Hillsborough among counties using tool to assess sea-level rise

www.tampabay.com/news  Associated Press  2 Nov 2014

MIAMI — A few Florida counties are testing a computer mapping tool that details how vulnerable their roads are to rising sea levels, and perhaps the most surprising thing about it is where it came from.

The state’s Department of Transportation funded the map’s development, something James Cromar, of the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization, called “a pleasant surprise,” given Gov. Rick Scott’s skepticism over whether human behavior is affecting the climate.

The Republican governor’s assertion earlier this year that he is “not a scientist” has drawn ridicule from his political opponents, and earlier this month at a regional conference on climate change, White House officials praised local government leaders in attendance for their practicality in addressing sea level rise themselves. Citing a lack of leadership from Tallahassee, a Miami-area suburb recently adopted a resolution calling for South Florida to form its own state to deal with the issue.

But FDOT senior policy analyst Maria Cahill said the mapping tool, which has been available online since late 2013, is consistent with other state initiatives to help local governments plan for community resiliency, including efforts led by the Department of Economic Opportunity. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection also has touted various monitoring programs collecting data that could be used to study climate change.

The mapping tool, which visualizes areas of transportation infrastructure that might be vulnerable to rising seas and inland flooding from 2020 through 2100, is intended for local governments to use as they make long-term plans for their infrastructure needs, Cahill said. There are no plans yet to use it to evaluate the potential vulnerability of state transportation assets.

“I think the state recognizes that whatever their feeling is on climate change, they’re interested in protecting our economic assets, which is our infrastructure,” said Allison Yeh, sustainability coordinator for the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission. “They care about vulnerability from the economic standpoint.”

Hillsborough and Broward counties are testing the mapping tool through a Federal Highway Administration climate resilience pilot project. Broward also is testing the tool for three other South Florida counties that have also signed a compact to address climate change adaptation strategies.

FDOT funding through the mapping tool’s development and current testing phase has totaled $230,000, said Crystal Goodison, of the University of Florida GeoPlan Center, which has made its animated maps and data publicly available online.

The mapping tool developed from a 2012 study that the FDOT also funded, incorporating sea level rise projections developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Monroe County, which encompasses the low-lying Florida Keys that are linked to the mainland by just one major road, independently used the tool to run flooding models for its 875 miles of state and county roads. The small Atlantic Coast community of Satellite Beach also is working with the GeoPlan Center to customize the tool for its own roads assessment, Goodison said.

The results in Monroe County: maps highlighted with widening splotches of red that show where the Keys are likely to see increased nuisance flooding over the next several decades.

The tool’s value lies not in its potential for drama, but in its reliance on state and federal data, which will help the county secure funding for its transportation projects, said Rhonda Haag, Monroe County’s sustainability program manager.

No state transportation policies have developed from the tool so far, but most of Florida has time to carefully plan for any effects from sea level rise, Cahill said.

“What we’re doing is focusing on the research and better understanding what data limitations there are,” Cahill said. “We’re not there yet to make any inferences from the model itself.”

Research is good and valuable, as is establishing a consistent methodology, but that research soon has to translate into policy, said Cromar, planning director for the Broward MPO.

“The goal is not a perfect data set — it’s to have sufficient data to make smart recommendations and to take action,” he said.

Hillsborough among counties using tool to assess sea-level rise 11/02/14 [Last modified: Sunday, November 2, 2014 8:14pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

These Maps Visualize London’s 2.4 Billion Bus Journeys In A Whole New Way

Joshua Barrie  www.businessinsdier.com  3 Nov 2014

These Maps Visualize London’s 2.4 Billion Bus Journeys In A Whole New Way

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/maps-londons-bus-journeys-2014-11#ixzz3IhAD5Oru

In 2013, Londoners took 2.4 billion bus journeys. They were prescribed 116 million items by doctors, and found themselves joined by more than 1,750,000 American tourists.

Meanwhile, in one small, financial corner of the capital, the population, in every 24-hour period of the year, spiked from 222 residents to more than 127,000.

These staggering statistics are the work of geographer James Cheshire and visual artist Oliver Uberti, who have merged to create a new series of maps depicting London as “the most data-heavy capital in the world.”

