Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Forest City gets the London Free Press plea treatment

Being a student of remote sensing, this story from today's London Free Press could almost quicken my heart.

The Forest City is considering using satellite images to measure the amount of tree coverage. The city's planning committee approved a staff recommendation yesterday to join a provincial program, Quick Bird, to get a more accurate measure of London's forest canopy.
Joe Belanger, the Free Press reporter, is too busy a man to investigate any complicated concepts or terms in City Hall press releases that he repeats — Quickbird, one word, is a high spatial resolution (sub-meter in the panchromatic band!) multispectral satellite operated by Digital Globe, not a provincial program. Perhaps he means the OMNR's Forest Inventory Program that uses Quickbird imagery to analyze forest cover?

Images from Spaceflight Now and Lantmäteriat, respectively.

I could get excited about this — after all, there might be a cushy big-vacation-time gold-plated-retirement-package civil service job in this for me, serving your community, of course — but that niggly conscience-y part of me wonders what the wherefore and the why of purchasing expensive satellite imagery and hopefully even more expensive remote sensing analysts could possibly be.
The moves come on the heels of a Free Press report in April that showed London's estimated forest coverage of 10 per cent lags behind other Ontario cities.

[…] But city staff challenge the claims by such cities as Toronto, Kitchener and Hamilton that claim tree coverage of 20, 15 and 14 per cent, respectively. "They're measuring it differently in every city," [whined] Andrew Macpherson, manager of parks, planning and design [and all-Londoner council sycophant].
A government program to assuage wounded civic pride — that's just truly wonderful. And obviously necessary — Londoners can't be trusted to make judgments based on their own senses without an official statistical report contrived through esoteric specialist analysis. If only there was some way Gord Hume could contrive to entangle the pressing need for civic enthusiasm for the Creative Cities proposal with this manufactured horror of a treeless London wasteland… Wait! There he is, wading unnecessarily into an inadequate and inappropriate association of unrelated objects to the mutual satisfaction of at least himself and the desultory City Hall quote-seeking of Joe Belanger:
Controller Gord Hume, chair of the city's creative cities task force, said preserving and enhancing the city's tree cover is a major recommendation.

"This will put all cities on a level playing field because right now, municipalities are determining forest coverage different ways," he said. "A creative city is also a healthy city, and that's clean air, clean water and more trees."
I could suggest that a creative city may also be a free city in which people make their own judgments and decisions about what to do in their own community with their own money, but that's not the kind of social-science-parsed-through-politicians-and-community-newspapers thinking that we need these days!

Speaking of London gratifying the tireless urges of provincial programs, Londoners can soon expect to wade through their own filth to enjoy vicarious enjoyment of Gord Hume's civic pride. Also from the Free Press:
City residents soon may be counting the number of garbage bags they put at the curb. A four-bag limit could be in place by next January to encourage more recycling, a plan approved in principle last night by council's environment and transportation committee.

[…] "We are way behind other municipalities and we have to start moving in a more aggressive manner down this path," said city engineer Peter Steblin. Residents put out about 37 per cent of household waste for recycling. The province has set a target of diverting 60 per cent by 2008. "There's no way we can reach that deadline without these kinds of measures," Steblin said.

Jay Stanford, the city's manager of environmental programs, […] conceded the city also will have to start collecting and recycling organic waste to meet the provincial deadline. "That is not far away and we'll have to move to organic collection, which comes with the highest price tag." The move could cost as much as $3 million a year.

[…] Controller Gord Hume persuaded other committee members to approve the four-bag limit in principle while awaiting a complete staff report on the issue.
Nothing could give me more solitary pleasure than separating my rinds from my cigarette butts with my bare-naked hands, as long as city hall and Dalton McGuinty make an explicit video of their orgiastic regulatory passions.


Sky Captain said...

The EU is way ahead;in order to generate 'independent' income for the euro-mass,they want to use the European GPS competitor system to monitor every vehicle in Europe.
Good luck.There are 36 million in the UK alone.
Lets see.36 million cars,36 million black boxes,36 million signals all transmitted simultaneously,mpany of them changing position.
Unless the bastards use purely GPS and put all the processing in the vehicles,no chance at all.

MapMaster said...

The Europeans always seem to be ahead. It's hard to imagine how effectively they could store (and retrieve if necessary) the massive amount of information a system like that would generate in the UK alone. The Europeans have a funny way of justifying huge tax expenditures to put up a new ESA GPS satellite system, which sounds like it will largely be redundant to the typical individual or commercial user of GPS who can already use the American GPS satellites. I guess it's all about control and prestige.

By the way, if you like science fiction and/or mysteries, I came across a new book by Brit author Rob Grant (of Red Dwarf fame), called Incompetnce [sic]. It's hilarious — the prologue is:

Article 13199 of the Pan-European Constitution:
'No person shall be prejudiced from employment in any capacity, at any level, by reason of age, race, creed or incompitence.'