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    October 2014
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GIS Health News Weekly: Deadly Disease Infographic, Duke Geomedicine Summit, Tracking Ebola by Cell Phone

www.apb.directionsmag.com  17 Oct 2014


Deadly Disease Interactive

The Daily Mail‘s interactive piece looks at the world’s deadlist outbreaks, as well as history’s most dangerous diseases.

Ebola Tracking Via Cell Phone

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking the approximate locations of cell phone users in West Africa who dial emergency call centers in an effort to predict the onset and spread of Ebola outbreaks.

“The data is just the number of calls by cell tower but from that you can get a rough idea of the area that the calls are coming in from, and then derive census, neighborhood data from that,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told Nextgov on Thursday.

There’s also discussion of Esri’s participation in the ebola response effort in the Mashable piece.

Is Geomedicine Reaching a Tipping Point?
While other industries have leveraged geospatial data, healthcare has yet to embrace the power of geospatial information systems (GIS) and analytics to improve outcomes, quality, access to care, and lower costs.
That’s the word from participants at Duke’s Geomedicine Summit held Oct 13-14. Participants argue the technology has reached a tipping point of interest, but major barriers remain. So, clearly there is room for expansion (Esri and Cerner were sponsors). Most interestingly, one challenge is simply capturing and geocoding current and past addresses of patients in their medical records. Said another way, there are still challenges put dots on a map!
There’s more from the event on ebola, courtesy of Chris Woods, M.D., with the Duke Global Health Institute noted here.

Silk Maps Ebola

 Data publishing platform Silk has created an interactive infographic database that can instantly show all the information you’d ever want to know about the Ebola outbreaks on the world map, from new deaths to suspected cases, as well as historical data about outbreaks of the virus.

The Ebola Outbreaks database is constantly being updated using latest information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is free for anyone to access, search for information, and share or embed the graphic.

Here’s the map. There are filters, too, which I found confusing. First you select a collection, then a filter. No collection selected? No data appears. Perhaps one should be selected by default? And, no I’d never heard of Silk before, either. Sadly, one way to show off your visualization tools is during a health crisis. That was true with Avian Flu, too.

Nature on Ebola

Nature has a two page PDF map and infographic on Ebola. Have any educators (geo or otherwise) put together lesson plans on the topic? (Via @dianamaps)

Direct Relief Helps Fund Community Health Workers with a Map

What is the One Million Community Health Workers Campaign?

The One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign promotes the effective use of community health workers in achieving universal health coverage, and works to increase knowledge about the importance of CHWs in the post-2015 development agenda. As part of this advocacy, the Campaign urges financing organizations to support CHWs, and tries to motivate countries to demand this support from donors.

Here’s the http://1millionhealthworkers.org/operations-room-map/”>map where you can add data and explore patterns (from Direct Relief and Esri). And here’s the http://www.directrelief.org/2014/10/map-of-community-health-workers-in-africa/”>Q&A about how the map was made and updates.

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Fusion of Manned and Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Breakthrough on California’s Largest 2014 Wildfire

www.directionsmag.com Thursday, October 16th 2014


October 15, 2014. SkyIMD combined UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and manned aircraft technologies on the Happy Camp Complex wildfire to reduce workloads and increase team effectiveness in ways previously not possible. SkyIMD installed a lightweight UAV gimbal on a normal manned Air Attack aircraft.

Live in the cockpit, wildfire visualization (see video) provided: 1) Instant situational awareness of fire lines and mountains through smoke blocked skies 2) Video recording, mapping retardant drops, and live automatic tracking of firefighting aircraft 3) Retardant coverage level analysis discovering creeping fire threads through firebreaks 4) Over-the-Air (OTA) update of current fire maps onto the split screen moving map 5) Low latency ground operation over self-healing microwave automatic mesh network and the internet 6) Multi-hop 20 Mb mesh covered the whole fire, with single node distance of 28 miles Remote control of airborne stabilized camera EO/IR (Electro Optical/Infrared) gimbals designed for UAVs is available through SkyIMD SkyFusion Pak for fixed wing, rotorcraft, and UAVs. Systems support fully automated 3D geo-tracking of static locations or GIS (Geographic Information System) fire lines comprising of thousands of points.

