USGIF GotGeoint Blog USGIF promotes geospatial intelligence tradecraft and a stronger community of interest between government, industry, academia, professional organizations and individuals focused on the development and application of geospatial intelligence to address national security objectives.
200 Muslim leaders, scholars, civil society members and government ministries from Kuwait, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Senegal, and Turkey have endorsed a seven year plan for action on protecting the natural environment and combating climate change. The meeting took place in Istanbul early in July 2009. Proposals includes
developing the major Muslim cities as green city models
developing an Islamic label for environmentally friendly goods and services
greening the Hajj within the next 10 years
creating a best practice environmental guide for Islamic businesses
The plan was initiated by environmental experts in Kuwait and will be presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon at a special meeting in Windsor prior to the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.
In preparation for the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhapen in December the Australian government has proposed a modified plan (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) to reduce Australia's CO2 emissions by up to 25 % (higher than the originally proposed 15%) below 2000 levels by 2020. The government's revised plan is to introduce a tax on industrial carbon emissions beginning in 2011 (later than originally proposed) and to impose a limit on Australia's overall pollution. The government would fix the price of a ton of carbon pollution at A$10 for a year after the plan goes into effect in July 2011. Business will be able to buy permits to pollute. The number of permits would be unlimited for the first year.
After the summer Autodesk Labs will be launching “plugin of the month from the Autodesk Developer Network." The plugins will be simple utility applications and will include full source code. Some examples of plugins that you'll see when the site becomes available are
An AutoCAD utility that applies a specified naming convention to the single-sheet PDFs output by the PLOT and PUBLISH commands
An AutoCAD utility that enables the OFFSET command to work on the contents of an external reference
An Inventor utility that allows you to control which parts and sub-assemblies are loaded into memory
I am in Brazil this week in São Paulo, where I just gave a presentation at the Geo Summit Latin America, which used to be known as GeoBrasil. I have been coming to Brazil for many years for conferences and business and every time I come I discover something new and original that Brazil is doing. For example, several years ago, I became aware that Brazil is considered to have the world's first biofuels economy and many people believe sugar cane ethanol is the most successful alternative fuel.
In the last year the federal government in Brazil has made some important initiatives in the areas of open standards, open source, and open data.
First of all in December, 2008 the Federal government of Brazil published a set of standards for interoperability. The e-PING (Electronic Government Interoperability Standards) architecture defines a minimum group policies and technical specifications for interoperability of electronic government services and the use of Information and information and communication technology (ICT). The areas covered by e-PING are interconnectivity, security, means of access, organization and exchange of Information, and electronic government integration.
In the area of geospatial standards, these are mostly OGC standards and includes GML, Shape, GeoTIFF, Simple Feature Specification for SQL (SFS), WMS, WFS, WCS, CAT, and WKT/WKB.
In May, 2008 new guidelines for the procurment of software by the federal government were published called the INSTRUÇÃO NORMATIVA No 04, de 19 de maio de 2008.
Procurement guideline (in order)
Look for a similar solution somewhere in the Brazilian government
Look for an open source solution either commercial or public
Look for a proprietary solution
If none of the above, develop the application in-house or with a partner
A roadmap of the government's strategy for the development of free and open source software has been prepared for the Open World Forum in Paris later this year.
In the area of open government data, I have blogged previously about what governments around the world are doing to enable public access to free and open government geospatial data. In November, 2008 a decree was published in Brazil that established the principle that federal government data should be made freely available (livre in Portuguese means free in the sense Richard Stallman means free) and without cost to Brazilian citizens.
Decreto 6.666 (November 27, 2008)
"Art. 3o O compartilhamento e disseminação dos dados geoespaciais e seus metadados é obrigatório para todos os órgãos e entidades do Poder Executivo federal e voluntário para os órgãos e entidades dos Poderes Executivos estadual, distrital e municipal.(...)
§ 2o Os dados geoespaciais disponibilizados no DBDG pelos órgãos e entidades federais, estaduais, distritais e municipais devem ser acessados, por meio do SIG Brasil, de forma livre e sem ônus para o usuário devidamente identificado, observado o disposto no § 1o.“
(It is mandatory for all Federal Government Agencies to publish geospatial data freely and free of charge to any identified user.)
I would like to thank Helton Uchoa of OpenGeo for making me aware of, researching and translating this information.
Daniel Shannon made me aware of the Drake Landing Solar Community, a 52 house subdivision that is the largest subdivision of R-2000 single family homes in Canada. It intends to meet 90% of residential space heating needs by solar thermal energy with an estimated reduction of 5 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per home per year.
The community uses solar panels located on garage roofs to generate thermal power and supply heat to the district heating system. During the warmer months, the heated water is distributed to a borehole thermal energy storage (BTES). As the heated water travels moved throught the pipes, heat is transferred to the surrounding earth. By the end of summer, the temperature of the earth will reach 80o C. During the winter months, the heated water from the BTES is used to heat the homes.
