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Sunday, April 06, 2014

On April 5 and 6, Huntsville, Alabama hosted its first Map-a-thon. The idea began with discussions between Chad Emerson, the executive director of Downtown Huntsville, Inc. and Matt Fowler, CEO of Solid Earth, a real estate software solution company. The idea quickly grew and Chad and Matt called in other geospatial technology experts from town including Marvin Gordon from the City of Huntsville’s GIS department, Chris Johnson from A Visual Edge, professor Wubishet Tadesse from Alabama A&M University, professor Rob Griffin from University of Alabama, Huntsville, Barlow Blake from AEgis Technologies, a company familiar to many as having created 3d building models for the Olympics for NBC TV. I was also part of the group representing Directions Magazine and GEO Huntsville, the non-profit economic development initiative for geospatial technology.

The objective of the competition was to choose one block within the downtown area and create 3D building models using Trimble’s SketchUp drawing program. Hopefully some, if not all, would be potentially acceptable to be added to the city’s existing 3d building models and be considered to be loaded into Google Earth. Digital terrain models of downtown (appropriate to import into SketchUp) and approximate building heights were provided by the City of Huntsville to aid in creating 3D buildings on actual terrain. Teams from Alabama A&M, UA Huntsville and interns representing the NASA DEVELOP program were asked to pick one block. The competition lasted 36 hours. The teams first downloaded SketchUp and got to work photographing the building faces of their chosen block. Over the course of the day, the teams refined their models adding texture and photos to finish the building facades. Technical assistance was provided by several of us who monitored the teams but most were quite competent once they got started. I, Matt Fowler and Marvin Gordon served as judges. In the end, the team from Alabama A&M created a stunning rendition of the Huntsville Court House and took first prize of $200. Hopefully next year, we’ll draw more teams for our second annual event.

Watch the video below to see how the competition unfolded.

Continue reading...

by Joe Francica on 04/06 at 10:00 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hospital Navigation

Miami Children’s Hospital is on the cutting edge when it comes to mobility solutions, and is the first hospital in the world to offer a GPS navigation app to guide visitors through its campus.

Actually, the app which launched in June of last year, uses both GPS and Wi-Fi for navigation. it's part of a partnership with Cisco that enables a BYOD polity at the facility.

Health Datapalooza Hackathon Winners - All Geo

 Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced the winners of the Illinois Public Health Datapalooza App Challenge. Among the winners:

Geography Controls U.S. Response to PTSD

“I call it medical treatment by geography: You can live in the wrong ZIP code to get treatment from your government, even though you’re a veteran and you’ve been wounded,” [Navy veteran with PTSD who’s a co-founder of a Virginia nonprofit group called Patients Out of Time that promotes therapeutic uses of marijuana, Al] Byrne said.

What does he mean? "... the Veterans Affairs Department allows patients treated at its facilities to use medical marijuana so long as it’s legal in the states where they live."

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/04 at 03:30 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Ever since the first remote sensing earth observation satellite was put into space and allowed geoscientists to peer at the surface there's been a call to get the data faster. With the release of the first imagery today from UrthCast and before that from Skybox's SkySat-1 last December 27th, high definitation video is coming closer to reality. While today's UrthCast data is only a multispectral, 6-meter spatial resolution image, it was a precursor to the company's ultimate goal of delivering Ultra High-Definition video. UrthCast's imager resides onboard the International Space Station (ISS) while SkySat-1 in an orbiting satellite, the first of 24 the company hopes to launch.

Also today, the European Space Agency's Sentinel-1A satellite is expected to be put into space, the first satellite of Europe’s Copernicus program set for launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Sentinel-1 carries a radar sensor primarily for weather and environmental applications. To support the launch of the satellite and expectations of new potential applications and data products, ESA has launched the Copernical-Masters compeition, explained as follows:

To support this new era, the Copernicus Masters competition will give recognition to outstanding ideas, applications, and business concepts that utilise Earth observation data for commercial purposes and socially relevant projects. Along with cash prizes, the winners will receive technical support in realising their ideas, access to satellite data, and start-up support from a prize pool worth a total of more than EUR 300,000. In 2014, for the first time, the Copernicus Masters is carried out on a worldwide basis. Geared primarily toward start-ups and other companies, researchers, and students, the competition will require entrants to submit their applications from 15 April to 13 July 2014 at

Skybox along with European Space Imaging are collaborating on to promote the Copernicus Master Challenge as well in hopes of also spurring innovation and new applications. According to the press release issued by both companies:

“The European Space Imaging & Skybox Imaging High-Res Challenge” is looking for new, viable application ideas for this sub-daily availability of very high-resolution (VHR), multispectral data from the Skybox Imaging satellite. The partners are hoping researchers and developers will think outside the box in proposing ideas that have real future potential. The winner will receive a European Space Imaging data package of Skybox Imaging satellite data valued at EUR 20,000 to apply in realizing their application idea.

With new satellites and a rush to provide high-definition video, there will be faster turn-around of available data to both researchers as well as the media, and opens a new era in earth observation.

by Joe Francica on 04/03 at 07:20 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Delta State Tackling Hazard Mitigation Plan

Talbot Brooks, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State (Cleveland, MS), and the GIS center will do some GIS work associated with the Delta’s regional hazard mitigation plan. The project received a $16K grant.

Geographers Discuss "Illinois' Sky" on TV
The quarterly TV show is from  Eastern Illinois University geography professors Cameron Craig and Chris Laingen. "Illinois' Sky" is a 30-minute program on WEIU-TV that showcases the weather, climate and landscape of Central Illinois and the United States. A Vimeo video has more information and suggests (as does the PBS Station) the title of the show is "Illinois' Skies." You can watch the first episode on YouTube.
Geographer Co-Teaching MOOC on Globalizing Education

Kris Olds, a professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Susan Robertson, a professor of the Sociology of Education at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, started teaching their new MOOC, Globalizing Higher Education and Research for the 'Knowledge Economy, last week. The course is the fourth pilot MOOC from Wisconsin (Coursera). There's an interview with Olds on the school website.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/03 at 03:03 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

This week, we have a great learning opportunity for fans of  our Mapping With Google course and primatologist, Jane Goodall.  Dr. Goodall's 80th birthday is this Thursday and she will be hosting a special Hangout on Air for the occasion. Reaching more people than ever before, Jane will speak on the impact of modern technology in conservation and announce  the launch of a global community mapping initiative powered by Maps Engine Lite. 

- Google Online Learning, Jane Goodall Institute

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/02 at 08:17 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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