Monthly Archives: September 2016
Exciting news from the Arctic! Version 2 of the Arctic DEM has been released. Topographic elevation of the Arctic can now be viewed and analyzed like never before. This release extends the detailed 2 meter Alaska elevation data with additional 2m data for Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, as well as preliminary 8 meter data for the entire Arctic. Additional detailed 2 meter elevation data will be released in quarterly installments over 2017 until the arctic data is complete. This is the result of a partnership between Esri, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota.
In September 2016, the White House hosted an Arctic Ministerial meeting, with over 20 countries represented, where this data was showcased and new commitments on data provisions were sought. The goal of the meeting and the function of the new data is to help people better understand, adapt to, and address the changing conditions in the Arctic.
The four key themes include:
- Understanding Arctic-Science Challenges and their Regional and Global Implications.
- Strengthening and Integrating Arctic Observations and Data Sharing.
- Applying Expanded Scientific Understanding of the Arctic to Build Regional Resilience and Shape Global Responses.
- Using Arctic Science as a Vehicle for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education and Citizen Empowerment.
No one cares about a neighborhood more than the people who live there. People spend their days and evenings along the street, raise children, foster connections with neighbors, build businesses, grow gardens, bike, walk, and live. A few choose to engage with their civil organizations, advocating for positive change, or against negative impacts; they participate in civic meetings, and some even run for office in order to have a professional responsibility to their community. Our fundamental goal of democracy is to expand the engagement and active participation to every person.
Contemporaneously, the internet has provided a platform for immediate and global access to information and people. An increasing majority of people carry a web integrated, sensor laden, geolocated mobile computer that makes this access ubiquitous and pervasive. Whether merely reading or actively publishing information, we have an unprecedented ability to interact with both our physical and digital worlds in coordination – essentially integrating our neighborhoods with realtime and historical data about us and our communities.
One of the primary roles of government historically has been to gather resources in order to build physical infrastructure such as roads, parks, and buildings such that communities and commerce can grow and flourish. Increasingly, a new role is for government to provide a digital public infrastructure, one which supports access to information, in order to improve the efficiency of government operations as well as enable more meaningful decisions by constituents. More than just websites, new digital services are more responsive, scalable, and optimistically more effective in serving people’s needs. Combined with open data, information analysis tools, and online forums.
Dilapidated and vacant buildings in a city are a blight that not only distresses the urban landscape but causes health problems, decreases property values, and attracts criminal elements. Before managing urban blight, cities need to know where it is. Understanding a problem is half way to solving it. New Orleans is asking its community to participate in an urban blight data collection process by simply using an app that shows building photos and asks a few survey questions about the condition of the property.
New Orleans is using the app to collect data about the status of the city’s 150,000 properties. To get started, staff drove every street of the city capturing photos of each building with two consumer grade cameras with wide angle lenses, which they bought from the local tech store. They also had an integrated GPS that tagged the location to each photo taken. They then uploaded the pictures to a data layer and joined them to corresponding parcel location data.
The city did not have the resources to actually complete the survey for these properties, so it asked Esri to build a crowd sourcing solution. Esri created the Photo Survey app, which any local government can use to publish street-level photo collections. Now citizens can become involved in the community project by accessing the app, answering the questions, and clicking send to add the information to the Photo Survey data layer on the server.
In just one month people had joined in the project and completed 16,000 surveys. The simple 10 second survey is easy. Answer these six questions: 1) Is there a structure on the property? 2) Is the lot overgrown? 3) Is there apparent damage to the siding or walls? 4) is there apparent damage to the windows or doors? 5) Is there damage to the roof? 6) What’s the foundation type?
Putting remotely sensed image data to work
Imagery provides more than just plain pictures. Some sensors detect energy beyond what is humanly visible, allowing us to “see” across broad swaths of the electromagnetic spectrum. This enables scientists, geologists, farmers, botanists, and other specialists to examine conditions, events, and activities that would otherwise be hidden. The implications are profound and the applications are seemingly endless.
Expanding your point of view
Every day, the earth is directly imaged from scores of sensors in the sky and from orbit in space. Almost everything that happens is measured, monitored, photographed, and explored by thousands of imaging devices mounted on satellites, aircraft, drones, and robots. Much of this information ends up as imagery that is integrated into a large living, virtual GIS of the world, deployed on the web.
Some of these sensors see beyond what our eyes see, enabling us to view what’s not apparent. Multispectral imagery measures and captures this information about a world that has many more dimensions than just the colors of the rainbow—it sees past the limits of what our eyes perceive.
by Jyotika I. Virmani, Senior Director of Energy and Environment for XPRIZE and Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist
Over 60% of the Earth’s surface has not yet been mapped. The ocean covers 70% of our planet’s landmass, and of that, less than 15% of the sea floor has been mapped at a resolution greater than 5 km. In fact, we have higher resolution maps of the entire surface of the Moon, Venus, and Mars than we do of our own Earth. But this situation can be changed. We are in the midst of a Technological Revolution and with the advent of exponential technologies such as 3D printing, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, we now have smaller and cheaper tools and greater access to information.
