Ag Spatial Analysis online; Kirkwood Community College

I’ve known Terry Brase for years, having met him during iGETT.  If you are looking for an Ag-focused GIS course, or want to learn a lot about practical application of advanced GIS analysis, this is a great course for you.

Kirkwood Community College will be offering Ag Spatial Analysis as a 3 credit On-Line course taught by Terry Brase during the 2015 Spring semester. The course will begin Feb 16, 2015 and run to May 11, 2015.

The course will be an introduction to the analysis of yield data using ArcGIS. Basic tools and techniques for creating interpretative maps such as temporal analysis; statistical analysis; net profit; and suitability maps will provide a fundamental understanding of analysis concepts. The course is hands on using actual data in ArcGIS.

Students should have strong computer skills and introductory skills in ArcGIS. Participants will be provided with a student version of ArcGIS for use in class exercises.

The 3 credits is college credit and not just continuing education credit therefore people will need to register with Kirkwood CC to enroll. Call Kirkwood at 1-800-363-2220 for registration assistance.

Public Lab End of Year Closeout


Happy Holidays and Winter Solstice from Public Lab!
It’s that time of the year and the season of giving is in full swing here at Public Lab. Right now we are giving the gift of open source science with additional savings on DIY environmental monitoring tools. Our injection molded, rigid, plastic, one of a kindSmartphone Spectrometer is on sale for $40. This handy little device quickly and easily assembles to attach to your smartphone’s camera turning it into a mobile spectrometer. The perfect gift for a budding field scientist, student of molecular chemistry or for just bringing the family and friends together around the kitchen table or outside. (Coming soon, a Festivus Low Aerial Mapping Pole for the rest of us.)


Specials on kits including Spectrometers, Filters, and Balloon Kits
Use a homemade spectrometer to scan different materials and capture a substance’s spectral “bands of light” signature. Our DIY Spectrometers make it easy to capture and observe the spectra on your phone of many unknowns substances (like Grandpa’s Secret Eggnog Delight). Host a spirited spectral showdown to explore your favorite holiday warming liquor. The applications are endless.


Baloon Kits are now only $75 until the end of the year! That’s a full set ready to go, you just add the helium.


Katie Peek in 24 Dec 2014

Courtesy Benjamin Hennig, University of Oxford
Courtesy Benjamin Hennig, University of Oxford

Cartograms—maps distorted so that instead of land area, they portray another quantity such as population or electoral-college votes—have existed since the early 1900s. Benjamin Hennig has refined the technique, and he made this cartogram to show the planet’s most remote places. He calculated the travel time from each spot on Earth to the nearest major city, then grew or shrunk the land at those points accordingly. The most remote spots appear biggest, while the densely settled areas, such as Europe, appear smallest.

See all 15 of our favorite recent data visualizations here.

This article was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Popular Science, under the title, “Dawn of the Data Age.


Big video data could change how we do everything — from catching bad guys to tracking shoppers

November 30, 2014 7:30 AM
Sean Varah, MotionDSP

Everyone takes pictures and video with their devices. Parents record their kids’ soccer games, companies record employee training, police surveillance cameras at busy intersections run 24/7, and drones monitor pipelines in the desert.

With vast amounts of video growing vaster at a rate faster than the day before, and the hottest devices like drones decreasing in price and size until everyone has one (OK, not in their pocket quite yet) it’s time to start talking about mining this mass of valuable video data for useful purposes.

Julian Mann, the cofounder of Skybox Imaging — a company in the business of commercial satellite imagery and the developer advocate for Google Earth outreach — says that the new “Skybox for Good” program will provide “a constantly updated model of change of the entire planet” with the potential to “save lives, protect the environment, promote education, and positively impact humanity.”

Why? Google wants to understand what’s happening on this earth in real time. In August, it entered into an agreement to acquire Skybox, the company that launched two of the world’s smallest high-resolution imaging satellites. They orbit the earth and collect high-res images and video every day. The company plans to launch as many as 24 of these satellites, allowing Google to get near real-time data about the entire Earth.

SatelliteSatelliteGoogle will turn those pixels into data using sophisticated image processing and computer vision software, running on the immense Google cloud. A Skybox satellite might photograph or video a particular city several times per day, not for the static or moving imagery, but for the data gathered in each frame of each image. The significant value of the data comes from comparing it across time or location, looking for change. For example, when is that store’s parking lot full? What is the progress of the highway construction to build a new overpass? Which roads are open for faster delivery service during the day? Which movie theaters attract the most customers week-to-week? How have weather patterns changed over the past 24 hours, or from the same time last year?

