Friday, December 3, 2010
With the renewed Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) grant, the GIS lab continues its work to provide crime mapping in the state of Maryland. The Washington College GIS Lab also conducts an outreach program, which invites law enforcement agencies to sign up for crime mapping training. Caryn Thomas ’05 M’09 and Andrew Wright guide student interns in the lab. Here are some recent projects that the WC crime fighting students are working on.
Stephanie Olsen ‘11
Stephanie is currently working on the violence prevention initiative, researching and locating violent criminals and sex offenders for the Maryland Off ender Management System. She provides corrections to Division of Parole and Probation agents to improve the mapability of violent criminals. This map, along with the data, is then used by the police agents and parole officers to keep track of offenders that have been released into the community in order to keep the people around them safe.
Matt Stiles ‘11
Matt has been working in the GIS lab all summer and is back to work during his senior year at Washington College. He works on crime mapping creating maps and tables for different law enforcement agencies. Most of the maps Matt makes are “Welcome Wagon” maps. These maps show all of the people released from jail in a given area for a given period of time. After Matt makes the map he makes a table listing all the people on the map and what they did to be put in jail. Matt can make many different types of maps and tables, and they can all be customized to what any of the number of law enforcement agencies would like to have.
Kim Zepeda ‘12
Kim, like Stephanie, is also on working on improving the mapping rate of the most violent criminals currently on Maryland’s Parole and Probation. With the help and research of student interns the GIS program has assisted in increasing the mapping percentage of the violence prevention initiative offenders from 87% in August 2009 to 96.4% in August 2010 and the mapping percentage of sex offenders from 86.6% in March 2010 to 94% in August 2010.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
On top of doing its own projects, the Washington College GIS program has continued its commitment to educate others on how to use GIS software to make today’s students more competitive in the geospatial workforce of tomorrow by using the Geospatial Education Technology Initiative (GetIT). Moodle, a virtual learning environment, is used by the GIS lab to teach the material (www.wcgetit.org ). Our Moodle program debuted last February and has been extremely successful. Students at Washington College, various K-12 schools, and even individuals at home, are able to log onto the website to listen to lectures, perform lab exercises, and interact with other students. This medium allows students to always have access to their coursework, as well as easy access to their instructors. Last January Washington College GIS received a renewal of its BRAC grant which is funded through the Maryland Higher Education Commission. This grant allowed GIS education to be even more accessible to adults throughout Maryland. As part of that grant, Washington College GIS promised to enroll and educate 300 people on GIS and GIS software and is currently on target to reach that number by December 31, 2010. GIS has recently applied for a renewal of the BRAC grant, which will be used to update the curriculum to the new version of GIS software – ArcView 10.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Last spring I had the pleasure of teaching children from the Alley Teen Center how to operate Google SketchUp, a tool used by the GIS Lab to create 3D buildings. Since a good portion of them had done work with SketchUp before it was easy for them to get back into the swing of things. After a test trial to see what everyone’s skills were, we gave each of them a simple two story house to build and offered prizes to the person with the best house. Hopefully this semester we can pick up right where we left off!
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The GIS lab will be going global this semester! GIS intern Anna Burress will be attending the International Political Science Association’s annual convention in 2012, and as part of her research, she is collecting and interpreting GIS data on the Middle East. She is researching the failure to institute democracy in Pakistan, and in preparation, she is utilizing the capabilities of the GIS to aid in studying current and historical democracy data of the country. Anna is finding that GIS and international studies go hand in hand in these cases. Issues such as the rise of regional ideological groups in place of party affiliation are directly affected by the geographic makeup of the country. Furthermore, clashes between historical ethnic groups that have thrived in Pakistan for centuries can be identified much more effectively with the aid of mapping visuals. Anna is finding that with the help of GIS research, the product that she will take with her to the conference will be much stronger.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Over the summer the GIS lab embarked on a new and exciting project. This project brings the entire Washington College campus into the virtual world. Using a variety of programs such as Google SketchUp, Google Earth, Digital Photos, ArcMap 10 and Geoweb 3D, the lab is creating an accurate 3D visualization of the campus. The picture to the right is a detailed in-progress snapshot of the campus with accurately modeled buildings, call boxes, light post positions, and trees displaying the correct tree species found throughout WC.
Based on photos of the campus the GIS interns use SketchUp and create the buildings from the ground up to create a detailed, accurate model. Then, using ArcMap and data collected by previous interns, the students bring in detailed point fi les of tree and light post positions. The components were then brought together in Geoweb 3D to create a virtual campus. The GIS lab will use this project to give virtual tours of the campus, shows its appearance at different times of the day with different lighting levels, and even to model its development over the years. All of this brings the campus into the future.
