New Book: Getting to Know ArcGIS ModelBuilder

Essential Reference Book Guides Programming Workflows in ArcGIS

Getting to Know ArcGIS ModelBuilder details the steps required to develop and run reusable geoprocessing workflows and models in ModelBuilder, a visual programming technology available in ArcGIS software. Published by Esri Press, this well-illustrated workbook provides ample hands-on exercises to give classroom students and self-learners the opportunity to master the techniques required to successfully use ModelBuilder in ArcGIS.

The book includes a companion DVD that contains all the data needed to complete the exercises, as well as examples of models, Python scripts, and custom applications.

“Models represent a programming technique used in ArcGIS to string tools together to accomplish a task,” says author David W. Allen. “The ModelBuilder interface in ArcGIS 10 is actually more of a flowchart schematic that guides the user to visually lay out the task than it is a coded programming language. The tasks created are typically used in one of two ways: to model a particular project or to make a custom tool that automates a process.”

Allen has more than 25 years’ experience with GIS and digital mapping in the private and municipal sectors. As GIS manager for the City of Euless, Texas, he designs data structures and custom applications. He also serves as program coordinator for GIS at Tarrant County College in Arlington, Texas, where he helped found one of the first GIS degree programs in the state. Allen is the author of GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook (Esri Press, 2010) and coauthor of GIS Tutorial 3: Advanced Workbook (Esri Press, 2010).

Getting to Know ArcGIS ModelBuilder (ISBN: 978-1-58948-255-5, 336 pages, $79.95) is available at online retailers worldwide, at, or by calling 1-800-447-9778. Outside the United States, visit for complete ordering options, or visit to contact your local Esri distributor. Interested retailers can contact Esri Press book distributor Ingram Publisher Services.

[Source: Esri press release]

Are You Buried in a Landslide of Imagery?

Esri's Lawrie Jordan.

Esri Spatial Roundtable Discusses How to Access and Manage Remotely Sensed Data

As remotely sensed data becomes more and more ubiquitous, organizations are looking for ways to correctly use and manage this information. Lawrie Jordan, director of imagery for Esri asks organizations to discuss how they are improving access to imagery by weighing in at the Spatial Roundtable.

“Availability of imagery is no longer the problem—accessibility is,” explains Jordan. “The landslide of imagery data is overwhelming. In response, users are shifting their work habits to handle this surge so they can get their jobs done quickly and more easily.”

At first, imagery was a special data type available only to the military and large corporations with major investments in land, such as oil and mineral exploration companies. Today, anyone can use imagery, and it is becoming freely available thanks to services such as Landsat. Many organizations are using imagery to better understand and generate opinions about what government officials, environmental scientists, and news reporters are telling them.

As the amount of remotely sensed data grows and users demand fast access to terabytes of information, experts need to have a plan in place to maximize access. Join the discussion and describe how you are helping users at your organization stay ahead of the curve at

[Source: Esri press release]

Geo-processing Workflow Driven Wildfire Hot Pixel Detection under Sensor Web Environment

Computers & Geosciences, Volume 36, Issue 3, March 2010, Pages 362-372

Nengcheng Chena, Liping Dia, Genong Yua, and Jianya Gong

“Integrating Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) services with Geo-Processing Workflows (GPW) has become a bottleneck for Sensor Web-based applications, especially remote-sensing observations. This paper presents a common GPW framework for Sensor Web data service as part of the NASA Sensor Web project. This abstract framework includes abstract GPW model construction, GPW chains from service combination, and data retrieval components. The concrete framework consists of a data service node, a data processing node, a data presentation node, a Catalogue Service node, and a BPEL engine. An abstract model designer is used to design the top level GPW model, a model instantiation service is used to generate the concrete Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), and the BPEL execution engine is adopted. This framework is used to generate several kinds of data: raw data from live sensors, coverage or feature data, geospatial products, or sensor maps. A prototype, including a model designer, model instantiation service, and GPW engine-BPELPower is presented. A scenario for an EO-1 Sensor Web data service for wildfire hot pixel detection is used to test the feasibility of the proposed framework. The execution time and influences of the EO-1 live Hyperion data wildfire classification service framework are evaluated. The benefits and high performance of the proposed framework are discussed. The experiments of EO-1 live Hyperion data wildfire classification service show that this framework can improve the quality of services for sensor data retrieval and processing.”

New Online Certificate Program: Spatial Literacy for Educators

Spatial literacy is the confident and competent use of maps, mapping, and spatial thinking to address ideas, situations, and problems within daily life, society, and the world around us.

In spatial literacy, we find important links with numeracy, information literacy, and graphicacy, skills that enhance the basic preparation for life after K-12–especially in the workplace. In a world where data visualization and geospatial tools are the norm, spatial literacy is a significant asset for students and teachers of all ages.

This program from the University of Redlands, available online beginning in Fall 2011, will prepare teachers to purposefully address spatial thinking in multiple subject areas.

USGS Helps Find Colombian Educator Lost in Louisiana Swamp

A missing university official from Colombia was located using maps and geospatial data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Science Response Vehicle (SRV) Team and the National Park Service (NPS).

The missing person was found after being lost in the swamp for five days at the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve, south of New Orleans, La.

The USGS National Wetlands Research Center’s SRV was deployed at the request of the NPS to assist with the search and rescue operation on May 24. The USGS SRV team responded quickly to produce detailed maps from geospatial information to assist in recovery efforts. Over 100 field maps were produced, which enabled the NPS to find the missing man and rescue him on May 25.

