How To: Download Open Street Map (OSM) Data

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative map of the world where users can edit and update maps of their communities in real time. It was inspired by the success of Wikipedia and has quickly spread to become a force in online mapping world. While local governments in the US and other western countries are rapidly deploying “Open Data” platforms, there is still great unevenness in the quality, scale, and availability of worldwide data, especially data in previously colonized/developing countries. OSM provides a platform for citizens to contribute to the availability to data anywhere on the globe and often fills in gaps in data availability quicker than governments or nonprofits can. This is evidenced by OSM’s “mapathons” held after natural disasters, where individuals from universities, corporations, and non-profits collaborate to update road, building, and other key infrastructure data using satellite imagery so relief workers can utilize the best data in their response efforts.

When we have faced challenges in acquiring data for a particular area or region through traditional methods, we often turn to OSM for a solution. OSM will often have more updated and complete roads/infrastructure data than other sources. These data are especially useful for cartographic endeavors where finding layers quickly for context is essential.

However, OSM data is not as immediately available for download in ArcGIS friendly formats. Here I will show 2 methods of downloading OSM data for use in ArcMap.

Download Directly from OSM

The first method is to download directly from the OpenStreetMap website using their exporter. Simply go to www.openstreetmap.org and find the area you would like to download data for. Hit the “Export” button and you will see a screen with the Extent of the download appear. You can customize this download as either the “current extent” or manually select an area by bounding box. Then hit “Export” and download the file as a .osm file. Now you need to convert this .osm file to a .shp file. You can use mygeodata.cloud for free conversions (up to a certain file size) or look up another converter on the web. The output will be separate shapefiles for points, lines, and polygons. I recommend using the original OSM map to identify the feature categories you want to pull out.

Download using QGIS

QGIS is an open source GIS platform. It is known as one of the best open source GIS options for those who do not have access to (or don’t want to pay for) ESRI software like ArcMap. QGIS has built in functionality to download data directly from OSM and convert it into shapefile format. You can follow these directions: http://learnosm.org/en/osm-data/osm-in-qgis/.

Fall 2018 Walk In Hours

After an exciting summer on the river and in the lab with our high school MSI students, it is time for the school year to start yet again!

This year we will be clustering project work days and walk in hours to increase productivity and foster collaboration among various users of geospatial technology across campus. Our student interns will be available for consultation as well as the SAL Director and the GIS Technician.

Walk in Hours:

Monday: 1-4

Tuesday: 1-4

Friday: 10-2

If you have a GIS project/problem/inquiry stop by and see what we can do to help. Or fill out this form so we know you’re coming!

https://tinyurl.com/URSpatialRequest

 

East End Cemetery – Mapping Forgotten Gravestones

By Ethan Burroughs ’18

East End Cemetery is part of the "Cemeteries at Evergreen" in the East End of Richmond City.

East End Cemetery is part of the “Cemeteries at Evergreen” in the East End of Richmond City.

East End Cemetery is located on the border of Henrico and Richmond, Virginia. It was established in 1897, and an estimated 13,000 people are believed to be buried in East End. The neighboring Evergreen Cemetery often overshadows its presence, which is another African-American cemetery that has fallen into disrepair in Richmond. Some notable figures who are buried in East End include: Rosa D. Bowser, who was the first black teacher hired in Richmond; Hezekiah F. Jonathan, a business owner with the Richmond Planet editor, John Mitchell Jr. (who is buried at Evergreen Cemetery); Dr. Richmond F. Tancil, a Howard University educated doctor and bank founder in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood; William Custalo, the proprietor of Custalo House, a noted bar and restaurant in Richmond. The cemetery changed ownership a number of times, and is currently owned by the UK Corporation, which lacks the time and the money necessary to provide upkeep to the cemetery; therefore it is up to the families to maintain the gravesites. Unfortunately, this change of ownership has led to much disarray in the process of familial upkeep of gravesites. However, since 2013, John Shuck and groups of volunteers have been working tirelessly to restore East End back to its former state by removing ivy, cleaning up illegal trash dumps, and most importantly, rediscovering and documenting headstones that have been damaged or knocked over. By documenting these headstones, it allowed for this project to become a possibility, since without those records provided by John Shuck and the volunteers, this project of creating a searchable map of burial locations would not be feasible.

