Thursday, August 28, 2008

GIS Librarian (-ish) Positions x2

Geographic Information Systems Specialist (Bucknell University)
"Bucknell University seeks to hire a Geographic Information Systems Specialist for the Library and Information Technology organization... The primary responsibilities of this position are to develop, expand, and support a GIS user community by assisting students and faculty in the selection and use of appropriate GIS technologies; working with faculty and students in designing and executing projects using GIS; and providing instructional support in GIS."
While this position does not have the title Librarian and while a library degree is not required, this sounds quite similar to my responsibilities here. And, of course, this position does indeed reside in Bucknell's Library. With a salary of $40,000 - $60,000 this position sounds pretty fantastic for a GIS professional looking for an academic position.

Data Service Librarian (New York University)
"New York University is seeking an energetic, creative, and knowledgeable librarian to select, acquire, manage, and deliver numeric and geospatial data collections to support campus research and scholarship."
Some snippets:
  • The librarian will build numeric and spatial data collections and facilitate access to additional data resources across the sciences
  • Reporting to the Data Service Coordinator, the Data Service Librarian works to develop appropriate description for managing research data collections; investigates new sources for metadata; keeps abreast of new and evolving metadata standards such as the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) and Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) standards.
  • The incumbent will develop and maintain awareness of data-centered initiatives across the sciences, attending professional meetings, workshops and conferences for training and continuing professional development.
  • Requirements: Basic familiarity with software for statistical and geospatial analysis (e.g. SAS, SPSS, Stata, R, GIS applications).
This really sounds like an exciting position. We are continually increasing the numeric (non-spatial) data services and positions such as this one which straddle both numeric and spatial data services are the thing of the future. My opinion is that GIS technology is becoming more and more commonplace and within 5 years (or so) it might not be so necessary to maintain a professional strictly in GIS or strictly in non-spatial statistics. Great long-term opportunity for a highly experienced librarian.

Specific salary benefits are not mentioned, and considering the cost of NYC especially someplace wiothin an easy commute this perhaps will be a huge factor.

ArcMap to Google Map Polygons

ArcMap2GMap: download
+ (not yet tested for 9.3)
+ Presidential Election Data 2004
+ Hodge Podge Sample of Stuff From My Computer
+ Health Resources

Finally completed a major update for the ArcMap2GMap script that exports ArcMap layers to a standalone Google Map webpage.

This latest update now includes support for choropleth polygon layers using the gPolygon object. Previous versions included support for point and line geometries. The choropleth map is hard-coded to generate 4 equal interval classes based on the attribute selected by the user, but we do have plans on providing more flexibility with this in the future. I want to whole-heartedly thank my GRA, Shivkumar Chandrashekhar, for all of his assistance with this project.

This version includes all features of previous versions, including:
  • multi-layer support
  • geocoding
  • proximity searching (top 10 closest visible points displpayed)
  • driving directions
Students at our university are restricted from registering DLLs, so we could not compile the VBA forms. This means the MXD provided in the download must still be used.

The major issue we needed to resolve to include this polygon support was the complexity of the vertices in a polygon shapefile. Even the simples polygon shapefiles may have thousands of vertices that will timeout any browser on virtually any computer. We have two point reduction methods in place to help resolve this.
  1. First, each polygon feature's vertices are filtered through a Douglas Peucker Algorithm. The code for this can be viewed in the script.
  2. Second, after the algorithm is run, each polygon feature class is dissolved using ArcMap's geoprocessing dissolve tool. This effectively removes shared boundaries by features with identical color representation.
We are holding an open workshop on campus on September 24. If anyone tries out the script and has any comments, please leave them here or if you do not want them on the permanent blog record, leave them in the IM client to the right.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

GIS-Related Dissertations/Theses Late 2007 & 2008

As always, there are oodles of great GIS-related theses and dissertations out there. After taking a long and deep gander at the latest batch, here are the latest ones to have caught my eye. For previous installments, click here.

Summer 08 Class Final Projects: Highlights

Been working my fingers to the bone teaching 9 credits last Spring, 6 credits this Summer, and getting ready to teach 6 more this Fall (next week, gulp!).

This past Summer was exciting and really stood out, however, as many of the final projects from both courses were exceptionally great. I taught Seminar: Advanced GIS Topics for Real Estate Research and Understanding Geographic Information Systems (an intro to gis course).

