Hi Amy: I would say: Scan the recent User Conference proceedings from Esri (https://proceedings.esri.com/library/userconf/index.html), from www.scgis.org, and conferences from other organizations to gain ideas on the problems people are addressing, the data used, and the methods employed. Go through the Esri ArcGIS Book (https://learn.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-book/) for additional ideas that may spring forth from your investigation of the many intriguing maps there. Go through some articles on https://scholar.google.com/ using a variety of search terms. I hope these additional resources are helpful. --Joseph Kerski
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For centuries, maps have inspired people to explore and to investigate places of importance to them. In our modern world, maps are still used for exploration—of issues and challenges that we face. One group of relevant and serious issues are racial equity and social justice. Nowadays, maps are made using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software and digital spatial data.
Esri has re-committed itself to building tools, technology, and expertise that support efforts towards a more equitable and just world. Esri provides leading location technology and services that undergird collaborative efforts to advance equity and quality of life for everyone. Many users of Esri technology, already working to create a more just society, have shown that GIS can be a critical tool for launching social justice initiatives because it helps organizations define needs and plan projects for alleviating racial inequity.
One way to start exploring how GIS can be used to understand and take action in these areas is with the Esri Racial Equity set of resources . These resources include (1) The Racial Equity community outreach solution . This solution is a series of ArcGIS applications used to communicate key equity initiatives or programs, ways to visualize workforce diversity metrics, tools to gauge public sentiment, and ways to share authoritative information about the issues with the community, such as workforce, government services, policing, and economic inclusion. (2) The Racial Equity GIS Hub . ArcGIS Hub is a cloud-based engagement platform that enables people and organizations to communicate more effectively with their communities. You can use Hub to create a web site that is more than just a list of data or information, but rather, one that aggregates resources, starts conversations, and engages the community. The Racial Equity GIS Hub is a continually expanding set of information—data layers, maps, applications, training resources, best practice articles, solutions, and examples of how people from around the world are leveraging GIS to address racial inequities. (3) Relevant data sources. GIS and maps are only as good as the information behind them. The data sources included here that you can use range from local to international in scale from nonprofit organizations, government agencies, academia, and private companies, but the resources also show you how to create your own data. Once you have the data in hand, the site also shows you how to create web maps, story maps, infographics, dashboards, and other ways you can analyze your data and communicate effectively.
One way to apply GIS to racial equity and social justice is with the Esri Maps for Public Policy , or “policy maps.” According to Stephen Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis and professor at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, “A policy map clearly shows where there is an opportunity to intervene.” This growing collection of maps and other content includes social equity, health, economic opportunity, resilience, sustainability, environment and natural resources, and public safety. As I describe in this essay , you can explore these policy maps not only to build a collection of interest to you, but you can also explore best practices and datasets for your research, analysis, and policy recommendations. Perhaps best of all, you can modify the collections you build, and share them, to help others see what you are seeing, to get feedback, to build community.
Within a matter of minutes , you can build a collection of your own about topics you care about. It could be affordable housing, employment, green spaces, air quality, crime, access to computers or the internet, senior population, graffiti, invasive species, homelessness, or COVID or other health variables. But GIS is more than just “mapping”. Since its inception, GIS has provided a set of tools, a rich array of data, and most importantly, a framework for solving relevant and pressing problems. GIS can help students, instructors, and researchers learn about the central issues of racial equity and social justice, why they are serious, their spatial and temporal patterns, and most importantly, form action plans on how to solve them.
Example set of policy maps.
Let’s get specific. This sample set of 5 maps covers topics of racial disparities in home ownership, the 1930s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation’s redlining policies, the unemployment rate, the COVID-19 mortality rate, and the particulate air pollution, as described by my colleague Lisa Berry. In our rapidly changing world, people rightly want to see data that is occurring right now or is as close to real-time as possible. Some of these maps cover current data, such as the unemployment rate in the above collection, and others, such as air pollution, cover an 18-year period. For additional policy mapping ideas, see these 10 tips.