Advanced object recognition provides hands-off following of aircraft and vehicles. Satellite and 3G connectivity delivers streaming video or snapshots over the internet to any iPhone, Android, or computer. “Infrared stops fire from hiding in its own smokescreen,” says Hart Drobish (President of Courtney Aviation, the Air Attack Operator). “SkyIMD makes an extremely sophisticated tool intuitive for first time users. Without training Air Attacks see through smoke. Zoomed in, IR identifies fire creeping through retardant that is too late once visible to the naked eye.” Hart is developing IR solutions on multiple platforms to extend coverage. The Planning Section Chief responsible for intelligence, strategy, and objectives at the Incident Command Post (ICP) operated the FLIR infrared sensor when the cockpit crew was busy managing airspace. The Chief of the Happy Camp Complex fire could click the fire map or touch the live video to “walk around” deep in the burn.

The new spot fires discovered were then verified by the aircrew. Using the same remote control, SkyIMD in San Francisco interactively trained the Chief who had never before operated an EO/IR superzoom gimbal. The easy interface took only a few minutes to learn and become a valuable asset. “Seeing through the smoke is indispensable,” says Air Attack Dick Stiliha (ATGS, Air Tactical Group Supervisor). “I hope to never be without infrared again. Sharing live video with ICP was very beneficial. Equally valuable, recorded video was used for daily post mission debrief to improve tanker pilot’s effectiveness and safety.”

“The only growing-pain with remote controlling the airborne infrared was that so many people wanted to use it,” says Henri Wolf (SkyIMD CTO and former wildfire tanker pilot). “Since drones are not currently approved for wildfires, some aerial firefighters would like to use the same cameras on a manned-drone parked out of the way, above the congested fire attack altitudes. A ground operated gimbal flown solo, a manned UAV, will provide all the benefits of a UAS, extending ICP’s vision while relieving workload, and has the potential to evolve into an unmanned aircraft in the future.“ SkyIMD and Courtney Aviation are developing techniques to use UAV technology in manned aircraft, as well as to fly active missions collaboratively. Manned UAVs naturally handle the airspace above UAVs (400 ft. altitude ceiling), and below satellites (orbiting at 22,000 miles). Development is in progress to share airspace symbiotically, enabling both manned and unmanned to perform in ways not possible separately.

SkyIMD will exhibit and demo manned UAVs, also known as surrogate drones, at the ASPRS UAV symposium in Reno, NV on October 21 and 22. In an adjoining meeting, the US Forest Service and NASA Tactical Fire Remote Sensing Advisory Committee (TFRSAC) have requested SkyIMD to present the Happy Camp success, and investigate standardizing operational procedures.

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Drones Are Taking Pictures That Could Demystify A Malaria Surge

www.npr.org  by NSIKAN AKPAN October 22, 2014 4:38 PM ET

Courtesy of Trends in Parasitology, Fornace et al

Courtesy of Trends in Parasitology, Fornace et al

Aerial drones are targeting a new enemy: malaria.

Four hundred feet above a Malaysian forest, a three-foot eBee drone hovers and takes pictures with a 16-megapixel camera every 10 to 20 seconds. But it’s not gathering images of the mosquitoes that transmit malaria. Even today’s best drones aren’t capable of such a photographic marvel. Rather, the drone is looking at a changing landscape that holds clues to the disease’s spread.

The malaria drone mission, described in a study published Oct. 22 in Trends in Parasitology, began in December 2013, when UK scientists decided to track a rare strain of the mosquito-borne disease that has surged near Southeast Asian cities. Understanding deforestation may be the key in seeing how this kind of malaria, known as Plasmodium knowlesi, is transmitted.

The mosquitoes that carry P. knowlesi are forest dwellers. The insects breed in cool pools of water under the forest canopy and sap blood from macaque monkeys that harbor the malaria parasite.

In Sabah, Malaysia, human cases of this kind of malaria didn’t surface until about 10 years ago, says infectious disease specialist Kimberly Fornace of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is leading the drone study.

