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May 11, 2009
Predicting and Tracking the Swine Flu Virus
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on GIScafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by GISCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

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Industry News

Predicting and Tracking the Swine Flu Virus

By Susan Smith

Geospatial technology has become an integral part of predicting and tracking of infectious diseases such as the Swine Flu H1N1 virus pandemic which dominates our news today.

click to enlarge [
According to Seth Wiafe and Bill Davenhall, ESRI Health and Human Services Solutions, disease surveillance using GIS provides public health officials with the information needed to detect and manage disease outbreaks. They say that “successful disease surveillance activities require standardized methodology, appropriate tools for prompt data collection, accurate synthesis of the data, continuity over time, and—most important—timely dissemination of the resulting information to health officials and, as appropriate, the public.”

In each one of these cases, early detection can make all the difference in being able to take effective action to contain a major outbreak of a disease. The ways that GIS can help in outbreak response are through disseminating information about threats of emerging infectious diseases and enhancing decision support at all levels including local, regional and national. Additionally, GIS can be useful in planning disease surveillance activities and predicting outcomes before financial commitments of public health intervention are made, and in allocating resources.

Mapping and spatial analysis of the spread and patterns of disease also reveal other information such as trends and interrelationships and can be used with georeferenced epidemiological data that take into account demographic, environment, hydrologic and vegetation information. The fact that maps can be dynamically updated as new information is received render them an invaluable resource, both for those working in surveillance mode and the public.

Predicting the Spread of the Virus

Proving that great minds think alike,
a computer model at Northwestern University is predicting the Swine Flu epidemic’s future. Its forecast suggests approximately 2,000 cases by the end of this month, predominately in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Houston. Simultaneously, informatics professor Alessandro Vespignani at Indiana University has come up with strikingly similar data with GLEaM, a Global Epidemic and Mobility modeler that integrates sociodemographic and population mobility data in spatially structured stochastic disease models to simulate the spread of epidemics at the worldwide scale.

Both these models enlist the aid of supercomputers to predict the spread of the viruses. Indiana University’s algorithms are different from those of the computer model at Northwestern. Dirk Brockmann, engineering professor lead on the epidemic modeling team at the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems, said that the number of cases is growing faster than either of the two models had predicted.

Brockmann’s simulation employs two large datasets: air traffic and commuter traffic patterns for the entire country, and the data from the Web site, Where’s George?
Where’s George? was dreamed up by programmer, Hank Eskin, over ten years ago. Eskin marked each dollar bill he received with a note asking the next owner to enter its serial number and zip code into his Web site, in order to track how far and fast the bills would travel. By 2006, the site had tracked the histories of 100 million bills. Brockmann uses this Web site because it relies on face-to-face transactions, which are what spreads influenza.

It takes two days to develop a simulation using either of the two models, according to Brockmann and Vespignani.


There are a number of maps available to track the Swine Flu.

HealthMap allows you to select various sources of information independently, to select various diseases, categories such as “new and ongoing outbreaks” and “international significance” and specific warnings.

Dr. Henry Niman, a biomedical researcher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who runs Recombinomics, compiled the map and the data behind it for the map shown in this article using technology provided by
Rhiza Labs and
Google. The map used Rhiza’s web based mapping product, Insight, to get both official and unofficial data such as news reports and user contributions into the tracking system quickly.

In response to a request from scientists at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Google has released a new version of its Flu Trends map designed for
Mexico. Unlike
Flu Trends for the U.S, Flu Trends for Mexico at this time does not include historical surveillance data to validate that its search data corresponds to actual infections.

Pacific Disaster Center uses ESRI software to track the Swine Flu, as well as hazards, recent earthquakes, active volcanoes and includes basemap layers such as hydrography, imagery, elevation, demography and infrastructure.

MapCruzin.com is maintaining an archive of H1N1 ArcGIS shapefiles and Excel spreadsheets so that users can track swine flu occurrences over time. Included in the data are confirmed cases, suspected cases, fatalities and documentation. The site also includes
free software and a tutorial to view the shapefile maps.

