Looking forward to some sun (or fog) in California! Myself and two group members, Sara Harrison and Qing Lu are off to present at the Association of American Geographers annual conference in San Francisco. I’ve pasted the links to sessions below. Also check out other Geothink.ca presenters as well. Hope to see you there!
When it comes to managing water resources, there is no shortage of problems. The consequences impact security, ecological health, environmental justice, and economic development. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Connecting Water Resources conference hosted by the Canadian Water Network. The 2015 theme, ‘from Knowledge to Action’ stressed the need to address a gap between what we know about sustainable and equitable water systems and our capacity to implement solutions.
When it came to implementation, the speakers uniformly put people, communities, cooperation, and governance front and center of the discussion. Former Premiere Bob Rae urged Canadians to critically examine assumptions of water security. More than 100 communities endure boil-water advisories in Canada. These advisories disproportionately impact remote areas, creating a gap between the water security experiences of different communities. Rae tasked Canadians to abandon ‘us and them’ mentalities and to address water security as a national problem. Patricia Mulroy gave a nod to water competition anxieties, opening her talk with “don’t worry, I didn’t come with any straws”. As the former director of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Mulroy was responsible for securing water to support growing communities in a desert regime relying on a contested and stressed water source. Mulroy emphasized that all communities are linked to a common water destiny – or else, she says, “We will all fail together”. Margaret Catley-Carlson illustrated the centrality of water by playing off of the question “Is it a water issue?” Answering “yes of course it is” and -No “when water goes by your house and you can’t drink it, that’s not a water issue, that’s an exclusion issue”. Afternoon activities consisted of smaller group sessions. I attended Blue Cities: moving to the systems we need. A variety of topics relevant to municipal water managers were presented. Some important themes that surfaced were regulatory reform in the water sector, a willingness to look outward for solutions, and the importance of citizen engagement. These perspectives indicate a strong and growing role for the social sciences in water resources management.
Finally, there were the conversations that occurred in between events. I had the opportunity to hear about initiatives that aim to couple research and action in innovative ways. Of particular interest are the Ryerson Urban Water1 multidisciplinary collective in Toronto, Canada, and the Environmental CrossRoads Initiative2, in the City University of New York (CUNY), US. I have provided links below if you wish to learn more about these groups. At CWR-2015 lively discussions occurred across disciplinary and professional boundaries, without any sign of struggle. It can be done. I look forward to picking up on many of the conversations that started at the conference, and I look forward to the next Canadian Water Network event.
*The speakers are too numerous to discuss in this post, and although I identified a few themes and speakers, I have left out many excellent participants. For more information on the speakers and the conference, see the Canadian Water Network website3, listed below.
The AAG is always a great event, an opportunity to see the leading edge of geographic research, reconnect with colleagues, and of course, to meet new people while enjoying some great American cities. This year, the AAG returns to Chicago at the end of April – hopefully with some warm spring weather (we were spoiled by the AAG in Tampa last year). For this 2015 edition, myself and Andrea Minano will be presenting. Here are the sessions:
For anyone heading to the 2012 Canadian Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in Waterloo (May 28 – June 2), I am co-hosting (with Dr. Rob Feick) two sessions on VGI and GIScience 2.0. The session are called “TECHNOLOGY, SCIENCE AND CITIZENS: GIScience 2.0 and the role of volunteered geographic information”. The first session is from 1:30-3:00 on Wednesday May 30th, and the second is from 3:30 – 5:00 on the same day. Both sessions are being held in the Peters building, room 1013, on Laurier University campus. Here is a list of abstracts being presented:
Wednesday 1:30 to 3:00, Peters 1013
1. Shayne Wright, University of British Columbia Okanagan, “Access, Engagement and Change: Characteristics for Indentifying Community Participation on the Geospatial Web.”
2. Michael G. Leahy, ESRi Canada, “The influence of Participation Format on VGI Creation and Collaboration in a PPGIS.”
3. Jonathan Cinnamon, Simon Fraser University, “Volunteered Geographic Information and the data- divide.”
4. Michael Martin, University of British Columbia, “Online Volunteerism, Geographers and the Global South: Recognizing Opportunity and Reality with Mapping across Borders.”
