Esri Assists Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Response

Support Available to Response Agencies; Social Media App Online for Public and Media

In response to the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami, Esri is providing assistance to a myriad of organizations involved in the disaster response. The company is working closely with both domestic and international agencies to provide on-site personnel, geographic information system (GIS) software expertise, and project services. Esri is also providing organizations with software, data, imagery, and technical support.

“This is a devastating, large-scale disaster that is still unfolding,” says Russ Johnson, director of public safety solutions for Esri. “Our full emergency operational procedures have been deployed to assist. We’re working hard to provide response agencies with resources that can make a difference in saving lives and minimizing damage.”

GIS solutions are helping officials use critical information for making rapid, effective decisions. The technology helps responders and emergency managers conduct rescue operations, prioritize medical needs, identify severely damaged areas, measure impacts to critical infrastructure, locate areas suitable for food and water distribution, and more.

In addition, an Esri-generated social media mapping application is available for both the media and public. People can follow events in near real time using the application to gain a greater understanding of the situation. It includes links to news reports as well as Tweets, YouTube videos, and Flickr photos. It also gives people the ability to view streets, satellite imagery, and topographic maps as part of the map overlay.

Agencies assisting in the disaster response effort can take advantage of maps, data, software, and web services available online through the Esri website ( Organizations can also request software or assistance through this website.

[Source: Esri press release]

Exploring the Lineage of Volunteered Geographic Information with Heat Maps

GeoViz: Linking Geovisualization with Spatial Analysis and Modeling, 10-11 March 2011, Hamburg, Germany

Johannes Trame and Carsten Keßler

“This short paper reviews and clarifies the concept of heat maps for data visualization on cartographic maps. We show how heat maps can serve as a tool for powerful data exploration by presenting a practical example taken from the context of volunteered geographic information. In particular, we demonstrate how heat maps can help to get an overview over the users’ contribution behavior of information in the OpenStreetMap community with respect to a geographic space.”

USDA and Russian Scientists Develop High-Tech Crop Map

AgroAtlas is a new interactive website that shows the geographic distributions of 100 crops; 640 species of crop diseases, pests, and weeds; and 560 wild crop relatives growing in Russia and neighboring countries. Downloadable maps and geographic information system (GIS) software are also available, allowing layering of data, such as that relating major wheat production areas to concentrations of Russian wheat aphids.

ARS and St. Petersburg State University have partnered on AgroAtlas, a new website that offers geographic distributions of 100 crops; 640 crop diseases, pests, and weeds; and 560 wild crop relatives in Russia and neighboring countries such as this map showing the distribution of the Russian wheat aphid.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant geneticist Stephanie Greene, the impetus behind developing AgroAtlas was to promote world food security, particularly in Newly Independent States—countries of the former Soviet Union striving to broaden their agricultural base. Greene works in the National Temperate Forage Legume Genetic Resources Unit operated at Prosser, Wash., by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency.

Greene leads the AgroAtlas project with Alexandr N. Afonin, a senior scientist with St. Petersburg State University in Russia. The Internet-based map is the successful result of a proposal they submitted in 2003 for funding under a program coordinated by the ARS Office of International Research Programs (OIRP) in Beltsville, Md., and supported by the U.S. Department of State.

In September 2010, the two researchers joined their colleagues to host the first of a series of 10-day workshops in St. Petersburg teaching the use of GIS software to scientists and students from former Soviet states. OIRP also awarded scholarships supporting travel and lodging expenses for 20 students to learn about AgroAtlas and GIS software. They, in turn, were to return to their institutes to train others.

Demonstrations of AgroAtlas include showing where in Crimea, a major wine-producing region, U.S. wine grapes can be successfully grown, as well as the distribution of major wheat diseases in the North Caucasus region according to agroclimatic zones. Greene notes AgroAtlas also has potential to aid in the detection and identification of insect pests, pathogens or weeds that have entered—or could enter—the United States from Russia or neighboring countries.

Read more about this research in the March 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

[Source: USDA press release]

Visualizing Bicycle Hire Model Distributions

GeoViz: Linking Geovisualization with Spatial Analysis and Modeling, 10-11 March 2011, Hamburg, Germany

Jo Wood, Aidan Slingsby and Jason Dykes

“In July 2010, Transport for London launched the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme [4] allowing members of the public to hire a bicycle from any of around 350 docking stations located in central London. Users are encouraged to take short journeys between docking stations by making hire of a bicycle free (after membership fees) if returned to any docking station within 30 minutes. Docking stations are located such than each is never more than 300m from another station (see Figure 1). A total of about 5000 bicycles are used by the scheme at any moment in time with approximately 8100 docking station places available. The scheme is currently only available to registered users who sign up via the web, although it is planned to open the scheme to casual users on a pay-per-use basis in early 2011. It is anticipated that when fully implemented, 400 docking stations and 6000 bicycles will be available.”