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The Biology Department at the University of Richmond is working with Friends of East End Cemetery and other volunteers to clean up the cemetery and record data on those buried there. Volunteers have collected GPS coordinates (using a GPS and the Collector for ArcGIS app) of the headstones at the cemetery, as well as collected personal attribute data from the gravestone inscriptions. Local volunteers working on the site submitted the data to Find A Grave, a website that helps people find their family members. Unfortunately, this site does not have options for viewing gravestones spatially, so volunteers also kept a separate spreadsheet in excel with the GPS coordinates hoping to make a searchable map one day. Once the Biology Department got involved, they approached members of the Geography Department to create a database with spatial elements in order for them to store their data about the cemetery in a cleaner, more systematic way. This is a collaboration project between the Geography and Biology Departments and the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) to assist in the regeneration of the East End Cemetery. The data collection and review process has been essential to building a database that will feed an interactive and searchable map in the future. Like East End Cemetery, many African-American cemeteries have been forgotten and lost in undergrowth, but this project for East End Cemetery is part of a larger movement in order to reintegrate African-American cemeteries into our history, and to stop such loss from reoccurring.

The ArcGIS Collector application for mobile devices has and will be crucial for the continuation of this project. The Collector app can be downloaded onto a person’s phone, and can be used as a guiding device in order to lead someone who is looking for a grave to a marked location on a map where the grave should be. This allows those who are visiting East End Cemetery to search through the data that has been collected on their mobile device, thereby allowing one to search for a specific person’s gravesite and be led to the headstone by the spatial software that the device operates on. Using the Collector app would not only allow someone who is looking for a gravestone to lead themselves to the location of the grave, but it would also allow people like John Shuck and other volunteers to enter newly found grave positions while they’re working in the field, rather than having to mark their locations down on paper and then transferring the data over at a later time.

 

In the coming year, scholars and volunteers from University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the surrounding Richmond community are working to expand the scope of the project and ensure this historic site is accessible to all and contributes to the history of Richmond and our region.

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Examples of the Collector for ArcGIS Interface

***Photos of East End volunteer group courtesy of Brian Palmer.

American Association of Geographers (AAG) 2017 Annual Meeting

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting is a chance once per year for our department’s students, faculty, and staff to present their research to peers and learn about what other universities all across the world are doing with geography. For many of our students, it is an eye opening experience to see the many different sub fields of geography all in one place. As one student remarked “wow, so being a geographer means you just get to study anything, because it’s all spatial!” That is the sort of feedback that makes these conferences worthwhile!

This year’s conference was hosted in Boston (last year was San Francisco, next year is New Orleans). From the University of Richmond we had 3 students, 2 faculty, and 1 staff member in attendance this year. I took the liberty of asking our students and faculty about their trip to AAG. Check out their work and answers below!

Fenway Park - Taken by Mary Finley-Brook

Fenway Park – Taken by Mary Finley-Brook

Left to Right: Jacob Salamy, Ethan Boroughs, Evelyn Jeong, and Taylor Holden

Left to Right: Jacob Salamy, Ethan Boroughs, Evelyn Jeong, and Taylor Holden

Ethan Boroughs

Q: What did you present? 

A: At AAG I presented the project that I’ve been working on for the majority of the year, which has been building a spatial database for the gravestones that have been and are continuously being discovered in the East End Cemetery (a historically African American cemetery) in Richmond, VA.

