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Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

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Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby gdurkee » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:02 pm

Campers:

A friend and I wrote a book about basic GIS stuff: Using GIS for Wildland Search and Rescue. Although it concentrates on how to effectively use this tech for SAR, it's really (if I may modestly say) an excellent primer on understanding coordinate systems; using a GPS; using ArcGIS Explorer Desktop for basic mapping stuff; where to get geospatial data and other fun information. It's got step by step exercises and downloadable data to do them.

And it's free as a PDF from MapSAR.net.

For those of you into search and rescue, you can also download The MapSAR User's Manual. This is a tool a group of us developed that runs with ArcGIS 10.x to automate many of the routines involved in mapping and capturing the geospatial information involved in a SAR. It does require at least a beginner's familiarity with ArcGIS Desktop. Same as above: step by step instructions and downloadable data.

There's a lot of interest in this in the SAR community and we're starting to give classes on it. I'm developing a fully online class for the basic GIS curriculum of Using GIS for... .

Russ downloaded both and said there's problems with Chrome. I found IE works best.

OK. Have fun!

g.



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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby rlown » Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:08 am

gdurkee wrote:A friend and I wrote a book about basic GIS stuff: Using GIS for Wildland Search and Rescue. Although it concentrates on how to effectively use this tech for SAR, it's really (if I may modestly say) an excellent primer on understanding coordinate systems; using a GPS; using ArcGIS Explorer Desktop for basic mapping stuff; where to get geospatial data and other fun information. It's got step by step exercises and downloadable data to do them.

And it's free as a PDF from MapSAR.net.


George,

It's an amazing piece of work. My immediate take-away from the read was learning about which coordinate system makes the most sense for planning use, especially between paper maps and electronic maps. What I leave behind as a reference to where I might be should have a clear reference as to the Coord system in use during the trip and the gear i'm carrying.

I did have one question for SPOT carriers (i don't own one). What coord system does Spot report in?

I'm still digging into MapSAR and ArcGIS, just because i'm interested in the tools that might be used by SAR. For a remote SAR, what is the normal equipment used to run MapSAR? I'm assuming no satellite uplink, and maybe not a Helo shuttling the team out daily.

Chrome did eventually download the eBooks. I just had to wait longer than anticipated.

Thanks for posting this, George.

Russ
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby oldranger » Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:43 pm

Russ,

This is what my "I'm ok" message looks like. This went out last summer to my family. Of course since I was with markskor the "I'm ok" was somewhat tongue in cheek. ;)


Latitude:37.74958
Longitude:-119.34648
GPS location Date/Time:07/23/2012 20:26:29 PDT

Message:SPOT Mike is OK. If you received a previous message indicating a problem, please disregard that message.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/8mP-1/37.74958N/119.34648W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&g ... &z=12&om=1


Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby gdurkee » Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:35 pm

The coordinates Mike gave above are Decimal Degrees. SPOT and all GPS use DD and WGS 84 as their native format. However, with a GPS you can convert to anything you want. This doesn't change how it's received or recorded by the satellites, only how you see it on the screen. When you transfer the data, you can often designate what you want it converted to in the transfer (e.g. UTM NAD 83). DNR GPS, for instance, allows you to convert but also gives you the original dd format.

Another note: for our purposes, there's no critical difference between NAD 83 and WGS 84 -- a few centimeters in most places, I think. Whereas there can be a few hundred feet in difference between NAD 83 and NAD 27 -- a difference between one side of a ridge or river and another.

A GPS is an excellent and easy way to convert one coordinate type to another. So if you're given one type, for instance US National Grid (USNG) but you want to mark it on a paper map (which likely doesn't have USNG as a grid) then convert with your GPS to DMS or UTM. Same with DDM (Degrees Decimal Minutes --not on paper maps but beloved of helicopter pilots.

When reporting emergency activations to responders, though, SPOT will report in DMS, though that's only recent. One of the things we emphasize in the book is whoever is taking down coordinate information (whether just among friends or in emergency response) has to ASK what coordinate type it's being given in and what the Datum is if it's not supplied. The person giving the information has to identify what the coordinates and datum are when reporting. Lots of mistakes are made this way.

