ESRI @ GIF Open GeoDev Hacker Lab

We had a great day today exploring ESRI open tools in the GIF. ESRI is interested in incorporating more open tools into the GIS workflow. According to, this means working with:

  1. Open Standards: OGC, etc.

  2. Open Data formats: supporting open data standards, geojson, etc.

  3. Open Systems: open APIs, etc.

We had a full class of 30 participants, and two great ESRI instructors (leaders? evangelists?) John Garvois and Allan Laframboise, and we worked through a range of great online mapping (data, design, analysis, and 3D) examples in the morning, and focused on using ESRI Leaflet API in the afternoon. Here are some of the key resources out there.

Great Stuff! Thanks Allan and John

Spatial Data Science Bootcamp March 2016

Register now for the March 2016 Spatial Data Science Bootcamp at UC Berkeley!

We live in a world where the importance and availability of spatial data are ever increasing. Today’s marketplace needs trained spatial data analysts who can:

  • compile disparate data from multiple sources;
  • use easily available and open technology for robust data analysis, sharing, and publication;
  • apply core spatial analysis methods;
  • and utilize visualization tools to communicate with project managers, the public, and other stakeholders.

To help meet this demand, International and Executive Programs (IEP) and the Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) are hosting a 3-day intensive Bootcamp on Spatial Data Science on March 23-25, 2016 at UC Berkeley.

With this Spatial Data Science Bootcamp for professionals, you will learn how to integrate modern Spatial Data Science techniques into your workflow through hands-on exercises that leverage today's latest open source and cloud/web-based technologies. We look forward to seeing you here!

To apply and for more information, please visit the Spatial Data Science Bootcamp website.

Limited space available. Application due on February 19th, 2016.

GIS Day Wrap Up (a bit late...)

GIS Day 2015! Happy 10th Birthday to the GIF! 

Panel of mapping innovators @ GIS Day 2015

A quick look at the past decade:

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.

As 2015 ends we can recognize a similar wave of excitement around geospatial technology as we experienced a decade ago, yet one that is more diverse and far reaching than in 2005. This GIS Day we sought to highlight the societal benefit derived from innovators across academia, non-profits, government, and industry. 

GIS Day/GIF 10th Anniversary

On November 18 we co-hosted GIS Day with BayGeo (formerly BAAMA) as we have in the past and had well over 180 attendees. Our GIS Day featured posters, lightening talks, presentations, and a panel session that included local innovators from Bay Area Industry, Government, and Non-Profits. Our panel speakers included: Cindy Schmidt (NASA); Gregory Crutsinger (3D Robotics); Karin Tuxen-Bettman (Google); Ken-ichi Ueda (iNaturalist); Sara Dean (Stamen Designs); Jeffrey Miller (GeoWing); and Kyle Brazil (Urthecast). The discussion included what skills they look for in recruiting and where they see the geospatial world going in the next 5 years. It was a fun evening and personally, I learned a ton. Many levels of appreciation go out to those who spoke, those who came, and those who helped make the day happen. 

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. 

Spatial Data Science @ Berkeley May 2015

Bootcamp participants outside historic Mulford HallOur bootcamp on Spatial Data Science has concluded. We had three packed days learning about the concepts, tools and workflow associated with spatial databases, analysis and visualizations. 

Our goal was not to teach a specific suite of tools but rather to teach participants how to develop and refine repeatable and testable workflows for spatial data using common standard programming practices.

On Day 1 we focused on setting up a collaborative virtual data environment through virtual machines, spatial databases (PostgreSQL/PostGIS) with multi-user editing and versioning (GeoGig). We also talked about open data and open standards, and modern data formats and tools (GeoJSON, GDAL).

Analyzing spatial data is the best part! On Day 2 we focused on open analytical tools for spatial data. We focused on one particular class of spatial data analysis: pattern analysis, and used Python (i.e. PySAL, NumPy, PyCharm, iPython Notebook), and R Studio (i.e. raster, sp, maptools, rgdal, shiny) to look at spatial autocorrelation and spatial regression. 