The policy maps data and layers are only the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of additional variables and map layers are at your fingertips in ArcGIS Online , other data portals , and in the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World . Wondering where to start? I recommend starting with Policy Maps, as described above, and next, start browsing the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World .
A selection of the many relevant layers for social justice in the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.
I look forward to your comments about how you might be using these resources in your own work, or any questions that you may have.
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A new series of videos focused on the theme of "GIS Helps" is now online in the following playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZtjGSwC0B4&list=PLiC1i3ejK5vsAraUOjp3wKadPeX0e2ivr These videos have been created in time for you to show at your upcoming GIS Day event, or beyond GIS Day, in instruction, or to your colleagues or employees, or in other settings. During these times of health, wildfire, and other challenges, GIS is more needed than ever before, and hence the message that "GIS Helps" seems especially relevant.
Ten videos exist in the playlist on the following topics, all with an emphasis on why and how GIS helps with each:
GIS helps you get a job.
GIS provides double benefits.
GIS helps bring people together.
GIS helps you solve problems.
GIS helps with location analytics.
GIS is more than mapping, it is understanding and analysis.
GIS helps us plan what the world could and should be like.
GIS helps us solve 21 st Century problems.
GIS helps us understand content, skills, and perspectives.
GIS helps us understand place and space, including through map quizzes.
Enjoy and I salute you for being a GIS champion!
I look forward to your comments below. How were you able to use these videos?
Samples from the new series of 10 GIS videos around the theme of "GIS Helps."
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We are fortunate at Esri to have a wide array of business partners that are helping us achieve a more sustainable and resilient planet. One of these business partners is EarthViews. EarthViews vision is to connect people to critically important aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. EarthViews works with land, water managers and others to help achieve this mission. To accomplish EarthViews' vision, they have developed technology to bring waterways to the desktop, mobile or VR device via easy-to-use, publicly available, 360 interactive virtual tours. These reality based maps have many uses for waterway safety, recreation, science, and conservation.
One of my favorite teaching tools is their EarthViews Atlas. I use these immersive videos and stills to help students understand how waterways in urban and rural areas are so critical to water quality and quantity, to ecosystem health, to human health and wellness, and to recreation. They are somewhat like "Google Street View" for waterways! Some are taken on the water, and some are even taken underwater! One of my favorites is the fascinating 360 degree views of the Okavango Basin in Angola, Namibia, and Botswana. My central message to students is that rivers, ponds, and lakes are not just expanses of blue depicted on maps! They have width, depth, chemistry, and many other characteristics that EarthViews helps us to understand.
I also frequently refer to EarthViews in my career presentations for students: (1) Be innovative! EarthViews found a need and created a company and a set of tools to meet that need. Consider doing the same for an area you see a need in! (2) Consider working for one of our business partners when you see openings. The Esri partner network includes people in just about every possible field, including natural resources, public safety, mapping, planning, health, business, city planning, transportation, and many more.
One of the educational and societal forces I and others frequently teach about is crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is possible via field apps such as Survey123, iNaturalist, and many others. Instructors have been using crowdsourcing with their students to generate data on invasive species, weather, soil chemistry, litter, graffiti, vegetation, vehicle and pedestrian counts, walkability (as I describe here), and many other phenomena. However, it is still sometimes challenging to find meaningful crowdsourcing activities for students and others that will actually be used over the long term by those outside one's classroom. Once again, I turn to EarthViews for a wonderful opportunity. EarthViews has a crowdsourcing opportunity that you and your students could participate in. Yes, you and your students can help EarthViews create the immersive imagery that I described above in their atlas!
Join the EarthViews crowdmapping team and get the areas you care about published on EarthViews Atlas! They even have cameras and mapping gear to loan out to volunteers!
Interested? Contact EarthViews [earthviews.com]
Ah! Get out onto a river, lake, or other water body with EarthViews.
