A map is a visual representation of an area – symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions, and themes. Many maps are static two-dimensional, geometrically accurate (or approximately accurate) representations of three-dimensional space, while others are dynamic or interactive, even three-dimensional. Although most commonly used to depict geography, maps may represent any space, real or imagined, without regard to context or scale; e.g. brain mapping, DNA mapping and extraterrestrial mapping.
Although the earliest maps known are of the heavens, geographic maps of territory have a very long tradition and exist from ancient times. The word “map” comes from the medieval Latin Mappa mundi, wherein mappa meant napkin or cloth and mundi the world. Thus, “map” became the shortened term referring to a two-dimensional representation of the surface of the world.
Maps have become a critical piece of our lives. Providing guidance, direction, help and more, maps now serve as an integral information source for us every day. Maps provide value to our Internet experiences, and have become essential in the mobile world.
People used to use maps so they wouldn’t get lost. But in recent years, access to the Global Positioning System and the proliferation of mobile technology have made paper-based maps almost irrelevant. Unless you’re in uncharted territory, it’s hard to get lost anymore. Basic geography is as easy as inputting an address and letting your mobile phone tell you how to get there.
And as mapping technology advances, it allows for far more than foolproof directions. Federal agencies now use geospatial data, geo-analytics and multi-layered maps for myriad purposes, including gathering intelligence, predicting disease outbreaks and sharing data pools with the public.
The allure of mapping lies in its intuitiveness. Even simple “dots on a map can be a powerful way to see trends in data,” said Josh Campbell, geographic information system architect for the Humanitarian Information Unit at the State Department. “Maps are a compressed mechanism for storytelling.”
Last year,HIU created a series of maps to track the mass migration of Syrians displaced by the country’s ongoing violence. The HIU team combined data from thousands of media and internal reports with commercial satellite imagery. Each map provided a geographical snapshot of a place. Together, they showed trends over time and revealed the areas with the most intense conflict.
That is perhaps the most important aspect of maps: They make for better decision-making. Maps gain their value in three ways:
As a way of recording and storing information
Governments, businesses, and society as large must store large quantities of information about the environment and the location of natural resources, capital assets, and people. Included are plat, parcel, and cadastral maps to record property, maps of society’s infrastructure or utilities for water, power, and telephone, and transportation, and census maps of population.
As a means of analyzing locational distributions and spatial patterns
Maps let us recognize spatial distributions and relationships and make it possible for us to visualize and hence conceptualize patterns and processes that operate through space.
As a method of presenting information and communicating findings
Maps allow us to convey information and findings that are difficult to express verbally. Maps can also be used to convince and persuade, or even propagandize.
US State’s Humanitarian Information Unit collects, analyzes and disseminates unclassified information regarding humanitarian emergencies, and publishes high-quality maps that track relevant variables such as refugee migration and global health initiatives. The HIU team consists of roughly 20 analysts, researchers, geospatial analysts, cartographers and developers under the department’s Office of the Geographer and Global Issues.
The team is known for its accuracy, and HIU’s maps are widely cited by the media. But the work is intensive. In 2013, the team was particularly busy tracking the civil war in Syria. To document the migration of refugees, analysts pooled data from media reports, commercial satellite imagery and internal documents. Then subject-matter experts sifted through the data to ensure its legitimacy, technical staffers built corresponding datasets, GIS analysts compiled the data, and cartographers produced the finished products.
Some maps showed the displacement of refugees over time while others mapped the escape routes and destinations of the 1.8 million Syrian refugees, including the hot spots from which they fled, where they went and where the humanitarian resources were located. The maps gave decision-makers valuable insight into the conflict from a humanitarian standpoint.
“Maps unlock a great cognitive power,” Josh Campbell, GIS architect at HIU said. “Visualization, whether graphical or geographical, simplifies complex relationships. Maps can help people make sense of complex humanitarian emergencies and understand what is happening on the ground.”
Why Use GIS?
When floods in Colorado caused massive damage throughout the state in September 2013, geographic information systems (GIS) and web maps integrated current data, providing a comprehensive view of the constantly evolving situation to government officials and the public.