Autodesk is now officially supporting AutoCAD 2010 on Mac OSX via Apple Boot Camp. Also supported on Boot Camp are 3ds Max 2010, 3ds Max Design 2010, Autodesk Inventor 2010, and Autodesk Revit Architecture, Structure, and MEP 2010. This means that users can run AutoCAD and other Autodesk applications full speed on a Mac using its native graphics capabilities. We know customers have been running Autodesk software on Boot Camp for years, so it's great that it's finally officially supported.
There's an interesting article about IBM's remarkable second quarter results (reporting a 12% rise in net income and raising full year earnings guidance) that attributes part of the upbeat results to government spending where IBM reported that revenues from the public sector increased 7% year-over-year, which may be a sign that the federal stimulus program is showing some effect. IBM is a leader in the smart grid market and is heavily involved in some of the largest smart grid deployments in North America (and Europe.) (Image via ktylerconk)
I mentioned in my last blog that one of fhe important concerns with renewables such as wind and solar is that in most parts of the world the existing electric power grid was designed for conventional energy sources. Power is consumed immediately when it is generated. Frequency regulation is what keeps demand and generation in sync. Conventional energy sources such as coal and oil fired plants generate power on demand, whereas wind and solar sources generate power when the sun shines and the wind blows, not necessarily when consumers require them. These types of power sources require a different type of power grid, typically with storage capability and a significant build out of transmission capacity.
There's a fascinating article that outlines how batteries in electric vehicles could become a buffer between supply and demand. Google is testing an algorithm for smart charging car batteries for frequency regulation on a fleet of eight converted plug-in hybrid Priuses. Also apparently the Chevy Volt will have smart charging built into it when it is released next year.
Global climate change, for which the change in Arctic sea ice is
evidence as an example, is motivating power utilities, car
manufacturers, oil companies and others to look at alternative sources
of energy. Various terms are used to describe these alternatives such
as non-emitting, clean, sustainable, renewable, and green.
Renewable energy is energy from natural resources such as solar, wind, water, biofuel, and geothermal. An excellent article in Wikipedia gives a current overview of alternative renewable energy
sources. Each of these energy sources has pros and cons.
Some of them are emitting. They create greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For
example, biofuels often require energy and generate GHG to manufacture them, such as
ethanol. I blogged about cellulosic and sugar cane alcohol which are believed to reduce emissions compared to gasoline, but one study suggested that corn ethanol is worse for air quality than gasoline . Other renewables generate GHG in the process of being converted to
usable energy, such as biomass. For some of these biofuels it is hoped
that as technology improves the net carbon balance (Burning biomass creates CO2, but growing it removes CO2 from the atmosphere) will approach zero.
challenge wih some biofuels, such as palm oil, is that using them as a
fuel competes with human consumption as food which tends to make an important
food source more expensive.
In some regions of the world, some
renewables are not considered to be green or clean because of negative
impacts either on the environment or humans, for example, large scale
hydroelectric projects in California and other parts of the world. The
best known recent example is the Three Gorges Hydroelectric Project in
Another important concern about alternative
sources of energy is the cost to the consumer either in
increased energy costs or in increased taxes. Althought a survey in the
US found that Americans are willing to pay more to reduce green house
gas emissions, many
people are concerned about an energy program based on government
subsidies, preferring open market programs such as carbon
cap and trade.
Some renewable technologies are financially expensive compared to traditional energy sources. For example, in Ottawa there are plans
to develop a $100 million solar farm in West Carleton. Critics charge
that the cost in government subsidies amounts to 42 cents/kWh compared
to 4 to 8 cents/kWh that consumers in Ontario are paying for electric power from conventional energy sources.
You might remember a number of years ago being surprised to see very green oil
company advertisements. BP (was British Petroleum) was the one I
remember in particular. This signaled a sigificant investment in alternative energy
sources including solar, wind, and carbon sequestration by major oil
the investment in non-carbon fuels by Big Oil appears to be decreasing,
although there are exceptions, for example, Exxon Mobile recently announced a $600 million investment to develop algal fuel.
also seems to be less interest in carbon capture and storage (CCS)
which is now seen as only viable with major government subsidies.
Conventional Electric Power Grid
One fhe important concerns with renewables such as wind and solar is
that in most parts of the world the existing electric power grid was
designed for conventional energy sources, which supports an on demand model where power is
consumed immediately when it is generated. Conventional energy sources
such as coal and oil fired plants generate power at centralized locations on demand, whereas wind and solar sources generate power, often in more remote locations, when the sun shines
and the wind blows, not necessarily when consumers require them. These types of power sources require a different type of power grid, typically with storage capability and a significant build out of transmission
lines to more remote locations where solar and wind farms are
being developed. I already blogged about the challenges of wind power
generation in China where it is estimated that 2.8 gigawatts of wind power cannot be delivered to consumers because of the limitations of the power grid. It has been estimated that in the US implementing new energy sources and upgrading/replacing the existing grid (it is conceivable that we may have to replace much of the existing grid) will cost $1.5 to 2 trillion and will take years. As a result of the increased focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for example as seen at the recent G8 meeting in Italy, people in the utility industry are looking for alternative sources of energy that will lead to a reduction in GHG emissions in the short term. (Image Hydro One)
You may be surprised by the statistics on nuclear power around the world. Currently about 30 countries have operating nuclear power plants, and several countries are considering building their first nuclear plants. As of June 1, 2009 the total number of power plants worldwide is 436 working power plants, generating 2602 billion kWh, and supplying about 15% of the world’s electric power. Major countries generating most power from nuclear sources are US (19%), France (77%), Japan (35%), Russia (16%), Ukraine (47%), Germany (26%), South Korea (35%), Canada (15%), Sweden (46%), UK(15%), South Africa (5.5%), India (2.8%), and China (2%).
