"Speaking of Maps" - Dr. Aquila Flower, May 3
Dr. Aquila Flower will present “Building a Digital Atlas of the Pacific Northwest” from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3 in the Map Collection area of Western Libraries. During her presentation, Flower will show a preview of the Atlas of the Pacific Northwest, and explore some of the fundamental geographical concepts used to make decisions regarding data processing approaches.
This event is free and open to the public.
Understanding processes and patterns that cross international borders is challenging due to a lack of data that covers both sides of the border. With support from the Border Policy Research Institute and the Huxley Spatial Institute, Dr. Flower is helping create the digital Atlas of the Pacific Northwest, an online geospatial data clearinghouse designed to hold seamless cross-border datasets.
“Many geospatial datasets are available only for one specific county. This can create the impression that the world vanishes on the other side of an international border, and is a serious impediment to research and policy decisions,” explained Flower. “Even if you can collect datasets for different countries, you'll often find that they have incompatible geographies, and that the variables they contain were recorded in different units and for different dates.”
Her first addition to the Atlas uses census records from Washington and British Columbia, which allow for seamless analysis of demographic change across the US-Canada border to create a harmonized database of human demography characteristics.
“Knowing where people live, and how population is likely to change in the near future is critical for making policy decisions. However, census records from the US and Canada are difficult to compare because they are collected in different years, define some variables differently, and the official geospatial datasets do not line up perfectly at the border,” said Flower.
The single dataset will make it easier to compare census records from the US and Canada, and will have consistent spatial characteristics, temporal coverage, and variable definitions that can be useful to policy makers, researchers, and the general public in understanding past, current, and future population distributions in Washington and British Columbia.
Dr. Aquila Flower is an assistant professor of geography at Western where she teaches physical geography and Geographic Information Science courses. Her research focuses primarily on the complex, interactive effects of climate variability, human land use patterns, and natural disturbances on forest ecosystems.
This event is co-sponsored by Western Libraries, Border Policy Research Institute, Huxley Spatial Institute, and Huxley College of the Environment, and is part of the “Speaking of Maps” program, which are quarterly talks are designed to highlight the use and value of maps in research, in teaching and learning, and in daily life.
For more information about the Map Collection or about this event, contact Dennis Matthews, WWU Map Collection manager, at (360) 650-3272 or Dennis.Matthews@wwu.edu.