The FOSS4Geo Academy Releases QGIS Online Training

Corpus Christi, Texas

The FOSS4Geo Academy Releases QGIS Online Training

The FOSS4Geo Academy announces the launch of its QGIS training courses beginning in September 2014. The five courses will be offered in limited-enrollment, instructor-led online format. The courses are designed to provide concise technical skills to anyone desiring to learn the practical application of QGIS. They are based on the knowledge and skills outlined in the Dept. of Labor Geospatial Technology Competency Modem (GTCM).

Classes begin the first Monday of each month (except December) and run for four week through the last Friday of the same month. The first course begins September 1 and runs through September 26. New sections are added on demand each month. Classes are taught by experienced GIS professionals (some GISP-certified) and university faculty.

The five courses include:

1. GST 101—Introduction to Geospatial Technology Using QGIS

2. GST 102—Spatial Analysis Using QGIS

3. GST 103—Data Management and Acquisition Using QGIS

4. GST 104—Cartography Using QGIS and Inkscape

5. GST 105—Remote Sensing Using QGIS and GRASS The courses are designed to be self-contained complete with all the theory, software instruction, and sample data required to learn at home or office, at your own pace.

A complete set of step by step tutorial videos is included to demonstrate completion of the QGIS lab exercises. The cost is $25 USD per course and a continuing education course certificate is provided upon completion with a minimum grade of 85. A Workforce Certificate in Geospatial Technology (undergraduate continuing education) is available for completing the five course series at 85 or better through Del Mar College.

For more information, detailed course outlines, FAQ answers, schedule of course offerings and registration, visit our website at

Don’t Miss These Resources on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)


FAA and other U.S. Government resources

Professional Resources

The Top Five Things You Need to Know about Drones and GIS


Monday, August 25th 2014
Read More About: droneslidarremote sensinguav
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Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are in the news almost daily. This article by contributing writer Bill McNeill provides a basic overview of the technology and the exploding market potential for UAVs.

The mere mention of “drones” conjures thoughts of bombs and missiles raining down on unsuspecting bad guys. However, most of today’s drones, more accurately described as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are or will be focused on generating data to solve peace-time applications.

UAVs range in size and cost from Northrop’s Global Hawk at $200M, with an endurance of 32 flying hours, to the $40 Powerup paper airplane driven by a small electric motor and controlled from a smartphone using Bluetooth. This article will focus on “prosumer” UAVs, smaller craft used for capturing remotely-sensed information. These aircraft are generally priced under $5,000 and in our opinion will be the game changers with respect to generating data for GIS applications.  Click here to continue reading.

A Glossary of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Terms


2.4 Ghz: The frequency used by digital (spread spectrum) radio communications in our applications, including 2.4Ghz RC, bluetooth and some video transmission equipment. This is a different band than the older 72 Mhz band that is used for analog RC communications. To avoid radio frequency conflict is it often a good idea to use 72 Mhz radio equipment when you are using 2.4 Ghz onboard video transmitters, or use 900 Mhz video when using 2.4 Ghz RC equipment.

AHRS: Attitude and Heading Reference System.

AMA: Academy of Model Aeronautics. The main US model aircraft association. Generally hostile to amateur UAVs, which are banned on AMA fields. But each AMA chapter and field may have slightly different policies, and it’s possible to test airframes and some technology on AMA fields without violating the association’s rules.

APMArduPilotMega autopilot electronics

  • ArduCopter: Rotary-wing autopilot software for the APM and Pixhawk electronics
  • ArduPlane: Fixed-wing autopilot software for the APM and Pixhawk electronics.
  • ArduPilot: The overall autopilot project that ArduCopter, ArduPlane, and ArduRover live within
  • ArduRover: Ground and water autopilot software for the APM and Pixhawk electronics

Arduino: An open source embedded processor project. Includes a hardware standard originally based on the Atmel Atmega (and other 8-bit) microprocessor microcontroller and necessary supporting hardware, and a software programming environment based on the C-like Processing language.  See the official website.

Click here to read more.

New to the Archaeologist’s Tool Kit: The Drone AUG. 13, 2014

CHEPÉN, Peru — A small remote-controlled helicopter buzzed over ancient hilltop ruins here, snapping hundreds of photographs. Below, stone walls built more than a thousand years ago by the Moche civilization gave way to a grid of adobe walls put up only recently by what officials said were land speculators.

“This site is threatened on every side,” said Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, Peru’s vice minister of cultural heritage as he piloted the drone aircraft.

Archaeologists around the world, who have long relied on the classic tools of their profession, like the trowel and the plumb bob, are now turning to the modern technology of drones to defend and explore endangered sites. And perhaps nowhere is the shift happening as swiftly as in Peru, where Dr. Castillo has created a drone air force to map, monitor and safeguard his country’s ancient treasures.

Drones mark “a before and after in archaeology,” said Dr. Castillo, who is also a prominent archaeologist and one of a dozen experts who will outline the use of drones at a conference in San Francisco next year.

