Spatial and Temporal Aberration Detection Methods for Disease Outbreaks in Syndromic Surveillance Systems

Annals of GISAnnals of GIS, Volume 17, Issue 4, 2011

Dongmei Chen, John Cunningham, Kieran Moore, and Jie Tian

“Early surveillance of notifiable infectious diseases is a key element for their control by public health agencies. The goal of syndromic disease surveillance is to identify emerging infectious risks to public health in real or near real time as a method of early detection, trend monitoring, and false-alarm avoidance. This article reviews temporal, spatial, and spatial–temporal aberration detection techniques that can be used to facilitate the early detection of infectious disease outbreaks that can occur in nonrandom yet clustered distributions in geographic information systems (GIS)-based syndromic surveillance systems. The focus is on the approaches appropriate for prospective surveillance data. In addition, this article discusses the impact of data privacy, security, and data quality on detection algorithms and explores what the future GIS-based syndromic surveillance systems may hold.”

Esri Press Publishes Collection of Geospatial Lessons for Universities

SpatiaLABS from Esri Press

SpatiaLABS from Esri Press.

SpatiaLABS Teach College Students Spatial Thinking and Analysis Skills

SpatiaLABS from Esri Press are independent computer lab activities that introduce, enhance, and reinforce spatial reasoning and analytic skills that apply to a variety of disciplines. Students working with SpatiaLABS use mapping technology and visualization tools, including Esri’s ArcGIS software, to solve real-world problems.

The unique lab activities focus on teaching students how to approach a spatial problem rather than the mechanics of geospatial tools. Covering a broad range of subjects, SpatiaLABS include more than 50 titles such as Forest Planning for Sensitive Wildlife Species, Impacts of Sea Level Rise and Storms on Manhattan, Predicting West Nile Virus Outbreaks, and Customer Profiling: Demographic and Lifestyle Segmentation.

“I introduced all the topics from the [SpatiaLABS] description list to the class and then let the students pick the material they were interested in. I was intrigued with how devoted students became to doing these labs and how hard they were willing to work to discover the meaning of the information,” says Dave Skiles, GIS program coordinator, Front Range Community College.

Delivered on DVD, the labs are provided in editable file formats to allow educators to customize each lab for their specific courses or include local data if desired. The level of difficulty and time to complete each lab varies, providing a range of materials instructors can use to accommodate students with different abilities and interests.

SpatiaLABS are available for an annual site license fee. To learn more and to order, visit or call 1-800-447-9778. Outside the United States, visit to contact your local Esri distributor.

[Source: Esri press release]

Spatial Analysis of Multibeam Acoustic Data for the Prediction of Marine Substrates and Benthic Communities in Temperate Coastal Waters

34th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment, Sydney, Australia, 10-15 April 2011

V. Lucieer, N. Hill, N. Barrett, and S. Nichol

“The combined use of acoustic backscatter and bathymetric data generated by multibeam echo-sounders provides a powerful tool to investigate substrate characteristics at fine spatial scales across large areas. New methods are now required to assess the links between the identification of physical substrate classes from multibeam data with visually classified classes from AUV data.

Multibeam sonar image of Hippolyte Rocks, Tasman Peninsula with survey lines for underwater video and AUV

Multibeam sonar image of Hippolyte Rocks, Tasman Peninsula with survey lines for underwater video and AUV

“In this paper, we use statistical algorithms to describe the patterns between the physical covariates derived from both the multibeam data, and substrate type observed in AUV images. We then use these relationships to predict substrate type and describe the biological biotopes across the mapped extent of south eastern Tasmania.”

URISA Invites Comments on the Geospatial Management Competency Model

URISAURISA invites experienced geospatial professionals of all kinds – particularly those with management experience – to review and comment on a draft Geospatial Management Competency Model (GMCM). Reviews by GIS professionals, professional surveyors, photogrammetrists and remote sensing scientists, programmers and application developers who specialize in geospatial applications, educators with specialized expertise in Geographic Information Science and Technology, and others whose work relies on geospatial technologies and data analysis are all welcome to participate.

A URISA Task Force prepared the draft for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA). Reviews will be reported to the Task Force and DOLETA, and will used to refine and validate the GMCM. Reviewers who share contact information will also receive results of the public review as well as copies of the revised GMCM.

Links to the draft GMCM and an online questionnaire for reviewers are available at The questionnaire will remain open through March 31, 2012.