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Tripp Corbin’s new book Learning ArcGIS Pro 2, Second Edition, from Packt Publishing, is a resource that I will be using long into the future and I know many in the GIS professional community will be doing the same. As ArcGIS Pro replaces ArcMap in government, nonprofit, academic, and private industry, and as ArcGIS Pro continues to evolve, this book is an extremely useful resource either to follow along in its entirety, or to tap into specific chapters to hone specific skills. University and college professors and students will also find this book very useful. I have long been an admirer of the instructional style of Tripp’s books, and wrote a review of his ArcGIS Pro Cookbook here in our data blog . Learning ArcGIS Pro 2 follows Tripp’s excellent balancing of theory and application and enables anyone regardless of how much background they have in GIS to be using this powerful set of geospatial tools quickly. Tripp’s deep and rich background with the GIS community over many decades is manifest in the book’s careful attention to the things he knows will cause users the most difficulty. Tripp covers the spectrum from technical requirements, installing the software, managing licenses, starting projects, editing, performing analysis, creating maps, 3D scenes, and layouts, automating processes with ModelBuilder and Python, using Arcade scripts, and, appropriate to today’s cloud-based workflows, how to share results with others via layers and maps in ArcGIS Online. Germane to this blog, Tripp also touches on data issues. Plus, the data for the hands-on activities in the book is easily accessed and interesting to use, covering parcels, floodplains, and much more, at a variety of scales. As a GIS instructor, I appreciate the graphics the author has included—they’re not in color, but they are large and legible, and that’s I think even more important. He also has the right number of screen shots—not too many, but just enough to keep the learner moving forward. In short, you won’t get “tripped up”—you will be able to keep making progress. Packt does a very nice job with their digital editions, which for GIS professionals might be the most useful format, though the printed version is nicely laid out as well. I salute Tripp Corbin and Packt Publishing for this excellent resource for the community. A few pages from Tripp Corbin's new Learning ArcGIS Pro 2, Second Edition, book.
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Hi Rickey! Yes, all of those quizzes I made are able to be created by anyone with an ArcGIS Online account; the choro-quiz, the name that place (presentation mode in ArcGIS Online), and others. The only one where there is no shareable code is the set of "treasure hunt" quiz formats. But everything else, yes, you can do on any topic you are seeking. --Joseph Kerski
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I am frequently asked by the education community, "How can GIS be used to create quizzes that are interesting, that foster spatial thinking, that provide benefits to students and instructors?" Let me begin by stating that I am especially keen on using quizzes if their primary benefit is to help students learn and provide students with a way to reflect upon their own progress. I am less keen on quizzes that only benefit the instructor. Research in a wide variety of disciplines from physiology to geography affirms the value of quizzes that enhance student learning as the objective. The kind of teaching and learning that working with GIS fosters is best measured, I believe, by such means as (1) evaluating a portfolio of student work, which could include story maps, reports, and other documents that they assemble into a story map collection or other set of digital documents; (2) evaluating student asynchronous or synchronous presentations using a variety of media in a face-to-face or online course environment, where the student presentations may include you, the instructor, but also their peers, and even other students in a “colloquium” type of session; (3) map-based assessments that may or not include a rubric (such as these examples from the University of Minnesota). That said, quizzes still have their place in education. Research affirms the value of quizzes that use interactive and engaging multimedia, which is exactly what GIS offers. With some creative thinking, GIS tools and spatial data can be effectively used to create and administer quizzes. These quizzes can be used in teaching about GIS, such as in a GIS, remote sensing, or GI Science course, or in teaching with GIS, in geography, sociology, environmental studies, history, mathematics, or other disciplines. You can either screen shot specific map content and use those shots in your Learning Management System, PDF, PowerPoint, or other means, or you can create them in an interactive mode that takes advantage of web GIS technology such as ArcGIS Online. In this essay, I provide examples of both. I welcome your comments and look forward to seeing what you have created. 