Here’s my abstract:

The East End Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia is a historically African-American cemetery that has fallen into a state of neglect. The Biology Department at the University of Richmond is working with local volunteers to clean up the cemetery and record data on those buried there. Volunteers have collected GPS coordinates (using a GPS and the Collector for ArcGIS app) of the headstones at the cemetery, as well as collected personal attribute data from the gravestone inscriptions. Local volunteers working on the site submitted the data to Find A Grave, a website that helps people find their family members. Unfortunately, this site does not have options for spatial data, so volunteers also kept a separate spreadsheet in excel with the GPS coordinates. Once the Biology Department got involved, they approached members of the Geography Department to create a database with spatial elements in order for them to store their data about the cemetery in a cleaner, more systematic way. This project is a collaboration between the Geography and Biology Departments and CCE of Richmond to assist in the regeneration of the East End Cemetery. The data collection and review process has been essential to building a database that will feed an interactive and searchable map in the future. Like East End Cemetery, many African-American cemeteries have been forgotten and lost in undergrowth, but this project for East End Cemetery is part of a larger movement in order to reintegrate African-American cemeteries into our history, and to stop such loss from reoccurring.

Ethan Boroughs with his poster

Ethan Boroughs with his poster

Q: What was the best thing you saw at AAG?

The most remarkable poster I saw at the conference was a poster that represented a project where a student used LIDAR data and an algorithm that was trained in order to recognize bumps underneath the surface of topsoil in order to locate unexploded bombs that were dropped in Europe during WWII.

Q: What was the best part of your trip to Boston outside the conference?

My favorite thing I did outside of the conference was touring around the city of Boston with no agenda, just kind of walking around the city, going in shops, seeing famous local landmarks, and eating at good restaurants.

ethan food

Jacob Salamy and Evelyn Jeong

Q: What did you present? 

A: Our poster was called “Demographics Dynamics in Post-Annexation Richmond”. It focused on the work we and the Intro to GIS classed did around Dr. John Moeser’s book: The Politics of Annexation.

Here’s our abstract:

Published in 1983, Dr. John Moeser’s historical account Politics of Annexation: Oligarchic Power in a Southern City remains the most thorough and detailed resource for understanding the historical significance of Richmond’s annexation of approximately twenty square miles of Chesterfield County in 1970. With motivations rooted in racial dynamics generated by both the mass exodus of Richmond’s white population and the migration of African-Americans to America’s urban areas, the annexation was a power move by Richmond’s power elite to maintain the political status quo by incorporating an additional 44,000 white residents of Chesterfield into Richmond’s city limits. This had the effect of diluting Richmond’s black population’s vote enough to ensure a white majority for Richmond’s 1970 councilmanic elections. The annexation was hotly contested all the way up to the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled that it was racially motivated. However, the annexation stood after Richmond reached a compromise whereby the city would hold local elections using a ward system designed to counterbalance the massive influx of white residents brought about by the annexation. Using census data for the years 1950-2010, we analyze the immediate impact that this annexation had on Richmond’s demographics overall as well as its long-term effects on Richmond’s individual neighborhoods. To complete this statistical analysis, we use dasymetric interpolation to generate equivalent land areas for comparison. Broadly, we hope this research will provide a clear and compelling portrait of Richmond past and present.

Jacob and Evelyn describe their poster to a captivated audience member

Jacob and Evelyn describe their poster to a captivated audience member

Q: What was the best thing you saw at AAG?

A: (Jacob) The best poster I saw was on estimating the population characteristics of non-reporting individuals from Japan’s census.

A: (Evelyn) I also really liked the poster that talked about the non-reported population in Japanese Census Data. There was a huge discrepancy between the number of non-reported for age, which was only approximately 0.9%, and education level, which was up to 20%. The poster mentioned the possible reasons why people would report age but education, as well as how to solve the marginal error when presenting statistics. I thought about the non-reported on the U.S. Census Bureau and how to solve the problem of the marginal errors in the statistical analysis.

