Spatial Synthesis
Volume II, Book 1:
Scientific, Planning, Humanitarian, and Teaching Applications, From DevInfo to Google Earth

Assessment, Analysis, and Action--Community Systems Foundation Approach

Community Systems Foundation (CSF), an international NGO based in Ann Arbor (Michigan), has a long and rich history of implementing beneficial interventions in developing nations which are subsequently turned over to, and managed by, indigenous local groups.  The hallmark of many of these is based on a three-pronged approach of "assessment, analysis, and action."  A final stage involves "feedback" and a need to revisit and learn from the past.  It is this CSF-inspired structure that is used in this second volume of Spatial Synthesis.

The principal author of this document has enjoyed the benefit of collaboration with Kris S. Oswalt and William D. Drake on a number of CSF projects that have employed this approach.  In particular, she worked with both of them in the early stages of mapping development for the current CSF DevInfo software and on all stages of assessment, analysis, and action, on a project involving maternal and child healthcare in the Syrian Arab Republic.  She also worked with Drake on a project involving the education of girls in the Punjab Province of Pakistan, again employing the CSF "triple-A" approach.

These two projects were completed in the mid-1990s.  Now, with a decade of feedback and further development of software by Oswalt and team coupled with her own research in the use of contemporary mapping, and with others who offer contributions here, the cycle comes full-circle. 

The material in this eBook guides the reader in a step-by-step visual approach from the CSF-developed software, DevInfo, into the 3D virtual reality world of Google Earth.  Beyond the technical aspects, there are links to important applications made possible in today's virtual world that one could not easily even dream of only a few years ago.  Included here is a selection of scientific, planning, humanitarian, and teaching applications using a range of software from DevInfo to Google Earth.  Because the document is available in electronic-only format, rich use can be made at no cost of vibrant colors, animation, file download, and virtual reality.

The principal author thanks her many colleagues at CSF, particularly Kris S. Oswalt and the late William D. Drake.  Their wisdom and guidance have been invaluable over many years.  A debt of great gratitude is also owed to Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at The University of Michigan, as well as to SNRE colleagues Paul Mohai and Dan Brown. The 3D Laboratory at the Duderstadt Center of The University of Michigan, has offered great valuable advice and inspiration over many years.  Klaus-Peter Beier, Director, and Lars Schumann, Manager, have been indispensible in helping in so many ways as have Steffen Heise, Eric Maslowski, and other staff in the 3D lab.  A strong relationship continues there.  She also thanks her collaborators on this project:  Matthew Naud, who has been a continuing source of imaginative use of contemporary mapping capability in the municipal arena; Roger Rayle, who has seized upon and made brilliant use of 3D mapping in a local environmental project; and Lars Schumann, who has offered advice, support, and insight on 3D models over the years and who, here, shares his own clever "Magic Bus" project for tracking bus location in real-time on Google Earth.  In addition, she thanks William C. Arlinghaus, William E. Arlinghaus, Michael Batty, Robert Haug, Ann E. Larimore, Karl Longstreth, Gwen Nystuen, and John D. Nystuen for their contributions noted within the text.  Their sound advice, encouragement, enthusiasm, and intelligence, have stimulated much constructive activity over many years.

Applications of software in the municipal, international development, or other arenas are tricky at best. Software is always a moving target.  Hardware almost never keeps pace with it.  There is always more than one way to solve a problem; and, one never is sure who the target audience might be and what their capabilities or resource bases might be. Nonetheless, it is well worth the effort to communicate and to share knowledge and success through publication!
Great thanks go to two readers whose comments and reactions to a penultimate version of this document led to substantial improvements.  With electronic documents containing animation and virtual reality it is very helpful to watch the reaction of readers, in person.  Two kind readers spent valuable time engaging in this activity.  Others were sent, via e-mail, the penultimate version and offered the oppotunity to comment.  With wonderful help such as this, one might hope that the document is free from errors...however, that seems quite unlikely and of course errors that remain in this work are the sole responsibility of the principal author. 
Sources Consulted (precise URLs for numerous other references appear inline in the text)

August, 2008
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA


Software used in analysis:
  • DevInfo 5.0:
  • Adobe® PhotoShop and ImageReady
  • Adobe® DreamWeaver
  • ESRI:
    • ArcView® 3.2
    • ArcGIS® 9.2
      • ArcCatalog®
      • ArcMap®
  • Google Earth®

Author affiliations:
  • Arlinghaus, Sandra Lach.  Adjunct Professor of Mathematical Geography and Population-Environment Dynamics, School of Natural Resources and Environment, The University of Michigan.  Executive Committee Member (Secretary) Community Systems Foundation,,
  • Naud, Matthew.  Environmental Coordinator and Assistant Emergency Manager, Systems Planning Unit, City of Ann Arbor
  • Oswalt, Kris S.  President, Community Systems Foundation
  • Rayle, Roger.  Scio Residents for Safe Water
  • Lars Schumann.  Manager and Research Computer Specialist, University of Michigan 3D Laboratory at the Duderstadt Center; also of Cornell University, Ithaca NY
  • Arlinghaus, William C.  Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI
  • Arlinghaus, William E.  General Manager, Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Batty, Michael. Bartlett Professor of Planning and Director of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London
  • Haug, Robert.  Ph.D. Candidate, Middle Eastern and North African Studies, The University of Michigan
  • Larimore, Ann Evans.  Professor Emerita, Residential College, The University of Michigan
  • Longstreth, Karl.  Head, Map Library, The University of Michigan
  • Nystuen, Gwen L.  Parks Advisory Commission; Environmental Commission; City of Ann Arbor
  • Nystuen, John D.  Professor Emeritus of Geography and Urban Planning, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, The University of Michigan.  Chief Executive Officer, Community Systems Foundation

Published by:
Institute of Mathematical Geography
August, 2008.
Copyright by Sandra Arlinghaus, all rights reserved.