Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps MOOC

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I took the ESRI Do-It-Yourself Geo Apps course because I wanted to see if I could build a GIS app for either an IOS or Android. The app would be downloadable from the Apple’s App Store or Googles Play Store.
The idea that I had in mind was to tie the my James City County’s stormwater program projects with  a measurable outcome besides the reduction of pollutants. I do believe  that it is about water quality. To that end, I wanted to try and develop a water quality monitoring data entry app for an iPhone or Android.  There are really two halves to the app. There is the data gathering input app and  the display of the data on a GIS map.
I have a sample of what this could look like for you to see.
Here is the data Entry Form , which you can fill out yourself from this web page. The date is automatic, and you do have to fill out the complete form. Some fields require a number and will not let you enter letters. At the end, you confirm the GIS location of the data. You can also attach pictures or additional documents. I used the “Modified Method (Rocky Bottom) Data Entry Form as a sample to develop the form.
The data format shown on the data entry form would be a downloadable application.  For example, an Apple App downloadable from the Apple App store and then the App used as a data entry form on your iPhone or iPad. The data, when submitted from the iPhone or iPad, will then automatically populate an ARC Online GIS Map. You do not have to have  an internet connection to use the form but you will have to have one to submit the form.
Here is the-the display on a GIS Map in a slide presentation mode. There are two slides and on the second slide, it displays the data. If you scroll to the bottom, you will see two attachments a photo and a document which you can open by clicking on them. There is also a summary display GIS map here that adds the total input of each of the 40 plus fields eg total number of Mayflies etc.
If you do fill out the Data entry forum and submit it, it will automatically populate my working dummy GIS Map
I have not figured out yet how to download the data into a CSV or Excel spreadsheet.

Tidewater Virginia

In Tidewater Virginia, February is the time, not January when the temperatures dip into the twenties with wind chills in the teens. It is only for a few days but it makes you wonder what it was like in James City Shire in 1634 let alone in James Town with the northeast winds driving from the James River.

If we get any snow it’s about this time and it varies from a dusting to six inches or more. As the month goes on heading into March I start to get the concern about the possibility of an ice storm. Williamsburg is on a “fall line” between snow or ice while if you go twenty minutes down the Peninsula it’s rain while heading towards Richmond it’s snow. The problem with ice storms like hurricanes that come through here is that you tend to lose power for a few days – ugly.

This morning as I rolled over at 4 AM and look towards the bedroom window. It seemed lighter out the window and it did not make sense since it is a new moon. Well at 6 AM I rousted the dogs out of bed to go outside and was greeted with a heavy dusting of white powder snow that now explained it. I took out the snow shovel and broom and cleared off the walkway and cars of snow.


WiFi is still very much a pup, getting right in front of the snow shovel and biting and grabbing at the broom. I think he thinks he is helping. To try to burn off some of that puppy energy, we have enrolled WiFi in a half day play- care program. He was interviewed by the staff to see how he behaved with the other dogs and passed and had his first play date last Friday. We picked him up at noon and on his report card “Plays nice with other dogs” was checked. We were happy to see that he was worn out and he spent the rest of the day napping leaving Holly in peace to nap herself. We are going try two days a week for his play date starting this week and I will keep you posted on his progress.

I am in the second week of my ESRI “Do-It-Yourself- Geo Apps” online course. I have taken a couple of their courses over the last two years to better see how I might apply GIS technology to stormwater issues in the county. Here is one of my homework assignments and I am working on an iPhone app that is an input form to catalog water quality conditions in James City County and it will identify locations needing to be added attention. When I finish it I will send it along for you to see. The course is centered on the idea of government transparency by using GIS and making the data available for viewing or crowdsourcing data e.g locations of potholes or graffiti that require repair based on citizen input.



2035 Strategic plan – Education

I am following the 2035 Strategic Plan very closely and in reading Clarion’s Foundation Report Phase 1 Setting Direction I think the Four Main Themes are about right.
•Regional and Local Economic Development
•Fiscal Health, Efficiency, and Sustainability
•Infrastructure, Facilities, and Services
•Community Character
There is one additional theme Education -Public K-12 and Higher education / workforce development that was also raised as a critical strategic planning topic to be included in the Strategic Plan. The question of whether or not the Strategic Plan will include goals and actions for policy areas which the County has a limited role will be explored at the February 9 Board of Supervisors work session.
I can not think of a better more neutral place than the 2035 Strategic Plan to have an inclusive conversation about the county’s future goals and actions for policy. Not including Education Public K-12 and Higher education / workforce development diminishes the likely hood of county citizens  developing a consensus on  “What” our priorities are and “When” we can afford to bring them to fruition over the next 20 years.
 My sensing is the 2017-18 Biennial Budget deliberation over the next few months will focus on issues like the need for a 4th Middle school and the increasing  annual core operating expense increases, averaging 4% per year over the next five years. At the same time, we will see additional VRS contributions above projected levels, virtually flat state revenues, and county revenue projections of only 2.5% in its five-year projections compounding the issue. Whatever the decisions are, they will be short term in nature
The WJCC’s fiscal crisis is now and soon to become the county’s crisis. Including Education -Public K-12 and Higher education / workforce development as the fifth main theme  allows for a comprehensive identification of specific steps needed to implement the future vision in the County’s 2035 Strategic Plan of which Education is key to our future. It offers the possibility of a long term plan.

