Educating residents, teachers and youth in a costal community in Costa Rica to use geospatial technologies to investigate, map and make a difference.
Seth Dixon's insight:
If you are looking to find a practical example of how geospatial technologies can empower neighborhoods and students, take a look at the GEOPORTER project. If you can assist, I can tell you that I know the people working on this project and am impressed by their work.
"Three women’s Death Valley day trip soured after their GPS led them to the edge of survival."
Seth Dixon's insight:
This is a extreme example, but this video serves as a cautionary tale. The harsh and unforgiving physical geography of Death Valley does not tolerate a lack of preparation. Here is part 2 of the video. Garmin the GPS manufacturer's statement on these videos is quite telling "GPS's shouldn't be followed blindly...it is incumbent on users to obtain and update their GPS devices with the most recent map updates."
Technology is designed to guide and assist our decision-making process--that does NOT mean we should turn over thinking functions to the device. Spatial thinking is just like a muscle that will atrophy if it is never used. So consult a map and think for yourself; newer technologies aren't always better or more reliable.
A billion people worldwide live in slums, largely invisible to city services and governments — but not to satellites.
Seth Dixon's insight:
Most slums are systematically ignored by politicians and public utilities; squatter settlements are not built legally and they are treated as though they did not exist. Mapping these communities makes them visible, literally putting them on the map can be an important step to legitimize the needs and requests of these poor residents and grant them greater access to public, municipal resources.
West Virginia aims to put its residents on the map
Seth Dixon's insight:
While this article does occasionally play off of the country bumpkin stereotypes we've all heard about West Virginians, there are some important concepts lying under the surface in the article. All places have a location (both absolute and relative), but not one that is easily discernible to an outsider unfamiliar with the area. Many emergency responders rely on geocoded addresses and GPS systems to location those in need, and the state of West Virginia is trying to ensure that even the most rural of residents is on the grid. Many location-based technologies lose their value as soon as you leave a named road, so these systematic campaign will strengthen the push for modernization and digital systems. How will this change the cultural landscape?
Find the latitude and longitude of a point using Google Maps.
Simple, straightforward and easy to use. All you do is point and click on the map to get latitude and longitude in both decimal degrees and DMS (degrees, minutes and seconds). You can also quickly enter coordinates in either format an have the location displayed on the map.
We are a society that is reliant on modern navigational devices. This is an interesting article that argues for keeping modern equipment, but asks us not to eliminate older technologies in our haste to embrace the shiny and new. "Technology as great as it is should never be a replacement for skills, but a tool used to assist you."
"Now that it is easy to gather tracks and waypoints on a smartphone and map them in a GIS, it provides a good opportunity to remind students about the importance of being critical of and paying attention to data. I recently went on a walk around a local reservoir and used the Motion X GPS app on my iPhone to collect my track and a few waypoints. I emailed the data to myself and added the GPX file to ArcGIS Online so I could map and examine the track. I made my results public and made it visible below to feature some teachable moments......"
What a perfect combination! Students more and more have these fantastic computing devices that we often underutilize (or ban outright) in their education. This article shows how to bring GIS and a student's smartphone together.
What if you could use GPS technology to find your misplaced keys? How about if you could use that same technology to lie about where you were in the world or...
We know the common usages of GPS technologies. As the accuracy of GPS data improves, how does this expand the potenial uses? What are the ethnics and legalities of GPS tracking devices? Just like hackers online alter the information with rely on, this video is an introduction to the analogous GPS spoofing technology. This TED talk is a great exploration of the future of GPS technology and privacy issues.
In the lush rainforests of Africa's Congo Basin, hundreds of thousands of indigenous people live as hunter gatherers, depending on the forest's natural resources for their survival.
The "Mapping for Rights" program trains people in the Congo to map the land they live on using GPS and other geospatial technologies. This can assist the to produce documents to politically protect their land from encroachment and preserve their access to the forest. Globalization can blur many of the modern/traditional narratives as the world becomes interconnected in complex ways.
A Chinese satellite navigation system began providing services yesterday as the nation seeks to end its “dependence” on the U.S.’s Global Positioning System, or GPS, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
China's satellite geolocation system, Beidou, has become operational. It is believed to be accurate to within 10 meters, which beats the U.S. military's GPS (accurate within 20 m). Is this an economic move for China or a way become militarily independent from the U.S.? How will this change geospatial intelligence?