The maps and infographics are as diverse as the information they cover — highlighting, for example, the 2,580 mobile phones left in a single year at Heathrow Airport, and charting the 1.1 million phone calls the emergency services took in 2013. Approximately 32,500 of them, by the way, came from incapacitated binge drinkers.

In “There is order and beauty in the chaos of your commute,” Cheshire and Uberti capture London’s commuting routes using data from Oyster travel cards logged by University College London. Tracking the likes of train journeys and taxi fares and digitalizing their movements, they arc to form a colorful algorithm of details.

“Almost every journey taken in London leaves a digital trace in its wake,” explain Cheshire and Uberti on their website. “It may be hard to appreciate as you squeeze onto a Tube or bus in the morning, but you are one of millions adding to the beauty of the currents captured.”

In “Generation rent,” the graph on the left shows the change in median monthly rent prices from January 2013 to April 2014. On the right, there’s a visualization of the cost increase for two-bedroom apartments along the Tube’s Central line, with inner stations costing far more than their suburban neighbours.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/maps-londons-bus-journeys-2014-11#ixzz3IhB1wIAx

Rare Maps Show Life in Hong Kong’s Vice-Filled ‘Walled City’

ww.citylab.com/design  Tanvi Misra  5 Nov 2014

A team of researchers illustrated the insides of Hong Kong's hub of vice. (Kowloon large illustrated)
A team of researchers illustrated the insides of Hong Kong’s hub of vice. (Kowloon large illustrated)

The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong looks like a beehive, with cramped quarters stacked haphazardly on top of one another. It grew up organically, clearly constructed without the input of a single architect. Before its demolition in 1993, the city buzzed with life. It harbored drug kingpins, prostitutes, and gangsters, along with fish ball makers, mailmen, and hawkers.

But apart from these residents, only a few others had been privy to life in “the brothel of the East.” Cameraman Hamdani Milas was one of them. He helped make a 1989 documentary about the city and spoke to the Wall Street Journalfor this brilliant interactive feature tracing how a diplomatic glitch in the 1800s turned a former military fort into a “donut hole of Chinese sovereignty” in Hong Kong, then a British colony. Being tossed between the Chinese and the British forced the city into legal limbo.

“It really was like a mad art director’s vision of a dystopian future,” he says. “It was all botched together and it was this kind of crazy, chaotic architecture.”

The cities’ cramped quarters contained parlors, strip clubs, and factories. (Kowloon large illustrated)

Back in the day, around 33,000 people lived in the webbed high-rises, making the city one of the most densely populated places in the world. To outsiders, it was a hotbed of vice and violence that most refused to enter—even after the walls came down in the mid 20th century.

The city was in legal limbo. (Kowloon large illustrated)

These hyper-detailed maps illustrate the true density of life in the city. They come from a rare book released in 1997, shortly after the colonial government decided to demolish the city and relocate the residents to public housing complexes. They were produced by Japanese researchers led by anthropologist Kani Hioraki, writes artist Johnny Strategy on his design blog.

“I think what surprised me most was the sheer level of detail that was captured and then reproduced,” Strategy writes in an email. “The more you study the map the more you realize that life was actually pretty normal—people did laundry, practiced gardening, fixed leaks, and generally made the best of what life offered.”

These rare (and hyper-detailed) maps show the daily lives of residents as much as the geography of the place. (Kowloon large illustrated)

In 1995, a park commemorating the city opened up where it used to stand. But the Walled City still haunts the imagination of creative types, inspiring movies,arcades, and 3-D models.

The Newberry Volcano Enhanced Geothermal Project: The Most Important Power Plant In The Country? Comment Now Follow Comments

www.forbes.com Peter Kelly-Detwiler  11/06/2014

Right now, a project in the forests of central Oregon may hold the promise to unlocking an enormous newenergy resource in the United States. On the NewberyVolcano VOLC +4.45%, AltaRock Energy is engaged in a project to mine the earth’s heat two miles down and turn it into a reliable and cost-effective supply of electricity. The potential of this energy resource is huge, and it is not confined to a particular geography. The main thing one needs is hot rock at a reasonable depth. And there is a lot of that in this country – over 3,000 years worth at our current rate of energy use.

In 2005 an 18-person panel was assembled under the auspices of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to look at the potential of geothermal energy to become a major source of energy in the United States. When most people think of geothermal, they envision the hydrothermal resources that are located in volcanic zones along tectonic plates, but the potential for geothermal is much larger and geographically dispersed. In fact, there is enormous potential for heat mining enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) throughout the U.S. and the world.

