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Monday, February 25, 2013

Idaho State University is ready to begin enrolling geosciences doctoral students in August after the Idaho State Board of Education approved an ISU Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree in geosciences at its last meeting. ...

The doctoral program will leverage existing departmental strengths in Idaho's natural resources, water supply, and environmental needs, expanding ongoing projects such as water supply and water quality, semi-arid soil and vegetation recovery after wildfires, assessment of active geologic faults, landscape change and associated topographic analyses, fluvial processes, geothermal and volcanology research, remote sensing, including unmanned aircraft systems, and geospatial modeling and software development.

In Tennessee a proposal to merge histry and geography into a single course is making waves. One reason to do so: create more time for language skills, which are tested in state exames.

Geography educators think combining the two subjects will cheat Tennessee students of information that’s increasingly important — a grasp of the geotechnical systems that create intelligence maps for the military, keep FedEx packages moving and create the mapping systems used in smartphones and cars. They fear students won’t be college- or career-ready without that information.

State officials, however, say intertwining the two subjects will give every student a deeper understanding of both topics and students will no longer be forced to choose between history and geography classes in high school.

Educators are heading to Washington DC to push for passage of the Geography is Fundamental Act (TGIF) on February 28.
by Adena Schutzberg on 02/25 at 05:34 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Ben Lewis, who's over at the Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis shared that TweetMap, built on MapD (general purpose SQL database) and Harvard's WorldMap, is up and running in ALPHA.

Officially, "TweetMap ALPHA is an instance of the MapD big data platform developed through a collaboration between Todd Mostak and Harvard CGA." I corresponded with Mostak to learn a bit about the project and its future.

TweetMap allows the exploration of some 125 million tweets from 12/10/2012 to 12/31/2012. Visitors can query them by time, space, and keyword.  The hope is to increase the size of the database, perhaps to billions. Real time streaming from tweet-tweeted to tweet-on-the-map in under a second has been implemented.  MapD makes use of any number of commodity Graphic Processing Units - so it will use whatever it has access to use. Todd Mostak notes, "it runs equally well on my laptop with 1 GPU as our demo server with 4 as a Dell GPU server with 16 (of course the more GPUs you have, the faster things will run and the more data you can store)." GPUs, and their role and geospatial, are covered in this Directions Magazine article.

Harvard users (with a log-in) can even download the tweets found by their queries. The rest of us can see the results as individual "dots" (with details of the tweet content, data, lat/long, etc.) and/or see a heat map. The one at right is a query for "Obama" across the entire time frame. I also searched for "adena" and found but a handful - many around a geography with that name.

What's next? Mostak shares:

...we will soon allow for spatial joins/intersections of points to polygons.  This means that the user could upload an arbitrary shapefile of say census districts and basically find the average sentiment of tweets containing the word "Obama" in each district and then regress that against attribute data, such as income or education level for the district.  On 4 GPUs we should be able to do around 4 billion such joins per second, as opposed to PostGIS or ArcGIS which seem to top out at 10,000-20,000 such operations per second, allowing real-time choroplething and regression analysis of spatial data for datasets which might take PostGIS or ArcGIS many days to do the same thing.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/25 at 04:34 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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