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281 Posts authored by: jkerski-esristaff Employee

Greetings all and, if you are in the USA, Happy Thanksgiving. This “where does Thanksgiving dinner come from” story map: https://storymaps.esri.com/stories/2017/thanksgiving-dinner/ could be useful for many reasons:  

 

1)   Like many good maps, it is great for examining spatial patterns, and also for challenging some preconceived notions (did you know that Wisconsin was so prominent in growing green beans, for example?). 

2)  The excellent use of symbols and other cartographic techniques might be useful discussion points in geography, GIS, and cartography courses.

3)  Examine the metadata--this map was created from data from the USDA Census of Agriculture.  How did the data get compiled?  

4)  How can you create a series type of story map like this one, on your own topic of interest?

5)  Use this map to spark some “spatial” discussions with your friends and family.   Enjoy.  And thank a farmer!

 

Thanksgiving Map

--Joseph Kerski 

Welcome to this series of GIS Workshops!  These are designed to help you become excited about and enabled to use web GIS tools to solve problems and analyze spatial patterns, relationships, and trends.

 

(1)  Telling your story with Esri Story Maps - concepts and hands-on activities:

telling_your_story_with_esri_story_maps_final.pdf - Box 

Digital Humanities Collection:  Story Maps and the Digital Humanities  

 

(2) 5 Converging forces catapulting spatial thinking to the world stage, 5 trends in geospatial technology, and 5 skills important in your data science career.

https://denverro.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=fb060544d4bc4d15a1b8bed38048859b 

 

(3) The Power of ArcGIS Online

(3a)  Spatial Joins to the ArcGIS Online Living Atlas of the World

A spatial join is a GIS operation that affixes data from one feature layer's attribute table to another according to its location. Spatial joins begin by selecting a target feature and comparing it spatially to other feature layers.  Spatial joins have been used for years, for example, to determine how many water wells are in a drainage basin, or businesses in a census tract, or the number of earthquakes that fall within specific countries over specific time periods.  Let's take this last example and apply it to the changing paradigm that Web GIS represents.  You can now join data to the cloud!

 

Let us say that I want to determine how many earthquakes occurred in the past 30 days according to the USGS National Earthquake Information Center.  The way I have done this for years in ArcGIS Desktop was to gather two data layers - a point layer for earthquakes, and a polygon layer for world countries, and perform a spatial join.  Nothing is wrong with that method, and it continues to work well in ArcGIS Pro, for example.  But let's say I want to do that in ArcGIS , and I don't want to download anything.  This is accomplished with an analysis tool in ArcGIS --Join Features.  To use the analysis tools, you have to be signed in to ArcGIS  and have a publisher role.  

 

To begin, start with my web map:  

http://denverro.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=63a6261d7afa48878a52a4c7127f624e - the 

Earthquakes starting point map.  It contains data layers that are streaming from the USGS earthquake center, in this  case, the last 30 days of earthquakes. 

 

Sign in to ArcGIS Online > Analysis > Summarize Data > Join Features.  Once the Join Features analysis tool is engaged, I find World Countries (generalized) in the Living Atlas of the World.  This is your target layer, so named because my goal or "target" is to create a choropleth map by country polygons.  The layer to join to these polygons is my earthquakes layer that is streaming from USGS.  The type of join is "intersect"--if an earthquake is inside or "intersects" the country polygon, you want it to be considered.

 

 

Spatial Join 2

Here is how I found the Living Atlas content, after searching on World Countries, I selected the generalized data set:

 

Spatial Join 1

I filled in the remainder of the Join Features dialog box as follows:  I chose the one to one operation; I added statistics so I could determine average magnitude and depth by country, which I thought would be interesting (as I explain in this video, always be curious!) my resulting layer and I unchecked "use current map extent" just in case my current extent happened to be cutting off any outlying islands in the South Pacific, for example, and then > Run Analysis:

 

Spatial Join 3

 

The results are below, with all countries defaulting as single symbol. 

