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geospatial matters

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International Map Year

Did you know that it is International Map Year? 2015-2016.  

The International Map Year (IMY) is a worldwide celebration of maps and their unique role in our world. Supported by the United Nations, IMY provides opportunities to demonstrate, follow, and get involved in the art, science and technology of making and using maps and geographic information.

Think about ways in which maps can be integrated into your work!


False precision in the English Lidar release

Great commentary from Martin Isenburgon of LASTools fame on releasing data with false precision. This deals with the new open data release by the Environment Agency in England. So far LiDAR-derived DTM and DSM rasters have been released for 72% of the entire English territory at horizontal resolutions of 50 cm, 1 m, and 2 m. They can be downloaded here. The rasters are distributed as zipped archives of tiles in textual ASC format (*.asc). 

Martin gives us a cautionary tale on how not to release national data. It is not the ASC format that he has problems with, but the vertical precision. He says:

"The vertical resolution ranges from femtometers to attometers. This means that the ASCII numbers that specify the elevation for each grid cell are written down with 15 to 17 digits after the decimal point."

Example heights might be something like: 79.9499969482421875 or 80.23999786376953125. These data should be resolved to about the cm, not attometer, whatever that is. Crazy man!

Read the full post:


Fall 2015 ideas..

Here are the tag clouds from this year's GIS class: the why, how and what of our upcoming semester's projects. Word clouds from Wordle.

The Why: what are the key problems class members want to focus on...

 The How: possible methods we will use...

 The What: some of the datasets that might be used...



Speaking of Data Viz...

 Check out this cool Google #MapsHack... here!

 Google maps+Color= Awesome Art



Data Visualization of WWII

Here in the Kelly Lab we talk a lot about effective ways to visualize data.  How do we show the true weight and impact of those data we work with?  How do we communicate uncertainty?  I think this fellow Neil Halloran did a pretty great job with WWII.  This short video is a combination of visualization and narration.  While effective visualization on its own is ideal, I think the narration offers different avenues of talking about uncertainty in the data.  Check out his video HERE.


Google Earth Engine @ the GIF!

Students, researchers, mappers, and big data enthusiasts took place in an exciting 2 day Google Earth Engine workshop this last week hosted by the GIF and the Google Earth Engine Team. We had an exiting overview of the latest and greatest research adventures from Google by Kelly lab alum Karin Tuxen-Bettman including advances in some of what Google Earth Outreach team is involved in...

As well as new/upcoming ventures
The Earth Engine team led some great tutorials getting people well versed in JavaScript and using the Earth Engine playground, and Earth Engine API. Having beginner and advanced workshop tracks during the two day event allowed for both broad and deep participation from researchers across the Berkeley campus. Take a look at the packed agenda and more here!
We also had a stellar panel of UC Berkeley professor Jeff Chambers and graduate students Sophie Taddeo, Alexander Bryk, and Lisa Kelley who shared an intimate view of how they were using Earth Engine in their research. The panel shared stories of using Earth Engine to evaluate disturbance in tropical forests, map the movement of wetlands, and meandering rivers, as well as looking at agroforestry systems in Indonesia through a socio-ecological lens.
Thanks to Google and the Earth Engine Team for guiding, the GIF for hosting, and all of the participants for engaging in an action packed two days!

Plague Mapping!


Google @ the GIF: Geospatial Technology Workshop

August 20 & 21, 2015

Geospatial Innovation Facility @ Mulford Hall, UC Berkeley

What will you learn?

Led by instructors from Google Earth Outreach and Google Earth Engine, this workshop will teach highly practical tools which can be used to collect, host, analyze, visualize, and publish map data using the power of the cloud. Sessions will include hands-on experience at both beginner and advanced levels using Google Earth Engine, which brings together the world's satellite imagery — trillions of scientific measurements dating back almost 40 years — and makes it available online with tools for scientists, independent researchers, and nations to mine this massive warehouse of data to detect changes, map trends and quantify differences on the Earth's surface. Applications include: detecting deforestation, classifying land cover, estimating forest biomass and carbon, and mapping the world’s roadless areas. Learn more aat

Who should attend?

Researchers and educators at UC Berkeley and UC affiliates who meet one or more of the following should attend!

  • Are currently working on GIS or remote sensing projects, or have datasets they want to map.
  • Are teaching or developing curricula for GIS or remote sensing courses.
  • Have intermediate-to-advanced technical experience in one or more of the following areas:
    • Remote sensing
    • GIS
    • Web/multimedia development 

Cost & Registration

Attendance is free, but registration is required since space is limited.



Funny pic on Google Maps

This is the island of Nihoa, northwest of Kauai, viewed in Google Maps. Hawaii on my mind. Anyway, it is a funny shot with mixed resolutions, bathymetry and optical imagery, and what looks to be a bordered image without its adjacent partner images. Web link:,-161.8639537,39656m/data=!3m1!1e3

Webinar on Drones (and Citizen Science with Muki Hacklay)

Check out the webinar: DRONES FOR THE EARTH SCIENCES: APPLICATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS, provided by the Board on Earth Science and Resources

There are also links to the webinar UNEARTHING CITIZEN SCIENCE with Muki Hacklay.