GIS Education News Weekly: Wellesley Green Team, Subsidence, Smart Campus

Wellesley, MA Green Team Does Image Analysis for Solar Power in Town

Residents of Wellesley, MA might receive mail from the high school's Green Team in the coming days.

In order to further encourage residents to consider this opportunity [for solar panels on their homes], high school students volunteered to identify and send letters to any homes in town that appear solar-suitable (minimal tree coverage, roof facing east, south, or west). After determining the 2,600 homes, students drafted a letter to residents that would inform them of their property’s potential for solar and suggest their next steps in looking into it, a document that would be sent to the homeowners of all 2,600 houses.

No word on what imagery was used or where students learned the required techniques. And, sadly, the initiative seems to have some commercial backend.

The mailing was modeled after projects that high school students did for similar solar campaigns in other towns, including Lexington and Concord. Concord also used the same solar company as Wellesley with wide success, with many residents purchasing solar systems and many other towns following suit.

For those not from around here, all the towns named are higher up on the socio-economic ladder. 

Vietnam Pizza Map

Last week students majoring in Restaurant Management of Ho Chi Minh City-based Hoa Sen (Lotus) University’s Linguistics and Culture Study Faculty and their instructors and administrators created a 6 square meter pizza in the shape of Vietnam. Why? To express support for the country’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos in the East Vietnam Sea.

Teaching Cops about Geospatial Technology

Bevill State and Sumiton police departments [Alabama] sponsored three days of classes this week to teach local police officers how to collect and use cell phone and GPS data.

The course covered both legal and technical issues.

Smart Campus Meeting Documents Available

UCSB shared this via the UCGIS list:

The final report on  Advancing the Spatially Enabled Smart Campus (specialist meeting in Santa Barbara CA , 11-12 December  2013) is now available at  At this site, you can also access the position papers from 35 participants, nearly two-dozen presentations, and notes from breakout sessions. Participants included campus planners, facility managers, and sustainability officers; librarians, faculty, and students; and representatives from industry (geographic information systems and mapping, sensor networks, and smart-cities software systems for resource management of buildings).

The primary focus of the meeting was to evaluate and assess the role of spatial technologies to (1) enhance sustainability through management of campus physical infrastructure and (2) to facilitate knowledge infrastructure by integrating information resources that are consistent with the educational and research missions of colleges and universities. The attention given to spatial perspectives and tools provided a common framework for uniting these general constituencies. It was concluded that institutions of higher learning should be vanguards of innovation in demonstrating the value of widespread geo-coding, visualization, and spatial analysis of campus physical resources, campus intellectual and social activities, interdisciplinary research, and interactions between campuses and neighboring communities.

GIS Club Maps Subsidence

After some archers noted holes in their field in Lewistown, MT, officials called in the local students to do some mapping. The field lies over some abandoned mines.

These  hazards were first reported by bow hunters practicing at the archery range. DEQ employees investigated the hazards, and along with the landowners, Becky and Mel Jackson, were placed in contact with the Junior High School’s GIS Club. Suzie Flentie, the Club’s leader, was very excited about the possibility of the students gaining some historical knowledge of abandoned mines in the area, as well as providing the Club’s participants with an opportunity to use their GIS and GPS skills in a real world situation.

I found the YouTube video, too. It's from the EsriEdTeam.

Mapping Elephants

A study published recently in the journal Ecological Applications by researchers at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Colorado State University, U.S. and Save the Elephants, Kenya reports on the use of advanced technology to help monitor and protect African elephants.

The sophisticated tracking system built by the study’s lead author – Jake Wall – collects, analyzes and reports on the movements and activities of nearly 100 African elephants in real-time in an effort to both understand the ecology of movement and also to protect these threatened animals.


The tracking system was developed using Geographical Information System (GIS) software components donated by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) in California, runs from the Amazon EC2 Cloud – the same cloud servers that power Netflix, and allows real time visualization of animal movements on Google Earth.

Oklahoma Keeps Geography Assessments: Victory(?)

Geography advocates, including Eugene Earsom, Gary Gress, and others from the Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education, and NG Policy Liaison Beth Ratway, worked diligently throughout the spring to defeat Senate Bill 1654 in Oklahoma. Last week, they succeeded!

The bill would have eliminated state assessments in social studies in grades five and eight, as well as geography in grade seven. (The seventh grade world geography test is the only time students are tested on geographic knowledge.) This legislation threatened to marginalize geography, history, civics, and economics learning in Oklahoma, leaving students with a deficit in their fundamental K-12 education.

The geography test I had in seventh grade in Massachusetts was to label the countries; I hope this one is a bit more modern

The news is from the Arizona Geographic Alliance. The news has yet to break on the Oklahoma Alliance site. Yep, that's a little nudge to get it posted!

AidData Summer Fellows

There are 21 AidData summer fellows, scattered across the globe to to enhanced education and use of GIS. Eight are affiliated with William and Mary.

OpenStreetMap Webinar

UNIGIS webinar on "Making Maps from OpenStreetMap Data", June 10, 17:00 (MEZ)
UNIGIS International regularly provides webinars - so called u_Lectures (*). At June 10 17:00 MEZ Prof. Stefan Keller is speaking on "Making Maps from OpenStreetMap Data". Registration is now open: 

GIS Training Manual for Historians and Social Scientists

Jack Owens of Idaho State University offers a free GIS training manual (with data and exercises) for historians and historical social scientists. It was developed under an NSF grant, is offered with Creative Commons license and uses MapWindow, an open source GIS package.

Thanks Grand Dad!

Joseph Dignam of York, ME graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington on May 10 with a degree in GIS. He was one of only three seniors in his degree field to receive the Myron Starbird Award for Excellence in Geography and Environmental Policy and Planning. The award came with $750. The best part? His grandfather Jerry Dignam of Hampton, N.H. shared the news with the local paper. Good luck graduate!

Midwest Edu Maps

The Regional Education Laboratory at Midwest at American Institutes for Research (AIR) offers a series of maps (they are story maps, officially) of education data in the midwest (IL, IN, IA, WI, MI, MN, OH). The project was funded by the US Dept of Education. via @josephkerski

AAG Awards

The AAG published the names of award winners from its 2014 event (back in April).

Esri Ed UC Plenary Speaker Announced

  • Christopher Swanson is the Vice President of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week and will delivery the Saturday plenary.
  • Scott L. Thomas of Claremont Graduate University will present Sunday’s plenary address. Scott is professor and dean of CGU’s School of Educational Studies and editor in chief of the Journal of Higher Education. 
  • Ludmilla Pavlova is Senior Facilities Planner in Campus Planning at UMass Amherst and is responsible for master plan programming and planning for research, academic and administrative facilities. She speaks on Tuesday.

There are discussants for each plenary.

Ohio State's Merry Passes

UCGIS shared the sad news that  Carolyn Merry, 63, professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering at The Ohio State University, died Tuesday June 3, 2014, in a car accident. We are not having a good week; USGS's Doug Nebert died in a plane crash.

Published Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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