Mining video data through “man + machine” artificial intelligence is new technology in search of unsolved problems. Could this be the next chapter in the ever-evolving technology revolution?

For the past 50 years, satellite imagery has only been available to the U.S. intelligence community and those countries with technology to launch their own. Digital Globe was one of the first companies to make satellite imagery available commercially, and now Skybox and a few others have joined them. Drones are even newer, having been used by the U.S. military since the ‘90s for surveillance over battlefields or, in this age of counter-terrorism, playing the role of aerial detectives finding bad guys in the middle of nowhere. Before drones, the same tasks required thousands of troops on the ground, putting many young men and women in harm’s way. Today, hundreds of trained “eyes” safely located here in the U.S. watch hours of video from a single drone to assess current situations in countries far away.

Google is interested in satellites in space taking constant video of earth, and Facebook and Amazon are interested in drones for a myriad of reasons, from imaging to package delivery to wireless Internet delivery in rural areas and more.

Watching videos can be tedious and fatiguing for humans. Computers don’t get tired of watching thousands of hours of a robot scanning an underwater pipeline. They can detect a crack on frame 111,432 and alert a human expert to have a closer look. A human might see the crack after watching all those frames in real-time. Might.

Two years ago, the police needed hundreds of detectives and hours to cull through massive amounts of surveillance video taken around the scene of the bombing at the Boston Marathon to assemble the clues that ultimately identified and located the bombers. What if they had software to help them catch the bad guys sooner?

Even more importantly, imagine all the new opportunities created by this growing mass of video data. The ideas are infinite, and we know that in our innovative world, a commercial industry or two will establish itself in light speed.

Sean Varah is founder and chief executive of MotionDSP, a company that makes advanced image processing and video analytics software.


Is College Worth the Price? Yes, If Your Major is Geospatial

Two weeks ago, CNN had a special airing of the two hour documentary Ivory Tower. The movie, which was released earlier this year, dealt with the growing problem of the increased cost of going to college, growing student debt — now approaching 1.3 trillion dollars, and the inability of students to find employment in their field. The movie raised some important issues and used the plight of the prestigious but small 950-student Cooper Union College in New York City as an example.

The private engineering, architecture and arts college established in 1859 was funded by a very large endowment, and up until last year tuition was free for those lucky students who could get in. However, construction of a $170 million building, high administrative costs (the college president’s salary was reported at $750,000) and some less-than-ideal management decisions resulted in financial disaster and the need to start charging tuition last year. That action prompted a student revolt that is still unresolved.

To read more, click on the link below:

U.S. satellite spies holiday lights from space

Karen Kaplan in  17 Dec 2014 3:46PM

Holiday lights from space | United States NASA Earth Observatory In this image from NASA, green denotes light that's brighter during the Christmas-New Year's season than during the rest of the year.
Holiday lights from space | United States
NASA Earth Observatory
In this image from NASA, green denotes light that’s brighter during the Christmas-New Year’s season than during the rest of the year.

Americans are serious about their Christmas lights — so much so that a NASA satellite can see them from space.

The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, which NASA operates with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, can’t see the individual lights that adorn the Rockefeller Center or the yachts in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. But the satellite can certainly tell that the total amount of nighttime light emitted during the holiday season is as much as 50% greater than during the rest of the year.

The Suomi satellite wasn’t designed to measure the wattage of Christmas displays, of course. It was launched in 2011 to study Earth’s cloud cover, vegetation, ice, ozone layer and air pollution, as well as to monitor the temperature on land, at sea and in the atmosphere, among other things.

The satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, instrument does its part by recording visible and infrared light from all over the globe. The stunning “Earth at Night” images were made with VIIRS data.

Researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Yale University were part of a team that developed an algorithm to help them see whether these lights changed much from night to night. The researchers were expecting the lights to be pretty stable, but when they examined images of Cairo, they found a surprising blip.

After some digging, they realized that the brighter lights corresponded with the holy month of Ramadan — a period when Muslims fast during the day and gather to eat after the sun sets. Ramadan starts about a week and a half earlier every year. Sure enough, the changes in nighttime light in Cairo synced up with the Islamic calendar.

Holiday magic? Reindeer eyes change from gold to blue at Christmas
Holiday magic? Reindeer eyes change from gold to blue at Christmas
Then they turned their attention to cities in the United States. They had to focus on places without snow, since snow reflects too much light. In the cities they did analyze, they corrected for the light effects of clouds, aerosols and even the reflection of the moon.

The researchers created images to compare the light output during the holiday season with the light measured during the rest of the year. The greater the increase, the greener an area appears. In cities such as Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Jose, the nighttime light during the weeks between Black Friday and New Year’s Day rose by as much as 50%.

