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Using GIS to eradicate Polio

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Interesting news article I found on the use of GIS by the World Health Organization to locate populations in need of vaccination.


GIS Technology Helps Eradicate Polio

World Health Organization uses geographic information systems to find and reach the few remaining locations where polio lurks.

In the battle to eradicate polio, even a 99% success rate is failure.

But the World Health Organization (WHO) expects that the efforts of its dedicated professionals — combined with vaccines, other local and international resources, and tools such as geographic information systems (GIS) — will eradicate the crippling and potentially deadly disease worldwide by 2018, according to Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO’s assistant director general, who spoke to InformationWeek. The effort is known as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Today all countries are free of polio except remote regions of Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. To eliminate polio, WHO must vaccinate every child under the age of five who lives in those areas. Aylward explained that sometimes the last remaining strain of polio found in these hard-to-reach enclaves requires two or even three vaccinations. Because polio, which transfers via person-to-person contact or indirect contact (such as sharing food or water), can show no symptoms, vaccination is the best prevention.

“There’s very little room for error in disease eradication — you’re either infected or you’re not,” says Aylward. “A lot of what we’re doing has huge benefit to other areas. We’ve learned where people are, how to access them, and how to get coverage to them.”

Locating children in these isolated locations is challenging. The regions lack roads and signage and are largely unmapped, Aylward says, so WHO relies on satellite imagery and Esri’s Arc GIS, a technology WHO uses to find populations that are unvaccinated.


Rest of story HERE

Traveling the world through maps

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Hello my awesome followers! I’ve noticed it’s been awhile since I’ve actually chatted about a particular topic, so I thought I’d bring up a bit of inspiration and make a post.

Have you ever looked at a map…whether it be a paper map or say a Google map…and just gotten lost in your own imagination about traveling a particular route or trail and seeing where it takes you? I’m like that all the time. I get so much enjoyment out of looking at Google Maps, zooming in or out, looking at different paths, and maybe hoping I have my chance to investigate it one day. If it’s a trip across town, sometimes I do get the chance; if it’s a trip across the state or beyond, I usually have to wait.

Being in geography and meteorology has always put me in the world of maps. I have on many occasions hand-drawn surface analysis maps with lots of Ls and Hs and lines of constant pressure/temperature with cold fronts and warm fronts. I’ve also used GIS to create maps based on population with spatial statistics layered in, such as mean population centers and standard deviation directional ellipses. Maps can be powerful tools for communication.

But what about their basic use as a tool for travel? Something which goes back thousands of years? I look at streets and highways and interstates as opportunities to dream of distant places never traveled. In some cases, I look at it knowing I will make the trip one day. For example, my fiance and I drove to Kansas City, MO a couple months ago for a weekend trip. Before we had decided to go there, I looked at the map of the general route and imagined what a nice journey it would be and how I wanted to see another city I had always wanted to visit since moving to eastern Nebraska. In doing so, I created a series of positive impressions which reinforced themselves and led me to desire to make the drive and see what I might have been missing. It was an enjoyable drive and an enjoyable trip while there. I remember utilizing technology as well as my brain to get around. Sometimes the GPS on my phone was useful, other times it actually confused us or the map wasn’t current; that’s when the mental map, the map in the mind created from memory and landmarks came into play and saved the day. Having spatial awareness is the whole point of maps. Once you have that, you can adapt to a world that changes when the map is static.

My current dream trip is an extremely long one; the 13 hr journey from Lincoln, NE to Starkville, MS. I have to travel there next summer for a week-long graduate seminar which will include the presentation of my research. Driving likely ends up being cheaper than flying and renting a car. And so I have examined the likely route, the possible pit stops and imagined what the destination is like.

Anyone else look at maps a lot like I do and wonder what travels might lie ahead?

Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

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Originally posted on retireediary:

I don’t think I know enough or able to describe this monument better than what is provided by Wikipedia.DSCF0255

The Overview below is lifted form the Wikipedia:

 The monument is located in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, itself in the city of Hiroshima. Designed by native artists Kazuo Kikuchi and Kiyoshi Ikebe, the monument was built using money derived from a fund-raising campaign by Japanese school children including Sadako’s classmates, with the main statue entitled “Atomic Bomb Children” being unveiled on May 5, the Japanese Children’s Day holiday. Sadako is immortalized at the top of the statue, where she holds a crane. Thousands of origami cranes from all over the world are offered around the monument on a daily basis, with ancient Japanese tradition holding that one who folds a thousand cranes can have one wish granted. They serve as a sign that the children who make them and those…

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City of Seattle votes on the creation of a Park District

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Interesting news story in the Seattle Times on a coming vote by Seattlites on the creation of a Park District specifically tasked with creating and maintaining (as well as raising money) for a superior park system in the city. It also discusses the issues the City of Tacoma had prior to its development of a Park District 107 years ago. This is a good example of districting different things into a growing city. In order for a city to be considered “world-class” it must not only have the business, residential, and entertainment districts, but also aesthetic priorities. People want to see nature and not just concrete. Green grass, trees, maintained streams and creeks are all important for the pleasantries of city life that can help attract folks to the city as a place to settle. And as I watch Seattle rapidly changing and growing every time I go to visit, I can definitely see the need for something like this. Seattle voters will just have to decide whether they like the idea and who will be running it.