ESRI has historically provided aid to agencies tracking disease and has added information for any organization needing assistance to its existing disaster management Web pages at
Public Health Support .

According to the company, a county health department in Texas is using this program to receive technical support as they launch a real-time system to track 911 calls from people complaining of flu symptoms. Health alert networks use this resource to exchange data between health care providers including hospitals and clinics and public health departments. In Mexico, ESRI's distributor, SGSA, the command and control center in Mexico City using technical staff members and ESRI software to communicate with local health authorities.

During the SARS epidemic in 2002, ESRI China (Hong Kong) developed and hosted the SARS Mapping Web site. The system, built on ArcIMS, launched with both English and Chinese interfaces, provided up-to-date information on the progression of the disease based on daily updated information gathered from the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), Department of Health (DoH), Government of Hong Kong SAR, and WHO. The data were collected, geocoded, and presented as online maps that could be interrogated, analyzed, navigated, and printed.

Top News of the Week

ArcGIS 9.3.1, now shipping, helps you create and share modern Web maps that are relevant to your entire organization. This release of ESRI's integrated collection of geographic information system (GIS) software products focuses on improving the performance of dynamic map publishing and increasing the visibility of geographic information.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has formally accepted a new ESRI-based system that improves how the organization produces its national suite of nautical charts. The system, Nautical Chart System II (NCS II), will utilize ESRI's Production Line Tool Set (PLTS) for ArcGIS—Nautical Solution to produce more than 1,000 paper nautical charts and provide complete coverage in NOAA's equivalent Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC) format based on the International Hydrographic Organization S-57 standard.

Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances

NAVTEQ announced that it has signed an agreement to supply NAVTEQ map data and content to Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world's second largest mobile manufacturer.

Topcon has partnered with Applied Field Data Systems (AFDS) in Houston to sell and support Topcon GIS solutions in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Since 1995, AFDS has specialized in supplying GPS/GIS mapping systems and services to the natural resource, utility, infrastructure, transportation, municipality and environmental services markets.

Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI), global provider of location and communication intelligence solutions, announced it is teaming with LandPoint Systems, Inc., a product development and consulting services firm for the GIS market, to provide a mobile consumer survey service called FACES (Faster, Accurate, Current Economical Surveys). FACES, offered through LandPoint’s KnowYourFaces division, provides retailers and restaurant companies with customizable surveys to help them better capture customer data at the point of experience. Utilizing digital technology—electronic handheld devices such as PDAs or Smartphones equipped with customized FACES
consumer survey software and PBBI location intelligence solutions—helps to address the industry-wide issue of capturing consumer data by making it a more accessible, efficient process.

ERDAS and Spot Image announce a new partnership, increasing both organizations’ involvement in the Heterogeneous Mission Accessibility - Interoperability (HMA-I) project.

The European Space Agency (ESA) issued the HMA contract in 2005, defining the architecture and interoperability standards for harmonized data access across the ground segments of the European and Canadian missions contributing to the ESA’s Global Monitoring for Environment & Security (GMES).

SPOT Image Corporation announced that it has entered into an agreement with KAI Image as the distributor of KOMPSAT-2 products to customers across North America. Through this partnership, SPOT Image Corporation can now offer users very high resolution (VHR) satellite imagery for projects requiring the detail of a 1-meter image.


With the signing of its K–12 statewide software license, Hawaii becomes the first state in the nation with a comprehensive set of license agreements that offers students in elementary and secondary schools, as well as those in colleges and universities, the opportunity to use the full complement of ESRI's GIS software products. State officials are enthusiastic about the potential for job creation through a greater emphasis on spatial literacy in the educational system.

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) announced the first three keynote speakers for its sixth annual GEOINT Symposium.

Confirming their participation in GEOINT 2009 are U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA); U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and the Honorable James R. Clapper Jr., undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

The GEOINT Symposium, the nation’s preeminent intelligence event of the year, takes place Oct. 18-21, 2009, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The theme of GEOINT 2009 is “Build the Community. Accelerate Innovation. Advance the Tradecraft.” These three short statements are at the core of USGIF’s mission and its commitment to the GEOINT Community.