Spatial Join 4

You will change the style shortly, but before you do, let's examine the new table of data.  The "join count" field contains the number of earthquakes by country:

 

Spatial Join 5

The average magnitude and average depth have been saved as fields in the new layer:

 

Spatial Join 6

 

Next, use Change Style to symbolize the countries on Join_Count, as follows:

 

 

Spatial Join 7


Because the USA contains so many earthquakes, the default Counts and Amounts symbology lumps most countries into one category.  The reason why is in part because the USGS earthquake center is in the USA.  It is in Golden Colorado; I used to give tours there as a USGS employee; a fascinating place that I recommend highly for you to take a tour in next time you're in Colorado.  The earthquake center receives transmitted signals of information from the global seismic network, but it also senses ground motion from nearby earthquakes in the western USA.  So, it senses more small earthquakes in the USA than it does for other countries, resulting in a higher number for the USA.  This is all a critical part of knowing your data, as I write about weekly on the Spatial Reserves data blog.  So, under Options, I changed the classification to Quantile with 5 classes, as follows:

 

Spatial Join 8

 

The result is below.  Now I have a better sense, with a choropleth map, of the frequency of earthquake by country.  Given a ocean polygon layer, I could even map oceans by earthquake frequency.

 

I would like to make just a few adjustments.  Because over the last 30 days, according to the USGS, earthquakes had occurred in only 42 countries, and 254 polygons exist in the generalized world countries data set, countries with no earthquakes have no symbol or color:    

 

Spatial Join 8b

 

This looks a bit odd.  My goal is to show countries with no earthquakes over the past 30 days with a pale yellow color.  This is easily remedied with a few keystrokes.  The easiest way to do this is to use the Add Data button, add the generalized world countries from the Living Atlas of the World, and change its style to pale yellow with a yellow outline.  Once done, I moved its position to be located underneath my joined earthquakes layer.  I also moved the earthquakes to the top of the contents so that my map users could more clearly see them.  I also labeled the countries with the number of earthquakes that occurred within each one.   The resulting map is here. 

Spatial Join 9

 

Try the Join Tables to ArcGIS  on other data sets.  It can be accomplished in just a few steps but the results are powerful.  Think of ArcGIS  and the Living Atlas as a vast storehouse of data that you can join your own data to for rich analysis.

 

(3b)  Cholera investigation:  

http://esrit3g.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=87c0f79108e246d49f97a6cfe4fce157  

Steps:

1--Style data on number of cases.

2--Create heat map.

3--Buffer wells by 500 ft.

4--Summarize within - cholera cases within buffer.

5--Calculate route to each water pump.

 

(3c)  Use Arcade expressions on the following data set to enhance your capabilities in ArcGIS Online: 

https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?useExisting=1&layers=c2d611adace94b488bfbf280dd591a7c 

 

(4)  Survey123 Workshop:

Survey123_university_of_michigan.pdf - Box 

 

(5)  Careers in GIS

career_advice_joseph_kerski_short.pdf - Box 

A wonderful new web mapping service from our colleagues at NASA SEDAC (the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center) and CIESIN (the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, a research center within the Earth Institute at Columbia University) provides the educator and researcher with an incredibly valuable, easy-to-use, and fascinating tool to examine the distribution and demographic characteristics of the world's population.  I have been a great admirer of the folks at SEDAC and CIESIN since my days at the US Census Bureau, and write about them frequently in our data blog, and this population service is the latest in a set of data and tools that can be used in multiple ways and at many educational levels and settings.  It also makes use of some innovative Esri technology.

 

Once you access the web mapping application--(see my video for some guidance) - available without logging into anything, and available on any browser or device, you can examine global population distribution.   Through toggling the maps on the right between country boundaries, roadmap, and terrain, you can examine the relationship between the distribution of population at scales from local to global and the relationship of the population density and amounts to terrain, landforms, climate zones, river systems, coastlines, and more.  You can also view a layer called "settlement points" (which come from http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/data/set/grump-v1-settlement-points-rev01).  You also have the option to dive deeper into the population data by accessing the polygon, circle, or point tools on the left side of the map, as shown below.  Note that for 2010, you have even more detail on the age breakdown.  

 

SEDAC CIESIN population web mapping service

 

The point buffering tool allows you to obtain population data for circular areas of the exact radius you choose, as I do below for Mumbai, India.  I obtained the latitude and longitude for Mumbai by accessing ArcGIS  > Map > and using the Measure--Point Location tool.

 

SEDAC CIESIN population web mapping service

 

The results of my point buffer are shown below.

 

SEDAC CIESIN population web mapping service

I can run the same procedure for other parts of the world, or simply use the polygon or circle tool, and the map holds all of my areas until I clear them.  With these areas, I can then compare the number of people, age of the population, and change over time.  Which areas of the world contain the fewest people? Is it southern Algeria in the Sahara, as I investigate below, or is it northern Siberia or central Australia?  Why are some areas experiencing a high rate of population, growth, while other areas are experiencing slower rates, and still others are decreasing?  What are the implications of growth and decline for those areas?

