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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Auburn, WA crime mapCity of Chicago Launches OpenData ETL Utility Kit

The City of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology released the OpenData ETL Utility Kit at the Code for America Summit this morning. The ETL Utility Toolkit will give cities the same tools Chicago uses to get data from their own internal systems and unto their data portals.

The announcement was made as part of the Code for America Summit held last week.

Mapping Favelas; Government Need not Pay

...two of the world's biggest technology companies. Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have started mapping efforts in recent months in several Rio favelas. Relying largely on community groups, the companies plan to map everything from twisting, narrow alleyways to hole-in-the-wall laundromats.

The WSJ does note the work is not being done out of the goodness of the companies' hearts.

Flex Crime Mapping

Auburn [WA] Police Chief Bob Lee recently uploaded a “crime map” [right] onto the City of Auburn’s website, where it is available for anybody to see.

To access the site, first go to, click on a particular crime in a neighborhood –  for example, Lakeland Hills or Lea Hill – close in on the desired area on the map and read the crime data for a particular day. A column to the left, “crime search” allows a user to search older data.

The tech? ArcGIS for Flex. A comment about the article in the local paper notes it's not a mobile friendly solution.

Chinese Donate Global Land Cover Dataset to United Nations

On the occasion of the upcoming UN climate change summit, Chinese government donated the GlobeLand30 datasets to the United Nations at the UN Headquarters in New York on 22 September 2014. ...

For the past four years, China NASG has developed and prepared GlobeLand30, the world’s first global land cover datasets at a 30m resolution, for the years 2000 and 2010. The datasets are organized by ten major land cover classes and provide essential high resolution land cover and change information for climate change studies, environment monitoring, resource management, sustainable development, and many other societal benefit areas. These global datasets will be freely available to Member States and the international community to assist in their scientific decision-making, and to measure and monitor critical environmental components of the SDGs and post-2015 development agenda.

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/01 at 03:41 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How does blended learning, flipped classroom concepts and other newfangled education thinking work in GIS? Penn State's Alex Klippel provided some insights yesterday via a webinar. It was part of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) series and titled "Blended Learning in a GIScience Course: Lynda and Sketch-based Geo-spatial Learning Objects" but other terms mentioned included: flipped classroom, face-to-face time, cost, BOK, and sketch-based learning objects. 

The course in question, spatial analysis (Geog 464) uses R and meets face to face regularly. Students are expected to work through material in an existing Lynda-hosted R course outside of class. That's the "blended/flipped classroom" idea; content learned outside of class is brought to class to be used. This vision of teaching and learning removes, for the most part, the dreaded lecture. The sketch-based learning objects are a second part of the flip. Best I can tell, they are short videos of an instructor creating and discussing a concept. It's what instructors used to do on blackboards, with chalk.

As Klippel discussed his experience with the hybrid implementation of the course he observed:

  • discussion in class was more active than non-flipped version
  • students seemed challenged by R (and/or learning R via Lynda; a previous version used ArcGIS)
  • getting rid of the lecture and only using short mini-lectures was the way to go
  • creating video material is hard and time consuming

The biggest takeaway for me was the importance and difficulty of planning activities to do in class. Part of the challenge is creating problems on-the-fly that can address questions/obstacles students had with the R assignments. Another part is finding or inventing activities that move students toward the learning goals that take advantage of being together in the classroom.

Klippel cited research by Harvard physics professor Eric Mazur (never heard of him? Check out this NPR piece) who flipped his physics course and has some valuable ideas for using that valuable in-class time for peer learning. One of his techniques is to ask the whole class a physics question with a utile choice answer (A, B, or C). He asks each student to reply (via a clicker or by holding up an A, B, or C card). The percentage of correct answers is typically rather low. Then he asks students to discuss the problem with their neighbor for two minutes. The question is repeated. The percentage getting the correct answer goes way up!

I tried that exact process at a session at the Esri Education GIS Conference. The question: Was a map I showed small or large scale? The original responses were 50/50. After a chat with a neighbor, 100% selected the correct answer.

The bottom line for me: Educators have the tough job of exploring new teaching and learning practices and then implementing them in their area of study. This is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards can be substantial.

