Category Archives: GIS

Redefining the Upper Amazon River

By James (Rocky) Contos

 

The Amazon River basin, including dark traces for each proposed source rivers: Napo, Marañón, Huallaga, Urubamba, Apurímac, and Mantaro.  Source: James Contos

The Amazon River basin, including dark traces for each proposed source rivers: Napo, Marañón, Huallaga, Urubamba, Apurímac, and Mantaro.
Source: James Contos

A full descent of the world’s largest river can be likened to a full ascent of the highest mountain, with various natural challenges along the way. The Amazon River is generally considered the mightiest river in the world because of its incredible volume (it carries over eight times as much water as the next largest river, the Congo), its maximal length (which may be slightly more than that of the Nile), and the importance of its basin for the world’s ecology. The entire Amazon River, including its source, has intrigued the public, geographers, and adventurers for centuries.

The allure of descending the Amazon goes back at least to the time of Francisco de Orellana, whose 1540 expedition started on the Napo River. Since then, dozens of expeditions have sought to travel the entire length of the Amazon. For adventurers, the location of the river’s source is critical because it defines the route, including the most difficult part of the journey through the formidable whitewater of the Andes mountains.

During most of the past century, the source of the Amazon River was considered to be the Apurimac River, based on the belief that it was the most distant upstream extension in the Amazon basin. Initial attempts to navigate the river starting in the 1950s ended in disasters with team members drowning in the difficult rapids. Although many other would-be Apurimac-Amazon adventurers failed in their attempts, several teams have successfully made the descent – starting with Piotr Chmielinski and companions in 1985-1986.

However, our new research results published in Area demonstrate that the most distant source of the Amazon is not the Apurimac River as previously thought.  Rather, it is the Mantaro River, a neighbouring stream that joins the Apurimac to form the Ene River. These new findings change the uppermost ~800 km of the Amazon source-to-sea journey, including all of the whitewater. This result drastically changes the journey down the Amazon.

While gathering data for the article in Area, I realized that distance measurements based on topographic maps and satellite images were limited because these methods often have low resolution and sometimes do not show current river channels. Simply measuring distances on topographic maps and satellite images would not suffice, because these often have low resolution (and therefore errors) and sometimes do not show current river channels. The best way to obtain an accurate up-to-date measurement is via direct GPS tracking on a descent of the river. It is for this reason that I descended both the Mantaro and Apurimac Rivers from their sources – no easy task with the numerous class V rapids (the most severe whitewater classification) on each river.

Since my initial scientific expedition in 2012, which also included a GPS-measurement of the entire Amazon to the Atlantic, at least two other expeditions have descended the Mantaro River down the Amazon to the sea, prompting attention from the paddling community and public. Had such attention been directed to the Mantaro River decades ago, it might have prevented its desecration with pollution and damming.

About the Author: James Contos is director of the non-profit river conservation organization SierraRios and completed the Area study along with   Nicolas Tripcevich, an archeologist at UC Berkeley who has expertise with GIS software and the ancient cultures of Peru.

books_icon Contos J and N Tripcevich (2014) Correct placement of the most distant source of the Amazon River in the Mantaro River drainage. Area 47: pp-pp. DOI: 10.1111/area.12069

60-world2 Schaffer G (2013) “Fastest to the Atlantic Wins”; Outside Magazine : January 2013: 38-39.

60-world2 Moag J. (2013) “True Source”; Canoe & Kayak. June 2013: 42-50, 86-88.

60-world2 “Flood in Huancavelica, Peru.” Disaster Charter.org. January 21, 2014

Mapping Class

By Benjamin Sacks

Five Boys

Conceptions of class remain inseparable from contemporary society, according to a BBC-commissioned study. The Great British Class Survey, undertaken by the BBC’s Lab UK and faculty at LSE, University of Manchester, University of York, City University London, Universitetet i Bergen, and Université Paris Descartes, surveyed 161,000 people across the British Isles. The study’s authors argued that ‘class’, as twentieth century writers tended to define it, was ‘too simplistic’.  Rather than an equation of ‘occupation, wealth and education’, class was actually formulated around ‘economic, social and cultural’ dimensions, of which the traditional structure only formed a part. Along with the traditional classes – elite/upper class, middle class (itself a category distinct from US conceptions), and working class – new divisions had arisen: technical middle class, new affluent workers, traditional working class, emergent service workers, or ‘precariat’, the authors’ term for ‘precarious proletariat’. Predictably, the study’s publication catalysed a diverse range of media responses. The Financial Times reminded its readers of how deeply entrenched class was in British history. Tristram Hunt recalled William Harrison’s 1577 Description of England: there were ‘four degrees of people’, led by ‘those whome their race or blood or at least their virtues doo make noble and knowne’. A letter to The Guardian compared it to the hierarchy used by the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification scheme (NS-SEC). The Guardian itself wondered whether the new hierarchy was more reflective of the television programme ‘The Wire‘ rather than of British society.

