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Quality and Accuracy of Disaster Data

Originally posted by Silvia Renn (WorldFish):

This is a comparative analysis of 3 global data sets.  Recognising the need for better quality data to support disaster preparedness and mitigation, the ProVention Consortium of the World Bank Disaster Management Facility, initiated a consolidated effort to evaluate the quality, accuracy and completeness of three global disaster data sets. These were NatCat maintained by Munich Reinsurance Company (Munich ); Sigma maintained by Swiss Reinsurance Company (Zürich) and EM-DAT maintained by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels).

Personal Technology: Phoning in Data

There was an interesting article published in Nature last week about the use of mobile phones for research. It starts out quite basic but then gives some nice examples that could spark some new ideas.

Personal technology: Phoning in data : Nature NewsPublished online 22 April 2009 | Nature 458, 959-961 (2009) | doi:10.1038/458959a News Feature Far from being just an accessory, mobile phones are starting to be used to collect data in an increasing number of disciplines. Roberta Kwok looks into their potential.

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The data/methodology derived from the following health mapping project seems especially valuable:

Last June, Albert-László Barabási and his colleagues at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, published a study in Nature  that analysed the movements of 100,000 mobile-phone users (1). Eagle is now working with Barabási’s group and others to examine phone-operator data from a range of geographic areas, including records for millions of mobile-phone users in Europe and two East African countries. Eventually, Eagle hopes to detect common behavioural patterns, such as changes in movement or calling frequency, that occur during disease outbreaks, which could help alert public-health officials to the early stages of an epidemic.

It would be interesting to see if movement or calling frequency could be used to detect behavioural patterns before food shortages, harvests, etc.

(1) González, M. C., Hidalgo, C. A. & Barabási, A.-L. Nature 453, 779–782 (2008)

A Comparison of Globally Consistent Geospatial Databases

Originally posted by Silvia Renn (WorldFish):

An Inventory and Comparison of  Globally Consistent Geospatial Databases and Libraries
by Joseph F. Dooley Jr., published by FAO in 2005,


…is a great compendium of commercial and public domain geodata. Part II is especially interesting as it lists, compares and assesses available geodata.

“The inventory is divided into two parts: with Part One of the inventory presenting overview, terminology and summary sections of globally consistent data libraries; while Part Two contains a categorization of the data sources identified broken into topical subsections based on the individual core data layers specified by UNGIWG and FAO. The report also includes a matrix rating the suitability of the various data sources identified to each of the core data layers specified by UGIWIG and FAO, and introduces Virtual Base Maps as a potential cost-effective means for: providing spatial referencing to remote field offices, enhancing Internet map serving capabilities, and facilitating mapping via GPS handheld devices.”

WhereCamp on BBC Digital Planet – Podcast

Originally posted by Silvia Renn (WorldFish):

I was reading blog (Ed Parsons is a geospatial technologist at Google) and came across his post related to the Wherecamp (and data license issues).

He heard about it on the podcast of the BBC Radio World Service programme, Digital Planet. Checkout the podcast (at around 13:30) and you may hear some familiar voices:

Population Data Overview

Originally posted by Silvia Renn (WorldFish):

Most of us need to use population data in our GIS work. Mapping Global and Rural Populations (1) is great report that explains the origins, contents and differences of the major population data available. The report describes data (not only population) from the following sources:

  1. United Nations Population Division
  2. U.S. Census Bureau’s International Program Center
  3. World Gazetteer
  4. City Population
  5. Digital Chart of the World (DCW)Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI)
  6. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Vector Smart Map level0
  7. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Vector Smart Map level1
  8. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency GEONet Names Server (GNS)
  9. Database of Nighttime Lights of the World (NOAA)
  10. Global Land Cover Characteristics (GLCC) dataset
  11. Global Land Cover 2000 database (GLC2000)
  12. MOderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
  13. Gridded Population of the World version 3 (GPW v3) dataset; (CIESIN)
  14. EuroGeographics Seamless Administrative Boundaries of Europe
  15. LandScan Global Population Database, 2002, (ORNL)
  16. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Resource Information Database
  17. Global map of urban areas Boston University’s Department of Geography
  18. World Water Development Report II (UNESCO) Indicators for World Water Assessment Programme
  19. Poverty Mapping Project
  20. International Boundaries datase UN Geographic Information Working Group (DPKO/UNCS)

(1) M. Salvatore, F. Pozzi, E. Ataman, B. Huddleston and M. Bloise – Mapping Global Urban and Rural Population Distributions – Environment and Natural Resources Series, No. 24 – FAO, Rome, 2005

MapWindow GIS

Originally posted by Silvia Renn (WorldFish):

If you are  looking for an “easy to use” and mostly stable open source software, I can recommend MapWindow GIS. It has all basic GIS functions and great plugins (such as a Google Earth screen shot app).

I have been using this software regularly and the nice thing is that (in comparison to many other OS packages out there) the functions actually work without crashing. It is also quite intuitive to use – QGIS is probably easier but not stable when it comes to working with larger raster files.

I also like the selection of functions MapWindow GIS has and at times I prefer using this software to the commercial one.  Here is a list which will give you a good overview of what the software can do. The plugins are also worth a look!