Important proposed legislation limiting UAVs: consider reading this and commenting

AB1327 is a bill that could potentially impact the work that we do in regards to remote sensing and aerial imagery collection, etc… in the near future. See the link below for more detail. The office of the California CIO, Scott Gregory, is in the process of providing the Legislature a summary analysis of the bill. In our analysis we want to highlight civilian use (non-public safety governmental) cases for UAV technology as a rebuttal to some of the limiting language in the bill.

The bill would generally prohibit public agencies from using unmanned aircraft systems, or contracting for the use of unmanned aircraft systems, as defined, with certain exceptions applicable to law enforcement agencies and in certain other cases. The bill would require reasonable public notice to be provided by public agencies intending to deploy unmanned aircraft systems, as specified. The bill would require images, footage, or data obtained through the use of an unmanned aircraft system under these provisions to be permanently destroyed within 6 months, except as specified.
If this bill will affect your organization’s future data collection needs, please provide them a brief summary to be incorporated into the analysis.

Here is what I have sent to Scott Gregory:

Maggi Kelly

Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management

UC Berkeley

The use of civilian accessed UAV technology is commonly used for research purposes to aquire imagery at critical times over inaccessible field sites such as wetlands and forests, or over agricultural fields throught the growing season. This remote data acquisition using UAVs has several advantages: 1) it limits damage of the site, 2) it allows for mutliple returns in a cost-effective way, and 3) it allows for important very high resolution imagery to be collected. Here is a paper where we perfected techniques to find weeds in an agricultural field using UAV imagery.

Basically, they are looking for the organization name, use case and description of that use case. Please circulate to the user community within your respective organizations to solicit feedback. Please email or call if you have any questions. He would like to have these complied by 10am Friday (3/14/14).

Email: Scott Gregory

Thanks for your help.

troubling report of OSM vandalism

From Sarah. This is a troubling story from ReadWriteWeb reporting that someone at a range of Google IP addresses in India has been editing the collaboratively made map of the world in some very unhelpful ways, like moving and deleting information and reversing the direction of one-way streets on the map.

Update: Google sent the following statement to ReadWriteWeb on Tuesday morning. "The two people who made these changes were contractors acting on their own behalf while on the Google network. They are no longer working on Google projects."

A Google spokesperson told BoingBoing on Friday that the company was "mortified" by the discovery - but now it appears the same Google contractor may be behind mayhem rippling throughout one of the world's biggest maps. Google says it's investigating these latest allegations.

Everyone should listen to today's Fresh Air interview

Not directly map related, but might be. As I sit here with three screens, email open, working on multiple projects, including upcoming semester's lectures, AND listening to today's Fresh Air, I am struck dumb. In this interview, in which dear old Terry Gross reveals her late nite email addiction (et tu Terry?), the guest Matt Richtel (NTimes) reveals the answers to the following questions (and many more): Why is email addicting? Are there downsides to our constant focus on multiple influxes of infomation? What are the psycological and neurological underpinnings to this madness? The answers involve dopamine, stress hormones, declining capacity to concentrate and create, and a whole lot of scary.

Are there parallels or lessons for us in our deluge of map-related technology and data? Yikes!

Whither UC?

From the NY Times, Data from UC.

The NYTimes has an article describing the situation here in the UC system. It is sobering reading, and of course, we know how grim the situation is.  The graphics above tell the story: fewer staff, fewer new faculty hires, more expensive for students, and less support from the state. How do we continue to provide access to excellence for the increasingly diverse student body? Where do we go from here? More private investment? Larger classes? Smaller and more streamlined curriculum?

Skulls, Bones, and Mother Ships

Pirate Map It's probably wrong of me to find a UNOSAT map of recent pirate activity off the coast of Somalia kind of hilarious, but they actually used the skull and cross bones to iconify pirate attacks, and did, in fact, use the phrase "mother ship." I'm sort of ambivalent about the map as a whole. The spatial distribution of attacks is interesting (why so many hijackings around Mogadishu and Mudug?) as are the narratives, but the cartography leaves something to be desired. Land features get an inexplicable amount of detail and attention for a map depicting strictly maritime activity, and the iconography is almost meaningless (we get it, skulls and bones mean pirates). The colors create thematic associations fairly well, but seem primarily focused on the narrative callouts, which are arguably of secondary important to the locations of the attacks. Probably the most interesting data graphic is the bar chart at the bottom, depicting a (significant?) drop in absolute pirate attacks correlating with changes in government. Via and Nick

Yikes! More trouble with GIS data access ahead

From the BAAMA news: You may be aware that our state legislature is considering a bill to amend the California Public Records Act.  The bill (AB 1978) was introduced on February 14, 2008 by State Assembly Member Jose Solorio, and may have implications on public access to geospatial information in the future. We believe this topic is of primary interest to all GIS practitioners. We invite you to review Assembly Member Solorio's proposed bill and discuss its implications within your organization. You can find the text of AB 1978 here. A critique of AB 1978 may be found here. Based upon your review of AB 1978, you may wish to share your opinion of the bill with your local Assembly Member or state Senator. The bill is scheduled for committee review 30 days after introduction, which would be March 15.

