Welcome

April 16, 2012 4 comments

Welcome to the Spatial Reserves blog.

The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data was written to provide GIS practitioners and instructors with the essential skills to find, acquire, format, and analyze public domain spatial data. Some of the themes discussed in the book include open data access and spatial law, the importance of metadata, the fee vs. free debate, data and national security, the efficacy of spatial data infrastructures, the impact of cloud computing and the emergence of the GIS-as-a-Service (GaaS) business model. Recent technological innovations have radically altered how both data users and data providers work with spatial information to help address a diverse range of social, economic and environmental issues.

This blog was established to follow up on some of these themes, promote a discussion of the issues raised, and host a copy of the exercises that accompany the book.  This story board provides a brief description of the exercises.

Marine Cadastre Data Viewer and Portal

January 31, 2016 1 comment

The Marine Cadastre Data Viewer and Portal provides direct access to authoritative marine cadastral data from U.S. federal and state sources, including information on the tracks of vessels, bathymetry, administrative boundaries, and fish, bird, and other species.  It provides baseline information needed for ocean planning efforts, particularly those that involve finding the best location for renewable energy projects. The MarineCadastre.gov National Viewer uses Esri web GIS technology and is also a helpful tool in the permit review process. Users can select the ocean geography of their choosing and quickly see the applicable jurisdictional boundaries, restricted areas, laws, critical habitat locations, and other important features. With the national viewer, potential conflicts can be identified and avoided early in the planning process.

The site offers two distinct advantages:  1)  The ability to view over 75 data layers from a variety of sources in a single live ArcGIS Online-based web map viewer; 2)  The ability to download those same layers from the map interface for additional analysis.  We have been critical in this blog about sites that get the user tantalizingly close to downloading the data but never quite allow it.  This one delivers. The only thing I have not been able to get to work during my review of the resource is the buffer tool.

See this site for additional information about the data layers and services.  In addition, you can explore the set of layers on ArcGIS Online in the Marine Cadastre group.

GIS and the Top 10 Technology Trends

January 17, 2016 Leave a comment

Recently, information technology research and advisory company Gartner listed what it considers to be the Top 10 technology trends for 2016.  This insightful article, when considered in light of recent GIS developments, shows that these tech trends are both influenced by and are reflected by geotechnologies.  Whether or not you agree that the 10 trends listed here are the “most influential,” please consider their connections to GIS.  The first trend, The Digital Mesh, refers to “all devices are connected in an expanding set of endpoints people use to access applications and information, or interact with people, social communities, governments and businesses.”  GIS and GPS technologies are enabling the connections to occur, and conversely, influence the direction that GIS will go.

One manifestation of how the Digital Mesh is driving GIS is the attention over the past few years on building GIS apps.  If you would like to learn more about building your own GIS apps, consider enrolling in the free 5 week Esri MOOC “Do-it-yourself Geo Apps.“, by signing up for a free developer’s account on ArcGIS Online, or by building some of your own web apps such as with this tool.

Other trends include the “information of everything” and big data, and we’ve written about Big Data several times as well in this blog since 2012. Adaptive security architecture is another trend, developed in response to privacy breaches, and we’ve written about location privacy here and in our book.  We have also reflected about The Internet of Things, which through the sensor network is enabling GIS to become a sort of “nervous system of the planet.”  In fact, it is difficult to think of any of the trends identified without being able to identify numerous connections to GIS.

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For those in the geotechnology community, it is important to stay current with the latest technology trends and reflect upon how those trends impact GIS.  This Gartner article will help.

Updated Public Domain Data Exercises

January 13, 2016 3 comments

When the GIS Guide to Public Domain Data was published in 2012, we produced an accompanying set of exercises to help illustrate some of the issues that could be encountered when locating, manipulating and analysing public domain spatial data. Among the issues we discussed were the problems of data sources disappearing or data portals that were no longer maintained.

As a number of the online resources we used for the original exercises have not been immune to such changes, we have updated the exercises to provide modified or alternate data resources for the activities. The new exercises and the answer key (.doc format) are available to download from Google Drive (no password required).

PDD Exercises on Google Drive

Exercises on Google Drive

TopoView for Browsing and Downloading USGS Topographic Maps

January 3, 2016 2 comments

The USGS National Map program, working with the National Geologic Map Database (NGMDB) project, has launched a new version of the application named TopoView, which we described while it was in beta, for exploring, viewing  and downloading the more than 178,000 USGS digitized legacy topographic maps from the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection.  TopoView is now fully available and given its holdings, we think that it warrants full investigation by the GIS professional.

 

topoview.JPG

USGS TopoView viewer and downloader for historical USGS Topographic Maps.

These scanned USGS quadrangle maps, georeferenced at various scales, date from the late 1880’s to 2010. For more information on the effort to capture the complete map collection, see the Historical Topo Map Collection web site.  These scanned quadrangles, georeferenced at various scales, date from the late 1880’s to 2010.  For more information, see the guidelines on “A New Way to Find Old Maps“.

