Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ask Tim - Goatheads, Networking and the GeoWeb

Tim Woodward wrote an article in the Idaho Statesman titled: "Ask Tim: Goatheads, flat tires! Can anything be done? I decided to write an email response to Tim with a few of my own ideas about citizen initiated environmental networking projects and collaborative GeoWeb maps like the one I made for Puncture Vine Geo-locations in the Treasure Valley, Idaho. Following are the comments and links I included.

Hi Tim.

I read your article today about "Goatheads, flat tires! Can anything be done? And, I have a few ideas to offer. If you have any questions I will be happy to try to answer them.

A little over a month ago some hikers and bikers in the Idaho Outdoors Yahoo Group started some "Goathead clean up efforts in the foothills. For my part I created a "collaborative map" (Google Maps) where anyone can put in a report and location where they see these weeds and/or report on a clean up project effort. Several people responded early on and I decided to write to the City of Boise Parks and Recreation, who also had noted this weed problem on the Ridge to Rivers web site. They expressed interest, noting the severity of the problem this year, but have not yet contributed or made reference to the map. I hope they will do this soon and possibly prepare for more collaborative citizen involvement in issues like this in the future as I describe below.

Collaborative GeoWeb community maps like these can engage the public in interesting and fun learning opportunities and civic projects that can make a big difference over time. The map above can also be viewed and edited in the amazing 3D Google Earth Browser that allows users to fly around and look at different perspectives as if in a helicopter or airplane.

Around the country there are increasing numbers of examples of similar efforts that can be found on the Web. We (Mountain Visions) with Federal, State and local agencies and organizations produced " Watershed Community Centers" for five large scale watershed projects across the U.S. between 2000 and 2003 that were early attempts to get more citizens involved in learning about and participating in local watershed restoration efforts. Here is a GeoWeb map with links to those projects.

I have been writing blog posts about environmental networking concepts since 2002, and have created a number of web site project examples. FYI, I prepared a "GeoWeb Networking" presentation for the Idaho Environmental Summit last fall to identify major topics I believe are important to environmental neworking and a few examples of each.

Starting in July this year I have been updating these examples on my blog and cross posting these on my FaceBook, Twitter and other networking pages.

I will disclose that I was also involved in creating the original Ridge to Rivers web site in 2000 and have suggested similar special interest networking projects to the City of Boise Parks and Recreation Department in the past several years. With the amazing growth of social and interest networking tools that have become available (including many collaborative map projects like this) it seems appropriate that citizens of Boise and Treasure Valley would become interested in participating in projects like this one to identify and eradicate goathead weed patches and other noxious weeds. Around the country new "Citizen Science" GeoWeb projects are emerging that identify plants, birds, insects, changing weather patterns, and restoration efforts. These are just a few examples of concepts that could also be applied to the Boise Foothills, Boise River and Treasure Valley area.

(For example I have also created another similar experimental collaborative Google map related to the recent Idaho Environmental Forum Conference titled "A River Runs Through It: Showcasing River Restoration and Recreation projects. Here is a link to my blog post that also contains the Google Map that can viewed in a larger size and edited.)

FYI, I was also involved in the production of the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign (IWAC) web site from 2005- 2007. We organized the web site to be very friendly toward community networking and public participation. For some reason the officials involved in IWAC, even though they approved of the web design and production, have never promoted this aspect of the web site.

You might be interested in looking at this part of the IWAC web site, because it provides a community networking structure that goes way beyond the use of a collaborative Google Map, and could be used for citizen reporting and cleanup of noxious weeds of all types. The two links here go to 1. the IWAC "Network Center" that promotes participation in the IWAC web site and 2. A separate "Collaborative Interest Networking" site where people can submit topic discussions, photos, videos etc., without going through the web submission process. You will notice that I have put the collaborative Boise and Treasure Valley Puncture Vine Google Map on this new collaborative site as well.

As a summary I will note that efforts to develop modern environmental networking projects, using new networking technologies are not too common in Idaho yet. For example, I and others spent 3 years trying to encourage the Idaho Environmental Summit (IES) organizers to start using "Online-All the Time" Networking in addition to their yearly conference. Here is a link to some related Idaho Environmental networking projects we developed during this time.

Unfortunately, funding and interest in the IES has waned and it appears they will not have a conference in 2009 and they also are not employing any other networking efforts to my knowledge. Using the Online networking formats I and others are developing related to important Idaho environmental topics and the emergence of new interest groups and decision making projects would be ongoing. I fully expect these opportunities to grow exponentially in the future.

New and important GeoWeb and environmental networking projects are now being promoted by the Federal Government. The State of Idaho and County and City government will also be developing more new tools for citizen participation. I am posting almost daily links to web ideas I see related to this movement on my blog.

Tim, I started this letter initially to alert you to the Collaborative Goathead map, but felt that you might be interested in the larger picture as well. What I have written above is a start on the larger picture of the GeoWeb and new emerging opportunities for collaborative citizen projects that I believe will become an increasingly important part of our culture in the near future.

If you have any questions or want more information I will be happy to assist.

Thank you for your time.


Gary O. Grimm
Mountain Visions
Work phone 208-336-2992
Cell phone 208-585-7512

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