Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Location Data Reveals Our Changing Planet


Earlier this month, a group of policy and legal experts from around the world met at an event co-hosted by the Centre for Spatial Law and Policy and Harvard University's Center for Geographic Analysis to examine the challenges related to our ever-evolving location-enabled society. It was a truly fascinating event with eye-opening presentations on smart transportation systems, tweet-mapping and Google Glass.

As experts openly debated the good and bad of the current Wild West era of geospatial technologies, it became clear that its current and sometimes lawless advancement is influencing trends in more traditional, related areas, such as Earth observations and environmental information. 

Consider the following: Last week, Climate Central posted a report that found that "Six months after [Superstorm] Sandy, data from the eight hardest hit states shows that 11 billion gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage flowed into rivers, bays, canals, and in some cases city streets, largely as a result of record storm-surge flooding that swamped the region's major sewage treatment facilities." About the same time, Space Daily published a story on how development banks are using Earth observations to better monitor and track projects and investment globally. The BBC and NPR, in turn, reported that digitized Nimbus 1 satellite data from 1964 clarified the extent of ice cover in the Antarctic at that time, confirming the theory that sea ice is shrinking.

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