Free e-book “Essays on Geography and GIS, Vol. 3” Now Available

The popular “Essays on Geography and GIS” e-book series brings together a broad range of ArcNews articles written by academicians and scientists dealing with trends in geography, geospatial matters, and GIS.  Today, Esri released Volume 3 in this series, which features the following articles:

  • Geospatial Responses to Disasters: The Role of Cyberspace
  • Governance of the NSDI
  • What Is the Geographic Approach?
  • Kingston University London: 20 Years of GIS Education
  • Building INSPIRE: The Spatial Data Infrastructure for Europe
  • GIS in a Changing World
  • Getting to Know the Mapping Sciences Committee
  • Opening the World to Everyone

Read Vol. 3 [PDF]

The first two volumes are also still available:

Web Application Combines Mapping and Analysis for Australia Floods

Anyone Can Visualize Public Reports, Response Information

Esri developed a newly launched web application that provides mapping and analysis to enhance Australia flood information supplied through the Ushahidi social network. The network allows people to report incidents via SMS, e-mail, or the web. The information is categorized and analyzed using geographic information systems (GIS) technology to provide hot spot visualization. By combining web GIS capabilities with Ushahidi data, anyone can view reports of flood incidents, damages, requests for help, and response requirements in a map context.

The application allows people to easily view the density or clusters of multiple events, such as property damage, roads affected, and hazards. These density color-coded hot spots illustrate geographic areas where similar requests, statements, and issues are clustered. This allows both government officials and the public to identify problems or issues reported by a number of people in a common area.  They can better understand the distribution of reports by category and by time.

“Ushahidi information, combined with ArcGIS, provides a timely and relevant map-based picture,” says Russ Johnson, director of public safety, Esri. “What’s unique about this site is the analytics involved. It’s more than just dots on a map. Esri developed this application to organize a lot of data and provide a better understanding of the data quickly.”

The application demonstrates how GIS can analyze and transform large volumes of data into actionable intelligence. Background map data or basemap layer options include street maps, satellite imagery, topographic maps, and more. In addition, the data can be visualized over time to understand both spatial and temporal trends together. A temporal tool is available to present data for a particular day or range of days. It allows you to select multiple days on the map chronologically with the “time-slide tool.” As dates move sequentially, the updated data is automatically displayed for the indicated time period.  This provides a visual understanding of how an incident evolves over time.

Since December 2010, the Esri disaster response team, as well as ESRI Australia Pty. Ltd., has been working to support response to this incident. There are several applications available through the Esri disaster response portal. For instance, there is a common operational picture (COP) for the Brisbane City Council that was developed with the assistance of ESRI Australia. People or organizations affected by the flood can request GIS support directly through the portal located at

[Source: Esri press release]

Challenges for Map Symbol Standardization in Crisis Management

Proceedings of the 7th International ISCRAM Conference, May 2010, Seattle, WA

Anthony C. Robinson, Robert E. Roth, and Alan M. MacEachren

“A wide range of local, regional, and federal authorities will generate maps to help respond to and recover from a disaster. It is essential that map users in an emergency situation can readily understand what they are seeing on these maps. Standardizing map symbology is one mechanism for ensuring that geospatial information is interpretable during an emergency situation, but creating an effective map symbol standard is a complex and evolving task. Here we present preliminary results from research into the application of the ANSI 415-2006 INCITS Homeland Security Map Symbol Standard, a point symbol standard intended to support emergency management mapping for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This standard has so far not been widely adopted across the full range of DHS missions, and we elaborate on key issues and challenges that should be accounted for when developing future map symbol standards for crisis management.”

Assessment of Soil Erosion in Karst Regions of Havana, Cuba

Land Degradation & Development, published online 31 January 2011

J.M. Febles-González, M.B. Vega-Carreño, A. Tolón-Becerra, and X. Lastra-Bravo

“Only recently have erosion models begun to be used in research work in Cuba, specifically the USLE and the thematic cartography of factors in a GIS framework without using a specific model. It therefore becomes necessary to include simulation models for karst regions that make possible an integral assessment of the specific types of soil erosion in those environments and take into consideration the effects of climate change in soil management systems. Morphometric analysis of karst doline absorption forms in regions of La Habana Province in 1986, 1997, and 2009 allowed the characterisation and application of the Morgan Morgan Finney (MMF) conceptual empirical erosion model in the Country for the first time. The results showed previously unreported losses of 12·3–13·7 t of soil ha −1 y−1, which surpasses the permissible erosion threshold. Furthermore, it clearly shows the unsustainable trend of Red Ferralitic and Ferrasol Rhodic (World Reference Base) soils use. The model applied considered the effects of extreme rainfall events associated with climate change in recent years. The results found have led to strategies for coping with future climate change in each scenario and have made it possible to evaluate the consequences.”

Time Use Investment and Expenditures in Social Networks

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

Kostas Goulias

“In this presentation I use Brofenbenner’s Person-Process-Context-Time (PPCT) model and two-day time use diary data to first identify social network types based on reported activities, travel, and the types of persons with whom and for whom these activities and travel were completed. The data used are from a time use two-day diary of 1471 persons collected between November 2002 and May 2003 in Centre County, Pennsylvania. In their time use diaries respondents provided a detailed record of each activity they completed in each day, the persons with whom they completed each activity as well as for whom they participated in each activity. The social networks identified by the respondents include immediate family, relatives, friends, schoolmates, businessmates, clubmates (members of a society or church), and all other. Measures of investment and expenditures in social networks include the number of episodes in a day, and the amount of time allocated to activities per day. These two measures (episodes and amount of time allocated) are classified by the amount of time allocated to activities at home, work, school, and elsewhere to examine the “placial” nature of social network investments. They are also classified by the persons with whom these activities are conducted and for whom these activities are conducted offering additional insights. A third measure considered is an estimate of the social network size based on the number of persons that each respondent interacts with per day in each of the social networks defined above.”

Read the paper [PDF]

Where Do Great Powers Collide? Spatial Analysis of Major Conflict Locations, 1816-1992

Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association Annual Conference “Global Governance: Political Authority in Transition”, Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 16 March 2011

Kentaro Sakuwa

“Where on the globe do great powers fight? Despite the increasing attention to geospatially inspired research themes and spatial patterns of conflict in general, whether locations of great power-related conflict in particular show distinct spatial patterns has rarely been examined. An exploratory analysis of recently assembled Militarized Interstate Disputes Locations (MIDLOC) dataset reveals that there is significant clustering of major power-related militarized disputes throughout the period ranging from 1816 to 1992. Global and local clusters of intense disputes among great powers are detected. Applying major tools of spatial data analysis, the paper demonstrates that, despite a drastic change in the overall spatial distribution of international disputes in the post-war world, spatial distribution of important disputes among major powers remain relatively similar even after the Second World War. There is a band of conflict among major powers on the periphery of the Eurasian continent ranging from South Europe to East Asia, where competitions among major powers have concentrated throughout the period. The results suggest that geostrategically crucial locations for major powers, hence arena for global competitions, have been relatively stable over time. The data analysis adds an important spatial perspective to the study of conflict among great powers.”