Take the Geographic Knowledge and Values Survey from the American Geographical Society

The American Geographical Society (AGS) needs your help in a matter of vital importance.  We are conducting a nationwide survey of public attitudes toward geography and knowledge about geography.  This is our part in a major study funded by the National Science Foundation.  This “Roadmap” project is a joint effort of the National Geographic Society, the National Council for Geographic Education, the Association of American Geographers, and AGS.  The overall topic is geographic literacy, a matter of serious concern in America today.  We invite all U. S. citizens and long term residents of the United States to take the survey.  The only eligibility requirement is that you must be age 18 or older.  The results will help guide Federal and state policies regarding geographic education.

You may access the survey online by clicking the following link:  AGS Geographic Knowledge and Values Survey (http://webteach.ubalt.edu/UltimateSurvey/Surveys/TakeSurvey.aspx?s=F30154FD158241D39265B445E3BD5817 ).  Based on trial runs, we estimate the survey will take 12 to 18 minutes of your time.

Please help us spread the word by forwarding this invitation by every possible means:  email, Internet, listserves, newspaper, radio, TV, social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), and personal appearances (clubs, local to national groups, public events, etc.).


Jerome E. Dobson, President
American Geographic Society

Teen’s Antarctic Trek Goes Live with Esri App

Jordan Romero will use an Esri application to publish live updates from his trek up Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

Jordan Romero will use an Esri application to publish live updates from his trek up Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

Interactive Features Include a Fitness Challenge and Social Media Integration

The Southern California teen who made headlines last year when he became the youngest person to summit Mount Everest has set his sights on the South Pole. Fifteen-year-old Jordan Romero will leave his home in Big Bear, California, on December 12, 2011, and journey to Vinson Massif, Antarctica’s tallest mountain. During the climb, Romero and his team will use an Esri application to provide updates that include their GPS location, weather, and elevation. The app integrates with social media sites and supports the 7 Summits Challenge, in which Romero encourages others to participate in his climb by logging their own miles running, walking, cycling, or swimming.

“This app will let my friends and family and fans come along on the climb,” Romero said. “Thanks to the social media integration Esri developed, we can send our location and text messages from the satellite phone directly to Facebook. We will be able to keep the world updated every step along the way.”

Those who sign up for the 7 Summits Challenge will use the app to record daily activities and miles covered. People who finish the challenge will be rewarded by having their own avatar virtually join Romero at the top of Vinson Massif.

“The 7 Summits Challenge aspect of the application lets our team share our message of setting goals and living healthier lifestyles,” Romero said. “It’s easy. You just sign up, set a goal, choose a summit, enter daily workouts, and view your development along with our journey.”

Romero’s father and stepmother, both experienced mountaineers, will accompany him up Vinson Massif, as they have done with his previous endeavors.

Updates from Romero and his team will be displayed live at www.jordanromero.com, sent via satellite phone provided by Network Innovations. Esri has partnered with GeoPro LBS Inc. to develop a service layer to capture text, e-mail, and GPS coordinates from the satellite phone every five minutes and store the data on Esri ArcGIS software. Information collected during the expedition will be published by ArcGIS for Server and consumed by a web application built with ArcGIS API for Flex. The service layer integrates with www.meteoexploration.com to deliver current weather reports and with Facebook to publish the team’s messages.

[Source: Esri press release]

Geomorphons – A New Approach to Classification of Landforms

Geomorphometry 2011Geomorphometry 2011, 07-09 September 2011, Esri, Redlands, California

Tomasz Stepinski and Jaroslaw Jasiewicz

“We introduce a novel method for classification and mapping of landforms based on the idea that the Earth’s surface can be described by the two complementary measures: relief-independent, local spatial pattern and the magnitude of the relief itself. The first of these two measures is sufficient to classify and map the landforms. At the core of the method is the concept of geomorphon (geomorphologic phonotype). A geomorphon is a relief-invariant, orientation-invariant, and size-flexible abstracted elementary unit of terrain. It is expressed in terms of local ternary pattern that encapsulates morphology of surface around the point of interest.

Geomorphons-based mapping of landforms in the south-west portion of the “North Carolina” test site. (A) Visual rendition of the DEM; (B) Map created using L = 100 m and d= 1°; (C) Map created using L = 300 m and d= 1°; (D) Map created using L = 1000 m and d= 1°.