"Giant 70-foot concrete arrows that point your way across the country, left behind by a forgotten age of US mail delivery. Long before the days of radio (and those convenient little smartphone applications), the US Postal service began a cross-country air mail service using army war surplus planes from World War I. The federal government funded enormous concrete arrows to be built every 10 miles or so along established airmail routes they were each built alongside a 50 foot tall tower with a rotating gas-powered light. These airway beacons are said to have been visible from a distance of 10 miles high."
Seth Dixon's insight:
This is fascinating...just because a technology is old and outdated in modern society doesn't mean it wasn't ingenious. The original mathmeticans who calcuated angles and distances study geometry so they could navigate and 'measure the Earth.' These giant arrows are but one of those links in the geneological strands of navigational technology. Mathematics can be incredibly spatial as well as geospatial.
Today we take it for granted that through GPS technology we can instantaneously determine our latitude and longitude. This video documents how for centuries it was fairly easy to determine latitude at sea by measuring the height of the sun in the sky, but longitude (determined by the difference in time between local noon and the noon of a fixed point) could only be estimated. The British Empire saw solving the "longitude problem" as the key to solidifying their economic dominance at sea and they established the Board of Longitude in this 18th century "race to the moon." Today the University of Cambridge has digitized the Board of Longitude's archives with a series of five shorter video clips.
This is a project sponsored by OCEARCH (Ocean Reseach) that helps to track the journeys of individual sharks to better understand their migratory patterns. This data also helps to establish maps of the spatial extend of Shark habitat. This is in essence another fantastic practical application of GPS technology.
A digital chart used by the minesweeper USS Guardian to navigate Philippine waters misplaced the location of a reef by about eight nautical miles, and may have been a significant factor when the ship drove hard aground on the reef on Jan.
Seth Dixon's insight:
Accurate, reliable data is crucial for countless applications.
UNAVCO, a non-profit university-governed consortium, facilitates geoscience research and education using geodesy.
"Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research have been using what is typically considered an error in the GPS signal to measure snow depth around GPS receivers. A GPS receiver records both direct and reflected signals from a satellite. A reflected signal bounces off of whatever is around the GPS station before being recorded, and therefore can contain information about the ground surface close to the station.
Traditionally snow depth has been measured by hand. In other words, someone had to go out with a measuring stick to whatever location they were interested in. GPS snow depth measurements solve both of these problems: once a GPS unit is installed, it can function on its own throughout the winter, and will make a measurement every two hours, which is then averaged for a daily position, or in this case, snow depth."
For all of its awesome applications, GPS has two fundamental flaws: It doesn't work indoors, and it can't really detect altitude. An Indoor Positioning System would fix that -- and introduce some seriously awesome applications.
Geolocation was listed as one of the important growth industries for the future (it also is a way to reassure students that the their are jobs for geography majors). The IPS isn't quite here, but it's hard to imagine that is too far away.
Relying on GPS devices can erode our ability to develop mental maps.
While GPS technology can help us in a pinch, relying primarily on a system that does not engage our navigation skills will weaken our ability to perform these functions. While this intuitively makes sense, that the 'mental muscles' would atrophy when not used, it is a reminder that an overuse of geospatial technologies can be intellectually counterproductive.
A distinction should be made between outdoor GPS usage (where the user receives data and makes navigational decisions) and vehicular GPS usage (where the computer typically will make all the decisions for you). As long as you are a part of the decision-making process, you will be strengthening your navigationals skills. In London cab drivers, they've discovered that their brains expand as they aquire 'the knowledge' of the city: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16086233
"Thanks to GPS, planes, cars and cellphones can quickly be guided to any destination. The system uses a network of satellites, but how do they relay the correct coordinates from space? GPS is just a big clock in space. By communicating with four time-keeping satellites, a GPS device can determine it's exact position."
This links you to the video "Drawing with GPS, Mapping with GIS." How and why to draw shapes and letters with your GPS track function and map them in educational contexts. It can be a fun outdoor activity that can get students to spatially reconsider their campus, neighborhood and local environment. Also, it will link you to the YouTube channel with many other ideas and tips.