1. Quizzes About Content and Skills. The attached "week 3 quiz" document is an example of the type of quiz that I have found most effective over the years in instruction. In multi-week courses, I give one of these types of quizzes at the end of each week. I have found such quizzes effective because (1) they are short, (2) they include a few questions on skills (GIS, presentation, data), a few questions on content (in this case, it is part of a cartography and geo-visualization course, so the content includes color theory, classification methods, and the like), and 1 question on "what was the most significant thing you learned this week, and why?", and (3) they are designed so that the student can focus on the important elements of that week and reflect on their own learning and progress. 2. Landforms Quiz using Esri Base Maps. Let's a traditional quiz that is based on a resource that I and other earth science instructors used for decades, the Set of 100 Topographic Map Features. See attached for this quiz. Using the USA Topo maps layer in ArcGIS Online, which are derived from USGS topographic maps, you can capture any landforms that you wish to quiz students on. See the attached matching exercise focused on some really fascinating landforms—tombolos, karst, drumlins, and more. Another wonderful aspect about the topographic maps layer is that you have access to three scales: 1:24,000-scale, 1:100,000-scale, and 1:250,000-scale. A natural extension of this activity is to use the 3D scene viewer in ArcGIS Online as you give a geomorphology quiz. 3. Imagery. Imagery captivates and inspires, and makes excellent basemaps from which you can create quizzes about issues, current events, phenomena, places, past processes, and current processes active on the landscape. These include hurricanes, volcanism, fluvial processes, agricultural expansion, glacial retreat, urbanization and urban forms, coastal and soil erosion, and much more. The ArcGIS platform, including the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, gives you access to a wide variety of imagery—UAV, Lidar, Sentinel-2, Landsat, high resolution current and historical visible imagery, and much more. 4. Pattern Recognition. Another type of quiz is to ask students to identify the pattern where they have to make a hypothesis of the variable that is being mapped. I created the following choro-quiz (choropleth quiz) as an example: https://community.esri.com/community/education/blog/2015/05/15/the-choro-quiz Given the vast number of maps in ArcGIS Online, including, again, the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, there will be no shortage of maps you can use, for your country or for the world. You can start with world countries and then include some choropleth maps on administrative units (states, provinces, regions) within your own country. To make the quiz more challenging, consider zooming to your own city and mapping certain variables at the census tract, enumeration district, block group, or other statistical area appropriate for your part of the world. Business Analyst Web, with its hundreds of variables including fascinating data on consumer behavior, makes another excellent source for such a quiz. See if you can identify the variable among the three choices given in each; for example, the quiz begins with this question: Part of the choro-quiz. Do you know what the answer is? 5. Using the ArcGIS Online Presentation Mode. ArcGIS Online includes a presentation mode that is simple and effective at creating quizzes. In a matter of minutes, you can create your own, using your own maps, or maps already in ArcGIS Online, with text for the clues and answers. Here are several examples that I created that I hope provide some ideas: Name That Place includes natural places (such as famous waterfalls) and human-built places (such as cities with famous river and street patterns). I created another quiz using this presentation mode focused on world islands, as well as this one focused on fun and interesting facts about 10 state capitals in the USA. In each of them, I provide the answers. A variation on this theme is my presentation quiz entitled Weird Earth, and as the name implies, it is designed to test student knowledge as well as foster curiosity about our amazing planet. Again, answers are provided. Part of the World Islands quiz, using the ArcGIS presentation mode. 6. Use Multimedia! Today’s modern ArcGIS platform can incorporate multimedia, so don’t feel confined to maps and images only. For example, my sounds of Planet Earth includes a quiz on 100 