Surveyors, engineers, and geographic information system (GIS) users are invited to enhance current practices, expand opportunities, and stay up-to-date with the latest GIS technology and the new markets it creates, by attending the 2009 ESRI Survey & Engineering GIS Summit to be held July 11–14 at the San Diego Convention Center in California.

The summit is the ideal venue for anyone in the surveying and engineering industries interested in or currently working with GIS. "[It's] the best survey conference in the country—hands down," said Rich Vannozzi, PLS, doctoral candidate, University of Connecticut, in talking about his 2008 summit experience.

New Products

Digital mapping and address data supplied and configured by MapMechanics forms a key component in the latest mission-critical transport planning software developed by Cleric Computer Services (CCS) for ambulance services, health authorities, local government and private-sector organizations.

CCS supplies sophisticated response handling, transport planning and vehicle routing systems both for front-line ambulance dispatch management and for many non-emergency and special needs transport activities.

Blue Marble Geographics announced the release of GeoCore, an all-in-one geospatial data translation toolkit that supports coordinate, geometry, vector, CAD, raster, and LIDAR data. GeoCore gives software developers the coordinate transformation and definition powers GIS experts have come to rely on with the GeoCalc library, plus the ability to handle all of your raster and vector file format and geometry needs with GeoTranslate and GeoTransform. One simple package, and one easy to use interface! Now you can use whatever pieces you need, when you need them, in a plug and play development environment.

IDV Solutions released Visual Fusion 4 (VF4), a comprehensive visual mashup platform. With VF4, everyone in an organization is empowered to build interactive, business-focused applications in days or weeks, not months or years. Long a hallmark of IDV, the world-class user experience of Visual Fusion has been expanded to include Silverlight, taking compelling, high performing applications to the next level of usability within an organization (take a test drive at
Visual Fusion 4 (VF4)). Enterprise search has also been incorporated within VF4, so now all content connected to Visual Fusion is available to be searched: SharePoint content, web feeds (GeoRSS & KML), Excel data, Oracle, ESRI, and line of business systems—they all fall under the domain of VF4 Enterprise Search. All of these capabilities drive the main value points that Visual Fusion brings to the enterprise: rapid insight, business agility, and increased productivity.

Urban Mapping, Inc. (UMI), the provider of location-rich content for interactive applications, unveiled enhancements to the company's URBANWARE Neighborhoods database. Already used by industry-leaders in the portal, map platform and Internet yellow page markets, such as Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, MapQuest and AT&T's YellowPages.com, the database's market-leading coverage incorporates nearly 8,000 new neighborhoods in the U.S. and 500 new neighborhoods across Canada and Europe. In addition, Urban Mapping has raised the bar for quality of neighborhood data by adding the capability to dynamically incorporate user feedback in its offering. The company can now merge data
from its thousands of existing sources with input from local residents who best understand the dynamics of their neighborhoods.

Around the Web

To Aid Mexico, Google Expands Flu Tracking  by Miguel Helft, April 30, 2009, The New York Times

New Map Collaboration Helps Tell Story of Durham's History Duke University News, May 5, 2009

Forbes uses ZoomProspector to Rank Small Cities that Have Big City Business and Cultural Environments, May 5, 2009, PR Web


May 13 - 14, 2009
Place: Le Capitole de Québec

Quebec, Canada

The 7th edition of Géodiffusion will take place on May 13th and 14th at the Théâtre le Capitole, in Quebec City. This year’s conference theme is : Business Intelligence and Geospatial Technologies :  Must-Have Allies in Tough Economic Times. The 2009 edition boasts 2 full days of sessions on this important topic which affects your organization on a daily basis.

May 19 - 21, 2009
Place: Burlingame

San Jose, CA USA

Where 2.0 2009 delves into the emerging technologies surrounding the geospatial industry, particularly the way our lives are organized, from finding a restaurant to finding the source of a new millennium plague. Maps are everywhere now, from your desktop to your iPhone to your car to your oil rig, and presented as realistically or as representationally as suits your needs. Thanks to the launch of Geo-Eye and other projects, location information makes devices more useful, and is therefore becoming a given

May 19 - 20, 2009
Place: Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center

Grantville, PA USA

This year’s Pennsylvania GIS Conference will explore the essential connection between geospatial technology and the development and sustainability of our critical infrastructure. Presenters from industry, academia, and government will showcase applications that support critical infrastructures in water resources, energy and the environment, public safety and health, and economic development. In addition, the latest hardware, software, and database trends will be demonstrated by the geospatial industry. This year it’s all technology and applications – no policy, no politics! Just pure GIS.

