03 April 2018

A threat to GPS

Should the FCC let a company use more of the commercial spectrum to support broadband wireless communications even if it potentially compromises GPS? With over 5 billion GPS receivers in use around the world, it is a big issue. Last year that question emerged as Ligado sought permission despite initial opposition. Now an engineering panel has found that indeed it would be a conflict. Remember that your autonomous car or the airplane you are on rely on strong GPS signals, so this isn't just about hikers.

Keep an eye on this one.

28 March 2018

A new Census question

The US Census Bureau is being asked by the current administration to add a question about citizenship for the 2020 Census. ABC News reports on it saying,
Not since 1950 has the census collected citizenship data from the whole population, rather than just a population sample, says the Congressional Research Service. The decision to restore the question after decades prompted an immediate lawsuit from California — already tangling with Washington over immigration — and moves by other states with large immigrant populations to engage in a legal fight.

CityLab treats it as a planning issue, since it is used to allocate Federal funds for lots of programs. But, as they point out, this is not strictly an administrative issue:
There is, however, a legislative check on changes to the census. Article 1, section 2 of the Constitution lists “the actual Enumeration” as a responsibility of Congress. Representative Grace Meng of New York has already said that she will introduce legislation to block the citizenship question.

“Congress should immediately convene hearings to do what the Commerce Department failed to do—truly evaluate the impact that the citizenship questions will have in terms of depressing minority and immigrant community participation,” Clarke said.
I can't find the language, but was told that every new question requires a vote from Congress. That would be an interesting twist, if true.


27 March 2018

Suitability Analysis

[Broken link fixed]
Here is a repost of the old handwritten Suitability Analysis notes from when Steve Strom used these techniques in his studio. This four page set of Suitability Analysis notes is online as a PDF. His description of weighted analysis lacks a graphic, so I created a digital version of both some of his graphics and a new Weight and Rate graphic that should help you work through it all as you look ahead to our next exam:

To be clear, each grid shows the very same piece of land but being rated for a different issue (soils, slope, vegetation). Presumably that is fairly objective. But each individual criterion is then weighted based on relative importance. In this case, Slope has rather subjectively been weighted as 5 times more important that Vegetation. If you click on my graphic it will enlarge and be more readable.

17 March 2018

eGov - Washington County, OR

I was digging around for some materials to use in class this weekend and found myself back at an old favorite website. It was the official site for Washington County, Oregon. Nearly 20 years after first visiting them, I found the site to still be one of the best examples of local government online. It has both user friendly and detailed materials, allowing visitors to pick what they need.

Just as an example, it presents GIS-related materials as:
  • carefully developed cartographic products (maps),
  • interactive online maps and materials, and
  • downloadable GIS data.
 Dig around, check it out. (Or dig around in Independence, MO, another fascinating example)

09 March 2018

Puerto Rican forest damage map

The NY Times took a fascinating look at research in PR that is investigating the nature and extent of Hurricane Maria's damage to the island's forests. The article includes an amazing map from Columbia U that shows where the damage occurred. In the east is cluster of high damage in El Yunque National Forest. But there is widespread damage all over. The research estimates that as many as 31 million trees were destroyed or severely damaged.

There is more than just the great map. The article goes into detail about how the researchers are ground truthing Landsat imagery to better understand their data. And they begin to speculate on what long-term changes might look like in that forest.


08 March 2018

More Census details

A Rutgers Ph.D. student got a piece published on Huffington Post that says "Black Latinos Are Almost Invisible In The Census. We Can Fix That."

She builds both on her doctoral research project as well as personal experiences. The pull quote of the article is:
"Latino is not a race, it is an ethnicity. Ethnicity describes a person’s culture, language, heritage and geography. Race, on the other hand, is about how others see us. And although most social scientists agree that race is a social construct, they also contend that it does matter; our experiences are undeniably shaped by our race."
 How many more questions have this sort of complexity built into them?