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Thursday, February 21, 2008

In speaking about having a common operating picture and an available imagery data store, Mark Eustis of the Department of Homelands Security’s Geospatial Management Office said during his presentation at the ESRI FED UC meeting that, "the most common operating pictures in the world are in Microsoft and Google."

Is there something a bit "off kilter" when federal agencies talk about using Google Earth (GE) or Microsoft Virtual Earth (VE) as their standard for a common operating picture (COP)? The reliance on a privately funded base map and imagery database for mission critical applications in homeland security and emergency management draws into question just how much Google or Microsoft have assumed the role of a public trust. In fact, the money that either company is investing in developing geospatial data for their mapping platforms runs into the tens of millions. If the market has spoken, in this case the federal government, then the market doesn’t see any conflict using a system that is essentially funded by advertising. Are we not rendering The National Map as obsolete and do federal agencies differentiate the substance of each? Is the fact that GE or VE has become more accessible, easy to use, and more comprehensive drawn a comparison with federally-funded base maps that are sometimes bogged down with too many constituent requirements?

The idea that private companies have become a public trust is not new. Indeed, Microsoft Windows could be considered a public trust, or a world trust, since so many of the world’s computers run Windows. But is this case different? Agencies buy the Windows operating system software and assume a level of support from the vendor. In the case of GE or VE some federal agencies are relying on an open and free platform in which to ingest data. Licensing of APIs or enterprise editions was not mentioned and thus was not entirely clear from Eustis’ remarks. But GE and VE are now so ingrained as providing one of the most widely used COPs that agencies may want to address some of the long-term ramifications.

by Joe Francica on 02/21 at 09:27 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

AGI (Analytical Graphics, Inc.) has made available a debris field simulation, and other computer generated graphics, based on publicly released information, of the U.S. spy satellite that the military is attempting to shoot down.

by Joe Francica on 02/21 at 07:55 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Jim Geringer, former governor of Wyoming and ESRI’s director of policy and public sector, and speaking at ESRI’s FedUC, had a few pointed words for those in the public sector who think technology solves most problems: "Adding technology to a bad process only adds speed to a very bad process," said Geringer. Geringer, during his time in office, recognized overlaps and redundancies to processes that could have benefited from best practices. He proded the audience to understand the nation’s processes as a system. "GIS must provide a ‘simple’ way to explain the system and grasp the issues, said Geringer.

As an example, Geringer told the story of how as governor he was asked to evaluate a particular environmental problem. He received several reports some coming from his health department, the EPA and others. He asked, "Why can’t we have one report for this project?" After not receiving the answer he expected, he said, "W-E-L-L G-E-T O-N-E!"

While GIS may not eliminate the number of reports we get from various constituencies, it should be an imperative of our government, federal, state or local, to provide a common picture, a common base map and a common set of criteria to decision makers.

by Joe Francica on 02/21 at 07:27 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

That from said Jason Cason, associate deputy secretary of the department who spoke at the ESRI Federal User Conference. Alas, the article in GCN doesn’t really explain how that will happen, but lots of DOI projects were shown like GeoCommunicator. Said Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne via video: “In short we’re using geospatial technologies to save lives,” Kempthorne said.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/21 at 01:23 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Update: Here are the details, via the Washington Post

“By no means are we saying that light at night is the only or the major risk factor for breast cancer,” said Itai Kloog, of the University of Haifa in Israel, who led the new work. “But we found a clear and strong correlation that should be taken into consideration.”

The report is in this week’s online issue of the journal Chronobiology International.

————minimalist original post————

“Using NASA satellite imagery to plot high emissions of light at night, researchers found breast cancer rates were as much as 60-percent higher in high-light areas than in darker ones.”

- NBC 12, Virginia

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/21 at 07:51 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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