 

SEDAC CIESIN population web mapping service


There is still more!  One of my favorite tools as a geographer is population age pyramids.  This mapping service provides these as well.  For example, see the older population predominating on the Great Plains of Colorado.  

 

SEDAC CIESIN population web mapping service

 

This same pyramid is shown at right, below.  But at left is the data for roughly the same geographic area in the southeast part of the Denver metropolitan area.  The numbers in metro Denver are much higher (thousands in each age category vs. only a few dozen on the Great Plains), but also the age structure is much different--with 30- to 50-somethings raising kids, and not as many people over 65 or 20 year olds.  What do these neighborhoods look like?  You can change the base map to imagery, zoom in, and find out. 

 

 

SEDAC CIESIN population web mapping service

 

Where are the 20-somethings?  Look at neighborhoods near light rail lines in central cities, or college towns, or, in the case below, military bases. Here I am examining Fort Riley, Kansas, a large military base; note the age structure and also the slightly higher number of males than females (though they are fairly similar in number!) 

 

SEDAC CIESIN population web mapping service

 

One of the key concepts when teaching with web mapping applications such as this is helping researchers and students get into the habit of examining the metadata.  The values for this mapping service are calculated using Zonal Statistics on 1km rasters from the Gridded Population of the World (GPW4) data, described here: http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/data/collection/gpw-v4   The GPW data has been refined, curated, and is updated with the highest attention to quality and detail with an expert staff of statisticians and rigorous methods.  The age data specifically references the Basic Demographic Characteristics Dataset here: http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/data/set/gpw-v4-basic-demographic-characteristics-rev10.  Another way to focus attention on the data and methods is to examine the Mean Area of Geographic Units on the right side of the mapping service.  This clearly shows that the data collection units are different for central Kazakhstan than for, say, Vietnam.  Note that the settlement points layer referred to above are there for reference and are not used in the Zonal Stats Calculations.

 

This web mapping application fits nicely into the other web mapping applications that I describe here.  Use these to teach about the key issues of our 21st Century world--population, natural hazards, oceans, climate, energy, water, and much more. 

Many educators, researchers, students, and analysts regularly want to examine changes-over-space-and-time with imagery and GIS.   Recently, 81 different dates of historical imagery for the past 5 years were placed inside ArcGIS via the World Imagery Wayback service.  For more information, see this essay.

This imagery is accessible in ArcGIS , ArcMap, and ArcGIS Pro.  The best place to start is the World Imagery Wayback app.  This app, available simply through a web browser – https://livingatlas.arcgis.com/wayback/  - can be used by way of introduction in a university or community college course, or all by itself in a primary or secondary school.  A fascinating and an incredible resource for examining land use and land cover change, the wayback image service covers the entire globe.  That means you can examine coastal erosion in England, deforestation in Indonesia, urban sprawl just about anywhere, reclamation of mine lands, changes in water levels in reservoirs, agricultural expansion in Saudi Arabia, glacial retreat in Alaska, and much more. 

Plus, in keeping with the theme of being critical of the data in GIS in education, and the focus of our book and blog The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, this app and imagery create a useful "teachable moment."  The dates shown on the left side of the app represent the update of the Esri World Imagery service, fed by multiple sources, private and public, from local and global sources.  Thus, the date shown does not mean that every location that you examine on the image is current as of that date.  I verified this where my own observations in my local area show construction as of June 2018, for example, but that construction does not appear on the image.  In addition, several other places I examined from wintertime in the Northern Hemisphere were clearly “leaf-on” and taken during the summer before.  Therefore, as always, get familiar with what you are working with.  Despite these cautions, the imagery still represents an amazingly useful resource.

wayback1wayback2

Sample from this imagery set for 30 July 2014 (top) and four years later, 27 June 2018 (bottom) for an area outside Denver, Colorado USA. 

How can the use of the Wayback image service be extended for education and research purposes?  One way to do so is by creating a web map in ArcGIS  from the Wayback app.  Doing this will thus enable the user to use all of the functions in ArcGIS  with the imagery, such as adding additional map layers (such as hydrography, land use, ecoregions), saving and sharing, using the measurement tools, and creating web mapping applications from the map.  To do this: 

 

  1. Go to the app:  https://livingatlas.arcgis.com/wayback/
  2. Navigate to an area of interest.
  3. Check on Only updates with local changes.(shown below)
  4. Click the cloud icon to “add to cart." (shown below at right).
  5. Click the clear all icon top left to create a web map (shown below at top left).
  6. Save the web map.