Real Estate Project Highlights:
  • Automated Foreclosure Selection Model. This project incorporated MLS and foreclosure listings and conducted a failry sophisticated comparable market analysis to whittle down the hundreds of available foreclosure listings to a select few worthy of consideration and further investigating. The analysis would have been sufficient for an excellent grade, but they went the extra mile and automated the process with a custom toolbar, geoprocessing models, and some VBA programming.
  • Site Selection (suitability analysis) for a New Mixed-Use Development in Arlington Texas. Of note here is the clever way they included traffic pattern data in their analysis.
  • Analyzing the Correlation Between Crime and Property Values. What set the project apart was the student's in depth use of SPSS and linear statistical analysis in conjunction with ArcGIS.
Understanding GIS Project Highlights
  • Estimating Surface Runoff Volume. Wow is all I can say about this one. This project used ArcGIS to calculate the Soil Conservation Service Curve Number for a local area in Fort Worth. Landuse, zoning, aerial images, and city-defined drainage areas were used in this analysis.
  • Site Selection for an Environmentally Friendly Park in Dallas. Completed by a graduate Landscape Architecture student, this project focused on soil runoff, amount of sunlight, and various other parameters necessary to create a Green park.
  • Analyze the Relationship Between Geology and Oil Fields in Texas. This project made extensive use of the Geologic Atlas of Texas to search for common geologic types underlyiing oil fields. This in itself was a great project, but the student went the extra mile and created a Google Maps web page showcasing the results, which was fantastic.
Like I said, this was a most excellent summer in terms of the quality of student final projects. There were of course many other great projects, but these are the six that stick the most in my head at the moment. ;)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Planning Upcoming Workshop: Predicting 2008 Local Voting Results

One of the three GIS workshops we have planned for the Fall 2008 semester is entitled 'Predict 2008 Voting Patterns Across Neighborhoods in Texas'. It is not scheduled until late October, so it is oh so far from being done, but here is how we are planning to go about it.

By Texas neighborhoods, I really mean that each workshop participant will estimate how voters will vote in each Voter Tabulation District (VTD) in Texas. This can be then grouped to form neighborhoods, especially in urban areas.

There will be three parts to the exercise.
  1. Participants will first predict voting by using the previous two presidential election results (2000, 2004) and the previous two gubernatorial results (2002, 2006).
    1. Data source: Texas Legislative Council: Redistricting FTP Site
    2. Participants will build an estimation layer by compiling a weighted average of the four election datasets provided, as well as rates of change between these elections. Everyone will be able to specify which attributes are included in the analysis and what each weight will be.
  2. Participants will then explore the bivariate correlation between various demographic attributes and previous election results, such as income or Hispanic population.
    1. We will use the Linear Regression (bivariate) ArcMap extension, written by Michael Sawada, of the University of Ottawa.
    2. After exploring these tabular relationships, participants can decide whether to use any of these demographics to adjust their estimation layer created in the first step.
  3. Participants will then have the option to enable random occurrences to adjust their estimation layer for them. This one should be a lot of fun, as a random number generator will specify a last-minute political scandal, natural disaster, or economic crisis that will further adjust the estimates.
Of course, this will all be automated using a combination of Python scripting and the Model Builder. so participants can concentrate on their research and the enormous potential that GIS lends to this type of analysis.

It is scheduled for one week before election day, so we are hoping this hot topic will be a further draw for students and faculty.

Just for kicks, I created a Google Maps webpage showing % votes for Bush in 2004 and total votes for each candidate by VTD for Tarrant County, TX.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mapping Oak Cliff's Realities, Possibilities

Dallas Morning News Article: Mapping Oak Cliff's Realities, Possibilities (08/16/08)

This recent article spotlights student Charles Jackson's use of GIS in an undergraduate project on the Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. Charles is a student I assisted with on may GIS projects. For this one in particular, he used GIS to create a Google Map webpage of various resources available in this low-income area. Charles' online project is entitled Oak Cliff Interactive.

Background information about this project and the technology used can be found in a blog entry I wrote last year.

Been a While...

So, it has been a long, long while since my last post here. Why? Ah, oodles of reasons. Most of all, I just kicked a 9-month compulsive WoW habit that impeded and threatened many facets of my work and personal life.

To those of you out there who were negatively affected by my obsessive gaming habits, I sincerely apologize. To everyone, I fully intend at this point to resume writing on this blog and others as it is a great pleasure to me. I have been quite busy working on numerous GIS projects and teaching various classes, so there are loads of good stuff to write about.