GIS Education News Weekly: Mandela Map, QGIS Data, Robinson on Crimea

Follow in Mandela's Footsteps

The South Africa tourist board has created a map so visitors can follow in Nelson Mandela, footsteps. It's got a timeline, links and details needed to visit the sites. I suspect it'd also be useful for educators. And yes, you could call it a story map though Esri technology does not seem to be involved.

County Public Spaces in a Story Map

An interactive map from Montgomery County's Planning Department shows public spaces in development projects in downtown Bethesda, Silver Spring and Friendship Heights. It's a story map. I wonder if that's what readers expected?

University of Minnesota Grad Students Working on Project Tango

Google's 3D cell phone data capture solution, Project Tango, is tapping talent from graduate students at the University of Minnesota as part of a $1.35M grant.

GeoDa at 100,000 Downloads

GeoDa, a free open source spatial data analysis package developed at Arizona State's GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation, has now been downloaded 100,000 times as of March 12. It's used in academia, at Census and elsewhere.

NGA Hosts Seniors

Three high school seniors presented their research to scientists, mentors and fellow students as part of the agency’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics High School Symposium, March 12 at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Springfield, Va. Twenty students attended and got a tour of the facility in addition to doing some networking.

Mapping Tree-Kangaroo Habitat

The School for Field Studies Distinguished Student Research Award went to a team including Erin Emmons ’15, a biology major at the College of the Holy Cross. The pair did field work in Australia and used GIS during fall semester.

Emmons, of Rockville Centre, N.Y., shares the award with research partner Wes Hauser of Wabash College while working at the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in northeastern Queensland. The students used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to focus on the habitat of the Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo.

AAG Member to be on Showtime Series on Climate Change

AAG member and Environmental Defense Fund fellow Nekya Young will be on Showtime's “Years of Living Dangerously,” a documentary series on climate change. The episode explores how EDF Climate Corps fellows, like Young, work to make businesses more environmentally friendly. The series starts on April 13.

Dept of State offers Resources for Students that Explain what it Does

Secretary of State Kerry mentioned two new educational offerings at talk at a University Town Hall.  Diplomacy Lab is a new initiative in which both the students and members of the faculty in their schools grapple with a wide range of global issues and contribute from their perspective, to the creation of State Department policy.

There's also a new, interactive map, Department of State by State, where users are invited to explore the State Department engagement in each of the 50 states. 

Clark Labs to Map Shrimp Habitats

Clark Labs has received a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to create a baseline map of coastal habitats and the distribution of shrimp mariculture in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. The analysis is based on a digital classification of LANDSAT 8 remotely sensed imagery and will also provide the basis for the evaluation of coastal habitats at risk for future conversion to shrimp farming.

Maps for India

The India Network Foundation project director in India has received numerous requests in the last few months to organize the map donation program. India Network invites everyone to join and make this project a great success. More details of the project can be found on the foundation web site

QGIS Antarctica Data

A free for non-commercial use GIS dataset is available from Quantarctica. The dataset includes geography, glaciology and geophysics data originally developed for use at the the Norwegian Polar Institute.  

QGIS Quiz Plugin (BETA)

Just before the beginning of the Vienna Code Sprint of OSGeo the QGIS Quiz Plugin was released. It allows user to write and answer multiple choice and other forms of questions. It uses Moodle's GIFT format. Info and download (BETA) info.  Word is Rafael, from the Geometa Lab which produced it, will be available for discussions and questions at the Vienna Code Sprint.

PSU's Robinson on Cartography and Borders

Anthony Robinson spoke to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Day 6 radio show about why borders are tricky for cartographers in situations like the recent changes in Crimea.
GIS Certificate of Completion
Centralia College in Washington State announced a GIS Certificate of Completion, something that's new to me.
The purpose of the Geographic Information System (GIS) Certificate of Completion is to introduce e students to GIS and its connection to their chosen fields of study. The GIS Certificate of Completion is not an actual "degree program" as such, and does not in itself provide students with sufficient training to find employment as GIS analysts.
It includes six courses and runs anywhere between $1400 and $3300.
Pennsylvania Spatial Cognition Symposium 
Led by the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Temple University, the 1st Pennsylvania Spatial Cognition Symposium is being organized. It will provide a platform for researchers to exchange ideas, present their results, and get inspired by a transdisciplinary discourse. The symposium is particularly focusing on students and discussions with additional contributions from leading researchers in the field in form of keynotes.
Event is May 2-4 at Penn State. Abstracts due April 5. Details here.
West Point Wants ArcGIS
This is a very strange request for sources suggests that the Army is not aware of the vendor for ArcGIS and that it believes ArcGIS is a database.
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point intends to award a sole-source contract to ESRI, Inc. for their ArcGIS database. We are interested in learning if any other firm (other than ESRI)is authorized to re-sell this database. Please note: we are only interested in this specific database -- no substitutions.

Finding ESL Services in Nashville

An online map at shows about 50 different venues hosting English as a Second Language (ESL) courses in the Nashville area. Where did it come from? A Hack for Change event in the city.

Cape May High Schoolers Look at GIS in Law Enforcement

Students from Skills USA at Cape May High School (NJ) looked at the GIS and law enforcement and won a gold medal for their presentation (at some competition I guess). Principal Adams, who does not seem to know what GIS is, announced it at a board meeting: “Students from Skills USA Law and Public Safety earned a gold medal for their presentation ‘GIS in Law Enforcement.’ First year law and public safety students Farah Almadani, Joslyn Nelson and Chris Russ prepared and presented a seminar on the Practical Application of Global information Technologies Systems. The law and public safety program is under the direction of Matt Pleasants. Julie Stratton provided additional assistance to the project.”

Students Fake a Traffic Jam on Waze

Two Technion (Israel) students launched a successful cyberattack on the traffic app Waze, causing it to report a nonexistent traffic jam. The good news: the jam was on a small road on campus. The other good news: they shared the project with waze to help it ward off such an attack.

Geo Skills Plus Workshop I, Harderwijk, Netherlands
The Geo Skills project will focus primarily on four countriesBelgium, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Netherlands.

The 2-year project aims to help provide an infrastructure to improve cooperation between vocational education and training and the world of work. This will enhance employability and participation in the geospatial labour market.

It's May 21-22. Details here.

BioBlitz and Biodiversity Festival this Weekend, San Francisco
The event is 28-29, 2014 celebrates the biodiversity of the Golden Gate National Parks includes expert-led species inventories with more than 5,000 volunteer scientists, students, and community members. Also, a HUGE two-day Biodiversity Festival (tented) at Crissy Field’s East Beach in the Presidio of San Francisco. It's free.
School Boundaries with Geovisual Analytic Software

The Iowa City Community School District developed at 10 year $258 million facility plan for the 13,000-student district. How? Using GuideK12's "geovisual analytic software."

"Many of these tasks could be done with other GIS-type tools, but would take us twice as long and would require multiple sources to gather the needed information," said David Dude, COO at Iowa City Community School District, in a prepared statement. "With GuideK12, we have the ability to view data instantly and mapped geographically. Our facility master plan includes measures to ensure school populations are evenly distributed."

Not sure why there's an insistence this is not GIS.

Published Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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