Kevin Johnston has been part of Esri’s software development team for more than 20 years, focusing on the ArcGIS Spatial Analyst extension and various aspects of dynamic and statistical modeling. In addition to working at Esri, Kevin does volunteer conservation work on a variety of conservation projects, including elephant-movement models for Amboseli National Park in Kenya, snow leopard corridor models in Nepal, and agent-based models of cougar movement in Arizona. With the release of a new book he edited called Agent Analyst: Agent-Based Modeling in ArcGIS, I asked Kevin to share some basic information on agent-based modeling and how the GIS community might leverage it in their projects. Continue reading
Change has been the constant for the US demographic landscape recently. Two major demographic differences since Census 2000 are the growth of minority populations and changes to household composition. Traditional households of “dad, mom, two kids, and a dog” are no longer the norm. Household types are changing and evolving, so it may be a slow goodbye to the household types portrayed in “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Cosby Show”, and hello to a group of entirely different kind of households. Continue reading
We’re fortunate to be engaged as GIS professionals today. Never before has there been so much potential to transform the work we do and the organizations we serve geospatially. What do we need for this transformation? We need authoritative data at … Continue reading
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
Thus spoke President Barack Obama in his 2nd inaugural address, to the delight of many, if not most in the scientific community. Indeed, there are many societal problems across the world that increasingly revolve around science. These include pollution and waste management, pandemics and biosecurity, access to clean air and clean drinking water, response to and recovery from natural disasters, choices among energy resources (oil and gas versus nuclear versus “alternative”), and the loss of open space in urban areas, as well as biodiversity in rural areas. And yet, there is a tension between the world of science, which is focused on discovery, and the world of policy making, which is focused on decisions.
Ferren, the chief creative officer of Applied Minds LLC, returned to Esri in January to keynote at the fourth Geodesign Summit and reiterate his first call to action and deliver another: Develop a 250-year plan for the planet enabled by geodesign to create a vision of the future.
“Geodesign combines geography and data with modeling, simulation, and visualization to tell stories and (show) the consequences of your actions,” Ferren told more than 260 architects, urban and transportation planners, GIS and design professionals, educators, and others at the most well-attended Geodesign Summit to date. He sees great potential for geodesign to ultimately help find solutions to complex problems. “It is still in the shiny object stage but it will be very important,” he said.
At the foundation of Esri’s work are the belief and vision that geography is a science that creates a better understanding of our world. Using GIS, geography has also become a unifying framework for integrating many forms of digital information. GIS has now become an important technology in almost every field, improving efficiency, communication, and decision making. Our users have made GIS come alive in countless applications across thousands of organizations. I would like to both acknowledge and thank our users and partners for supporting Esri’s mission of evolving our GIS technology.
Over the last four decades, Esri has evolved both its business model and technology offerings through four distinct phases always focused on GIS software services and support.
The goal of sustainable planning, policies, and governance is to design processes that return our planet to a more balanced level of use. To do so we must realign our values and earth’s ability to support them. The success of this effort is dependent upon a foundation of science, a means of collaboration, and the implementation of sustainable polices and administration. GIS is an essential tool for designing and implementing sustainable processes at a scale ranging from local to global.
People around the world continue to compile scientific data about resources, ecosystems, and human impact. GIS enables us to visualize and analyze these massive collections of data. Establishing a base for determining cause and effect, GIS tracks ecological change and provides chains of evidence of human impact. It tracks people’s land use, methods of resource extraction, and peripheral activities, such as supporting road networks. GIS manages large databases, depicts and prioritizes problems, models scenarios of both positive and negative practices, and predicts environmental outcomes. It provides the quantified information and analytical capabilities required for making location-based decisions that increase economic efficiencies and reduce consumption and contamination.
If you are a geography educator or GIS professional, you might say that “spatial thinking” is a way of reasoning about the world, facilitated by maps. However, if you are a science educator whose students need to make sense of 3-D molecular models or of cross-sections of a plant, “spatial thinking” is likely to mean something quite different. So too for cognitive psychologists who employ experimental methods to understand how people learn.
A recent Specialist Meeting on “Spatial Thinking across the College Curriculum” highlighted these different perspectives. The meeting’s purpose was to “identify the current state of our understanding of spatial thinking, identify gaps in our knowledge, and identify priorities for both research and practice in educating spatial thinkers at the college level.” Forty-three thought leaders were invited to participate, including those from Geography and GIScience, cognitive and developmental psychology, research librarians, and science education, history, landscape architecture, philosophy, and political science. Continue reading
In 2012, the US population was 313 million. Growing diversity continues to produce striking changes in the population. To provide an accurate way to track these changes, Esri created a proprietary Diversity Index that measures diversity on a scale from 0 to 100. The Diversity Index is defined as the likelihood that two persons, selected at random from the same area, would belong to a different race or ethnic group. For example, if an area’s entire population belongs to the same race or ethnic group, the Index is zero and the area has no diversity. Conversely, if the population can be evenly divided among two or more race or ethnic groups, the area’s Diversity Index increases to 100. The Diversity Index measures only the degree of diversity in an area, not its racial composition. Esri’s Diversity Index for the US has risen from 60.6 in 2010 to 61.4 in 2012, with a forecast to increase to 63.8 within five years. Continue reading
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s decision makers, and an understanding of geography and the use of geospatial technology will be crucial to helping them make good decisions that affect global health and community life. Unfortunately, geography has always been sort of an “underdog” in our educational system; it’s been misunderstood, generalized, and sometimes ignored. Even today, as we see increased focus on STEM in education, we frequently see geography completely disregarded as a component of STEM.
This is very unfortunate. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Geography touches heavily on all of these disciplines, and the application of geospatial technology helps us to better understanding cross-disciplinary phenomena and solve important problems. GIS, GPS, and remote sensing can be used to simultaneously engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math.