An alternative tool to examine historical USGS topographic maps is the Esri USGS Historical Map Viewer.  TopoView and the Historical Map Viewer use similar technologies from Esri’s ArcGIS Online and each have advantages.  TopoView allows geotiff and other download formats and provides an easier way to select specific maps.  The Historical Map Viewer has a time scale across the bottom and its ability to overlay maps of different years make it a useful teaching tool for examining land use change over time. Try them both and we look forward to your comments below.

 

Categories: Public Domain Data

Digital Cities: The Hudson Yards Project

December 29, 2015 Leave a comment

The Hudson Yards project is not only one of the largest real estate development projects in the USA but also one of the largest city-wide data collection projects. To facilitate this data capture, a significant component of the project is a new digital infrastructure that will track human behaviour on an unprecedented scale.

Working with a number of technologies previously used for mapping and monitoring more remote locations, in conjunction with a myriad of sensors, cell phone and wifi technology, the project designers and planners aim to capture data everyone is interested in – pollution levels, water usage, traffic, retail patterns and much more.

 

One of the contributors makes an interesting point about the project having access to a range and quality of data not currently available from public data sources but didn’t elaborate on whether the public would also have access to some or all of this data.

Landsat Thematic Bands Web Mapping Application in ArcGIS Online

December 20, 2015 1 comment

Teaching remote sensing?  Or just want to understand remotely sensed imagery better?  The Landsat Thematic Bands web mapping application can serve as a very useful teaching, learning, and research tool.  It covers the entire planet and the map is updated daily with new Landsat 8 scenes.

You can access many band combinations and indices by hovering over the tools to the left of the map image and selecting among the following:

  • Agriculture: Highlights agriculture in bright green. Bands 6,5,2
  • Natural Color: Sharpened with 25m panchromatic band. Bands 4,3,2+8
  • Color Infrared: Healthy vegetation is bright red. Bands 5,4,3
  • SWIR (Short Wave Infrared): Highlights rock formations. Bands 7,6,4
  • Geology: Highlights geologic features. Bands 7,4,2
  • Bathymetric: Highlights underwater features. Bands 4,3,1
  • Panchromatic: Panchromatic image at 15m. Band 8
  • Vegetation Index: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). (Band5-Band4)/(Band5+Band4)
  • Moisture Index: Normalized Difference Moisture Index (NDMI). (Band5-Band6)/(Band5+Band6)

The Time tool for different indices at larger scales based on a user-selected location enables examination of changes over years or over seasons.  It also provides temporal profiles for NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), NDMI (Normalized Difference Moisture Index) and an Urban Index, dating back to 1973.  The Identify tool enables access to information on the date, cloud cover, and a spectral profile about each scene.  The Bookmark tool allows access to interesting locations such as the “Eye of the Sahara” in Mauritania.

The application is written using Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS accessing image services using the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, with access to the following Image Services:

  • Landsat Multispectral on AWS – 8-band multispectral 30m resolution image services and functions that provide different band combinations and indices.
  • Landsat Pan-sharpened on AWS – Panchromatic-sharpened imagery; 4-band (Red, Green, Blue and NIR); 30m resolution.
  • Landsat Panchromatic on AWS – Panchromatic imagery; 15m resolution.

These services can also be accessed through the public Landsat on AWS group on ArcGIS Online.  Because you can add these services as layers to your own maps or are adding to maps made by others, or if you are simply using the above web mapping application as a standalone map, you truly have “the world at your fingertips” with these maps and apps.  But there is a third option: Use the Unlock Earth’s Secrets page, also useful for instruction, with the above application embedded in it, but also with explanatory text and featured places around the planet as they have changed through time.

Think of the above as solid introductory segments to help your students, customers, or stakeholders see the value in remote sensing.  These maps and applications require very little geospatial technology skills to use, but allow you to focus on building remote sensing concepts and principles while exploring some truly engaging content and places.

To dig deeper, delve into the many powerful remote sensing functions available in ArcGIS Desktop.  One source for engaging, hands-on activities, is Kathryn Keranen and Bob Kolvoord’s book Making Spatial Decisions Using GIS and Remote Sensing:  A Workbook.

Give these resources a try!

Landsat web application

Landsat web application in ArcGIS Online.

Sentinel-2 Imagery Now Available

December 14, 2015 1 comment

Earlier this year we wrote about the launch of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-2A satellite and the mission to deliver a range of data products including land cover maps and bio-geophysical data. ESA have just released the Sentinel-2A orthorectified products, which are now available to download for free from the Sentinel-2 Data Hub https://scihub.copernicus.eu/s2/.

Sentinel-2a Data Hub

Sentinel-2a Data Hub

ESA have also posted a data quality report to document the current status of the data and provide information on product formats and features. As the programme is currently in a ramp-up phase, further improvements in the extent of coverage and the accuracy of the products are expected over the next few months.

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