Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley: Mapping Our Future

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley delivered a speech at the Green Building Council on 11 May 2011 titled “Green Building and Our Nation’s Great Work.”  The following video includes excerpts from the audio of that speech alongside the maps he was discussing in real time.

You can also read the entire speech here [PDF].

A Theory for Event Processing of Geosensor Data

ISW-2011: Integrating Sensor Web and Web-based Geoprocessing, An AGILE 2011 Conference Workshop; Utrecht, The Netherlands, April 18, 2011

Alejandro Llaves

“Event processing allows to analyze huge amounts of data streams in real-time. Some environmental applications dealing with sensor data need to perform geoprocessing and respond to time-sensitive issues. The application of event processing methods to geosensor data without having into account the implicit spatiotemporal setting of the observation process may lead to inaccurate results. Spatial attributes are important to infer relationships among environmental occurrences. This paper presents a simple theory to deal with sensor observations as geospatial events.”

‘Training the Eye’: Formation of the Geocoding Subject

Social & Cultural Geography, Volume 12, Issue 4, 2011, Pages 357 – 376

Matthew W. Wilson

“From 2004 to 2007, a nonprofit organization in Seattle conducted over twenty-five street surveys in ten neighborhoods. Participants in these surveys collected geographic data about community ‘deficits’ and ‘assets’ using handheld devices, while walking around their local neighborhoods. These residents marked graffiti, litter, vacant buildings, and abandoned automobiles, as well as, ‘friendly’ business districts, appropriate building facades, and peopled sidewalks—all among their categories of interest, initially borrowed from a New York City foundation responsible for developing the handheld devices. Here, I analyze the geocoding protocol, ‘Training the Eye’, that was created by the New York City foundation and was adapted by the Seattle nonprofit. This technology of citizen engagement in governmental practice enacts an embodied cartographic vision that is productive of liminal subjectivities. These practices of geocoding, of assessing place in space, are intensely bodily, both in their messy enactment of digitally-extended vision and in their data-based imaginings of bodies at the margins. I draw upon theories of the cartographic gaze to discuss how technologies of vision constitute particular urban imaginations and discuss how subjects are formed through the discourses and practices of geocoding.”

UCSB Scientists Track Environmental Influences on Giant Kelp with Help from Satellite Data

Kelp forest in Santa Barbara Channel. Credit: Courtesy SBC LTER.

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have developed new methods for studying how environmental factors and climate affect giant kelp forest ecosystems at unprecedented spatial and temporal scales.

The scientists merged data collected underwater by UCSB divers with satellite images of giant kelp canopies taken by the Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper. The findings are published in the feature article of the May 16 issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series.

In this marriage of marine ecology and satellite mapping, the team of UCSB scientists tracked the dynamics of giant kelp –– the world’s largest alga –– throughout the entire Santa Barbara Channel at approximately six-week intervals over a period of 25 years, from 1984 through 2009.

David Siegel, co-author, professor of geography and co-director of UCSB’s Earth Research Institute, noted that having 25 years of imagery from the same satellite is unprecedented. “I’ve been heavily involved in the satellite game, and a satellite mission that goes on for more than 10 years is rare. One that continues for more than 25 years is a miracle,” said Siegel. Landsat 5 was originally planned to be in use for only three years.

Forests of giant kelp are located in temperate coastal regions throughout the world. They are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth, and giant kelp itself provides food and habitat for numerous ecologically and economically important near-shore marine species. Giant kelp also provides an important source of food for many terrestrial and deep-sea species, as kelp that is ripped from the seafloor commonly washes up on beaches or is transported offshore into deeper water.

Time series of giant kelp canopy cover off the coast of Goleta from 1984-2010.

Giant kelp is particularly sensitive to changes in climate that alter wave and nutrient conditions. The scientists found that the dynamics of giant kelp growing in exposed areas of the Santa Barbara Channel were largely controlled by the occurrence of large wave events. Meanwhile, kelp growing in protected areas was most limited by periods of low nutrient levels.

Images from the Landsat 5 satellite provided the research team with a new “window” into how giant kelp changes through time. The satellite was built in Santa Barbara County at what was then called the Santa Barbara Research Center and launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base. It was designed to cover the globe every 16 days and has collected millions of images. Until recently these images were relatively expensive and their high cost limited their use in scientific research.

However, in 2009, the entire Landsat imagery library was made available to the public for the first time at no charge. “In the past, it was not feasible to make these longtime series, because each scene cost over $500,” said Kyle C. Cavanaugh, first author and UCSB graduate student in marine science. “In the past, you were lucky to get a handful of images. Once these data were released for free, all of a sudden we could get hundreds and hundreds of pictures through time.”

Giant Kelp canopy off coast of Santa Barbara, as viewed by Landsat 5. Courtesy USGS.

Giant kelp grows to lengths of over 100 feet and can grow up to 18 inches per day. Plants consist of bundles of ropelike fronds that extend from the bottom to the sea surface. Fronds live for four to six months, while individual plants live on average for two to three years. According to the article, “Giant kelp forms a dense floating canopy at the sea surface that is distinctive when viewed from above. …Water absorbs almost all incoming near-infrared energy, so kelp canopy is easily differentiated using its near-infrared reflectance signal.”