Continue reading the main story

In remote northwestern New Mexico, archaeologists are using drones outfitted with thermal-imaging cameras to track the walls and passages of a 1,000-year-old Chaco Canyon settlement, now buried beneath the dirt.

In the Middle East, researchers have employed them to guard against looting.

“Aerial survey at the site is allowing for the identification of new looting pits and determinations of whether any of the looters’ holes had been revisited,” said Morag Kersel, an archaeologist from DePaul University in Chicago who is part of a team using drones in Jordan and Israel.

Peru, with its stunning concentration of archaeological riches, is suddenly fertile ground to try out this new technology. The country is becoming a research hot spot as archaeologists in the Middle East and elsewhere find their work interrupted by unrest.

But in Peru they encounter another kind of conflict. Here they struggle to protect the country’s archaeological heritage from squatters and land traffickers, who often secure property through fraud or political connections to profit from rising land values. Experts say hundreds, perhaps thousands of ancient sites are endangered by such encroachment.

The drones can address the problem, quickly and cheaply, by providing bird’s-eye views of ruins that can be converted into 3-D images and highly detailed maps.

The maps are then used to legally register the protected boundaries of sites, a kind of landmarking that can be cited in court to prevent development or to punish those who damage ruins by building anyway.  Click here to read more.

Smart mapping to turn sci-fi into reality

Aug 21, 2014 — Smart mapping technology will play a vital role in moving Australia’s environmental monitoring into the realms of science fiction, according to one of the world’s leading micro-sensing technology experts.

CSIRO science leader Dr Paulo de Souza said the field of environmental monitoring is on the cusp of an evolution which promises to open up a new level of understanding of the world around us.

Dr de Souza’s research group is developing sub-millimetre sensors which are fitted to bees in order to track their movements and reactions to changing environmental conditions.

However, he said the key to fully understanding the vast quantities of data collected via the bees lay in the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology.

GIS – or smart mapping technology – is used to map and analyse data and reveal insights not apparent when looking at information in a spreadsheet.

“Scientists are currently working with radio frequency technology like UHF and harmonic radars that are suitable for large animals and insects,” Dr de Souza said.

“These systems require large infrastructure and can’t respond to the demand of monitoring a swarm of smaller insects.

“What we’re creating with this micro-sensor technology is high frequency data tracked in real-time, in a small space.

“The density of the data is one million times higher than what we’ve previously worked with, so we can generate far more accurate insights into the environment around us.

“Imagine thousands of sensors flying in the atmosphere, providing an amazing amount of data and bringing us unprecedented coverage of the environment – this is what we are creating.

“In the future, this means we will be able to use GIS technology map this information in a meaningful way so we can understand the data.”

Dr de Souza will discuss how developments in micro-sensing technology are set to drive change in environmental monitoring at the Asia-Pacific’s largest geospatial conference – Ozri 2014, hosted by GIS industry giants Esri Australia – in Adelaide this October.

He said his monitoring project could see insects become the next generation of sniffer dogs, mine canaries, weather vanes and even extra-terrestrial explorers.

“Many insects have an acute sense of smell used to find mates, locate food, avoid predators, and gather in groups,” Dr de Souza said.

“By mapping and understanding their behaviours we can harness these natural attributes and sensitivities to detect chemicals of interest or weather changes.

“In the future it may also be possible to have them as part of space exploration, helping to calibrate instruments and gather temperature and atmospheric data from asteroids, moons and even planets.”

Ozri Technical Director John Hasthorpe said GIS technology was already widely used by Australian national security agencies.

“This new application of GIS technology would enable analysts to visualise information collected using insect micro-sensors,” Mr Hasthorpe said.

“Scientists can then map the variations in insect behaviour – individually and as a group – and from these maps more complex analysis can be performed to reveal additional information, such as whether particular bomb-making chemicals are present.”

Hosted by Esri Australia, Ozri 2014 will bring together 500 geospatial industry professionals to share technology applications, innovations and advancements.

The event will be held at the Adelaide Oval, from 1 to 3 October 2014.

Registration is now open at

ASPRS Establishes the First UAS Mapping Calibration Test Course

BETHESDA, Md., August 22, 2014 – The first mapping calibration test course for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) will be established by ASPRS at the Reno Stead airport, an FAA-designated UAS test site.  The course will include ground surveyed targets of varying height, radiometric targets, undulating surfaces, “surprise” targets, and simulated flight restricted areas.  The first UAS flights of the test course will be conducted in conjunction with the UAS MAPPING 2014 RENO symposium on October 21-22, 2014 in Reno, Nevada

The UAS Mapping 2014 RENO symposium is focused on “Change is in the Air” with a mission to acquaint attendees with new technologies, demonstrate survey, mapping, and remote sensing capabilities of UAS data, and provide a forum for UAS collaboration among government, private sector and academia.   The full program is available online and includes representatives from such well-known companies as Google, 3D Robotics, Skyward, Trimble, Leica, GeoCue, Pix4D, Silent Falcon, Multirotor Service-Drone, Altavian, senseFly, Velodyne, Optech, Phase One, and Aerovironment, among many others.  The symposium is being organized by the ASPRS Northern California Region.