Critics aside, the BBC survey indicated the continuing influence of class, whether desired or not, in shaping how different people think, act, speak, travel, and shop. Geographers have long been aware of the role and perception class played in British and international cultures. Indeed, in 1995, Gary Bridge (Rodney Lodge) called for a standardised, ‘consistent application of class analysis’ when examining urban and rural gentrification. In a 2004 Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers study, Anthony J Fielding (University of Sussex) documented the spatial organization of Japanese cities by class. Critiquing previous, recent accounts that suggested that Japan’s rapid, postwar capitalist transformation had erased, or at least minimised cities’ ‘social geography’ (defined by Fielding as the distinction of classes or groups in space), Fielding used GIS programming to visually and textually demonstrate how major cities have, in fact, been organised by class and social standing, as is the case in most European and North American cities. Interestingly (and importantly) however, through the collection of mapping of this aggregate data, he suggested that the degree of spatial ‘segregation’ was generally lower than in the West. Comparing Kyoto and Edinburgh, Fielding proposed that the former’s spatial organisation was different, and it experienced a lower, but still quite identifiable level of segregation (p. 83). Indeed, Fielding’s study of Japan implicitly mirrored Jon May’s study, also from the University of Sussex, seven years previously. In the 1996 study, May, evidently fatigued from ‘theoretical literature’ on London’s complex social dynamic, created visual and textual maps of Stoke Newington (p. 195).

Class, it almost goes without saying, infected the storied halls of Lowther Lodge. For some two decades at the turn of the twentieth century, the Royal Geographical Society had debated whether to elect women to the fellowship (women had applied for admission as early as 1847, but the issue was not seriously considered until the 1890s). If women were to be admitted, as Morag Bell (Loughborough University) and Cheryl McEwan (Durham University) recalled, then, as the debaters proceeded to argue, they must be of the right social and economic standing. Returning to more recent issues, JoAnn McGregor posited the rapid growth of Britain’s Zimbabwean community within class ‘differences and identities’, in a fascinating shift from more mainstream studies of Robert Mugabe-era emigration. Regardless of whether the BBC survey has lasting impact, geographers will continue to observe, critique, and play with class.

60-world2 ‘Huge survey reveals seven social classes in UK‘, BBC News, 3 April 2013, accessed 7 April 2013.

60-world2 Tristram Hunt, ‘The rise of the precariat and the loss of collective sensibility‘, Financial Times, 7 April 2013, accessed 7 April 2013.

60-world2 David Rose and Eric Harrison, ‘Little solidarity over the question of social class‘, The Guardian, 5 April 2013, accessed 7 April 2013.

60-world2 Paul Owen, ‘BBC’s seven social classes: The Wire version‘, The Guardian, 4 April 2013, accessed 7 April 2013. 

books_icon Mike Savage et al., 2013, A New Model of Social Class: Findings from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey ExperimentSociology 1-32.

books_icon Gary Bridge, 1995, The Space for Class? On Class Analysis in the Study of GentrificationTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers New Series 20.2, 236-47.

books_icon Anthony J Fielding, 2004, Class and Space: Social Segregation in Japanese CitiesTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers New Series 29.1, 64-84.

books_icon Jon May, 1996, ‘Globalization and the Politics of Place: Place and Identity in an Inner London Neighbourhood‘, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers New Series 21.1, 194-215.

books_icon Morag Bell and Cheryl McEwan, 1996, The Admission of Women Fellows to the Royal Geographical Society, 1892-1914; the Controversy and the Outcome‘, The Geographical Journal 162.3, 295-312.

books_icon JoAnn McGregor, 2008, ‘Abject Spaces, Transnational Calculations: Zimbabweans in Britain Navigating Work, Class and the Law‘, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers New Series 33.4, 466-82.

