Thursday, July 31, 2014

iCoast - Did the Coast Change?

Since late spring, the U.S. Geological Survey has been offering a crowd sourcing app called iCoast - Did the Coast Change? as a way to leverage the nation's "citizen scientists" interested in coastal areas prone to hurricane damage. According to Sophia B. Liu, one of the Principal Investigators for the program, “Computers cannot yet automatically identify damages and geomorphic changes to the coast from the oblique aerial photographs, human intelligence is still needed to finish the job.” Thus, volunteers assist USGS efforts by comparing and tagging aerial photographs taken before and after storms. Links below to learn more:

(FEMA News Bulletin, July 15, 2014)

(USGS Top Story, May 27, 2014)

Comment: The Times They Are a-Changing. Congrats to the USGS on this effort that leans forward by acknowledging the power of the crowd. Please help them out if you can!

Graphic credit: USGS

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

LightSquared Owner Sues U.S.

Well, its been a little over a year since we last checked in on the never ending brawl between LightSquared and the U.S. Government. In this update, we find LightSquared's owners, Harbinger Capital Partners, filing suit against the United States in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., and Harbinger top man and Minnesota hockey phenom Phil Falcone relegated to the bench. The update and some history about this battle over GPS spectrum can be found below:

(Inside GNSS, July 14, 2014)

(EPC Updates, May 13, 2013

(EPC Updates, March 19, 2012)

Comment: Hmmmmmm. Benching your star player as you go into overtime is probably a "harbinger" of bad things to come for LightSquared.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Two For Tuesday: SDG&E Gets Drone OK and Mapping a Landslide

When I was a youngster, I loved to watch a TV show called "Whirlybirds". The story line was the world saved on a weekly basis by two daring men and their bladed flying machines. A thought that pretty well matches up with this Two For Tuesday. Below, two stories about how men and their bladed flying machines are poised to save the world:

(Forbes, July 12, 2014)

(Directions Magazine, July 7, 2014)

Comment: Ironic, don't you think - the more things change, the more they remain the same. 

Graphic credit:

Monday, July 28, 2014

DoD to Use Open Source Mapping for Humanitarian Crisis Response Missions

In response to its increasing involvement in humanitarian crisis response missions around the world, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been looking for a way to better integrate its information gathering capabilities with those of a nation in need. According to recent reports coming out of DoD and others, an open source web-based mapping program which allows multiple sources to simultaneously contribute their awareness data is the answer to the problem. Link below tells the story of GeoSHAPE:

(DoD News Release, July 24, 2014)

Comment: Great concept!  In fact it reminds me a lot of one of my favorite pieces of software: GeoMOOSE. For more see:

(EPC Updates, June 27, 2013)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Top Five Friday (I'm Late): May 2014

Well, the normal first Friday of the month post took the backseat to the Fourth of July and my two week summer hiatus. But, there's no time like the present to catch up - after all, you can't be late until you show up. So, here they are - very late - the posts which turned out to be the top five of the month, two months back. That would be for May 2014. In descending order:

Here's Hoping You Aren't Late to a Hopping Good Time This Weekend!

Graphic credit: Disney

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Scanning a City for Gas Leaks

A joint effort between the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Google seeks to turn off needless leaks of a significant greenhouse gas - methane. At the same time, America's infrastructure and public safety efforts will see benefit. Links below tell the story of a recent pilot project that placed air quality sensors on Google Street View cars. 

(Newsweek, July 16, 2014)

(EDF Webpage) 

Comment: VERY cool!  However, I do find the results from Beantown suspect. Did this project check the city's pipes, or the population's pipes? That's a joke, you're supposed to laugh... 

Graphic Credit: EDF

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Study Points to Satellite Flood Predictive Capabilities

In much the same way satellites have become key to forecasting the weather and issuing various storm warnings, recent research suggests satellites could be used to predict flooding. With interior flooding in the United States causing nearly $4 billion in damages annually, the finding is no small matter. Details about NASA's  Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites and the recently published study can be found in the links below:

(Nature Geoscience, July 6, 2014)

Comment: Great stuff - but there's a problem. The Nature Geoscience paper requires a fee to read. I take strong exception with any study which uses data from government satellites, and is of benefit to the taxpayers who paid for those satellites, being published in a way that requires a fee to read.

Graphic credit: NASA

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Experts Say Open Data Needed for Emergency Response and Management

From the Esri User Conference in San Diego, CA last week, Joe Francica of Directions Magazine reported hearing the same theme repeated by three experts in the know. In a nutshell, the United States needs an open geospatial data policy in support of the Emergency Services Sector.  The article and two of the presentations can be found below:

(Directions Magazine, July 14, 2014)

(Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, NOAA Administrator) 

(Dr. Robert Griffin, Director, DHS First Responders Division)

Comment: Great to see folks at the top of the food chain are finally tuning into this issue. We've been camped out on it since at least 2008 when the Republican National Convention came to town. Followed up by the Twin Cities GECCo in late 2011 and the associated After Action Report/Improvement Plan in 2012. In fall 2013, the MetroGIS Policy Board sent letters to all county Administrators and Board Chairs in the seven core counties of the Twin Cities metro encouraging them to eliminate geospatial data fees and licenses. One of the beneficiaries is certain to be the Emergency Services Sector. For more see:

(EPC Updates, December 23, 2013)

Monday, July 21, 2014

OnTheMap for Emergency Management Version 4 Released

The U.S. Census Bureau's (USCB) OnTheMap for Emergency Management product continues to improve since we last reported on it in July 2012. Recently, the Council for Community and Economic Research hosted a webinar to report on the latest developments. Find below links to play back the webinar, view presentation slides, or use the application:
Comment: Again, kudos to the U.S. Census Bureau for their effort in this area - some of the very first questions asked after any disaster: "How many people are in the disaster area and what's the economic impact?". Accurate answers to both of these questions can now be provided much quicker thanks to this effort by the USCB.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Break - Back in Two Weeks

I'm off to wander the countryside on a summer break.  
Back in two weeks.

All the Best,

Friday, July 4, 2014

Test Your Patriotism - A 4th of July Quiz

It's easy enough to say your patriotic, but do you have sufficient command of the facts to back up the boast? Find out below with 50 questions about the 4th of July and related events that have made this country great:    

(20 questions)
(The Virginian-Pilot, July 3, 2014)

(30 questions)
(, July 3, 2014)

Wishing You and Yours the Very Best on this Independence Day Weekend!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sector Risk Snapshots Released by DHS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released a document meant to serve as an executive level briefing on the 16 sectors of infrastructure that have been designated as critical by the Department. The 52-page guide provides a brief overview of each sector, and then offers "Threats and Hazards of Concern" for that sector. Find it at the link below:

(DHS, May 2014)

Comment: Kudos to DHS - this is a well done document with one exception. Missing from consideration is the infrastructure that brings meaning to ALL other infrastructure. That would be the nation's geospatial infrastructure. Please see the National Spatial Data Infrastructure and GITA's GECCo program to understand the point.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Guardian on Predictive Policing

It's the newspaper that has been the most vocal proponent of Edward Snowden. Now, as part of its Resilient Cities series, The Guardian has started to examine some of the issues associated with the emerging technology of "predicative policing". More below: 

(The Guardian, June 25, 2014)

Comment: In defense of this approach to law enforcement, I believe story quote by UCLA professor P Jeffrey Brantingham is key: 
“Minority Report is about predicting who will commit a crime before they commit it. This is about predicting where and when crime is most likely to occur, not who will commit it.”

Graphic Credit: PredPol