EGS works by drilling a hole into the ground, and pumping water – with a biodegradable diverter, which enhances the fracture process – into a closed loop system to create fractures in the rock. Additional water is added (once the reservoir is saturated, very little water is lost in the closed loop) to absorb heat from the rock, which turns to steam at the surface and drives a turbine.

Image: AltaRock

The MIT group was specifically looking at what would be necessary to produce 100,000 MW of EGS in North America (which would represent about 10 % of overall U.S. generating capacity). They noted that the quality of the geothermal resource is affected by three basic factors:

1)   The temperature-depth relationship (also referred to as the geothermal gradient), in other words, how deep do you have to drill to obtain the requisite heat?

2)   The reservoir rock’s permeability and porosity. How easily do fluids or gases move through the rock and how big are the spaces between the grains in the rock? This matters because it affects the surface area that the water (which absorbs the necessary heat) is exposed to.

3)   The amount of fluid saturation. How much fluid is there in the rock that can absorb the heat?

The typical hydrothermal reservoirs utilized in today’s geothermal plants contain all three attributes: they are relatively shallow, have high permeability and porosity, and have fluids in place that are easily recharged. EGS reservoirs, by definition, lack at least one of these characteristics. They may not have enough permeability and porosity or they may lack sufficient fluids. But with manipulation, that can change.

As the MIT report noted, EGS is attractive for several reasons, including the fact that it provides virtually carbon free baseload (round the clock) electricity and the source rock resource exists widely throughout the United States. The plants are also highly scalable because they are modular, based on the number of geothermal wells that are developed. The study group indicated that the potential of this resource was enormous and cost-effective: “the panel thinks that with a combined public/private investment of about $800 million to $1 billion over a 15-year period, EGS technology could be deployed commercially on a timescale that would produce more than 100,000 MWe of new capacity by 2050.” The group noted that this is “less than the cost of a single new-generation, clean-coal power plant.”

The MIT report did not start a revolution, but it did influence a few motivated entrepreneurs to look into this issue. One of them, Aaron Mandell, co-founded AltaRock (now 100% backed by investor Vinod Khosla) in 2007 to see if he could turn theoretical potential into reality. The question he was trying to answer was simple:

If you can prove EGS works and prove the economics are competitive, can geothermal begin to displace coal? Can we take a virtually unlimited supply of heat from the earth and use it to permanently retire fossil fuels?

Mandell observes that EGS is a very different technology than hydro-fracking for natural gas. One doesn’t have to drill sideways, nor use chemicals or sand to open up fractures in the rock. Also, no wastewater is produced that needs to be disposed of. Rather, it’s the temperature differential between cold water and hot rock that creates the fractures. These fractures in turn result in enhanced surface area for subsequent heat transfer from the rock to the water. Another public concern has been the potential for creating earthquakes, referred to as “induced seismicity.” But as Altarockhighlights using measured data from the Newberry projectEGS stimulations result in seismicity that is lower than a packed football stadium during a big NFL game.

Another difference from fracking – which typically uses three or four million gallons per well – is that AltaRock is using a closed loop. Once the reservoir is initially charged, no more additional water is needed, and the plants can then produce power for decades. Mandell is enthusiastic about the prospects for the EGS resource and for his company.

The cost structure and development risk is totally different than for traditional geothermal energy. We can achieve a high degree of certainty that a well will produce, because if you don’t hit permeability, you can create it.

With the development of the greenfield Newberry Volcano site, AltaRock is working to morph theory into reality, and the implications are significant. Retired Duke Energy DUK +0.58% Chairman Jim Rogers has said that “by mid-century virtually every power plant in this country will be retired and replaced.” As this happens a new source of generation will need to fill the void and EGS is one resource that has that capability.

In Oregon, we are building what we believe to be one of the most important power plants in the U.S. We’ve drilled 10,000 feet into hot dry rock, at 300 degrees Centigrade, with almost no permeability at the bottom and used our technology tocreate a geothermal reservoir. We no longer need to rely on naturally occurring reservoirs to get the heat and this opens the door to a whole new generation of development.

