Mapping fires and fire damage in real time: available geospatial tools

Many of us have watched in horror and sadness over the previous week as fires consumed much of the beautiful hills and parts of the towns of Napa and Sonoma Counties. Many of us know people who were evacuated with a few minutes’ notice - I met a retired man who left his retirement home with the clothes on his back. Many other friends lost everything - house, car, pets. It was a terrible event - or series of events as there were many active fires. During those 8+ days all of us were glued to our screens searching for up-to-date and reliable information on where the fires were, and how they were spreading. This information came from reputable, reliable sources (such as NASA, or the USFS), from affected residents (from Twitter and other social media), and from businesses (like Planet, ESRI, and Digital Globe who were sometimes creating content and sometimes distilling existing content), and from the media (who were ofen using all of the above). As a spatial data scientist, I am always thinking about mapping, and the ways in which geospatial data and analysis plays an increasingly critical role in disaster notification, monitoring, and response. I am collecting information on the technological landscape of the various websites, media and social media, map products, data and imagery that played a role in announcing and monitoring the #TubbsFire, #SonomaFires and #NapaFires. I think a retrospective of how these tools, and in particular how the citizen science aspect of all of this, helped and hindered society will be useful.  

In the literature, the theoretical questions surrounding citizen science or volunteered geography revolve around:

  • Accuracy – how accurate are these data? How do we evaluate them?  

  • Access – Who has access to the data? Are their technological limits to dissemination?

  • Bias (sampling issues)/Motivation (who contributes) are critical.

  • Effectiveness – how effective are the sites? Some scholars have argued that VGI can be inhibiting. 

  • Control - who controls the data, and how and why?

  • Privacy - Are privacy concerns lessened post disaster?

I think I am most interested in the accuracy and effectiveness questions, but all of them are important.  If any of you want to talk more about this or have more resources to discuss, please email me: maggi@berkeley.edu, or Twitter @nmaggikelly.

Summary so far. This will be updated as I get more information.

Outreach from ANR About Fires

Core Geospatial Technology During Fires

Core Technology for Post-Fire Impact

 

Hopland Bioblitz is on!

Our big Hopland scientific bioblitz is this weekend (9-10 April, with some events on the 8th) and I look forward to seeing many of you there. If you can't make it to HREC, there are many ways you can remotely help us and check out what is happening all weekend long.

HELP US OUT. http://www.inaturalist.org/ Many people will be using iNaturalist to make and share observations. Helping out the effort is easy. Look for observations at the iNaturalist site by searching for "Hopland" in the "Projects" pulldown menu and choose "Hopland Research Extension Center". Once there, you can browse the plants and animals needing identification and needing confirmation. Every identification counts toward our goal of massively increasing the knowledge of the HREC's flora and fauna.

VOTE ON IMAGES.  http://www.hoplandbioblitz.org/ We are hosting an image contest for the plants and animals of HREC. Great prizes will be given  for images that get the most votes(REI gift cards and a GoPro grand prize!). Please visit the site and vote for your favorites frequently during the weekend and share them and then sit back and what the slide show.  

CHECK US OUT. http://geoportal.ucanr.edu/# Our new app will graphically show you our progress for the bioblitz observations. Results will be updated every 15 minutes. See how your favorite groups are doing in the challenge to document as many species as possible.

Look for #HoplandBioblitz on Twitter and Instagram

Follow along on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HoplandREC/

California Economic Summit wrap-up

my wordle cloud on topics commonly discussed at the summit

I spent two days at the California Economic Summit, held this year in Ontario, heart of the "inland empire". I learned much about this region of the state that I know mostly as freeways connecting water polo games, or as endless similar roads through malls and housing developments. It is more populous, diverse, and vibrant than I had realized. The conference itself was very different from any that I have been to. Hardly any presentations, but break-out groups, passionate, inspiring panelists, tons of networking, good overviews, multiple perspectives, and no partisanship.

Here are some interesting facts about California that I did not know: 

  • 80% of CEQA lawsuits are related to urban infill development. Shocking. We need infill development as a sensible solution to a growing California. 
  • 1 in 3 children in the Central Valley live in poverty. 1 in 4 kids live in poverty in the inland empire. These rates are WORSE than they have been ever. 
  • The Bay Area is an anomaly in terms of education, income, health, voting rates, broadband adoption. The Bay Area is not representative of the state!
  • Think of a west-east line drawn across the state to demark the population halfway line. Where might it be? No surprise it is moving south. Now it runs almost along Wilshire Blvd in LA!
  • Empowering the Latino community in the state is going to be key in continued success. 
  • Broadband adoption around the state is highly variable: Latino, poor and disabled communities are far below other communities in terms of adoption. 
  • The first beer made with recyled water has been made by Maverick's Brewing Company. 
  • Dragon Fruit might be the new water-wise avocado. Good anti-oxidents, massive vitamin C, good fiber, etc. They taste a bit like a less sweet kiwi, with a bit of texture from the seeds. I don't think I'd like the quac, however. 
  • In 15 years, the state will be in a deficit of college graduates needed to meet skilled jobs. Those 2030 graduates are in 1st grade now, so we can do some planning. 
  • Access, affordability, and attainability are the cornerstones of our great UC system. 