Cavanaugh explained that, thanks to the satellite images, his team was able to see how the biomass of giant kelp fluctuates within and among years at a regional level for the first time. “It varies an enormous amount,” said Cavanaugh. “We know from scuba diver observations that individual kelp plants are fast-growing and short-lived, but these new data show the patterns of variability that are also present within and among years at much larger spatial scales. Entire forests can be wiped out in days, but then recover in a matter of months.”

Satellite data were augmented by information collected by the Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research Project (SBC LTER), which is based at UCSB and is part of the National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. In 1980, the NSF established the LTER Program to support research on long-term ecological phenomena. SBC LTER became the 24th site in the LTER network in April of 2000. The SBC LTER contributed 10 years of data from giant kelp research dives to the current study.

The scientists said that interdisciplinary collaboration between geographers and marine scientists is common at UCSB and is a strength of its marine science program.

Left to right: David Siegel, Daniel C. Reed, Kyle C. Cavanaugh. Credit: George Foulsham, Office of Public Affairs, UCSB.

Daniel C. Reed, co-author and research biologist with UCSB’s Marine Science Institute, is the principal investigator of SBC LTER. Reed has spent many hours as a research diver. He explained: “Kelp occurs in discrete patches. The patches are connected genetically and ecologically. Species that live in them can move from one patch to another. Having the satellite capability allows us to look at the dynamics of how these different patches are growing and expanding, and to get a better sense as to how they are connected. We can’t get at that through diver plots alone. The diver plots, however, help us calibrate the satellite data, so it’s really important to have both sources of information.”

The fourth author of the paper is Philip E. Dennison. He received his Ph.D. in geography at UCSB and is now an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Utah.

The research team received funding from NASA and the National Science Foundation.

[Source: UC Santa Barbara press release]

A GIS Model for Identifying Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii) Habitat in Eastern Connecticut

Applied Geography, Volume 31, Issue 3, July 2011, Pages 980-989

Katherine Moran, Charles E. Button

“The eastern spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii) is listed as endangered in Connecticut, having only one viable population in the state. Efforts to investigate their distribution in Connecticut are frustrated by their rarity, as well as their nocturnal and fossorial habits. The purpose of this study was to develop a geographic information systems (GIS) model to identify eastern spadefoot toad habitat in eastern Connecticut. Known eastern spadefoot toad sites in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island were used to establish the model’s selection criteria (i.e., substrate and elevation). Drainage class, texture class and soil deposit type within 250 meters of each site were summarized by acreage to reveal the predominant characteristics of the substrate. Digital elevation models (DEMs) were used to calculate relative elevation, expressing the absolute elevation as a percentage of the range in the surrounding landscape. Applying the selection criteria in eastern Connecticut produced a GIS shapefile of potential eastern spadefoot toad habitat. The results of verification analyses suggest that the eastern spadefoot toad habitat model (ESTHM) is a promising tool for identifying areas of eastern spadefoot toad habitat.


  • Developed a GIS model for identifying eastern spadefoot toad habitat.
  • Developed methodology for characterizing soil properties in areas inhabited by eastern spadefoot toads.
  • Developed methodology for characterizing relative elevation in areas inhabited by eastern spadefoot toads.
  • Identified areas of potential eastern spadefoot toad habitat in eastern Connecticut based on soil properties and relative elevation at known eastern spadefoot toad sites in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
  • Model verification analyses suggest that the model is a promising tool for identifying eastern spadefoot toad habitat”

More information

Alcohol Outlets and Clusters of Violence

International Journal of Health Geographics, Published 04 May 2011

Tony H Grubesic and William Alex Pridemore

“Background: Alcohol related violence continues to be a major public health problem in the United States. In particular, there is substantial evidence of an association between alcohol outlets and assault. However, because the specific geographic relationships between alcohol outlets and the distribution of violence remains obscured, it is important to identify the spatial linkages that may exist, enhancing public health efforts to curb both violence and morbidity.

“Methods: The present study utilizes police-recorded data on simple and aggravated assaults in Cincinnati, Ohio. Addresses of alcohol outlets for Cincinnati, including all bars, alcohol-serving restaurants, and off-premise liquor and convenience stores were obtained from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control and geocoded for analysis. A combination of proximity analysis, spatial cluster detection approaches and a geographic information system were used to identify clusters of alcohol outlets and the distribution of violence around them.

“Results: A brief review of the empirical work relating to alcohol outlet density and violence is provided, noting that the majority of this literature is cross-sectional and ecological in nature, yielding a somewhat haphazard and aggregate view of how outlet type(s) and neighborhood characteristics like social organization and land use are related to assaultive violence. The results of the statistical analysis for Cincinnati suggests that while alcohol outlets are not problematic per se, assaultive violence has a propensity to cluster around agglomerations of alcohol outlets. This spatial relationship varies by distance and is also related to the characteristics of the alcohol outlet agglomeration. Specifically, spatially dense distributions of outlets appear to be more prone to clusters of assaultive violence when compared to agglomerations with a lower density of outlets.

“Conclusion: With a more thorough understanding of the spatial relationships between alcohol outlets and the distribution of assaults, policymakers in urban areas can make more informed regulatory decisions regarding alcohol licenses. Further, this research suggests that public health officials and epidemiologists need to develop a better understanding of what actually occurs in and around alcohol outlets, determining what factors (whether outlet, neighborhood, or spatially related) help fuel their relationship with violence and other alcohol-related harm.”