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The Importance of Spatial Thinking

by Kirk Goldsberry, Harvard Business Review, September 30, 2013

In its 375 years, Harvard has only ever eliminated one entire academic program. If you had to guess, what program do you think that was and when was it killed off? The answer: Harvard eradicated its Geography Department in the 1940s, and many universities followed suit. … As I look out on the world of data visualization, I see a lot of reinventing of the wheel precisely because so many young, talented visualizers lack geographical training. … Which brings us back to the sheer lack of geographical training available.”

To read this thoughtful and timely essay, visit: http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/09/teaching-and-learning-visualiz/

 

New Report on Building a Sustainable National Land Imaging Program

, pre-launch

Landsat and Beyond: Sustaining and Enhancing the Nation’s Land Imaging Program (2013)

Authors

Committee on Implementation of a Sustained Land Imaging Program; Space Studies Board; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; National Research Council

Description

In 1972 NASA launched the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ETRS), now known as Landsat 1, and on February 11, 2013 launched Landsat 8. Currently the United States has collected 40 continuous years of satellite records of land remote sensing data from satellites similar to these. Even though this data is valuable to improving many different aspects of the country such as agriculture, homeland security, and disaster mitigation; the availability of this data for planning our nation’s future is at risk.

Thus, the Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) requested that the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Committee on Implementation of a Sustained Land Imaging Program review the needs and opportunities necessary for the development of a national space-based operational land imaging capability. The committee was specifically tasked with several objectives including identifying stakeholders and their data needs and providing recommendations to facilitate the transition from NASA’s research-based series of satellites to a sustained USGS land imaging program.

Landsat and Beyond: Sustaining and Enhancing the Nation’s Land Imaging Program is the result of the committee’s investigation. This investigation included meetings with stakeholders such as the DOI, NASA, NOAA, and commercial data providers. The report includes the committee’s recommendations, information about different aspects of the program, and a section dedicated to future opportunities.

Spatial Computing 2020 Report Released

This one-and-a-half-day NSF/CCC sponsored visioning workshop on Spatial Computing outlined an effort to develop and promote a unified agenda for Spatial Computing research and development across US agencies, industries, and universities (Report PDF).

The workshop identified (1) fundamental research questions for individual computing disciplines and (2) cross-cutting research questions requiring novel, multi-disciplinary solutions. The workshop included US leaders in academia and the public sector. Results of this workshop were presented to the NSF in order to inform possible funding initiatives.

The workshop included presentations from invited thought-leaders and agency representatives, brainstorming, and interactive demos and focus group sessions with spatial computing professionals.

Workshop agenda and participant list

Download the report (pdf) here:
http://cra.org/ccc/files/docs/Spatial_Computing_Report-2013.pdf

 

 

PCAST Updates Assessment of Networking and InfoTech R&D

Posted by David Shaw, Susan Graham, and Peter Lee, The White House on January 17, 2013 at 05:43 PM ED

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology PCAST released its latest report to the President and Congress, Designing a Digital Future: Federally Funded Research and Development in Networking and Information Technology. The report is a Congressionally mandated assessment of the Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development NITRD Program, which coordinates the Nation’s federally-funded research and development R&D in areas such as supercomputing, high-speed network­ing, cybersecurity, software technology, and information management. The report is an update on progress since the last such assessment was conducted in 2010.

The United States is a world leader in R&D for networking and information technology NIT—a sector that touches virtually every human endeavor and fuels economic growth, national security, and enhanced quality of life. NIT capabilities are at the core of our Nation’s infrastructure—underpinning and enabling diverse functions ranging from communication and commerce to defense and manufacturing. New NIT insights and discoveries ensure that the Nation remains a safe and healthy place where Americans can continue to succeed and thrive.

In its new report, PCAST concludes that progress has been made toward addressing a number of the recommendations made in the 2010 report. For example, the report cites notable steps forward in multi-agency work to advance “big data,” health IT, robotics, and cybersecurity, and calls out significant progress toward creating infrastructure for network scaling and NIT testbeds.The report also notes that many important areas have received less attention and investment than is needed, making recommendations summarized on page xi for stronger coordination among agencies to meet continuing NIT challenges in educational technology, data privacy, energy, transportation, and other important sectors.

Among other recommendations, PCAST proposes development of new multi-agency initiatives to catalyze innovation and advances in high-performance computing, understanding of collective online human activity, surface and air transportation, and learning sciences and also recommends measures to strengthen the Nation’s NIT workforce through training programs, continuing education opportunities, and other mechanisms. To ensure continued multi-agency coordination and investment in NIT areas, PCAST recommends establishment of a high-level standing PCAST sub-committee that would focus on providing ongoing strategic advice in this domain.