 

Wayback imagery tool

Done!  Open your web map.  Now you can add layers to your map, including additional Wayback layers.  To add the historical wayback imagery to this existing web map, you cannot at the moment add it from a URL as a WMTS layer, but you can use ADD DATA and search in ArcGIS  (not Living Atlas), as follows:

 

 Wayback imagery

The default sort order is relevance, but you can change it to sort by title or by oldest/newest.   See my resulting map with 3 historical layers in it, along with the current image as a basemap, below.

 

Wayback imagery

 

Another way to dig deeper into change-over-space-and-time analysis with the Wayback image service is to create a swipe map.  A swipe map is a type of story map application that is perfect for examining change, because it allows the map user to swipe across a map that has, in our study, images with 2 different dates.  To create a swipe map, in ArcGIS  > Share  > Create a web mapping application > choose Swipe map.  Select one of the historical image layers for your swipe map, and make sure the basemap is Imagery or Imagery with Labels.  The swipe layer (the historical image) will appear on the right with the more recent image on the left. 

 

But let's say your goal is to have the left side be the older imagery, and the right side be the newer imagery.  Is that possible?  Yes!  The swipe map template only allows you to swipe one layer, which by default is the right side.  So, you need to make the left side, the basemap, a historical image rather than the default new imagery basemap.  To do this, go back to your ArcGIS  map and Add > Add from ArcGIS  > enter "Wayback" > choose a historical image (in my case, I chose 2014) > Add as basemap.  Save your map.  In the configuration panel for your story map, change the settings so that you are swiping one of your newer image layers.  I did so, and my swipe map is shown below.  Here is the URL of the swipe map.

 

Swipe map from Wayback Imagery

Many other possibilities exist for the use of the Wayback imagery, including using it in 3D scene for a historical perspective on the landscape, using them in a tabbed series story map, using them as a base for advanced analytics in ArcGIS Pro (see my colleague's blog post here about bringing the data into Pro), and in many other ways.  

 

I hope that these ways I describe above encourage you to use and think creatively and spatially with this amazing set of images.

I would like to announce a poster session and competition for the 2019 American Association of Geographers annual meeting focused on:

Innovative Applications of Esri GIS Technology

For more information, and for the 5 categories that will serve as criteria, see:

https://aag.secure-abstracts.com/AAG%20Annual%20Meeting%202019/sessions-gallery/23055

 

Cash prizes will be awarded, but even more importantly, this is an opportunity for your students and colleagues to showcase the innovative things they are doing with Esri GIS technology to help understand and solve the most pressing local-to-global problems of our time.

 

Please consider entering a poster, or encouraging a student or colleague to do so. 

 

--Joseph Kerski

I worked with our fabulous Urban Observatory team here at Esri to add another theme that will be very useful in teaching geography, geology, environmental science – the Ecology theme.  This data comes from the amazing Ecological Land Units data set (another excellent teaching and research tool) and allows you to compare the bioclimate, landform type, lithology, and land cover for any city you would like to examine, thus providing a very useful land connection for each urban area. Having it in the Urban Observatory provides the interface to compare the ecoregions for over 100 cities, which can be compared to the other variables provided, all  with nothing to install. 

 

To access this new theme, go to the Urban Observatory:  http://www.urbanobservatory.org/compare/

On the left side, you will now see the ECOLOGY theme.  Select it, and choose from the cities listed at the top.  In which ecoregions do cities tend to be the largest?  How does the ecoregion influence the land cover in and around that city?  Name the chief environmental challenges for the cities you are investigating, based on the ecoregion they are in.  How do you think the landforms and lithology impact construction in the area, or traffic patterns?  

 

Another feature that is very helpful about the Urban Observatory:  If you copy the URL while examining a specific theme and send it to someone (or yourself to access it later), then the application will open with those themes and cities that you were examining, just as you left it:  For example, this URL opens with 3 cities and the ecology for each, as I had been examining the last time I taught this content:  Rotterdam, Rio de Janeiro, and Delhi.  Rotterdam is in the cold wet bioclimate, while Rio is hot wet and Delhi hot semi-dry.  The landforms are hills, plains, and plains, respectively, while the lithology is mixed sedimentary for Rotterdam and unconsolidated sediment for the last two.  The land cover is grassland, shrub, or scrub for Rotterdam but mostly cropland for Rio and Delhi.  

