Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Carneval de GIS

The 7th International Conference on Geographical Analysis, Urban Modeling & Spatial Statistics GEOG-AN-MOD 12 will be held on June 18th - 20th, 2012 at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. The conference will be conducted in English, and papers are requested on various related themes; for peer-review and publication.The organisers write that "nowadays the wide diffusion of electronic devices containing geo-referenced information generates a great production of spatial data ... creating an overabundance of spatial data, which, in many cases, does not help the efficiency of decision processes. This workshop aims at contributing to the development of new techniques and methods to improve the process of knowledge acquisition". Important dates are:
31 January 2012: Deadline for full paper submission
10 March  2012: Notification of acceptance
5 April 2012: Deadline for Camera Ready Papers
June 18-21, 2012: ICCSA 2012 Conference
Thanks Bruce, Kate.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Let's Go Dutch

The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) has made available a GIS User Manual that guides nature managers step by step through relevant GIS skills whilst using their own data in ArcGIS and Google Earth Pro. The DCNA has now trained 16 persons in GIS from Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. It found that one of the biggest concerns in terms of GIS use is the lack of access to reliable and usable data - which sounds rather familiar. However, they've had their own GIS expert and many other persons have a go at this problem and so now the DCNA also offers a set of GIS data for the six islands. If interested you'd have to contact the DCNA but one can already find their training materials online (in English). I haven't seen either the Manual or data myself, but I like the sound of this initiative. Lekker. Thanks Kate.

Friday, December 16, 2011

NatGeo World Map

For admirers of National Geographic cartography (everyone :-)), ESRI and NatGeo have teamed up to offer a free base map for your online (and desktop) mapping - the National Geographic World Map. It was designed only as a general reference map for informational and educational purposes. And it's not terribly detailed in this part of the world, but that's not surprising, is it? Thanks Bruce.

Friday, December 09, 2011

GPS Sunburn

An excellent report by GPS World on the 2011 European Navigation Conference that ended on the 1st Dec 2011 detailed several threats to GPS - or GNSS as it is becoming more known by since Russia's GLONASS system reached full capability in Aug-Oct 2011 and the EU's EGNOS augmentation service was certified in mid-2010. One significant threat seems to be increasing solar activity, which would be disappointing if it does occur, given the nice improvements in service that us near the Equator have been benefiting from (more NavStar GPS satellites up and very dependable fixes with help from WAAS/EGNOS).

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Geospatial Challenge

Enter the ERDAS DigitalGlobe 2012 Geospatial Challenge to get free imagery for your study and a chance to win five (5) WorldView-2 scenes of your choice anywhere across the globe from the DigitalGlobe archive. Proposal due Dec 20, 2011. Need inspiration or even software? Thanks Alan and Renee.

Monday, November 28, 2011


The International Cartographic Association (ICA) invites proposals/ participants for a workshop that 'aims to bring together artists, scholars and students from cartography, geography, the humanities and the arts interested in exploring further the relationships between maps and narratives. The main outcome of this workshop will be the production of a collective movie dedicated to narrative cartography. This movie will be made of the different contributions of the participants of the workshop. Support from students and professors from film studies will be provided in order to help turning academic and artistic work into cinematographic essays (2 to 5 min.)'. Must say this is an unusual emphasis for mapping, compared to the standard topics of conversation amongst mappers/cartographers, so I'm interested in the outcome.

The deadline for submitting proposals is January 15th, 2012. Thanks Bruce/ IRF.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Developing Countries & Geodemographics

Ojo and Ezepue (Sept 2011) look at the challenges and benefits of spatial analysis for driving evidence-based policy making within developing countries. Is evidence-based policy making one of the big differences between developed and developing countries? Thanks K Lance/ GSDI