The undertaking is not cheap: it is underwritten by a $40 million commitment from private investors, complemented by a $21.5 million matching grant from the Department of Energy. The project is also supported by the University of Oregon, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Utah, Texas A&M, Temple University, and scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

It involves several stages. The first element involves drilling the initial exploratory and injection well. This well provides information concerning downhole temperatures and is the well into which the water is introduced to fracture the rock and create the geothermal reservoir. Once the reservoir is created, additional vertical production wells are drilled, and they will have connectivity to the first well so that water moves from one to the other. The superheated water (at about 300 degrees C) will rise up the production wells to the surface and the resulting steam will course through a generator to create electricity. At this point, the Newberry Volcano project has already seen completion of the injection well, stimulation of the resource, and the creation of permeability. The next step is to drill the producer wells that will have ‘communication’ with the water injected into the first well, creating the closed loop network.

Silurian Valley energy proposal tests land boundaries

Julie Cart  Los Angeles Times  8 Nov 2014

The Bureau of Land Management has called the Silurian Valley an "undisturbed, irreplaceable, historic scenic landscape." But now the federal agency is considering a proposal for two solar facilities amid the oasis. (Gina Ferazzi)
The Bureau of Land Management has called the Silurian Valley an “undisturbed, irreplaceable, historic scenic landscape.” But now the federal agency is considering a proposal for two solar facilities amid the oasis. (Gina Ferazzi)

 one of the hottest, driest places on Earth, velvety sand dunes surround dry lake beds that, with luck, fill with spring rains. Hidden waterways attract a profusion of wildlife and birds; submerged desert rivers periodically erupt in a riot of green.

The federal Bureau of Land Management describes the Silurian Valley as an “undisturbed, irreplaceable, historic scenic landscape.”

Now, a Spanish energy firm is proposing a wind and solar project that would cover 24 square miles of the Mojave Desert oasis.

Iberdrola Renewables wants to build a 200-megawatt wind farm that would sprout as many as 133 turbines reaching heights of 480 feet. Next door would be a 200-megawatt solar facility with 400 pairs of photovoltaic panels. The industrial facility would operate around the clock and be visible from nearly every point of the valley.

If approved, the project would be the first major exception to the BLM’s strategy of guided development across more than 22 million acres of California desert.

The BLM’s approach aims to encourage development in less-sensitive parts of the Mojave. But the agency allows developers such as Iberdrola to apply for variances — critics call them loopholes — that let energy prospectors plant their flags just about anywhere in the California desert if they successfully clear hurdles designed to discourage building in environmentally fragile areas.

Iberdrola’s experience will help developers determine whether the difficult process is worth their time and money. For environmentalists, it will be a test of the government’s commitment to protect sensitive areas of the desert.

In its application, Iberdrola said the plants would create 300 construction jobs and about a dozen full-time positions once the facilities are completed. It would require building 45 miles of new roads, a new power substation and 11 miles of transmission lines to connect the site to the power grid. The two plants would generate about 400 megawatts of power.

There has been wide position to the project, which sits astride the Old Spanish Trail, a historic trade route managed by the National Park Service.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife have criticized its proposed location: a valley that serves as a crossroads for three major wildlife corridors and an important avian flyway. They warned that the long-standing migration corridors would be disrupted and wildlife would be injured or killed in the wind project’s turbines or the solar project’s superheated panels.

The park service has said the visual impact would be “significant, irreversible and likely unmitigatable.”

This lonely place is a tourist mecca too. The valley’s volcanic mesas and creosote forests are bisected by Highway 127, a two-lane black ribbon that connects three jewels of Southern California: Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park.

Mark Butler, who retired this year as superintendent at Joshua Tree, said energy developments in the desert must be smartly placed to protect sensitive ecosystems.

“I believe it would be a mistake to place this in the Silurian Valley,” he said. “We need renewable energy — it’s just about where it is and how we go about it.”

Conservation groups, which have opposed variance exceptions, say the Silurian Valley is a poor testing ground for the process.

A Guide to Collaborative Working using Google software and tools


A Guide to Collaborative Working using Google products (1)

Collaborative working with Google products is a dream. If you are not making the most of them yet, then here is an overview of how to piece several of them together.

As such we will cover how to use:

  • Gmail and Google+
  • Google Drive
  • Google+ Communities
  • Google Hangouts
  • YouTube

…when working as part of a team, and want to make the most of collaborative tools.

