Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Geographers Use GIS Technology to Go One Up in the War on Drugs

25.08.2004


West Virginia’s hot, humid and rainy summer this year couldn’t have made for better conditions for the under-the-radar marijuana growers who give law enforcement fits in the Mountain State.



Authorities last year confiscated 70,000 plants, and the West Virginia State Police are predicting to at least do that in 2004.

In a state topped by hard-to-get-to mountaintops and slashed by rugged ravines and isolated valleys, the challenge isn’t always knowing where the pot is today. The trick is in knowing where it might be cultivated tomorrow. Or next week. Or next growing season.


Two West Virginia University geographers are attempting to go one up in the war on drugs by doing just that. Dr. Trevor Harris and Dr. Briane Turley are using known data about marijuana sites across the Mountain State – then applying Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and fine-tuning it, to project those areas favorable for growing the plant that began its life in the tropics.

GIS is an aerial photograph times 10 or 20.

The technology provides researchers with a three-dimensional view of a targeted site, offering electronic data that takes in everything from the height and slope of mountains and valleys to the mapping of streets and highways. Researchers are able to electronically “layer” in bits of data, making for a comprehensive study of a site that goes well beyond geography and aerial surveillance.

Harris and Turley’s GIS work was bolstered recently with a $221,000 research grant from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Georgia Tech, like WVU, is part of a federal drug-fighting consortium sponsored by the National Guard Bureau’s Counter Drug Program, a sweeping, federal effort to rid the U.S. of illegal drugs.

Call it a digital leveling of the playing field, said Harris, a soft-spoken
Britisher who heads the University’s Department of Geology and Geography and is co-director of the State GIS Technical Center. “We’re looking at new ways to target those areas that growers might decide to use,” Harris said. In other words, he said, not where the drugs are – but where they aren’t. Not yet.

Places, Turley seconded, that will most likely provide future yields of the crops that will be turned into illegal contraband. “We’re working on gridding out the places that are attractive to growers just because the conditions are right,” said Turley, a two-time Fullbright scholar and geography professor whose professional interests range from rights-of-way to religion. “It might be because the elevation is right,” Turley continued, “or because the terrain conditions and sunlight are suitable. It might be just because a site is off a back road and down some out-of-the-way hollow.”

The duo can’t divulge a lot of the particulars of their work because it’s classified. But they do hope, however, that their efforts speak loud and clear with on-the-record results. They hope to soon be talking about home-grown drug trafficking in the past tense. “We’re looking at all these particulars, and are bringing them together,” Turley said of the new predictor models. “We’re looking at weather and elevation. We’re looking at water and roads.”

For Harris, the technology is both practical – and tactical. “It’s not perfect,” he said. “It can never replace the gut and intuition of a good investigating officer. But when you combine the two, you have a real advantage. Right now we have very limited resources in the war on drugs, so every advantage most definitely counts.”

| newswise
Further information:
http://www.nis.wvu.edu
http://www.nis.wvu.edu/2004_Releases/images/giswvu/giswvu.jpg

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Smarter robot vacuum cleaners for automated office cleaning
15.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Researchers 3-D print first truly microfluidic 'lab on a chipl devices
15.08.2017 | Brigham Young University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>