Geographic Information Systems –a Tool for Geographers or a Science in Its Own Right?

Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 by Terje Sørgjerd

Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 by Terje Sørgjerd

by Briony Turner

There’s an interesting paper by Mordechai Haklay in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers which starts off by describing an ‘Iron Sheep’ exercise at the recent Association of American Geographers conference – one could be forgiven for thinking it’s a trial for inclusion in the next Bond film.

The paper itself provides an interesting history of geographical information science. The paper doesn’t touch on the difference between geographical information “science” and “systems” so for other geographers perhaps slightly unsure like myself, the science part is the theory behind the use and application of the technology/software that comprises geographic information systems.  Perhaps this confusion is itself a product of the ‘cleavage in GIS between two traditions, that of spatial information on the one hand and that of spatial analysis on the other’ (Goodchild, 1992).  Mordechai’s paper explores whether geographical information science is a sub discipline, or not, of Geography.

Back in the 1854 John Snow, one of the forefathers of modern day GIS as well as epidemiology, mapped out the Soho cholera outbreak using points to represent individual cases and revealed a cluster around a public water pump on Broad Street.  This led to identification of the contaminated water pump as the source of the disease.  For teachers, this legendary Cholera map in various GIS formats and suggested lesson content is freely available via the James Madison University National Centre for Rural Science and Mathematics Education.

In a more modern day context, Peter Webley, Assistant Research Professor at the Geographical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, who back in my undergraduate days was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in our Geography Department, uses GIS as a means to bring together fieldwork and remote sensing data for operational use. He’s now part of the IAF-AVO remote sensing group and is responsible for the volcanic ash cloud model forecasts for volcanoes around the world.   You might well ask, why focus on this individual?  It is creative individuals like him, that put to use GIS software to translate geographic data, models and forecasts into something tangible, understandable and operational for the rest of society.   For instance he developed a system to analyse thermal hotspot volcanic monitoring in Central America to help provide the information necessary for disaster warnings (UAF, 2012).  In addition to the day job, he’s part of a team that have developed “MapTEACH” which is a fantastic educational tool to help teachers and their students in Alaska get to grips with GIS whilst simultaneously preserving their community heritage, their history told through stories, with mapping.

Hopefully this post will have inspired some of you to seek out more information on GIS and for the teachers amongst you, perhaps to spend some lesson time on it.  The Royal Geographical Society has a GIScience Research Group, so do check out its pages if you’d like to find out more.  There’s a “Virtual Issue” of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers with papers over the past five decades covering the use of computers in geographical and cartographical research, a substantial amount of which, including Mordechai Haklay’s paper, are free to download so do also check them out.

For those of you in London, interested in debating this/want to meet people who use GIS in their jobs/research, the London Trainee and Student GIS Community are meeting for drinks at the aptly named John Snow pub, Sunday 20th January at 2pm, 39 Broadwich Sreet, London W1F9QL, the more the merrier!

GJ book reviewMichael F Goodchild, 1992, Geographical information science, International Journal of Geographical Information Systems, 6 31–45

books_iconMordechai Haklay, 2012, Geographic information science: tribe, badge and sub-disciplineTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37  477-481

GJ book review

Augustine eruption leads to updated model, University of Alasaka Fairbanks

Skiing and snow: a novel proxy for better science communication

By Daniel Schillereff

The first snowfall on the peaks of Snowdonia could be observed from my University building today, I have received the first ‘snow dump alerts’ for a number of alpine ski resorts (see Webcam link below) and televised ski competitions have kicked off for the 2012/13 season. These events inspire personal feelings of elation and excitement every year associated with snow and skiing. Imagine my delight when I discovered the keywords ‘ski’ and ‘geomorphology’ attributed to the same paper this week! These are applied to an Early View paper in Area by Voiculescu and Onaca examining the frequency and magnitude of snow avalanche risk over recent decades at the Sinaia ski resort, Romania, using dendrogeomorphological techniques.

Their approach employs high-precision visual examinations of tree rings in order to identify damage delivered by severe avalanches. The annual growth rings enable the specific year in which each avalanche occurred to be confirmed. They subsequently apply frequency statistics to these data to estimate return periods for the most hazardous snow avalanches. Using such historical data to improve avalanche risk estimation will be invaluable for developing mitigation strategies and preventing future disasters, considering the fatalities which occur due to avalanches each year.

