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Posts Tagged ‘USGS’

The Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst software from USGS is here

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

In response to recent catastrophic natural disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku, Japan in 2011, the hurricanes of the Gulf of Mexico, and the Colorado floods of 2013, the Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst software has been developed by USGS. The reason for the focus on pedestrians in evacuations is that during the brief period of time between the onset of a disaster and the arrival of the consequences of the event, citizens generally evacuate themselves without a government mandate, and they are usually on foot, across the landscape (according to Wood and Schmidtlein, 2012).

In cases where there is tremendous flooding or tsunamis, evacuation would be to higher ground but that isn’t always available. Evacuation modeling has revealed that some kind of vertical-evacuation structures may be good to have in a critical area.
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NASA needs help from citizen science

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

A recent CNN report announced thatNASA is asking for the help of citizens in viewing hundreds of thousands of images taken from space over the years, from the 1960s Mercury missions to the present images snapped from the International Space Station.

North Korea is barely lit when juxtaposed with neighboring South Korea and China.
North Korea is barely lit when juxtaposed with neighboring South Korea and China.

Via The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, NASA is making these images available for citizens to examine.

NASA says the hope is that the images “could help save energy, contribute to better human health and safety and improve our understanding of atmospheric chemistry. But scientists need your help to make that happen.”

The catalog contains more than 1.8 million photos, about 1.3 million of them from the space station and roughly 30% of them taken at night.

 Photos: International Space Station
NASA gets rare view of black hole
NASA tests supersonic parachute for Mars

Tyson on deep space exploration

The CNN report said that before 2003, night images from the space station could be blurry, even with high-speed film and manual tracking, because the station moves at about 17,500 mph. In that same year, astronaut Don Pettit used a drill and assorted parts he found on the station to cobble together a “barn-door tracker,” a lower-tech predecessor to the European Space Agency’s NightPod, which was installed at the space station nine years later.

According to the report, NightPod’s motorized tripod compensates for the space station’s speed, providing what NASA scientist William Stefanov says are the highest-resolution night images from orbit. Satellites collect data more regularly, but the photos tend to be lower resolution. “Now the pictures are clear, but their location may not be, which limits their usefulness,” the NASA news release says.

Citizen science has a better handle on location than the night images from the space station and satellite imagery. The Complutense University of Madrid is spearheading efforts to get citizen input and organize the photos.  They have broken down the  the images into three components requiring different levels of participation:

1. Dark skies. This is the easiest project, as it requires no scientific expertise. “Anyone can help” by sorting the images into the categories: cities, stars or other objects, said Alejandro Sanchez, doctoral student at Complutense.

“Without the help of citizens, it is almost impossible to use these images scientifically. Algorithms cannot distinguish between stars, cities and other objects, such as the moon. Humans are much more efficient for complex image analysis,” he said.

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From the Exhibit Floor: Esri UC 2014

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

The Exhibit Floor reveals industry trends, as vendors respond to requests of their customers with timely products and services. The emphasis at Esri UC 2014 was on data and apps, reflecting the trends discussed in Monday’s Plenary session. Global data, the mining of crowdsourcing data, spatial analytics to business users, the launch of WorldView-3 that will open up worlds of data previously unable to be explored – are just a few of the exciting areas covered in the exhibits and special vendor presentations.

TomTom Traffic

TomTom Traffic

This year marked the 22nd Esri conference for veteran company TomTom, which derived originally from the company GDT and later TeleAtlas. According to John Cassidy, vice president of sales and James Pardue, licensing, TomTom’s focus has evolved from the original interest in making Census data better back in the GDT days, to spatial navigation in the present day. Hardware, analytical, navigation and spatial are the primary areas of their business.

“Everyone wants global data,” said Cassidy. “TomTom is heavily invested in the crowdsourcing model.”

Cassidy said that in 2013, 6 billion pieces of information per day were processed by TomTom. In 2014, already 9 billion pieces of information per day have been processed. Their focus has become quality accuracy and quality control.

