What do you do with an old spy satellite?

Tuesday, 27 November, 2012

Good question and one that was reported during the summer - a better than Hubble pair of left-over military hardware that was never used (and can “spot a dime on top of the Washington monument”!) and goign for begging. Only $100,000 to store whilst you make up your minds. AnNyway, NASA is now asking the community what they want to investigate.

ArduSat

Tuesday, 27 November, 2012

I know this did the rounds a while back but the remote sensing and Arduino worlds have firmly collided with the great ArduSat project. A tiny 10×10cm cubesat packed with lots of sensors that are Arduino controlled. Trying to launch summer 2013 but I guess see how the project develops. It went forward for extended funded up to $100,000 which was successful so interesting to see how it goes!

More NPP VIIRS images

Thursday, 15 November, 2012

A great series of images showing night time imagery from VIIRS (you need to click on the image to get the slideshow). Great catch Josie, thanks!

UPDATE: and over at EOID and again

Chartered Geographer

Thursday, 15 November, 2012

In the last post I mentioned the Chartered Geographer (CGeog) accreditation run by the Royal Geographical Society. As I said in that earlier post, CGeog offers professional accreditation for those using geographical skills and knowledge on a daily basis and allows you to put those tantalising CGeog letters after your name! However it is much more than that…. as Wikipedia notes, Chartered status is awarded to a person

“who has gained a level of competence in a particular field of work and as such has been awarded a formal credential by an organization in recognition; it is considered a status of professional competency…… Chartered status originates from and may normally only be awarded by Institutions that have been incorporated under Royal Charter by the British Monarch.”

So there you have it - recognition of professional competency and of significant status (Wikipedia’s entry on CGeog).

Application criteria require a geography (or related degree) and a minimum of 6 years using geographical skills full time in the workplace… and then a requirement to maintain a minimum amount of continuing professional development. This is a key part of Chartered status in any profession - not just a validation of your professional capability, but a commitment to the profession on your part and a requirement to continually strive to exceed that competency.

Besides the core CGeog application, there are specialisms that applicants can choose to submit to: geomorphology, GIS and teaching. All have very active communities which drive these specialisms (and strangely I find myself being able to submit to all three!)

For academics it is perhaps easier to demonstrate professional use of geography and besides the standard application form and CV (yes, you keep that up to date!), there is a personal statement about your wider commitment to the subject. Overall the CGeog is a highly valuable and worthwhile status that derives value from the high standards required and demonstration of competency and CPD. It is an ideal career development opportunity for MSc students to get on to, particularly if they have been in the workplace for several years and is also suited to well established professionals to demonstrate their capability and leadership to both staff and “customers” alike. The final part of my personal statement sums things up (for me):

“Demonstrating excellence in geographic research is part of the remit of an academic career. As such it is the “extra-curricula” aspects of geographic skills and knowledge that are of importance to further aspects of the “geographic mission” that RGS is a part of. Attaining Chartered Geographer status is not about the accreditation itself, but rather the process needed to achieve and maintain it. As geographers we want to evangelise about the importance of “geographic understanding” and one way this can be furthered is through accreditation and the attendance and use of CPD as part of that process. In this sense, Chartered Geographer is vital to the health of the subject.”

GIS as a profession…in the UK

Sunday, 11 November, 2012

Following on from my previous post on David DiBiase’s paper of GIS as a profession, it’s worth pondering the UK situation briefly (and no reflection on the original US centric paper….you obviously can’t do this for every country in the world!).

In the UK we (particularly) have the Association for Geographic Information - broadly speaking an advocate of GIS. Or, as they say:

“The Mission of the AGI is to maximise the use of geographic information (GI) for the benefit of the citizen, good governance and commerce.

The AGI exists to represent the interests of the UK’s GI industry; a wide-ranging group of public and private sector organisations, suppliers of GI software, hardware, data and services, consultants, academics and interested individuals.”

So there we have it, an industry body to represent all. That’s a big step forward in terms of professionalism. The other being certification and CPD. The AGI realised this was an important step - given the advanced body of knowledge represented in the work performed by GI professionals (and the AGI is thinking wider than the definition DiBiase uses), the academic background forming the specialised education behind it and the requirement to continually train and development as a professional. It was therefore natural to seek a professional accreditation programme. AGI could have developed its own, but this is both time consuming and costly and, as luck would have it, a better option presented itself.