The United States has set the standard for innovation in NIT R&D. PCAST believes that implementation of the recom­mendations in this report will help the Nation maintain its leading NIT edge in an increasingly competitive global environment.

The full PCAST report is available here.

David Shaw, Susan Graham, and Peter Lee are co-chairs of the PCAST NITRD Working Group and Dr. Shaw is a member of PCAST.PCAST is an advisory group of the Nation’s leading scientists and engineers, appointed by the President to augment the science and tech­nology advice available to him from inside the White House and from cabinet departments and other Federal agencies. For more information about PCAST, please visit the PCAST website.

via PCAST Updates Assessment of Networking and InfoTech R&D | The White House.

Taking the Pulse of Our Planet: New Strategy for Earth Observations | The White House

by Peter Colohan (he’s awesome!), Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, April 19, 2013

Ever wonder where the Weather Channel gets its data? Where the satellite images for Google Earth come from? These data and much more come from a complex array of satellites, ocean buoys, stream gauges, human surveys, and other platforms for collecting what the scientific community calls Earth observations. These data are used every day to protect life and property and answer key questions about our planet.Today, the Obama Administration’s National Science and Technology Council released a National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations—a framework for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nation’s Earth-observation enterprise. Currently, 11 Federal departments and agencies engage in Earth observation activities, collecting volumes of important data about the Earth on an ongoing basis, using an array of sophisticated tools and systems. The new Strategy outlines a process for evaluating and prioritizing Earth-observation investments according to their value to society in critical areas such as agriculture, global change, disasters, water resources, and weather.Each year, the U.S. Government invests significant resources in Earth-observations systems to collect data about Earth’s land, oceans, ecosystems, and atmosphere. Together, these systems take the pulse of our planet, providing critical Earth-system data that scientists and analysts can then turn into usable information about climate and weather, disaster events, land-use changes, ecosystem health, natural resources, and more. Ultimately, information and services derived from Earth-observation data—including some as ubiquitous as weather forecasts and GPS-navigation—are used by policy makers, resource managers, business leaders, first-responders, and citizens to make important day-to-day decisions.But as the Nation’s Earth-observation capacity has grown, so has the complexity of the Earth-observation endeavor. The demand for data, the complexity of the tools required to collect those data, and the sheer amount of data being collected, all are increasing. The National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations aims to help Federal agencies face these challenges by better-organizing existing Earth-observation systems and information, and coordinating plans for future projects. In support of the Obama Administration’s Open Data Initiatives, this Strategy also provides specific guidance on how agencies can make these Earth observations more open and accessible to the public.Going forward, the Strategy will be used as a basis to inform a broad National Plan for Civil Earth Observations—a blueprint for future investments in US Earth-observing systems, including agency roles and responsibilities, and creative solutions to challenges related to maintaining the Nation’s Earth-observing systems. It will also reinforce the United States’ ongoing commitment to work with international partners through the multi-national Group on Earth Observations GEO.The Strategy released today provides an evidence-based framework for routine assessment and planning across the entire family of Federal agencies engaged in Earth observations. It will help agencies compare notes, prioritize activities, and improve the quality of data about the planet—with the ultimate goal of meeting society’s most pressing data and information needs. Read the Strategy here.Learn more about global Earth-observation efforts here.Peter Colohan is a Senior Policy Analyst at OSTP

via Taking the Pulse of Our Planet: New Strategy for Earth Observations | The White House.

 

The tiny chip that can replace GPS satellites

by Mark Prigg, MailOnline, April 12, 2013

GPS has become a part of everyday life for most of us, with phones, cars, boats and planes relying on the network of satellites to pinpoint their location.However, the US military has revealed a tiny chip, small enough to fit on a penny, that could do away with the need for an expensive network of orbiting base stations.The tiny chip contains three gyroscopes, three accelerometers and a master clock, and when combined with computer software, can work out exactly where it is going.

via The tiny chip that can replace GPS satellites | Mail Online.

 

The GitHub Generation: Why We’re All in Open Source Now

by Mikeal Rogers, Wired Magazine, March 7, 2013

GitHub was intended to be an open software collaboration platform, but it’s become a platform for much, much more than code. It’s now being used by artists, builders, home owners, everyone in between, entire companies … and cities. GitHub is doing to open source what the internet did to the publishing industry.“ Anyone can now change the data when new bike paths are built, when roads are under construction, and new buildings are erected,” the city of Chicago recently announced. … Perhaps not so surprisingly, he has about 17 open “pull” requests for changes. And of course, GitHub is still used by programmers and developers flying AR Drones with Node.js or building websites with jQuery.

For full text of this article, visit The GitHub Generation: Why We’re All in Open Source Now | Wired Opinion | Wired.com.

 

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