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Monday, July 18, 2011

Dovel has released MyFoodAlerts.com.

The application uses public feeds from FDA, USDA, and CFIA and, using semantic technology, analyzes recall data. The application then translates the information into a user-friendly map interface accessible at myFoodAlerts.com. Data about the feed is also published into the data.gov format.

And, no, I do not know what the data.gov format is...

- press release

Water Canary analyzes water samples by using light and measuring what wavelengths to draw conclusions. A red light flashes to alert the user to a potential water problem. 

The idea is not to use the device (currently built by hand and running about $200) to test water, but rather to collect data points for further investigation. The device was shown off at TED.

- Mashable

A study used GIS to explore the impact of avgas (a type of gas used in aircraft) on levels in the blood of children near airports in NC that use it. The FAA is looking at regulations on the gas.

Methods: We used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to approximate areas surrounding airports in which lead from avgas may be present in elevated concentrations in air and may also be deposited to soil. We then used regression analysis to examine the relationship between residential proximity to airports and NC blood lead surveillance data in children aged 9 months to 7 years while controlling for factors including age of housing, socioeconomic characteristics, and seasonality.

The result suggest higher levels in the blood for children up to 1000M from the airport with the most pronounced effect within 500M.

- EHP

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/18 at 03:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

First, let's get one thing straight I did not run the Vermont 100, a one hundred mile foot race, this year. I "paced" it. That is, I joined a friend for the final 30 miles, running from 10:30 pm Sat through Sunday morning at 7:30 am. (He finished with a 27:33 in is first 100 mile effort. Wow.)

At the pre-race meeting the organizers discussed navigation: "Don't use your GPS to get from one aid station to another." Runners can have crews who meet them at various points to support them with food, clothing, moral support, etc. The challenge is the event is in rural Vermont, where as the race director put it, "some streams used to be roads and are still marked on the map that way." Instead, crews were asked to use a detailed set of narrative navigation directions. For example:

#7. Stage Road - Retrace your route back the way you just came.  0.7 mi. back down to Pomfret Rd. Turn left. Reset.  (3.7 miles on Pomfret Road) to South Pomfret (the Teago Store). Go to the rt. of the store on Library Rd. and turn rt. onto Stage Rd.  Reset. You'll see Suicide 6 ski area at 0.2 mi. and at 1.5 mi. a couple of dilapidated barns on the left and then the aid station is at 1.65 mi. on the right.  Be careful because runners will be on the road coming at you and turning at those barns.   (Approx. driving time 20 minutes)  

Now, while that sounds painful to follow (it is and it's tiring!), these directions are spot on! I arrived at one aid station having not missed a single turn, even though many roads had hidden or no signage! That was during the day. I suspect those navigating at night may have faired ok, too, especially since the car traffic spreads out quite a bit as the runners spread out across the course through the day. 

How do the runners navigate? No maps, no GPS...just yellow plastic plates with arrows drawn on them during the day enhanced by glow sticks hanging from the trees at night. We ran 30 miles in the dark and did not miss a single turn.

The best data is local data!

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/18 at 03:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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