Essay – Community Character, what is it?

The Strategic Planning Advisory Group (SPAG) met recently to review the first draft of an Economic Opportunities Analysis that will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on 9 February. The committee consists of 17 county citizens with a diverse set of backgrounds, chartered to advise the County’s Strategic Plan initiative, a year-long effort to prepare a strategic action plan that will guide county operations and investments for the next 20 years.

Part of their session involved a preliminary discussion of the Strategic Plan’s Mission, Vision, Goals, and Actions. The basis of the discussion was a review of county documents like the 2035 Comprehensive Plan along with recent sensing sessions with community stakeholders, county staff, and the SPAG. Not surprisingly one of the key themes to float to the top was preserving “Community Character”. Part of the discussion at this session was the squishiness of trying to define what we mean by “community character” let alone defining what it is we want to preserve. A fair point but as most of you know the issue of preserving our community character is what we say is why we live in James City County based on consecutive surveys as part of the county’s comprehensive plans.

If we do want to “preserve the community character” it is only fair that we tell these Strategic Planning Committees what we mean by it. As diverse as we are as a community I am sure that there are multiple views on what we mean by “community character” but at the same time, I think there is a set of common themes that up to this point have not been articulated.

To start that conversation let me share my notion of “community” as broader than just James City County. As I travel about locally on any day I don’t differentiate between York County, the City of Williamsburg or James City County which I can cross into and out of and back again. My community is the Historical Triangle and the history of the region from Jamestown to Yorktown and everything in between is part of its character. Traveling across the peninsula on the Colonial Parkway gives you a feel for another dimension of that character with its open green space devoid of any commercial signage or clutter to distract you from the idea that you are traveling back to a simpler rural community of the past. Traveling through the city of Williamsburg past the college through “confusion corner” and out along Jamestown Road to the Jamestown Ferry and Jamestown Beach it’s not a far reach to see what you mean by “community character” and why you think it’s worthwhile to preserve. This is just one of many ideas of what community character can mean and what we may want to preserve.

There is a flip side based on today and not in the past that talks to what our future community character will be. Have you driven to Pet Smart or filled up on a tank of gas at Martins and then driven back onto Monticello drive to see a homeless veteran asking for help at the stop light? Or a school bus at a local motel in the morning picking up children whose family are homeless and that are striving every day to get an education. The county’s commitment to such issues are reflected in the little less than $300K that go to community service agencies like Avalon or Meals on Wheels or $325 to Education and Environmental agencies like Thomas Nelson Community College or its $1.8M contributions to health service organizations like Parents as Teachers Program, the Old Towne Medical Center and the Colonial Behavioral Health.

This community cares about all of us and gives generously with its time and resources to those who need our help – that is it’s about our character as a community in that we care about people first not things and it is also part of a legacy that stretches back to the founding of the county as JamesCity Sire in 1634.

I am sure that all of you have your ideas on what you mean by community character, why you live her and what you want to preserve. If you feel like sharing send it into the Last Word and let us tell the folks on the Strategic Planning Committees what we think is worthwhile preserving.

My first Doin’ Stuff Post

I blame all of this on Stephen Downes and George Siemens and their first c-MOOC – CCK08.

The idea of knowledge as network nodes/endpoints was a brand new idea to me along with the introduction of a new set of collaborative tools that introduced me to a whole new set of folks on the network some of which I still follow today through their blog posts.
Stephen’s recent curation effort highlighted Doc Searles recent metaphor for the internet “The Giant Zero”  as “a place without distance, and lots of challenges and opportunities that arise from its lack of distance.” The lack of distance thing is about how we no longer have communication delays like snail mail or cost barriers because of network apps like email or Skype or Twitter that instantly connect us for “free” without regard to where we are on the globe. The challenges and opportunities he says are in the areas of cooperation, politics/governance, economics, privacy and several others. The privacy one spurred me on to doing something about it when Searles said –

“It helps to remember that nature in the physical world doesn’t come with privacy. We have to make our own. Same goes for the networked world. And, since most of us don’t yet have clothing and shelter in the networked world, we’re naked there.”