Geomorphons-based mapping of landforms in the south-west portion of the “North Carolina” test site. (A) Visual rendition of the DEM; (B) Map created using L = 100 m and d= 1°; (C) Map created using L = 300 m and d= 1°; (D) Map created using L = 1000 m and d= 1°.

“Geomorphons enable terrain analysis without resorting to differential geometry. A collection of 498 different geomorphons constitutes a comprehensive and exhaustive set of all possible morphological terrain types. This set includes both standard elements of the landscape, as well as unfamiliar forms rarely found on natural terrestrial surfaces. Geomorphons are both terrain attributes and landform types. This reduces the task of landform mapping to the identification of geomorphons by their labels across the site of interest. We describe the fundamental ideas behind the geomorphon concept. We also give an example of how a map of a standard landform types can be constructed using geomorphons.”

All presentation materials and reviewed papers from Geomorphometry 2011 are available at http://geomorphometry.org/content/geomorphometry-2011-programme.

Satellite Imagery Helps Researchers Track, Potentially Control, Disease

University of FloridaUsing satellite images to measure nighttime light levels streaming from West African cities could prove to be an important new tool in fighting the spread of measles, according to a new study.

Researchers say the method could be used to control other diseases such as meningitis that spread quickly through dense populations.

The research team, including a scientist from the University of Florida, analyzed nighttime satellite images of three cities in Niger taken between 2000 and 2004, and found that seasonal population surges correlated strongly with local measles epidemic outbreaks recorded for the same period. The epidemics kill thousands annually in West Africa, although the disease has been largely eradicated in the U.S. through long-standing immunization programs.

The research, published in the Dec. 9 issue of the journal Science, shows that satellite images of city lights can reliably predict a likely outbreak by indicating where the highest concentrations of people are. In Niger, measles outbreaks occur when people crowd into the cities during the dry season each year to find work. Until now, there has been no way to assess how many people were moving into the cities and where the highest concentrations of people were.

“In the U.S., light levels would saturate satellite imagery to the point that it couldn’t tell us much about the details of population distribution within a city,” said study co-author Andrew Tatem, a UF assistant professor of geography who specializes in spatial data modeling and analysis. “But in Niger, when people gather in numbers and turn on electric lighting or light fires at night, you can see it from outer space.”

The researchers used data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that is available to the public online, but finding enough moonless, cloud-free images of Niger’s night sky was a challenge.

“The satellite data gave us an entirely different kind of information that we didn’t have before,” said Nita Bharti, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University. Each of the 150 images chosen for the study was a snapshot in time. But viewed chronologically, the images showed how the concentration of people shifted from rural areas into the city.

The association between high population density and the spread of measles is well documented in pre-vaccination industrialized nations, but only suspected in Niger, where a lack of infrastructure and poorly understood migratory populations make traditional immunization programs a challenge, she said. Bharti and her team worked closely with Niger’s minister of health during the study, and the measles vaccination unit leader from Epicentre, the research branch of Doctors without Borders, France.

“This isn’t a trivial piece of work,” said Peter Hudson, co-founder of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University who was not on the research team. “This approach takes us closer to being able to predict and prevent outbreaks.”

Bharti and Tatem said they plan to continue their collaboration and work to make the approach more accessible for health care organizations and disease outbreak response teams who need the information.

“The project was more of a practical application drill than an academic study,” Bharti said. “We wanted to see if the satellite data could be used this way.”

[Source: University of Florida press release]

Using GIS for Interior Space Management

2011 Esri Health GIS Conference, 07-09 September 2011, Arlington, Virginia

Bob Wiseman

“A custom GIS application, designed to support maintenance of the UK Chandler Hospital, stores asset information, and generates room data sheets for tracking and analyzing the status of occupancy. Hospital management and facility maintenance mangers rely on the application, with added innovations including the integration of CAD drawings, on-the-fly symbolization, pre- and post-drywall 360° panoramic images, and a web-based asset editing module.

“Soon the application will be expanded to serve as an overall facility management application across campus for maintenance and operations including linking data and records from the university’s SAP Plant Maintenance system.”