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.

Draft Strategic Plan for the National Spatial Data Infastructure

Date: July 31, 2013

Subject: NSDI Strategic Plan – Public Comment Period

Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) is seeking public comment on the draft strategic plan for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The draft plan, which has been developed through collaboration with partners and stakeholders in the geospatial community, describes a broad national vision for the NSDI and includes goals and objectives for the Federal government’s role in continued sustainable development of the NSDI.

I encourage you to review the plan and offer any comments for improvement. The strategic plan, along with instructions for providing comments, is posted at the following address: http://www.fgdc.gov/nsdi-plan and a copy is attached. Comments may be submitted electronically to: nsdicomments@fgdc.gov. Comments are due by August 21, 2013.

The new NSDI plan is important and timely for several reasons. First, while the FGDC community has engaged in a series of strategic initiatives over the past several years, including the Geospatial Line of Business and Geospatial Platform initiatives, the current NSDI strategic plan has not been revised for a number of years. Second, geospatial technologies, industries, and applications have seen tremendous growth and change over the past several years, and our strategies need to be modernized to align with and leverage these changes. In addition, the recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), “OMB and Agencies Need to Make Coordination a Priority to Reduce Duplication” (GAO-13-94), reaffirmed the importance of improving coordination and reducing potential duplication and recommended the development of an updated NSDI strategy.

As we have developed the plan, we have provided multiple opportunities for participation and input. These opportunities have included forums for leaders of key geospatial organizations, workshops for Federal leaders, sessions at geospatial professional conferences, and public meetings of the FGDC Coordination Group, the FGDC Steering Committee, and the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC). Our goal has been to engage leaders of key geospatial organizations in the early stages of the planning process, gather initial input, and seek continuing involvement. The input and suggestions we received from our partners, both within and outside of the Federal government, has been instrumental in shaping the new plan. The NGAC, in particular, has provided extensive and thoughtful input into the plan.

Following the public comment period, a revised draft of the plan will be prepared for final review and adoption by the FGDC Steering Committee. Following completion of the strategic plan, the FGDC community will develop more detailed project plans for the goals and objectives in the strategic plan.

We appreciate your long-standing involvement and support for the NSDI, and we look forward to working with you and your organizations as we finalize and implement the new NSDI strategic plan. Additional information about the NSDI planning process is posted at: http://www.fgdc.gov/nsdi-plan. We will post additional information on the webpage as the planning process advances.

Regards,

Anne J. Castle

Chair, Federal Geographic Data Committee

Assistant Secretary for Water and Science

U.S. Department of the Interior

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

 

 

Gartner’s hype cycle and citizen science | Po Ve Sham

Muki Haklay recently wrote in his Po Ve Sham blog (July 8, 2013):

The term ‘Citizen Science’ is clearly gaining more recognition and use. It is now get mentioned in radio and television broadcasts, social media channels as well as conferences and workshops. Some of the clearer signs for the growing attention include discussion of citizen science in policy oriented conferences such as UNESCO’s World Summit on Information Society (WSIS+10) … Another aspect of the expanding world of citizen science is the emerging questions from those who are involved in such projects or study them about the efficacy of the term…One way to  explore what is going on is to consider the evolution of the ‘hype’ around citizen science throughGartner’s Hype Cycle‘  which can be seen as a way to consider the way technologies are being adopted in a world of  rapid communication and inflated expectations from technologies. …”

For full text of the article, visit Gartner’s hype cycle and citizen science | Po Ve Sham – Muki Haklay’s personal blog.

New Research on Legal Issues and Validation of Crowdmapping

Rak, Andriy (2013). Legal Issues and Validation of Volunteered Geographic Information.

Abstract: The Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI) provides access to authoritative geographic datasets of Canada, which are the source of accurate and reliable data. The process of acquiring, updating and maintaining such datasets using traditional approaches, requires both time and costly resources. As a result, in many cases the datasets are out of date because of the high cost of maintenance. An alternative approach to reliably create and update authoritative datasets is linked to its integration with Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI). VGI provides a vast source of spatial information to government, industry and citizens. However, the integration of VGI with CGDI generates several questions, with VGI quality and legal issues at the forefront.

