Recently in Geospatial Category

Social Explorer

Created by Queens College, City University of New York, and partnering with the University of Minnesota's own National Historical Geographic Information System, this subscription edition of Social Explorer offers the ability to create customized maps and reports of demographic, housing, and employment patterns throughout the United States using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Data are available by decade between 1940 and 2000 for a variety of geographical entities that are as small as the census tract for certain areas.

The Topography of Poverty in the United States: A Spatial Analysis Using County-Level Data From the Community Health Status Indicators Project

From the abstract:

"The spatial analytic techniques are broadly applicable to socioeconomic and health-related data and can provide important information about the spatial structure of datasets, which is important for choosing appropriate analysis methods."

Global Patterns of City Size Distributions and Their Fundamental Drivers

Interesting article that uses a combination of census data and geospatial data in support of the argument that "macroscopic patterns of human settlements may be far more constrained by fundamental ecological principles than more fine-scale socioeconomic factors".

Monitoring Minnesota's Landscapes

This website provides a series of maps and statistics about land cover, impervious surface area and landscape change, derived from satellite imagery, in Minnesota from 1986 to the present. Minnesota is one of the first states to have multiple dates of land cover and impervious surface, and change data, mapped statewide using satellite imagery. Other surveys have been performed by various means on smaller scales, but none have had the large area coverage as well as the historical depth of information. Quantifying the amount of impervious surface area, an important indicator of environmental quality, is particularly valuable because of its effects on stormwater runoff and lake and stream quality.

Again, computational intensiveness isn't clear, but project uses a variety of sources for data, works with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and displays data via UMN MapServer.

Interagency Information Cooperative

The Interagency Information Cooperative (IIC) was created from the Sustainable Forest Resources Act of 1995 (M.S. Chapter 89A.09). The overall mission of the IIC is to enhance the access and use of forest resources data in Minnesota. The following public organizations have representatives on the IIC: Minnesota Association of County Land Commissioners, United States Forest Service, Land Management Information Center, University of Minnesota, and Department of Natural Resources. The IIC Memorandum of Understanding was created in 1997, and goes into greater depth on the purposes, membership, and duties of the IIC.

Focus here is more on harmonization of data through metadata rather than computationally intensive work. However, it is boundary-spanning in that it is attempting to harmonize biological, geospatial, social science and other kinds of data.


MapServer ( an Open Source development environment for building spatially-enabled internet applications. MapServer is not a full-featured GIS system, nor does it aspire to be. Instead, MapServer excels at rendering spatial data (maps, images, and vector data) for the web.

Beyond browsing GIS data, MapServer allows you create "geographic image maps", that is, maps that can direct users to content. For example, the Minnesota DNR Recreation Compass provides users with more than 10,000 web pages, reports and maps via a single application. The same application serves as a "map engine" for other portions of the site, providing spatial context where needed.

MapServer was originally developed by the University of Minnesota (UMN) ForNet project in cooperation with NASA and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR). Presently, the MapServer project is hosted by the TerraSIP project, a NASA sponsored project between the UMN and consortium of land management interests.

The software is maintained by a growing number of developers (nearing 20) from around the world and is supported by a diverse group of organizations that fund enhancements and maintenance.

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