There would be considerable value for this post to examine the techniques they use in greater detail, but I think there are more widespread implications also, of which this is one example.  Many scientific blogs feature practising academics or other experts offering explanations of recent peer-reviewed research using terminology more accessible to any reader and a better understanding of complex analytical techniques by the public has widespread implications. A great number of people poorly understand science presented on such crucial topics as climate change and extreme events, for example, and this can be the result of either insufficient explanation or, more concerning, intentional misinterpretation.

The Leveson report, released on Thursday November 29th, 2012 and featured prominently in the recent news, repeatedly highlights false balance in media reporting on GM crops and climate change, for example. Blogs, by definition, are an avenue for personal opinion to be put forward; nevertheless, they offer opportunities for the public to easily access expert knowledge on highly relevant topics. As a result, provided science blogs ensure the professional qualifications and experience of contributors can be easily verified by readers, blogs will become an increasingly important method for effective communication of complex science relevant to the public.

  M Voiculesco, A Onaca, 2012, Snow avalanche assessment in the Sinaia ski area (Bucegi Mountains, Southern Carpacians) using the dendrogeomorphology method, Area DOI: 10.1111/area.12003.

 Real-time Val d’Isere Webcam: http://www.val.co.uk/webcam.htm

 Leveson report: ‘I cannot recommend another last chance saloon for the press’,  The Guardian, 29 November 2012

 Leveson Inquiry: Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press report available here: http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/about/the-report/

Who’s Behind our Maps?

Jen Dickie

Map of the world, prepared by Vasily Kipriyanov From http://libraries.theeuropeanlibrary.org/RussiaStpetersburg/treasures_en.xml Begining of the 18th century Category:Old maps of the worldThe headlines this week demonstrate how ubiquitous maps have become; yesterday alone there were at least 5 maps being used by The Guardian and the BBC to illustrate information to their audience.  It is clear that both the type of information and the way it is being visualised are evolving but also that map makers and map users are diversifying.

With the Gaza conflict dominating the news, The Guardian is using data provided by reporters, officials and the general public alike to create a current, interactive Google Map of airstrikes and explosions in the war zone, which is constantly being updated as information unfolds.  This emerging method of data collection, known as ‘crowdsourcing’, is largely facilitated by social media and is, notwithstanding accuracy and reliability issues, concurrently increasing in popularity and accessibility.

However, it is not only quantitative data that can be mapped effectively; an interactive Google Map published by The Guardian yesterday depicts their news coverage of the ‘Sahel food crises’ over the past year.  Whilst this form of representation and design may give professional cartographers nightmares, this method of visualisation opens up new ways of identifying spatial and temporal connections and relationships from qualitative data sources.

In an article for Transactions, Rob Kitchin, Justin Gleeson and Martin Dodge argue that cartographic theory has seen a shift from a “representational to a processual understanding of mapping” and discuss what this means for cartographic epistemology.  Using their experience of mapping ‘ghost estates’ in Ireland, a public geography project, Kitchin et al. demonstrate how maps “unfold through a plethora of contingent, relational and contextual practices” and show how maps are being made (and re-made) in diverse ways as solutions to everyday problems and tasks.

Cartographic theory is evolving and maps are becoming fashionable again.  To me, one in particular highlights the exciting developments and opportunities maps can provide – Paul Butler’s map of Facebook connections.  This does not map Facebook membership or borders and boundaries, yet the world, albeit a slightly distorted one, is clearly visible – a map of human relationships.  As the journalist, Simon Garfield, states in his book ‘On the Map’  – “It was a map of the world made by 500 million cartographers all at once”.

 Rob Kitchin, Justin Gleeson and Martin Dodge, 2012, Unfolding mapping practices: a new epistemology for cartography, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00540.x

 Sahel food crisis – how the Guardian is covering the story, The Guardian, 19th November 2012

 Gaza-Israel crisis 2012: every verified incident mapped, The Guardian, 19th November 2012

 Simon Garfield, 2012, On the Map: Why the world looks the way it does, Profile Books Ltd, London

GIScience, Neogeography and Culturally Sensitive Websites

By Fiona Ferbrache

The opening paper to the current edition of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers introduced me to a geographical concept that I had not encountered before: neogeography.  While the term is not a new one, its contemporary meaning (defined by Turner, 2006) refers to the use of technology, digital tools and web-based data sets to create new forms of geographical representation e.g. web-mapping.  In the opening paragraph of his paper: Geographic information science, Haklay provides another example of contemporary neogeography, and evaluates the links between neogeography and GIScience to assess the extent to which the former is, or might become, an integral part of the latter.

