Originally begun as a graduate forum to share tools and techniques for online mapping, the spatial@ucsb Spatial Technology Forum has since expanded to include faculty, staff, undergraduates, and technologists from the local community. The forum includes the Lightning Talks, the Spatial Technology Lunches, as well as these initiatives:
Student Forums 2009–2011
During 2009–2010 the group held quarterly formal lunch meetings as well as weekly after-hours coding sessions. One particularly popular lunch meeting consisted of a rapid-fire series of nine short talks, now known (and continued) as the Lightning Talks. Speakers were invited to speak on the spatial topic of their choice, but were constrained to three minutes and ten slides. These lightning talks were recorded and uploaded to Youtube.
The 2009 fires in Santa Barbara and the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti influenced the weekly coding group to emphasize disaster relief infrastructure. The coding group spent time bolstering the OpenStreetMap dataset for UCSB and Isla Vista, creating kite and balloon aerial photography rigs and associated GIS workflows, and developing a mobile graffiti reporting web app.
The spatial technology forum continued these coding sessions and quarterly lunches through the 2010–2011 academic year. The weekly coding circle for fall 2010 was organized on the theme Android and geolocation.
CrisisCamp Santa Barbara
Daily, people across the world can find themselves in crisis. Whether it is caused by a natural disaster or an ongoing situation of social distress, and whether it is for a day or a month, we all experience a common need to connect with loved ones, access information, and offer humanitarian assistance to those in need.
CrisisCamp, organized by CrisisCommons.org and spatial@ucsb (Center for Spatial Studies, UCSB), is a project intended to bring together domain experts, developers, and first responders to collaborate in improving technology and practice for humanitarian crisis management and disaster relief. CrisisCamps are hosted in a barcamp style, where great minds come together to share their knowledge and expertise for social good.
The first CrisisCamp in Santa Barbara was held on Saturday, February 20, 2010, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Volunteers came together to collaborate on technology projects that aimed to assist in relief and recovery efforts by providing data, information, maps, and technical assistance to NGOs, relief agencies, and the public. This camp focused on two very relevant themes: Haiti relief and Santa Barbara-area crisis preparedness, applying the technology created and lessons learned from the OSM Haiti coordination to our local area.
The event was free of charge and open to the public, including both technical and non-technical experts. Workday volunteers included Micah Brachman, Jason Burgdorfer, Chad Catacchio (Crisiscommons.org), Zach Chehayeb, Kitty Currier, Andrew Fox (USDA APHIS), Linna Li, Alan Glennon, Rhonda Glennon (ESRI), and Nick Santos. Catacchio and Li worked on online tools and workflows to better share real-time crisis information. Geography undergraduates Burgdorfer, Chehayeb, and Santos made great strides in an open source map of Santa Barbara-area police, fire, and medical facilities.
For more information, please contact Chad Catacchio: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spatial Technology Coding Circle
Throughout fall 2009 the spatial@ucsb graduate tech working group held a weekly after-hours “coding circle,” tackling a transportation optimization problem and visualizing the results with an online mapping service. Python (language), PostGIS (database), Geoserver (data server), and OpenLayers (visualization) were used to examine a rather generic problem with the goal of learning the various technologies and practicing their integration. The small group was primarily composed of geography graduate students and staff; a log of weekly progress and software releases is maintained at: http://ucsb.pbworks.com.
To complement participants’ involvement in the January 2010 GeoDesignSummit, the group focused on spatial visualization and design principles over the winter 2010 quarter.