GIS News: Online Native Plant Center, Esri Appoints New Chief Scientist, Image of the Week

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The latest geospatial news includes an announcement from Esri on its new Chief Scientist, the launching of an online Native Plant Center by Image Matters, and press releases from Topcon, ESRI Canada, Merrick, and Cityworks.  Lastly, ESA’s image of the week is from Alaska’s Yukon Delta.


Ocean scientist, geographer, and geographic information system (GIS) author Dawn J. Wright will join Esri as its chief scientist on October 3, 2011. She will help formulate and advance the intellectual agenda for the environmental, conservation, climate, and ocean sciences aspect of Esri’s work while also representing Esri to the national/international scientific community.  Wright is currently professor of geography and oceanography at Oregon State University and will continue to be affiliated with the university. In 2007, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education named her US Professor of the Year for the State of Oregon. She is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a new fellow of Stanford University’s Aldo Leopold Leadership Program in science communication. Her research interests include geographic information science; ocean informatics and cyberinfrastructure; benthic terrain and habitat characterization; and the processing and interpretation of high-resolution bathymetry, video, and underwater photographic images. Wright received a PhD in physical geography and marine geology from the University of California, Santa Barbara; an MS in oceanography from Texas A&M; and a BS with honors from Wheaton College in Illinois. She is also certified by the GIS Certification Institute as a GIS professional (GISP).

Dawn J. Wright, GISP

Image Matters

Image Matters LLC, in partnership with The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Inc., and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, unveils the online Native Plant Center for the Chesapeake Bay Region. The online guide allows for the identification and selection of native plant species for habitat restoration in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an effective method for reducing pollution in the Bay.  Replacing portions of lawn areas and typical landscapes with native plants that suit local conditions reduces or eliminates the need for fertilizers and pesticides which wash into our streams, rivers and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. Once in our waterways, these pollutants fuel the growth of excess algae, which clouds the water and threatens the health of fish, crabs and the entire Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

Users to the portal,, can search for native plants by name, plant type, sun exposure, soil texture and moisture, and even find native plants with the same shape, color, size or other characteristics as some of their favorite non-native plants. The portal also includes a geo-locator feature to identify plants suited to a user’s specific location.  An online network for interacting with other Chesapeake Bay stewards is planned.


Merrick is providing helicopter-mounted light detection and rangingg (LiDAR)/imaging multi-sensor data acquisition and processing for power line owners throughout the U.S.


Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) announces the release of the MS Series of high-precision robotic total stations in North and South America. “The MS ‘measuring station’ opens a new era in ultra-precision measurements,” said Denny Welch, senior vice president of the TPS Survey Business Unit.  The series includes the MS05AX with the industry’s highest 0.5” angle accuracy and the MS1AX for 1” angle accuracy.

ESRI Canada

ESRI Canada today announced the appointment of Adam Fox as the company’s new Regional Director for Ontario.  Mr. Fox will lead the region’s sales organization in providing geographic information system (GIS) solutions to the Ontario market.  He previously held a senior account management role within the company, where he successfully managed large enterprise municipal clients in the Greater Toronto Area.  In his new role, Mr. Fox will oversee three offices, as well as support broad adoption of ESRI technology, professional services and training in Ontario.


Cont-Trak offers reliable container tracking via satellite: Whether at sea, on rail, stacked or stored, shipping containers can now be tracked worldwide via satellite with Cont-Trak, developed through ESA’s telecommunications programme.


The City of Newport News, Virginia, is experiencing sustained results across the organization with Cityworks, the leading provider of GIS-centric management solutions.   As a longtime user of the program, the City attests to Cityworks effectiveness and sustained benefits.  Beyond their original Cityworks implementation, the City has since expanded use throughout the organization.  Cityworks is being used extensively within the Streets, Solid Waste, and Building Services Divisions, along with many others.   The Engineering Department’s operations are all managed with Cityworks.  Service requests are available in several departments, including Code Compliance, Mayor’s Office, City Manager, City Clerk, Management & Legislative Affairs, and Community Relations.

ESA – Image of the Week

This Envisat image features Alaska’s Yukon Delta, where the Yukon River, North America’s fifth-longest river system, fans out into a labyrinth of distributaries before emptying into the Bering Sea.

Originating on the northern border of British Columbia in Canada, the Yukon flows some 3190 km across central Alaska in the US before emptying into Norton Sound (top left).

With its many tributaries, the Yukon drains a basin of 855 000 sq km. Together with the Kuskokwim Delta, it forms the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, one of the largest delta systems in the world.

The Yukon is one of the most important rivers in the world for salmon breeding and annually hosts the longest upstream migration of Pacific salmon stocks in the world.

According to some anthropologists, it was also the main migration route for North America’s first human inhabitants.

This image was created by combining three Envisat radar acquisitions (19 November 2009, 8 April 2010 and 13 May 2010) over the same area. The colours represent changes in the surface between acquisitions.

Alaska's Yukon Delta
Alaska's Yukon Delta. Credits: ESA

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