An interactive public information map posted by Esri, a GIS software company, showed observed flooding, flood warnings, and precipitation and collected citizens’ observations that had been shared on Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. Other government agencies generated interactive web maps that shared information on flooded areas, closed roads, and shelters for evacuees. The City of Longmont created a story map that documented the flooding of the St. Vrain River and Left Hand Creek.
These maps are examples of how GIS has gone from a technology that is nice to have to one that is essential, especially for small- to medium-size jurisdictions dealing with increasing demands and depleted resources.
Established but Evolving
What is GIS?
It is an information system for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced data.
With GIS, data can be viewed, understood, interrogated, interpreted, and visualized on a map in ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends that would not be apparent otherwise. GIS technology can be integrated into any enterprise information system framework and works with common business tools such as Microsoft Excel and IBM Cognos.
GIS is nothing new to many jurisdictions. Beginning in the 1990s, it was implemented in departments such as planning and health. Initially, it often was acquired for a specific project; later, the use of GIS expanded to improve many processes in a department. The benefits of GIS — cost savings and increased efficiency, better decision-making, improved communication, and better record keeping — encouraged the spread of its use across organizations. Public works, planning, land records, facilities management, utilities, transportation, water, wastewater, health and human services, elections, environmental management, economic development, and public safety are just a few of the disciplines in municipal government that use GIS.
Since its initial adoption, GIS technology has evolved from a desktop application to a web-centric platform. While supporting the work of GIS professionals on desktop machines, the web platform makes the benefits of this work available throughout the organization through maps and apps that are stored and accessed from a cloud-based system. This web-centric approach also makes the most current imagery, traffic, and weather data available for use with a jurisdiction’s local data.
Doing More with Less
Even as municipal governments recover from the recent recession, they must deal with tighter budgets and fewer staff members. The need to deliver services in an efficient and cost-effective manner is greater than ever.
Residents expect services from their municipal government, whether a small town or a big city. Small to medium-sized municipalities provide these services with far fewer resources than their bigger counterparts. Many jurisdictions are turning to technology, specifically GIS, to better deliver services to citizens. Governments have expanded the used of GIS to improve not just the way a government works, but the way it works for citizens.
For decades, the entire water system for Princeton, Ill., was documented in a small, carefully guarded sketchbook known as “the Bible.” To respond to emergencies as well as perform routine maintenance, city staff needed access to that information. They also needed a current inventory of the water system infrastructure to support field workers.
However, the city, with a population of just under 8,000, did not have extensive staffing to meet these goals. With the help of a consultant, the original pages were scanned and that information was incorporated into a GIS. The 4,600 photographs documenting the system’s components were added and geocoded, and this information moved to a cloud-based GIS. Now the information contained in the original documents not only has been backed up and updated with the current inventory, but is accessible directly by crews in the field responding to system issues.
Seeing the Big Picture
Interactive web maps provide information in context. They also make the results of GIS analysis available to policy makers without requiring that they become proficient with GIS technology.
Operation dashboards fed by GIS that are automatically updated use maps and charts to monitor, track, and report events. Incorporating live feeds allows the most current data to be visualized and comprehended by knowledge workers and executives.
Government That Works for Citizens
People are now more connected to each other through the web and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. They have come to expect that they can use those same tools to connect to businesses and, increasingly, government. This has been part of a change in the relationship between government and the governed in recent years. Increasingly, citizens lack both the time and inclination to travel to government — they want and expect government to be available and responsive to them.
GIS has helped governments meet these new demands. A Florida city of just 16,000 residents incorporates GIS in a portal that makes its permitting process convenient and transparent to citizens. When the City of Marco issues a new building permit, citizens receive a tweet with information on the permit, with a link to a copy of the permit, and a map of the permit location, as well as other information in the Citizen Access Portal. A real-time database, the portal keeps track of permit and inspection data, relating proposed activity to the existing built environment and landscape.
