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October 1, 2007
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URISA Promotes GIS in K-12 Education; Ground Breaks for New National Museum of Surveying; USGS Releases Landsat Data To Web; BNP Media Acquires New Titles; and EU and U.S. Announce Common GPS-Galileo Signal.

Students from Hopeworks N’ Camden’s GIS department opened the 45th annual URISA conference with a keynote presentation on projects they’ve completed using GIS.


URISA Promotes GIS in K-12 Education

In August, the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) debuted a new educational track during its 45th annual conference in Washington, D.C.

The initiative, titled “K-12 GIS Education,” was developed to help GIS practitioners engage students in discovering GIS and to showcase how GIS is applied in their existing studies.

Students from Hopeworks N’ Camden’s GIS department, a non-profit training program for high school students in Camden, N.J., opened the conference on August 21 with a keynote presentation on projects they’ve completed using GIS. The K-12 education sessions followed two days later, where approximately 50 attendees gathered to participate in the new track and to speak with various education project leaders from organizations such as National Geographic, ESRI, 4-H and the Virginia Geospatial Instructional Application Initiative. Sessions underscored the importance of promoting a GIS curriculum in K-12 education and demonstrated how GIS professionals can implement activities that build spatial skills in their own communities.

Tom Tate, national program leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s grassroots program Agriculture in the Classroom, jumpstarted the track with a presentation on incorporating GIS activities in schools and non-school programs. Tate showed slides from various states across the nation where students used GIS to study hurricane seasons, crime in proximity to middle schools and rainfall over a specified period of time. Later in the day, attendees heard a presentation on geospatial curriculum opportunities for students in the state of Virginia. The presentation highlighted “The Geospatial Semester,” a dual-enrollment program where students can earn credit from Virginia’s James Madison University as they study geospatial technology in their final year of high school. A key aspect of this experience is that students must engage in an extended GIS-based local research project and learn to work as part of a team. Kathryn Keranen, a Virginia GIS trainer, led the discussion and urged attendees to promote similar geospatial curriculum opportunities in their respective states.

In addition to this full-day track, a presentation was offered by Shoreh Elhami, co-founder of GISCorps, a URISA program that coordinates volunteer-based GIS services to underprivileged communities to demonstrate how GIS practitioners can promote the technology in local school programs. Elhami discussed GISCorps’ mission and offered examples of locations where the program is implementing the use of spatial information technologies. Collier County 4-H in Naples, Fla., Elhami said, is one location where volunteers are needed to assist local leaders and teachers with a group of students in the creation of a community atlas project. One of the primary purposes of the atlas is mapping hurricane shelters to increase hurricane awareness.

The idea to develop the special K-12 education track at this year’s URISA conference originated with Ingrid Bruce, GIS/special districts manager for the city of Rancho Cuicamonga, Calif. During her career, Bruce has diligently worked to bring GIS technology into the schools in her city. After attending the 2005 ESRI Education conference, Bruce took her work one step further with the creation of the new education track. “I realized there are GIS programs at the college level at the URISA conference, but nothing for K-12 students,” she says. “The new education track helps bridge the gap and allows professionals like me to learn what is out there for students.”

In keeping with URISA’s mission as a professional and educational association that promotes the use of spatial information and information technologies, the K-12 track will become a regular part of the program at future annual URISA conferences. “I’m an advocate of ‘no child left behind,’” Bruce says. “I want to help children learn and utilize geospatial technology. With education as the key, this move expands spatial technology across all ages and better prepares the individual for transition from student to employee.”

To learn more about promoting GIS in schools and communities near you, visit www.giscorps.org.


Ground Breaks for New National Museum of Surveying

On August 15, renovations began for the new home of the National Museum of Surveying (NMoS) in Springfield, Ill. Local contractor Landgrebe Interior Construction, which specializes in building and reconstructing interiors, began by preparing the basement storage areas to house collections of the NMoS.

Since purchasing the building in March, the NMoS Board of Trustees has settled lease arrangements with prospective tenants and worked closely with architects to design the interior layout of the building. Retired architect Wally Henderson worked with the board for several months and recently turned the project over to Springfield’s Graham & Hyde Architects Inc., the firm responsible for the original design of the building. “Their combined efforts are leading to a well-designed, functional layout that will serve us for years to come,” says Dave Ingram, NMoS president.