WC Campus in Geoweb 3D as it looks today with accurately modeled buildings, updated call box and light post positions and the correct species of trees found throughout WC.
Example of an unfinished building in Google SketchUp.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
A graduate of the WC Business Management program, Nichole took an interest in GIS while interning in the lab her senior year. Upon graduation she worked full time in the lab developing the online learning environment. Now, she is enrolled full time in the accelerated Masters of GIS Management Program at Salisbury University. She started in June of this year and already has 1/3 of the program complete! The program provides a practical, hands-on educational experience that prepares students for a career in the administration of GIS.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The goal of GIS on the Chester is to make the Chester River the best mapped river in the United States, while providing an accurate set of data that will help a variety of different groups, show people self-responsibility when using the river, and teach them protection measures needed to preserve the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay for future generations. The project is divided into four parts: Sub-Watershed Analysis, Towns, Natural Resource Areas, and General Themes. With approximately 19 students in the class, Professor Bruce has assigned each of them a different topic to cover diverse aspects of the project. To start off their assignment, each student is responsible for collecting data such as a boundary layer, roads layer, hydrography, and imagery in order to assemble a GIS of their sub-watershed. From there the students will use their skills to analyze any aspect of their choice in regards to the given area. Although each student is working independently, they will all be bringing different information to the table and collaborate, putting their ideas together to help make the Chester River cleaner.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The GEOINT Conference is the preeminent event of the year for the defense, intelligence and homeland security communities (http://geoint2010.com/). Each year the conference has provided attendees a unique opportunity to learn from leading experts, share best practices, and uncover the latest developments from government, military and private-sector leaders. Stewart Bruce, Samantha Bulkilvish ’09, Tyler Brice ’13, and Corey Stokes ’13 will attend this year’s conference in New Orleans from Nov 1-4. The group will participate in the K-14 Academic Track as well as man a table in the exhibit hall.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Points Collected by WC.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
This first one shows the locations of current monitoring sites run by several organizations.
This one shows the current status of historic aerial imagery. The images in the empty portion may exist somewhere, but they haven't been georeferenced yet. In order for aerial imagery to be useful, it has to be georeferenced first - that is to say, someone has to go in and match up the landmarks on the aerial image to their locations on the map, so that the image lines up correctly.
This cool map shows elevation and bathymetry for the watershed area.
This image is from the Quickbird satellite. In simple terms, the Quickbird divides light into a number of spectral "bands" based on wavelength, including wavelengths outside the visible light spectrum such as infrared. The particular band highlighted on this map, Near Infrared, is especially good at showing vegetation. All of the bright green represents biomass.
Finally, this image shows all the parcels that fall partly or entirely inside the watershed area, and their land use classifications. Urban and suburban areas have a different kind of impact on the watershed than agriculture or forested areas, so it's important for watershed analysts to know the primary land use types in an area.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Check it out - all the student project presentations are up. Watch us online and see video demonstrations of what we did in GIS. It's pretty nifty.
Check back regularly for more updates!
-Reported by Emily Aiken '10
Saturday, May 1, 2010
As a bathymetric analyst in Washington College’s GIS Lab, I have the exciting job of heading up the premier bathymetric analysis of the Chester River and surrounding Chesapeake Bay area. Bathymetry deals with the depth of a body of water. Its application is mostly seen in the form of a nautical chart used for navigation on the water. Maritime navigation is tricky and needs to be monitored very closely. Unlike navigating a vehicle on the land, seafaring vessels face constraints by their draft or how low they sit in the water. With these constraints it is vital for mariners to have an accurate and up to date understanding of the changes in the depth of water. My projects deal with the depth of the Chester River and the surrounding bay area. What was once a laborious process using a line with a weight on the end to measure how deep the water is, this data can now be acquired by a depth-finder and logged into an onboard chart plotter every second using an Autonomous Remote Global Underwater Surveillance (Argus). Washington College has partnered with Service Engineering, who developed Argus, to help field test the new device. Using this technology we can get accurate and up-to-date soundings of the river. The data is then compared to the soundings that have been taken of the Chester River by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) many years ago. We are working to re-measure and update the current set of bathymetric data on the Chester and use it to analyze the changes in the riverbed and to map potentially new navigational hazards. The fuel behind our work here on the Chester River is the relatively low boat traffic, which in turn leads to a diminished need for an updated sounding of the area by the government. We hope that as our data accumulates we can ultimately work with government organizations such as NOAA and make the Chester River the most up-to-date and best mapped river in the US.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
This Sunday I spent the day with Hunter Harris of Aloft Aerial Photography. A few days before setting flight I contacted Hunter to see what I needed to do. After listening to his advice I chose to concentrate on getting images of 11 historic sites along the river. He also suggested that I bring extra clothes, as it is much colder in the sky.