5. Samantha Brennan, University of British Columbia Okanagan, “Igniting Interest in Online Participatory Mapping: VGI and Forest Fire Impacts.”
6. Richard Kelly, University of Waterloo, “The Snowtweets Project: crowdsourcing snow information using social media.”
7. Peter A. Johnson, McGill University, “How Sustainable is the Geoweb?”
The eighth edition of the Vespucci Summer Institute for the Advancement of Geographic Information Science was held from June 14th to June 18th, near beautiful Florence, Italy. The goals and purpose of the Summer Institute are outlined on the Vespucci website (www.vespucci.org):
“The Summer Institute is aimed at researchers from the university, commercial, and government sectors. It provides an inspiring and productive opportunity for peer-to-peer interaction with leading international experts in the field. Participants will:
Learn the state of the art in the topic areas
Understand and explore tomorrow’s research and market challenges
Be challenged to think laterally outside their daily work setting
Present their own work and ideas to receive feedback and advice
Get one-on-one access to experts in a relaxed and productive setting
Improve presentation and team work skills
Return home refreshed and newly motivated”
The themes for this year’s Summer Institute was “Interfacing Social and Environmental Modeling” with presentations by two teams, the first led by Gilberto Camara, from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE), who focused on the use of spatial models to combat perceived misconceptions about the degree and extent of Amazonian deforestation, and the second was led by Henk Scholten and Eduardo Dias representing Vrije University, who focused on integrating scientific wildfire models with emergency response systems.
Both instruction teams framed their respective presentations around specific models that integrated social and environmental variables. In his lectures, Dr. Camara drew from many classic examples, such as Schelling’s segregation model, to demonstrate a basic approach to modeling with cellular automata. He then presented TerraME (www.terrame.org), an open-source GIS/modeling environment developed by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research. Students were given time to follow a tutorial using sample data to familiarize themselves with the benefits and constraints of TerraME. Students then worked in groups to develop a hypothetical approach to modeling change dynamics in the Amazon.
Similarly, Dr. Scholten and Dr. Dias built their lectures on the use of the FARSITE fire model (www.farsite.org). Participants were given a self-paced tutorial to familiarize themselves with FARSITE. Then, working in groups, students developed a hypothetical model to represent the flow of information and decision steps used in an emergency management system. Dr. Scholten and Dr. Dias then presented their own comprehensive work on developing an emergency management system in the Netherlands, using the EAGLE system developed in collaboration with Microsoft.
I attended this event as one of 28 participants. The majority of attendees came from the United States, with 18 representatives from a variety of universities. The remaining 10 students hailed from institutions in Canada (2), Brazil (2), Germany (5), and the European Community Joint Research Centre (1). The experience level of attendees was varied, including recent master’s graduates, PhD students of all levels, and a small handful of postdoctoral and industry researchers. For me, the greatest benefit to attending the Vespucci Summer Institute was the opportunity to meet these other students and discuss the similarities and differences between our research. These conversations occurred informally over breaks for espresso and lunch, as well as at the two formal group dinners. I was struck by the incredible diversity represented in the group of attendees – in addition to many typical “GIScientists”, there were individuals with backgrounds in fields such as political science, sociology, robotics, engineering, computer science, public health, and ecology. I found that each participant had an important viewpoint and the opportunity to access this “collective intelligence”, even just in an informal setting, was one of the most valuable aspects of the week. I have no doubt that I will stay in touch with many of these fellow participants, and look forward to future collaboration as our careers progress.
The 2010 Vespucci Summer Institute was a very memorable experience. The setting was very comfortable and the technologies presented by the instructors showed important applications of GIScience tools in diverse areas. Most important however, were the unstructured networking opportunities that occurred between students and also between students and instructors. Considering that I spend much of my work time in front of a computer screen, it is easy to forget the benefits that come from face-to-face communication. For this reason, the Vespucci Summer Institute was a strong reminder that one conversation over coffee can produce much more than dozens of emails.
I would like to thank the Summer Institute organizers Michael Gould, Max Craglia, David Mark, and Werner Kuhn, for their efforts in making the Vespucci Institute happen. I would also like to thank the generosity of the GEOIDE Network in providing funding without which I would not have been able to attend.