URISA’s GISCorps Actively Supporting Two Projects in Caribbean

At URISA’s 2010 Caribbean GIS Conference in Trinidad, MapAction volunteers who participated in the on-the-ground response immediately following the devastating Haiti earthquake last year, spoke about the importance of readily available and accurate data in such a response. (Recall that the National GIS Centre in Haiti was destroyed in the earthquake and data was difficult to obtain.) This discussion evolved into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently signed between GISCorps and MapAction. The MOU highlighted the mutual interest of the two organizations in providing GIS Assistance to communities affected by disasters throughout the world.

To start the collaboration, both teams agreed on conducting a pilot project for three Caribbean countries. A job description was developed and it was determined that six volunteers would be needed. The recruitment team has already begun the search process. The goal of this project is to collate spatial data concerning administrative districts, transport networks and population data for the Caribbean Basin countries of Belize, Bermuda and Saint Lucia. The resulting datasets will be used by the disaster-response NGO MapAction, URISA’s GISCorps, humanitarian agencies and national emergency management organizations in humanitarian missions supporting search and rescue, logistics for food distribution to affected populations.

The project will deploy six GISCorps volunteers for two months. Volunteers will be involved in data mining/collation/cleansing/creation. There will be an overall MapAction project manager and a MapAction project coordinator for each country to assist in compiling existing data and identifying gaps, QA/QC volunteer outputs as well as organize and communicate with MapAction and GISCorps staff. To see the job description for this mission, visit http://www.giscorps.org/documents/mapaction_jd.pdf

The other Caribbean project involves Fonkoze, a US based nonprofit organization, that requested the assistance of a GISCorps volunteer in implementing a complete GPS data collection and web mapping of all of their “credit centers” (2,000 locations that their clients visit to repay loans and receive health and education services). Fonkoze is the largest micro-finance institution in Haiti offering a full range of financial services to the rural-based poor in Haiti. Following a search, Joe Dickinson, a GISCorps volunteer from Seattle, WA was recruited for this project. Fonkoze project representative, James Kurz recently reported that 95 GPS units, 50 battery chargers, and batteries were purchased with the help of Joe’s research and “processed” (changed to the correct GPS coordinate format, French, charged, and numbered so they can keep track of inventory). Fonkoze has put together a training program for their staff  so that they can train their staff about why they are doing the collection, in order to promote understanding and professional development. The real action will begin when the units hit the ground in Haiti. Meanwhile, the GISCorps volunteer is working with Fonkoze’s webmaster to get the specs on their webserver and assembling data and scripts to build a test/proof of concept of the web mapping component of the project.

For updates on these and nine other URISA GISCorps projects currently in progress, visit www.giscorps.org.

Operating under the auspices of URISA, GISCorps coordinates short term, volunteer based GIS services to underprivileged communities .

[Source: URISA press release]

Path Planning Strategies Inspired by Swarm Behaviour of Plant Root Apexes

European Space Agency final report, 31 January 2011

Luís F. Simões, Cristina Cruz, Rita A. Ribeiro, Luís Correia, Tobias Seidl, Christos Ampatzis, Dario Izzo

“Exploring unknown environments and identifying potentially interesting or hazardous areas is a challenging task for an autonomous agent. In the absence of a priori provided maps or landmarks guiding navigation, researchers are considering multi-agent systems trying to exploit the inherent parallelism of such systems. Many scienti c research works following this direction draw inspiration from biological swarm models. In such models, self-organised exploration strategies emerge at the collective level as a result of simple rules followed by individual agents. To produce the global behaviour, individuals interact by using simple (often indirect or stigmergic) and mostly local communication protocols. Social insects are a good biological example of organisms collectively exploring an unknown environment, and they have often served as a source of direct inspiration for research on self-organized cooperative robotic exploration and path formation in groups of robots using swarm intelligence techniques (e.g. [Payton et al., 2003; Svennebring and Koenig, 2004; Schmickl et al., 2009; Nouyan et al., 2008]). The bene t of such distributed techniques lies in the fact that they produce robust and scalable systems, contrary to traditional approaches often based on centralised architectures and map-like representation of the environment.”