In every session I attended I heard about the need for, and lack of collaboration between agencies, entities, people, in order to make our future better. Here is my wordle cloud of discussion topics, from my biased perspective, or course. 

2005-2015: A decade of intense innovation in mapping

The GIF began in November 2015 on a wave of excitement around geospatial technology. In the months leading up to our first GIS Day in 2005, Google Maps launched, then went mobile; Google Earth launched in the summer; and NASA Blue Marble arrived. Hurricane Katrina changed the way we map disasters in real time. The opening up of the Landsat archive at no-cost by the USGS revolutionized how we can monitor the Earth's surface by allowing dense time-series analysis. These and other developments made viewing our world with detail, ease, and beauty commonplace, but these were nothing short of revolutionary - spurring new developments in science, governance and business. The decade since then has been one of intense innovation, and we have seen a rush in geospatial technologies that have enriched our lives immeasurably. In November 2015 we can recognize a similar wave of excitement around geospatial technology as we experienced a decade ago, one that is more diverse and far reaching than in 2005. This GIS Day we would like to highlight the societal benefit derived from innovators across academia, non-profits, government, and industry. Our panel discussion on the 18th has representatives from several local innovators in the field, including: Stamen Designs, Geowing, PlanetLabs, 3D Robotics, NASA, iNaturalist.org, and Google, who will discuss their perspectives on the boom in Bay Area mapping. 

Please think about joining us at GIS Day!

http://gif.berkeley.edu/gisday.html

Governor Brown's new Executive Order, issued today is a banner day for our climate change efforts

From Bruce Riordan, at the Climate Readiness Institute. 

Bay Area Climate Stakeholders: Governor Brown's new Executive Order, issued today is a banner day for our climate change efforts. 

1. The Executive Order sets a new interim goal for GHG reduction—40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

2. The Executive Order, for the first time, outlines a series of steps the State will take to address climate adaptation and resilience. 

See the press release, reaction from world leaders, and the full Executive Order at: http://gov.ca.gov/home.php

Mapping the Berkeley Boom: Social Media and Mapping Help Unravel a Mystery

Last night we heard the Berkeley Boom again.  We’ve been hearing this thunderous boom quite frequently in the last month here in Berkeley, but this one sounded bigger than most.  Car alarms went off on the street.  The dog jumped.  “What IS that?” I wondered aloud.  With a quick search on the internet I found that that the Berkeley Boom is a phenomena whose Twitter reports are being actively mapped.  While Berkeley police and residents still have no idea what the mystery boom is, through the combined powers of social media and mapping we are gathering an understanding of where it is happening.  As Berkeley residents continue reporting the boom (#BerkeleyBoom), perhaps we’ll get to the bottom of this, the newest of Berkeley’s many mysteries. 

For more on the Berkeley Boom see the Berkeleyside article: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2015/03/31/the-unsolved-mystery-of-the-berkeley-boom/

Map from Berkeleyside Article:

Karin in the news! Google camera helps capture bay’s rising sea levels

Neat article about Google teaming up with the nonprofit San Francisco Baykeeper to use Google Street View technology to map tides and sea level rise around the Bay. Former kellylabber Karin Tuxen-Bettman is involved. 

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Google-camera-helps-capture-bay-s-rising-sea-6080481.php#photo-7524438

Geo-tagged Tweets in Yosemite


Check out the Geo-tagged tweets in Yosemite Valley.  If you look closely you can see that people are tweeting from the top of Half-Dome, The Mist Trail, Glacier Point, and many parts of Yosemite Valley.  Harnessing this publicly available information may help in understanding what people are thinking and doing in our National Parks.  