Gmail and Google+

These two applications work hand in hand.
In your Gmail (using ‘desktop’ as an example) you will see:

Circles (on the left)
Google+ Posts (sometimes you can reply from within Gmail, other times you may need to click a ‘view post’ link)

We will be covering hangouts in detail later on in this guide, but for now, let’s look at circles and how they relate to Google+ posts.

Note: if you are new to Google+, sign up as a Quickstarter here! In 20 minutes you will get to grips with some of the key principles.

Google Circles

This is how you can set up a circle from within Google+

1. Start by clicking to create a new circle.

Create a Google circle (1)

2. Next, you will see a new box pop up where you can name the circle and add people, one at a time.

Create a Google Circle (2)

3. Tip: once the circle has been created, you can ‘select’ several contacts and drag and drop them into a circle.

Create a Google Circle (3)

Note: you may have several people that ‘exist’ in different circles, based on the teams to which they belong.

Using Google Circles alongside Google+ posts.

You can send a private message to your ‘team’ circle by adding that circle into the Google+ post.

You can also add text, images, videos etc. to the post too.

Sending a private Google+ message to a team

Note: remove ‘public’ as the option if you don’t want it to be seen publicly!

If you check the ‘also send an email’ option it will end up in Gmail (if they are using it), and here is the GREAT THING for collaboration…

You can all reply on the same post thread:

Comment thread, and +1s

Also, you can +1 a comment, and if you click on the plus ones to see who has also plus oned – this can give you e.g. a clue at who agrees with a comment, at a glance.

People will also receive a notification when people comment on the thread after they comment.
You can ‘mute’ a thread by clicking on the upper right menu (see below) and you won’t receive notifications from that thread in future, even if someone +mentions you.

Other considerations:

If you want to get your notification’s to receive the right information to you, into your Gmail, here is a guide – click here!

Check out this guide on ‘Who can see your posts’ – click here! (including that ‘private posts’ will only be seen by the people included in them).

How to restrict access to that team only

Before a post is created, you can stop people from sharing it by clicking the small arrow in the post box (h/t Stan Bush):

How to disable reshares prior to sharing

If you want to prevent content being shared once a post has been created, you can do the following:

Step 1 – click on the arrow on the upper right of the post:

How to disable reshares after posting (1)

Step 2 – choose the option ‘disable reshares’:

How to disable reshares after posting (2)

Note: if you disable reshares, neither you (as the originator of the post) nor another who has been included to receive it, will be able to +mention people not included into the comment thread.
Tip: if you want to bring in additional people to the conversation, then simply ‘re-enable reshares’ using the same menu (in the upper right corner), and then +mention the person into the thread, before then disabling the reshares once again. They will still be able to comment when they arrive.

Google Drive –  new version

Google Drive has recently been made a lot more pretty! And this guide will show screenshots of the newest version, but those would would rather, here is an style Google Drive here.

How to use Google docs for effective collaborative working – relevant for  organisations and individuals working on projects.

Google Drive is an incredible and increasingly seemless way of sharing the right information to the right people. It can also be used to help individuals rally others in the organisation who can input into the document, not just view.
If you are implementing a change in your organisation or are a consultant considering supporting a transition to the benefits of Google Docs then here are a few pointers that may help. To begin…

Selecting a file in the New Drive

Once you’ve selected a folder or a file in Drive, right click to bring up the ‘Share’ icon:

How to share a file in Drive

Or, if you just want the link to give to people, click on the ‘link’ symbol:

Seeing who has access to a file in the new Drive

From there you can decide ‘who’ should have access…

Who should be allowed to access the file?

Here are the setting options to consider…

This means you need to explicitly invite people to view.
This requires adding them from your Gmail contacts.

Anyone who has the link.
This option allows you to share to individuals by +name or to circles (as well as to other platforms (Facebook and Twitter)
As people don’t have to sign in to Google+ to see the link, this has to be used with awareness.

This allows for the document to become a publicly viewable document on the web.

You may like to think through the options carefully as including the wrong people to view/edit could create issues. Having an organisational principles for Google Docs could allow you to help people know the parameters.
(Few people like to have to read more guides on their behaviour so may be a brief video could be used as well/instead.)

Sharing Step 2

 Do you want to grant editing rights?