Landsat 5 Struggling

After more than two decades of service, Landsat 5 is showing signs of its age. Early Saturday, October 6, 2007, the Landsat 5 Flight Operations Team (FOT) noted that battery #2 was automatically taken off-line the previous evening. All imaging was stopped in order to conserve power. This will have implications for Landsat 7 imagery as well, as the scan line drops are corrected with Landsat 5 data. If this problem is not correct it will not be until 2011, when Landsat 8 is expected to launch, that we will have new Landsat data.

San Diego Fires on Google My Maps

SD Fires on My MapsNick, a classmate of mine, pointed out this interesting use of Google My Maps for disaster reporting by KPBS News in San Diego. KPBS is also maintaining a Twitter stream for updates about the fires, which is the most useful potential use of Twitter I think I've seen. Has anyone seen any fire mapping systems on the web that integrate discussions? Requests for missing people, perhaps requests by evacuees for ground info on their homes?

Scientists Fear Curbs on Access to Satellite Data

Science 14 September 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5844, p. 1481 DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5844.148

News of the Week

U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY: Scientists Fear Curbs on Access to Satellite Data

Yudhijit BhattacharjeeFor more than 3 decades, U.S. science agencies have used images taken by the nation's spy satellites to study everything from erupting volcanoes to the migration of marine mammals. Now, a new plan to expand the use of the satellites for homeland security and law enforcement has left some officials worried that science will suffer. Last month's announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that it was setting up a new National Applications Office (NAO) this fall to widen the use of spy-satellite imagery has sparked protests from civil liberties advocates. They worry that federal, state, and local authorities will seek high-resolution, real-time images to monitor activities of U.S. citizens in the same way that the satellites help track terrorist activities overseas. But officials at federal science agencies are concerned for a different reason: They suspect that the new arrangement could mean fewer chances to investigate scientific questions or cause delays that undermine the value of the information. read more...

Read this! Lawsuit: MAPPS v. U.S.

The front page of the site has news about an ongoing case in federal court that relates to the GIS industry in the US. MAPPS has sued the federal government to exclude everyone but licensed engineers and surveyors from federal government contracts for “mapping” services of every sort and description – not just those mapping services traditionally performed by surveyors. This is from the AAG legal background paper: "If this claim prevails, it could affect not only GIS but also other mapping activities, potentially including GIS field data collection, internet mapping activities, geospatial data analysis, remote sensing, cartographic services, and map creation of almost any type. This is because the Brooks Act effectively restricts the award of all federal contracts for “architectural and engineering” services to firms licensed to practice either architecture or engineering. In short, the lawsuit threatens to hijack the GIS and related industries by excluding anyone and everyone other than licensed engineers or surveyors from receiving any type of federal mapping contract. " (bold emphasis mine.) Stay tuned on the AAG website.

Seeing Global Warming: The North Pole Thaws

Recent imagery from ESA satellites reveal a thawing of ice around the North Pole so dramatic that a ship could have theoretically sailed from the Norwegian islands of Svalbard directly to the Pole. From the ESA press release:

Observing data from Envisat’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument and the AMSR-E instrument aboard the EOS Aqua satellite, scientists were able to determine that around 5-10 percent of the Arctic’s perennial sea ice, which had survived the summer melt season, has been fragmented by late summer storms. The area between Spitzbergen, the North Pole and Severnaya Zemlya is confirmed by AMSR-E to have had much lower ice concentrations than witnessed during earlier years.

Via Slashdot

NASA’s Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet

Here's the article that Maggi emailed out to us this weekend: The following article was published in the New York Times yesterday - "NASA’s Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet" by Andy Revkin This is a topic that should be important to all ESSN members, so a discussion thread has been initiated on the ESSN website ( Please login and share your thoughts and insights on this matter.

I believe in America. I believe it exists. My gut tells me I live there.

A new study by National Geographic explains a lot about the state of the world: Most US young people can't find Iraq on map: study Reuters WASHINGTON - Most American young people can't find Iraq on a map, even though U.S. troops have been there for more than three years, according to a new geographic literacy study released on Tuesday. Other exciting facts: - Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news. - While the outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, 47 percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia. - While Israeli-Palestinian strife has been in the news for the entire lives of the respondents, 75 percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East. - Half of respondents said it was "absolutely necessary" to know how to read a map, but a large percentage lacked basic practical map-reading skills. For example, most young people were able to locate a port city on a fictitious map, but one-third would have gone in the wrong direction in the event of an evacuation. There were some positive signs: young people who use two or more different online news sources show a greater knowledge of geography. Indeed, the full report is actually more interesting and complex than the widely circulated factoids, and good reading for those of us interested in education, outreach, and better map making -- see it here: And read about National Geographic's education program aimed at filling some of the gaps here: (you can even take the test yourself)


marchcover.jpg In reply to Esther's posting a while back, there was an article published in the March Ed. of 'Geospatial Soultions' about the Bush Administration's budget reguest for 2007. Most of us could probably guess as to what the administration wants to spend it's/our money on, so, I guess the article isn't too insightful in that regard. Be that it may, it took me 10 min. or so to scan the article so I ask that somebody out there glance it over. Here's the PDF Spatial Programs Just for good humor, go ahead and post a comment as to what you think the Bush. Admin might spend it's money on next year. Go ahead and be creative... you know they always are.