Held each year on the Wednesday of National Geographic Society's Geography Awareness Week (November 14-20 in 2004), GIS Day is a global event that celebrates geographic information system (GIS) technology, the innovative technology that uses geography to bring countless benefits to the world. The St. Louis GIS Day provides an opportunity for those curious about GIS to see its applications in action. A GIS is a computer-based mapping tool that takes information from a database about a location, such as streets, buildings, water features, and terrain, and turns it into visual layers. The ability to see geographic features on a map gives users a better understanding of a particular location, enabling planners, analysts, and others to make informed decisions about their communities.
Although you may not be aware of it, GIS touches our lives daily. It is used throughout the world to solve problems related to the environment, health care, land use, business efficiency, education, and public safety. The power supply directed to homes, the patrol cars and fire trucks that keep neighborhoods safe, and the delivery trucks on the road all function more efficiently because of GIS. This technology can also help businesses place ATMs and restaurants at more convenient locations, allow people to pull maps off the Internet, and help farmers grow more crops with less chemicals.
Most recently we have seen how GIS technology can be used to aid homeland security initiatives, map the debris field following the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, and monitor the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The applications of GIS technology are endless, limited only by the imagination of its users. From border patrol agents to doctors, and from federal agency employees to local city planners, people in nearly every profession all over the world are reaping the benefits of this extraordinary technology.
GIS Day serves to make people aware of GIS technology and the important contributions it is making in the fields of science, technology, information, and the humanities. It is a grassroots event and a reflection of the enthusiasm and commitment of individual GIS users everywhere. At this year's St. Louis GIS Day, Kinetic Solutions will be showcasing their SafeCity crime mapping system developed for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD). The system received the 2003 St. Louis Technology Award for involving St. Louis residents in local law enforcement efforts to fight crime, and the benefits the system provided to the police. The system is available to the public at: http://126.96.36.199/stlouis/newslmpd. With the increasing need for technology in homeland security, Kinetic Solutions will also be demonstrating their Incident Command System. SCOUT is a crisis management tool designed to support tactical response teams during events such as terrorist attacks, hostage situations, and natural disasters. The company will also demonstrate the abilities of web-based GIS applications with the development of the Madison County Regional Bikeway Website. Kinetic Solutions will also be displaying a poster in the Map Gallery of data collected analyzing current crime in St. Louis metropolitan area.
This year marks GIS Day's sixth year, so be sure to join the celebration and become a part of this annual tradition.
Source: Kinetic Solutions, Nov. 11, 2004