To find out more about the test course and symposium, UAS MAPPING 2014 RENO, visit   To learn more about ASPRS, visit

Extreme Drought Is Causing Land In The Western U.S. To Rise Upward

Agricultral Land Use Changes, 2001-2012, Southeastern Iowa, Using Landsat 4 & 5 Tm Imagery

Authors: Jie Ren, James B. Campbell, and Yang Shao 

In central regions of the U. S. Corn Belt, agricultural production since 2001 has changed in response to federal policies implemented to encourage production of biofuels. As a result, increasing demand for sustainable bioenergy resources has accelerated biofuel production, and led to changes in agricultural land use. This study examines: (1) increases and decreases in cultivated area, and (2) pixel-by-pixel crop rotation sequences within a region of southeastern Iowa. The practice of agriculture brings lands in and out of production in response to variations in local landscapes, markets, and technologies. Further, crops are rotated in response to environmental and market concerns. Knowledge of how such lands are used, and of their topographic and pedological properties, forms a prerequisite for understanding the context for developing sustainable management practices and policies. This study examines temporal and spatial patterns of agricultural land use from 2001 to 2012 in a region of southeastern Iowa within a single Landsat scene (Path 25/Row 31). After 2007, intensity of cultivated land use increased and crop rotation changed from standard corn-soybean or soybean-corn cycle to more intensive rotations. These changes may be correlated with market forces. Intensity of cultivated land use depended on topographic and pedological properties, although motivations and constraints perceived by farmers and managers as they plan their use of landscapes are important.

Click here for more.

Making Better Digital Maps in an Era of Standardization  LAURA BLISS  Aug 20, 2014

What’s in a map? Or better yet, what should be? The question of how to best visualize information about a place has always been the heartbeat of cartography. Today, with what many call the “democratization” of the field, it’s pulsing faster than ever.

For while the open door of online mapmaking has produced a lot of maps, it’s also brought about a standardization of aesthetics. “To make it easy for people to make a map,” says Daniel Huffman, a cartographer at the University of Wisconsin, “you need to simplify the process down and make things very uniform.” Riffs on Google Maps look for the most part like Google Maps, with its top-down view, muted color scheme, choice of line weights, and approach to terrain.

Even original maps created using Mapbox or other, more powerful geographic information system-based software have the potential to lead to a homogenous look. As previous research in map design by cartographer Kenneth Field has shown, many new map-makers create sterile-looking maps that have ubiquity in style. However, Field notes, in recent years there have been many who are stretching the capabilities of these technologies and creating inspiring and innovative work—which, he suggests, are also leading to improved support for better map design.*
A Mapbox map that locates Pinterest posts. (Flickr/Mapbox)

Still, such standardized design often fails to effectively tell what’s important about a place. “If you look at a map of Amsterdam on Google, it looks like a freeway around some canals,” designer Eric Rodenbeck* told GigaOm. “My experience with Amsterdam has more to do with canals than freeways.”

(Google Maps)

Are we at a stand-still in map design? Not at all. Many cartographers are developing digital, open-source tools that look back to a pre-digital era to make maps that are uniquely designed to a particular purpose. Here are three who are leading in the charge against cartographic standardization and toward beautiful, functional maps.

Daniel Huffman

Huffman is a freelance map-maker, “cartographic philosopher,” and instructor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Above all, his work seeks to restore a human touch to mapmaking. Among many of his undertakings, Project Linework may be the most innovative. It’s a “library of free, public-domain sets of vector lifework”—lines that indicate borders, roads, or simple data points—that are all distinct.

“Some of them have a non-digital aesthetic, certainly,” Huffman says. “But it’s not intrinsically about looking handmade. It’s about looking to express yourself. And it’s all about expression. Cartographers are artists. We are story tellers here to tell you about a place. It can be very fact-driven, but it’s akin to journalism—there’s information and facts, but then it’s up to the journalist to use judgment and creativity to figure how to best express that.”

Two examples of lineworks. (Daniel Huffman/Project Linework)

“I can download a boring linework style,” he says. “But it’s nice to have a set of other ones available, to offer something that people can just pull off and use to fit the kind of aesthetic they’re going for. It’s easier and cheaper for all maps to look the same. I wanted to make it cheap and easy for maps to not look the same.”

Although Huffman’s “The Ways of the Framers” (below) isn’t part of Project Linework, the street map of Madison answers the question of stylized vectors in a striking way: with signatures.

Daniel Huffman/Cargo Collective

“I live on Jenifer Street, and I was wondering why it’s spelled with one ‘n.’ I found out. And then I started to dig in around the history of my city’s streets and got wrapped up in the stories of the Founding Fathers. I wanted to evoke these people again. We very easily forget who we name things for and why. So I stole the signatures off the Constitution and it worked out.”  Click to continue reading.