 

See the graphic below.  The Urban Observatory, in my opinion, is still one of the best examples of a web mapping application that is ready-to-go for teaching and learning.

 

Teaching note:  You might need to click outside the urban area when you are examining the cities.  If you just click on the urban area itself, everything comes up as Cold Wet hills.  Therefore, click outside or zoom out once and click outside and you will be fine.  

 

Urban Observatory

The International Statistical Institute (ISI) and Esri are pleased to announce and are co-sponsoring a Student Poster Competition for 2018-2019.  The competition aims to promote research, encourage spatial thinking, and inspire curiosity.  The competition details are here.   We will accept applications for the international competition beginning September 1, 2018, with the application deadline being November 30, 2018. Final judging will take place during the ISI World Statistics Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 18–23, 2019. Cash and GIS software will be awarded to the winners. 


Applicants to this Contest must be enrolled as full-time students at a university.  All Applicant entry(ies) will be submitted to an international panel for selection.  Recommended application areas include, but are not limited to, economy, environment, crime, transportation, climate, urban planning, land use/land cover, sustainable development, health, and disasters of all kinds.

 

Resources have been posted on the site to help you get started on your integration of statistical methods and GIS applied to a problem or issue you are concerned about. 

As I recently wrote in the guidelines and essay, More Power for Your GIS Analysis through Joining Features to ArcGIS , the paradigm that GIS users have been operating under for decades is being challenged in new and exciting ways.  One way, as I wrote above, is the standard workflow of "downloading data > joining the attribute tables of two data layers > performing analysis."  I demonstrated how you can join your data to layers in ArcGIS, and specifically, the Living Atlas of the World, an authoritative rich body of content, and thus bring that diverse content to bear on the analysis of patterns that may be inherent in your data.

 

Let's take another, related standard workflow--spatial joins.  A spatial join is a GIS operation that affixes data from one feature layer's attribute table to another according to its location. Spatial joins begin by selecting a target feature and comparing it spatially to other feature layers.  Spatial joins have been used for years, for example, to determine how many water wells are in a drainage basin, or businesses in a census tract, or the number of earthquakes that fall within specific countries over specific time periods.  Let's take this last example and apply it to the rapidly advancing web GIS paradigm.  

 

Let us say that I want to determine how many earthquakes occurred in the past 30 days according to the USGS National Earthquake Information Center.  The way I have done this for years in ArcGIS Desktop was to gather two data layers - a point layer for earthquakes, and a polygon layer for world countries, and perform a spatial join.  Nothing is wrong with that method, and it continues to work well in ArcGIS Pro, for example.  But let's say I want to do that in ArcGIS , and I don't want to download anything.  This is accomplished with an analysis tool in ArcGIS --Join Features.  To use the analysis tools, you have to be signed in to ArcGIS  and have a publisher role.  

 

To begin, I start with my web map:  

http://denverro.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=63a6261d7afa48878a52a4c7127f624e - the 

Earthquakes starting point map.  It contains data layers that are streaming from the USGS earthquake center, in my case, the last 30 days of earthquakes. 

 

Once the Join Features analysis tool is engaged, I find World Countries (generalized) in the Living Atlas of the World.  This is my target layer, so named because my goal or "target" is to create a choropleth map by country polygons.  The layer to join to these polygons is my earthquakes layer that is streaming from USGS.  My type of join is "intersect"--if an earthquake is inside or "intersects" the country polygon, I want it to be considered.

 

 

Spatial Join 2

Here is how I found the Living Atlas content, after searching on World Countries, I selected the generalized data set:

 

Spatial Join 1

I filled in the remainder of the Join Features dialog box as follows:  I chose the one to one operation; I added statistics so I could determine average magnitude and depth by country, which I thought would be interesting (always be curious! This drives you forward in your use of GIS as I explain in this video); I named my resulting layer and I unchecked "use current map extent" just in case my current extent happened to be cutting off any outlying islands in the South Pacific, for example, and then > Run Analysis:

 

Spatial Join 3

 

My results are below, with all countries defaulting as single symbol. 