Web maps are also an effective tool for communicating government operations and programs. For example, mapping capital improvement projects lets citizens know where, when, and how money is being spent on these projects. Direct access to this information promotes transparency and accountability, which in turn builds confidence in government.
In effect, GIS also has added many more eyes to government oversight by enlisting the help of citizens. With smartphone-based, map-centric apps, municipal governments can tap into the power of crowdsourcing by enabling citizens to report problems such as potholes, graffiti, and other concerns. The GPS capabilities in smartphones furnish location information to the app. Citizens fill out the app’s simple form describing the problem and can upload photos of it. Once reported, an incident can be monitored, letting the responding citizen and others track the resolution of that problem. This encourages government responsiveness and demonstrates accountability.
More Than Just Mapping
With the migration of GIS to the web, governments can use GIS-generated maps, apps, and data to improve business processes and inform decision-making. This helps keep communities both safe and sustainable. The advantages of using a geographic framework are not limited to large cities and counties — they are equally available to smaller municipal governments. Web-centric GIS helps small to medium-sized municipal governments be responsive, transparent, and accountable. It encourages citizens to stay informed and engaged with their government.
By Ian Isaacs, Esri regional manager
Fact: Climate scientists lobbying for large-scale geoengineering
According to a news of The Gurdian, the geo-engineers are finally coming out of the “chemtrail” closet, as reports are now emerging about deliberate plans in the works to dump untold tons of sulfate chemicals into the atmosphere for the purported purpose of fighting so-called “global warming.”
The U.K.’s Guardian and others are reporting that a multi-million dollar research fund, which just so happens to have been started and funded by Microsoft founder and vaccine enthusiast Bill Gates, is being used to fund the project. A large balloon hovering at 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner, New Mexico, will release the sulfates into the atmosphere within the next year.
The stated purpose for this massive release of toxic sulfate particles is that doing so will allegedly reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere, and thus cool the planet. But many environmental groups and advocates of common sense are decrying the idea as dangerous, and one that could result in permanent damage to ecosystems all across the globe.
“Impacts include the potential for further damage to the ozone layer, and disruption of rainfall, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions, potentially threatening the food supplies of billions of people,” said Pat Mooney, Executive Director of the ETC Group, a Canadian environmental protection group.
“It will do nothing to decrease levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or halt ocean acidification. And solar geo-engineering is likely to increase the risk of climate-related international conflict, given that the modeling to date shows it poses greater risks to the global south.”
But the Gates-backed cohort is persistent in its efforts to geo-graffiti the world, as its scientists insist that governments are not doing enough to fight back against the supposed environment impacts of global warming. If governments refuse to implement high enough carbon taxes to eliminate greenhouse gases, in other words, then Gates and Co. believes it has no choice but to “save the planet” by polluting it with sulfate particles.
Spraying the skies with sulfate particles will destroy the planet faster than ‘global warming’ ever could. Chemtrails Sulfate particles are toxic, though, and constitute the very same type of ambient particulate matter (PM) that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers to be a noxious air pollutant. Deliberately spraying the skies with tiny particles composed of any material, for that matter, is hazardous both to respiratory health in humans and animals, as well as to water sources, soils, and other delicate environmental resources.
“Sulfate particles from acid rain can cause harm to the health of marine life in the rivers and lakes it contaminates, and can result in mortality,” says an online water pollution guide (http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/health.html). A University of Washington (UW) report also explains that sulfate particles “contribute to acid rain, cause lung irritation, and have been a main culprit in causing the haze that obscures a clear view of the Grand Canyon.”
Blocking the sun with reflective particles will also deprive humans of natural sunlight exposure, which is a primary source for naturally generating health-promoting vitamin D in the body. So once again, Bill Gates is at the helms of a project that seeks to control the climate in artificial ways using toxic chemicals, an endeavor that is sure to create all sorts of potentially irreversible problems for humanity and the planet.
The French government has agreed to open its Spot optical Earth observation data archive and distribute, free of charge to noncommercial users, Spot satellite data that is at least five years old.
The Jan. 23 announcement by the French space agency, CNES, followed a French government commitment made Jan. 17 during a meeting in Geneva of the 80 governments that comprise the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).