This research has investigated methods for assessing the quality of VGI, and describes the importance of a link between VGI and legal liability in the need for integration of VGI with CGDI. This research developed a prototype to validate data quality and examined legal liability issues around VGI to discover a strategy for possible integration of VGI with CGDI datasets. The research also provides four primary risk management techniques for CGDI to manage risks resulted from incorporating VGI into their datasets.

M.Sc.E. thesis, Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering Technical Report No. 283, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, 128 pp. (April 2013)

CA Supreme Court Issues Ruling on GIS Open Records Case

For the history of Sierra Club v. Orange County see GIS Cafe Blog (May 10, 2013): Sierra Club v. Orange County Has Its Day In Court

For the CA Supreme Court ruling (PDF), visit: CA Supreme Court Decision July 8, 2013

To the extent that the term ―computer mapping system is ambiguous, the constitutional canon requires us to interpret it in a way that maximizes the public‘s access to information unless the Legislature has expressly provided to the contrary. (Officeof Inspector General v. Superior Court, supra, 189 Cal.App.4th at p.709.) As explained above, we find nothing in the text, statutory context, or legislative history of the term―computer mapping system‖ that allows us to say the Legislature clearly sought to exclude GIS formatted parcel data from the definition of a public record when it can be disclosed without any accompanying software.

Applying the interpretive rule set forth in article I, section 3, subdivision (b)(2), we must conclude that section 6254.9(b)‘s exclusion of―computer mapping systems from the definition of a public record does not encompass a parcel database in a GIS file format. Contrary to what the County contends, this reading of the statute does not ―repeal or nullify‖ a ―statutory exception to the right of access to public records‖ in contravention of article I, section 3, subdivision (b)(5). Our holding simply construes the terms of section 6254.9 in light of the constitutional mandate that a statute ―shall be narrowly construed if it limits the right of access.(Cal. Const., art. I, §3, subd. (b)(2).)
We note that this interpretation is consistent with a 2005 opinion letter issued by the Attorney General in response to a request by a member of the Assembly to determine whether ― parcel boundary map data maintained in an electronic format by a county assessor [is] subject to public inspection and copying under provisions of the California Public Records Act (88 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 153, 153 (2005).) The opinion letter explained that ―the term ̳computer mapping systems‘ in section 6254.9 does not refer to or include basic maps and boundary information per se (i.e., the basic data compiled, updated, and maintained by county assessors), but rather denotes unique computer programs to process such data using mapping functions original programs that have been designed and produced by a public agency.‖ (88 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. at p. 159.) Accordingly, the Attorney General concluded, ―parcel map data maintained in an electronic format by a county assessor does not qualify as a ̳computer mapping system‘under the exemption provisions of section 6254.9 (88 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. at p. 159) and must be provided upon request as a public record at a fee limited to the direct cost of producing the copy (id.at pp.163–164). As noted above, the record here indicates that 47 counties in California maintain GIS-formatted parcel base maps and provide access to those GIS-formatted databases as public records. (Ante, at p. 3.) Of those 47 counties, 19 changed their fee policies following the Attorney General‘s opinion letter, according to Sierra Club‘s expert.
Because section 6254.9(b) does not exclude GIS-formatted databases like the OC Landbase from the definition of a public record, such databases are subject to disclosure unless otherwise exempt from the PRA. Unlike the records at issue in County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 1301, the County here does not argue that the OC Landbase is subject to any other exemptions. The fact that the County offered to produce the information underlying the database in an alternative format suggests that no such exemption applies. Similarly, the County‘s general practice of producing the OC Landbase to the public, albeit pursuant to a licensing agreement, suggests that its contents do not implicate any of the confidentiality or other concerns underlying th e exemptions set forth in section 6254. Because the OC Landbase is not excluded from the definition of a public record under section 6254.9(b), and because the County does not argue that the database is otherwise exempt from disclosure, the County must produce the OC Landbase in response to Sierra Club‘s request―in any electronic format in which it holds the information‖ (§6253.9 (a)(1)) at a cost not to exceed the direct cost of duplication (§§ 6253.9 (a)(2),6253, subd. (b)).
CONCLUSION
For the reasonsabove, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal andremand to that court with directions to remand to the superior court to issue a writ consistent with this opinion.
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