The Geospatial Management Competency Model (GMCM) specifies 74 essential competencies and 17 competency areas that characterize the work of most successful managers in the geospatial industry.

The GMCM builds upon DOLETA’s Geospatial Technology Competency Model, which specifies the foundational, industry-wide, and industry sector-specific expertise characteristic of the various occupations that comprise the geospatial industry (

URISA convened a task force composed of ten experienced geospatial managers and one facilitator at the 2011 GIS-Pro Conference in Indianapolis to produce the GMCM for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA).

URISA’s qualifications to organize the GMCM effort include its nearly 50-year history as one of the founding organizations of the GIS profession, its successful organization of the GIS Certification Institute and the URISA Leadership Academy, and its healthy working relationships with other professional and scientific associations in the geospatial field through the Coalition on Geospatial Organizations (COGO).

[Source: URISA press release]

Multiagent-based Simulation of the HIV/AIDS Spatial and Temporal Transmission among Injection Drug Users

18th International Conference on Geoinformatics, Beijing, China, 18-20 June 2010

Jianhong Xiong, Jiasheng Wang, Kun Yang, Shuangyun Peng, and Quanli Xu

“In 1989, HIV was detected amongst injecting drug users (IDUs) in Yunnan province. Needle sharing drove the epidemic and HIV spread rapidly to IDUs in neighboring cities and along drug trafficking routes. By 2002, HIV was present amongst IDUs in all mainland Chinese provinces. It is believed that IDUs may have been the core source for all later sub-epidemics in China. Agent-based modeling (ABM) is the dominant paradigm in social complex network simulation which allows one to simulate the complex systems emerge from the bottom-up are composed of a multitude of heterogeneous objects called agents. This article puts forward an HIV/AIDS spatial and temporal transmission model of IDUs based on the multivalent system and geographic information systems (GIS) in an urban environment, and simulates the HIV/AIDS spatial and temporal transmission process among injection drug users during 10 years on the Repast Simphony1.2 platform. In the model, the crowd is classified into 5 types: healthy person, HIV person, AIDS person, IDU person and HIV-IDU person. Individuals represented by agents are associated to places where they interact with each other. The relationship among different agents is described with random social network. To better represent individuals in reality, each agent has its only sex, age, career, education, geographic location and other attributes. In each time step, the model defines these agents’ specific behavioral rules. The model is implemented using the propagation of HIV/AIDS among injection drug users in Yunnan province southwest of China as a case study. The simulation results show that the number of initial HIV in injection drug users, the proportion of needle sharing and individual social impact have influence on the spread of HIV/AIDS in Kunming. The results also reveal the increasing HIV/AIDS transmission among injection drug users and interpret the necessity of carrying out solutions to contain the transmission of HIV/AIDS.”

California GIS Community to Convene in Sacramento for CalGIS 2012

URISACalGIS 2012 – the 18th Annual California GIS Conference – will take place April 11-13, 2012 at the Sheraton Sacramento. The conference features a comprehensive educational program, networking events and an exhibit hall.

Themed “Capitalizing on Spatial Technology”, the conference opens on Wednesday, April 11 with numerous workshops, meetings, and a Levee and Wine tour. On Thursday, April 12, Scott Gregory, the State of California’s GIO, will update attendees on statewide GIS activities and priorities followed by a Town Hall session, where attendees will share their perspectives about issues impacting the profession.

Sessions on topics ranging from Web and Open Source Resources for GIS to Visual Simulations and the Use of LiDAR will provide attendees with top-quality education on Thursday and Friday. An Ignite session and a poster session will complement the multiple breakout sessions.

The California Geographic Information Association (CGIA) will honor 2012 award winners and Dr. Dawn Wright will provide a keynote address on “The Age of Science and Big Data”.

The committee is organizing a number of networking events including a geocaching tour of downtown Sacramento and an urban bike tour.

Don’t miss the best in California GIS this April in Sacramento. For details and registration, visit

Sponsored by:

  • Northern California Chapter of URISA – host chapter
  • Southern California Chapter of URISA
  • Central California Chapter of URISA
  • California Geographic Information Association (CGIA)

[Source: URISA press release]

Assessing the Costs of Sea-level Rise and Extreme Flooding at the Local Level: A GIS-based Approach

Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 59, April 2012, Pages 47–62

Michal Lichter and Daniel Felsenstein


  • The paper presents a systematic method for assessing the costs of coastal flooding at the local level.
  • The method combines readily available GIS capabilities with estimates of natural hazards effects.
  • The transferable method allows the ex ante monetization of costs of different flooding scenarios.
  • Coastal planners can generate information on assets and population at risk in their jurisdictions.