I started with Searles’s “clothing and shelter are privacy technologies” that “We use them to create secluded spaces for ourselves. Spaces we control.” I finally jumped in and signed up with Reclaim Hosting and have fully embraced the idea of a “Domain of One’s Own” This is my first piece of privacy technologies thanks to Jim Groom et al and this is my first post from my secluded space “Doin’ Stuff”.

Thanks Frank

Actionable Data Book – What is It?

Actionable Data Book (AD Book) Project is under the auspices of the IEEE’s Industry Connections Program (IEEE IC12-006). The IEEE’s Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) is a sponsor of the AD Book Project. We are early on in the process and looking to involve industry partners in our future work.

The ADB is just a container of stuff without regard to a where the content resides. The content is instrumented with xAPI that collects human performance data in real-time as the content is being consumed. The magic occurs with the real-time two-way feedback of formative and summative data from the ADB’s activities to the learner and teacher that informs both of the current learners trajectory. Learners can initiate community-based social interaction that enhances and accelerates the learning experience. Below is a set of FAQs on the project.

What is an Actionable Data Book?

Just as has happened with publishing in general, the use of tablet computers as a major platform for the delivery of educational materials is an inevitability. Educational publishers, following the publishing industry trend, have embraced the idea of delivering textbooks and other educational materials digitally. But their vision of the ebook starts from the paper books they already create—plus some nice, tablet-enabled features like portability, search for keywords, embedded video, and interactive graphics. The AD Book Project started from the other direction—if learners are going to have tablets in their hands, what kinds of educational products will publishers be publishing? How will authors and publishers make use of a hand-held, mobile, Internet-enabled computer with tons of embedded technology to advance the state of education and training?

Why does the IEEE AD Book Project think a standard is needed?

The AD Book Project is a small group of volunteers who have been meeting weekly for over a year. We include publishers, technologists, educators, and standards experts. People from the ADL have participated in the AD Book Project, and people from the Project have participated in ADL xAPI cohorts, twice. Our vision is quite simple: enable content portability, as SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) did, but in an e-learning ecosystem that has become much more complex:

Product categories that include the traditional products, Learning Management Systems, and content authoring tools, but also Learning Record Stores (LRSs); analytics engines; instructors’ lesson planning apps and dashboards; learner’s e-portfolios and calendar apps; ebook readers; job aids; competency frameworks; and publishers’ content and data platforms.
New pedagogical contexts: flipped classrooms; experiential or activity-based learning; collaborative learning; just-in-time learning; ….
New kinds of e-learning content and technologies: mobile; personalized (based on multiple cloud data sources); adaptive over time; immersive games and simulations; augmented reality for job support.
Published content that uses the functionality of the tablet (Global Positioning System (GPS), camera, mic, motion, orientation, touch, gesture, Wifi, Bluetooth) in a web-connected environment possibly surrounded by Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Also, the tools for creating such content.

The interoperability standard we envision will allow all of these new kinds of published materials to securely exchange data with all of the new kinds of products. Our goal is a plug-and-play architecture that allows creative assembly of products into a myriad of solutions and avoids vendor lock-in: preserving investment in learning materials while allowing new, innovative products to enter the market.

What is the Project’s technical approach?

The AD Book group has explored many technologies and related standards projects. We are committed to the concept of the AD Book as an open standard or a reference model based solely on open standards. Here’s where we’re at:

We have used the IDPF’s EPUB3 spec and the related EDUPUB specifications in our early explorations. We follow their evolution and hope that they will eventually meet our requirements. At this point, given the available EPUB3 readers, we see shortcomings, particularly as regards access to tablet functionality. There may be “open standard” issues as well. HTML5 is what we use mostly now to create AD Book publications.
The ADL’s xAPI spec is being used almost exclusively in our exploratory work. Hence the interest of the ADL in the AD Book Project. Here is the xAPI GetHub for more information site
We’ve also used the W3C’s Packaged Web Apps (Widgets)

What other capabilities would we like to see with the AD Book Project’s work

From our perspective, we’d like to see prototypes that:

Operate in a plug and play ecosystem
Incorporate commercial products from multiple vendors
Tie multiple learning activities together

We would also like to see demonstrations of how an Actionable Data Book can enable dramatic improvements or efficiencies in education and training. For instance, how can more data about learners, learning, and/or learning materials actually help instructors and learners? How can publishing teams author materials that are instrumented to generate useful data or use a tablet’s advanced functionality to improve instruction? How will Actionable Data Books change the relationship between training and on-the-job performance?

Finally, we’d like to offer our most advanced prototype to date as an example of what we are up to. This 30-minute video demonstrates the work done in the ADL’s xAPI ‘Data Trippers’ Cohort earlier in 2015.