Spatial Join 4

I will change the style shortly, but before I do, let's examine the new table of data.  The "join count" field contains the number of earthquakes by country:

 

Spatial Join 5

The average magnitude and average depth have been saved as fields in the new layer:

 

Spatial Join 6

 

Next, I used Change Style to symbolize the countries on Join_Count, as follows:

 

 

Spatial Join 7


Because the USA contains so many earthquakes, the default Counts and Amounts symbology lumps most countries into one category.  The reason why is in part because the USGS earthquake center is in the USA.  It is in Golden Colorado; I used to give tours there as a USGS employee; a fascinating place that I recommend highly for you to take a tour in next time you're in Colorado.  The earthquake center receives transmitted signals of information from the global seismic network, but it also senses ground motion from nearby earthquakes in the western USA.  So, it senses more small earthquakes in the USA than it does for other countries, resulting in a higher number for the USA.  This is all a critical part of knowing your data, as I write about weekly on the Spatial Reserves data blog.  So, under Options, I changed the classification to Quantile with 5 classes, as follows:

 

Spatial Join 8

 

The result is below.  Now I have a better sense, with a choropleth map, of the frequency of earthquake by country.  Given a ocean polygon layer, I could even map oceans by earthquake frequency.

 

I would like to make just a few adjustments.  Because over the last 30 days, according to the USGS, earthquakes had occurred in only 42 countries, and 254 polygons exist in the generalized world countries data set, countries with no earthquakes have no symbol or color:    

 

Spatial Join 8b

 

This looks a bit odd.  My goal is to show countries with no earthquakes over the past 30 days with a pale yellow color.  This is easily remedied with a few keystrokes.  The easiest way to do this is to use the Add Data button, add the generalized world countries from the Living Atlas of the World, and change its style to pale yellow with a yellow outline.  Once done, I moved its position to be located underneath my joined earthquakes layer.  I also moved the earthquakes to the top of the contents so that my map users could more clearly see them.  I also labeled the countries with the number of earthquakes that occurred within each one.   The resulting map is here. 

Spatial Join 9

 

Try the Join Tables to ArcGIS  on other data sets.  It can be accomplished in just a few steps but the results are powerful.  Think of ArcGIS  and the Living Atlas as a vast storehouse of data that you can join your own data to for rich analysis.

I am pleased to report that the registration link on https://www.gisday.com/  is working and is ready for you and your colleagues to add the event(s) that you are planning for this year.  This year, 2018, GIS Day is officially on Wednesday 14 November.  However, holding your event on another date that better meets your needs is perfectly fine, as I explain in this video.  

 

GIS Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society.  You can hold an open house, conduct a presentation or workshop, or be creative and hold some other sort of event, that showcases what you are doing with GIS and why it matters.  Your event can be open just to your own organization, to the general public, or to a specific audience.  

 

The first 300-ish organizations that register on the above URL will receive 1 free box of specially prepared GIS Day items, so be sure to verify your shipping address when you register your event.  Also check the map and make sure your event appears in the correct location with the correct information.  Location matters!

 

In addition, I have added some new items to the GIS Day resources pages recently with more to come.

 

Thank you for being a GIS Day champion!

 

--Joseph Kerski

 GIS Day 2018

My new article in Geospatial World magazine is entitled Why GIS in Education Matters.  My goal was to reach a global audience of readers through this magazine with a message that they would be able to take to their own communities, schools, colleges, and universities to encourage the deepening and widening of spatial thinking through GIS in those educational institutions, and beyond those institutions, to libraries, museums, and after-school clubs and university clubs.  I begin the article with a reminder and a brief history of why mapping has long been valued.   I then discuss the chief reasons why GIS merits inclusion as a framework and a toolset, not just in GIS programs, but in sociology, mathematics, geography, engineering, health, business, environmental, planning, and other programs and subjects.  I focus on how using GIS as an instructional tool opens the door to inquiry, content, skills, and perspectives. 

 

After reviewing the progress of how GIS is used in education around the world, the article returns to the essentials:  GIS is a powerful tool for analyzing the whys of where, and for understanding our changing Earth:  Students use GIS to understand that the Earth is changing, think scientifically and analytically about why it is changing, and dig deeper:  Should the Earth be changing in these ways?  Is there anything that I should be doing or could be doing about it?  This captures the heart of spatial thinking, inquiry and problem-based learning.  It empowers students as they become decision-makers to make a difference in this changing world of ours.

 

It is my hope that the article will be useful to many throughout the educational system, to geomentors, to GIS professionals, and beyond. 

GIS in education - Photos by Joseph Kerski

All photos by Joseph Kerski.

"Web mapping? Sure, I use digital maps!" is a statement I hear fairly often. On the surface, it seems that these two concepts are the same. Indeed, for nearly 20 years, since the 1990s with MapQuest and in the 2000s with maps on mobile devices, interacting with maps in digital form rather than paper has been the more common everyday experience. But I submit that "web mapping" is not the same as simply using maps on the web, whether in health, energy, city planning, or, as is the focus here, in education.

