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U.S. Census Bureau Celebrates 25th Anniversary of of Technology That Propelled GIS, Digital and Online Mapping into the 21st Century

U.S. Census Bureau Celebrates 25th Anniversary of of Technology That Propelled GIS, Digital and Online Mapping into the 21st Century

Cross-blog post by John H. Thompson, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

When you think of the U.S. Census Bureau, you probably think of surveys and statistics. But did you know that geography is also a big part of our work? Geography plays an important role in creating surveys and collecting data, and it provides meaning and context for our statistics. The Census Bureau conducts research on geographic and address topics, makes reference maps to support censuses and surveys, and creates tools to visualize geographic and statistical data.

The Census Bureau’s history of mapping population data dates back to the 1860s. Under the direction of Census Superintendent Francis Amasa Walker and Chief Geographer Henry Gannett, the Bureau produced the Statistical Atlas of the United States, a landmark publication that contained innovative data visualization and mapping techniques.

A century later, the Census Bureau was a leader in the early development of computer mapping. In the 1970s, James Corbett of the Statistical Research Division devised a system of map topology that assured correct geographic relationships. His system provided a mathematical base for most future Geographic Information Systems (GIS) work and helped spark the development of computer cartography.

However, at that time, the Census Bureau still relied heavily on paper maps. Census Bureau geographers and cartographers used some computer-scanned mapping files, covering about 280 metropolitan areas, to create paper maps for enumerators to use. For the rest of the nation, paper maps came from a variety of sources, varied in quality and scale, and were quickly outdated.

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words – Hamdi Ulukaya

PAGE Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words – Hamdi Ulukaya

Born into a family of Turkish cheese and yogurt makers, Hamdi Ulukaya landed in New York at the age of 23 with a little money and the intent of learning English. That plan soon turned into a dream of producing affordable, natural Greek yogurt in the United States, and providing more access to delicious, healthy food.

In 2005, the Turkish cheese-maker received a piece of junk mail from a local real-estate company – the local Kraft Foods plant closed down. Ulukaya saw this as an opportunity and bought the plant with the help of a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. He spent the next 18 months learning everything he could to create the perfect Greek yogurt recipe. In 2007, Chobani (meaning shepherd in Turkish) opened for business.

From a factory that has grown from five employees to two plants in the US, Chobani is the  #1 yogurt brand in the US with $1 billion in revenue.

Forbes has called him “the Steve Jobs of yogurt” and Ernst & Young named Ulukaya the World Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013.

As a believer in “doing good business,” Ulukaya created the Chobani Foundation which directs 10% of brand profits to charitable groups working for positive and long lasting change.

“A cup of yogurt won’t change the world, but how we make it just might,” Ulukaya said.

Earlier this month, Ulukaya launched the Chobani Food Incubator to inspire more entrepreneurship in the food industry – and to make “Good food for more people.” He wants to start a food revolution and help nurture, support and celebrate today’s entrepreneurs.

As an inaugural member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative, Ulukaya wants to help more Americans and people around the world believe in and gain access to their own dreams. Among the many events he has attended to inspire others by sharing his entrepreneurial journey, Ulukaya recently participated in the Social Innovation Summit and Entrepreneurship Summit, both hosted in New York City.

Remembering a Little Known Oil Spill with Out-Sized Impacts

Remembering a Little Known Oil Spill with Out-Sized Impacts

Ten years ago, there was an oil spill that you’ve probably never heard of. The spill wasn’t as large as the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, and it didn’t occur in an environment as pristine as Prince William Sound which was affected by the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989. But this event had a significant impact on future oil spill response, restoration and maritime accident prevention. 

Just outside of Philadelphia on November 26, 2004, an oil tanker called the Athos I unknowingly ripped its hull on an 18,000 pound anchor hidden on the river bottom. This released more than 263,000 gallons of heavy oil into an industrialized stretch of the Delaware River. That accident set into motion a coordinated federal, state and local response with NOAA playing a significant role providing scientific support to the responding agencies and the eventual restoration of the damaged coastline. 

Every oil spill has impacts and this one, despite being a fraction of the Deepwater Horizon release, severely affected the region’s economy and environment. Commercial traffic on this active shipping route was halted for more than a week, delaying over two hundred vessels. Claims paid to affected businesses topped $162.6 million. 

The nearby Salem Nuclear Power Plant was also affected. Because some oil sank to the river bottom it had the potential of clogging the power plant’s critical cooling water intake system. This required operators to shut down two reactors for 11 days, at a cost of $33.1 million. Scientists at NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration were instrumental in estimating when the river was safe for the power plant to restart operations. 

The Athos incident also caused serious environmental effects. Almost 12,000 birds died as a result of the spill. Spilled oil washed up on 280 miles of shoreline, which included sensitive marshes, beaches, and mudflats. In addition, the spill affected nearly 42,000 recreational boating and fishing trips along the river. 

NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program, along with state and federal partners, tallied up environmental and recreational impacts and, in 2010, received $27.5 million from the National Pollution Funds Center. This money is being used for 10 restoration projects to benefit coastal communities and natural resources affected by the Athos oil spill. These projects are creating habitat for fish and wildlife, providing public access for recreation, increasing boater safety, and enhancing flood protection. To date, five projects have been completed, restoring 131 acres out of an eventual 332 acres of habitat.