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Friday, November 21, 2014

Rate of sterilization of womenSterilization as Birth Control

The Washington Post looked at worldwide use of sterilization for women and men after the recent deaths in India due to these procedures.

Sterilization is the most widespread form of birth control in the world, but it is especially prevalent in India. According to 2013 data from the United Nations, more than 35 percent of Indian women who were married or in a relationship were sterilized. [right]

New Ways of Looking at Health Neighborhoods: By Individual

University of Leicester Professor Lex Comber, from the Department of Geography, just published his research on factors impacting diabetes.

The research, published in Public Health Nutrition, found that there was a higher number of fast-food outlets within 500 metres of inner-city neighbourhoods described as non-white as well as in socially deprived areas. The study provides a new public health understanding that could influence policies to limit the number of fast food outlets in deprived areas.
 
“Postcodes provide a way of locating people or properties.  We created a database of fast food outlets by scraping a business directory for fast food outlets in Leicester. For each of the people that were screened we calculated the number of fast food outlets within 500m using their postcode.
 
“The study discovered there is TWICE the number of fast-food outlets in inner city neighbourhoods with high density non-white ethnic minority groups and in socially deprived areas.
 
“The work was unusual because it analysed the neighbourhood factors from an individual perspective. We created  a personal neighbourhood for each individual, rather than placing the individual in a set pre-defined neighbourhoods.

He's giving a talk on the research Dec 2 at the University.

Wikipedia Predicts Disease Outbreaks

Research from scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory reveals that hits on Wikipedia and other Web resources do a good job predicting disease outbreaks.

... researchers used two data sources — Wikipedia article access logs and official disease incidence reports from the World Health Organization — to build a linear model to analyze around three years of data for seven diseases (cholera, dengue, Ebola, HIV/AIDs, influenza, plague, and tuberculosis) in nine different locations (Haiti, Brazil, Thailand, Uganda, China, Japan, Poland, United States, and Norway). Basically, the Internet keeps track of a user's health-related searches, and these searches can be captured and used to derive actionable information.

With the WHO's data and online traffic of select Wikipedia articles, researchers were able to warn against (forecast) incidences of disease at least 28 days ahead of time. The one exception were rates of tuberculosis in China. 

The article is open access in PLOS Computational Biology (press release).

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/21 at 03:32 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rachel Frana ’15 is using GIS mapping technology to help food pantry network director Rebecca Whitlow, left, and DMARC executive director Sarai Rice, right, identify underserved areas of Des Moines.GIS at Central College, Pella, IA

Central College featured Rachel Frana, a senior environmental studies major,  who is using GIS to map the locations and demographic data of over 8,000 families served by Des Moines Area Religious Council pantries in a recent storyAt right: Rachel Frana ’15 is using GIS mapping technology to help food pantry network director Rebecca Whitlow, left, and DMARC executive director Sarai Rice, right, identify underserved areas of Des Moines.

That's great. This bit of the article is interesting. It's been updated since publication.

GIS at Central College

Central is one of few schools that require GIS instruction and experience for all environmental science majors. Frana was introduced to GIS in a course with Anya Butt, associate professor of biology. Frana said learning GIS is difficult, but she finds it interesting because the technology is useful in so many real-life applications. Butt also created an advanced GIS course for Frana and four other interested students at Central.

I appreciate the student's candor. And, I like that all environment science majors take GIS as a required course. What other schools require GIS for that major or others?

Linking Education and Community Challenges in Logan, UT

The is a great way to engage students in authentic learning. It's built on a model from the University of Oregon. The effort at Utah State is called Logan-USU Community Bridge Initiative:

Ten Utah State University classes will each look into one of six topics next semester in the pilot phase of the Logan-USU Community Bridge Initiative, which seeks to make use of local expertise to tackle community problems.

Among the problems noted, is one technology: story maps.

...the city’s trees, current and potential recycling programs, neighborhood improvement, the city after school program, GIS-based story maps and air quality.

