ISDE Day 3 Summary

Read my overview of ISDE5 here, or visit their web site for more details. Also, read my summary from ISDE5 Day 1, and my summary from ISDE 5 Day 2. So, after nearly two weeks of attending conferences, I’m getting a bit tired. But, I’m valiantly attempting to still summarize highlights. I will follow up later (maybe next week?) with more details for some of the things I liked most. Here are some of my notes from Day 3 – my apologies, but I missed several of the talks during the morning session due to other obligations, and the ones I did see had little to do with Google Earth.

  • International Polar Year – Technical session. Matt Nolan presented the IPY Google Earth network link. He appealed to other IPY scientists to start developing more KML content to be included in the network link. They are also working to get the network link included as a Google Earth layer. Although it is a bit unique in form, I think Google should make an effort to highlight the IPY content. Several suggestions were made to help improve the process (writing a manual to help scientists understand how best to submit the KML content, doing some user testing to improve the design, and using more features of GE – like 3D – to grab the attention of the general public). Download the IPY network link . Stefan Geens also demonstrated that he was implementing GeoRSS tags for IPY news and will be publishing a network link allowing people to visualize IPY news in Google Maps or Earth.

  • Sensor Webs in Digital Earth – Matt Heavner talked about the importance of sensor webs to gather and collect data from different types of sensors to scientific research. He then discussed why KML is an important vehicle for sharing and visualizing the data from sensor webs. KML enables scientists to not only collect data in real-time, but also show different forms of data (placemarks, tables, photos, graphs, 3D shapes, and web cam photos) all tied to location. By using KML you also can use either Google Earth or the browser-based Google Maps. Although Stefan Geens (who was attending) pointed out Maps doesn’t handle areas around the poles very well.

  • Volcanic Ash Dispersion Modeling in Google Earth – Peter Webley of the Alaska Volcano Observatory presented his research visualizations which use a very innovative application of Google Earth technology to show ash plumes which are thrown into the atmosphere by volcanoes. I first saw this at the AGU conference last fall. But, I never wrote about it because there was no available KML file. It turns out their model outputs 2000 placemarks with graphical icons to model the plume as particles. The icons are designed to look like gray ash from a distance and it works quite well. They also use time animation to show how the plumes drift. They also have the ability to predict how the ash plumes will drift based on atmospheric models. The airlines use this to avoid flight plans which might take them into these dangerous clouds of ash. You can read more about this at their web site – which includes several GIF animations. I can’t resist, so here is one example showing ash coming from Mt. St. Helens’ eruption in 1980 in Google Earth:

  • NASA Earth Observatory (NEO) – David Herring presented the efforts of NASA to provide a valuable educational tool designed to not only educate the public, but also to attract young people into the field of science. Not only that, but the data is very valuable for illustrating climatic change, how humans are effecting the environment, and for analyzing our planet. The NEO web site has recently been re-designed to be even more effective. What I like is their support for showing the data in Google Earth. If you click on “Ocean->Sea Surface Temperature” you not only see a flat 2D map showing the data, but also a link for a Google Earth version like this . Although, I was disappointed to note the data came from 1985. But, I liked David’s approach to designing better ways to view data.

  • Spot Image Announced Planet Action – The president of Spot Image US announced a new initiative called Planet Action. My hat is off to any company which takes on the noble goal of trying to organize a call to action to help take care of our planet. And, a satellite imagery company certainly has a good perspective to understand what is happening on Earth. So far they have enlisted the aid of partners: ESRI, Unesco, and Infoterra. They should definitely talk to Google if they want to get maximum exposure.

  • After these sessions, there was a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony. During the cocktails I managed to grab Stefan Geens for a photo. Look for a separate post on that. One of the winners of the visualization challenge was UNEP for their Google Earth layer which shows 120 locations around the Earth where noticeable problems demonstrating natural climatic change and human destruction of the environment have occurred. See my earlier post on the UNEP layer which is now under the new “Global Awareness” layer in GE.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was released. He worked in 3D graphics for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank left in 2009 to circumnavigate the earth by sailboat as part of the Tahina Expedition.

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