Strictly Spatial #17

16 June 2016


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!

Strictly Spatial 17a

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. 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.

Strictly Spatial 17b2For 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.

Strictly Spatial 17cRecently 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.

 That’s this fortnights Strictly Spatial done and dusted! If you have any interesting stories you’d like us to share contact us through Facebook, @InterpretGS (Twitter), LinkedIn or email.