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Geo-related Ethics in the News

Like many in the Geographic Information Science community, the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) is concerned with media reports of the apparent dismissal of a GIS Professional employed by the Florida Department of Health after she refused to alter publicly available COVID-19 geospatial data for what are perceived to be political purposes. Our concern is magnified given what we view as continuing threats to scientific integrity germane to Geographic Information Science, for example in a recent initiative at the EPA. Ethical conduct is embodied in the UCGIS mission to “Advocate policies for the promotion of the ethical use of and access to geographic information and technologies…” and in the GIS Certification Institute’s (GISCICode of Ethics, which includes the obligation to “Provide full, clear, and accurate information.” UCGIS will continue our longstanding activities to promote ethics in Geographic Information Science through education and research. More information on the importance of ethics as it relates to science and the profession can be found in the UCGIS  GIS&T Body of Knowledge sections on Professional and Practical Ethics and GIS and Critical Ethics.

 

GIS&T Body of Knowledge helpful for COVID-19 Related Topics

Are you teaching and learning about mapping diseases and other topics related to COVID-19?  Remember that the GIS&T Body of Knowledge has helpful articles on classification and clusteringkernels and density estimationpoint pattern analysisproblems with scale and zoningstatistical mappingspatiotemporal representationrepresenting uncertaintyepidemiology, and public health, among many others that you might find helpful.  

UCGIS part of new National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator Award

UCGIS is a partner in a $1 million grant from a new interdisciplinary NSF program to foster building an "open knowledge network" for spatial decision support technologies. The inspiration for this type of network comes from Tim Berners-Lee's (best known founder of the World-wide Web) vision for the "semantic web," which applies tags with relationships to information on the Internet, allowing computers to do basic reasoning for improving search results and answering questions. Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Google's Assistant all use these technologies.

Individuals from UCGIS’s leadership group are members of a team of 13 researchers and practitioners from 10 different institutions and organizations who are collectively focused on spatial decision support (SDS) systems, a systematic approach that improves access to tools for analyzing geographic data. Despite many successful applications, SDS contributions are limited by challenges in integrating information across complex organizational networks and across an array of data and tools developed for narrow (often disciplinary) applications. The project is being led by PI Sean Gordon, research faculty at Portland State University, which is a UCGIS member institution. "The proliferation of online mapping technologies has greatly increased access to and utility of these kinds of tools, and a logical next step is increasing our ability to find the appropriate data and tools for your problem and link these together for more complex analyses," says Gordon. Through engaging stakeholders in three applied case studies (the management of wildland fire, water quality, and biodiversity conservation), the interdisciplinary project team will develop and test participatory and automated methods for finding and sharing decision-relevant information using semantic web technologies.  

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