You also may be surprised to find that nuclear energy is back on the policy agendas of many countries. This is occurring for several reasons. First, increasing demand for energy. It is estimated that global population growth and industrial development will double electricity consumption by 2030. There will also be a need to renew a lot of generating plants in the US and the EU over the same period. In some parts of the world such as Australia an increasing shortage of fresh water requires energy-intensive desalination plants, and in the longer term new types of vehicles will require power sources for charging batteries or for hydrogen production.
Secondly, nuclear power does not generate GHG emissions and many people in the utility industry believe that nuclear power is the only feasible technology to meet the objectives of the new sustainable economy as well as the increasing demand for power coming from the rapid economic development occurring in the world’s most populous countries. A 2008 survey of power company executives in the US indicated that most of the respondents expect that nuclear power is to be the major source of non-emission generating power in the new green economy. “Utility industry personnel, as represented in our survey, still feel nuclear energy is the best way for the United States to deal with the impending threats, with 55%—compared with 50% last year—saying nuclear should have top priority. Continuing the survey trend from past years, utility personnel believe strongly that nuclear energy is the best investment to meet environmental requirements. Nuclear demonstrated not only the highest level of support this year (77% of all respondents and 80% of all IOUs), but also a sustained increase in the level of support over the three years of the survey. Wind and solar rank second and third as preferred technologies: 56% and 54%, respectively. Wind has retained its relative ranking over the 2006 to 2008 period, while interest in solar has accelerated rapidly. While not at significant levels, interest in tidal resources has also increased substantially over the last three years. Interest in coal gasification has lost ground, dropping from 22% in 2006 to approximately10% in 2008.”
Thirdly, increasing fossil fuel prices have improved the economics of nuclear power for electricity. In addition, carbon emission reductions which are encouraged through various forms of government incentives and trading schemes, increase the economic attractiveness of nuclear power.
Fourthly, an important topic in many parts of the world, especially recently in the US, is security of supply.
And finally, nuclear power generation can be implemented without replacing the existing power grid.
Since Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl, the risks associated with nuclear power generation have become well known. In the US no new nuclear power plants have been built for 20 years. GreenPeace and others have been very active in trying to stop the development of new power plants and to shut down existing.power plants. Germany's official policy is to not build new nuclear plants and to decommision existing plants at the end of their lifetime, although there are signs that popular attitude to nuclear power is changing. According to recent surveys by the Bielefeld-based Emnid Institute for both the Deutsches Atomforum and Greenpeace Germany, 48% of Germans favour extending the lifetimes of Germany's nuclear power plants, compared to 40% two years ago.
But because of the requirement to reduce GHG emissions and satisfy increasing demand for power, the number of nuclear power plants is expected to double in the near future. As of June 2009, 45 new plants are under construction, 131 are planned, and 282 are proposed.
Advanced Design and Simulation Tools
According to the heads of the US Department of Energy’s national labs, meeting the US’s increasing energy demand while limiting greenhouse gas emissions requires revitalizing nuclear power in the US including (1) making maximum use of the current operating light-water reactors, using plant life extensions, extended fuel burnup, and power uprates and (2) immediately beginning a program to deploy advanced light-water reactors. They argue that design, modeling and simulation technologies have made tremendous advances since the existing plants were built and that if the next-generation facilities are designed and built using state-of-the-art design, engineering, testing and diagnostics tools, nuclear power is a safe, financially viable option for sustainable power generation especially compared to an alternative of more coal fired plants and increasing GHG emissions. (Image James Brown Rumic)
I blogged some time ago about the rapid increase in the number of OpenStreetMap users and the volume of data in the OSM database, and its recent expansion as a result of adding the Canadian GeoBase datasets.
I just came across a comparison of OpenSteetMap and Google/Teleatlas prepared by Steve Chilton of Middlesex University using work begun by Bernard Zwischenbrugger and Alex Mauer. The size of the circles are proportional to the coverage in the city, so small circles represent poor coverage and large circles good coverage.
Alex Mauer's original assessment concluded that OSM is slightly ahead of Google/TeleAtlas worldwide, and specifically in Africa and Asia. OSM is significantly ahead in Europe, whereas Google is somewhat ahead in Oceania, and significantly ahead in the Americas, especially South America.
There is a great overview of OpenStreetMap, mapping parties and the technologies used to create OSM maps on Slideshare.