Mapping the sea floor has, historically, been a challenge. Seawater is obviously opaque, which prevents us from using visible, remote surveying techniques to get maps of the sea floor. Seawater is a harsh and corrosive medium and, with a viscosity greater than air, it has additional engineering challenges such as high friction resulting in rapid power drain for any device that is used to map the bathymetry underwater. It is also expensive to access because the technology of today requires ships to sail to the area being mapped before the mapping technology is deployed. At an average cost of $60,000 a day, it can easily cost a few hundred thousand dollars before mapping can even begin.
The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a 3-year competition launched last December, is incentivizing innovators to develop the autonomous underwater robots we need to map the sea floor at 5m or higher resolution and take high-definition images of the deep sea. Within this is a $1 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bonus Prize, for teams who can develop an underwater tracking device that can autonomously track a biological or chemical to its source. The devices will be shore-based or aerial deployments, removing the massive costs associated with ships. The competition will conclude in December 2018 and, like all other XPRIZE competitions, there will be a number of technical solutions that emerge to provide underwater cartographers the tools they need to survey the sea floor.
Visitors to Esri often pause for pictures beside an ivy-covered wall emblazoned with the word GEOGRAPHY in raised metal letters. The inscription speaks to an ingrained belief that geography offers a unique framework for organizing the world’s knowledge in a way that fosters better decision-making and a more sustainable future. Consistent with this belief, the education outreach team I lead at Esri does what we can to nurture geographic thinking and methods across the spectrum of academic disciplines.
That’s a big job. Disciplines have proliferated since the advent of the modern university in the 19th and 20th centuries. Consider this concept map of contemporary academic disciplines. Few disciplines depicted explicitly recognize geography, let alone GIS, as an integral way of understanding the world. Given the longstanding claim that a science of geographic information undergirds GIS (Goodchild 1992), you might suppose that Information Science is one of the disciplines that’s likely to appreciate the special properties of spatial data. If so, you’d be surprised to find that there’s precious little “G” is IS.
by Adam Pfister
The World’s Largest Lesson
World leaders from all nations, developed and developing, have committed to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Seventeen truly ambitious goals, and at Esri, we are committed to achieving each one.
In partnership with Project Everyone, we are incredibly excited to collaborate on the World’s Largest Lesson and their Focus on Goal 5, Gender Equality. Using the content in these lesson plans, teachers around the world are able to reach out to a new generation and help them stand up and embrace their part.
Achieving Gender Equality is ambitious, to be sure, and perhaps the first step is to know where you stand. Get to know those who are in important roles, starting in your own community and all the way up to your national representatives.
Esri Joins ASPRS UAS Mapping Symposium as Keynote Speaker and Exhibitor ― Sharing How Drones are Changing the Face of Remote Sensing
The annual UAS Mapping Symposium is one of the nation’s leading conferences on drones, bringing together geospatial experts from across the country. The symposium is organized by the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, the premier imaging and geospatial information society.
As the world’s leading provider of GIS technology worldwide, my Esri colleagues and I are pleased to join ASPRS for this special opportunity to educate and inspire UAS industry professionals. My keynote session, “The Illusion of Simplicity: The Case for Making Drones Easy to Use”, will explore gaining the geospatial advantage by solving application-specific problems using imagery-derived information from UAS systems. I will share recent examples illustrating several use cases, along with observations on near-term trends related to drone use within GIS systems.
The Arctic environment is a leading indicator of climate change. The shifts that will eventually affect the entire globe are among the most visible there. A comprehensive understanding of the shifts occurring in this area are crucial now more than ever.
Traditional imagery of the Arctic was collected via aircraft, but is very limited due to the inhospitable and remote nature of the polar region. Now 3-D digital elevation models (DEMs) of the entire Arctic are scheduled for release by 2017. With a resolution of 2 m, these new DEMs are over one hundred times higher resolution than what has previously been available for the entire Arctic. This has been made possible through a unique public private partnership between Esri, the White House and several important partners by way of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery.
Today the first of these rich elevation models covering the State of Alaska is being released. They are the first deliverable of the ArcticDEM project, created after a January 2015 Presidential Executive Order calling for enhanced coordination of national efforts in the Arctic. Climate Change is one of the biggest threats we face, it is being driven by human activity, and it is disrupting Americans’ lives right now. President Barack Obama spoke about the project at an Arctic conference in Kotzebue, Alaska on September 3, 2015 and called for action to reverse the trend of climate change, an exponentially growing problem for the entire planet.