 

In my view, using maps on the web includes looking up a place name, examining thematic maps such as ocean currents, world biomes, or demographic characteristics by neighborhood across your city, finding the distance between two points on a map, finding the route between two points, mapping locations that you have visited in the field, and so on. Nothing wrong with any of those tasks. Using maps on the web focuses on the "What's Where?" question.

But web mapping's purpose is for examining patterns, relationships, and trends. It examines change over space and time at a variety of scales, and across themes. For example, what is the relationship between the location of mines and water quality across a mountain watershed, or between median age and median income across a city? How does the land use change across a region over time, or the precipitation across a mountain range? All of these questions end with, "And why?" Charles Gritzner wrote a great article about geography being about what is where, why there, and why care.  Web mapping focuses on the "Why there"? and "why care?" part of Gritzner's framework. 

 

To summarize in tabular form:

 

Maps on the webWeb Mapping
Tasks:  

Tasks:

             Navigation       Navigation
             Visualization       Visualization
       Analysis
       Creating web mapping applications
       Collecting and exploring field-collected data
Questions:Questions:
Where are the field sites I visited?Why does the water quality vary across the field sites I visited?
Where are the younger and less affluent neighborhoods in this city?Is there a spatial and attribute relationship between median age and median income in this city, and if so, what is the relationship, why does it exist, and does it change over time?
Where is the mountain range in a region and what is the precipitation regime across them?How and why does the precipitation regime change across the mountain range?

 

Using maps on the web is a stepping stone to web mapping, but is not exactly the same as web mapping. They are not exactly the same thing, but there is overlap between them to be sure.

 

In short, web mapping uses the concept of GIS as a platform, including web, mobile, and desktop, with its analytical, multimedia, and application ability, to its full potential. 

 

The educational implications of this are many.  How do we teach in this new paradigm of web mapping?  What concepts should we teach, and what skills should we seek to foster?  What tools and data sets should we use?  How should we incorporate new field techniques and apps?  How should we assess student work given the ease of creating web mapping applications such as story maps?  How should our primary, secondary, community college, and university courses and programs change to encompass this new world?  

 

In addition, Web GIS is not just "more and better" GIS, it also requires new ways of managing GIS. 

 

All of this is part of the continued shift from desktop-only GIS to web GIS.  This shift involves the movement:

  • from software products to platforms and APIs,
  • from client/server to web services and apps,
  • from standalone desktop to connected devices,
  • from print maps to web maps and data visualizations,
  • from static data to data services, streams, and big data
  • from custom applications to interoperable packages and libraries
  • from a single all purpose application to many pathways and focused apps
  • from proprietary data to open data and shared services.

 

 

If all this seems like mere semantics, this is why I believe this matters: Like all of you, I care deeply about meaningful student learning with geotechnologies. To foster spatial and critical thinking with geotechnologies requires more than looking up place names on a map, or routes from a certain point to another point. It requires that we be purposeful about using maps as the analytical, exploratory tools that they are.

 

Education for a brighter future with GIS

Using the Web GIS paradigm in education and society offers a brighter future for students and the entire planet.

I taught a story mapping workshop and a growth in tribal GIS colleges workshop at the Society for Conservation GIS conference, and have attached the slides and activities for these workshops to this essay.  The story mapping workshop covered why to use story maps, how to use story maps, and how to create map tour, swipe, series, map journal, and other types of story maps.  The tribal GIS workshop covered the application of GIS to teaching and learning in Tribal Colleges, the recent 2nd edition of the Tribal GIS book published by Esri Press, and other related topics. 

 

I created these materials for the annual conference of the Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS).  SCGIS is a non-profit organization that assists conservationists worldwide in using GIS through communication, networking, scholarships, and training, and it was a pleasure working with the participants.   The themes, tools, and approaches in these materials will be useful to other communities, and I hope you find them useful, too!

Site of the SCGIS conference - Pacific Grove, California.

Site of the SCGIS conference - Pacific Grove, California, and its unique coastal ecosystem. 

 

 

Last year I wrote guidelines on how to go beyond the standard base maps available in ArcGIS Online to access others that are now available.  There's plenty to love about standard base maps - satellite imagery, OpenStreetMap, National Geographic, and others, and for the USA, the USGS topographic maps.  But the ability to easily access the unusual and fascinating ones such as Colored Pencil and Antique Modern is interesting and useful in many ways, such as integrating Arts into your STEM instruction (thereby creating "STEAM"), for discussion about cartography, to lend interest to your maps, analysis, and story maps, and much more.