I agree it's a great tool to tackle any of those issues. 

Meanwhile, in Finland

Geography and geo-media are hot topics in Finland and will soon be better represented in the K-12 curriculum.

These education leaders believe Geography and the use of geo-media must be central to a core curriculum in school education.

After training, and using the SPACIT curriculum, teachers will develop course plans.

In Finland, teachers will prepare new local curricula based on this core curriculum by the beginning of school year 2016–2017.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/20 at 06:17 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Today, CSR, a company primarily known for their GPS chip technology, has announced a software development kit (SDK) for Android to integrate the SiRFusion library into  mobile apps running Android 4.4 or later for indoor positioning.

According to Dave Huntingford, director of product management of CSR, the company recognized about four years ago while the challenge for outdoor positioning using their technology was mostly solved, indoor was the next frontier. So, CSR began focusing on the problem by utilizing technology already embedded within mobile devices  and that would not require the installation of additional infrastructure to buildings. These technologies included the Wi-Fi radio and the micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) sensors such as the gyroscope and accelerometer. The result was to obtain approximately 5 meter location accuracy.

Here's how it works. Upon the detection of Wi-Fi access points within a building, the SDK is designed to capture their SSID or MAC address, determine their location and store the points in a database.  Trilateration of Wi-Fi access points is one method to determine position. Limitations include variations in signal strength and number of access points available. MEMS sensors provide short-term, inertial measurements such as dead reckoning. The mobile device can detect, for example, the number of footsteps by the user.

According the the CSR press release from today:

The system automatically crowd-sources a venue’s indoor Wi-Fi signatures as consumers walk through the location, and it has also been architected to accommodate future proximity and location technologies such as Bluetooth® Smart beacons, Wi-Fi Round Trip Time (RTT), and Indoor Messaging System (IMES).

So, as Huntingford explained, the quest for ever-better positioning is never ending, hence the need for an architecture that is flexible enough to accommodate new technology coming online. The SDK will be released in the first quarter 2015; incorporation of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology will probably be available by Q2 2015.

by Joe Francica on 11/20 at 05:15 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Palo Alto Permit MapFiji's Sugar Cane GIS

Fuji's Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar, Voreqe Bainimarama launched the Sugar Cane Industry WebGIS Portal last week.

The digitisation of cane farms and the capturing of all data in the WebGIS portal will enable access a number of features including geographical location of cane farm, cane access road used by each cane farm and area under cane. The WebGIS Project will enable the Fiji Sugar Corporation and sugar industry to view and analyse the performance of individual growers, sectors and sugar mills

Palo Alto Permit Applications Viewer

The City of Palo Alto has partnered with Buildingeye to launch a new interactive online tool that allows citizens & business owners to see what new planning applications are proposed for their neighborhood, as well as view a description and map.

I see OpenLayers, Leaflet and MapQuest OSM tiles! (right)

Horse Map Needs Work

Village Council members delayed initial approval Tuesday of [PDF] a color-coded map of horse trails in Wellington [FL] and are expected to consider the matter again early next year.

Councilman Matt Willhite raised concerns this week about the clarity of the map and its colors for the various paths.

The plan is to put the map into a digital mapping form. It's not clear what the source of the current PDF is.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/19 at 03:38 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Recall that back in 2011 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) fined Raphael Pirker, an aerial photographer, $10,000 for operating his Ritewing Zephyr over the University of Virginia campus. An administrative law judge with the National Transportation Safety Board heard an appeal and sided with the pilot. And, for a time, many thought UAS pilots were off the hook a bit. 

But today, the decision was updated by a four-member safety board to which the FAA appealed. The board stated that the craft is a type of aircraft that falls under existing rules including safety rules. The case now heads back to the administrative law judge to decide if it was operated recklessly.

- FAA Statement

- ABC News

- The Hill

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/18 at 12:02 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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