There is a setting that allows people to either have editing rights, or they remain with the author.

Sharing Step 3

Do you just want people to comment?

This could be very useful when you want to receive input but want the original document to stay intact.

Whether you do this will depend upon…

Have you set up principles for collaborative working?

This is a key element in the process. People need to know what is expected of them including what they are allowed to do/not allowed to do.

What to do when collaboration doesn’t work out with a document?

Sometimes the owner (or a person in a specific role) may need to step in and reaffirm some basic ground rules for a project.
The better the project is ‘set up’ (framed) at the outset then the less likely it will be that things will go wrong.

If you find that things do ‘untangle’ you may like to consider increasingly the complexity of the mode of communication to resolve the issue e.g. from text, to voice, to face-to-face (including hangouts). You will often find people relate better to a more complete mode of communication when there are challenges as it enables an increase in the flow of information i.e. visual as well as auditory, auditory as well as text alone etc.

Have you agreed to a clear end point?

This could be important to prevent endless rounds of edits by many parties. If you agree this upfront at the start of the project you will probably save yourself a lot of time.

Gmail and Google+ working together

Email will feel very old fashioned when you use it as a stand alone product, but combining it with Google+ will give you some great options.

When you have e.g. a link to the document (as shown in the Drive section above) you can then share it with a ‘circle of people’ on Google+

Create a circle on Google+

Note: if you do to learn more about Google+, we have a free Quickstarter Guide here that will get your flying in no time.

1. I build a circle with people who I want to collaborate on the project.
2. I share this circle to them; informing them that they are in that circle
3. I open up Google docs and create a document on ‘what else would we like to do to help support jobs/works/projects/meetups etc’ (e.g. a Word doc or Presentation)
4. I invite the circle to edit/comment on the document

You can also receive the email responses to e.g. comments directly in your Gmail as well, so you don’t have to leave that app in order to respond.

G+ post in Gmail

5. I gather the information and integrate it back into the document and then e.g. share the findings publicly to rally more community support

Google Drive is a phenomenal tool and with Google+ sharing it allows the right messages to get to the right people, but also for their input to be respected as well. As with so many aspect of the social layer, it will increase efficiency within an organisation in ways that may not realise until you experience it.

But it goes even further…

Using Google+ Communities

Another REALLY useful way of brining the right people together for conversations is using G+ communities.

Here is a complete step-by-step guide to how to set them up! (it is not very long)

Private communities

This is like having a ‘circle of people’ but with some great advantages, including:

People can receive notifications whenever any of the team posts

The community members can be added to without needed to ‘re-share’ a circle of members to keep it up to date

You have a great ‘in community’ search function so you can see prior conversations

Just like any other Google+ posts, you will be able to see them in Gmail too.

Then here is a lovely little guide on how to use them for collaborative/team projects: Click here!

Ok, next…

Google Hangouts

These are a text based chat, in which you can add images.
You can also start a video call with the people who are included in that hangout, and add more people as well.

Below is one version of the app (different ones will look different, but the principles will be the same):

  1. Click here to start a new hangout

Note: ‘Start a Hangout Party’ would start a video call portion only, bi-passing the needed ‘text hangout’ for this process

  1. If you click in the box, you can then for instance invite people who you have in a circle that are members of your team.
  2. That will then bring up a box. And if you type messages to people within that hangout, then they’re all going to receive that message. And as you can see in this example, there are 14 people within this particular hangout.
  3. Next, click on ‘settings’ i.e. the cog

Hangout process for colloborative working

Note: there are different types of apps for hangouts (this is the ‘standard’ one), but the principles are the same.

Hangout notifications

If you go to the cog, and you click, you’ll see here:

  1. You can name the project and that way you know which hangout relates to which project, and
  2. You can see notifications are switched on. If you uncheck the box, it means when people are chatting, you don’t get notified.

It’s important not to leave the hangout if you want to stay part of that particular collaborative team, as you’ll need to be invited back into the hangout in order to join it.

When you’re ready, click save on the changes.


Step 2 – Choosing a document from Google Drive (Recap, just in case you skipped that bit above!)

Next, let’s look at Google Drive. If you take the example of a presentation.

