Healthy Planet is the brainchild of Dr. Mark Mulligan a Geography professor at Kings College in London.  The site was announced in April, with the goal of allowing individuals and businesses to become “guardians” of the planet using a Google Maps or Earth interface.  The maps display a layer of national parks and conservation areas all around the world, including a selection of parks which are designated “priority parks” (mainly in Africa) identified as globally important and in need of urgent funding.  A potential guardian can zoom into an area, select a 1 sq km section, make a donation and then create a pop-up plaque with a dedication.  There are other ways that people are encouraged to participate “from their armchairs”, including mapping (coming soon, they say).

In its FAQs, Healthyplanet states that 90% of a donation goes to a fund set up for each park, and whenever that park has an “approved project”, the funds are transferred to the park.  If, after time, there are no approved projects in the park, Healthyplanet will donate the funds to a priority park.  This seems like a very nice concept and innovative use of maps.

Update 27/6/2018: All links above no longer valid.  Mark Mulligan is still active in this field.

DESERTEC, REC, eSolar, etc.

energy_super_gridAn article in Nature Magazine this month discusses realistic options for harvesting energy from the desert in Africa.   On the same day as the Nature article, Google announced RE<C, an initiative to look for renewable energy (“Google Green”?).  They are working with companies to explore new technology… one such company is eSolar Inc.

Update:  in 2012, Siemens pulled out of DESERTEC project.  See Article.
Update: 2017, the Dream didn’t die. See Article.
Update: 2017, eSolar goes AWOL.  See Article.

At the same time, yesterday the Club of Rome sponsored a presentation by the president of Jordan in Brussels.  The White Paper is here.  At least one Dutch company is active in this area, Free Energy International.  In coming days we will explore this area further and summarize investigations.
Update: 15/6/2018 – None of the old links can be found.

EPA Chooses Microsoft Virtual Earth

James_Fee_IllustrationJames Fee wrote about the Sept 13 Microsoft announcement that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has licensed Microsoft Virtual Earth (for one year, with possible extension to two) for “mission critical” applications.  According to an article in Federal Computer Week (FCW), the partnership between Microsoft and ESRI contributed to the selection, as the EPA can leverage its existing ESRI GIS resources.

Why not Google Earth?  According to a Bloomberg interview with EPA’s Pat Garvey, the fact that GE requires that the user download an application, whereas VE is all browser based was a key factor.

mapdotnet_miamiAn alternative path to putting “real GIS” on the web with MS Virtual Earth (and ESRI’s geodatabase ArcSDE) is using ISC’s MapDotNet Server.  This product competes with ArcGIS Server, and according to the ISC blog  they were “kicked out” of the ESRI partner program last spring.