 

There are additional ways to access these maps over and above the ways I described in my previous essay.  One way is to access a map that contains a set of new custom vector tile base maps, on http://esriurl.com/vectortilebasemaps.  Change the base maps simply with the base maps tool.  Grab the URL for the base maps that you are interested in and use it in your own maps - many are listed here:  http://urbanobservatory.maps.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=4009a9901e0c4f778b77c99f4a42ba41  

 

The newspaper base map, showing central London.

 

The newspaper base map, showing central London, but available globally at multiple scales. 

 

Since ArcGIS is an integrated system (web, desktop, field, enterprise), you can also access these base maps in ArcGIS Pro.  To add one of these base maps to your ArcGIS Pro project, click on the View Tab > Catalog Pane, > Living Atlas > Search 'vector tile basemap', as shown below. 

 

Adding basemaps to ArcGIS Pro.

Adding one of these fascinating base maps to ArcGIS Pro.

 

Now challenge yourself and your students to go the extra mile. Now that you are using a variety of different base maps, discussing the merits of each cartographically and artistically, a logical next step is for you and them to create your own base maps.  That's right!  As my colleagues describe in these guidelines, you can edit everything from fill and text symbols to fonts, halos, patterns, transparency, and zoom level visibility!  This is a great way for you to enhance your GIS and cartography skills but also to tap into your creative, artsy side!

 

For more information, read the GeoNet blogs about vector base maps.   Happy mapping! 

 

I confess, my favorite is still Colored Pencil.  What's yours? 

During this week as I spend time with 18,000 people at the Esri User Conference and at the Esri Education Summit, several themes have become evident.  First, the GIS education community has enormous energy--they are enthusiastic about the new tools and data at our fingertips, yes, but more importantly, about the task of educating primary, secondary, community college, and university students about how to use GIS effectively to tackle a wide variety of problems.  Second, they are dedicated--many are new to the field, some are 30 year veteran educators, but all are willing to invest the time needed to learn the most effective ways to teach with GIS and teach about GIS.  They see the enormous return on investment--student engagement, job opportunities, community connection, and a wiser, more informed populace.  Third, they model what it is to be a lifelong learner--willing to teach each other and learn from each other in our rapidly changing field and in our rapidly changing world.  At the conference, we heard many inspiring stories and were presented with many models of the use of geotechnologies in the areas of natural hazards, population change, energy, water, health, business, and other application areas that we can use in our instruction. 

 

For example, at the Education Summit keynote, stories were shared about the progress of GIS in education in the UK and beyond, about how the University of Southern California is understanding aging in the community, and how an innovative masters degree among three universities in Europe was conceived and implemented.  We learned about new imagery, layers in the Living Atlas of the World, new capabilities in field apps, in ArcGIS Pro, in Community Analyst, and in ArcGIS Online that we can use.  We learned about new books such as Cartography and Getting to Know Web GIS, new resources such as the new Esri Training site and the Learn ArcGIS library, that can be accessed again and again.  

 

Our community is faced with an enormous challenge--to increase the spatial literacy of our students, and by extension, all of society.  But we have excellent tools, excellent data, and most of all--a wonderful and diverse community of people, to meet this challenge for a brighter future.   

 

Esri User Conference 1

Learning about new tools, resources, and people at the Esri User Conference plenary session.

 

One of the Young Scholars at the Esri UC

One of the Esri Young Scholars.   They came from all over the world and were truly were inspiring. 

 

At the Esri User Conference

Learning and growing at the Esri User Conference Expo. 

The Living Atlas of the World is a growing, curated, authoritative set of map content for your projects.  Here are 7 free lessons that use the incredible Living Atlas of the World - http://esripm.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?adbid=6362634088096108544&adbpl=li&adbpr=5311&adbsc=social206763…   

 

These lessons cover a diversity of tools, such as ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online,  ArcGIS Earth--even Adobe Illustrator!  They cover a variety of themes, such as poverty, open space, public safety--even Chinese food delivery!  They cover scales from local to global--electronic stores in Manhattan, child poverty in Detroit, the Vietnam War, aquaculture in Thailand, and more. 

 

Give these lessons a try as a way of understanding spatial problems, GIS, and data--for yourself, for your students, or both.

 

 

One of the 7 Learn ArcGIS lessons using the Living Atlas of the World.

One of the lessons in the set of 7 free lessons that use the Living Atlas of the World.

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