sounds, from pounding waves to crunching leaves, from ancient marketplaces to the sounds of mass transit, here. You could effectively use video, or images, as well! Part of the 100 Sounds of Planet Earth story map. 7. Photographs Tied To Maps. From time to time I create and use photographs tied to maps for quizzes to foster spatial thinking and considerations about landforms, vegetation, climate, and human impact, such as this Colorado Geography Quiz. I embedded this quiz inside a story map. Here is a similar one I created for a presentation I gave in California. And another one with 8 points and photographs in Wyoming. Part of a quiz asking participants to match the correct-photo to the correct location, in Wyoming, as part of a story map. I occasionally use Street View images for these types of quizzes, asking students to identify the place based on what they can observe on the physical and cultural landscape. However, I don’t have permission from Google for the images yet, and if I developed additional ones similar to this, I would seek permission or use Mapillary or my own images for the source. 8. The Platform Approach. When you are using ArcGIS, you are using a platform. Combine elements of that platform for some very creative quizzes. As one example, you could create and use a Survey123 as a quiz, and you can embed that quiz inside a story map. This is what the Port of Tacoma did for GIS Day 2018 – Survey, here. My colleague Tom Baker used Survey123 and Google Forms for these quizzes , and also for this one on time zones , which are a part of a discussion on programmed instruction . Along these lines, here is one of my own Google forms to test geography about coordinates and GIS. A section of the Port of Tacoma’s quiz about famous ports of the world, with a survey embedded inside a story map. 9. Treasure Hunts. As another example, with the help of the story maps team, I created a quiz on the pioneers of Geography and GIS, for GIS Day and beyond. I provide the quiz here to spark ideas, but keep in mind that this was a custom application and is not replicable in exactly this same way. Each question focuses on a geography or GIS pioneer and hints at a location somewhere in the world where the pioneer was born or worked. To answer the question, you must frame the solution within the map viewfinder using the map's pan/zoom functions. Intrigued? Consider using these other quizzes in the “Treasure Hunts” theme. Here is a collection of 10 treasure hunt quizzes … beaches, mountains, cities, places, foods, and more. Sections of the geography and GIS pioneers treasure hunt quiz. Which type of quizzes do you think GIS is most effective for? I look forward to your comments.
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How should remote sensing be taught in the decade of the 2020s? Remote sensing is more relevant to society and to education than ever before: (1) Remote sensing data sources, from Lidar, UAS, small satellites, and beyond, are rapidly diversifying, providing rich resources from which we may better understand our planet; (2) Remote sensing applications have spread far beyond natural resource management and GIScience to city planning, health, natural hazards, engineering, transportation, and many other fields. Developing remote sensing skills can help students secure careers where they can make a meaningful contribution to their own communities, and far beyond. A combination of GIS and remote sensing skills will continue to be in increasing demand in the workforce. (3) Remote sensing tools are more accessible than ever before: Image analysis, for example, can be done in a web browser through ArcGIS Online and in web mapping applications, and it can also be done in ArcGIS Pro. Remote sensing tools are also increasingly intertwined with GIS tools and workflows through this same ArcGIS platform. GIS and remote sensing are no longer two parallel communities as they were 30 years ago. Additional good news for instructors is that the ArcGIS platform allows you to teach GIS and remote sensing in a single environment. No matter if you are beginning a new remote sensing course or program, or want to modernize your existing remote sensing curriculum, my view is that that the primary objectives should be: (1) to get students excited about remote sensing so that they will want to make it a key part of their academic and career pathway, (2) to provide interesting, compelling activities that will enable students to begin hands-on investigations right away, (3) to provide students with scientific and geotechnical foundations of remote sensing, and (4) to keep moving students forward to advanced applications. The following are some ideas for incorporating modern remote sensing tools, data, fundamentals, and activities. This essay provides introductory guidance, while