The USGS SRV team consisted of team leader Stephen Hartley along with geographers Gene Nelson and Bill Jones.

“Accurate maps are essential in search and rescue efforts,” said Leslie Velarde, NPS Information Officer. “In this case it proved to be an invaluable asset for the success of the operation.”

“The USGS was relieved at the positive outcome and proud that our SRV team contributed to the rescue,” said Marcia McNutt, USGS Director. “In many instances during the past year we have been called upon to contribute geospatial data and expertise to analyze it in times of crisis.”

The SRV was first used during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to map 911 rescue calls and critical infrastructure, such as levee breaks, bridges and pumping stations; and for performing water-quality sampling at sites along Lake Pontchartrain. The vehicle has been deployed multiple times since then, most recently during the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill.

“It’s incredible how much geospatial technology is now being used in search and rescue missions,” said USGS SRV team member, Bill Jones. “The acceptance of the technology has greatly increased since Hurricane Katrina.”

The SRV is ready to be deployed at any time, especially during hurricane season when it may get called into service repeatedly for Federal, State or local response efforts. The SRV is equipped with computers, software, and plotters to provide spatial analyses during and after natural or man-made disasters.

To learn more about the USGS Science Response Vehicle visit the USGS National Wetlands Research Center website.

[Source: USGS press release]

Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) Awards Deadline Approaching

The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) is accepting applications for its Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) Awards through Monday, June 6, 2011. The awards recognize exceptional achievements in the application of geospatial information technology that have improved the delivery and quality of government services.

Applications may be submitted in two categories, Single Process and Enterprise Systems:

  • SINGLE PROCESS SYSTEMS – Systems in this category are outstanding and working examples of applying information system technology to automate a specific SINGLE process or operation involving one department or sub-unit of an agency. The system application results in extended and/or improved government services that are more efficient and/or save money.
  • ENTERPRISE SYSTEMS – Systems in this category are outstanding and working examples of using information systems technology in a multi-department environment as part of an integrated process. These systems exemplify effective use of technology yielding widespread improvements in the process(es) and/or service(s) involved and/or cost savings to the organization.

Applications must be submitted by June 6, 2011. Winners in each category will be recognized at GIS-Pro 2011: URISA’s 49th Annual Conference, November 1-4, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Previous ESIG Winners encourage GIS Professionals to participate:

  • “I believe the award has done two things for me professionally.  The first relates to leadership.  The award was a source of pride for my team and reinforced the team’s belief in my ability to pull all the pieces together to develop a product worthy of national recognition and their ability to be successful in their roles.  The second relates to credibility.  Many of the District’s senior leaders have little experience in GIS.  However, many of these leaders are familiar with URISA.  Receiving this award has reinforced their decision to entrust me with this large, complex project and has demonstrated that I can deliver despite the statistics related to failed and overly expensive IT projects.” – Don Nehmer, Capital Program Business Manager, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, WI: SewerView, ESIG Enterprise Systems Category – Distinguished System
  • “It was an honor to receive the ESIG award  from URISA. By participating in the ESIG award process we were able to exercise another reason to evaluate our system, by doing so we were able to find ways to improve our current system. We also received local media exposure because of the ESIG award, this helped us inform the Forsyth County public of how we were applying GIS for public safety in their county. This award also validated all of the hard work and development that went into this system, this helped the GIS department fortify a trust with the Forsyth County Administration.” – John Kilgore, GISP, GIS Director, Forsyth County, GA: GIS Mobile Emergency Response System (ERS), ESIG Single Process System Winner
  • “One of the most rewarding aspects of participating in the ESIG Awards process was the rare opportunity to formally acknowledge the outstanding efforts of our staff and regional partner agencies for their collaborative work. Recognition of their achievements by URISA’s respected community of GIS professionals and peers has provided quite a charge.” – Eric Brandt, GISP, GIS Program Manager, Lane Council of Governments, OR: Regional Land Information Database (RLID), ESIG Enterprise Systems Category – Distinguished System

For more information or to review past submissions from winning systems, visit or call (847) 824-6300.

[Source: URISA press release]

Mind the Map! The Impact of Transit Maps on Path Choice in Public Transit

Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Article in Press, 2011

Zhan Guo

“This paper investigates the impact of schematic transit maps on passengers’ travel decisions. It does two things: First, it proposes an analysis framework that defines four types of information delivered from a transit map: distortion, restoration, codification, and cognition. It then considers the potential impact of this information on three types of travel decisions: location, mode, and path choices.1 Second, it conducts an empirical analysis to explore the impact of the famous London tube map on passengers’ path choice in the London Underground (LUL). Using data collected by LUL from 1998 to 2005, the paper develops a path choice model and compares the influence between the distorted tube map (map distance) and reality (travel time) on passengers’ path choice behavior. Results show that the elasticity of the map distance is twice that of the travel time, which suggests that passengers often trust the tube map more than their own travel experience on deciding the “best” travel path. This is true even for the most experienced passengers using the system. The codification of transfer connections on the tube map, either as a simple dot or as an extended link, could affect passengers’ transfer decisions. The implications to transit operation and planning, such as trip assignments, overcrowding mitigation, and the deployment of Advanced Transit Information System (ATIS), are also discussed.

“Research highlights

  • Schematic transit maps offer important but geographically inaccurate information.
  • Such map information could affect passengers’ location, mode, or path choices.
  • A path choice model is developed for 18,894 passengers in the London Underground.
  • Passengers trust the map (map distance) more than their own experience (travel time).
  • Codification of transfer stations on a map affects passengers’ transfer decisions.”

More information