While cases of the most common malaria strains have steadily dropped during this time, P. knowlesi has thrived. It’s now the number-one cause of malaria in the region. Fornace and her team suspect that human intrusion into forested areas has created more opportunities for the disease to pass between primates and humans via mosquitoes. The drone imagery they’ve collected so far suggests there were occasions where land development forced macaques within closer proximity of humans, who then developed malaria.

As part of a project called MONKEYBAR, the team tracks outbreaks by comparing the drone’s land surveillance with hospital records of malaria cases. Meanwhile, a local wildlife commission has fitted macaques with GPS collars, which let scientists monitor the locations of monkey troops. Together, this information paints a public health map that explains how land development has influenced monkey movements — and transmission of malaria to humans. In partnership with Conservation Drones, an organization that builds drones for under $1,000, Fornace and her team plan to build a drone that snaps thermal images of macaques, so the monkeys can someday be identified without GPS collars.

The map above combines drone images with yellow dots that track the movement of macaques as determined by a GPS collar. The red dot indicates a human case of malaria, which can spread from macaques via mosquitoes.

Courtesy of Trends in Parasitology, Fornace et al

Drones provide a better surveillance picture than satellite images, which are the current standard for mapping environmental changes. But Google Earth images, for example, are only updated every few weeks or months, says parasitologist Chris Drakeley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who coauthored the Trends in Parasitology study with Fornace. Drones, he says, can provide a more comprehensive, continuous picture: “We avoid cloud cover and can see what the land use was like today, next week and the week after.”

The public health implications of drone use extend far beyond malaria, says Harvard epidemiologist Nathan Eagle. Doctors have already used unmanned aircraft to carry medical supplies between rural clinics in South Africa and Haiti. Humanitarian drones also tracked property damage and hunted for survivors after Typhoon Haiyan. And when a disease like Ebola surfaces, a drone could scan for changes in bats’ habitats, given that the winged mammals are proposed carriers of the hemorrhagic fever. The prices of these drones are dropping while their specs — flight performance and cameras — are improving, says Eagle. All of which means in a few years, a series of very inexpensive aerial vehicles will exist for wider use in public health research.

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My 5 Favorite Maps: Bill Rankin

www.citylab.com Aaron Reiss  Sep 26, 2014

"The Midwest," Bill Rankin (2013)

“The Midwest,” Bill Rankin (2013)

In the great data deluge that has sent publications from the old vanguard to the digital fringe, scrambling to bolster their mapmaking capabilities and beef up their data-visualization departments, Bill Rankin has one foot in each competing camp. His maps reflect a staid academic tradition of in-depth research and rigorous analysis, but deliver the viral pop that the web has come to expect from its maps.

Indeed, Rankin leads a bit of a double life: By day, he’s a historian and professor in the History of Science Department at Yale University. By night, he’s the guiding force behind the addictive and sprawling siteRadicalcartography.

Rankin’s above map of the Midwest is a perfect example.  Featured in the forthcoming collection Best American Infographics, the map is clever and playful while touching on fascinating issues of authority and geographic familiarity. It takes the abstract (and oft-debated) region of “the Midwest” and attempts to crowdsource its boundaries. In the map, a flowing, plastic border becomes articulated in layers transparencies, letting you see a hundred different opinions on exactly where “the Midwest” is. Rankin created the map by “using Google to find a hundred different maps of the Midwest (with a preference for those with some official organizational status), [and simply overlaying] them all.” Interestingly, he found that no area was included on every single map. In Rankin’s words, this is “a map of the Midwest as we might imagine it to be; […the] sum of all possible Midwests.”

This map is a visual representation of the kinds of debates that happen in barrooms and chat-rooms the world over. But ultimately, who can we really trust to tell us where the Midwest is? I will be forever grateful to him for bringing to my attention to one of the more interesting forums for these discussions: this page and other pages like it on Wikipedia, where Wiki-administrators carry on heated (but polite) debates on how to classify the Corn Belt, the South, and every other abstract geographic area on the globe. These are the behind-the-scenes parlor rooms where the definition-writers quibble just like the rest us (albeit with citations).  Click to read more

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Yamaha Waits for FAA Approval on Agricultural Drone

www.blogs.wsj.com  October 16, 2014, 6:44 PM ET

Ryan Billing and Ken Giles from U.C. Davis and co-pilot Katsu Nakamura from Yamaha Motor Co. prepare to demonstrate the RMAX drone in Oakville, Calif.

