Winter is here and it’s getting colder. On the plus side, spring is only two and a half months away! In this fortnight’s Strictly Spatial we look at research on light pollution, 1000 different ways GIS is used, cats, storms, and maps (without spatial data). Read on to find out more!
In Christchurch (and New Zealand) we are rather privileged, on a clear night we can look up and see stars. In Christchurch, to see even more stars, you only need to drive 20 minutes up the Port Hills or 30 minutes inland to see the sky open up. A study done by numerous researchers, including scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES), has used high-resolution satellite imagery to identify artificial night sky luminance. For those interested in the science side, the paper can be found here. But if you’re more interested in the resulting map, then you can check it out here in 2D or here in 3D!
We all use GIS in different ways, we all know how GIS can improve and enhance workflows, and we’re always looking into how we can use GIS in a different way. GISGeography.com has compiled a list of 1000 different ways GIS is used. I had a quick skim through and was amazed at just how widely GIS is used. You can check the list out for yourself here.
For those of you who own cats, you know that they can often be mischievous wee devils. A few of us here at Interpret have cats and their antics range from trying to eat your food at dinner time, to leaving dead mice and birds as ‘presents’ on the back door step. A recent volunteer study by the North Carolina State University asks for you to attach a GPS tracker to your feline friend. The results from this study are then used to help understand how cats behave outside and give indications as to what they do whilst they’re not sleeping. You can see all the cats that have participated in the study here. Clicking on their photo will bring up their ‘secret life’ – a map of where they have travelled.
Recently the Sydney coastline has been battered by storms. As a result, there has been severe erosion and loss of beaches which has threatened homes. Some amazing aerial pictures have been taken of the area which you can check out here. Over in America, beaches are monitored using video cameras and laser measuring devices. These allow for scientists, engineers and planners to track erosion (and accretion). The results can be used to determine the effects of coastal erosion and beachfront inundation during storm and hurricane events.
Typically, we use GIS for spatial data and represent this data on a map; as a (web) map. Web maps have zooming, panning and querying capabilities which allow for the user to explore the data. Combine these with data and a ‘book-like’ interface and you have a story map. Now what if you remove the spatial data, and the basemap too? What are you left with? An empty ‘map’ that still has panning, zooming and querying capabilities. Now you add a piece of art and you can zoom, pan and query the artwork. This is a novel approach and a very outside the box way of thinking about typical mapping ‘tools’. You can check out some examples of what can be done with mapping platforms and works of art here.
New Zealand’s most awarded geospatial consultancy for 2015 is opening an office in Auckland’s CBD.
The decision to expand into Auckland reflects Interpret Geospatial Solutions recognised excellence and innovation. “It’s an obvious move for us” says Interpret’s Managing Director Steve Abley, “People want to work with us and that means we need to be local”. Interpret provides geospatial solutions for central and local government as well as large companies and not for profit groups.
The office will be led by Aucklander Chris Morris. “Chris is an amazing talent and we’re privileged to have a person of his calibre adding strength to an already proven team” said Abley. Morris has a background in consulting and web based GIS technologies with particular application to infrastructure assets. Abley explains “This is critical for Auckland because there’s a need to manage the built environment better. Great spatial information either through data capture, sharing or analysis enables better decisions”.
Interpret is expanding and other staff have been attracted to Auckland’s new offering. This includes New Zealand 2015 Spatial Excellence - Young Professional of the Year award winner, Natalie Scott (pictured). Natalie is returning to Interpret after spending the last six months travelling. Abley is very proud of Natalie and the wider team’s ability. He says “Natalie is an amazing individual and Interpret is poised for even greater success”. Scott too has a background in geospatial infrastructure having recently provided web based analytical and integration technologies to a fibre telecommunications company.
The Auckland team has significant growth plans and Interpret has invested in central city premises at 57 Fort Street. Abley says the company is actively recruiting and in the next few months Interpret will have a national staff of about 20 along with a network of trusted partners. “We’re in demand implementing off-the-shelf geospatial applications, innovative geospatial data analytics and more customised solutions reflective of a specific organisation’s unique requirements”.
Abley explains “Doing spatial and thinking smart isn’t necessarily expensive. But doing nothing and not thinking, is”. The Interpret team is excited at the opportunities Auckland provides.
If you are looking to join our great team, have a look at the roles we’re looking to fill here.
Auckland, we're hiring!
It’s with great excitement we can announce that we’re about to open an office in Auckland. We’ll be based in the heart of the CBD at 57 Fort Street and leading the team is Principal consultant Chris Morris. Chris will be known to many of you having a particular expertise in Geocortex essentials and infrastructure assets. If that wasn’t newsworthy enough, New Zealand’s 2015 Spatial Excellence - Young Professional of the Year award winner, Natalie Scott (pictured) will be returning to us and working from our new premises. Our growth plans mean we’re actively recruiting in Auckland so if you’re keen to work for 2015’s most awarded geospatial consultancy, have a look at the roles we’re currently looking to fill here. You can read more about this exciting development here. See you soon Auckland.
Doesn’t time fly, it’s been a fortnight since the last Strictly Spatial! With winter well and truly now on our doorstep I suggest you rug up warm for this fortnight's edition.
Satellite and remotely sensed imagery is often shown as the poster-boy of GIS. It is flashy, instantly recognisable and without much explaining it shows the power of GIS. Mainstream uses for remotely sensed imagery tend to be basemaps; something we put our own data on. More often than not this is the extent of remotely sensed imagery in your typical commercial environment. Remotely sensed imagery really comes into its own when you use it for research. Remotely sensed imagery has high spatial and temporal resolution and can come in panchromatic, multispectral and hyperspectral formats. What puts the icing on the cake is that this imagery is often freely available. Data extracted from this imagery can be used to discover a lot about our planet such as how it changes and how we use its resources. One such example is using landsat imagery to generate evapotranspiration water-use maps to show changing water use patterns.
Following in similar fashion, a group funded by the Knight Foundation have developed a visual search tool that can be used to search for features in satellite imagery. This tool, called Terrapattern, uses advanced machine learning to analyse satellite imagery and identify features. These include and are not limited to boat wakes, shipping containers and cul-de-sacs. Pretty impressive! The tool Is currently in alpha, and is limited to Pittsburgh, San Francisco, New York City and Detroit. The team is currently working on expanding the tool to more cities. Give it a go!
Over the past few years, geography and GIS has taken off and embedded itself into a huge range of industries and technologies. This quote highlights such growth; Uber is the world’s largest taxi company yet owns no vehicles, Facebook is the world’s most popular media owner yet creates no content, Alibaba is the world’s most valuable retailer yet has no inventory and Airbnb is the world’s largest accommodation provider yet owns no real estate. What do these four companies have in common? They all, somewhere along the line need spatial information. This article by Anusuya Datta, opens with a variation on the previously mentioned quote. It is a fascinating article that looks into just how GIS is taking off and wiggling its way into (almost) everything. Well worth a read.
GIS is a tool that can help give a greater, wider reaching understanding of natural processes. This is highlighted in this short overview by Carmela Buono. The paper it proceeds looks at how GIS has been used to understand how manmade structures have affected the stability of soils during road and tunnel construction. It is a technical, yet interesting read which uses a number of different GIS processes. You can find the full paper here.
That’s all for this fortnights edition, like always, feel free to get in touch through Facebook, @InterpretGS (Twitter), LinkedIn or email. Don’t forgot to check out our vacancies if you are interested in joining our award winning team in Auckland.
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