A Bayesian Approach for Understanding the Role of Ship Speed in Whale-Ship Encounters

Ecological Applications, In press

Scott Gende, Noble Hendrix, Karin Harris, Bill Eichenlaub, Julie Nielsen, and Sanjay Pyare

“Mandatory or voluntary reductions in ship speed are a common management strategy for reducing deleterious encounters between large ships and large whales. This has produced strong resistance from shipping and marine transportation entities, in part because very few studies have empirically demonstrated whether or to what degree ship speed influences ship-whale encounters. Here we present the results of four years of humpback whale sightings made by observers aboard cruise ships in Alaska, representing 380 cruises and 891 ship-whale encounters. Encounters occurred at distances from 21m to 1000m (mean = 567m) with 61 encounters (7%) occurring between 200 and 100m, and 19 encounters (2%) within 100m. Encounters were spatially aggregated and highly variable across all ship speeds. Nevertheless a Bayesian change-point model found that the relationship between whale distance and ship speed changed at 11.8 knots with whales encountering ships, on average, 114m closer when ship speeds were above 11.8 knots. Binning encounter distances by 1-knot speed increments revealed a clear decrease in encounter distance with increasing ship speed over the range of 7-17 knots. Our results are the first to demonstrate that speed influences the encounter distance between large ships and large whales. Assuming that the closer ships come to whales the more likely they are to be struck, our results suggest that reduced ship speed may be an effective management action in reducing the probability of a collision.”

Currents Connecting Communities: Nearshore Community Similarity and Ocean Circulation

Ecology, In press

James Watson, Cynthia Hays, Peter Raimondi, Satoshi Mitarai, Changming Dong, James McWilliams, Carol Blanchette, Jennifer Caselle, and David Siegel

“Understanding the mechanisms that create spatial heterogeneity in species distributions is fundamental to ecology. For nearshore marine systems, most species have a pelagic larval stage where dispersal is strongly influenced by patterns of ocean circulation. Concomitantly, nearshore habitats and the local environment are also influenced by ocean circulation. Because of the shared dependence on the seascape, distinguishing the relative importance of the local environment from regional patterns of dispersal for community structure remains a challenge. Here, we quantify the oceanographic ‘distance’ and ‘asymmetry’ between nearshore sites using ocean circulation modeling results. These novel metrics quantify spatial separation based on realistic patterns of ocean circulation and we explore their explanatory power for intertidal and subtidal community similarity in the Southern California Bight. We find that these metrics show significant correspondence with patterns of community similarity and that their combined explanatory power exceeds that of the thermal structure of the domain. Our approach identifies the unique influence of ocean circulation on community structure and provides evidence for oceanographically mediated dispersal limitation in nearshore marine communities.”

Analysis of the Structure and Spatial Relation of City Agglomeration in Pearl River Delta based on GIS

Journal of Guangzhou University (Natural Science Edition), 2010-01

WANG Fang, XIA Li-hua, and ZHANG Tai-yu

“City agglomeration’s spatial structure and spatial relation features can reflect their development degree,stages and processes.This paper calculates central cities’ attraction fractal dimension and correlation dimension of the spatial structure in Pearl River Delta,and analyzes its fractal structure characteristics.From the perspective of correlation dimension of their spatial structure,the application of Wilson’s model and spatial correlation model of spatial statistics are used to explore the spatial association of nine cities in Pearl River Delta.The strength to attract traffic,population calculated by Wilson’s model indicates that there is contradiction for cities’ association in the aspects of traffic and population.This paper further explores the spatial association and development trend of all cities through the adoption of Moran I index and local statistic of total industrial output value and GDP per capita and the collective feature of the cities.At last,it explores the distribution pattern of space of all cities in Pearl River Delta,proposes the developing direction and advantages of integration.It has important theoretical and guidance to integrate the region and enhance the competitiveness of urban agglomeration.”

Interests (Position) Related to Spatial-Temporal Constraints on Social Networks

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

William D. Goran

“Currently, I have three specific areas of interest related to the topic of spatial-temporal constraints on social (and other) networks. However, I work numerous other projects where an improved ability to analyze seamlessly across network and spatial-temporal context would be valuable.”