Ryan Billing and Ken Giles from U.C. Davis and co-pilot Katsu Nakamura from Yamaha Motor Co. prepare to demonstrate the RMAX drone in Oakville, Calif.

Typically the helicopter sprays pesticides, but this flight was only a demonstration. Yamaha is waiting to hear whether the Federal Aviation Administration will grant its RMAX drone a regulatory exemption that will let it operate commercially in certain areas of the U.S. On September 25, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the FAA has granted the first exemptions for the commercial use of drones to six aerial photo and video production companies for use in Hollywood.

“It was great that the movie industry petition was granted, it gives us hope,” said Steve Markofski, a business planner at Yamaha Motor during Wednesday’s demonstration over vineyards owned by the University of California, Davis.

Currently, FAA regulations effectively prohibit the use of commercial unmanned aerial vehicles, unless an exemption has been granted. Escalating industry demands have prompted FAA officials to begin looking for ways to authorize limited commercial uses of small drones in U.S. airspace. The FAA appears to be considering applications in the order they were received. There are two in front of Yamaha’s request including Trimble Navigation Ltd. which wants to perform precision aerial surveys for agricultural purposes by taking still photographs and VDOS Global LLC which wants to perform inspections in the Gulf of Mexico for a major energy producer.

Because it took the FAA about 120 days to decide about Hollywood, the hope is that it will take about the same amount of time to decide on other exemption requests, said Melanie Hinton a spokesperson for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

The FAA said it is broadening the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems while maintaining safety. “The agency has received petitions for UAS use in areas such as agriculture, geological survey, utility safety and maintenance,” said a spokesman in an email, adding that it is reviewing each petition for exemption in the order it was received.

While the film and television industry request for exemption included multiple companies and aircraft, Yamaha is only requesting an exemption for the RMAX. The helicopter weighs about 220 lbs. when loaded with fuel and pesticides. It costs under $200,000 and in Japan, where the market is mature, growers form cooperatives to purchase one and share its use.

Currently, the requirements to fly an unmanned helicopter in the U.S. for agricultural purposes are much more stringent than flying a manned helicopter over a vineyard, said Ken Giles, a professor in the department of biological and agricultural engineering at U.C. Davis. To secure Wednesday’s operation, Dr. Giles’ team contacted air traffic control and told them where they’d be flying and the intent for the operations.

That formality had not dissipated by Wednesday when not one, but two pilots showed up to run the flight.

That morning, Ryan Billing, a development engineer at U.C. Davis and a licensed pilot, and an assistant – another licensed pilot — carried the RMAX out of a white van and set it up on the grass. After screwing in the propellers, Mr. Billing ran a transmitter check to make sure the remote controls were operating properly. After running through a pre-flight check list. Mr. Billing and his assistant moved a safe distance away from the RMAX. Engines engaged, Mr. Billing controlled the helicopter’s movements  with his thumbs using a remote-control unit that looked very much like a video game controller.

As the helicopter hovered over the vineyards in his line of sight, Mr. Billing pressed a button on the side of the controller and the helicopter began spraying water from three nozzles its underbelly. Two small removable tanks held about 4.2 gallons of liquid. After about ten minutes, he landed the helicopter and conducted a post-flight check. Team called air traffic control to let them know they had finished. If he had been flying a manned helicopter, Dr. Giles tells CIO Journal, he would have been able to take off and spray a field without needing to notify air traffic control.

Write to rachael.king@wsj.com

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ADAS and Bluesky Survey 30,000 km of Overhead Power Lines Using LiDAR Technology

Written by Bluesky Published: 20 October 2014

Leicestershire, UK, Oct. 20, 2014—A multi million pound contract to produce the largest ever LiDAR survey undertaken by an electricity distribution network operator in the UK has been awarded to ADAS and Bluesky International. The companies have been contracted to conduct an aerial 3D LiDAR survey of the whole of UK Power Networks’ High and Extra High Voltage (HV & EHV) overhead power lines, which extend to over 30,000 kms.

LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analysing the reflected light to produce high-resolution maps. The technology is central to the UK Power Networks contract, a three year risk-based tree clearance programme for the electricity company. The survey assesses the current state of vegetation near the overhead lines via the use of fully up to date 3D LiDAR images rather than aerial photography.

Tree related electrical disruptions present the single greatest risk to electricity supplies. For this reason, electricity industry regulators in many countries require proof that vegetation management systems are in place to minimise the potential for this type of incident and the impact on customers.

A major challenge of the contract was the need to complete the survey before autumn leaf fall started in earnest.  Weather conditions and Air Traffic Control restrictions can sometimes be unpredictable and add to the challenge. However, three fixed wing aircraft, each fully equipped with the world’s most advanced LiDAR sensors, have been in the air every day since mid July and successfully completed the survey within the strict deadline.

ADAS and Bluesky have a strong track record of working together on similar projects. The UK Power Network project follows on from a highly successful contract that the companies delivered for SP Energy Networks in 2013. It involved the use of stereo aerial photography to assess the amount of vegetation near the overhead lines combined with an assessment of the number of customers affected which informed a prioritised programme for resilience clearance.

Project team manager Roy Dyer says, “ADAS provides high level policy and operational advice to a number of electricity distribution network operators but this exciting new contract win proves that the combination of Bluesky’s aerial photography and LiDAR capability and ADAS’ knowledge and experience of vegetation management near overhead electricity lines provides the most comprehensive strategic vegetation service available.”

Rachel Tidmarsh, managing director of Bluesky International, says, “By combining Bluesky and ADAS’ expertise we have been able to offer an innovative and cost effective solution that provides UK Power Networks with highly detailed LiDAR, aerial photography, mapping and analysis of their overhead line assets enabling them to make more informed decisions regarding vegetation management.”

Through this project, UK Power Networks will be able to demonstrate to both the industry regulators and their customers that they have invested in the best available vegetation management system that will enable them to minimise tree related electrical disruptions.

- See more at: https://www.sensorsandsystems.com/news/top-stories/corporate-news/35102-adas-and-bluesky-survey-30-000-km-of-overhead-power-lines-using-lidar-technology.html#sthash.FTRsQkA6.dpuf

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NPR PODCAST: When Women Stopped Coding



Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Most of the big names in technology are men.

But a lot of computing pioneers, the ones who programmed the first digital computers, were women. And for decades, the number of women in computer science was growing.

But in 1984, something changed. The number of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged.

Today on the show, what was going on in 1984 that made so many women give up on computer science? We unravel a modern mystery in the U.S. labor force.
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GEOINT Community Week Nov 17-21


USGIF’s GEOINT Community Week brings together the defense, intelligence, homeland security, and geospatial communities at-large for a week of briefings, educational sessions, workshops, technology exhibits and networking opportunities.

For more details, click on the link above.


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21 Maps Of Highly Segregated Cities In America

www.businessinsider.com REBECCA BAIRD-REMBA AND GUS LUBIN APR. 25, 2013, 9:32 AM


 Flickr/Eric Fischer

Racial segregation remains a problem in America, and it’s lasting longer than anyone expected.

Just how bad things are can be determined through analysis of 2010 Census data.

The average black person lives in a neighborhood that is 45 percent black. Without segregation, his neighborhood would be only 13 percent black, according to professors John Logan and Brian Stults at Brown and Florida State.

Logan and Stult evaluated segregation in major cities with a dissimilarity index, which identifies the percentage of one group that would have to move to a different neighborhood to eliminate segregation. A score above 60 on the dissimilarity index is considered extreme.

In the following slides, we have ranked the most segregated cities in ascending order. They are illustrated with maps of cities by race created by Eric Fischer and publicly available on Flickr. The red dots show white people, blue is black, orange is Hispanic, green is Asian, and yellow is other.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/most-segregated-cities-census-maps-2013-4?op=1#ixzz3GgWSkihh


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Dewberry Job Opportunities

Here is the link direct from Dewberry to the new positions:


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