Ballot measure could give Seattle parks a needed boost

The proposed Seattle Metro Park District, which voters will see on ballots going out in the mail this week, would generate a projected $48 million per year via a new property tax. Here’s how it would compare to Tacoma’s successful 107-year-old park-district system.

Seattle Times staff reporter

At the turn of the 20th century, the young city of Tacoma faced a dilemma.

Since being named the western terminus for the Northern Pacific Railway, Tacoma had been growing rapidly for three decades, attracting transplants by the thousands who hoped to strike it rich in the developing city.

But with growth came massive infrastructure costs, and Tacoma had hit its borrowing limit. Meanwhile, Seattle and Portland were investing big money in parks systems, both poised to outspend and outgrow Tacoma’s.

“If we were going to be a world-class city, we needed world-class parks,” said Melissa McGinnis, historian for Metro Parks Tacoma.

On April 2, 1907, the city voted to establish the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma, an independent body of five elected commissioners with the ability to raise property taxes to be spent on city parks.

“Spokane and Bellingham are taking similar steps,” read a 1907 article from the Tacoma Daily Ledger, published just before the vote, “and before long, it is probable that Seattle will follow.”

“Before long” turned out to be an understatement.

Read rest of story HERE.

A Midsummer update

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Hope everyone is having a good start to the weekend wherever you are in America or the world. First off, let me say thanks to those who are following me and especially new followers. I’m 10 followers away from reaching 300! The 2nd year anniversary of the blog is coming up in another month and it’d be great to reach that goal. So if you know any other bloggers out there interested in meteorology/geography stuff, feel free to tell them about the blog or just reblog my stuff, even old stuff. I haven’t posted as much lately because of business, but I’m trying to get in words about earthquakes here, or typhoons there and I might start posting more about geopolitical stuff again sometime too. So, help me get to 300! Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter if you are so inclined (my twitter feed shows up on the right side of the blog page…do mostly weather/geography, but also sports stuff).

Nothing much to update on in terms of the graduate research. I’ve been tweaking it more even since the last update, so some things have changed, but not the overall goal. Tropical cyclone wind climatology for the northern Gulf Coast of the US is pretty much the same idea. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be writing the methodology for the research, which I expect to take up many pages as I need to go over quite a bit of detailed steps of how I’m going to be doing what I’m doing, including the statistical analysis. After I turn in the methodology and get advice from the professor on corrections, I’ll do revisions to the methods and literature review and turn them in as part of a partial research paper the first week of August. The rest of the paper (the results and analysis) will be written up later this year or next year after the actual research methodology is conducted. I will ultimately go to Mississippi State sometime next summer (June I think) of 2015 for a research presentation before the faculty and fellow students.

As far as school goes, I decided to make some minor class changes for a couple future semesters. As those who’ve followed for awhile know, I received some training in geographic information system software and cartographic theory while at South Dakota State University (where I received my bachelor’s degree). But compared to my meteorology training, my GIS knowledge is very basic…only three courses utilizing GIS. So to build more skill in GIS/remote sensing, I’ll take Advanced GIS in Spring 2015 and Remote Sensing in Fall 2015, the latter being my final semester. Based on the course descriptions, I think both will help me get more solid skills going which will help me in the job search after I graduate. I’d like to be a dual searcher, looking for both meteorology as well as lower-level GIS positions. I’ll be looking for work in both private and public spheres. And for meteorology, I’ve heard from professionals that increasingly understanding GIS is considered a plus.

So that’s about it. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

6.8 magnitude earthquake off Japanese coast. No Pacific-wide tsunami expected.

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However, local tsunami may be possible. A tsunami advisory is in effect for parts of northern Japan until further notice.


Get ready Guam…significant tropical storm likely headed your way

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Tropical Depression 9-W has formed in the Western Pacific is forecast to impact the island of Guam potentially as a tropical storm with sustained winds of 60 mph during the afternoon Saturday (Guam time). Winds of this strength can do damage and produce high surf. Locally heavy rain is also possible. I know I have at least one Guam follower…so if anyone knows anyone there, tell them to keep a heads up. Not the worst storm Guam has seen, but could still be some of the strongest winds the island has seen in quite awhile. Check the NWS Guam page for the latest information:


Wind swath map provided by the National Weather Service office in Guam valid at 7am local time.
Wind swath map provided by the National Weather Service office in Guam valid at 7am local time July 11th.


Visible image of TD 9-W at 7:32 am local time July 10th.
Visible image of TD 9-W at 7:32 am local time July 11th.