdalati is the first geographer to hold this important post, it should be noted that many geographers have served NASA in key positions for decades and continue to do significant work throughout the space agency.

Phone: 303-492-5087. email:

[Source: AAG press release]

Defining and Using Types of Relationships in Social Networks

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

Carsten Kessler

“My interest in the specialist meeting on spatio-temporal constraints on social networks is in the interaction between the relationships between real-world interactions and online social networks. I am particularly interested in how those real-world relationships can act as the grounding for social networks. Evidently, key relationships—such as best friends—are often reflected in current social networks, yet hard to distinguish from other, potentially loose contacts in a user’s social network. Hence, there seems to be a mapping mechanism form real-world to online relationships, where some information is lost on the way. This loss is partly caused by the implementation of the social networks, which only allow for certain, fixed types of relationships. Spatio-temporal relationships between users, combined with other information (message exchange, participation in events, etc.) could be used to disambiguate these relationships. In order to do so, the following research questions need to be dealt with:

  1. What is the ontology of relationships in online social networks?
  2. What information is lost when going from real-world to online relationships?
  3. How can real-world identities allow us to translate between different social networks?
  4. How can spatio-temporal media be used in this process?
  5. How can such information be used in online communities?”

Abstracts Sought for 2011 URISA/NENA Addressing Conference

URISA and the National Emergency Number Association are accepting abstract submissions for the 2011 URISA/NENA Addressing Conference. The conference—for GIS professionals, addressing coordinators, 9-1-1 and emergency response specialists —will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 15-18, 2011.

The conference is developed through abstracts submitted through a Call for Presentations. The Conference Committee, comprised of URISA and NENA members, reviews all of the abstracts received by the deadline date, and organizes the educational sessions according to those abstracts. The Committee has specified three program tracks for the conference, and they are each described below.

  • Integrating Addresses Across the Enterprise
    A well-conceived addressing system involves cooperation and builds relationships for both public and private organizations. The addressing system must be easily understood, accepted and used by everyone. Any successful addressing system must include the cooperation of all stakeholders and the United States Postal Service (USPS). A strong maintenance program is also essential for maintaining the integrity of the addressing system. This track will cover case studies, best practice solutions, and training for the establishment and maintenance of a successful addressing strategy. With the adoption of the FGDC Address Standard, coordination of address data can be organized to benefit everyone.
  • Looking Ahead: Next Generation 911 Standards and Practices
    Proper addressing is crucial to public safety. Being able to quickly locate a 9-1-1 call, and dispatch an emergency responder to the correct location may mean the difference between life and death. Today most calls to 9-1-1 come in from wireless phones, which only provides an approximation of the caller’s location. Being able to quickly and accurately locate the caller and send emergency responders depends on high quality address and related information. With Next Generation 9-1-1, addressing becomes even more critical. Come learn how to improve your addressing to meet the needs of public safety, while meeting the needs of all other organizations and entities with improved addressing practices.
  • It’s All About Data: Address Data Quality and Exchange
    Quality is the critical component in every address-related business function. Address data is at the core of many, if not most, government activities, ranging from the time-critical emergency dispatch to the more static voter registration and utility meter location data. Increasingly, states and the federal government are working with address point and range data linking address-based information for complex statistical analyses.   At all levels, poor data quality costs everyone. It slows response time, requires repeated research, and creates costs in lost time, fuel consumption, and rework. This track will explore ways in which improvements in address quality and exchange can improve overall government efficiency, economy and effectiveness.

A review committee of NENA and URISA members will organize an educational program based on the abstracts submitted through the Call for Presentations. Abstract submissions will be accepted until April 4, 2011.

The link directly to the Call for Presentations is:

[Source: URISA press release]