Q: What was the best part of your trip to Boston outside the conference?

A: (Jacob) Ethan and I accidentally snuck into an admitted students day at Harvard’s graduate school of design and got to tour the whole school!

A: (Evelyn) I visited the Freedom Trail and the Gas Chambers that informed about Holocaust and the experience people had. The Gas Chamber had anecdotes of survivors and journals that reminded me of the history. It reminded me of the phrase “history repeats itself”, given the domestic and international political situations all over the world. I also loved the Boston Public Library Map Center.

IMG_0497 IMG_0495IMG_0501 IMG_0499

 

 

Taylor Holden

Q: What did you present? 

A: I presented in an illustrated paper session on the topic of “Demographics of Annexation: Using History and Politics to Teach GIS”. It focuses on how we used Dr. John Moeser’s book about the history of annexation in Richmond as well as his current research in our GIS courses this semester.

Here’s my abstract:

The City of Richmond, Virginia has a long and complex legacy of racial and economic segregation, one that persists to this day. Scholars from various disciplines have studied Richmond’s political, structural, and demographic history to tell the story of the former Capital of the Confederacy. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be used to provide both context and a platform for exploring Richmond’s history. Students in several GIS courses at the University of Richmond used Census and American Communities Survey data from 1950-2010 to explore the 1970 annexation of Chesterfield County by the City of Richmond. Students in introductory courses learned analysis methods including areal interpolation and dasymetric mapping to solve the Modifiable Area Unit Problem (MAUP). They also explored cartographic principles like the use of color, classification, and scale by examining the annexation and subsequent changes to the spatial distribution of race within the city. Students in advanced courses then built on these lessons through geostatsitics and advanced visualization techniques. Throughout this process students used ArcGIS Online and Carto to share their research with the public and bring Dr. John Moeser’s 1982 book, The Politics of Annexation: Oligarchic Power in a Southern City, to a modern audience accustom to digital information and the exploration of data.

Q: What was the best thing you saw at AAG?

A: My favorite part was getting to see Noam Chomsky talk as one of the main speakers. He was interviewed by the head of AAG. The interview itself was a bit lacking in terms of good questions, but getting to see Dr. Chomsky start rolling on a topic and really dig into the history, language, power dynamics, perceptions, and every aspect of something was fascinating. Although I’ve read his writing before, getting to see him speak made me really understand why AAG had no problem introducing him as “the most important intellectual of our times”.

I love that AAG gives an award to a non-geographer each year and has them speak at the conference. It illustrates how geography touches all disciplines in some way.

IMG_1737

Q: What was the best part of your trip to Boston outside of the conference?

A: My boyfriend, Josh, tagged along on this trip to check out Boston and the surrounding areas. We went with a friend to Salem one day and did the witch tour and saw all the kitschy museums and shops. I highly recommend it to anyone in the Boston area. We also had lots of incredible meals in Cambridge and Somerville (shout out to Sarma, the best mediteranean/Middle Eastern food I’ve ever had).

 

Professor David Salisbury

Q: What did you present? 

A: I presented my paper: The Religion of Road Building: A Case Study of the Alto Purus Region of Peru. The co-author was UR/ San Francisco de Quito exchange student Melissa Velasco.

Here’s our abstract:

Road building in the Amazon continues to develop at a rapid rate despite a growing understanding of the socio-environmental impacts resulting from transportation infrastructure expansion in tropical rainforests. In August of 2016 congressional representatives in Lima again proposed a bill to create a road connecting the remote Amazonian Purús region with Peru’s Interoceanic Highway.  The 270 km proposed road would cross a national park, a communal reserve, an Indigenous territory, forestry concessions, and a reserve for Indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact.  Currently, the only way to travel to the Purús from Peru is by air given the 4,000 inhabitants of the town of Puerto Esperanza and 22 neighboring titled Indigenous Territories are surrounded by Peru’s largest protected area.  Pro-road and anti-road Purús residents frequently clash over the benefits and drawbacks of the proposed road with each side backed by interested parties such as loggers and environmentalists.  This research combines GIS analysis of the proposed road’s path and potential impacts, survey research of resident attitudes towards the road, and textual analysis of publications and recordings referring to the road.  Results indicate how the argument over the road has become combined not only with discussions about livelihood and land use choices, but also spiritual salvation, ecological imperialism, and the exploitation of Indigenous peoples.