The changes weren’t uniform throughout these metropolitan areas. In general, central urban areas got about 20% to 30% brighter, while light in the suburbs got 30% to 50% more intense.

“We were really surprised to see this vibrant increase in activity during the holidays, and particularly around areas in the suburbs where you have a lot of single family homes with a lot of yard space to put lights,” Miguel Roman, a research physical scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a NASA video. The light maps provide clues that Americans leave the cities and head to the suburbs and more rural areas during the holidays, he added.  Click to read more and see video.

Making the most detailed tweet map ever

By Eric Fischer on December 03 2014 (TOTH:

I’ve been tracking geotagged tweets from Twitter’s public API for the last three and a half years. There are about 10 million public geotagged tweets every day, which is about 120 per second, up from about 3 million a day when I first started watching. The accumulated history adds up to nearly three terabytes of compressed JSON and is growing by four gigabytes a day. And here is what those 6,341,973,478 tweets look like on a map, at any scale you want.

© Mapbox © OpenStreetMap Improve this map. Data from the Twitter Streaming API
© Mapbox © OpenStreetMap Improve this map. Data from the Twitter Streaming API

I’ve open sourced the tools I used to manipulate the data and did all the design work in Mapbox Studio. Here’s how you can make one like it yourself.

You can follow Twitter’s stream of geotagged public tweets using the “statuses/filter” API to request tweets from a particular bounding box or the whole world. Before you can connect, you have toregister a Twitter API key and authenticate using it. I couldn’t find a simple library last year to generate the OAuth header for Twitter authentication, so I wrote this one. Once you have authenticated and connected to the filter API, you receive a steady stream of tweets in JSON format. They include a lot more metadata than you necessarily need to make a dot map, so I’ve been using this program to parse the JSON and pull out just each tweet’s username, date, time, location, client, and text.  Click to continue reading.

Team of young coders build location-based game, using OS OpenData

By , 1 December, 2014 8:00 am

Back in August, we shared news about our support at the Young Rewired State (YRS) Festival of Code and how we mentored young people at one of the centres at Totton College, which is just a stone’s throw from our Head Office.

Map Game ( designed using OS OpenData
Map Game ( designed using OS OpenData

Following that blog, we were contacted by another team of young coders – Jakob Metson, Tim Yeo, Gordon Lee and Solomon Foy – who told us how they’d also used OS OpenData during the week to build a game. The young coders told us they ‘were amazed by the sheer volume of maps supplied’ through our OS OpenData portal – so we thought we’d invite them to write a guest post, allowing them to share their awesome achievement with our fellow blog followers!

The team, who were aged between 8 and 14 years old and who were based in a centre located in London, discovered our OS OpenData portal via the YRS resources page. Here’s what they had to say about their project:

On Monday 28th July our group of four, took part in the YRS Festival of Code. The Festival takes place once a year to give young coders (18 or under) a platform to get together for a week, to create a project using various open data sets.

We worked on, and coded a project called ‘Map Game’ as we wanted to create a geographic game, because we felt that there should be a fun and simple way of learning more about England’s geography. We used the OS OpenData and were amazed about the volume and different types of maps made available. We decided to create a simple web game, where the user has to guess whether they are in the North, the Middle or the South of England.

As we were fairly novice in coding, one of the main challenges was managing to code the website, especially sorting through hundreds of maps and moving them to the website. We originally downloaded a large variety of different maps and decided to use OS VectorMap District raster images as these were clear, easy to read and provided the names of well-known places, rivers and roads (which are clues as to where in England you are).

The images came in very high quality which meant high detail, but they took too long to load in our website. However, it was very simple to convert them from TIFF format (high quality) to JPEG format (medium quality). With a little help we soon were able to create a fairly decent website and what we think is a good educational game – we certainly know more about England’s geography as a result of building it!

You can have a go, by checking it out here.

Top Ten of 2014 (from Sensors & Systems)

16 Dec 2014  Matt Ball in

In our regular end-of-the-year reflection, Sensors & Systems looks back over the past 12 months to come up with the top developments of 2014 that will have strong implications for geospatial industry growth and diversity in the coming years. Making the list are technology disruptions, acquisitions, modeling frameworks, mapping efforts and global change.

1. DigitalGlobe Launches WorldView-3 — The successful launch of the world’s most sophisticated commercial imaging satellite promises to bring a new range of potential uses, thanks to the high resolution and the infrared bands for greater spectral coverage. WorldView-3 will provide higher 0.31m resolution as well as greater global coverage. The new capabilities include the ability to see through smoke, to map crop types and health, to monitor oil and gas, and to explore for iminerals thanks to the ability to identify chemical composition.

