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geospatial matters

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Tuesday
Jun142016

Searching for patterns in high res imagery: template matching

From two friends in the space of a week! While I was away, this tool made the rounds: 

http://sf.terrapattern.com/: This is the alpha version of Terrapattern, a visual search tool for satellite imagery. The project provides journalists, citizen scientists, and other researchers with the ability to quickly scan large geographical regions for specific visual features.  

It is a great deal like some of the template matching routines in Definiens Ecognition among other proprietary software tools.  

Here is an article about it: http://techcrunch.com/2016/05/25/terrapattern-is-a-neural-net-powered-reverse-image-search-for-maps/ 

They say:

Terrapattern is a visual search engine that, from the first moment you use it, you wonder: Why didn’t Google come up with this 10 years ago? Click on a feature on the map — a baseball diamond, a marina, a roundabout — and it immediately highlights everything its algorithm thinks looks like it. It’s remarkably fast, simple to use and potentially very powerful. 

Go ahead and give it a try first to see how natural it is to search for something. How does that work? And how did a handful of digital artists and developers create it — and for under $35,000?

The secret, as with so many other interesting visual computing projects these days, is a convolutional neural network. It’s essentially an AI-like program that extracts every little detail from an image and looks for patterns at various levels of organization — similar to how our own visual system works, though the brain is infinitely more subtle and flexible.

Tuesday
Jun072016

Google vs Apple Maps: an in-depth comparision

Did you know that Apple maps labels more cities than Google maps but Google labels more roads then Apple? Fun facts galor! Find out more differences between these too maps then you ever knew you wanted to know in this great article here, and keep your eye out for part too soon to come! Happy comparing!

Tuesday
Jun072016

National Park Maps All in One Place

Kudos to Matt Holly, a member of the National Park Service’s (NPS) National Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate.  Matt has been uploading all of the NPS maps into a single portal available online.  At the moment these maps are available in GIF, JPEG, and PDF...but maybe shapefiles will follow??  You can search the maps alphabetically by park, or by state.  Access the website here.  

Monday
Jun062016

New fire alert web mapping application

Want to keep tabs on fire incidient near you, your friends or family? Want to create an alert for your vacation cabin?Maybe just curious about digging deep into incident reports? The US Forest Serivce has released a beta web mapping application to do all that and more. Check it out!

Monday
May162016

Mapping the Housing Divide

The Washington Post, using data from Black Knight Financial Services, recently published an amazing series of maps showing disparities in the United States' housing recoveries.  They argue that these disparities have exacerbated inequality and have particularly worked against Americans of moderate means and minority neighborhoods.  Check the full article out here and explore the maps.  

Monday
Apr252016

Wrap up on the Hopland Bioblitz 2016

This text excerpted from the Hopland Newsletter:

Over 70 scientists and naturalists descended upon HREC from  April 8-10th in our first Hopland Bioblitz. During the weekend over 400 species from the recently discovered blind silverfish to the characterful kangaroo rat were observed and recorded on the HREC iNaturalist page

You can still get involved with our bioblitz efforts by logging onto our iNatualist page and seeing if you can help to identify any unknown species. Enjoy more of our discoveries by taking a look through our photography competition entries.

This bioblitz was supported by a grant from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and was organized by Kip Will, Maggi Kelly, George Roderick, Rosemary Gillespie. IGIS's Shane Feirer helped set up the IT infrastructure for the day.

Saturday
Apr232016

Another rad lidar music video

Tuesday
Apr192016

Wall-E was right

Landsats - active and decommissioned

Used in my MDP lecture today, and so posting so I can find it easily later! 

http://apps.agi.com/SatelliteViewer/

Great web app for viewing current satellite orbits.