“Real world users are more valuable,” said Cassidy. “A lot information is gathered using smartphones.”

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Esri UC 2014 Plenary Session

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Monday morning’s Plenary session at Esri User Conference 2014 kicked off with ESRI CEO and president Jack Dangermond’s familiar talk about the importance of GIS in our lives, this year entitled “GIS – Creating our Future.” 130 countries are represented at the conference, hailing from various industries including utilities and communications, water and wastewater, disaster and emergency response, government, as well human health.

Jack Dangermond, CEO & President of Esri

Jack Dangermond, CEO & President of Esri

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USGS investigates impacts of wind energy development on wildlife

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

In response to the Department of Interior’s Powering Our Future initiative, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has begun investigating how to assess the impacts of wind energy development on wildlife at a national scale.

This research differs from previous USGS energy assessments of wind energy. While in the past the USGS has looked at recoverable resources of such as gas, geothermal, oil or coal, the USGS is developing a method for determining the impacts of a type of energy production. Since wind energy is one of the fastest growing areas of renewable energy in the U.S., it is interesting that the USGS is looking at the creation of assessment methodologies that combine its past research in land change science, wildlife ecology and wind-wildlife research.

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USGS commemorates its involvement with GIS on GIS Day

Friday, November 15th, 2013

On November 20th, GIS Day, the USGS will commemorate their commitment to GIS. In spite of all the new technologies for mapping currently, the USGS would like to remind people that for the past 130 years, it has been the primary producer of topographic data for the U.S. and is producing its own new and emerging geospatial technologies and products.

Geologic map of the Holy Cross quadrangle, Colorado

Geologic map of the Holy Cross quadrangle, Colorado.

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Partial government shutdown impacts geospatial community

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The effects of the partial government shutdown already can be felt in the geospatial community. With no agreement from Congress on a government funding bill, the shutdown not only affected federal employees but also contractors that work for government agencies. The shutdown impacts almost all federal agencies, including those with strong ties to the geospatial community such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

– GITA Hub

In addition, USGIF, sponsors of GEOINT 2013, will continue with the program as planned. They will continue to plan for alternative programming for the event should the shutdown extend through the Symposium, limiting the ability of some of the government speakers to attend.

CoreLogic Storm Surge Report 2013 released

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

CoreLogic senior hazard scientist, Dr. Thomas Jeffery, the primary author of this year’s CoreLogic Storm Surge Report, answered some questions about their research.


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Merrick’s Quality Control module automates compliance for LiDAR point cloud datasets

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Bill Emison, senior account manager for Geospatial Solutions at Merrick & Company, talked about their new QC module in Version 7.1 MARS (Advanced Remote Sensing Software).

Airborne LiDAR – urban area

Merrick Advanced Remote Sensing (MARS software suite is a comprehensive, production-grade Windows application designed to visualize, manage, process and analyze LiDAR point cloud data.

The Quality Control module is designed to provide an automated tool for verifying compliance of a LiDAR point cloud dataset to the LiDAR Base Specification Version 1.0 from the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey). The application sits on top of MARS as an extension.

“As a data vendor there have been many contracts where we’ve had to comply to those specs, and in an effort to do that effectively, we started to build tools two-three years ago,” said Emison. “We competely automated the entire specs. Our goal is to deliver data one time and not have to do rework, it was important to identify issues before the dataset went out the door.”

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Flood modeling data with Intermap Digital Elevation Models and Hydrology

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

In a webcast presented by Carahsoft, Intermap representatives talked about the fact that they have “the world’s largest 3D terrain database with the one meter LE 90 accuracy and consistency.” LE 90 is a linear air of 90 percent, and is commonly used for quoting and validating DEMs. LE 90 value represents the linear vertical distance of  90 percent of control points, and the respective twin matching counterparts acquired in an independent geodetic survey should be found from each other. For the U.S., which most on this call is interested in, Intermap has mapped the entire lower 48 plus some of Alaska.

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