2. Relaxed Imagery Restrictions — The relaxing of resolution restrictions by the U.S. Department of Commerce means that end users can acquire satellite imagery at up to 0.25m panchromatic and 1.0m multispectral starting in the first quarter of 2015. This move helps the commercial satellite imagery companies as well as the end user, given the superior coverage and frequency of satellite platforms for massive amounts of data collection as well as ongoing monitoring.

3. Drone-sized Laser Scanners — In the reality capture realm, both Velodyne and Riegl released LiDAR scanners small and light enough to be mounted on drone platforms. The portability and flexibility of this new capture mode should open up new opportunities for more rapid data collection and more complete 3D models for such hard-to-capture areas as mines or complex processing plants.

4. Google Purchases Skybox Imaging — The rumors were flying for months prior to the announced acquisition of the smallsat company for $500 million. The shared Silicon Valley location was certainly a factor, although likely more important is the focus on data and analytic opportunities with the planned high-resolution constellation with an eye on daily collection. The move impacted the stock of other commercial satellite companies thanks to its potential to satisfy most of Google’s insatiable demand for imagery. It’s interesting that the company was snapped up so quickly with only a few of the planned satellites in orbit.

5. Incubation Aimed at Proliferation — Esri has been expanding their support for startup companies through grants and licenses for their software. One of the more impressive aspects of the show floor at the Esri International User Conference this past year was the Startup Zone with passionate small companies that aim to expand the use and awareness of geospatial technologies and provide solutions upon the platform that Esri provides. The company wins when these companies start getting paid for their service and in turn pay Esri, but they also win by spreading the word through the evangelism of these passionate and thankful users.

6. Hexagon Geospatial Formed and Power Portfolio Released — The packaging of Hexagon Geospatial happened early in the year, splitting the geospatial tools from Intergraph and allowing for a fresh packaging of products. The new Hexagon packages are divided into Producer, Provider and Platform, giving users a bundling of capable software to support imagery processing and analysis, geospatial solutions, Web mapping, data portals and advanced modeling. The move to create the new company and the new packages provides greater clarity of offerings and reinforces the integration of the toolsets that were acquired and have been integrated over time.

7. Airbus in Action — One of the more interesting and ongoiing company stories is that of Airbus Defence and Space, which has undergone rebranding this past year with the change from Astrium. Just recently, the company sold the operations of their Spot 7 satellite to Azerbaijan as well as selling their Tokyo Spot Image company to PASCO. This divestment and partnership approach places more importance on regional partners and their ability to grow the business locally. It will be interesting to follow to see if there will be any further activity to place more of a focus on sensors and satellites and away from services.

8. FAA Opens UAS Use for Surveying and Monitoring The recent relaxation of restrictions for four companies to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for surveying and monitoring follows a decision earlier in the year to grant exemptions to seven film companies working in both television and films. This exemption includes the drone maker Trimble and the surveying and mapping company Woolpert (who happen to be located in Dayton, Ohio where manned flight was born). This step may soon see limited exemptions for additional applications such as agricultural crop mapping and monitoring, utility and pipeline corridor inspections, and package delivery.

9. Coming Era of Real-time Geospatial Data — A number of very interesting data management tools from the likes of IBM and SAP are focused squarely on the rapid delivery of geospatial insight thanks to high-speed computing and advanced algorithms. A startup named SpaceCurve is also in this space. As geospatial data volumes continue to increase, these tools provide a distinct edge to not only make sense of all these feeds but to provide actionable information.

10. Increasing Cloud Commitments — Software companies across the full geospatial spectrum are making increased commitments to the delivery of hosted geospatial solutions as well as extending some of the data intensive heavy lifting of geospatial analysis to the infinite computing of the cloud. Esri’s repackaging of ArcGIS as Pro for desktop and Portal for Server provides increasing capabilities for Web GIS with data and infrastructure aimed at greater portability through the delivery of apps. Others are making similar moves to help organizations leverage their geospatial investments with greater access and integration into multiple simultaneous workflows.

– See more at:

New AAG Brochure About Geography Jobs

The new AAG Jobs and Careers in Geography brochure is geared toward recruiting both upper-level high school and undergraduate college students to geography courses, geography majors, and possible careers in geography.

The six-panel, color brochure is designed to speak directly to students, with lively graphics portraying young people engaged in the exciting and socially meaningful activities of geography today.

For more information and to download the form to order copies of the brochure, visit the Jobs and Careers page.