subsequent essays will provide guidance on digging deeper with the tools and data, including textbooks, advanced analytics, and additional resources. Imagery-based web mapping applications. These applications provide easy-to-use browser-based tools with compelling data, and thus are perfect for introducing foundations and skills. Consider using the following two applications to start: (1) The Landsat Lens allows your students to examine changes from natural and human causes, all over the world. These causes could include volcanism, agriculture, the construction of dams and reservoirs, coastal erosion, glacial retreat, urbanization, mining, the shrinkage of lakes such as Lake Chad and the Aral Sea, evidence of political boundaries and differing land use on either side of specific borders, and many more. Examining change over space and time with the Landsat Lens. (2) The Landsat Explorer allows your students to deepen their understanding of changes over space and time, as well as concepts of spectral bands, image resolution, and creating web mapping applications such as swipe maps. Guidance is provided for these techniques, and one of the advantages of the Landsat Lens and the Landsat Explorer is that they run in a standard web browser, with nothing to install or to sign into. But the logical next step is to ask the students to sign into the Landsat Explorer so they can save the layers that they generate, and be able to do further analysis on the images in ArcGIS Online, or in ArcGIS Pro. Creating a swipe map with the Landsat Explorer Web App. Another popular remote sensing web application containing a vast amount of data is the Wayback image service. You and your students can access 6 years of high resolution satellite imagery (and growing) for the entire planet. Consider the themes you could teach using this resource--urban sprawl, agricultural expansion, deforestation and reforestation, mining and reclamation, the construction of dams, changing water levels in reservoirs due to droughts or heavy precipitation, glacial retreat, meandering river processes, and much more. Discuss differences in the spectral band and resolution between the Wayback images and the Landsat imagery you analyzed earlier. You can even examine changes on your own school or university campus with the detail that is now at your fingertips. Similar to the Landsat Explorer, you can use this application without being signed in to ArcGIS Online, but if you are signed in, you can save specific layers and bring them to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro for further analysis. After students have used the above image applications, they should be ready to build one of their own. This lesson guides them in the creation of an application focused on the devastating 2014 Oso, Washington landslide, using Web App Builder. Next, ask them to create a side-by-side 2D and 3D comparison app of any area on the planet that they choose. Here is a sample that I built for one of my favorite areas on the planet--Mt Garfield, Colorado. Mt Garfield, Colorado, 2D map and 3D scene. Next, explore and teach with some of the image data sets available in the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World. This includes such imagery as Sentinel-2, NAIP, Landsat, Digital Orthophotos, Lidar, and much more. Bring the Sentinel-2 data into ArcGIS Online, filter it by date, and change the rendering to examine such phenomena as eruptions at Kilauea, as I provide guidance on here. I compiled this list of additional Landsat image sites, which may be useful in having students practicing accessing different types of data from a variety of portals. Selected Activities. Next, work through some hands-on activities, beginning with the above web mapping applications, continuing with ArcGIS Online, and then using ArcGIS Pro. The Esri training site, or "Esri Academy" is one way to start. Begin with an introduction to image classification with this web course, and continue with additional courses in this image classification learning plan. Get started with Drone2Map using this web course, and with this learning plan, you will gain essential skills needed to monitor and analyze real-time data, and understand how to connect to real-time sensors, analyze and visualize a data feed, and send updates and alerts. The Learn lesson library is another way to get hands-on experience. One of my favorites in this library is the use of NASA GOES real-time weather imagery in conjunction with predicting the weather, using this Learn lesson. Others in the Learn gallery include predicting coral bleaching, modeling landslide susceptibility, estimating solar potential, classifying land cover to measure shrinking lakes (shown below), and how to georeference imagery. What resources are you using? I look forward to your comments.