We met at the Easton Airport Terminal a little after 10:30 and then I followed him to his hangar. While Hunter was getting ready for flight he had me condense my maps and put them into clear plastic envelopes so they would be easier to handle in the air.
As we taxied down the runway I got a good lesson on how airport traffic is handled. Hunter and I communicated in the plane through headsets which also broadcasted the control tower and of course Chestertown’s radio station, WCTR. I got some of the best shots I’ve ever taken or seen of the
Being up in the air was like being on an hour long roller coaster ride. Hunter explained that as the earth heats up through the day warm air rises in columns. Sunday was no exception; there were plenty of bumps in the ride caused by these lifts. We traveled at amazing speeds. In no time at all we went from
-Reported by John Anderson '11
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
The goal of GIS on the Chester is to make the Chester River the best mapped river in the United States, while providing accurate data that will help a variety of different groups, show people self-responsibility when using the river, and teach them protection measures needed to preserve the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay for future generations. Professor Stew Bruce’s students work on a different aspect of the project. Marta Laskowski ‘12 examines historic and recent oyster bars that are along the Chester River. She wants to map out oyster areas that are currently protected and others that will be protected under new legislation. Marta will identify watermen who fish for oysters and collect data on oyster fishing licenses. Matt Stiles ‘12 is mapping the locations of public boat landings and where they are on the river. He will also collect data about public fishing. Ellen Liebenow ’12 is working with Stew Bruce to locate point and nonpoint source pollution along the Chester River; they will then put the high polluters into a color coding map. Student Emily Aiken ’10 will collect water test data and then create a point file hyper linking the data to spatial locations. While each student works on something different, they collaborate in order to make the Chester River cleaner.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
John Anderson, Emily Aiken, Samantha Bulkilvish, and I went out. John was looking to get more historic houses and this time he prepared a field map that exactly identified which homes along the river were considered historic house by the Maryland Historic Trust (http://mht.maryland.gov/). Emily was scouting sites for her project on establishing an environmental water testing grid on the river.
Before we left we had a nice talk with John Wagner, Waterfront Director, and told him of our idea to test water coming out of the town sewer plant. He informed us something we did not know which is the town now dumps the outflow from the sewer plant from a pipe that is submerged into the river. We need to find the exact location of this pipe so we can submerge a test collector and sample right where the outflow comes into the river. I thought we would find a simple pipe draining right into Radcliffe Creek and we could just sample the outflow as it poured out of the pipe.
In addition to John Anderson getting a lot of house images we also helped Matt out and got a lot of dock images for his project. We videotaped a couple of marinas too for Matt. Note to self, we need a better video camera with a gyro stabilizer.
The highlight of the trip I think was when we saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree next to the river.
When it flew away we got to see an aerial bird fight as the osprey seemed to chase it away. And we saw more deer which I got on video tape along with osprey sitting around. With all of this and the literally hundreds of different other kinds of seagulls, ducks, cormorants, and other birds it was like the wild kingdom on the Chester today. Another great day on the river!
Monday, March 29, 2010
Andrew Newell is doing his class project on a bathymetric analysis of the Chester River and was having trouble finding the data from the NOAA site. There is this thing called ENC Direct and you can download vector files but it seems kind of clunky way to go about it. I did some more searching and stumbled across a cool site (http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/bathymetry/hydro.html) where you can search for actual bathymetric surveys. I did a word search on Chester and instantly found digital versions of the 1846 survey of the Chester. Pretty cool. Later on that night I leaned there is also a web map search version which is oh so much easier then the text search I started with. I also found 1898 maps and 1940 maps that had actual digital xyz data. I thought this is exactly what Andrew needs.
Then I wondered if I remembered how to turn that into a 3d scene of the bathymetric data so I could quickly show Andrew how to do it in our weekly meeting the next day. This was about 9 pm. I went ahead and converted the xyz text into an excel spreadsheet and brought this into ArcView. I used the Add XY event tool and created a point file. Then I used the point to IDW raster and made a raster image of the points. I brought this into ArcScene and then used the option to layer the raster surface against the z values for depth. This should make a cool 3D surface.
It did not work. I used a vertical exaggeration rate of 5 as this is what I had been using when I did the same 3D surface when I used elevation data on the area around campus. I tried several things, redid the entire process and even used the online help to see if I was doing something stupid. Well finally after a few hours I figured out that I need to make the vertical exaggeration 200, not 5. Victory!