Haklay’s article reflects on new (technological) methodologies being developed to address specific problems or ways to solve research challenges.  Methodological development, he argued “can eventually lead to the development of theoretical understanding” (p.478).  How we use technology for what can be achieved resonates with a BBC commentary concerning the way in which culturally sensitive use of the internet can help us reach out to a global community more efficiently.

What the BBC article argues is that Western standards and the English language have become the ‘norm’ for online information – “a colonialism of sorts” (do you consider this an accurate interpretation?).  The risk is that webpage producers become complacent about their audience and its needs.  For instance, beyond consideration of language, the article indicates that Chinese internet users tend to scan webpages in ways that Western users would not, thus influencing the impact that particular page designs have on different populations.

The solution? Conscious efforts to personalise online experiences by tailoring sites that are culturally sensitive to particular audiences.  One organisation already adapting their online presence is Coca-Cola (see, for example cocacola.fr/co.uk/com.cn).  Using technology and digital tools to enhance culturally contextualised representations of a brand – I wondered whether this was perhaps like the idea of neogeography? What do you think?

 Mordechai Haklay, 2012, Geographic information science: tribe, badge and sub-disciplineTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37 477-481

  Viewpoint: English is dead, long live ‘glocalisation‘, BBC Online

Andrew Turner, 2006, Introduction to Neogeography, O’Reilly

When is a ‘map’ not a map? When it’s a Sat Nav!

By Stephen Axon, Janet Speake and Kevin Crawford

Dangerous, fun or pretty sweet? Attitudes towards Sat Nav use
(Artist: George Sneyd)

The rapid popularisation and extensive distribution of Sat Nav technologies represents the first widespread adoption of location-aware systems for journey planning and navigation. Sat Nav technologies illustrate the advancement and accessibility of technology used for journey planning and navigation. Despite the advantages, the media tend to focus on the negativities of over-dependence on the technology, reduced spatial awareness as well as the potential hazards of Sat Nav use.

The first Sat Nav summit in London convened by the Department of Transport in March 2012 started to address the blunders associated with Sat Nav use. The key issues discussed at the summit were to identify solutions to problems of out-of-date Sat Nav technologies. The Sat Nav summit sought to address concerns that old information on Sat Nav systems is leading inappropriate vehicles down inappropriate roads.

In our paper, ‘At the next junction, turn left’, we explore geography undergraduates’ attitudes towards, and experiences of, Sat Nav use as well as its impacts on spatial awareness and cartographic literacy. In doing so, we have started to address a major gap in the geographical literature.

The navigational capacities and technological aspects of Sat Nav are regarded positively whereas its technological, safety and financial attributes are considered negatively. Distinctions are made between traditional navigational technologies such as paper-based maps and Sat Nav. Crucially, the digital spatial representations of Sat Nav are not perceived as maps but as a distinctive navigational tool. Concerns are also expressed that Sat Nav could reduce the ability to read paper-based maps and interpret spatial data.

Sat Nav use is intrinsically changing people’s wayfinding behaviour, processes and practices of navigation, and understandings of what ‘maps’ are and do. Fundamentally, Sat Nav is not viewed, or used, in the same way as more traditional technologies of navigation. We argue that geographers should engage more actively with interdisciplinary dialogues on people’s changing perspectives on wayfinding, navigation and map design.

The authors: Stephen Axon is a doctoral candidate in Geography, Dr Janet Speake is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and Dr Kevin Crawford is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography at the Department of Geography, Liverpool Hope University.

Axon S, Speake J and Crawford K 2012 ‘At the next junction, turn left’: attitudes towards Sat Nav use Area DOI: 10.1111/j.1475.4762.2012.01086.x

BBC News 2012 Sat-nav summit to tackle blunders 6 March (Accessed 8 March 2012)

Department for Transport 2012 Government’s first Sat Nav summit 6 March (Accessed 8 March 2012)

Geography Compass Content Alert: Volume 5, Issue 12 (December 2011)

The latest issue of Geography Compass is available on Wiley Online Library.

Click past the break to view the full table of contents.

