Category Archives: Storytelling with Maps

Esri Teams up with XPRIZE to Advance Sea Floor Mapping

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.

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The World’s Largest Lesson

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.

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GIS Makes the Picture Clearer on Climate Change

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.

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Mapping an Opioid Addiction Community Intervention Plan

In the US, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death, with opioid addiction driving the epidemic. Opioids include both legal drugs, used for pain relief, and illegal drugs like heroin. These drugs are highly addictive, and anyone from any walk of life can become dependent on them. In 2014, more than 29,000 opioid related deaths occurred in the US.

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National Park Service Second Century of Service Starts with WebGIS

By Stephen K. Bryce, Esri Federal Government Expert

Since August 25, 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service, and continuing on through June 24, 2016, when the NPS added its 412th site, Stonewall National Monument, maps have communicated the importance of the nation’s most valued treasures. For a century NPS has created maps for survey, preservation, conservation, planning, tourism, search and rescue, facilities management, and more. Beginning its second century of custodial care, the NPS is modernizing web flows by bringing web GIS services into the mainstream of its map production.

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Seeing Beyond the Visible

The electromagnetic spectrum

In the early history of powered aircraft, aerial photographs—pictures of the earth from above—began to be found useful for military and scientific applications. Quite quickly, imaging professionals and scientists realized that it was possible to detect beyond what is visible to the unassisted human eye. Deeper and richer information could be revealed by detecting waveforms from beyond the rainbow of visible light, into the invisible. As it turns out, these hard-to-detect realms of the spectrum offered some of the most meaningful insights. Hidden in these signals were previously unknown facts about Earth that have enabled us to understand our world far more effectively than had been possible.

Many of these sensors measure bands across the electromagnetic spectrum and are known as Electro-Optic (EO) sensors. They record energy wavelengths from the sun that are reflected off or emitted from everything on the ground. These electromagnetic signals include visible light, infrared, and other frequency bands across the reflected energy spectrum.

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World Humanitarian Day – August 19 “One Humanity”

By Raquel Perez

We are seeing the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time! Are you willing to answer the call to action?

World Humanitarian Day (WHD), August 19th, celebrates and recognizes humanitarian aid workers who risk their lives to improve the lives of others. This day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the anniversary of the 2003 bombing at the UN Headquarters in Bagdad, which killed 21 UN workers including Serio Vieira de Mello, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq. See the story map to learn more!

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New Orleans at Esri UC – a Behind the Scenes Look and Repeatable Solutions

This year the City of New Orleans showcased their great work at the Esri User Conference Plenary. A major theme of their presentation was citizen engagement and creating a real two-way engagement enabling citizens to take in civic responsibility. New Orleans is doing outstanding work, and all of the solutions are configurations that can be repeated for any local government.

The first demonstration was the Property Survey solution in which we have enlisted User Conference attendees to help survey their properties for blight at https://propertysurvey.nola.gov/photosurvey/ This solution can be useful for a variety of applications such as code enforcement, emergency management assessment or tax appraisers. The Photo Survey Solution from the Esri Solutions gallery will allow you to process geo-tagged photos and an application to set up randomized surveys as New Orleans has done. Since 16,000 UC attendees were enlisted to help assess properties and shared on social media, Esri Managed Services was used to make sure the underlying infrastructure was ready for reliability and scalability.

New Orleans Property Survey

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Nine things you didn’t know you could do with Story Maps

There’s lots of unique and interesting ways to use Story Maps—some obvious, and some not so obvious

Story Maps let you combine authoritative maps with text, images, and multimedia content, and make it easy to harness the power of maps and geography to tell your story. Story Maps can be used for a wide variety of purposes; for advocacy and outreach, virtual tours, travelogues, delivering public information, and many more. You can browse a large collection of examples by visiting the Story Maps Gallery.

Many of the ways you can use Story Maps are obvious, but others aren’t. Here’s a list of nine things you can do with Story Maps that you might not have thought of before. Click the image to open the Story Map. Continue reading

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Eight Ways Communities Can Make Elections Smarter

Empowering the Democratic Process with Intelligent Mapping

Elections are the foundation of democratic society. 21st century elections leverage technology at every step in the process to insure accuracy, openness, timeliness, and fairness.  From operations and public outreach to redistricting and campaigning, intelligent maps effectively serve the public and meet expectations.

Here are eight things you can do today to leverage the power of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to make elections smarter in your community.


1. Locate Early Voting Centers

Early voting centers allow participation by voters who may not be able to vote on the set Election Day. The availability and hours of operation for early voting centers can vary by jurisdiction, and registered voters are more likely to participate in a given election when they can find an early voting center located conveniently near their home or place of business. Continue reading

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