Flyover Country: A Plane Ride Could Be to Geoscience Outreach what a Planetarium is to Astronomy Outreach - the Perfect Venue for Sharing Big, Awe Inspiring Ideas, with a View to Match
Friday, 18 December 2015: 17:30
303 (Moscone South)
Rivaled only by the view from the International Space Station, the view from the airplane window spectacularly showcases the scale of Earth’s geological features and the ways humans interact with and rely on them. With an average of eight million people flying every day, this view represents a major opportunity to engage a large and captive audience with the great insights that scientists have made through hundreds of years of investigation. Curating entire continents’ worth of geological information covering any possible flight path would be impossible; fortunately, the NSF EarthCube initiative has facilitated the interoperability and accessibility of many geoscience databases full of rich scientific content ready to be exposed. Flyover Country (FC; fc.umn.edu) is an NSF funded mobile application leveraging hybrid mobile app technologies and data repositories to create a robust, offline, geoscience education and data discovery tool for both Android and iOS. Given a flight path, FC downloads a strip of relevant data from from geoscience databases including geological, paleobiological, Wikipedia, and map data that is saved to the device, allowing offline use during the journey without the need for in-flight wifi. Location, altitude, speed, and direction are provided by GPS in order to prompt the user with descriptions of points of interest that are visible from his or her current location. The app is not limited to use from the sky: its offline capabilities are also useful on roads and hiking trails, acting as a location aware and interactive version of something like the Roadside Geology book series. Using data spanning many domains, FC works as a data discovery tool for students and scientists in the field, bringing spatially referenced geoscience data into their hands and providing valuable location information in map view without the need for a cellular network signal. This context allows decisions to be made in the field based on the maximum amount of relevant information. A custom FC module created as part of outreach for Proyecto Lago Junín, an NSF/ICDP funded paleoclimate drilling project in the Central Peruvian Andes, is the first test case of the extensible nature of the application and custom content creation for specific projects.