Tag Archives: Sustainability

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GIS goes Green

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 – 12:00am

Esri CityEngine

Courtesy: Esri

 

Visual impact analysis of proposed building in downtown Philadelphia using CityEngine.

 

First, the disclaimer. Any numbered list is inherently subjective. So there are bound to be resources that you might know about that I haven’t included here, primarily because I haven’t heard about them (yet).

This list was curated based primarily on whether the site, portal or database in question expands conventional wisdom about how technology can be used to address climate change or sustainable business practices. Several (such as FreshRealm, GridWaste and MySolarCity) represent intriguing twists on how the Internet can help reinvent business models or improve customer engagement.

If you want to consider a broader selection of Web and mobile resources that have been available for a longer time, here are two of my previous lists (still relevant).

Rather than updating information in those past stories, this latest list offers 10 additional resources or platforms worth watching during the next 12 months.

CityEngine

Although Esri (aka the Environmental Systems Research Institute) has been around for more than 30 years, its online geospatial resources have sparked a veritable “app revolution” over the past several years among urban planners and sustainable business innovators. The latest version of the CityEngine platform (released in October) is used in combination with the company’s ArcGIS mapping resource. Its main purpose is to convert two-dimensional diagrams into three-dimensional models that show details such as how a new building could affect solar exposure or whether it will create heat corridors.

Coastal Defense

The platform helps businesses and communities research the impact that natural habitats such as oyster beds, coral reefs, tidal marshes, dunes or mangroves have on flooding and erosion. The information is intended for risk assessments and could be used by developers or municipal agencies. It was developed through a partnership of the Nature Conservancy, the Natural Capital Project, the Center for Integrated Spatial Research, the University of Southern Mississippi and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Cube Cloud

Two years in the making, this cloud-hosted traffic analytics service was launched in mid-2014 by software developer Citilabs. (Its previous applications are tied to the desktop.) The platform provides information about traffic volume and can be used to calculate and model energy consumption and pollution metrics related to various urban transportation services. Sample applications include predicting future flows based on proposed development.

Earth Right Now

The U.S. government’s mandate to “open” valuable climate and atmospheric information for use by “citizen scientists” has inspired the creation of rich online resources that can be used as the foundation for apps and services. One specific example: fresh maps on global carbon dioxide concentrations, collected by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 and released on an ongoing basis.

NASA Carbon Dioxide

EcoTapestry

In early December, Esri teamed with the U.S. Geological Survey to publish what is described as “the most detailed global ecological land units map in the world.” The platform, dubbed EcoTapestry for short, contains a wealth of ecosystem data about soil, streamflow, biodiversity and land cover. It is intended for land management applications and planning exercises.

FreshRealm.co

This commerce startup created by fresh produce company Calavo Growers received $10 million in new funding during 2014 to prepare for its pending commercial launch. Its vision is to facilitate national delivery of fresh foods, through its online ordering service. Integral to its plan is the “Vessel,” its special chilled container. It will use FedEx and local carriers to facilitate deliveries.

Global Forest Watch

Developed by the World Resources Institute with partners Google and the Jane Goodall Institute, this resource (still being beta-tested) makes use of satellite imagery to provide a near real-time update of deforestation. The idea is to keep much closer tabs on clearing, so that steps can be taken much more quickly to prevent illegal activity.

Grid Waste

The idea behind this online marketplace is simple: help businesses find more efficient or sustainable trash hauling options. It considers information such as route density, recycling rates, container use and truck optimization — basically providing more transparency about various haulers through its Waste Data Project. Some of Grid Waste’s initial commercial customers include Hyatt, Lockheed Martin and the Ritz-Carlton.

MySolarCity

Yes, other applications and websites let utilities offer home energy management and analysis services for residential customers. What makes SolarCity’s app unique are engagement features that track the location of installation and repair technicians or that monitor the production of panels once they are in place. MySolarCity also provides a map showing nearby projects, and lets customers become “ambassadors” who can earn fees for referring new accounts.

MySolarCity

Water Risk Monetizer

This modeling tool from Ecolab and Trucost allows businesses to run assessments that consider potential exposure or negative impacts that scarcity could pose to facilities. It uses information about water consumption, as well as projected use three years into the future. Then, it assigns a grade for different locations. The idea is to help sustainability and operations managers prioritize conservation projects or management measures.