Wait, visualizing spatial data is the best part! Day 3 was dedicated to the web stack, and visualization. We started with web mapping (web stack, HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Leaflet), and then focused on web-based visualizations (D3).  Web mapping is great, and as says: “Internet maps appear magical: portals into infinitely large, infinitely deep pools of data. But they aren't magical, they are built of a few standard pieces of technology, and the pieces can be re-arranged and sourced from different places.…Anyone can build an internet map."

All-in-all it was a great time spent with a collection of very interesting mapping professionals from around the country (and Haiti!). Thanks to everyone!

AAG wrap up 2015

Photo of Chicago from Frank Kehren, Flickr Creative Commons LicenseI focused on a series of CyberGIS sessions at AAG this year. This was partly to better situate our spatial data science ideas within the  terminology and discipline of Geography, and partly to focus on a new topic for me in AAG conferences. There were a number of organized sessions over three days, including a plenary by Timothy Nyerges from UW.  Talks ranged in topic: online collaboration, participatory analytics, open tool development such as python-based tools for parallelization of GIS operations, case studies of large area computation, introduction to languages that might be less familiar to geographers (e.g., Julia, R).

There was a session that focused on education in which ideas about challenging in teaching “cyberGIS” to undergraduate students, among other things. Additionally, Tim Nyerges gave the CyberGIS plenary: "Computing Complex Sustainable Systems Resilience" in which he made the case that CyberGIS is a framework for studying socio-economic systems, resilience, and system feedbacks.

About the term Cyber. I am not alone in my dislike of the term "CyberGIS" (Matrix 4, anyone?), but it seems to have stuck here at AAG. In many of the talks “cyber” meant “bigger". There were mentions of the “cyber thing”, which I took to be a placeholder for cluster computing. However, there are many other terms that are being used by the speakers. For example, I saw talks that focused on participatory, structured, analytic-deliberation from UW, or high performance geocomputation from ORNL; the latter term I think better captures what earth system science people might recognize. Many talks used as their entry point to Cyber the proliferation of data that characterizes modern geography and life.

These sessions were organized through an NSF-funded center: The CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies  Their formal definition of CyberGIS is:  “geographic information science and systems (GIS) based on advanced infrastructure of computing, information, and communication technologies (aka cyberinfrastructure)". They say it "has emerged over the past several years as a vibrant interdisciplinary field and played essential roles in enabling computing-, data- and collaboration-intensive geospatial research and education across a number of domains with significant societal impact."

And of course, we had excellent talks by the Kellys: Kelly presented on our VTM work: "Quantifying diversity and conservation status of California's Oak trees using the historic Vegetation Type Mapping (VTM) dataset” as part of an organized Historical Ecology session. Alice presented her paper: "Policing Paradise: The Evolution of Law Enforcement in US National Parks" as part of the session on Green Violence 2: Interrogating New Conflicts over Nature and Conservation.

Goodbye Chicago! You provided a wonderful venue, despite the cold!

print 'Hello World (from FOSS4G NA 2015)'

FOSS4G NA 2015 is going on this week in the Bay Area, and so far, it has been a great conference.

Monday had a great line-up of tutorials (including mine on PySAL and Rasterio), and yesterday was full of inspiring talks.  Highlights of my day: PostGIS Feature Frenzy, a new geoprocessing Python package called PyGeoprocessing, just released last Thurs(!) from our colleagues down at Stanford who work on the Natural Capital Project, and a very interesting talk about AppGeo's history and future of integrating open source geospatial solutions into their business applications. 

The talk by Michael Terner from AppGeo echoed my own ideas about tool development (one that is also shared by many others including ESRI) that open source, closed source and commercial ventures are not mutually exclusive and can often be leveraged in one project to maximize the benefits that each brings. No one tool will satisfy all needs.

In fact, at the end of my talk yesterday on Spatial Data Analysis in Python, someone had a great comment related to this: "Everytime I start a project, I always wonder if this is going to be the one where I stay in Python all the way through..."  He encouraged me to be honest about that reality and also about how Python is not always the easiest or best option.