Continue reading

Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood: Marijuana, Mexican gangs and undercover geography

by Fiona Ferbrache

Deep in Californian redwood forests, Mexican gangs are at play. Reshaping our imagined geographies of woods and forests, it has been reported that ‘marijuana gardens’, containing up to 100,000 plants, are growing within familiar woodland spaces of logging, wildlife and leisure. Many of these gardens have been linked to Mexican gangs seeking to avoid smuggling cannabis across the Mexican/US border, and taking advantage of the difficulty to see the plants for the trees. Unfortunately, to ensure protection of their crops, trip-wire explosives and snipers have been used, and have caused concern among local communities of violent crime incidents in the forests (Blakely, 2011).

U2 spyplanes and helicopter-borne teams of armed eradicators are part of Government attempts to combat this growing industry. Having read Zhang et al.’s (2011) Area paper concerning airborne light-detection and ranging (LiDAR) data, I wonder whether this mode of forest classification could be used to help seek out marijuana gardens?

LiDAR is an active remote sensing technique offering benefits over other means of forest classification and forest mapping. Zhang et al. show how LiDAR is highly applicable for penetrating the overstorey and identifying the composition of forest layers making up the mid- and lower-storey. The data produces high-density sampling, in three dimensions, with a high level of accuracy (91.4% in this study). As Zhang et al. illustrate, the practical uses are significant, so is there a possibility that geographers could play a role in helping to combat Mexican drug gangs?

  Blakely, R. (2011) If you go down to the woods today, beware of the Mexican drug gangs. The Times. Saturday 10 September, 2011. pp.51

Zhang, Z., Liu, X., Peterson, J. and Wright, W. (2011) Cool temperate rainforest and adjacent forests classification using airborne LiDAR data. Area DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2011.01035.x

People, Paper, and Computers: Population GIS

GIS topographical elevation model. GIS also holds exciting opportunities for visualising population. (c) Wikimedia Commons.

Benjamin Sacks

Advanced geographic study and analysis increasingly requires expertise in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS training can take on varied forms, from rudimentary interactions with Google Earth to manipulating vector and layered data in ArcGIS. The gradual acceptance of GIS as an integral tool in studying geography lies in fact that its original, military-state purpose has since been constantly tweaked, expanded, and applied in new and exciting ways.

Population analysis is undoubtedly one of GIS’ most important current applications. Historically, maps were coloured or marked by hand or paper printer, utilising data that was, more often than not, out-of-date by the time the chart (or atlas) was published. GIS completely changes this paradigm. Map data on migration, health, commercial and social distribution, and immigration, just to name a few, can be instantly updated. Increasingly, this can be accomplished remotely, using a network of pocket GPS systems, mobile computer hardware, and satellite communications. In his recent Geography Compass article, David Martin (University of Southampton) not only chronicles the development of GIS population analysis, but also posits future possibilities, and the problems and solutions they may pose.

Population data is one of the oldest and most prominent factors in surveying and cartography. Most domestic and national surveys were commissioned through the need for updated population census data; indeed, it is extraordinarily difficult to govern a municipality without such information. For instance, in a September 2002 Area article, Peter Collier and Rob Inkpen (both University of Portsmouth) highlighted the Colonial Office’s requests for population surveys necessary for ‘the efficient administration of new colonies’ in the nineteenth- and twentieth century British empires (277). Martin brings us forward into the twenty-first century, discussing both GIS’ transformative advantages, as well as the sluggishness (or, more exactly, lack of creativity) in its adoption. The traditional chloropleth (shaded area) map, he notes, still predominates GIS-produced population charts (655). Too, although some countries (e.g., the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada) maintain comprehensive geographic and population statistics (657-59), many other countries have only begun to adopt GIS toolkits.

These issues appear, however, to be nothing more than temporary obstacles in GIS proliferation. Martin highlights the ‘Population 24/7′ project, funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council, as a progressive programme intended to provide fluid, constantly-updated information on population issues that matter most to local councils, constabularies, hospitals, and community groups. His article serves as a superb addition to a growing body of scholarly GIS literature.

Peter Collier and Rob Inkpen, ‘The RGS, Exploration and Empire and the Contested Nature of Surveying‘, Area 34.3 (September, 2002): 273-83.

David Martin, ‘Directions in Population GIS‘, Geography Compass 5.9 (October, 2011): 655-65.