The Chartered Geographer Accreditation Programme is designed from the ground up to offer professional accreditation for those using geographical skills and knowledge on a daily basis. Given the wide “geographical” remit, one of the strengths of the programme is the sub-specialisms; currently GIS, geomorphology and teacher. The AGI has led the way in assisting with the development of the Chartered Geographer (GIS) sub-specialism. There is no curriculum linked with this, rather it’s a bespoke assessment of an individual’s professionalism and this is where it’s strength lies: offering the profession a strong (Chartered) foundation from which to develop it’s core georgaphical strengths further.

GIS as a profession?

Wednesday, 7 November, 2012

A thought provoking article from David DiBiase at Esri Inc on Strengthening the GIS Profession. It outlines some of the history of the profession, the growing importance to the economy, primary traits of a “profession” and whether GIS meets them. A useful read for all aspiring and current GIS professionals.

Puppy Linux

Wednesday, 7 November, 2012

I came across the rather excellent Puppy Linux recently….OK, there are many Linux distributions most offering far more sophisticated OS implementations, however what is so satisfying about Puppy is that it is small, fast and very usable. A full OS that fits within 100Mb (250Mb with OpenOffice) means that it runs entirely within memory and is *very* fast. Want to be as discreet and private in your PC habits?? Carry Puppy on a CD/USB, boot directly in to it and run office, web browser, email directly off it. Comes with a variety of tools to work with your PC as well. Incredibly satisfying to use!!

Lack of educational leadership from Central Bedfordshire UA?

Friday, 2 November, 2012

As a governor at a school in Central Bedfordshire the last few years have been exciting times….. central government have pushed through a breathtaking raft of changes with the Academies programme a central plank. Whilst I may have reservations about some of the policies implemented, I can make no bones about an elected government choosing to act, however central government policy can be quite a crude tool with practise varying considerably on the ground. Indeed government *wants* it to vary as implementation needs to match local conditions. And whilst government is keen to remove the middle tier of school management (that is local authorities) in order to give greater flexibility and autonomy to individual schools (and move to being directly funded/managed by central government) the responsibility for failure still lies with this tier.

So, as a local authority, what are the options for being involved in this process? They are:

(1) Active Engagement - admit that the role is changing to one that is supportive, requiring active engagement and the delivery of well managed services. Schools run themselves now, but responsibility rests with the LA so have the leadership ability and capability to know when to step in.

(2) Active Disengagement - admit that the role is changing but rather wash your hands of any responsibility whatsoever, pull all services and meet the minimum statutory requirements, stepping in as you watch schools implode and fail. No educational leadership ability or capability becoming politically asinine.

The latter appears to be the route that Central Bedfordshire has taken - not content with sitting back and watching the effects of central government’s Academies programme, they have also removed their services to minimum requirements. In fact schools are actively encouraged to become Academies (regardless of their circumstances) in order to move them away from LA responsibility. Perhaps the most damaging lack of political ability has been the LAs position on 2-tier and 3-tier education. This is a long running debate within the LA and the solution? Open up to a free market, let schools choose to go 1-tier, 2-tier or stay 3-tier, have multiple transition points and no vision for a single education journey that a child can make. In fact this implosion of structured provision (particularly within Dunstable) will lead to the slow painfull closure of a raft of schools and the individual lives and aspirations of the children in them. The latest “helpful advice” is no better example of this… under the guise of parental choice the LA now has to explain to parents that it’s inability to provision an educational journey makes things… well complicated. In fact so much so that we now have to have a flow chart! This doesn’t make encouraging or pleasant reading.

The lack of political will, educational responsibility and social care of the incumbent Conservative council (and leader James Jamieson and Educational Portfolio Mark Versallion) is disappointing…… the debate is not whether 1/2/3-tier is the correct system, but that the elected members make an informed decision and take responsibility and leadership for the structural implementation of that decision knowing that 37,000 odd children are dependent and reliant upon them.

NPP VIIRS Specifications

Thursday, 1 November, 2012

After the earlier blog post on day-night imaging I was interested to see what the exact specifications of NPP VIIRS are…. the NASA site had been down probably because of the interest in Hurricane Sandy, however it now seems available again. But there is very little information on the sensor itself somewhat surprisingly - even the Raytheon spec sheet is quite spartan. So no farther forward although I hope we’ll get more details in the coming months.