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In this video, and in this essay, I extend my greetings to students that are new to GIS this semester, and also welcome back returning students. Whether you are online or experiencing your education face to face, I wish to (1) salute you for embarking or continuing your geospatial journey, (2) give you encouragement to use geospatial technology in your university life and in your future career, and (3) discuss where geotechnologies are going in this decade. I have had the honor of serving in 4 major sectors of society--academia, private industry, government, and nonprofit, and reflecting upon my own journey and how GIS has evolved, I have not seen a more exciting time than the present in the world of GIS. I encourage you to build your network even while you are a student. Networking is important in any field, and the GIS community is an incredibly generous international community that can help you in your journey. Each person in GIS has an Earth ethic and believes in the power of GIS to enable our planet to become safer, smarter, healthier, and more sustainable. Like you, I am a lifelong learner, and I have found that networking also provides another way to keep learning and growing. For those of you who have been in GIS for awhile, consider giving back to the community by serving as a GeoMentor. What do you want to see in society? This may seem like a deep question as you begin your semester, but I submit to you that it is worthy of consideration. This is a disruptive time but also a pivotal one. You have a major role to play in helping shape our society with your newfound knowledge and skills. Modern life offers a wide variety of technologies and tools for you to dig into, and you have to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of immersing yourself in any of them. For each thing you decide to spend time on, you have less time for something else. While it is true that having GIS on your toolbelt will help you to be more employable, more important, I believe, is that GIS is a technology that you can feel good about! It is being used by the Jane Goodall Elephant Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, the World Health Organization, your local government, your university's facility management department, and thousands of other organizations to make your campus, your community, and our world, to make smarter decisions. Take our COVID-19 situation that we are in. People are consuming COVID-related maps, dashboards, and infographics by the millions per hour. Organizations are hosting Hubs, data portals, and other sets of information for their citizens and users. Why? Because these tools are needed, and valued, and enable decisions about health and safety to be made with data, and made thoughtfully. I would encourage you to learn about tools, such as field tools (Collector, Survey123, QuickCapture), spatial analysis tools, visualization capabilities such as with ArcGIS Insights, apps and app builders such as story maps and the Experience Builder. Learn about methods and models, and the data structures behind it all, because the methods you use and the data that you use all influence the results of your research. But in my view the most important tool is your brain. The ultimate goal in using GIS is to enable you to think critically and spatially, and to be able to effectively consider the "where" element in solving problems. The goal is not "points on a map", but to understand something better, in a richer, more meaningful way. In so doing, you are also building your skills in collaboration and communication. No matter whether you enter the field of health, business, transportation, economics, natural resources, energy, engineering, planning, or any others, studying the where and the whys of where will increase in importance during this decade. Also this decade will see an increased realization that to solve the complex problems of our 21st Century world will take a holistic view, and the ability of people to collaborate in interdisciplinary ways. The holistic view of the interconnected earth as a system of systems--the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and anthrosphere--is fostered by the geographic perspective. The problems in our world cross physical boundaries, political boundaries, and disciplinary boundaries. I submit that the following forces are important as you move forward in your university work and beyond--geoawareness (the increasing recognition by the general public that issues of energy, water, population, and other geographic issues are of concern and need to be addressed), geotechnologies (cloud-based, powerful, connected to larger IT trends such as the Internet of Things), geo-enablement (the empowering of larger segments of society to use geotechnologies), storytelling with maps, and citizen science (ordinary people collecting scientific data). In the video, I discuss how these forces have brought us as a society to a key moment, and why I believe that you are in the right place at the right time. Society needs you! Think about what you are really passionate about, and use your training in GIS to begin grappling with those issue(s). Communicate your research goals and results using tools such as story maps. Five trends in GIS will also be important in this decade: 1. The merging of CAD, BIM, and GIS for interior space mapping and planning. 2. Artificial intelligence and machine learning. This transforms the types of GIS related job tasks, and even more importantly, greatly enhances GIS in a decision-support system. 3. Remote sensing--small satellites, Lidar, UAVs, providing custom and often real-time imagery and derivative 2D and 3D map products. 4. 3D analytics. We have had 3D visualization for several years, but 3D analytics is perfect because we live in a 3D world. 5. The web SaaS software as a service GIS infrastructure, bringing some aspect of GIS to virtually any device, any time, anywhere, where it is most needed, fostering collaboration and decision-making. Consider nurturing these five skills that I believe will be important as you move forward: 1. Be curious, about the world, about tools, about people, and about problems. Curiosity leads to tenacity and problem solving. 2. Be able to work with data; be critical about data--know its benefits and its limitations. See our spatial reserves data blog for where to find data, how to evaluate it, and related societal issues (such as location privacy and data manipulation). 3. Know your geographic and geotechnical foundations--spatial statistics, map projections, geodesy, spatial analysis methods, symbology, classification methods, scale, systems thinking, and more. 4. Be adaptable and flexible. Be willing to go outside your regional comfort zone, and also your disciplinary comfort zone. 5. Develop good communications skills. Develop a one minute, five minute, 20-minute "elevator" speech as to what you are doing, why you are doing it, and why it needs to be supported and funded. GIS has become easier to use than ever before. That said, it is still a system, comprised of a rapidly evolving set of tools, methods, and data; many moving parts. Give yourself time to learn it, but the key is to start. Again I respect and salute you for doing just that--starting.