As building renovations progress, fundraising efforts are also advancing. “We have seen an increasing level of participation from surveying chapters across the nation,” Ingram says. “From north to south, east to west, gifts are arriving in amounts from $500 to $15,000.” One special contribution came from students of Southwestern Community College in Sylva, N.C., who raised $300 for the museum. Additional donations came from the Northeast Chapters of the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors and the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association. “If all the chapters from across the country participated,” Ingram adds, “we would put a very large dent in our mortgage and construction costs. We still have a long way to go, but we’re optimistic that we’ll reach our goals with the museum.”

The NMoS Board of Trustees is currently receiving applications for the museum director position and hopes to have staff arrangements completed by the end of this month. The grand opening of the museum is scheduled for the spring of 2008.

For additional coverage on the new National Museum of Surveying, check out POB’s May 2007 Newsline.

Landsat data, such as this Landsat 7 image portraying the trail of destruction left by a tornado that touched down in Wisconsin on June 7, 2007, are being added to the Web as part of the USGS’ pilot project.

USGS Releases Landsat Data To Web

On June 4, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began releasing selected Landsat 7 image data of the United States through the Internet at no cost. This Web-enabled distribution of recently acquired data is a pilot project for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), the next-generation Landsat satellite, projected for launch in the summer of 2011. The pilot project allows the Landsat data user community to help refine the distribution system planned for the upcoming LDCM. Each scene will be registered to the terrain, or orthorectified, prior to being placed on the Web.

According to Ron Beck, USGS program information specialist, the USGS charged users for the reproduction of the data prior to the online release. “Under the LDCM, we want to streamline the system with no cost for processing,” Beck says. “We’re moving toward adding older Landsat data on the Web also. Our ultimate goal is to release all Landsat data by 2011 at no cost.”

USGS’ partner for the project, NASA, is in charge of the design and construction of LDCM and provides the vehicle to get it up in space. Once the satellite is up and running, the USGS will take over and add all data on the Web as it is captured by the satellite.

“So far, the response from the pilot project has been very positive,” Beck adds. “Customers have [shown] that they want all Landsat data released [on the Web]. We’ll use whatever mechanism we can find to make the data accessible to the user community.”

To download Landsat 7 image data from the Web, visit http://glovis.usgs.gov.

BNP Media Acquires New Titles

On August 31, POB’s parent company, BNP Media, acquired the Professional Services Division of Ascend Media, including magazines from the Food, Beverage and Packaging Group and Gaming Group, as well as various conferences, Web sites and events.

“All of the acquired titles have been well managed by an excellent staff that has integrated print advertising, events and online media,” says Taggart Henderson, co-CEO of BNP Media. “We now have robust products for any customer looking to reach each and every corner of the food, beverage, packaging and gaming markets.”

“We’ve been extremely impressed with the way the Professional Services Division team has evolved and grown into a diversified b-to-b media business,” says Cam Bishop, president and CEO of Ascend Media. “As part of BNP Media, it will have an even more compelling strategic fit that will allow the team and their brands to build on this year’s impressive growth rate.”

BNP Media’s market research company, Clear Seas Research, concurrently announced its entrance into the industries these magazines serve. “Clear Seas will present unparalleled custom market research in the food, beverage, packaging and gaming industries via our combination of online communities, industry knowledge and superior analysis,” says Mitchell Henderson, co-CEO of BNP Media. “We look forward to creating research solutions for all companies wishing to gain competitive advantage in these arenas.”

BNP Media now owns and operates more than 60 magazines, 40 events and 75 Web sites in the food, beverage, packaging, manufacturing, gaming, architecture and construction, mechanical systems, and safety and security markets.

EU and U.S. Announce Common GPS-Galileo Signal

On July 26, the European Union and the United States announced an agreement to adopt a common GPS-Galileo signal for civilian use called MBOC (multiplexed binary offset carrier). According to the European Commission, this will allow receivers in the future to track the GPS and/or Galileo signals with higher accuracy, even in challenging environments that include multipath, noise and interference. Incorporating MBOC into both GPS and Galileo will enhance commercial opportunities for the development of new GNSS products and services. Surveyors in particular will benefit from multiple GNSS constellations, providing greater signal availability and coverage around the world.

The European Union and the United States first signed an agreement for cooperation on GPS and Galileo in June 2004 and since then, a joint working group has overcome technical challenges to design interoperable optimized civil signals that will also protect common security interest

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