All 6 Billion Geo-tagged Tweets are available to view at: https://api.tiles.mapbox.com/v4/enf.c3a2de35/page.html?access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiZW5mIiwiYSI6IkNJek92bnMifQ.xn2_Uj9RkYTGRuCGg4DXZQ#14/37.7386/-119.5548

Citizen science vs. MODIS on producing maps of atmospheric dust

Measurements by thousands of citizen scientists in the Netherlands using their smartphones and the iSPEX add-on are delivering accurate data on dust particles in the atmosphere that add valuable information to professional measurements. The iSPEX team, led by Frans Snik of Leiden University, analyzed all measurements from three days in 2013 and combined them into unique maps of dust particles above the Netherlands. The results match and sometimes even exceed those of ground-based measurement networks and satellite instruments. Here is the comparison of the maps produced by citizen science versus MODIS:

iSPEX map compiled from all iSPEX measurements performed in the Netherlands on July 8, 2013, between 14:00 and 21:00. Each blue dot represents one of the 6007 measurements that were submitted on that day. At each location on the map, the 50 nearest iSPEX measurements were averaged and converted to Aerosol Optical Thickness, a measure for the total amount of atmospheric particles. This map can be compared to the AOT data from the MODIS Aqua satellite, which flew over the Netherlands at 16:12 local time. The relatively high AOT values were caused by smoke clouds from forest fires in North America, which were blown over the Netherlands at an altitude of 2-4 km. In the course of the day, winds from the North brought clearer air to the northern provinces.

Read more at: 

http://phys.org/news/2014-10-citizen-science-network-accurate-atmospheric.html#jCp

How Scotland voted

Reds are Yes, blues are NoHere is a map of voting results from yesterday's historic independence vote in Scotland. Overall the Nos carried the day - 55% - 45%. Interestingly, Motherwell and Hamilton, two towns in my family's life, were split. Motherwell voted Och Aye and Hamilton voted the Noo.

From http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/how-scotland-voted-map-of-referendum-results-1.2014138

OakMapper Mobile Updated (v2.4) - available now at the App Store

OakMapper Mobile has been updated (version 2.4) to take take advantage of the latest iOS interface design and requirements. It is available for download at the Apple App Store. Existing OakMapper Mobile users are encouraged to update to the latest version.

In the last 6 months, the site receives over 1,100 visitors, resulting in over 1,450 sessions this period, which is consistent with the same period last year. Visitors come mostly from the US; and within the US states, California dominates. There are 14 new registered users from the community. Participation from the community includes 4 new SOD submissions (721 total), 1 new comment about SOD, 6 new questions/feedback, and 2 new votes on whether they have seen the reported SOD cases.

Our paper published in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers has been cited 17 times according to Google Scholar.


Connors, J. P., S. Lei & M. Kelly (2012): Citizen Science in the Age of Neogeography: Utilizing Volunteered Geographic Information for Environmental Monitoring, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102(6): 1267-1289

Using Social Media to Discover Public Values, Interests, and Perceptions about Cattle Grazing on Park Lands

“Moment of Truth—and she was face to faces with this small herd…” Photo and comment by Flickr™ user, Doug GreenbergIn a recent open access journal article published in Envrionmental Management, colleague Sheila Barry explored the use of personal photography in social media to gain insight into public perceptions of livestock grazing in public spaces. In this innovative paper, Sheila examined views, interests, and concerns about cows and grazing on the photo-sharing website, FlickrTM. The data were developed from photos and associated comments posted on Flickr™ from February 2002 to October 2009 from San Francisco Bay Area parks, derived from searching photo titles, tags, and comments for location terms, such as park names, and subject terms, such as cow(s) and grazing. She found perceptions about cattle grazing that seldom show up at a public meeting or in surveys. Results suggest that social media analysis can help develop a more nuanced understanding of public viewpoints useful in making decisions and creating outreach and education programs for public grazing lands. This study demonstrates that using such media can be useful in gaining an understanding of public concerns about natural resource management. Very cool stuff!

Open Access Link: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00267-013-0216-4/fulltext.html?wt_mc=alerts:TOCjournals

Citizen science: key questions explored in a new report

In a recent article published in the Guardian, Michelle Kilfoyle and Hayley Birch discuss the widespread use of citizen science initiatives. They recently produced a report (pdf) for the Science for Environment Policy news service, in which the authors review a number of citizen science case studies, and explore the potential benefits of citizen science for both science and society, especially given the advent of new mobile technologies that enable remote participation. They also ask interesting questions about who really benefits the most from these developments: the amateurs or the professionals?

Key questions addressed and highlighted in this report include:
  1. How could new and developing technologies help citizen science projects feed into environmental policy processes?
  2. Is environmental data produced by citizen scientists as accurate as environmental data produced by professional scientists?
  3. How can citizen science benefit environmental monitoring and policymaking?