Similarly, in his talk about the history and future of PostGIS features, Paul Ramsey from CartoDB also reflected on how PostGIS is really great for geoprocessing because it leverages the benefits of database functionality (SQL, spatial querying, indexing) but that it is not so strong at spatial data analysis that requires mathematical operations like interpolation, spatial auto-correleation, etc. He ended by saying that he is interested in expanding those capabilities but the reality is that there are so many other tools that already do that.  PostGIS may never be as good at mathematical functions as those other options, and why should we expect one tool to be great at everything?  I completely agree.

GIS Day 2014!

Discovering the World Through GIS

November 19, 2014, 5PM-8:30PM

UC Berkeley, Mulford Hall

GIS Day took place in Mulford Hall Wednesday Nov 19th from 5-8:30pm. We had about 200 attendees who participated in workshops, listened to talks, saw posters, and networked with other like-minded GIS-enthusiasts.

Some of the activity at 2014 GIS Day in Mulford Hall

See the agenda here:

Patty's update from the Geospatial Computational Social Sciences conference at Stanford

Patty Frontiera from the D-Lab went to the Geospatial Computational Social Sciences conference at Stanford on Monday 10/20 (

Here is her summary:

1. GIS for Exploratory Data Analysis

  • The presentations showed that geospatial analysis and mapping using desktop GIS, R and python are an extremely important part of exploratory data analyses in the social sciences.

2. GIS for Communication / Visualization

  • Digital maps and web maps are an important part of communicating the results of scientific analysis. However effective communication with any kind of graphic / visualization tool may require additional funding for design professionals which researchers typically are not.

3. Garbage in Garbage out - or good computational tools don't replace good thinking.

  • Ed Chi a research scientist at Google gave a great talk on the analysis of implicit location data in twitter content. One point he made is that there are great tools for parsing and analyzing these data but bad data can creep in when the tools are used without thoughtful consideration of the data inputs and outputs. For example, just because someone entered "Donkey-Kong, Texas" as their home town and a geocoder parsed that and returned a valid coordinate pair does not mean that that town exists. He would be a great speaker to get at Berkeley.

4. Uses of GIS in Social Science

  • A panel discussed the uses of GIS in social science research. The key points they made were:
    • GIS is an important tool for linking social and environmental data.
    • GIS is important for exploring data at different geographic and temporal scales.
    • The use of GIS in social science research requires and benefits from an interdisciplinary approach.

5. Academia-Industry Collaboration

  • There were three industry speakers, one each from Facebook, Google, and EBay. They discussed collaboration with academia, making the following points:
    • Because it takes so long to establish a working relationship and because a tremendous amount of effort goes into creating data sets that can be made available for social science research, universities should work on developing long term relationships with industry rather than come ask for data for one-off projects.
    • Academia should participate in the development of open standards for space-time geospatial data formats.
    • Academia should not insist on overly restrictive licensing terms.
    • Industry likes collaborating with social scientists (as opposed to computer scientists) because they have different goals from industry and thus it is more of a mutually beneficial rather than competitive relationship.

6. Social Science Research Needs with regard to Geospatial computational Analysis:

  1. Social scientists need training in the following areas: GIS, R, Python, SQL, data cleaning, geospatial data file formats, and computing infrastructure.
  2. Data reuse and research replication: because of how long it takes to obtain and clean data, social scientists need infrastructure to facilitate data sharing and reuse.
  3. Academia needs to recognize the value of data intensive social science though the use of alt metrics. Stanford Press just received a Mellon grant to explore alt metrics movement.

7. Social scientist?

  • There was a heated discussion on whether or not a social scientist needs to become a computer scientist and what the nature of the relationship should be between these two fields.  This was a really good discussion which may be worth having at Berkeley.
    • Do social scientists need to become data scientists?
    • What level of computational training is enough?
    • Do computer scientists need social scientists too?
    • There is a tension in the disciplines of applied computer science (maker culture) and social sciences/humanities (idea culture).


Workshop on Oct 19: Planet Mapping: The Science of 3D Maps

swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111
- See more at:
swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111
- See more at:

Planet Mapping: The Science of 3D Maps. Find out what tools and techniques are enabling today’s modern cartographers to render 3D maps.

