Center for Social Research

Professor Jason VanHorn and Nathan Mosurinjohn publish paper on 3D GIS Modeling

The CSR is pleased to report the recent publication featuring the work of our very own
Nathan Mosurinjohn, along with Calvin’s Professor of Geography, Jason VanHorn. Professor VanHorn’s specialty is terrorism geography, and in the summer of 2008 he began working with Nathan on a methodology for safeguarding politicians and other VIP’s from sniper fire using 3D modeling.

GIS (Geographic Information Systems) are frequently used in crime prevention strategies, but many approaches only make use of 2D data. In this paper, Professor Van Horn and Nathan examined 3D modeling possibilities using the tools available in GIS and Google Sketch-Up. Their goal was to be able to calculate every position sniper fire could potentially come from a given particular VIP location.

To test this methodology, the burial site of President Ford, found at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, was selected, being a location that has hosted many prominent people in the past, including Vice President Dick Cheney at President Ford’s burial. Nathan first built a digital 3D model of downtown Grand Rapids using Google Sketch-Up. He researched aerial photographs, maps, and records containing specific heights of buildings to aid him in this task. Click here to see a video of this 3D model. Do you recognize downtown Grand Rapids?

Using this model, Professor VanHorn and Nathan were then able to construct a viewshed which shows all of the places from which a person could be seen if they were to be standing at a specific location. Nathan and Professor VanHorn also researched the maximum firing ranges of different weapons and built a model which demonstrated the maximum distance that a weapon would have to fire to reach a designated area (see image below).
This instrumental research gives an example of how 3D modeling capabilities can be used in terrorism research and personnel protection, and how useful it is to conduct these analysis in 3D instead of 2D maps.

Posted by Kathryn A. Bardolph on Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 03:46 PM
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April 8 CSR Presentation: Data visualization with KCCS

Using data from the Kent County Congregations Study, CSR staff will showcase emerging tools and methods for visual data analysis.

Please join us:

  Thursday April 8, 2010
3:30 p.m., Meeter Center Lecture Hall
Calvin College

See the entire poster!

UPDATE: See the presentation (PowerPoint 2007)!

Posted by Kathryn A. Bardolph on Friday, March 26, 2010 at 12:49 PM
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GIS: Mapping Kent County

One of our talented employees, Nathan Mosurinjohn, comments on the GIS niche he specializes in at the CSR:

“GIS is short for Geographic Information Systems, which is used to both analyze spatial data and to create maps. The GIS program we use at the CSR is fully customizable, so the possibilities for its use are endless. Some examples of ways this technology can be used include anything from site selection for business branches to hydrological studies to 3D fly-throughs of mountain ranges.

One of the main ways we are using GIS this summer is to coordinate our canvassing efforts for the Kent County Congregations Study. In addition to making an atlas of maps that the canvassers use for navigating, we have used GIS to estimate the time it will take to canvass each area and the amount of milage each area contains. We have also created a randomized set of points throughout the county to measure some of the general social and physical characteristics of the areas we are canvassing.

Once a team returns from a canvassing trip with their collected data, we use GIS to analyze what we have learned. With this technology we can chart where congregations are moving, where new congregations are forming, and where they are shutting down. We can also begin to see what the location of congregations means; for example, demographic changes in the city may be reflected in church movement and attendance. Movement of congregations can also affect how well services for young people are distributed among at-risk youth, a topic that our corresponding Youth Services Landscape Survey explores in more depth.

These are just a few of the ways that we are using GIS to aid in the implementation of our research endeavors, but as you can see, it is also a very transferable tool that can be used for a variety of purposes.”

Posted by Nikole Voss on Monday, August 24, 2009 at 12:49 PM
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New CSR Technical Assistant

As of June 2009, CSR welcomes a new technical assistant who specializes in ArcGIS, an advanced computer mapping program! To learn more about technical assistant positions, visit our employment opportunities page.

Nathan Mosurinjohn
Hometown: Fort Atkinson, WI
Degree: B.A. in Geography and International Development
Favorite Research Software: ArcGIS

Stay tuned to see maps of Kent County!

Posted by Nikole Voss on Monday, June 01, 2009 at 02:28 PM
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Religion and Social Order: Does God Punish Societal Sins?

Dr. Janel Curry, Dean for Research and Scholarship at Calvin College, has just been appointed Calvin's Byker Chair. Her talk will explore how religious worldviews, as portrayed in sermons, shape individual and institutional responses to events like Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsumani.

Last year Dr. Curry served as Center for Social Research's Interim Director. During the research phase for the project, CSR provided logistical and technical support for the team collecting the data, especially with transcription of recorded sermons. It will be a great opportunity to hear Dr. Curry's lecture as well as see the results of the sermon data.

  Willow Room, Prince Conference Center
Thursday, February 26, 7:00 p.m.
Posted by Kathryn A. Bardolph on Friday, February 06, 2009 at 02:31 PM
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