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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hello everyone!

Adena has graciously allowed me to post my occasional thoughts on the APB blog. I first met Adena in grad school at Penn State and have much admired her work as a GIS editor. Thanks Adena!

So human tracking is a hot topic these days. Consider this:

Peter Morville: “We will use the Web to navigate a physical world that sparkles with embedded sensors and geospatial metadata” Ambient Findability, p. 13

The Mapping Hacks book also has a lot of this sort of stuff.

No doubt that this is all wonderful stuff. What I’m curious about are the social implications of such surveillance. Remember Mark Monmonier’s book Spying with Maps? He wondered if there was such a thing as locational privacy. And whether it was worth protecting.

One of the scariest features of geosurveillance, I’d say, is based on risk assessment and geoprofiling. This is the idea that we can control people or places according to their risk factor according to some kind of profile.

The point is that we’re monitored not because of something we’ve done, but because of something we might do! This is the thinking that allowed the FBI to compile a GIS database of mosques following 9/11.

By the way, a bunch of us are going to be talking about this at the AAAS conference next month.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/10 at 01:37 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

USGS confirms that Hank Garie’s Interagency Personnel Agreement (IPA), essentially an “exchange program” for state/local officials and others to work within the federal government, has expired. The State of New Jersey has a statute that prevents an extension, so Garie has returned to his post in the state.

At the end of his tenure at USGS, Garie served as chief of Geographic Information Integration and Analysis (GIIA) with the role of “overseeing and unifying The National Map, Geospatial One-Stop, EGIM (Enterprise Geographic Information Management), and the GEODE (Geologic Data Explorer) system.” GIAA falls within The National Geospatial Programs Office (NGPO) a component of the USGS Geospatial Information Office. Wendy A. Budd is now acting in that capacity, but a vacancy will be posted soon to permanently fill the position.

Finally, an announcement regarding the investigations into the Rolla decision is expected later today.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/10 at 12:22 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The New York Times reports (free registration may be required) on plans from the U.S. patent office to ensure better, more accurate software patents. Two revolve around tools to keep those who are interested involved in the process by making them aware of new applications in their area of interest. A third invovles whats sounds like a “best practices” document on how to file a good software patent. Many companies involved in open source, as well as universities and others were involved in the discussions. The solution, it seems, will be open source.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/10 at 08:24 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The St. Petersburg Times (Florida) took third place in the Philip Meyer Awards which recognize the best uses of social science methods in journalism. Reports Editor and Publisher:

Third Place: The St. Petersburg Times, for “Vanishing Wetlands,” which demonstrated that 84,000 acres of Florida wetlands have been destroyed by development since 1990 when President George H. W. Bush declared a national policy of no net loss of wetlands. Reporters Matthew Waite and Craig Pittman penetrated beyond the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ poorly-documented records of development permits by using before-and-after satellite imagery and geographical information systems software to accurately measure the loss.

Well done!

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/10 at 07:34 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The LA Times reports on a situation where a car stolen with a baby inside has prompted local officials to try to prevent future Sprint cell towers going up in Riverside County, California. When the child’s mother contacted Sprint to get the location of her husband’s GPS-enabled cell phone which was in the car, the company representative refused. When a county detective called, a representative insisted on a subpoena and a $25 payment. The police found the car and baby safe without help from the carrier. Sprint officials report that this was an isolated incident and that in an emergency, such requests go through more quickly.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/10 at 07:15 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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