May 20 - 21, 2009
Place: Victoria Conference Centre

720 Douglas Street Victoria , Victoria, BC, V8W 3M7 Canada

ESRI Canada is pleased to invite you to join other GIS professionals for this exclusive opportunity to learn about the latest advances in GIS technology and hear first hand how others in your community are using a geographic approach in their work.

May 28, 2009
Place: USA

Presented by Ian Fitzgerald, Truckee Donner PUD

9:15am Pacific/11:15am Central/12:15pm Eastern

June 1 - 4, 2009
Place: Vancouver Convention Centre

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

GeoTec 2009 is proud to be back in Vancouver, the founding home of the conference in 1985. The GeoTec Event offers its attendees high caliber and timely presentations from knowledgeable industry leaders, geospatial technologists and users from Canada and the world.

Sponsored by GeoTec Media, publisher of GeoWorld magazine and developer of the Web portal Geoplace.com, the 23rd annual event GeoTec Event is a world-leading technical event, and the largest geospatial technology event n Canada.

June 1 - 4, 2009
Place: 725 Blue Harbor Drive

Sheboygan, WI 53081 USA

Focus of event will be Civil 3D and the WisDOT workflows of Civil 3D, GIS, GPS, LiDar, Map, Mapguide, Virtualizations, BIM, Navisworks, Utilities. See Invitation and Class List attachments.
June 1 - 2, 2009
Place: Houston, TX USA

Today's competitive business environment has required organizations to become more diligent about their Information Technology (IT) investments. Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) are no different.

This has meant that business units advocating or using GIS must now compete for their share of a limited, and often shrinking, capital IT budget

June 2 - 3, 2009
Place: University of Northern British Columbia, Conference Centre

3333 University Way , Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9 Canada

ESRI Canada is pleased to invite you to join other GIS professionals for this exclusive opportunity to learn about the latest advances in GIS technology and hear first hand how others in your community are using a geographic approach in their work.

June 5 - 8, 2009
Place: Westin Providence

Providence, RI USA

To provide an open and participatory forum for advancing the effective use of spatial information and geographic information system technologies across the domains of public health, healthcare and community health preparedness.

June 8 - 9, 2009
Place: Estes Park Conference Center

Estes Park, CO USA

GeoGathering Located in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains,
GeoGathering 2009 is a conference dedicated to providing pipeline
operators in the production and gathering sectors with a venue to share
their experiences and best practices with geospatial information while
learning about current industry regulations and GIS solutions.
June 8 - 12, 2009
Place: Sheraton Dallas Hotel

400 North Olive St., Dallas, TX 75201 USA

The theme of this conference is "Back to Basics: Establishing Consistent, Repeatable IGI&S Processes." The focus will be the "nuts and bolts" of GIS and how it supports installation management, including implementation, common problems and their solutions, and successes.

June 11 - 12, 2009
Place: Westin Resort & Spa

Whistler, BC, Canada

Join fellow FME users for this annual opportunity to build your spatial ETL expertise. Gain new insights on how to solve complex spatial data challenges by attending workshops, breakout sessions and more. Early bird rates end April 3rd – registration closes June 3rd. Visit www.fmeuc.com for more and to register today!

June 13 - 16, 2009
Place: Radisson Hotel and Conference Center

2040 Airport Drive, Green Bay, WI 54313 USA

Native American / Indigenous / tribal attendees and supporters of mapping efforts on aboriginal territories, let's learn, share, and
grow together - find new ways of using mapping tools to solve
sovereignty, environmental, and cultural issues. Previous ideas
resulting from this conference include supporting and training
indigenous people who may have little experience with modern mapping

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.