Q: What was the best thing you saw at AAG?

A: The best paper I saw was The necessity of optimism about climate change mitigation and adaptation in the tri-national MAP Region of southwestern Amazonia presented by Dr. Foster Brown from the Woods Hole Research Center and the Federal University of Acre. Dr. Foster Brown talked about strategies for slaying the psychological dragons of inaction that prevent humans from taking action to address climate change. I’ve already incorporated parts of this talk into two International Studies classes.

Q: What was the best part of your trip to Boston outside of the conference?

A: Staying with and spending time with four aunts and uncles. Sharing a session with my 65 year young uncle Dr. Foster Brown as three of his siblings sat in the audience.

 

Dr. David Salisbury with Dr. Foster Brown, his uncle

Dr. David Salisbury with Dr. Foster Brown, his uncle

Professor Mary Finley-Brook

Q: What did you present? 

A: I presented my paper: Racial Violence and Deadly Energy in the Americas. 

Here is the abstract:

New energy infrastructure and energy transitions commonly lead to contested socioecological spaces and futures. Violent oppression flourishes in Latin America’s expanding fossil fuel and renewable energy systems with deadly force sometimes used to facilitate energy development. Homicide often follows social opposition and is utilized as a cruel tool to eliminate or intimidate land defenders, environmental protestors, and marginalized populations, particularly Afro-descendant and Indigenous Peoples. While direct physical violence towards energy project opponents and populations impacted by energy infrastructure is usually more subdued in the United States and Canada, structural violence built upon racism and economic inequality is frequently apparent in socioecologically harmful energy initiatives across the Western hemisphere, whether in the creation of new projects or in the maintenance of detrimental facilities. This paper provides comparative analysis of petroleum, coal, natural gas, hydropower, and biofuel case studies in North, Central, and South America to (1) identify energy’s pivotal role in social relations and spatial interactions in both industrialized and peripheral economies; (2) expose patterns and processes of energy-related violence; (3) advance understanding of how low-carbon rhetoric is used to justify socially and racially oppressive energy infrastructure; and (4) demonstrate how the term ‘deadly energy’ corresponds to more than situations of homicide as risks with potentially fatal consequences (e.g., explosions, accidents and spills, public health consequences from waste dumping and toxic pollution, land grabbing, competition with subsistence livelihoods, etc.) are experienced in marginalized spaces and by people of color.

 

Q: What was the best part of your trip to Boston outside of the conference?

Mary Windmills

Wind Turbines

Week 4 Update

Hello Everyone!

We’ve had a busy first few weeks in the Spatial Analysis Lab this fall. From wrapping up our summer projects to starting a new workshop series and everything in between, we’ve barely had a second to sit back and reflect on all the great work going on.

Here’s a summary of some of the great things we’ve done in the first 3 weeks!