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In a recent post, I introduced the idea of spatial environmental education, using map-based analysis to teach and learn environmental studies. I hope to strengthen this idea in this column by showing how spatial analysis can foster learning about environmental content and relationships. One of the central themes of environmental studies is examining the interaction between humans and the environment. How does the environment affect people, through such characteristics as daily weather and long-term climate, native plants and animals, landforms, the availability of water, local and regional natural hazards, and predominant soil type? Conversely, how do humans affect their environment? IS can be used to teach and learn about environmental content and relationships. Photograph by Joseph Kerski, out on the landscape in Wyoming. Another central environmental theme is change. The Earth is a dynamic planet. Comparing land cover change based on examining Landsat satellite imagery, comparing the variation in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes by year, or investigating population change in an urban area are three of the many ways in which change can be examined using maps within a Geographic Information Systems (GIS), starting with ArcGIS Online. Because environmental phenomena interact, move, and change, it is not enough to know content only: Relationships and processes are critical to understanding the environment. GIS can foster each of the Center for Ecoliteracy’s six core ecological concepts: networks, nested systems, cycles, flows, development, and dynamic balance. GIS allows variables to be input, modeled, and modified so that the dynamics of environmental processes can be studied. Hungerford and Volk (1991) defined nine key ecological concepts that they said were necessary for environmental education programs, including (1) individuals and populations, (2) interactions and interdependence, (3) environmental influences and limiting factors, (4) energy flow and nutrient cycling, (5) community and ecosystem concepts, (6) homeostasis, (7) succession, (8) humans as members of ecosystems, and (9) the ecological implications of human activities and communities. GIS can enhance the teaching of each of these concepts. An NSF-funded project from the NAAEE resulted in a definition of environmental literacy that includes four interrelated components: (1) competencies, (2) knowledge, (3) dispositions, and (4) environmentally responsible behavior. By using the same tools used by scientists, GIS aids in the first two of these, and by investigating real issues in their communities and beyond, GIS aids in helping with the last two of these components. Students who use GIS in tandem with environmental studies develop key critical thinking skills. These skills include understanding how to carefully evaluate and use data. This is especially critical in assessing environmental data, due to its increasing volume and diversity, and given its often sensitive and politically charged nature. Moreover, crowd-sourced data appears regularly from “citizen science” initiatives all over the world on pine beetle infestations, the appearance of monarch butterflies each spring, phenology, birds, and a host of other topics. These data are more frequently being tied to real-world coordinates that are mapped and analyzed. Students and graduates using GIS and who are grounded in environmental studies will be in demand to help make sense of this deluge of incoming data. Students using these tools can map phenomena and features such as ocean currents, ecoregions, and the locations of usable geothermal energy. They can use the tools to answer various questions. How does pH vary along this stretch of river, and why? How do tree species and tree height change depending on the slope angle and slope direction of the mountain, and why? Why do wind speed and direction vary across North America the way they do? Are you using GIS to teach or learn about environmental content and relationships? If so, how? Reference Hungerford, Harold R., and Trudi L. Volk. Curriculum Development in Environmental Education for the Primary School: Challenges and Responsibilities. Invited paper for The International Training Seminar on Curriculum Development in Environmental Education for the Primary School. May 1991. - See more at: https://earthzine.org/spatial-environmental-education-teaching-and-learning-about-the-environment-with-a-spatial-framewo…
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