Location: swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111

Our world is constantly being captured through GPS, cameras, satellites, and scanners and rendered by algorithms into navigable maps of Planet Earth. But how are 3D maps really made? How is the data collected?
Hear from some of the hottest startups in the field about the science and technology behind 3D map making—from data collection, to processing, to display—and discover how you can make your own 3D maps.
During the event, enjoy the visual stimulation of the PLACEMAKERS exhibit on view at swissnex San Francisco.


  • 6:30 pm doors open
  • 7:00 pm intro
  • 7:10 pm talks + Q&A
  • 8:45 pm networking reception

See more at:

Our world is constantly being captured through GPS, cameras, satellites, and scanners and rendered by algorithms into navigable maps of Planet Earth. But how are 3D maps really made? How is the data collected?

Hear from some of the hottest startups in the field about the science and technology behind 3D map making—from data collection, to processing, to display—and discover how you can make your own 3D maps.

During the event, enjoy the visual stimulation of the PLACEMAKERS exhibit on view at swissnex San Francisco.


6:30 pm doors open
7:00 pm intro
7:10 pm talks + Q&A
8:45 pm networking reception

- See more at:

Our world is constantly being captured through GPS, cameras, satellites, and scanners and rendered by algorithms into navigable maps of Planet Earth. But how are 3D maps really made? How is the data collected?

Hear from some of the hottest startups in the field about the science and technology behind 3D map making—from data collection, to processing, to display—and discover how you can make your own 3D maps.

During the event, enjoy the visual stimulation of the PLACEMAKERS exhibit on view at swissnex San Francisco.


6:30 pm doors open
7:00 pm intro
7:10 pm talks + Q&A
8:45 pm networking reception

- See more at:

Our world is constantly being captured through GPS, cameras, satellites, and scanners and rendered by algorithms into navigable maps of Planet Earth. But how are 3D maps really made? How is the data collected?

Hear from some of the hottest startups in the field about the science and technology behind 3D map making—from data collection, to processing, to display—and discover how you can make your own 3D maps.

During the event, enjoy the visual stimulation of the PLACEMAKERS exhibit on view at swissnex San Francisco.


6:30 pm doors open
7:00 pm intro
7:10 pm talks + Q&A
8:45 pm networking reception

- See more at:

Upcoming local conferences of interest


Wednesday, October 22, 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM. Banatao Auditorium, 310 Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley

Tickets available online:

When man-made images constitute the evidence of our environment and even our existence, how is our perception of the world manipulated and shaped?  The IMAGE as LOCATION conference brings together artists, technologists, and theorists to discuss how images define our understanding of our environment by allowing us to access the inaccessible. Beginning at the microscopic scale and moving through our human dimensions into planetary orbits, we will discover what it means to wrap our world in visual artifacts both from a cultural and public policy perspective.

Stanford’s Geospatial Computational Social Science Conference

Monday, October 20, 2014, 8:30 - 5:15, Mackenzie Room (#300), Huang Engineering Center, 475 Via Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305

Speakers join us from Airbnb, Facebook, Google, and more. 

Measuring Development: Energy & Environment

I spoke yesterday at the CEGA-DIME* co-sponsored event: Measuring Development: Energy & Environment.  This was a terrific day of interesting talks, thoughtful conversations and great networking.

This workshop brought together engineers, social scientists, donors, and practitioners to discuss the use of novel measurement tools--including sensors, sensor networks, microsatellite imaging, and other remote sensing technologies--in energy and environment research. 

I presented an "ignite" talk on some of our mapping work and talked about the idea of "Spatial Data Science". There were a number of highlights. Matt Hancher from Google gave a great overview of Google Earth Engine and asked: "What if the micro-satellite imagery revolution works. What will you do with the data?” Great and timely question. Big Spatial Data workshop to the rescue! We heard from people at the Energy Institute at Haas who are looking at smart sensors, iButtons and billing networks to understand energy usage around the world; Ronald Cohen from the Climate Readiness Institute spoke; there was tons of discussion about low earth orbit micro-satellites from Skybox and the Spire company (they monitor AIS beacons on ships yet they also can still find them as they move back and forth through fishing zones and turn off their beacons); there was a great idea from Tony Vodacek from RIT on the need to develop “a remote sensing playbook”: What are the sensors, resolutions, bands that are needed for a particular task?. David Lobell from Stanford highlighted some of his great work in remote sensing of crop yields; and Sol Hsiang from the Goldman School outlined his fascinating work on natural disasters, economies and violence.