More detailed info here:  http://qz.com/296941/interactive-graphic-every-active-satellite-orbiting-earth/

Friday
Apr082016

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/

Saturday
Apr022016

AAG 2016 wrap up

1870s-ish map of SFAside from all the sunshine, architecture, maps, and food, at the 2016 AAG conference Kelly and I participated in four organized sessions on Historical Ecology. On Saturday, we heard from a number of fantastic researchers, and here is my wrap-up.  (Alas, these sessions overlapped with sessions on CyberGIS, Who says you can't be interestd in both? cyber-historical-environmental-spatial-data-science.)
  • History: We heard from researchers working on data from the Holocene, to pre-history, to the 20th century.
  • Focus: Ecosystems included prairie, forests (Maryland, New York, California, Florida, Ohio); and Wetlands (China, California, etc.); Land Use and Agriculture (Mexico, Brazil); Fire (Arizona); and biological collections. 
  • Data included inventory (PLS system: land appraisal value; Cadastral surveys); Imagery (Landsat, aerial imagery); and biological (paleo; tree ring; resurveys; pollen records; bird census; and PLS system: witness trees, survey lines, FIA data). 
  • Methods: Comparison between past and present from existing inventory data, as well as comparison between historic and modern resurveys; digitization of multiple data sources; narrative analysis; ecological modeling; ecosystem services modeling; fire behavior modeling; OBIA of historic imagery; and some really neat modeling work. 
  • Emerging Themes from the sessions included: 
    • Data. Most people used digital data from an existing source - websites, clearinghouse, existing digital source. Many digitized their data. One person used an API. 
    • Accuracy. About half of speakers have thought about, or incorporated understanding of data quality or uncertainty in your work; but this is difficult to do quantitatively. Some people use the 'Multiple lines of evidence' from diverse datasets to increase confidence in results. 
    • Tools. We heard about a number of tools, including GIS as desktop tool, Open tools, Backcasting with landcover models, Complex modeling approaches, One paper used OBIA methods, and one paper discussed Big historic data (maybe moving toward the cyberGIS overlap). 
    • Theoretical frameworks: A few papers used resilience as a framework, social, ecological and coupled; and several papers used a landscape ecology framework. 
    • New terms: I learned a new term: “Terrageny”: a record of how a landscape became fragmented through time, containing information on the ‘ancestry’ of fragments and showing how an initially continuous landscape was progressively divided into fragments of decreasing size. Ewers et al. 2013. Gorgeous word. Must incorporate into cocktail party discussion. 

We also sent out a survey to the speakers prior to the talks, and here are some preliminary results. 

Question: What are the three top challenges that you see for historical ecology research?
  • Data/Logistical/Availability
    • The further back in time we look, the more sparse the data. 
  • Technical 
    • Lack of metadata: Current data deluge may attract attention/urgency away from the discovery and digitization of historical data;
    • Few models capable of incorporating human and environment interactions over long time scales. 
  • Theoretical
    • Maintaining perceived relevance in the context of the novel ecosystem/no-analog system conversation - not having historical ecology be the baby that is thrown out with the bathwater.
  • Operational 
    • Many respondants mentioned issues with funding - these projects are by nature interdisciplinary, often require large programs to fund at achievable levels, and not many funding sources exist.
  • Communication
    • We need to focus on communicating the importance of understanding past conditions to inspire and guide current design proposals. 
Question: What exciting future directions do you envision for historical ecology research?
  • The importance of historical data and analysis:
    • Historical data is essential: Multi- Inter-disciplinary research needs historical research, particularly so that we can understand 1) historical reference conditions, but also so that we can understand 2) when we might have novel interactions between species and ecosphere. 
  • Practicality of historical data and analysis: 
    • Historical ecology is critical for restoration projects and for studying climate change, and for its power to communicate through environmental education with the public.
  • New data/Big data/Data Fusion: 
    • Increase in digitally available historical sources (longer ecological and climate records and reconstructions), plus the availability of large, high-resolution datasets to assess change (thinking LiDAR, government reports, survey data...)  
    • There is also increasing sophistication of analysis and visualization tools.
    • But, the current data deluge may attract attention/urgency away from the discovery and digitization of historical data.

A fantastic time was had by all!