  • Finished editing and reviewing GIS campus data for University Police with the assistance of University Facilities: This project started last spring and  continued through summer with us collaborating with Police and Facilities to update campus roads, buildings, and address points to match construction from the previous two years.
  • Wake Up Spatial Wednesdays is a new  weekly workshop taking place every Wednesday at 9 AM in the SAL. Our first three topics were Campus Spatial Data, GIS in Urban Planning with alum Dillon Massey, and Mobile Data Collection using the Collector App. Join us tomorrow to learn about editing Google Maps with Google Mapmaker and suggested edits. Faculty, Staff, and Students of all GIS abilities (or none!) and interests are encouraged to attend!
  • Invasive Species GIS Lab with Biology 199: Once again we worked with Dr. Carrie Wu’s two Invasions in Biology (BIOL 199) courses to collect data using GPS units on invasive species across campus. Students then used ArcGIS to analyze their data and create informative maps for their lab reports. This is the fourth or fifth semester we have completed this lab and it often serves as an introduction to GIS for freshman biology majors who may take GIS courses later.
  • Campus Tree Inventory Lab with Physical Geography Class: Dr. Todd Lookingbill’s Earth Systems and Physical Geography (GEOG 250) course used the Collector for ArcGIS app to collect data on tree species and carbon storage on campus. Their data collection will be incorporated into our ongoing inventory of campus trees and carbon storage that his previous classes and past student researchers have contributed to. They used various equations to estimate carbon storage based on tree diameter, species, and height.
  • Geographers in the Field: Six senior Geography majors presented on their study abroad and internships as part of the Experiential Learning requirement. Students presented on studying in Denmark, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Australia in addition to research on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

We also have many exciting projects to look forward to this semester. A few of them include:

  • Continued Evaluation of Campus Data: We will continue to partner with Facilities and URPD to evaluate campus data layers we have created and updated over the years. These datasets will feed into our campus Authoritative Content that we share with localities and use for research and maps
  • Race and Poverty in Richmond with Dr. John Moeser: We will continue our partnership with the CCE in supporting Dr. John Moeser’s decades of research into race and poverty in the Richmond region. This year’s focus will be on data visualization and availability to the public. We will also focus on representing his 1982 book about the Annexation of Chesterfield County by the City of Richmond using new digital mapping and storytelling tools (for an preview click here).
  • Women’s Empowerment in Uganda: We enter our second year supporting Dr. Elizabeth Ransom’s NSF funded project evaluating programs for women’s empowerment through dairy development projects. We will also work with two of her students to add new analysis of water sources to the project’s scope.

 

Stay tuned for our next post with some exciting opportunities for students and geography nerds!

First Look: Taylor’s Trip to Tanzania

Happy August Everyone! Hope your summers have been as lively and exciting as our’s have been in the Spatial Analysis Lab. As you already know we hosted 4 fabulous high school students for 5 weeks of learning how GIS is in fact at STEM field. However, we have had many other things going on as well!

Director Kim Browne taught her study abroad course on the physical geography of Australia and New Zealand, we have continued supporting Dr, Ransom with her Uganda project, worked with our Facilities, Police Department, and Office of Advancement on some campus GIS projects, but by far the most exciting part of my summer was a 3 week trip to Tanzania!

Earlier this spring I received a staff Weinstein Summer Grant to travel to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for three weeks. For most of the month of June I visited alumni and nonprofits in Tanzania with the mission of seeing how our GIS students could work with them in the future on internships and/or research projects. I met with: Financial Sector Deepening Trust, Tanzania Open Data Lab at the University of Dar es Salaam, the Department of Geography at the University of Dar es Salaam, and got to visit the Noloholo Environmental Center, which is run by UR alumni Dr. Laly Litchenfeld. I will be making more in depth posts describing what these wonderful organizations do, so stay tuned!

Super Rough Overview of Trip:

  • Spent the first few days in Dar following up my connections.
  • Met with Financial Sector Deeping Trust and the Tanzania Open Data Lab
  • Flew to Arusha (northern Tanzania) to visit the Noloholo Environmental Center. Got to spend the weekend with the kids at the Children’s Environmental Camp
  • Two day safari to Tarangire National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater
  • Flew back to Dar
  • Visited the Department of Geography at the University of Dar es Salaam and sat in on a World Bank Open Data Workshop hosted by the University
  • Trip to Zanzibar before flying home!

This post is mostly a starting point to talk about and show you my incredible trip in Tanzania. I hope these pictures will help inspire students to pursue some of these incredible opportunities that have been made possible thanks to the Weinstein Family and the University of Richmond!