Background: Technologies for measuring the adoption and impact of development interventions have seen substantial innovation over the past several years—examples include the use of microsatellite data for mapping weather patterns and agricultural yields, sensors for tracking behavior change, smart meters for recording real-time energy use, continuous emissions monitoring systems for measuring particulate matter, and platforms for smartphone- and tablet-based survey data collection. At the same time, network protocols for data management, visualization, and analysis have drastically improved.

*CEGA =UC Berkeley's Center for Effective Global Action; DIME = World Bank's Development Impact Evaluation Initiative

Google Geo for Higher Education Summit 2014

Just got back from an amazing workshop with the Google Earth Outreach Geo Team and 50+ geospatial educators, researchers, and lab managers! 

In between stealing off on the colorful google bikes  and spending time wandering the amazing Google campus, we engaged each other in discussions of integrating Google tools into higher education and learning and attended workshops introducing the plethora of Google mapping tools.

We had a warm welcome from Brian McClendon (VP of Engineering, Geo at Google, mastermind behind Google Earth, and creator of KML) who gave a great history of the program and the creation of Google Geo and gave an exciting announcement that Google; with the acquisition of Skybox is now taking to the sky with their own satellites in hand (contrary to popular belief, Google has not to this point owned any Satellites).  With this acquisition, near-real live time imagery on Google platforms seems to be closer than ever before.

Rebecca Moore (Engineering Manager, Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine) also gave a great history of the importance of Google Earth and its transformation over the years highlighting a number of exiting things to come and products not yet released to the public including

1. A new MODIS time-lapse!

From Maggi’s blog post last year on timelapse created from LANDSAT imagery we saw the amazing capabilities to see transformations over time with the click of a button. Now Google will soon release MODIS time-lapse which having a quicker repeat interval will be able to show seasonal changes .

Check out this example here showing fires across the world, and more targeted video here! Awesome!

2. Also great news for those of you tired of the coarse resolution SRTM 90 DEM, Google is currently working to produce a much higher resolution global DEM product…stay tuned!

Throughout the 3 days, I had the opportunity to attend a variety of different workshops and came away absolutely jazzed! See below for a summary of the latest and greatest from the Google Geo team with links attached if you’re interested and want more information….. Also stay tuned for some of my renderings and products from the training!

Google’s “Ecosystem” of Technologies


Google Maps Engine (GME): hosting data and publishing maps online, and ability to build applications and connect Google’s data with your own.

GME Pro&Lite: simple map making in the cloud, visualize, draw, import a csv, and style your maps

Maps Gallery: A new way for organizations and public institutions to publish and share their maps online through the Google maps Engine

Google Crisis Map: a map interface initially used for emergency alerts, however it’s not entirely dedicated to crisis as you can easily integrate and create your own map mashup and community awareness map here

Maps Engine API (application program interface): to access Maps Engine data, create a new applications utilizing the data, stylize and create beautiful maps


Google Earth Engine: (EE), Google’s geospatial analysis platform. Earth Engine 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.

Earth Engine API (application programming interface) provides the ability to create your own algorithms to process raster and vector imagery.

Timelapse builds on Earth Engine to show decades of planetary change, both man-made and natural

Data Collection

Streetview: in Google Maps and Earth provides over five millions miles of interactive 360-degree panoramas across all seven continents; it’s the closest thing to teleportation, allowing teachers and students to virtually walk almost anywhere they dream of going. Street View began on the roads, but new technologies like theTrekker backpack or an underwater rig can take you almost everywhere.

                -Treks: Street view special collections (museums, up a mountain,etc..)

                -Views: streetview imagery crowd-sourced from user generated 360 degree photospheres. You can now connect your photospheres to create your own street view using constellations

Mobile Data Collection using Open Data Kit allows you to collect field data, such as text, photos/videos, and GPS location from an Android device where there's no internet connection and then publish that data to the web when you're back online. You can then export your data into Google Earth Engine for mapping and Google Fusion Tables for graphing, mapping and visualization. 

