USA – Government officials, business executives, and other professionals will participate this November in GIS Day events around the world, where they will learn the value of using geographic information system (GIS) software in their organizations.
Private businesses, government agencies, and universities will host GIS Day programs the third week of November, inviting guests to attend GIS workshops; tour map galleries; and in some cases get hands-on GIS technology training, analyze geographic data, and make maps themselves.
The official GIS Day 10th anniversary celebration will be November 19, 2008, though some events will be held earlier or later in the month or another time of the year. Visit www.gisday.com to find a list of activities in more than 40 countries.
Many industries, utilities, businesses, government agencies, and conservation organizations use GIS software. The technology lets users capture, store, manage, analyze, and model spatially referenced data and imagery, then publish and share that information in easy-to-visualize maps and charts, sometimes on the Web. Executives, managers, and others use the results of GIS analysis to make more informed decisions. For example, analysts working in law enforcement use the technology to detect crime patterns and use the results of the analyses to develop crime-fighting strategies.
Jack Dangermond, president of ESRI, the world leader in GIS modeling and mapping software and technology, says that GIS Day will give professionals working in fields such as electric and gas, telecommunications, transportation, natural resources, health care, public safety, and government a window into how the geospatial analysis capabilities of GIS software will help them make more informed decisions. “The events help make people aware of the power of this wonderful tool,” he says.
As part of the GIS Day celebration, Dangermond will speak at the Rocket City Geospatial Conference, November 18–20, 2008, in Huntsville, Alabama. This year’s conference will include a special plenary session that will focus on how geospatial technologies were used for various aspects of planning for and recovering from hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which recently battered the Gulf Coast of the United States.
Other activities planned for students and the general public include GIS demonstrations, geocaching “treasure hunts” using global positioning system (GPS) units, geography bees, and other games designed to heighten interest in geography and geospatial technologies.
GIS Day was launched a decade ago at an inaugural event hosted by the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. Students from area schools witnessed a demonstration of what one writer later called an “innovative geography tool for the next century.”
The young people saw how GIS software analyzed and mapped data for projects such as studying grizzly bear habitats and finding the best locations for new restaurants. “Maps speak very powerful messages,” consumer advocate and environmentalist Ralph Nader said at the event, rallying people to embrace GIS as a technology to improve their communities.
GIS professionals who answered the call will host many of the events. Dan Rose, an environmental GIS technician for the city of Topeka, Kansas, and a member of the Kansas Association of Mappers, plans to give hour-long presentations about GIS mapping to students at schools in Galesburg and Erie, Kansas. He said schools in these smaller communities often do not have large budgets for technology, and GIS Day will introduce the youngsters to concepts such as geospatial visualization and mapping.
“This is why I keep coming back—to bring them some real-world experience, showing them what I do on a daily basis, and maybe, just maybe, a few of the kids will get interested enough to pursue a career in geography or GIS/mapping themselves,” Rose said.
Some other GIS Day events include the following:
- There will be an open house and software product display for GIS professionals hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources in Canada.
- The GIS DAY 2008—Bucharest Green Map project. High school students in Bucharest, Romania, will use GIS and other geospatial technologies to make their city greener and more livable. For example, they will create a tourism map of Bucharest for pedestrians using GIS. They will also analyze the best places for commuters to park in northern Bucharest so they can find convenient public transportation into other parts of the city.
- There will be GIS software demonstrations and training, a geography bee, and interactive GIS games for students hosted by Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, North Carolina.
ESRI’s Web site, www.gisday.com, offers multiple resources to plan an interesting and educational GIS Day including downloadable posters, flyers, and activity ideas for all different ages.