CNES said its decision was made in concert with Airbus Defence and Space, formerly named Astrium Services, which since 2008 has been the majority shareholder in the company that commercializes Spot data.
CNES said the move to open up access to Spot imagery, which dates from 1986, “is the first major contribution from the private sector to the construction of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).”
CNES has already begun processing, at its own charge, a first tranche of 100,000 images that will be available later this year.
The French government decision follows a similar decision, made in 2013, by the European Commission to make freely available much of the data from the future Copernicus series of optical and radar Earth observation satellites. At the same time, the commission is taking steps to protect the still-fragile European private sector that makes a business of selling imagery commercially.
In the Hackathon event there will be four kinds of registration process in the category of Problem Solvers, Tech-Mentors, Financiers, Problem statement Owners.
If you are an university student or tech professional doing job/business, you can team up with up to 5 multi-disciplinary members and register for the event to solve given problems. Outcome/solutions will be mobile apps for any platform.
If you are expert in a particular sector in making apps, you can register yourself as mentor of the team. Your responsibility will be helping the participating problem solving team from your area of expertise. You also can choose to work with the tea after Hackathon to develop the Mobile apps further.
It is good chance for investing or helping the problem solver teams to mentor/networking them to get access to finance (i.e. seed funding etc.) to develop their Mobile app prototype further. These are very innovative solutions. So, you can register your organisation or individually to find investment scopes.
Problem statement Owners
All those problems are coming from development sector in the thematic area of Water, Sanitation, Health and behavior changing education. We welcome GO/NGO/INGO/NFP/Donor/Private sector and any other organisations who have experience working in these thematic area and especially interest to implement/integrate these solutions to their own project to register in this category.
It is REGISTERED ONLY event. So register for the event the way you want to get involved with this COOL & Global standard event
arranged by World Bank.
You may find following links useful.
Hackathon AppFest in a Glance
he Asia and the Pacific region has experienced some of the most damaging disasters in recent decades, with alarming consequences for human welfare. At the same time, the climate in the region has been changing. Temperatures have been higher, on average, and also more variable and more extreme. Countries in Asia and the Pacific are more prone to natural disasters than those in other parts of the world, with people in the region four times more likely to be affected by natural catastrophe than those in Africa and 25 times more vulnerable than Europeans or North Americans, a United Nations report released shows. Major natural disasters around Asia and the Pacific in 2013 have caused tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars in damages in recent years. This interactive infographic creeated by Asian Development Bank details the scope and scale of these devastating events:
Aid workers are getting vital details about the trail of destruction left by Typhoon Haiyan, including damage to individual streets and buildings, from online maps developed with contributions from Red Cross staff and volunteers across the world.
A British Red Cross team is using the latest satellite photos and reports from a range of sources to help update maps that could save lives in the aftermath of the disaster.
The work, in partnership with the American Red Cross, is part of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team project – an interactive map that can be viewed and edited by anyone with an internet connection.
The British Red Cross mapping team has 17 members and has been active since 2010, but in the wake of the disaster is focusing its efforts on a single task for the first time.
How the mapping process works
Using satellite images taken after the typhoon, the team is updating maps of the worst affected areas with information about damage to buildings. By looking at recent pictures to find out whether structures are partly or totally destroyed, they can give aid workers information about blocked roads or the scale of destruction in a particular neighbourhood.
Other details mapped include the number of people reported missing in different areas and the location of Red Cross aid workers. Sources include figures from the Red Cross and other organisations like the UN. The maps are ‘layered’ so users can choose to see the information that’s relevant to them.
Updates are made every hour of every day, so the maps are constantly evolving source of data. In a fast-changing situation like the aftermath of a typhoon, up-to-date information can make a huge difference to the work of those on the ground.
Andrew Braye, who leads the British Red Cross’ involvement in the project, said the organisation is using this kind of mapping more and more. It’s made possible by new technology and the growth of online collaboration tools such as OpenStreetMap and Google Docs. These let individuals and organisations work together to create new online tools that can be used by everyone.
