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December 20, 2002
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GIS Showcased Around the World on GIS Day 2002 and USGS Offers the World on DVD



A Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., city employee demonstrates to local students how a remote camera is used in storm drain mapping.

GIS Showcased Around the World on GIS Day 2002

On Wednesday Nov. 20, 2002, National GIS Day, geography experts rallied their efforts toward educating people about mapping technology and the important contributions it makes in the fields of science, technology, information and the humanities.

Part of the National Geographic Society’s Geography Awareness Week, GIS Day is a grassroots event that offers GIS users and vendors the opportunity to open their doors to schools, businesses and the general public to showcase real-world applications of this important and growing technology. The event is principally sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), The Library of Congress, Sun Microsystems and ESRI of Redlands, Calif. Also this year, the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives (ACMLA) joined the list of Associate GIS Day sponsors.

Here are some of the ways GIS Day 2002 was celebrated all around the world:

  • In the city of Cape Coral, Fla., members of the city’s GIS department took GIS training to the community by conducting two half-day activities. The first map gallery and open discussion session was tailored for the business community (realtors, developers, citizens and department heads). The second workshop session was designed for the social studies students of a local middle school.

  • In the city of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., city GIS employees demonstrated to local students and members of the public how GIS maps are used to maintain storm drains in the area, how a remote camera is used in storm drain mapping and different types of GIS maps, and their applications in the city’s planning.

  • In Nevada, Clark County, the city of Henderson, the city of Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Valley Water District and Nevada GIS (NGIS) volunteers held GIS presentations for more than 17 schools and 1,500 students within Clark County School District. Map galleries displaying the use of GIS within each of the public offices were displayed in the lobbies or nearby. The Nevada GIS is a non-profit organization for the state of Nevada that promotes the use of GIS and furthers the education of GIS software through its annual conference.

  • In Kenya, the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation committee demonstrated GIS in coastal resources management.

  • Geoscience Australia held a demonstration of the use of GIS for geohazard predictions in Canberra, Australia.

  • The city and county of San Francisco held its second annual GIS Day event, “San Francisco GIS Day 2002,” cosponsored by the USGS and the Bay Area Automated Mapping Association (BAAMA), which focused on showing how the city and county of San Francisco use GIS to service the citizens of San Francisco.

  • The USGS National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, La., presented “Discovering Acadiana through GIS,” which featured a map gallery, presentations of local interest, demonstrations of area projects and an interactive GIS lab.

  • Mainz University in Mainz, Germany, opened its doors to schools, businesses and the general public to showcase applications of GIS and allow alumni to give presentations on their current work with GIS.

  • Governor Bill Owens proclaimed October 7-11, 2002, as GIS Week in the state of Colorado. GIS Week coincided with the 15th Annual GIS in the Rockies conference, which was held October 8-10, 2002. The conference theme was “GIS from Start to Finish.”

GIS enthusiasts who were not able to attend any local events were able to participate in several online GIS Day activities. ESRI and Sun Microsystems Inc. partnered to host the second annual GIS Quest!, a one-of-a-kind, free, interactive Web game that enabled participants to experience GIS firsthand. Players could go to www.gisquest.com and visit multiple, live GIS-powered websites to learn about the substantial contributions that GIS technology makes in their communities. Also, on that Wednesday morning, ESRI’s Virtual Campus hosted a free, live training seminar titled “Partnering for Community Action.” Participants got the chance to learn how students and organizations can solve community problems by using GIS and working together. The state of North Carolina hosted “GIS LIVE,” a live Web broadcast demonstrating applications to solve real-world problems and showcasing projects important to all industries including health, floodplain mapping, critical incident response, crime analysis, North Carolina State University’s science research (remote sensing and wildlife habitat modeling), coastal management, urban planning, meteorology and snow command, Urban Ecological Analyses and GIS in marine science.

All who sponsored or participated in GIS Day 2002 made the worldwide event a success. It was, and is a great way to spread the word about the growing importance of GIS in our lives. If you weren’t a part of GIS Day in 2002, make sure to put GIS Day (November 19) on your calendar for 2003!

USGS Offers the World on DVD

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the American Geological Institute (AGI) have entered an agreement that will focus on making the USGS Global Geographic Information System (GIS) database readily available to educators and the general public in the form of a DVD-based world atlas. The USGS Global GIS database contains a wealth of USGS and other public domain data, including global coverages of elevation, landcover, seismicity, and resources of minerals and energy. The package will include a free version of ArcView (ESRI, Redlands, Calif.) GIS software allowing customized analysis of the data.

“Through this partnership, our organizations can work together to facilitate access to global spatial datasets and easy-to-use GIS tools, and also provide a global perspective on earth science issues,” said Barb Ryan, USGS associate director for geography. “Such a global perspective is a natural progression from the national perspective provided by The National Map and the National Atlas.”

“We think this is a fantastic educational opportunity,” said Marcus Milling, AGI executive director. “The integration of these data at a global scale will help demonstrate basic principles of earth science and provide the most effective kind of instruction for students. Furthermore, the data package dovetails very well with AGI’s existing K-12 curricula.”

By improving the accessibility and usability of global geospatial data, this agreement supports the USGS mission of delivering earth science data to the general public. The partners envision that additional educational materials will be developed in several phases as resources become available. Beyond education, the data package will find use as a regional-scale reference and as an analytical tool for spatial analysis by government officials, researchers, the private sector and the general public.

The atlas will also contain datasets of country political boundaries, locations of cities and towns, population density, airfields, roads, railroads, utility lines, geology, slope, hydrology, ecological regions, volcanoes, ore deposits, climate data and lights at night. Customers will be able to use the GIS software to recombine or analyze the data or the data may be used separately with ESRI ArcView software.

AGI is a non-profit federation of 40 geoscience professional associations representing over 100,000 geoscientists in the United States. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, aims to strengthen geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in the use of resources and interaction with the environment. In recent years, AGI has taken a major leadership role in curriculum development in K-12 earth science education.

The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy and mineral resources; and enhance and protect the quality of life.

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