“This paper presents a systematic framework for assessing the costs of sea-level rise (SLR) and extreme flooding at the local level. The method is generic and transferable. It is built on coupling readily available GIS capabilities with quantitative estimates of the effects of natural hazards. This allows for the ex ante monetization of the main costs related to different scenarios of permanent inundation and periodic flooding. This approach can be used by coastal zone planners to generate vital information on land use, capital stock and population at risk for jurisdictions of different sizes. The simple mechanics of the method are presented with respect to two examples: one relates to the two largest coastal cities in Israel (Tel Aviv and Haifa) and the other to the Northern Coastal Strip region containing a variety of small towns and rural communities. The paper concludes with implications for coastal zone planning praxis.”

A GIS Modeling Method for Predicting the extent of Land Resource Unit Subdivisions to assist with the Development of Ecological Site Descriptions

Society for Range Management ConferenceSociety for Range Management Conference, Spokane, WA, 28 January to 03 February 2012

Bill Drummond and Tamra DeCock

Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs) are developed within the boundaries of Major Land Resource Units (MLRAs) and Land Resource Units (LRUs). Properly defined LRUs and MLRAs are critical to ensure the correct development of Ecological Site Descriptions and seamless joins between soil survey areas. The correct definition and description of LRUs and MLRAs greatly affects soil survey activities and proper assignment of ecological site to a soil map unit component. The geographic extent of a soil survey map unit is determined by the associated MLRA and LRU. Therefore, a method of GIS modeling of LRUs and plant community composition in MLRAs 58A and 60B was developed to assist with the establishment of LRUs. LRU and MLRA boundaries were verified and refined through field visits at multiple locations and on multiple ecological sites within each LRU.”

Foreign Direct Investment in Provinces: A Spatial Regression Approach to FDI in Vietnam

Unpublished Paper, 20 December 2011

Bulent Esiyok and Mehmet Ugur

“Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into Vietnam have increased significantly in recent years, with unequal distribution between provinces and regions. We aim to contribute to the literature on locational determinants of FDI by accounting for spatial interdependence between 62 Vietnamese provinces from 2006-2009.

Provincial distribution of cumulative FDI in Vietnam in 2009 (million of US$)

Provincial distribution of cumulative FDI in Vietnam in 2009 (million of US$)

“For this purpose, we estimate a spatial lag model using maximum likelihood estimation method. We report existence of spatial dependence between provinces as well as spatial spill-over effects. The results are robust to different specifications for weight matrices and inclusion of different explanatory variables and/or proxies. We also report that conventional determinants of FDI such as market size, domestic investment, openness to trade, labour cost, education and governance, etc. are significant and remain robust to inclusion of spatial interdependence. The sign of the spatial dependence suggests that the distribution of FDI between provinces is subject to conglomeration effects.”

Call for Sessions and Papers – Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Symposium 2012: Moving From Status to Trends

FIA Symposium 2012Baltimore, MD

16-18 October 2012

October 2012 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Forest Inventory and Analysis. This report expanded the focus of the national forest inventory in the United States to include monitoring of the forest resource trends on a more frequent time interval. In recognition of this milestone, the theme of the 2012 FIA Science Symposium is “Moving from Status to Trends.” The Symposium will bring together international forest scientists, managers, and stakeholders to share insights on contemporary issues, science policy, mensuration, geospatial products, inventory and monitoring methods, and other topics.

  • Present the role of National Forest Inventory (NFI) in aiding policy and management decisions
  • Discuss monitoring versus inventory and how they work together
  • Exchange of forest monitoring science and technology across international borders
  • Share the latest studies on trends using time series data
  • Provide a forum for linking issue-focused analyses with techniques development
  • Highlight cutting-edge mensuration, modeling, and related science
  • Showcase collaborative efforts and foster continued work with NFI partners
  • Display state-of-the-art science and tools
  • Communicate utility of NFI data and analyses to the broader user community
  • Provide an environment that fosters networking and scientific exchange between inventory professionals

More information