To search:

1. Click the arrow in the corner to bring up this menu, or you can search in the box directly, then

2. Search by ‘Type’

Searching Drive

Once selected you will see this:

Select a Drive file

  1. Click to choose the one you want to work on together with that group, and
  2. You click on the share button, which is the little + sign.


  1. You come across to who has access.
  2. If you change that to anyone with a link can edit, and
  3. Then press save.

Then you have the settings changed for that file e.g. a document.

  1. You can then copy the link.


Step 3 – Dropping the link into the hangout

Return to your hangout and drop the link into the hangout and press return, and everybody who’s within that hangout will be able to collaborate on that document.

Also, if you click on the icon that looks a little like a camera, that will initiate a video call with everybody who’s within that hangout, providing they’ve got their notifications turned on. And from there, you’ll be able to take that document using the Google Drive app, which you can see here in the video call aspect of the Google hangout.


Optional – Using Drive in a Google Hangout

Once you’ve started a hangout you can:

  1. Click on the Google Drive App, and
  2. If at any time you need to invite more people into the room to collaborate, then you’ll be able to do so by clicking invite people and then adding names, circles, or email addresses.
  3. Choose the file which you want to work on together

Using Google Drive in a Google Hangout

You know how to set up a Google Hangout and keep it alive so you can work together on projects using Google Drive.
Note: if you use the Google Drive app in a Hangout-on-Air it won’t be visible to the viewers, nor when stored on YouTube.

Tip from Ronnie Bincer (the Hangout Master): use ‘screenshare’ instead to show a Drive document, and it will be recorded!

 Hangouts-on-air and YouTube settings

If you want to record your hangout sessions, then you will want to use ‘Hangout-on-air’ instead of a ‘Video call’ (unless you record using third party tools).
They great this about this tool is that you can:

  • Invite a group of people to the hangout, and not have it ‘public’,
  • Then, once it is finished, it will be saved on YouTube, then
  • You can alter the settings on YouTube and decide who gets to see that content in the future.

Youtube settings

You can also choose e.g. a circle of people, or individual email address under the ‘private setting’:

Private settings

Also, you can ‘download the YouTube video’, and then e.g. edit out the best sections before re-uploading and sharing it with the team:

Download MP4 from YouTube


There are so many other Google tools I could feature too, including how content from Google+ emerges in Google Search, based on who have the ‘right’ to see that content – this is why when you search you may well see pictures of people you know alongside Google+ posts.
All in all, these tools are AWESOME and can transform what how you and your team collaborates on projects.

Splitting, Expanding, Maturing, Polarizing …. GIS is Changing


Matt Sheehan

Splitting, bifurcating, expanding, maturing, polarizing …. GIS is changing.

We are living through a time of transformation in our industry. The advent of cloud and mobile technology has put much focus on location, and technology which is location focused. That’s our technology. Demand is growing from outside our industry for the output from a GIS: mapping, analysis, discovery and more.

But the question has to be asked: are these winds of change internally driven or fueled by this new demand?

Splitting, Expanding, Maturing, Polarizing …. GIS is Changing

The recent blog post I wrote asking the question “Is GIS Splitting?” was met with a large response. Splitting suggests two or more disparate parts. Joe Francica at Directions Magazine in a podcast discussing the question suggested maturing or expanding (note, the term “splitting” was used in the original post to start the conversation. I agree with Joe and most of those who responded, that GIS is actually expanding).

Brian Haslam provided some interesting feedback on this question:

“My viewpoint comes from nearly 25 years of Esri GIS experience with local government. I prefer to put the focus on GIS expanding to meet unique workflow needs where it has not been traditionally used or the use has been marginal. As organizations see their GIS as their most up-to-date authoritative data, which can be rendered as a map (reports, tables, charts, etc.), and can provide spatial analytically tools for decisions support, use of the GIS explodes throughout for specialized and other uses.”

Terminology aside, there is a strong suggestion that two clear-cut communities are evolving: “old and new” (note, though i will use these terms in this post I actually prefer “traditional” and “emerging”). And that the marketplace is driving this divide. The “old” serves predominantly the current user community. While the “new” is focused on the newly emerging user base.

Joe Berry commented as follows:

“My minor contribution to the discussion is two-fold:

1) The root source of the divergence is the level of understanding of the full potential of geotechnology (both in the developer and user communities); and,

2) Geotechnology advances are effectively driven by the marketplace (users, not developers).”

