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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Black spotsMapping The Philippines for Google

Wayne Manuel is a volunteer who spent the last six years updating maps of The Philippines use Google Map Maker. He and other volunteers "have been crucial in making sure that places used during a crisis — like health centres, government offices, and schools — are clearly and correctly marked on Google Maps." Business Insider has the story. It's a lot of work for both Google and HOTOSM and others to get word out about their volunteer work.

No Mobile Coverage in Australia

Australia has 6,000 mobile phone black spots, where residents have inadequate coverage. The data (map) compiled by the government comes from a crowdsourced effort and results in funding being available to address the issue. As you might expect the black spots are in outer urban and rural areas. Heavily urban areas are ineligible for funding (like Darwin, at right)

Fairfax County's Big Data Solution: NoSQL

Fairfax County, one of the largest in the U.S. had some issues with its crime mapping solution. It overwhelmed even Oracle. So, the Department of Information Technology (DIT) tested some other options and ended up with a NoSQL database from MarkLogic. The Police Events Application is now much faster and more in demand. The front end looks like ArcGIS Server and JavaScript API.

Bismark, ND Fire Dept Taps GIS

In Bismark, ND firefighters don't use GIS just for routing but also for planning.

The record systems give the department analytical maps and reports to help them decide which neighborhoods to assign to each of the five fire stations. The city is divided into 24 zones.

"We are able to analyze each part of the community in regards to our performance, the demand for service and what types of risks are there," explained Boespflug.

With continued development on the east side of Bismarck, Boespflug says it would make sense to move the Sleepy Hollow Station farther east in order to keep response times short.

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/08 at 05:28 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, October 03, 2014

Ontario Birthing Resources MapBirthing Resources in Ontario

The regional children's hospital has birthed a new mapping tool [right] to provide parents and parents to be with detailed information on all birthing centres in Ontario.

GIS in Monitoring and Evaluation of Disease

Folks in the know about Rugg's Staircase Method probably will want to review this freely available paper: Applying Geospatial Tools to Rugg’s Staircase Method for Monitoring and Evaluation: MEASURE Evaluation’s Case Studies.


We believe GIS’ role in M&E will also rapidly increase in importance with the availability of the software and data. However it is important to stress that GIS can’t just magically fit into an M&E environment, accordingly we present the following recommendations for use of geospatial tools:

1)  Include geographic identifiers in programmatic data – in order to use data in a GIS, it must have a link to geography. This can be something as simple as district or community name or could be coordinates collected using GPS receivers or from a digital globe such as Google Earth.

2)  Adhere to data standards for both geographic identifiers and programmatic data. Many countries have standardized unique identifiers and spellings of geographic features in their country. Following these standards will make it easier to link datasets. Programmatic data should follow relevant standards for metadata, indicator selections and other key factors.

3)  Be open – Making programmatic data widely available, makes it easier to employ that data in other evaluations. There are confidentiality and security issues that must be considered, however the growth of the open data movement offers promise to M&E.

4)  Build organizational capacity to use GIS first: Before asking stakeholders to share data, it is critical they have the necessary skills to use GIS technology, and their own data, within their own organizations. Ensuring the training has a practical use builds ownership and supports effective data-sharing.

5) Develop a strong logic framework: Linking data through GIS is feasible without a logic frame. However, a robust logic frame is critical to ensure a clear linkage between program activities and the output and outcomes indicators associated with these program activities. It is essential that GIS users not only understand GIS technology, applications, and use, but also the need for a sound logic framework to justify the data linkage--as well as how to use linked data to support decision-making

6) Continue to build the evidence base: More research and better data are needed to improve understanding of the drivers of risk for vulnerable populations. For instance, all women aged 15 to 24 are not uniformly at risk for HIV infection, and further research is needed to understand the specific characteristics and risk behaviors to effectively target these women with prevention interventions. Similarly, serodiscordant couples may need different approaches, depending on which partner is infected. In addition, more data are needed on such marginalized groups as men who have sex with men (MSM) to develop appropriate programs and activities and ensure adequate coverage of these populations. 

Tracking CDIFF with DEDUCE-GEO to visualize links between clinical data and physical environments

Deverick Anderson, MD, an epidemiologist for Duke Medicine, is using a new tool at Duke to hunt down hidden sources of contamination of antibiotic resistant microbes. His target is Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), a dangerous antibiotic-resistant bug that the Centers for Disease Control calculates contributes to 14,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. ...

Anderson’s new tool is DEDUCE-GEO. It is Duke’s newest addition to D.E.D.U.C.E., a web-based query tool that allows investigators to filter millions of rows of data in Duke’s vast enterprise data warehouse of clinical information. 

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/03 at 03:18 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, October 02, 2014

NJ College CrimeNew Geo Program in Wyoming

Central Wyoming College, industry partner Mowrey Seismic, the Riverton Economic Development Association and the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services will partner over the next three years to use more than $200,000 to train individuals in geospatial information science and technology.

Crimes at NJ Colleges 

The total number of crimes on New Jersey campuses has remained relatively stable between 2010 and 2012, but the number of sexual assaults has risen by 38 percent over that time, according to federal data.

There's an interactive map (right) from NJ Spotlight.

Geo For All Certification Discussions

The Geo for All crew is beginning to discuss certificates and certification based on conversations at FOSS4G PDX.

Northeastern GeoInt Program now USGIC Accredited

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) announced the addition of the Northeastern University College of Professional Studies Master’s in Geographic Information Technology (GIT) program to the list of USGIF-accredited college and university programs. Students who take a select combination of classes within the program will receive USGIF’s Geospatial Intelligence Certificate.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/02 at 03:38 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

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
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