In following posts I will describe the wonderful work our new partners have been completing, list some opportunists our students will have to work with them, and share more in depth reflections on my experience in Tanzania!

Me with the students from the first of three summer camps at Noloholo for the best and brightest from the local Environmental Clubs

Me with the students from the first of three summer camps at Noloholo for the best and brightest from the local Environmental Clubs

When I first arrived at Noloholo the students were learning to make maps of the villages in order to think spatially and about natural resources in the landscape

When I first arrived at Noloholo the students were learning to make maps of the villages in order to think spatially and about natural resources in the landscape

With Raphael Abrahams, one of the recipients of the Noloholo Environmental Scholarship to private secondary school. Raphael was back helping with the summer camps he participated in as a child before heading off to University

With Raphael Abrahams, one of the recipients of the Noloholo Environmental Scholarship to private secondary school. Raphael was back helping with the summer camps he participated in as a child before heading off to University

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Elephant in Tarangire National Park

Also at Tarangire National Park

Also at Tarangire National Park

Clouds spilling over the walls of the Ngorongoro Crater

Clouds spilling over the walls of the Ngorongoro Crater

Me upon descent into the Ngorongoro Crater

Me upon descent into the Ngorongoro Crater

wildebeest herd in the Ngorongoro Crater

wildebeest herd in the Ngorongoro Crater

Some baboons while leaving Ngorongoro Crater

Some baboons while leaving Ngorongoro Crater

With Dr. Herbert Hambati, (outgoing) head of the Department of Geography

With Dr. Herbert Hambati, (outgoing) head of the Department of Geography

Sitting in on a World Bank Open Data presentation at the University of Dar es Salaam. Experts spoke about using new elevation data paired with updated Open Street Map data to better plan evacuation routes during floods in Dar and other cities in Tanzania

Sitting in on a World Bank Open Data presentation at the University of Dar es Salaam. Experts spoke about using new elevation data paired with updated Open Street Map data to better plan evacuation routes during floods in Dar and other cities in Tanzania

View of Dar at night

View of Dar at night

Feeding giant tortoises at Prison Island, just off Zanzibar. Some were over 300 years old!

Feeding giant tortoises at Prison Island, just off Zanzibar. Some were over 300 years old!

Sunset in Zanzibar

Sunset in Zanzibar

Unpacking the Census: Mapping Poverty in Metro Richmond

Post by Olivia Mobayed ’16

There is no doubt that poverty is a big issue in Richmond.  A high proportion of Richmond children grow up in households that live below the poverty level, and a majority of Richmond Public School students receive free or reduced price lunch. Dr. John Moeser has been studying trends relating to poverty in the Richmond region for decades, and I was lucky enough to assist him this past year in his research.

Along with SAL GIS technician, Taylor Holden, I was able to track changes in poverty, unemployment, and household income not just for Richmond, but also for the larger Richmond region.  With new data from the American Community Survey, we updated past maps from Dr. Moeser’s research to show 2014 5-year estimates (estimations from the American community spanning from 2009 to 2014). With updated visualizations, we were able to map poverty not just in the city of Richmond, but also how it has changed in the suburbs.  We were able to conclude that poverty is spreading outward, and has become a regional issue.

With our findings and maps, we were able to present to various community groups.  We presented at church groups, the Richmond City Health District, and at the Richmond Times Dispatch.  By utilizing maps, we were able to share our findings with ease, keeping our audiences engaged and informed.  Our presentation sparked conversations about policy, history, segregation, transportation, gentrification, and next steps in preparing a regional response.

Poverty in Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico 2000-2014

Lucky for you, the maps and additionally slides from our presentation are available on the University of Richmond library website! Keep updated, because more discoveries are coming in the following months.  We hope to study transportation trends within the region – where commute times are longest, and which places use specific transportation types (automobiles, busses, bicycles, and others) more than other places. We are also considering different ways to make these maps online and interactive in order to allow viewers to interact with the data and easily compare various demographic variables (for example, showing poverty rates and unemployment rates side-by-side).