Image by Tiffany Hobbs under CC-BY-2.0.

by Adena Schutzberg on 09/30 at 08:01 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 29, 2014

In a blog post in the Harvard Business Review, Brian McCarthy, a managing director for Accenture, cautions corporations about drowning in "big data" overload that threatens their ability to prioritize and solve problems.The examples that McCarthy provides illustrate how location-based data is an inherent component to today's big data stream. As such location analytics plays an indespensible role in the problem-solving methodology. For example:

An upstream energy equipment manufacturer, for example, used this approach to better understand the amount of time production equipment sat idling.  The company knew there was huge value in solving the idle problem, but it could not do so leveraging traditional technologies as the data volumes were too large (i.e. 300,000 locations, approximately 20 machines per location, 2-300 data points per machine, and 45 millisecond sensor sample rates).  Using a Big Data Discovery platform and methodology, within 10 weeks the team was able to show more than $70M in savings from analysis from a subset of the locations and could analyze the data at high speeds (e.g. 13,500 sites, 20 TB, 15 seconds to render).

From this scenario, I believe that the energy company recognized it had a problem that involved a network allocation problem. Using a subset of the data, it was able to make some assumptions about where the equipment was located; how often was it being used; and possiby, could fewer locations be utilized and still maintain service level agreements. It's a fair guess that this was a location-allocation problem.

McCarthy's second example involved "machine learning" and applying predictive analytics and psychogramics:

Machine learning techniques can aid a company to: learn from past behavior and predict behavior of new customers (e.g. risk models to predict consumer risk to default), segment consumer behavior in an optimized, market friendly fashion (e.g. customer lifestyles modeled from geo-location data on cellphones), or conduct crowd simulation models where each customer’s response to a reward is modeled.

Recognizing how social media will become an even bigger part of determining consumer sentiment, the need to acquire and use the location component of real-time streams (e.g. Twitter Firehose) will increase. Therefore, spatial interaction models and spatial statistics become an even bigger part of the arsenal for product and brand managers to analyze these data. Brand managers, then, will need to understand that a significant aspect of their problem is inherently spatial. McCarthy's examples are an indication that many already do.

by Joe Francica on 09/29 at 05:13 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 26, 2014

Liver Disease Prompting Emergency Room VisitsLiver Disease

Health officials have mapped out the places in England which have the highest rates of people admitted to hospital as an emergency for alcohol-related liver disease.

The North West and the North East were pinpointed to be the places with the highest hospital admissions, according to the map [pdf] created by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Vaccine Mapping from Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter has a great investigation for which it sought the vaccination records of elementary schools all over Los Angeles County. They found that vaccination rates in elite neighborhoods like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have tanked, and the incidence of whooping cough there has skyrocketed.

The research was covered by The Atlantic.

PSU Augmented Reality Game and MOOC Explore Epidemic
PSU researchers will run Moocdemic 2.0, a massive multiplayer epidemic game simulation, on September 29th. The free augmented reality based game has players use cell phones to detect, spread or even treat a virtual disease. It's the second outing for game and course.
by Adena Schutzberg on 09/26 at 03:29 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Orleans Schools on the Move

The Times Picayune continues to map the changes since Katrina.

With $1.8 billion of repairs and construction under way, New Orleans' public school programs are on the move. Here's the 2014-15 map. (Google Maps Engine, right) and here's a map of how many times a particular program has moved, created by Tulane's Cowen Institute using Tableau.

Bucknell in New Orleans

The school has a nice write-up of an integrated course many of us heard about at Ed UC.

To integrate such vast amounts of material into a compressed timeframe [a week in New Orleans], the trio turned to Janine Glathar, Bucknell's geographic information systems (GIS) specialist. "GIS is a tool that helps you synthesize vast quantities of information and put it into context, which is exactly what this course did with the city of New Orleans. It was a perfect fit," she said.

Mapping Cemeteries and Loving ArcGIS

Two University of Wisconsin-Platteville students are using special computer software to help map the East Side Cemetery in Dodgeville, as part of a summer internship with the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission in Platteville. The project will continue through the end of October.

I like this quote:

"I love working with the ArcGIS software because it is very straightforward to use and there are many ways to represent the data, depending on what the audience wants to see," said Wiederholt. "GIS is an amazing tool that can be useful to someone in any career."

I hope these students have touched other GIS software before they graduate. 

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 09/25 at 03:22 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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