For more information visit (http://www.greenbiz.com/article/bookmark-10-useful-green-resources-2015)

BairdFellows   cropped

Congratulations to GIS students, Chloe and Tabea

 

Advancing Sustainability

the 2014-15 baird fellows

2014-2015 Baird Fellows

 

Photo by Carl Socolow ’77.

2014-15 Baird Sustainability Fellows announced

Now in its third year, the Baird Sustainability Fellows program recognizes Dickinson seniors who have advanced sustainability goals through their scholarship, leadership and service efforts. Named for Spencer Fullerton Baird, a prominent 19th-century naturalist and Dickinson alumnus, the program this year brings together 12 students for collaborative projects and research to help create a sustainable world. Read about Chloe and Tabea’s missions below.

Chloe Miller, Archeology and Anthropology Major

Chloe Miller, 2015 Baird Sustainability FellowChloe Miller ’15

 

Chloé Miller is double majoring in archaeology and anthropology. Sustainability not only plays an important role in her academic fields, but also in her personal life. Raised in a Catholic and Native American household, she believes it is her responsibility to help return balance to the Earth for the sake of future generations. Chloé’s unique upbringing has guided her academic pursuits to understanding the dynamic, synergetic relationship between anthropogenic forces, human biology, and the natural landscape.

Her interests have taken her all over the world, from the Altiplano of Bolivia to Transylvania, Romania. While in Bolivia with Dr. Maria Bruno and Dr. Christine Hastorf, Chloé saw how past human interactions with the environment have evolved into the agricultural practices of contemporary highland farmers. She also observed how Bolivian politics, social inequalities, and the high global demand for quinoa is negatively impacting these farming groups. In Transylvania, Romania, she participated in a communal archaeology project that involved collecting information about medieval churches once forgotten by the Székely people, a long-existing Hungarian ethnic minority. Seeing this loss, which was the product of socioeconomic and political forces, first hand has inspired her to apply for a Fulbright Research Grant. She plans to return and provide support through complementary research about the historical relationship between pre- and post- Christian traditions among the Székely by using bioarchaeology and mortuary analysis.

On campus, Chloé works as a GIS intern where she helps Facilities map and analyze different aspects of the Dickinson campus and sustainability projects. She also helps the Classics Department cultivate a sense of cultural sustainability by spreading awareness of classical Greco-Roman culture as the Classics House Manager and as a Latin Club Teacher.

Chloé believes that a biocultural approach to understanding the human condition is a unique and understated aspect of sustainability, so she is excited to bring this to the colloquium. She hopes to represent a different perspective of sustainability that recognizes the need to not only understand how humans are affecting the environment but also how we our affecting ourselves.

Tabea Zimmermann, Environmental Science Major & French Minor

Tabea Zimmerman, 2015 Baird Sustainability FellowTabea Zimmerman ’15

 

Tabea Zimmermann is an Environmental Science major with a minor in French. In her time at Dickinson, Tabea has participated in many opportunities that have shaped her view of the natural environment and how humans use and value it. Her work at the college farm and with the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) served as foundations for two different study abroad experiences. Last year, Tabea spent a science-intensive semester in Cape Cod, MA studying the biogeochemistry of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems with the Marine Biological Laboratory. In the spring, she replaced her lab coat and safety glasses with sandals and a camera as she explored the culture and society of Cameroon. Here it became apparent that sustainability is just as much a factor of a people’s history, economy, and culture and it is about the natural environment surrounding it.

At Dickinson, Tabea is studying how different lakes have responded to environmental stresses such as climate change and atmospheric deposition and which lakes will be most sensitive to future disturbances. When she’s not happily buried in science, Tabea enjoys running with the cross country team, tooting her oboe, and reconnecting with friends. She’s looking forward to collaborating with a diverse group of students and having time to reflect on her recent experiences while continuing to evolve her understanding of sustainability and what it means to be an engaged member of her local and world-wide communities.

To read more:

http://www.dickinson.edu/news/article/1304/advancing_sustainability