Visualization/ Story Telling

Tour Builder: Tour Builder is a new way to show people the places you've visited and the experiences you had along the way using Google Earth. It lets you pick the locations right on the map, add in photos, text, and video, and then share your creation. The new geo-enabled Powerpoint!


Thanks to Maggi for the opportunity to attend and the talented, enthusiastic Google Geo staff (including: Karin Tuxen-Bettman, John Bailey, David Thau, Christiaan Adams, and all the other workshop leads and those behind the scenes!) for developing such an action packed workshop!

IGIS at ESRI Conference

Two members of IGIS - Shane and Robert, went to the the ESRI User Conference in San Diego this year. 

Here is their report:

We were able to see the new offerings from ESRI that will be available in November of this year.  ESRI will be releasing ArcGIS 10.3, this incremental release will have many improvements as well as new offerings that IGIS will be able to make available to the UCANR GIS Community.  These new offerings will include ArcGIS Pro and Portal for ArcGIS

ArcGIS Pro is a new desktop application that will be available to all users of GIS within UCANR.  ArcGIS Pro is a multi-threaded, 64-bit, project based GIS system that provides a fast responsive desktop application for the GIS professional. It will allow user to have multiple layouts in one document.  It will enable the GIS user to have 2d and 3d layouts available in one project.  It is what we as GIS users have been requesting for many years.

Portal for ArcGIS prior to the 10.3 release of the ArcGIS Suite was an extension for ArcGIS Server that had to be purchased separately from ArcGIS Server.  In November Portal for ArcGIS will be available for UCANR to install on the ArcGIS Server and it will provide a user interface similar to but within the UCANR intranet.  This will open up some interesting options for UCANR.

Beyond these two additions we will be providing access to a new open data extension for ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS for Cad.  The open data extension will allow us to provide an open data portal where the UCANR Network and the general public can go to download our data for use in other geospatial technologies.  We will provide the ability to download certain data types such as, shapefiles, kml, or csv files.  The ArcGIS for Cad extension will allow cad users within UCANR to leverage ArcGIS resources with Autocad.  This will allow UCANR to update our cad drawings of our infrastructure and have drawings with the proper coordinate system and additional attributes that are not available with Autocad.

Beyond these upcoming software releases and tools the ESRI User Conference was a wonderful opportunity to renew old and create new relationships with other GIS professionals and to see how others are using GIS around the world.  I look forward to putting these new technologies in place in the next year and to hopefully attending the user conference again in 2015.

ASPRS UAS Technical Demonstration and Symposium – October 21-22, Reno, Nevada

The ASPRS Northern California Region is hosting a 2-day symposium on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Reno, NV on October 21-22, 2014. The purpose of the event is to assemble academia, UAS developers, survey and mapping companies, government agencies, and UAS enthusiasts, to share information, showcase new technologies and demonstrate UAS systems in action (in flight). The event will be held at the Reno Stead Airport, an FAA-designated UAS test site, as well as at a symposium hotel in downtown Reno. The mission of the event is to advance knowledge and improve the understanding of UAS technologies and their safe and efficient introduction into our national airspace, government programs and business.

White House Launches new Climate Data Initiative...

We are in the lovely "Indian Treaty" room.And we were there! Kevin and I went to the White House (here is photographic proof) to represent Cal-Adapt.

The President’s Climate Data Initiative was launched March 19th with the tagline: Empowering America’s Communities to Prepare for the Effects of Climate Change. The initiative is a complex partnership of government, industry, academia and local public to get the US ready for climate change. The overall goal of the climate data initiative is "Spark Innovation": release data, articulate challenges, turn data scientists loose. Here is the fact sheet and a blog post from John Podesta and John Holdren.