The team has been using its mapping expertise to support the British Red Cross for three years – helping everyone from aid workers planning trips abroad to volunteers dealing with emergencies in the UK.
As well as Red Cross staff, its members include digital volunteers recruited through adverts on the internet and events linked to digital mapping. The team usually works on a wide range of projects – but for the first time has come together to focus on a single task.
Volunteer Johnny Henshall has recently completed a Masters in geographical information systems. He said: “It’s a chance for me to use the skills I’ve just got. This is what I want to be doing. It’s amazing to be able to help – there aren’t many opportunities to do this for a humanitarian organisation.”
Andrew says the team’s “revolving door” of volunteers brings in people with highly specialised skills who would normally cost a huge amount to employ. But many are willing to give their time for a few weeks or months between paid contracts.
Could you join the team?
If you have some spare time and know how to use PostgreSQL, PostGIS, GeoServer and OpenLayers, the team would like to hear from you. Email them for more information.
Scientists use climate models to predict how Earth’s climate will change. Climate models are computer programs with mathematical equations. They are programmed to simulate past climate as accurately as possible. This gives scientists some confidence in a climate model’s ability to predict the future.
Climate models predict that Earth’s average temperature will keep rising over the next 100 years or so. There may be a year or years where Earth’s average temperature is steady or even falls. But the overall trend is expected to be up.
Earth’s average temperature is expected to rise even if the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere decreases. But the rise would be less than if greenhouse gas amounts remain the same or increase.
Take a look at this amazing visualization that explains how we’ve treated the Earth over the past 100 years and what the next 100 might hold.
Dr. Matthew Hansen at the University of Maryland, we’ve built the first detailed maps of the world’s forests, from 2000-2012, documenting and quantifying forest landscape changes such as fires, tornadoes, disease and logging.
The most significant findings were that the overall rate of tropical deforestation is increasing, and global forests have experienced a net loss of 1.5M sq km during 2000-2012 due to both natural (disturbance) and human causes. That’s a loss of forested land comparable in size to the entire state of Alaska.
A little more than 300,000 square miles of forest was established or replanted worldwide between 2000 and 2012. Unfortunately, almost 900,000 square miles was destroyed during the same time period — logged, ravaged by fire, or attacked by insects.
Those are the main conclusions of a study that examined hundreds of thousands of images snapped by the U.S. government’s Landsat satellites. Academic researchers partnered with Google staff to produce stunning maps displaying the world’s forests and areas that have been deforested or reforested since 2000. Those maps were used to produce the following short videos:
About a third of the deforestation occurred in the tropics, and half of that was in South America. Logging and clearing of land for farming were responsible for much of the loss. Hearteningly, the researchers found that deforestation has been slowing down in Brazil, where worldwide concerns about the loss of the Amazon have helped spur domestic efforts to save the rainforest. But that slowdown was offset by increasing losses in other countries.
“Although Brazilian gross forest loss is the second highest globally, other countries, including Malaysia, Cambodia, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Argentina, and Paraguay, experienced a greater percentage of loss of forest cover,” the scientists wrote in the paper, published Thursday in Science. “Given consensus on the value of natural forests to the Earth system, Brazil’s policy intervention is an example of how awareness of forest valuation can reverse decades of previous wide-spread deforestation.”
The tropics lost more forest cover during the study period than any other region. The second-worst hit were the boreal forests of spruce, fir, and larch in and around the Arctic, with fire the leading cause. Previous research has shown that these forests are burning at a rate not seen in at least 10,000 years, with climate change increasing temperatures and drying out the landscape.
That wasn’t the only worrisome climate-related finding in the new paper. The mountains of the American West are losing forests due not only to logging, but also because of fire and disease — with mountain pine bark beetles marching up mountains as temperatures warm, feasting on banquets of ill-prepared pines.
The loss of forests is making it even more difficult for the Earth to suck back up all the carbon dioxide that we’re pumping into its atmosphere.
- The world is still losing its forests, and these beautiful satellite maps tally the toll by John Upton
- Global Forest Change, University of Maryland
- High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change, Science