There was a serious mistake in locating a vital clue on the Morgenson search involving not correctly transcribing coordinates which led me on this quixotic quest (also in logging the clue).

g.
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby dave54 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:54 pm

another source of GIS data on NF lands is the Forest Service.

Before I retired from the FS I was a GIS specialist. I created a stand layer for our entire district, containing not only the usual slope/aspect/elevation for every stand, but forest type, understory type, soil type, geology, et al, all of which could be linked relationally to the stand activity database (which yielded stand history including all harvesting and inventory back as far as paper records could be located, wildlife, fire history, legal history, and a host of other data). I also obtained a 1908 forest reserve map that I scanned and geo-referenced (very interesting) and most of the various editions of the forest visitor map. IIRC I had every forest visitor map back to 1940 in the digital files.

Some of the FS GIS data will not be given out to the public -- archaeological sites, endangered species locations, fire risk maps, LE focus areas, etc. but the rest is public information. No one outside the FS knows the data exists, so no one asks for it.
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby gdurkee » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:31 am

Dave: yes. One of the recommendations we make in the book is to check your friendly neighborhood USFS, BLM or NPS GIS Specialist to see what kind of data they're willing to part with. County Planning is another excellent source. Some are not always cooperative, but it's public information. For SAR, we recommend if they're reluctant, go through the Sheriff SAR rep and make it an official request. You can always FOIA the stuff, but that turns into its own hassle... . But basically, if you tell them the reason and purpose,I'd imagine most would cooperate.

And, also yes, they withhold (and should) stuff like archeological and sensitive wildlife & plant locations. But everything else should be fair game.

And, if the GIS Specialist is doing a good job, data is now all in File Geodatabase (GDB) structure. So you'll have one for Transportation (roads, trails, ski trails etc); one for Boundaries; Structures etc. All nicely organized and easy to put on a thumb drive and use.

Arrrr, I love data!

g.
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby BSquared » Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:36 pm

George, how did you know I was planning to make this the winter in which I teach myself GIS ;) ? What a terrific supplement your book makes!!
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby gdurkee » Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:17 pm

Bill: great news. Geek out! Also, the home license for ArcMap is only $100/year. Someone just told me that for version 10.1, it's the full ArcInfo license -- so all the extensions are included. Really a good deal.

I'm writing up a course proposal for our local community college and it occurred to me that a good course would be teaching basic mapping skills to teachers. Illustrate lessons, track field data etc.
If you need help with anything, send me a note.

g.
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby BSquared » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:44 pm

There are a couple of great little videos on that site! But George, every time I see you, you look more and more like Old John! If you put on an old suit coat and stuck a sprig of Jeffrey Pine in the the lapel buttonhole, I'll bet you could pass... :p
Last edited by BSquared on Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby gdurkee » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:23 pm

Bill: gotta have a goal, but I'm nowhere near my buddy Howard Weamer:

http://www.thecleanestline.com/2010/08/ ... eamer.html

Too short, really. Take a look also at:

http://photos.mercurynews.com/2012/02/2 ... caretaker/

And, oh yeah, his photography:
http://www.weamerphotography.com/

I was HW's comic relief at Ostrander for 20 years. Also, Howard did his PhD thesis on Muir. Never finished it, but it would have been brilliant.

g.
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby BSquared » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:54 am

Ah, yes, Howard Weamer. I believe he was the hut caretaker the one time we went there (let me see... probably 1979 but possibly a year or two earlier). George, I think I mentioned this to you before, but I remember being stopped dead in my tracks by Howard during a conversation about careers. I was finishing up graduate school and wondering what in the world to do with myself (but of course whatever it was would involve papers, students, and *advancement*), and he had just explained that he did Ostrander during the winter and [actually I forget what; seasonal rangering in the Valley?] during the summer. I asked him something about a "career path." He looked at me blankly (but with a twinkle in his eye) and said, "what else would I want to do?" It was much too good a question for me to be able to afford to think about at that time in my life!

But really, his beard is far too neat for Old-John honors, don't you think?
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Re: Everythihg you wanted to know about GIS

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:36 pm

Hi George,

When, if ever, is all this great info going to be available for Mac users? :\
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