We saw some very interesting short talks from a range of speakers. Here are some highlights:

Jack Dangermond highlighted the many initiatives that ESRI is pushing to help with climate resilience. Kathyrn Sullivan from NOAA discussed her concept of "Environmental Intelligence", which describes the use of data to create resilience. She says: "NOAA capture 20TB daily, they release 2TB daily. Upon that data stream are built all the climate businesses we have today. What would this industry be like if we release the other 18TB?" Ellen Stofan from NASA talked about new earth observation missions, including satellites for precipitation, soil moisture, CO2, winds, aerosols. She announced another of a series of data driven challenges called "coastal inundation in your community". Rachel Kyte from the World Bank called their multiple initiatives "Open Data for Resilience". She said that climate change may eradicate the mission of the World Bank, because of its disproportionate impact on poorer communities worldwide. Rebecca More from Google gave us a fantastic overview of the Landsat, climate and topography missions that Google Earth Engine is working on. Google is contributing 1PT cloud storage, and 50 million CPU hours of collaboration.


All was very inspiring and informative.

Here are some press links about the Initiative:

2014 Western Section of the Wildlife Society Meeting wrap-up

I recently attended the 2014 annual meeting of the Western Section of the Wildlife Society in Reno CA. The focus of the conference was on harnessing citizen science toward greater conservation.

I saw some interesting talks in my session (I was clearly the odd-talk-out in a session dominated by animal tracking (I spoke about our SNAMP website evaluation)). For example:

  • Peter Bloom discussed red-tailed hawk movements from banded bird recovery. The birds are banded as juveniles and observed by citizens and scientists. In this way their movements can be mapped: across southern California, across the Pacific flyway, and across the US.
  • Joe Burnett presented on the use of GSM transmitters to track California condor (the largest flying bird in north America) movement patterns. He caught us up on condor recovery and current threats (lead poisoning from foraging on wild game) to condors. He showed some very nice visualizations of wild condor flights between Ventana and the Pinnacles (including some stops for water and dead animal chomping) from the GSM transmitters and Google Earth. 
  • Shannon Rich looked at migration patterns of flammulated owls using light-level geolocators. "What is a flammulated owl”? you say: I will tell you. They are super cute tiny owls, with neat flame-like markings on their face and body. Geolocators are small (~1g) that record ambient light levels during the day, and from timing of sunrise and sunset, you can get latitude and longitude. These are not sending out signals, and you need to recapture the owl to download data. As always, I am stunned by the dedication and time it takes for wildlife biologists to gather their careful data on animal movement.
  • Russ Bryant talked about native honeybee habitat in North Dakota. He talked about the important services that bees give us: 95 agricultural plants benefit from pollination services (estimated at $15b). I did not know that ND is the top honey producer in the US. Colony collapse across the US has been profound. They used INVEST to explore the role of land cover and bee pollination to produce a pollinator habitat index, and a habitat connectivity for areas where bees had been captured. 

In the climate change session, I heard from a range of speakers on practical adaptation strategies, curriculum for climate change education (Whitney Albright), new tools and reports for grassland bird species conservation (Ryan Diguadio), landscape-scale conservation planning for bobcats in the San Diego area (Megan Jennings), and some neat genetics of the SF Bay’s salt marsh harvest mouse (Mark Statham). Also, Curtis Alling talked about local, regional and state climate preparedness planning, and dedicated a slide to Nice!

I also got to catch up briefly with ESPM grads Sarah Sawyer who is now at the Forest Service and Tim Bean, who is thriving at HSU. Alice, he suggested a trip up to Redwood State Park to check out the dark figure of crime in the tall trees. 

Conference at UCB on Digital Privacy and Surveillance - March 6

Pan-Optics: Perspectives on Digital Privacy and Surveillance

March 6, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. 310 Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium

Featured Speakers: Rebecca MacKinnon, Senior Research Fellow, New America Foundation; Trevor Paglen, Artist, Social Scientist, and Author

Advances in drone aircraft, networked cameras, and recent disclosures about the NSA’s international and domestic surveillance activities have stimulated public protests, outrage from activists, and new policy discussions among elected leaders. This symposium will highlight emerging perspectives on visual privacy and consider the state of the art from a variety of disciplines and professions, including technology, journalism, filmmaking and the arts.

Though traditionally considered separate domains, visual and digital surveillance practices are being combined as machine vision, facial recognition and other technologies become more sophisticated and interoperable. Institutional surveillance by semi-autonomous drones and remote cameras, citizen video monitoring, and incessant photo-sharing and tagging on social networks enable perpetual documentation. The same tools can be used for both transparency and repression.

