Guest Scientist blog by Dr. Joseph Kerski, Esri
Esri and the GLOBE program have been working together on initiatives and educator training for decades. GLOBE was one of the first major education-focused citizen science programs, and it offers a wealth of data on soil chemistry, water quality, weather, and much more, as well as rigorously tested methods to have your students collect and contribute data, and a network of educators with which to collaborate. Using GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper data as an example, we look at what I consider to be key elements of a project-based workflow: (1) obtaining the data > (2) mapping the data > (3) analyzing the data, and > (4) creating communications tools from the data.
To gather citizen science data, you can use the Globe Observer app, iNaturalist, Survey123 from Esri, or another app. You can use probes such as those from Pasco, Hanna Instruments, Vernier, or another company; or you can even go "old school" and use clipboards and pencils. I believe all of these tools have value in education. The most important thing is that you end up with a spreadsheet of data, generated from your app or probe, or one you generate yourself from your clipboard notes. This spreadsheet becomes the "I", or "Information", part of your GIS. The spreadsheet needs to contain some sort of location, such as street address, or ideally, latitude-longitude values. I obtained the data from the GLOBE Advanced Data Access Tool and selected the region, time frame, and theme--in my case, mosquito larvae data. GLOBE data can be downloaded as a CSV (Comma Separated Value) table. Oftentimes, data tables need to be edited slightly for ease of use in your mapping software. In my case, I brought the data into Excel, I removed the second header line, as only one is required, removed extraneous records at the end of the table, and formatted the numeric data for be "integer" or "floating point" numbers as needed. Once done, I saved the spreadsheet as a CSV file:
Now for the fun and fascinating part! In ArcGIS Online, I signed in to my organizational subscription, went to my content, and added the CSV, creating a feature service from the data. After giving it some tags and other metadata so that I could more easily find it later, and if I share it, so others could be more informed about my data, I then opened up the feature service in the map viewer. Once in the map viewer, I can now symbolize the points by elevation, date collected, number of eggs found, whether larvae were found or not, and on other fields in my data table. I could make a heat map showing density of the collected points. I can also change the base map and zoom into and study specific locations on a satellite image, or at a regional or national scale, add data such as precipitation, ecoregions, population density, river systems, or other layers from ArcGIS Online and the Living Atlas of the World. I can add fields, sort fields, and select specific data points to study further. While doing all this, I am thinking about patterns, relationships, and trends of my data. I can also use the spatial analysis tools, such as proximity, map overlay, routing, creating maps of statistical significant difference, and summarizing. In my case, for example, I added a point as a map note on Minneapolis St Paul, and then summarized the number of data points within 250 km of that location. Once done, I saved and shared my map and layers so others can examine them. See screen shot below:
Next, I created communications tools from this data. Many such tools exist, and I chose to focus on story maps and operations dashboards. The ones I created are shown below and linked here (story map) (Operations Dashboard). ArcGIS story maps are multimedia web mapping applications, and Esri Operations Dashboards allow you to create graphs, maps, widgets, and other tools for you to monitor your data in real-time. These were straightforward to make--once I shared the data in ArcGIS Online, I selected these two tools, choosing a map series story map, with different tabs showing different attributes of the data. In my operations dashboard, I created a gauge that pointed to the number of points currently in my data set, along with the ArcGIS Online map, and graphs indicating where the mosquitoes were found and if eggs were discovered. If I add to my map in the future, the data in my dashboard automatically updates.
I encourage you to do even more wonderful things with spatial data, such as that from citizen science portals including Globe.gov, and elsewhere, to better understand the patterns, relationships, and trends, and to consider how you can contribute to the scientific community through your efforts!
Dr. Kerski's blog was originally published on GeoNet, where you can find the unabridged blog and a link to the CSV spreadsheet he used in this article. Go here to view Dr. Kerski's GLOBE data videos.