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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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technology

Mapping Apps May Make Traffic Worse

Apps like Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps may make traffic conditions worse in some areas, new research suggests.

 

In the pre-mobile-app days, drivers’ selfishness was limited by their knowledge of the road network. In those conditions, both simulation and real-world experience showed that most people stuck to the freeways and arterial roads. When there are more app-using drivers, congestion builds up at off-ramps, creating more traffic on the freeway. While it’s clear that traffic on local roads gets worse with the use of these apps, Bayen said that nobody has managed to do a multi-scale analysis that can determine if the apps, even if they create local problems, are better or worse for whole traffic basins.

 

Tags: urbantechnology, transportation.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

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How to Defeat Drought

Cape Town is running out of water. Israel offers some lessons on how to avoid that fate.

Source: foreignpolicy.com

Most droughts are caused by a combination of human and physical geographic factors. Cape Town is current in the midst of a 3 year long drought that is causing many officials to consider drastic measures such as cutting off all private water taps and rationing out 13 gallons per resident per day.  

 

I would like for us to also consider cases beyond South Africa, and think about the the broader issues of resource management, urbanization, resilience, and changing climatic conditions.  Resources Watch discusses critical water shortages in Morocco, India, Iraq and Spain with excellent maps, charts, and graphs. This article from Foreign Policy demonstrates how Israel has worked to maximize their minimal water resources (recycling grey water for agriculture and desalinization). The World Resources Institute discusses 3 things cities can glean from the South African crisis (1. Understand risks, 2. Manage the water budget, and 3. Invest in resilience).  

 

Tags: drought, water, environment, technologyenvironment modify, South AfricaIsrael, Spain, MoroccoIndiaIraq.

Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language?

There are 7,000 languages spoken on Earth. What are the costs — and benefits — of our modern-day Tower of Babel?

Source: freakonomics.com

These two podcasts are great mainstream looks at issues that filled with cultural geography content.  So many languages on Earth is clearly inefficient (the EU spends $1 billion per year on translation), and yet, linguistic diversity is such a rich part of humanity’s cultural heritage.  Listen to the first episode, Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language? as well as the follow-up episode, What Would Be the Best Universal Language?

 

Tags: languagecultureworldwide, English, regions, diffusiontechnology.

Pro Wrestling and Economic Restructuring

“For decades, professional wrestling in North America operated under a system of informally defined ‘territories.’ Each territory represented an individual promotion with its own stable of talent that drew crowds to local arenas and broadcast the product on regional television stations. In 1982, Vince McMahon purchased his father’s company, the World Wrestling Federation. For almost two decades, he endured an epic conquest of the pro wrestling world that led to where he is today: standing tall as the undisputed king of the industry.”

Source: www.youtube.com

This may seem like a strange video for geography educators and students.  In one sense, the history of a wrestling entertainment business is trivial, but this provides a great example of how using economies of scale can overcome regional advantages as new technologies enter the market.  Maybe is not a ‘real’ sport, but the example of wrestling might pique a few students’ interest as the economic principles are made manifest. 

 

Questions to Ponder: How do emerging technologies lead to economic disruption?  Why was regional systems so prevalent in the 1950s and1960s?  If Vince McMahon didn’t pursue this plan, would there still be smaller, regional wrestling organizations?  Why or why not? 

 

Tags: regions, economic, diffusiontechnologysport, industry

As Climate Change Accelerates, Floating Cities Look Like Less of a Pipe Dream

A costly plan to build floating islands shows how climate change is pushing the search for innovative solutions, but some critics ask who will ultimately benefit.

Source: www.nytimes.com

As coastal communities are considering what the tangible impacts of climate change might be, things that were once considered science fiction could be a part of how people adapt to the modifications we’ve collectively made to our global environment that we depend on to sustain life.  

 

Tags: physicaltechnologysustainability, climate change, environment, resources, watercoastal, environment dependenvironment adapt, environment modify.

Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here

One of the driest countries on Earth now makes more freshwater than it needs

 

Driven by necessity, Israel is learning to squeeze more out of a drop of water than any country on Earth; researchers have pioneered new techniques in drip irrigation, water treatment and desalination. “The Middle East is drying up,” says Osnat Gillor, a professor at the Zuckerberg Institute who studies the use of recycled wastewater on crops. “The only country that isn’t suffering acute water stress is Israel.” That water stress has been a major factor in the turmoil tearing apart the Middle East, but Bar-Zeev believes that Israel’s solutions can help its parched neighbors, too — and in the process, bring together old enemies in common cause.

 

Tags: drought, water, environment, Israeltechnology, Middle East.

Source: www.scientificamerican.com

How the U.S. Air Force Mapped the World at the Dawn of the Cold War

One specialized unit gathered data that could guide a missile to a target thousands of miles away.

 

The work of the 1370th bridged a crucial gap in the history of military technology. By the late 1950s, both the United States and the Soviet Union had developed intercontinental ballistic missiles, but satellite navigation systems like GPS weren’t yet up and running. That left military planners with a huge challenge: how to program a missile to hit a target on the other side of the world. Even a tiny mistake could be disastrous.

 

Tags: mapping, cartography, technology, historical.

Source: news.nationalgeographic.com

The languages the world is trying to learn, according to Duolingo

If you own a smartphone and are trying to learn a language, you probably have Duolingo. English is far and away the most dominant, with a caveat: For some learners, English is the only language Duolingo offers with translation into their native tongue. That doesn’t change the fact of universal interest in English, though, which Duolingo notes is studied by 53% of its users. Things get more interesting when you look at the second-most popular language by country. There French takes the lead, followed by Spanish, German, and Portuguese.

 

Tags: language, colonialismtechnology, diffusion, culture, English.

Source: qz.com

Questions to Ponder: What role do colonial history and modern economics play in shaping this linguistic data? How does migration influence patterns in bilingualism?  What is a lingua franca?

This Sheep Is Mapping The Faroe Islands By Wandering Around With A Camera

How do you get Google to visit your small, remote island group with its Street View vehicles, and digitize your roads for the benefit of locals and tourists alike? If you are the Faroe Islands, then you exploit your local resources to roll your own Street View, in the hopes of attracting Google’s attention. Behold: Sheep View 360, a solar-powered 360-degree camera, mounted on a sheep’s back. Sheep View takes advantage of one great Street View feature: You can upload your own images to Google’s service. So Durita Dahl Andreassen, working for the tourist site Visit Faroe Islands, decided to kick-start the Faroe Islands’ entry by putting the camera on a sheep and letting it wander free, then uploading the photos.”

Source: www.fastcoexist.com

I think this is my favorite mapping story of the year…I’m sharing this just because I can.  Google wouldn’t originally bring its Street View-recording cars to the islands (part of Denmark), so a solar-powered, ovine-mounted camera was put to work.  Fact can be stranger than fiction.

 

Tags: google, mapping, cartography, technology, Denmark,

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