This symposium will bring together scholars and practitioners from a range of disciplines to discuss privacy protections, surveillance methods, and modes of resistance in a digital age. The program will feature two keynote addresses and two panel discussions that will explore emerging surveillance technologies and applications across a range of contexts, and then turn to resistant strategies employed by individuals and organizations in response.

Registration required: $20 General Admission,  $10 Faculty or Staff,  $5 Students

GIS Day 2013 Report: Mulford Hall comes alive in a dark and stormy evening

Discovering the World Through GIS

November 20, 2013 -

UC Berkeley, Mulford Hall

GIS Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society.

Berkeley's GIS Day 2013 was held at UC Berkeley's Mulford Hall for the eighth year in a row. This year's event was co-hosted by the Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) and GIS Education Center (GISEC) with support from the Bay Area Automated Mapping Association (BAAMA) and American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing NorCal (ASPRS). We had great talks from a number of speakers, including our very own Shufei Lei!

  • Laci Videmsky New California Water Atlas: Building a Digital Public Work: A New California Water Atlas
  • Larry Orman GreenInfo Network Data, Tools and Communication for Public Interest Geospatial
  • Jeanne Jones U.S. Geological Survey Pedestrian Evacuation Analysis for Tsunami Hazards
  • Dennis Klein Boundary Solutions, Inc. Parcel-Level GIS protocol adopted by Mill Valley to guide Sustainable Community Development by posing 3 questions: What’s your Walk, Transit, and Solar
  • Shufei Lei Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley Measuring learning in adaptive co-management by mapping dialogues using Self-Organizing Map: Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project
  • Michelle Koo & Falk Schuetzenmeister Museum of Vertebrate Zoology & Geospatial Innovation Facility, UC Berkeley Place, Space and Time: Rescuing and integrating biological and environmental data in the face of global change
  • Bruce Joffe & Reg Parks GIS Consultants & Santa Rosa Junior College Supporting an Accessible Geodetic Control Network for California

We had over 120 people in Mulford Hall: presenting, listening, learning and networking. Thanks All!

For more information, please see the GIF website. 

Workshop wrap up: Google Earth Higher Education Summit 2013

For three days in late July 2013 Kevin Koy, Executive Director of the GIF and Maggi spent time at Google with 50+ other academics and staff to learn about Google Earth's mapping and outreach tools that leverage cloud computing. The meeting was called Google Earth for Higher Education Summit, and it was jam packed with great information and hands-on workshops. Former Kellylabber Karin Tuxen-Bettman was at the helm, with other very helpful staff (including David Thau - who gave the keynote at last year's ASPRS conference). Google Earth Outreach has been targeting non-profits and K-12 education, and are now increasingly working with higher education, hence the summit. We learned about a number of valuable tools for use in classrooms and workshops, a short summary is here.  

Google Mapping Tools - the familiar and the new

  • Google Earth Pro. You all know about this tool, increasing ability to plan, measure and visualize a site, and to make movies and maps and export data.
  • Google Maps Engine Lite. This is a free, lite mapping platform to import, style and embed data. Designed to work with small (100 row) spreadsheets.
  • Google Maps Engine Platform. The scaleable and secure mapping platform for geographic data hosting, data sharing and map making. streamlines the import of GIS data: you can import shapefiles and imagery.
  • Google Earth Engine. Data (40 years of global satellite imagery - Landsat, MODIS, etc.) + methods to analyze (Google's and yours, using python and javascript) + the Cloud make for a fast analytical platform to study a changing earth.
  • TimeLapse. A new tool showcasing 29 years of Landsat imagery, allows you to script a tour through a part of the earth to highlight change. Features Landsat 4, 5 7 at 30m, with clouds removed, colors normalized with MODIS.
  • Field Mobile Data Collection. GME goes mobile, using Open Data Kit (ODK) - a way to capture structured data and locate it and analyze after home.
  • Google Maps APIs. The way to have more hands-on in map styling and publishing.
  • Street View. They have a car in 32 countries, on 7 continents, and are moving into national parks and protected areas. SV is not just for roads anymore. They use trikes, boats, snowmobiles, trolleys; they go underwater and caves, backpacks.

Here are a couple of my first-cuts: