“Visualizing Flow and Movement for the Humanities” Workshop Supported by NEH Start-up Grant

The University of Redlands has received a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a workshop for GIS specialists and humanities scholars to develop methodologies toward visualizing the flow and movement of people and ideas across geographic space.

Diana Sinton, director of Spatial Curriculum and Research at the University, is the project director.

The NEH Digital Humanities start-up grant will support the workshop Visualizing Flow and Movement for the Humanities hosted by the University, likely in October, on this emerging research area at the intersection of digital humanities, geography and information technology.

Redlands’ proposal is supported by a 12-year history of infusing spatial thinking and geospatial tools across the campus and curriculum.

According to the proposal for the grant, there are no satisfying ways to visualize flow and movement of entities, such as people and ideas, across geographic space. Current tools and web programming allow researchers to create simple maps with lines connecting points, but the visual output is uninspiring and the usability is limited.

“Whether we study the flow of democratic ideas, the migration of early Christian monks to Africa, or the peregrinations of Native American ancestral sites, we are seeking to characterize the movement of entities through space and time,” the proposal said. The project will address questions on the nature and visualization of flow and movement to lay a foundation for developing a digital tool optimized for humanities scholars.

[Source: University of Redlands press release]

New Cal Poly Center Promotes Interdisciplinary Conservation Efforts

Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Environmental Design has received a $100,000 grant to address social and environmental sustainability issues through the newly created California Center for Land and Water Stewardship (CCLAWS). The CLASS Fund grant provides critical startup funds for the interdisciplinary center, which aims to bring together faculty and students from throughout campus, as well as a wide range of stakeholders in land and water conservation.

“These are the critical issues of our time,” says Julianna Delgado, professor of urban and regional planning and the center’s co-director. “From the time California began to develop, it was water and land that made us prosperous. If we don’t manage that, then what’s going to happen?”

The center, which Delgado and landscape architecture Professor Susan Mulley established in 2010, will sponsor collaborative research projects primarily in Southern California. It also plans to offer public outreach workshops, develop a certificate program in sustainability, and create a GIS database with land and water information. Some of the center’s early undertakings may include research into the history of water use in the area and the creation of a modeling system of the region’s water supply.

The California Landscape Architectural Student Scholarship (CLASS) Fund, established by landscape architecture professionals, has been supporting student scholarships and academic programs since 1982. Cal Poly Pomona alumni members Leslee Temple (’73, landscape architecture), Bob Cardoza (’64, landscape architecture), Rob Sawyer (’69, landscape architecture), Andy Bowden (’77, landscape architecture) and John Hourian (’69, landscape architecture) were instrumental in bringing support from the scholarship fund to the university.

Cardoza, CLASS Fund co-founder and scholarship chair, says that collaboration is critical in order for sustainability issues to reach a much broader base and make a lasting impact. He believes that Cal Poly Pomona’s track record proves it is well-positioned to bring together planners, designers, artists, agriculture, government officials, community residents, engineers, civic leaders and businesses.

“Awareness for environmental interests and concerns has grown much beyond the focuses of our individual professionals,” Cardoza says. “We want to encourage a program, a university that will take on a leadership role in pulling the green industry at large together.

“I’m a supporter of Cal Poly Pomona to take on this leadership role. The need is now. It’s time for action now.”

The creation of CCLAWS was inspired by the Golden Necklace Project, a collaborative vision for a multi-use trailway and open space system that would extend from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. In 2008, Delgado’s undergraduate and graduate students teamed with Mulley’s graduate students to develop a master plan for the trailway and open space. With feedback and support from a diverse group of stakeholders, the project is a model for future endeavors CCLAWS hopes to accomplish and sustain.

[Source: Cal Poly Pomona press release]

Using Geographically Weighted Regression to Solve the Areal Interpolation Problem

Annals of GIS, Volume 17, Issue 1, 01 March 2011

Jie Lin; Robert Cromley; Chuanrong Zhang

“Areal interpolation is used to transfer attribute information from the initial set of source units with known values to the target units with unknown values before subsequent spatial analysis can occur. The areal units with unknown attribute information can be either at a finer scale or misaligned with respect to the source data layer. This article presents and describes a geographically weighted regression (GWR) method for solving areal interpolation problems for nested areal units and misaligned areal units. Population data, selected as the attribute information, are interpolated from census tracts to block groups (a finer scale) and pseudo-tracts (misaligned from tracts but at the same approximate scale). Root mean square error, adjusted root mean square error, and mean absolute error are calculated to evaluate the performance of the interpolation methods. The land cover data derived from Landsat Thematic Mapper Satellite Imagery with a 30times30 m spatial resolution are applied to as the ancillary data to describe the underlying distribution of population. To evaluate the utility of GWR as an areal interpolation method, the simple areal weighting method, a dasymetric method, and different ordinary least squares regression methods are used in this article as comparison methods. Results suggest that GWR is a better interpolator for the misaligned data problem than for the finer scale data problem. The latter is a result of issues associated with the scaling step to ensure the pycnophylatic property required in areal interpolation.”

The Map Reader: Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation

From the charts of ancient mariners exploring new found lands to the age of Google Earth, maps are about far more than just navigation. They reflect the latest technologies, culture and the distribution of power and politics of their age.

The Map Reader provides, for the first time, a single source for the most important literature about the nature of mapping practices from the last hundred years. Fifty four theoretical and thought provoking texts demonstrate how cartography works as a powerful representational form and explores how different mapping practices have been conceptualised in particular social and historical contexts.

These original interpretative essays set the literature into context within the themes of politics, people, aesthetics and technology while drawing from leading scholars and researchers from across the academic spectrum including cartography, geography, anthropology, architecture, engineering, computer science and graphic design.

While the rhetorical power and technical complexity of how maps work has remained relatively under-analysed across the social sciences there has been a recent resurgence of mapping practices across the humanities, as well as in the information sciences, bio-informatics and human computer studies.

Written as a comprehensive guide to cover all of these disciplines The Map Reader ensures that the most important cartographic ideas are made available to researchers, students and cartography enthusiast alike.

[Source: Wiley press release]

New Blog Launched: GeoDesign in the Curriculum

From the Department of Geography, Planning & Recreation at Northern Arizona University comes a new blog about GeoDesign in higher education.  The goal of Prof. Tom Paradis and Assistant Prof. Mark Manone is to encourage sharing of perspectives, experiences, and ideas related to GeoDesign in the curriculum.

GeoDesign in the Curriculum shares NAU’s experiences with their new GeoDesign-oriented curriculum for undergraduate majors, the Geographic Science and Community Planning Degree [PDF], which will officially launch in the Fall of 2011. Many of the curriculum materials pertaining to this new degree are found on the blog in the section titled The NAU Approach.

Mid-America GIS Symposium (MAGIC 2012) to be held 22-26 April 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri

MAGIC 2012:  Mid-America GIS Symposium
22-26 April 2012
Westin Crown Center
Kansas City, Missouri

Save the Date!! Can you believe MAGIC 2012 is less than a year away? MAGIC 2012 will be held April 22 – 26, 2012 at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, MO. If you have any suggestions, or would like to help with the Symposium Planning, please contact the 2012 Symposium Chair, Ryan Lanclos. See you in Kansas City!!

As the premier conference in the region, MAGIC promotes the advancement of geospatial technologies by focusing on today’s key issues and challenges.

MAGIC attracts top experts who will provide you with the most advanced tools and solutions in the industry.

MAGIC encourages open dialogue – share experiences, learn from successes and challenges of your peers, and take home experiences you can use today.

MAGIC facilitates the exchange of experiences, data, and projects across all levels of government and the private sector.

Form new friendships and partnerships with MAGIC’s cutting edge Exhibit Hall and social events!

Forests and Drugs: Coca-Driven Deforestation in Tropical Biodiversity Hotspots

Environmental Science and Technology, 2011, 45 (4), pp 1219–1227, January 11, 2011

Liliana M. Dvalos , Adriana C. Bejarano , Mark A. Hall , H. Leonardo Correa , Angelique Corthals , Oscar J. Espejo

“Identifying drivers of deforestation in tropical biodiversity hotspots is critical to assess threats to particular ecosystems and species and proactively plan for conservation. We analyzed land cover change between 2002 and 2007 in the northern Andes, Choc, and Amazon forests of Colombia, the largest producer of coca leaf for the global cocaine market, to quantify the impact of this illicit crop on forest dynamics, evaluate the effectiveness of protected areas in this context, and determine the effects of eradication on deforestation. Landscape-level analyses of forest conversion revealed that proximity to new coca plots and a greater proportion of an area planted with coca increased the probability of forest loss in southern Colombia, even after accounting for other covariates and spatial autocorrelation. We also showed that protected areas successfully reduced forest conversion in coca-growing regions. Neither eradication nor coca cultivation predicted deforestation rates across municipalities. Instead, the presence of new coca cultivation was an indicator of municipalities, where increasing population led to higher deforestation rates. We hypothesize that poor rural development underlies the relationship between population density and deforestation in coca-growing areas. Conservation in Colombia’s vast forest frontier, which overlaps with its coca frontier, requires a mix of protected areas and strategic rural development to succeed.”

New Book on Geoinformatics and Cyberinfrastructure for Earth Sciences

A new book that for the first time focuses on the potential to merge the latest advances in computer technologies with the earth sciences has been published, with researchers from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) co-authoring  chapters or serving as co-editor.

Called ‘Cyberinfrastructure for the Solid Earth Sciences’, the book is co-edited by G. Randy Keller, Professor and Edward Lamb McCollough Chair in Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oklahoma, and Chaitanya Baru, a distinguished scientist at SDSC. More information about the 388-page hardbound book, published by the British-based Cambridge University Press, can be found here.

Geoinformatics provides an informatics framework for scientific discovery through the integration and analysis of earth-science data and applications. As a result of significant work in this area, geoscientists now have at their disposal on-line data archives and databases, a variety of community-based software tools, and access to high-performance computers and other resources to address complex questions related to the structure, dynamics, and evolution of the solid Earth through time, as well as the processes that act upon and within it from the near surface to the core.

“The study of complex phenomena in earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences all require on-demand access and integration of heterogeneous data from a wide variety of sources and disciplines. This is where cyberinfrastucture – an integrated, often Web-based network of computer resources and expertise – comes into play, helping geoscientists develop better and more refined models using a range of both small and large heterogeneous data sets,” according to co-author Baru.

G. Randy Keller

“Advanced data cyberinfrastructure is needed to provide these capabilities and to support geoscientific research and discovery in areas that affect us all, from natural resource studies and natural hazard assessment and forecasting to environmental monitoring and climate change studies, just to name a few,” said Baru.

Baru and Keller believe that supporting the next generation research and education in the geosciences requires a new information infrastructure and highly collaborative modes of operation to address the many challenging problems that must be overcome to understand Earth systems. Indeed, there is now widespread recognition that successfully addressing these problems requires integrative and innovative approaches to analyzing, modeling, and developing extensive and diverse datasets.

“Most of the big scientific problems the geoscience community wants to solve, and are being asked by the public and governmental agencies to solve, are very challenging and require an integrated analysis of every scrap of data possible,” said co-author Keller. “Thus, creating open databases and the tools to access and analyze them is a continuing cyberinfrastructure challenge – and an even bigger challenge is the quantitative integration of diverse data sets to achieve a high quality scientific result.”

Six of the 24 chapters in the book are co-authored by SDSC researchers, whose contributions cover a range of topics. They include Sriram Krishnan (comparative cyberinfrastructure), Ilya Zaslavsky (hydrologic information systems), Chris Crosby and Vishu Nandigam, (high-resolution topographic data) and Amit Chourasia (advanced visualization).

Chaitanya Baru

“Today’s high-performance cyberinfrastructure embraces what I like to call high-performance data, as today’s researchers in earth sciences and other fields need to efficiently sort through the deluge of digitally based information,” said Michael Norman, director of SDSC, an organized research unit of UC San Diego. “SDSC’s strong level of participation in this new book reflects the leading-edge work we are doing in the areas of high-performance data, as well as earth sciences research.”

The Geoinformatics initiatives described within Keller and Baru’s book enable manipulation, modeling and visualization of data in a consistent way, and how this is helping to develop integrated Earth models at various scales, from the near surface to the deep interior. The book also contains a series of case studies to demonstrate computer and database use across the geosciences. Chapters are thematically grouped into sections covering data collection and management; modeling and community computational codes; visualization and data representation; knowledge management and data integration; and web services and scientific workflows.

Geoinformatics has emerged as an initiative within the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Earth Sciences Division to address the growing recognition that Earth functions as a complex system, and is an important component of NSF’s new initiative on a Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21).

Other major geosciences organizations also have recognized Geoinformatics as a particular area of interest. Both the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the European Geophysical Union have an Earth and Space Science Informatics focus area, and the Geological Society of America (GSA) has created a separate Geoinformatics division.

[Source: UC San Diego press release]