The other interesting thing to realize is that the latest bathymetric survey of the river dates from 1940. We can also digitize the older surveys and look at change in depth over time. This will be a lot of work so I suggested to Andrew the next day that he do one small area as a pilot project and future students can pick up where he leaves off. While I don’t think Andrew will get a chance to do this when we get the prototype Argus unit (http://argus.survice.com/) on the Reinell we can then track the same survey line that they did in 1846 and compare depth change from 1846 to 2010. That is change over a 164 year period. Should turn out to be very interesting indeed.
-Reported by Stewart Bruce
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Spring has sprung and the weather finally got nice enough to take the old pontoon boat out on the water so we could start collecting data for our GIS on the Chester project. Our new donated boat, a 22 foot Reinell, is trapped at Handy Point Marina by sailboats until they put these boats back in the water. We boated right past the new CES research vessel with envy in our eyes and decided to head up river since it really was kind of windy. John Anderson, Matt Stiles and I were on board with Andrew Wright acting as Captain. It felt really good to be back on the water after a long and blizzard like winter.
Matt needed to collect images of docks for his class project and John was looking to get some images of historic homes from the river for his river tour guide map project. I brought along our really cool Ricoh camera with built-in GPS so we could collect images and GPS points. The Ricoh camera is nice but the GPS Photo Link software that goes with it allows you to simply take a picture and after you process it the software creates a shapefile with a hyperlink to the image already for you saving hours back in the lab. This means more time for us to do fieldwork of course. John brought his own camera but had no way to record what he was taking so he used the Ricoh too. I think his camera may be better but it doesn’t have GPS.
It was a little chilly but we all had jackets. Next time we need to take hats as we all got red faces from sunburn. Just because its cold doesn’t mean you don’t get sunburn. Andrew used the boat hook pole to check depth so we did not mess up the new propeller on the new engine. We had to cycle the new engine to break it in so we took a rather lazy track up river. We saw lots of Osprey nests and one Bald Eagle nest where we could see the white head of the eagle. And we saw a small herd of deer swimming across one of the small creeks too but too fast for us to get a picture. The map shows our route and we plan to make one of these maps every time we go out on the river so check back on our progress.
When we finally got back to the boathouse the rowers were out and so was the Sultana so we did a little diversion to check these out. (These are the little circles on our route map) We ended up down at the yacht club and used our video camera to record the marina there. A single picture won’t do justice to any of the marinas so we decided to video tape all marinas. It is interesting now that most of them are empty with all the boats on shoppers. We will redo the videos at the peak of summer so we can see the contrast.
-Reported by Stewart Bruce
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
By: Heather Black ‘13
The diets of human beings have changed dramatically throughout history. When comparing the diets of tribal groups to those of the modern western world, one can see that there is also a large contrast. We all know how modern diets impact our health, but just what types of food were involved in the diets of tribal groups? Are they healthier than ours? And where are they located? Professor Schindler’s GRW class: Food, People, and the Planet, set out to answer these questions and with the help of Andrew Wright used GIS software to map the location of each group. The project involved studying the research of Weston Price, a dentist who traveled the world and documented the diets of 14 different groups isolated from the industrialized world. The class discovered that the diets were vastly different from ours and consisted of variety raw foods including raw milk and dairy products, unprocessed grains, organ meats, and quality animal fats. Dr. Price also documented the almost complete absence of tooth decay, obesity, and the other “western” diseases such as diabetes we currently suffer from in the modern western world. The class placed this data into excel sheets and with the help of Andrew Wright used ArcGIS 9.3 to map the information, showing the locations of the different groups.
Professor Bill Schindler:
"People making important changes the modern food system and our diets are still utilizing the data the Weston Price collected in the 1930's. Many of these people believe that infor¬mation such as this can provide better guidance for how humans should be eating than modern food science can."
Cartographer: Ann Hoang ‘13
Sam frequently uses ArcGIS for normal things like digitizing or geocoding, but he also gets the chance to do fun things like building custom geoprocessing tools. He is actually in the process of using the ArcGIS software development kit to build completely customized application from the ground up. He regularly programs in C, C++, C#, Python, Java, and VBScript, just to name a few. He works for a development, research and commercialization firm.
