Maps can tell us much more than how to travel from place to place. Ask Thomas Pingel, a researcher and professor in the geography department at Northern Illinois University. He’ll map it out for you.
Maps hold incredible amounts of informational power and are often used in a wide variety of ways to conduct research. Today, they help identify humanitarian needs, show trends in popular culture, guide urban planning, predict the weather and even forecast the spread of disease. Pingel’s current research involves developing and testing visualizations in support of disaster relief and emergency response in urban areas. Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology is a key component in the visualization pipeline, since it produces a precise spatial record of the environment at a comparatively low cost.
Pingel earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University and received his master’s and doctorate in geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored numerous articles and is currently developing new visualizations to automate map production from LIDAR data in support of emergency response and disaster relief efforts.