11 June 2007

CommunityViz - A decision making framework

I thought I would post some information on the CommunityViz software package and some of its more useful features. The package functions as an extension for the ArcGIS products. It allows for the creation of dynamic data that allows for scenarios to be created in a sort of "What if?" analysis.

I have just been toying with it a little over a week and I intend to use to construct some data correlating Hemlock die back with stream temperature increases. The program seems to be primarily designed to use in community planning operations but can be extended for more ecological centered uses.

In order to learn the basics of the program I began toying around with average parcel slope data in Buncombe county. I then set a dynamic threshold on allowable slope percentage within the parcels (so that it would be easy to understand the volume of parcels that would be affected by various limitations on development in sloped areas). The first map is set with a maximum allowable slope of somewhere around 20% (yes, low, I know). Using the slider bar with the variable constructed in CommunityViz, the map can be updated dynamically to show what would happen should an ordinance be proposed that barred development on in parcels with slopes that are greater than 45%.

In order to understand how CommunityViz could perform with weighing two variables within a single map I constructed a similar analysis that factored in parcel slope and distance to a city. Say in case a developer was looking for a location to build a retirement community and wanted to select land that wouldn't be too steep, thus deterring older occupants; at the same time this developer would want to build within reasonable proximity to the cities of Flat Rock or Hendersonville because of their notoriety among retirees. The first map shows both factors with equal weight. The second shows what would occur if the developer became less concerned with parcel slope but really wanted to cash in on people heading toward Flat Rock or Hendersonville.

One last feature worth noting is the seamless integration with the Google Earth platform. Following the analysis of the Buncombe County slopes, I exported the data to Google Earth so that it could be made accessible to a wider user base (this is with the data with maximum slope set at 20%).

Clicking on the thumbnails will yield better pictures and I will post more as I play with the program more.

06 June 2007

Dutch Cycling: Remember the Phone, Forget the Helmet

A look into the cycle culture of the Dutch. A model for America?

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05 June 2007

Support Our Soldiers, Save Some Energy

So in light of Memorial Day and the controversy surrounding the war in Iraq, I found a bumper sticker that points out a fact that we should all take to heart.

Many have pointed out that the U.S. interest in maintaining a stable Mid-Eastern political climate is necessary for continuation of the American economic Status Quo. With the cost of the current war, both financially and in terms of the lives of soldiers it seems that our politicians might be willing to explore alternatives to current methods of energy production.

An article floating around Digg shows that we are instead set in maintaining our current energy production patterns, even at the expense of legislatively alienating developing technologies.

I understand that coal and oil are not the same source, but both are the type of non-renewable fossil based fuels that contribute to both environmental degradation and political instability. Perhaps rather than fighting the fight against terrorism or a stable world political climate on the battlefield, we should all examine where our energy comes from and the totality of its price. Rather than spewing a rhetoric of supporting our troops while demanding that they come home, we should show our true support for our troops through demanding clean energy and reducing our personal dependence on fossil-based fuels.

04 June 2007

A margarita made with ethanol

OK, now this biofuel thing has gone too far. Reuters is reporting that Mexican farmers are burning down fields of blue agave -- the main ingredient in tequila -- and replanting them with corn. Meanwhile, in Germany, the Associated Press warns that the price of beer is set to rise, because barley

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01 June 2007

Marketing Design: Green Modern Prefab Meets Google

The dynamic duo of SketchUp and Google Earth is being utilized by green home designer Michelle Kaufmann to allow prospective buyers to sample her wares without so much as a consultation.

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