Extreme dynamic mapping: Animals map themselves on the “Cloud”
Published:October 01, 2012
Eugene Potapov, Valery Hronusov, 2012. "Extreme dynamic mapping: Animals map themselves on the “Cloud”", Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research, Steven J. Whitmeyer, John E. Bailey, Declan G. De Paor, Tina Ornduff
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Animal tracking data are routinely delivered in the form of e-mail messages with an attachment or in the main text of an e-mail that includes satellite-telemetry data provided by Argos services. Downloading these data onto a computer, transferring them into shapefiles, filtering, processing, and displaying them consumes considerable end-user time and energy. In this paper, we demonstrate that freely available “Cloud”-based services are sufficient to take over this workload and fast enough to deliver spatial data to an end-user without a considerable investment of time. The animal-generated spatial data we present come in two forms: satellite data from the Argos service and GPS data delivered as text messages using a Short Message Service (SMS). We suggest a simple mail-to-map system, which automatically archives data (coordinates, time, telemetry) and displays it dynamically on various Internet applications such as Google Maps/Google Earth or Google Graphs. We use the Gmail service to filter messages, a free blog service (e.g., blogger.com or wordpress.com) for unlimited-time data storage and the Google spreadsheets to dynamically assemble the KML (Keyhole Markup Language) files. To demonstrate the utility of our mail-to-map system, we apply the approach to two contrasting wildlife case studies—the highly endangered Steller's Sea Eagle (Haliaetus pelagicus) of northeast Asia and White-tailed Deer (Odolescens virginianus), which is ubiquitous in the eastern United States—and discuss conservation implications of the near-real-time data publication opportunities that our system provides.