Median Household income in Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico from 2000-2014

Median Household income in Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico from 2000-2014

When I first found out about Dr. Moeser’s research, I was so excited to be part of it!  I have always been interested in the human side of geography, and mapping demographics from the region I spent the last four years of my life in sounded like a dream come true! Indeed, spending time on this project has made myself even more confident in my plan to continue my study of people and the places they inhabit and interact with.

This summer, I am mapping various measures of health and equity in the Richmond region, thanks to an opportunity I was given following one of our presentations.  This fall, I will begin working towards my Masters in City & Regional planning.  Although I will not be in Richmond, this research opportunity has been an invaluable experience in understanding demographic trends and the complex system of forces behind them as they relate not just to Richmond, but the whole world. There is no question in my mind that this research opportunity would not have been possible for me without the help of the SAL.

Here is an interactive web map of the data I prepared from 1990-2014 for my Maps and Geovisualizations course. It can be seen larger here

 

Thank you, Dr. Moeser & the SAL!

 

Olivia graduated from UR in May 2016 and will begin a Masters of City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania this fall. She will focus on transportation planning and applications of GIS

MSI Week 3 – Field Work

This week our wonderful MSI students took their experience outside the lab and completed some fieldwork. They contributed to our campus tree inventory, which I actually started 4 years ago in the summer after my freshman year. We collected species, diameter, height, and location for over 800 trees on campus and estimates how much carbon they stored. The original inventory can be found below:

This past year students in our Earth Systems and Physical Geography course (GEOG 250) have been adding trees to the map using GPS units and the ArcCollector app. Our MSI students got to do so as well! Without further ado, here is the experience in their own words:

Shanaya

Starting this week we’ve participated in field work. It was very interesting and it provided a fun experience. Markee and I evaluated many different trees outside of the lab. I measured the height using the laser Rangefinder and Markee focused on diameter of the tree. Together we managed to figure out the name and species of the trees. My favorite part of the field work was interacting with my partners and realizing how much information you can get about a tree by only using a few tools.

Markee

The field work I’ve been doing outside for GIS at the University of Richmond was a little tough at first. I really didn’t know how to use any of the tools.  Measuring the trees can be tiring but the results are worth it. The tool I like using the most is the laser Rangefinder. It measures how tall the tree is in meters. I like finding out what type of species the tree is. That’s the part that takes the longest.

Students using the laser range finder, after having measured their distance from the tree using the tape measure on the ground.

Students using the laser range finder, after having measured their distance from the tree using the tape measure on the ground.

Jonathan

My name is Jonathan and I learned and did a lot during these sessions of field work. We started off with having to know how to calculate the Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) of a tree. Then we learned how to calculate the height of the tree using degree measures on a Rangefinder. Then we did some review and practiced with finding GPS locations and reading coordinates. Once these objectives were completed we went out and put what we learned to the test. At first we had to use a sheet and write down the information. Then we used an app created by ESRI, so we could enter all the information on our phones and it logged the tree into the ArcCollector app on a map. So from this experience I learned a lot and had fun as well.

Stephon

We have been trying to figure out ways to solve global climate change. Tons of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are emitted every day. These gases overheat and pollute the environment, and will gradually get worse over time we don’t do something soon. Since trees are able to store carbon dioxide, we have been researching exactly how much carbon dioxide various species of trees are capable of sequestering. Over the past few weeks, we have been conducting fieldwork at the University of Richmond to determine the amount of carbon dioxide different trees can store. We use DBH (Diameter at Breast Height), range finders, dichotomous keys, and global positioning systems to gather data of the trees on campus. I hope that the data we gather of tree sequestration can be used to help solve global climate change.