CaGIS/ASPRS 2013 Specialty Conference

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Student Map Competition

Calling All Students!


Participate in a fun, challenging and exciting project - the Student Map Competition at the CaGIS/ASPRS 2013 Specialty Conference in San Antonio, Texas! See below for further competition details.

Download the text below in PDF Here.

Click here to Register as a Participant in the Student Map Competition


1. Background

Responding to disaster events requires a quick response on the part of public officials in order to protect the public.  Maps are one means of communication that public officials use to warn citizens of potential danger. Often the final map used to communicate these dangers is a product of both complex data analysis and cartographic design.  In recent years the importance of these methods of analysis and design on our ability to efficiently communicate information has become clear. Examples such as the Haitian earthquake in 2010, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, are just some of the examples of the importance of information communication about natural disasters.  This challenge focusses on the use of data from Hurricane Ike, a category 4 hurricane that took place in September 2008. This hurricane made landfall along the Gulf Coast, and affected the city of Galveston, Texas.


2. Challenge

The application of geospatial tools to predict the location of potential natural hazards and to inform and manage public response requires collaboration between scientists across disciplines. The objective of this competition is to demonstrate an ability to work collaboratively to determine the best methods for (a) developing predicted inundation areas using storm surge predictions and topographic information for the Galveston, Texas area; (b) merging predicted inundation information and evacuation routes to create a map to help the public understand the potential for impact in their geographic area and appropriate evacuation routes from their areas to safe zones.  

The data for this competition is freely available from three government agencies. You will need to obtain storm surge data for Hurricane Ike from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and combine it with 10m topographic data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).   Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) evacuation routes are also available online. Links to these datasets are provided below in Section

Your success will be judged by the map or visualization product (suitable for a public audience) and a written document detailing the methods you used to arrive at the map product, and an oral presentation of 10 minutes at the CaGIS/ASPRS Fall Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.  Note that the map or visualization product must be provided in PDF format.  


3. Data Sources

National Hurricane Center GIS Archive- Probabilistic Storm Surge Forecast for Hurricane Ike:

USGS Topographic Data from the National Map Viewer:

FEMA Evacuation Route Data for Galveston, Texas:


4. Participant Guidelines

Form a group of at least 3 students.  Each group must have at least one undergraduate member and/or graduate students who will be current students at the time of the fall CaGIS/ASPRS conference and a faculty advisor in your university. Remember, this is a student competition so students must do all of the work. Non-students can only provide guidance!


5. Submission Materials

You will be judged on several products; a map, a written document, and your presentation at the CaGIS/ASPRS fall meeting in San Antonio.  Make sure that you will have at least one representative attending the meeting to be eligible! Please submit the following materials for judging to Raechel Bianchetti (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Carolyn Fish (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) no later than October 1, 2013.

1. Email with the following information:
  a. Names of all student group members and their affiliation with CaGIS or ASPRS
  b. Group Leader contact information (email and phone)
  c. Faculty Adviser contact information (email)
  d. University Affiliation

2. Full-size map in PDF format.

  a. Your map should answer the question “What evacuation routes are available to residents of Galveston, Texas during Hurricane Ike?” You   are free to interpret that question as you wish using the data described in Section 3, and any additional information from outside sources.

3. Written document describing the process and decisions that were undertaken during the data analysis and map making activities.

4. PowerPoint presentation conveying a summary of the information you included in your written document and an image of the final map product.



Paper Information

Paper Content - You are responsible for submitting a written document to support your map.  The paper should focus on the data analysis portion of your project.  We have provided a set of general guidelines for you below.

Paper Guidelines

• Must contain: Title, Author list, Abstract (no more than 150 words), Body, References
• Limit of 5 pages containing Body, References, and Figures
• Figures: 300 DPI TIFF format
• Font: 11 pt. Times New Roman for body, No larger than 13 pt. font for headings. Single spaced
• Page Size: 8.5 x 11”: 1” margins on all sides

Your paper should address the following questions.

1. Description of the problem.
  a. Why is it important to consider inundation levels when considering alternative evacuation routes?
  b. Why is it important to convey potential inundation to the public?

2. Description of the method used to combine the Probabilistic Storm Surge Forecast data with the topographic data.
  a. What data sets did you use to create the map (include descriptions of any datasets used beyond the ones provided)?
  b. What challenges were faced when combining the storm surge data with the topographic data?

3. Description of cartographic decisions that were made in designing the map.
  a. How did you make decisions about the generalization of the map?
  b. Justify your choices in map symbology and design. How do the design choices you made improve the conveyance of the map information to the general public?

4. Conclusions
  a. Is there any additional information that you would like to have had available?
  b. How effective do you believe your map would be if used to convey information during a hurricane event?

5. Presentation
Your group is also responsible for presenting a short talk at the CaGIS/ASPRS fall meeting in San Antonio.  The focus of this presentation should be a description of the problem, major challenges that were overcome, and your justification of the design choices that you made in designing your map.  

6. Judging
Each student group’s submission will be evaluated by five judges (one each from the private, academic, and government sectors) plus representatives from both cartographic and remote sensing specialties.  Judging will be on the basis of the three products listed in Section 5 above, as well as the oral presentation.


Judgment (100 points)


Map Design: 30 points (10 pts. a piece)

ORIGINALITY: This criterion considers how innovative the map is. Are there many maps just like it?

CARTOGRAPHIC DESIGN: This criterion considers artistic merit, cartographic presentation, clarity of communication, and the quality of graphic composition.

COMMUNICATION: Does the map communicate to the public a sound and accurate message of how to evacuate?

Data Analysis Method: 30 points (10 pts. a piece)

APPLICABILITY OF METHOD: The applicability of the method used by the group to meet the contest objectives  

TECHNICAL SOUNDNESS OF METHOD: Do ancillary datasets used in the analysis phase of this research add to the quality of the result?

CORRECTNESS OF THE METHOD: Do the methods produce the correct result?

Presentation: 20 points (5 pts. a piece)                                                                                                      

UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM: Does the group effectively communicate the problem that was presented to them in the contest?

CLEAR PRESENTATION OF METHODS USED TO A GENERAL AUDIENCE: Does the group present the methods that were used in both the data analysis and cartographic design to inform a general audience?

PROVIDES RELEVANT INFORMATION ABOUT HOW THEY SOLVED THE PROBLEM: Does the group provide enough information about both the data analysis and cartographic design process used to meet the objectives of the contest?

PRESENTATION IS PROFESSIONAL: Does the group present themselves and their research in a professional manner?

Paper 20: points (5 pts. a piece)                                                                                                                 

WRITTEN COMMUNICATION SKILL: Are all of the paper items clearly addressed?

UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM: Does the group effectively communicate the problem that was presented to them in the contest?

PROVIDES RELEVANT INFORMATION ABOUT HOW THEY SOLVED THE PROBLEM: Does the group provide enough information about both the data analysis and cartographic design process used to meet the objectives of the contest?

FORMAT CORRECTLY FOLLOWED: Does the paper meet the entire format guidelines provided in documentation?

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