Friday, September 09, 2011

EOI - Caribbean Marine Research

UK DEFRA has a Call for Expressions of Interest (509KB Zip file) for research proposals focused on understanding the impact and addressing threats to marine ecosystems in the UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean. Funding will range from £50k to £150k and the closing date is 16:00hrs on 30th September 2011. Replies may be sent by email to DEFRA. The marine research priorities identified by the Governments of the UK Overseas Territories (OTs)  in the Caribbean and Bermuda are:
1.    Identifying and quantifying the scale and nature of the impact of threats to marine ecosystems, this should include ecological impact, and where practicable associated social and economic impacts.
2.    Developing solutions to address these threats and their impacts. Solutions must take into consideration the legislative, policy, administrative, financial and practical context of the OTs.
Thanks C N Aguirre

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Field Guide to Humanitarian Mapping 2nd Ed

The Second Edition of MapAction's Field Guide to Humanitarian Mapping has been published (July 2011) and is now available for free download.

MapAction says, 'The second edition of the Guide contains 35% more content than the first edition. In response to requests from users there is a completely new chapter on data collection with step-by-step instructions on accessing many free map data and satellite imagery sources available for various parts of the world.

The new edition continues the principle of helping aid organisations on limited budgets to find and use free and open-source software. This year’s Guide contains an in-depth manual for the use of the Quantum GIS open source software suite, which in MapAction’s experience is now reliable and well supported. As before, the Guide also contains many tips and techniques for using Google Earth.'

The first edition was published in 2009.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wider Sargasso Sea

Aug 11, 2011 update from Erika Young and Jim Gower of Fisheries & Ocean Canada (Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS): 'Floating vegetation slicks, probably of this same Sargassum in rafts at sea, were imaged by MERIS throughout July, 2011. Figure 1 [left] shows long sinuous slicks to the northeast of Barbados on July 14, 25 and 30, 2011. Comparison of the lower two frames of Figure 1, for July 25 and 30, suggests that a heavy mass of Sargassum should arrive on the north-east coast of Barbados by about August 10. The bottom frame also suggests that more Sargassum may be about to arrive on Dominica and Martinique' [and Saint Lucia].

Have a look at the bottom frame from 30 July 2011 in Google Earth - Sargassum slicks can be seen in the Caribbean Sea, particularly near Dominica. A major slick of Sargassum was then approaching in the Atlantic approximately 30km from Barbados and Martinique and about 70km from Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia had already reported heavy slicks on their beaches in mid July 2011, so the MERIS imagery analysed by IOS (i) might not be picking up "smaller" slicks due to its resolution and (ii) it seems that Saint Lucia and the rest of the Lesser Antilles can expect much heavier Sargassum slicks this month.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wide Sargasso Sea

The Observatoire du Milieu Marin Martiniquais (OMMM) in Martinique mentions that since May 2011 'huge amounts of pelagic sargassum have been piling up along the coast of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles'. Research by Fisheries & Oceans Canada in 2008 using ENVISAT MERIS imagery offers a tool for understanding the phenomenon. The full research article is, J. F. R. Gower & S. A. King (2011): Distribution of floating Sargassum in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean mapped using MERIS, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 32:7, 1917-1929, and it may be downloaded as a preliminary Nature article. Thanks Bruce Potter, Shyma Pagad et Jean-Philippe Maréchal.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Scholarships for Caribbean Nationals

Scholarships and Bursaries Call for Caribbean Nationals in Graduate Studies in Climate Change

Study areas related to Climate Change that can be considered for these Scholarships and Bursaries are: Climatology; Environmental Sciences; Coastal Management; Water Resources; Sustainable Tourism; Gender Studies

The CARIBSAVE Partnership, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Waterloo (UW), Canada, announce a joint research project entitled: Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adaptation (ParCA)***

Students' scholarships and bursaries will focus on ParCA; a project that will conduct comparative case study research in Tobago, Jamaica and two Atlantic Canadian provinces. The project will use a community-based vulnerability assessment (CBVA) framework in collaboration with coastal communities and local partners to identify vulnerabilities and exposures, and develop strategies for adaptation to climate change. Under this program, funding is available for Caribbean Nationals to study at the University of the West Indies or the University of Waterloo at Masters and PhD levels.

ELIGIBILITY for Scholarships and Bursaries

Must be a Caribbean National
Must have successfully completed an undergraduate or graduate degree at a high level in an area relevant to Climate Change including Climatology, Environmental Sciences, Coastal Management, Water Resources, Sustainable Tourism, Gender Studies. Must have been accepted and registered in a Masters or PhD Programme at UWI or UW. Evidence of professional experience in any of the fields indicated above will be an asset.

Applicants for Scholarships and Bursaries will be assessed by a Selection Committee established by the University of the West Indies, the University of Waterloo and The CARIBSAVE Partnership.


Applications should be sent via email to The Office of Research, The University of the West Indies: and must be copied to The CARIBSAVE Partnership: When applying please include `ParCA' as Subject in the email.

The following should be included in your Application: an up to date Curriculum Vitae; a covering letter indicating qualifications; professional experience; preferred study location (UWI Campus or Waterloo); your area of interest for graduate studies and full contact details for three Referees. Closing date for this round of applications is 31 August 2011.

*** Funding for this project and its student scholarships and bursaries is kindly provided by the Canadian IDRC and the Tri Council and disseminated through The CARIBSAVE Partnership, The University of Waterloo and The Unversity of the West Indies.

Source: Secretariat of the National Emergency Management Organisation,Castries, Saint Lucia via C N Aguirre and Kate Lance.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Guyana's First GIS User Group

I'm happy to announce that a GIS User Group has been formed in Guyana. This group consists of technicians, users and administrators of geo-databases of government agencies and private companies. The University of Guyana is also included among the participants, but unfortunately were unavailable for this first meeting.

The group will be meeting on the second Wednesday of every month to discuss various topics of direct relevance for the advancement of GIS in Guyana. All interested GIS users are free to join. The meeting will take place during lunch hour (12 - 1pm) in an informal setting. To ensure participation, a 15 minute presentation will be made by volunteers within the group at each meeting.

The first meeting consisted of a presentation from GGMC (mining commission) showing the implementation and testing of ArcServer for its mineral property holdings. This was followed by a similar presentation by GeoTechVision Enterprises Limited of work done for the Works Services Group using ArcServer.

This was followed by a healthy discussion to determine which coordinate system should be used when storing GIS data for Guyana. Our basemaps, from which most regional data has been derived, are projected in the PSAD 1956 UTM system. The challenge here is that Guyana straddles 2 zones (Z20 and 21). This can be addressed by storing data in a geographical coordinate system (GCS) and allow for on the fly re-projection, but at the same time have one dataset. But is this advisable, and if so would it make sense to use the WGS 84 GCsystem, since data collected are often from a GPS or GPS-based application.

So the questions are: are we prepared to work with more than one dataset in the current system, or should we use a GCS? If the latter is advisable, which system would be best for storing the data?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC) 2011 GIS Symposium will be held on Nov 2-4, 2011 in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands. The deadline for abstracts is 22 Aug 2011. For further details contact the CARILEC Training Department in Saint Lucia.

Friday, July 01, 2011


After a mention by the prolific pen behind the Caribbean WISE Facebook Group (and I recommend you consider joining this, by the way), I checked out DataBasin and must say that it's a very well managed data portal. DataBasin allows login with an ESRI Global Account, is well designed and easy to use, and most impressive, has very responsive support. You might or might not find all the data you need here, but it's a great example of a data portal.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

CarryMap - Belize Forest Fires

Here's an example of CarryMap in action - a map, and packaged dataset, of the ongoing forest fires in Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Belize, some 90 odd km southwest of Belize City. The portable viewer in the zip file at the end of the link above needs no software to run! The viewer is packaged with the data and has got the basic features to inquire, pan, zoom, measure distance and switch data layers off and on. It also seems to be able to interface with the user's GPS, which would be interesting, and seems to store (my) placemarks added by the user - so this is a step above just a static map for the user to read-only. The view of the current forest fires in Belize is time-limited up to 11 May 2011 (so have a look before then). Thanks Emil.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Emil Cherrington alerted me about the CarryMap 3.0 extension for ArcGIS, and the software sounds really useful. Emil enthusiastically says:
You've seriously all gotta check out DataEast's CarryMap 3.0 application. It includes a 30-day trial. I suppose the extension does something like what TerraGo's GeoPDF extension does. Except CarryMap creates portable .exe's as well as files that can be read on phones with Windows Mobile operating systems, and on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. And a single CarryMap license costs about US $161, compared to TerraGo's $2,754 license.

I'm pretty sure that CarryMap will go far in allowing us to share our data with - and create virtual atlases for - folks who don't have access to expensive GIS software. The portable maps you create allow for querying, checking distances, turning on and off layers, and the usual. And unlike ArcExplorer or ArcReader, the person you give the portable map to doesn't have to install anything or browse for where the data is because the data's contained within the portable map already. It's worth checking out.

CarryMap needs ArcGIS 9.2/9.3.1/10.0. Thanks Emil - awaiting a map sample; and I'll give the app a try as well.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Trinidad Earthquake

An earthquake is predicted for Trinidad this week! However, this will be just a SIMULATION. The FAHUM 2001 (Fuerzas Aliadas Humanitarias/ Allied Forces Humanitarian) Exercise organised by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago in collaboration with the United States Government through the US Southern Command will be hosted this month in Trinidad. FA-HUM 2011 will be conducted to enhance Trinidad's response capabilities and interoperability with regional and international military forces and humanitarian assistance agencies; and the simulation scenario will be an earthquake. Regional and international agencies will be participating.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Disaster Relief 2.0

The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and three partners, with the inputs of 41 experts, have issued a report of the lessons learnt from responding to the Haiti Jan 2010 Earthquake: Disaster Relief 2.0 - The Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies. The report looks at how information needs (and the information overload) may be met in future disasters. Thanks Emerson.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

WARP Speed 0.5

The Wide Availability and Response Project (WARP) was launched by URISA GISCorps and MapAction yesterday. These two humanitarian organisations specialized in GIS have come together to help improve operational disaster-preparedness in the Latin American & Caribbean Region by establishing a swiftly available repository of basic GIS data to support rapid response humanitarian missions from within or outside of LAC countries in the event of a disaster.

GIS practitioners in the LAC Region are needed for this volunteer effort. The outcome will provide valuable, practical, disaster-preparedness for countries and your help is needed to make it happen. WARP will address country datasets in an organised manner, and to begin with is looking at collating appropriate data for Bermuda, Belize and Saint Lucia. Other countries will be focused on as the project progresses.

The Minimum Common Operational Dataset of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) will be used as an existing international standard by the project. So, if you have decent GIS skills and can volunteer 30-60 hours, in any combination of hours, at your own desktop doing data mining, collation, heads-up digitizing and metadata creation over a period of about two months, and would like to support this effort for your country or other countries, please join us - see the job description and other info via the first link above. Recruitment for this first phase will close on Sun 13 Feb 2011. Email your resume to

This initiative arose out of the 5th URISA Caribbean GIS Conference in Trinidad in Dec 2010 where MapAction delivered the Closing Keynote Address on lessons learnt from missions to Haiti and elsewhere.

In the event of a disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane or tsunami (i) simple datasets can allow GIS practitioners to assist the national or international response with situation maps, to bring relief to the affected population in a better, more organized manner; (ii) in the midst of the chaos, such datasets may not be easily or quickly available or may have been destroyed. Overall, in the circumstances of a disaster, a speedy but organized emergency response is the best way to save lives and ease human suffering amongst the affected population, and preparation is needed to allow GIS technology to help this to happen.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Fellowships for BZ, CR, GT and HN

The US State Department is offering LASPAU fellowships for professionals who work on programs related to climate change in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Honduras. The programme will provide 4-6 week, U.S. based internships. The closing date is 15 Feb 2011. Thanks Kate Lance.