Spreading the Word on the Evolution of Modern Mapping
Online-only Articles - Online-only 2009
by Karen Schuckman and Tom Keiter
In the twenty-first century, geospatial information has become an indispensable
scientific, political, and economic strategic tool—affecting commerce, planning
and development, taxation, human rights, defense, public health, climate
change, disaster relief, and more. Politicians use it to target voters, California
firefighters use it to combat fires sweeping through Malibu Canyon, soldiers in
Afghanistan use it to gather intelligence and target their enemies, and
humanitarian organizations use it to monitor the movement and security of
people in Darfur. In 2010, geospatial technology will drive the data gathering
for the U.S. census. Further engaging interest and concern, all of these
applications raise issues of privacy and access, ownership and ethics.
information influences nearly everything in the lives of individuals in our
society today. Yet, as a public, we know little about the history, the
technology, the ubiquity, and the essential nature of these technologies.
State Public Broadcasting is developing the Geospatial Revolution Project—an integrated public
media and outreach initiative—about the world of digital mapping and how it is
changing the way we think, behave, and interact. The project goal is to increase public understanding of
mapping sciences and geospatial technologies by drawing on the stories of the
people who are implementing and being affected by these new tools.
project will feature the web-based serial release of eight video episodes, each
sevent to ten minutes long. Overarching themes and historical context woven
throughout the episodes will tie them together. The project will also include an outreach initiative in
collaboration with our educational partners, a culminating documentary, chaptered
program DVD, and online outreach materials. Partners who will extend the outreach initiative include the
Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, NASA, and the National
video episode will stand on its own as a succinct and engaging story, while
linking to the project’s entirety. Broad topical themes include:
Public health, safety and security—disaster response, fire, police, floodplains, homeland security, national security, immigration, customs, disease tracking
Defense and intelligence—military applications, human terrain, precision warfare
Science and environment—archaeology, energy, climate change, oceans, water quality, natural resources
Government—national census, transportation infrastructure, local government, taxes, real estate, elections, national map
International—human rights, mapping populations
Commerce and business—transportation, logistics
Agriculture and food resources—precision agriculture
Personal and consumer applications
themes may include: historical perspectives, how the technology is changing the
way we live, privacy, national security, workforce development, technology
ownership, and future implications.
the intent of reaching new media audiences and capitalizing on current trends
in information consumption, the project is adopting an innovative approach to
production and distribution. Rather than wait the years it often takes to
produce and release a traditional documentary, this production and distribution
plan calls for the ongoing serial release of eight video episodes on the Web,
with a new episode appearing every four to eight weeks. As they are released,
online viral distribution of the episodes through internet sharing and blog
postings will be encouraged. After the ongoing internet rollout is complete,
the episodes will be edited into a one-hour documentary for public television
distribution. A short video that
provides insight into the project is available at www.geospatialrevolution.psu.edu.
project goal is the broadest distribution and maximum use of the videos and
accompanying online materials possible. Since the March release of the preview,
a broad spectrum of academic, government, and
professional organizations has flooded the project Web site and expressed
enthusiasm for our project. These connections have built on our initial
partnership with the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences to
include outreach partnerships with the National Geographic Education
Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey/AmericaView Consortium, and the NASA
Goddard Space Flight Center—and, through NASA, links to the Integrated
Geospatial Education Technology and Training project (iGETT) and the U.S.
National Park Service.
In addition to extending awareness of the project, the
partners will use the videos as engagement tools to enhance post-secondary
education recruitment and academic program support, government and industry
perspectives, and workforce opportunities. With the partners’ outreach help, we
hope to reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people nationally and
internationally through both Internet distribution and television broadcast.
United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, DigitalGlobe, and GeoEye
Foundation are early leadership funders for the project. Seed funding for the
preview on the website came from The Pennsylvania State University and the
American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Foundation.
State Public Broadcasting, in collaboration with faculty from the Penn State
Department of Geography and the Dutton E-Learning Institute, is developing this
public media initiative on the evolution of modern mapping. An initial grant from the American
Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) launched the project and
allowed PSPB producers and writers to begin development.
project has already received a significant amount of attention in the
geospatial community and was used as briefing material in a Congressional
hearing held July 23rd, 2009. We hoped that, in addition to educating the
general public, this project will help advocates and decision makers
communicate about the importance of geospatial information to the future of our
the initial support for this project arose from within ASPRS, the surveying
community also has a vested interest. Surveying is the cornerstone of all
things geospatial. This project will also enhance the public perception of
surveying as a profession and serve to excite and attract bright young people
to surveying as a career.
is a senior lecturer in geography at Pennsylvania State University, teaching remote sensing and geospatial technology in the online GIS programs offered by the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. She also serves as a consultant to URS Corporation in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where she provides expert knowledge in remote sensing and photogrammetry to engineering practice groups, including floodplain mapping, disaster response and preparedness, critical infrastructure and transportation.
, executive producer: With 25 years as a documentary filmmaker and 15 years experience on the film and video faculty at Penn State University, Tom Keiter brings a wealth of production knowledge and experience to the Geospatial Revolution Project.
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