US: Esri has announced that it will be donating personal use licenses of its ArcGIS software for each GISCorps volunteer who takes a GIS Service Pledge to volunteer for a good cause. GISCorps is a program of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) and has been providing a range of mapping and disaster response services for more than 14 years worldwide by harnessing the power of geographic information system (GIS) technology.
Each personal use license being donated has a commercial value of approximately $6,000 per year and will enable volunteers to address crucial location-based issues. GISCorps volunteers can leverage this software donation to support any topic or organization, whether local or abroad, they are passionate about that meets the criteria described on the GISCorps website. Examples could include supporting a local food bank, land trust, or animal shelter.
“One of the things about Esri that I am most proud of is the fact that our community of users is so dedicated to doing good in the world,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president. “GISCorps is one example of how the power of location intelligence can be harnessed for the public good.”
This initiative also extends to disaster response projects that arise after disasters such as the recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the earthquakes in Mexico. During and after disasters, volunteers provide assistance in a variety of ways including identification and mapping of one-story homes at risk of being flooded, locations of dry beds and shelters for the displaced, and the quickest and safest routes to evacuate affected populations in the shortest amount of time.
“URISA’s GISCorps volunteers have been involved in the response to almost every disaster since 2003,” said Shoreh Elhami, GISCorps founder. “We have worked on Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami, the cyclone in Burma, the Ebola epidemic, and many more. Many of our volunteers have said they learn more quickly from GISCorps experiences than from their day jobs. They get exposed to different projects that require different skills and tools, and that provides a valuable learning experience.”
The Esri Disaster Response Program supports the work of GISCorps volunteers, helping them ingest and process imagery and digitize points of interest in a way that’s much easier than in the past. This is made possible with ArcGIS Online, which volunteers use to spread the work among themselves and create a communication platform to share updates on unfolding events.