Category Archives: Vision
I serve on the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Advisory Board charged with providing independent advice to the US government on GPS-related policy, planning, program management, and funding. When Lightsquared proposed operating an LTE network in a spectrum adjacent to the GPS spectrum with conditional approval by the FCC, our Board and others raised deep concerns about interference with GPS receivers. The FCC subsequently revoked the conditional approval. In anticipation of similar interference in the future, the PNT Executive Committee, made up of nine federal deputy secretaries, decided that, in consideration of the presidential directive to find more broadband spectrum, even if there might be interference with the GPS signal, our Advisory Board should be tasked with documenting the socioeconomic value of GPS services. The subtle inference was that GPS might be a lesser priority than LTE and broadband access.
So, just how would you document the social and economic benefits provided by GPS? GPS is used practically everywhere today. GPS produces direct and indirect economic and social benefits, tangible and intangible. Expand that thought to include all the geospatial applications in use today such as national security and safety of life. Then include precision agriculture and water resource management and the use of mapping to improve decision making in emergency management, managing endangered species, conducting property tax assessments and verifying insurance claims. Add in many more, including the geo-referencing of earth observation and remote sensing data. Geospatial data is BIG data. Continue reading
Spatial analysis is built in to who we are, and is becoming a common language across organizations
You may not realize it, but you learned about spatial analysis at an early age—probably around the time you started walking. At around two years old, you started to become aware of where you were at any given moment. Soon after that, you started learning how to navigate—from room to room, from inside to outside, and learning how to get from home to school. And at some point, you developed the ability to recognize spatial patterns—a street changed from being safe to dangerous—neighborhoods had their own characteristics.
Spatial analysis is how we understand our world—mapping where things are, how they relate, what it all means, and what actions to take. That’s why whenever we look at maps, we inherently start turning them into instruments for making decisions. Continue reading
Geography just might be the answer to putting big data into context and making it work for everyone
We are all aware that technological advances have increased the size of the data we can capture and manage. I remember reading that approximately 90 percent of all the data in the world today has been created in just that last few years. And more than 75 percent of that data is unstructured, coming from social media, smart phones, text messages, and other sources.
Obviously, the Internet has a lot to do with this explosion of raw data. New industries have been created to help us manage big data, to process it, and to make it consumable. But the real return on investment for organizations is to make big data useful. Continue reading
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited world leaders from government, business, and society to the UN Climate Summit 2014 to stimulate action on climate change. He asked them to bring big ideas and messages that could help reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will to hopefully pave the way for a meaningful global agreement in 2015.
I was deeply honored to be invited to speak about GIS and resilience last week at the UN Climate Summit 2014. Following is a summary of my talk there.
Next-generation techniques are already changing the way we do science. Recently the National Academy of Sciences convened a Workshop on Identifying Transformative Research in the Geographical Sciences. Given that so many of the challenges that we currently face are place-based … Continue reading
Temperature shifts, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire, and floods… We’re already seeing the effects of climate change manifested in many ways. These changes are placing critical habitats at risk, shifting ecosystems, reducing water supplies, creating health concerns, and … Continue reading
New Tools Will Help Us Meet the World’s Challenges
We try to predict the future every day. You think about what the weather might be like. You think about what might happen with your favorite sports team. You think about what the future might hold for you.
Beyond prediction, some of us are actually engaged professionally in creating the future. Because as Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create the future.”
Every issue from pollution to habitat to biodiversity and beyond has a geographic component, and thus can be studied in the field. Because the world is rapidly changing, and because large organizations have cut back on many of their field staffs, much of the critically needed field data can and should come from citizen scientists.
What is “citizen science”?
“Citizen science is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists, often by crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.”
Consider the major environmental issues of our 21st Century world: Coastal erosion, air, soil, and water pollution, urbanization, desertification, habitat loss, invasive species, and Continue reading
In Al Gore’s latest book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, he points out that it took nearly all of human history–some 200,000 years–to create the first billion people. It took only 12 years to create the last billion. We currently welcome about 1.5 million people to the planet every week, mostly in developing countries.
For the first time in recorded history, more than 50% of humanity now lives in cities. By 2050, some 80% will live in cities. Urbanization is already having a profound impact on our lives, yet we have little understanding of the unintended consequences.
Updated December 4, 2014
With all the recent excitement and good hopes over the White House Climate Data Initiative, and the ongoing progress of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), there is another huge data initiative that bears mention: EarthCube.
I have used the word “initiative” for EarthCube but it has also been described as a vision, as a multi-faceted, multi-layered partnership, and also as a “virtual organization.” As such, it bears quite a bit of resemblance to the international GEOSS, but is much more US-based, having been conceived and currently funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). Continue reading