The Washington College GIS Department in partnership with Aloft Aerial Photography has designed a new pilot project that will allow concerned local citizens to report environmental problems in the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay suffers from numerous environmental problems. While some are reported many remain unreported and unresolved. To help solve this dilemma the GIS lab created a central reporting and tracking program that is tied with a web mapping interface. This allows anyone to view all the locations of the problems and the status of each reported problem. Once a problem is reported and mapped, different Federal, state, and local non-profit organizations can take action. The Bay Watch Chesapeake pilot will determine if it is feasible to have all of these recorded problems in a single accessible source available to everyone. By completing a beta version of the program we have taken a huge step forward bringing environmental protection and awareness to the age of Facebook & Twitter.
Above is a pilot of our program that allows individuals to report environmental violations through the use of Google Maps.
Chris Farley ‘11
“Working on the Google API code and Bay Watch has enhanced my knowledge of the environmen¬tal problems on the bay and has furthered my knowledge in GIS and computer coding.”
Otto Borden ‘13
“Working on the Bay Watch project has taught me a lot about Google API and Java Script. “
Example of a problem being reported.
Monday, March 1, 2010
With a renewed grant, the GIS lab continues its work to provide crime mapping in the state of Maryland. The Washington College GIS Lab also conducts an outreach program, which invites law enforcement agencies to sign up for crime mapping training. Caryn Thomas ’05 M’09 and Andrew Wright guide student interns in the lab. Here are some recent projects that these students are doing.
Mary Kelley ‘11
I am working on a project to evaluate differences in crime rates between communities designed with the principles of new urbanism verses traditional cul-de-sac style communities. This is a fairly controversial subject and should generate a lot of interest when I publish the final report.
Tracey Bienemann ‘11
I am working with the 2000 United States Census data to define disadvantaged census
blocks based on previous research. The challenging census data first had to be decoded to determine what exactly each column of data contained, followed by selecting the criteria found to be important in the classification of disadvantage level in census blocks. Once the data is decoded, the necessary criteria will be brought to a map, and then it will be organized to show the chosen data in ranks to display census blocks containing some of the following features: low income, high numbers of vacant housing and house/apartment renters, high percentages of school drop-outs, high percentages of mother-only households and high percentages of unemployment. Determining disadvantaged neighborhoods may allow authorities to further aid those who are impoverished and in danger of crime. One area that maps may focus on is census blocks around the city of Baltimore.
Jeffrey Nutting ‘13
Once I graduate from Washington College my career goal is working with the FBI. When I learned there were openings within the crime analysis and mapping division of the GIS program I saw it as a great opportunity. The crime maps, among other work I’ve been doing this year, has helped reinforce my goal. This year has been a great experience and is extremely beneficial for me. I appreciate the opportunity that has been given to me to work with in the lab.
Friday, February 26, 2010
During the time period June 20th - 26th, the GIS lab at Washington College will be hosting a Computer Mapping Technology Summer Camp. Computer mapping technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) offer great professional opportunities for the future. For this reason, Washington College has designed the summer camp to expose students to the field, allowing them to apply skills and address real community issues. During this exciting and stimulating week, students will engage in A Day in the Field, where they will collect data and from it derive a project, which they will later present to their family and fellow campers. Along with this, campers will also have the opportunity to enjoy activities such as kayaking, swimming, and the grand GIS scavenger hunts. If interested please go to http://gis.washcoll.edu/summercamp.php and download the appropriate forms or contact GIS Educator Samantha Bulkilvish for questions or concerns.
Friday, February 12, 2010
The Washington College Geographic Information Systems lab has continued its commitment to provide education to students today to make them competitive in the geospatial workforce of tomorrow through the Geospatial Education Technology Initiative (GetIT). The curriculum is taught through an online classroom called Moodle. Our Moodle program currently moved to a new more user friendly, website (www.wcgetit.org), that is used by WC students in GIS classes, adult professionals utilizing distance learning and K-12 schools throughout the country. Our new website allows these students easier access to our staff and other means of assistance as they go through the curriculum.
Through a renewal of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) grant we are able to offer quality education in GIS to Maryland adults who want to begin learning (or continue learning) about GIS.
Our program also developed a way to help K-12 schools across America. The GetIT program allows teachers to use our curriculum to teach GIS to their students; however the program is designed to be easier for teachers to introduce data from their own areas to make GIS more applicable to their students.
The site has a guest accessible section featuring our special topics courses.
This is an incredible feat and none of it would be possible without the hard work of our student interns; Heather Black ‘13, Otto Borden 13’, Anna Burress ‘13, Glenn Chew 13’, Joe DeStefano ‘13, Caroline Grier ‘10, Andrew Hale ‘10, Elise Keller ‘10, Smaa Koraym 13’, Nich Tremper ‘13 and Megan Wise ‘10.
Our New Training Site wcgetit.org
Screen Capture from Digitizing Lesson