2007 August 23

This issue sponsored by

Professional Surveyor Magazine

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Editor's Introduction

This week, I discuss maps for the blind with Megan Lawrence, a Ph.D. student in geography at the University of Oregon, and summarize URISA's recent salary survey. Plus, 16 press releases.

Matteo Luccio

Maps for the Blind

Traditional maps, whether printed or displayed on a screen, are useless to millions of blind and visually impaired people. A small group of researchers is now using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study how blind people use tactile maps and what brain functions are activated by that task. I discussed this research with Megan Lawrence, a second-year Ph.D. student in the University of Oregon's Department of Geography.

Blind people's brains, Lawrence explains, have rearranged themselves to use the portion usually used for vision for other purposes. However, we don't know how blind people use maps — "especially middle aged people, who have never been introduced to maps because they were not being taught in the schools for the blind." Even today, Lawrence says, tactile maps for blind people — often made by their family or friends using sticks, Velcro, noodles, zippers, buttons, and other scrap — are used mostly to explain such concepts as a block or an intersection, not for navigation. She is hoping to make it simple and cheap to create tactile maps.

This task requires subjects to imagine themselves at the triangle, facing in the direction of the more acute angle, and determine whether the square is to their left or their right.

Read more…

URISA Salary Survey

The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association recently released the URISA Salary Survey for IT/GIS Professionals, July 2007, based on responses collected last year from 2,402 individuals. Nearly two thirds of the respondents (63.8 percent) indicated that they had seen an increase in the number of GIS staff employed by their organizations over the past five years.

In addition to salaries, this exhaustive, 499-page survey reports and cross-tabulates data on job title/position, type of employer, location of employment, staff size, departments served, years of professional experience, education, computer skills, other job requirements, and demographic characteristics. Additionally, the data is broken down into four regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West), salary figures are broken down into ten-thousand-dollar brackets, and the number of respondents for each tabulation is indicated.

Read more …

Briefly Noted

Recently disclosed plans to expand the use of imagery from U.S. spy satellites have raised concerns about a possible threat to civil liberties. In an August 17 New York Times article titled "Liberties Advocates Fear Abuse of Satellite Images; U.S. Intelligence-Sharing Plan Is Criticized," Eric Schmitt writes: "For years a handful of civilian agencies have used limited images from the nation's constellation of spy satellites to track hurricane damage, monitor climate change, and create topographical maps. But a new plan to allow emergency response, border control, and, eventually, law enforcement agencies greater access to sophisticated satellites and other sensors that monitor American territory has drawn sharp criticism from civil liberties advocates who say the government is overstepping the use of military technology for domestic surveillance. ... A new office within the Homeland Security Department, called the National Applications Office, will be responsible beginning in October for coordinating requests from civilian agencies for spy satellite information."

News Briefs

Please note: I have neither edited nor verified the content of these press releases.


    1. Tele Atlas Selected by Sony to Power Unique Navigation Features for new GO!Explore on PSP

    2. CH2M HILL Awarded Spatial Consulting Contract by Virgin Media

    3. Guy Carpenter Selects Pitney Bowes MapInfo Technology to Power Its Risk Management Solution

    4. MotracLinde Selects Tensing Field Vision for Field Automation


    1. Microsoft Streets & Trips 2008 With Connected Services Drives Down Travel Costs and Eases Stressful Commutes

    2. Surge In Production Deployments As Ubisense Releases World's First UWB Real-Time Location System Certified For Use In Both the United States And the European Union

    3. BusinessMAP Now Available as Add-on Solution for the New ACT! Contact and Customer Management Product Family

    4. Topcon PI-3000 Image Modeler Software Captures 'Reality' In the Field


    1. Learn to Use the New Cadastral Editor Tools in ESRI's ArcGIS Survey Analyst 9.2

    2. GISCI Recognizes GeoSpatial Training Services Toward GISP


    1. Tadpole Technology Appoints New Senior Sales Executive

  5. OTHER

    1. Tele Atlas LBS Innovator Series Expands with "Maps in Apps" Contest

    2. MAPPS and ASPRS Applaud National Land Imaging Program

    3. Templates from ArcGIS Server Grant Winners Now Posted Online

    4. Digital Quest and SkillsUSA Announce 2007 Geospatial Technology Champion

    5. Deadline Extended for Geospatial Technology Report Surveys

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Matteo Luccio, Editor
GIS Monitor

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