Monday, December 31, 2007

Web Mapping for Educators

I missed the live version of a really terrific webinar put on by Wiley publishing. I know it was good because, fortunately, Wiley sent to link to me since I was signed up to listen to the presentation. Joseph Kerski, of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. Education Team, gave a great overview of useful mapping web sites on a variety of educational topics and the importance of bringing geospatial technologies into the classroom. He also gave ways to use these web sites for class exercises, examples are shown below. The slide show is called “Geo Tools: Spatial Inquiry Using Web Mapping Tools.” It’s really worth checking out in 2008.

Using the MLA site to map German speakers in the U.S.

Using the National Atlas to map multiple births.

If you’re interested in finding out about and signing up for more of these webinars, visit Wiley Faculty Network where they “provide technology training, live workshops, a one-on-one mentor program, and other valuable resources designed to help you collaborate and communicate with your colleagues to create a more proactive, enjoyable classroom experience for all.”

Thursday, December 27, 2007

(Google) Earth at Depth

Using Google Earth and SketchUp, professor Declan De Paor has found a way for geologist, geophysicists, archaeologists and others to display what they interpret to be happening below the surface of the earth. De Paor gave a presentation at the recent American Geophysical Union meeting on his use of Google Earth for subsurface investigations. I wasn't there. It was reported in Google Earth Design, Google Earth Blog and Ogle Earth. Sounds like AGU 2007 had many good virtual globe presentations plus the presence of a Google Earth booth.
Because it's still holiday break, I haven't tried this yet, but it should be rather simple to do, and if I'm successful, I'll report back.

An added note about De Paor, he is a structural geologist, just like the developers of the other cool geology application of Google Earth that I talked about before.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wildfires and Computer Modeling

An interesting story appeared in the New York Times today about how the US Forest Service and others are enlisting a "one-of-a-kind" computer model to help with fire prediction. They're using slope, prevailing wind, soil moisture, locations of trees killed by a bug, and other geographically identifiable attributes, so why didn't the Times call this high-end computer model a GIS? This is a long-standing frustration I've had with Times reporting; they don't usually call something that is GIS...GIS.

There's even a slick figure showing a time series of relative numbers of lodgepole pines trees killed by beetles. It's all GIS! (In the Times article, click on the map like the one shown below.)

Nor did they fully report the story. The project is the result of an inter-agency collaboration. In the paper version of the Times, no mention was made of this really great web site, that anyone with a browser can use.

From the GeoMAC (Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination) web site:

The Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group or GeoMAC, is an internet-based mapping application originally designed for fire managers to access online maps of current fire locations and perimeters in the conterminous 48 States and Alaska. Using a standard web browser, fire personnel can view this information to pinpoint the affected areas.

They've got Google Earth layers and a web mapping application with current fire status data. This is terrific, useful and powerful information made available for everyone and it's not some kind of inaccessible data or something only scientists can view.