Finding a Common Language

Geospatial, geotechnology, geomatics, Géomatique, mapping ….

We have developed our own language. The language of geospatial. Discussions continue on our somewhat insular vernacular. See this discussion started by Joe Berry on this topic. One respondent I think sums things up nicely:

“All the names and acronyms we use among industry-insiders really don’t work well at all for outsiders. All seem to leave puzzled looks and beg the need for more explanation.”

I’ve never hidden my dislike for the term geospatial. It is off-putting, confusing and to some degree intimidating to those outside the industry. Maybe most importantly it poorly communicates what we do. As the conversation Joe started suggests, old GIS is happy with our current vernacular, while new GIS sees change (additions/updates) as essential to help communicate with, and provide solutions to the new user base.

A new Breed of Geographer

GeoSpatial practitioner, geospatial developer… location specialist

Any GIS client solution is a combination of input from trained geospatial experts, often geographers, and geospatial developers. As Clark Beattie puts it:

“I’ve been in this business for 45 years and seen many changes over that time, most of them for the good. I view GIS as a spectrum which starts with the G part and ends with the IS part. The percentage of spectrum used in a given situation depends on how the geospatial science needs to be applied and the knowledge/capabilities/skills of the practitioner. Some solutions need more G and others more IS. In any given solution one [G nor IS] can’t exist without the other and their appropriate combination makes the GIS work.”

I agree with Clark, this status-quo serves old GIS well. But for new GIS, are we missing a third expert or at least skillset? Those who can understand the challenges faced by the “new” user base. Who can talk a common language and present appropriate understandable approaches and solutions.

Again Joseph Berry:

“The ‘old and new’ paradigm gaps for both the developers and users are at least partially the result of geospatial education’s focus on ‘Specialist’ training with commercial software; and to some degree a movement away from the development of “flagship” software to “business case” solutions”

There is little doubt that GIS practitioners are worried about their future. They see their value as eroding, and wonder if they should become more certified (GISP) or learn programming. Publishing a map is one thing, understanding the data and concepts is quite another. Ever more computer scientists are learning GIS concepts, and applying their IT skills within our industry.

But this proposed third group (I’ll call them location specialists) is rare. There is no training or even widespread recognition of their need. But for new GIS to flourish we need ‘translators’. We need individuals, who understand the challenges faced by the wider ‘non-GIS’ community. Who can bridge the divide, and communicate spatial solutions to a new set of problems, targeted at a new diverse group of users.

One can speculate on the source of these ‘translators’. Maybe from two directions — analytically thinking GIS’ers and spatially thinking domain experts. Since GIS education has not made its way across campus, the latter group remains small. The widespread adoption of SpatialSTEM at the college level, is potentially very important.


There seems little doubt there is a shift underway in our industry. A new very large potential user base has emerged, which is driving change. As an industry we are in the recognition and defining phase. And there is plenty of resistance.

To quote Joseph Berry again:

“Regardless, folks both outside and inside the field need to recognize that digital maps have taken us well “beyond mapping” to entirely new ways to collect, process, analyze and display mapped data and spatial information.”

My opinion is that we will over time see greater recognition of this divergence, and an increasing effort on the part of our industry to bridge the emerging divide. Old GIS continues business as usual. Those focused on new GIS are entering new uncharted territory. Opportunities and challenges abound.

As the saying goes change is good. At the minute two communities have emerged inside our industry: the “old” and “new”. Will they coalesce or remain separate? Only time will tell.

Agree. Disagree. Thoughts?

ESA Space Ferry (?!?!) Moves Space Station to Avoid Debris

4 November 2014

The International Space Station was threatened by space debris last week but ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle saved the day by firing its thrusters to push the orbital outpost and its six occupants out of harm’s way.

Station with ATV-2

This is the first time the Station’s international partners have avoided space debris with such urgency.

Ground stations continuously track space junk – leftover hardware from defunct satellites – for potentially life-threatening collisions. A fleck of paint can cause major damage travelling at 28 800 km/h. When they raise the alarm, ground teams can move the Station to a safer orbit.

The calculations sometimes take hours – this is rocket science – but fortunately, most of the time, the radar network gives ample warning. Sometimes a dangerous object can slip through the net or its erratic behaviour makes accurate predictions difficult. CLICK LINK BELOW TO READ ON: