Friday, September 21, 2012


In GIS, i.e. developing or running a GIS, the focus is most often on the hardware or software. One or both is often expensive, large, complicated ... and therefore creates our sense of achievement when we get them. The current iPhone/ iOS6 debacle illustrates that in any information system the DATA are of equal or greater value. (Surely Apple® makes great hardware and software? So the problem can't be that). And this is not to riducule TomTom®, as the provision of a global dataset is a mammoth task. It is to highlight the lesson that natural resources managers, disaster response organisations, etc., that are buying or running a GIS, should stay focused being able to create decent quality, usable data for solving their real world problems.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management: A Policy Roundtable

My sincerest apologies for the late posting:

From the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars - Commons Lab: Kudos to Dr. Lea Shanley and her team!

The Commons Lab is hosting the following symposium: “ Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management,” being held here at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Please visit the center at

By harnessing the collective power of citizens and engaging communities in their own response and recovery, new technologies and methods, like social media, crowdsourcing, and “crowd-mapping,” have the potential to transform disaster management. Yet many challenges – including characterization of reliability, guidelines for use, and demonstration of value – must be addressed before federal agencies can take full advantage of these approaches. Early uses of social media and crowdsourcing methods in disasters have raised a number of questions: Can citizens generate inputs to critical decisions faster and perhaps more accurately than traditional methods? What is the research telling us, and how are the best ideas being translated into practice? How have agencies successfully navigated potential roadblocks to the use of citizen-generated information, such as privacy and procurement or the Paperwork Reduction Act? When and how is it possible to innovate through open and participatory design with citizens and communities?

The Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (The Wilson Center), the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation, the International Association for Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, ESRI, NetHope, and University of Colorado Boulder’s Project EPIC are honored to host a policy roundtable titled, “Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management.” In recognition of National Preparedness month, this meeting will take place on September 13 and 14, 2012 in the 5th floor Conference Room at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC.
This meeting will allow members of the research, practitioner, policy, and “digital volunteer” communities to discuss the questions posed above and expand the list, as needed. The objectives are to build a community of interest, prioritize key issues, and identify possible solutions. On the first day of the workshop we will showcase some of the new and innovative projects currently in development by federal agencies, humanitarian and disaster management NGOs, and others.

Several documents have been uploaded for your perusal before discussions commence. To access these documents, please visit

To follow the discussion via the web To watch the live webcast of the Open Innovation Keynote on Friday, September 14th at 1:00 PM US Eastern, please visit TechChange's DG2G Event Page

Follow the live webcast discussion on Twitter using hashtag: #DG2G

Email your questions for the panelists before and during the live webcast: DG2G [at] TechChange [dot] org

To watch live webcasts of the other workshop sessions Sept 13-14,  as well as download copies of the agenda and background materials, please visit the Wilson Center's DG2G Event page

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remote Sensing of the Forests of Belize 2012

The recent Aug 2012 report 'Forest Cover and Deforestation in Belize, 2010-2012' (6pg PDF) by CATHALAC in collaboration with the Forest Department of the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries, and Sustainable Development of the Government of Belize, Lancaster University, and the Environmental Research Institute of the University of Belize is interesting in several ways. It estimates Belize's forest cover as recently as of May 2012 (61.64%), and the rate of deforestation over the last two years (0.8%). And following the 2010 study of deforestation in Belize, it demonstrates the successful and consistent application of high-tech methods to natural resources management in a CARICOM/ LAC country. Apparently field verification continues, but Belize must be complimented on this up-to-date delivery. I expect one benefit of these data and the process that generated them will be to place Belize's REDD+ activities on a firm decision making foundation, though clearly that country is taking a considered approach to REDD+.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Six Things

Food for thought from GIS Lounge: Six Things You Should be Doing to Enhance Your GIS Career. 'GIS is not a static field and neither should your ongoing professional development be'. Thanks Liesbeth & Jonny.