A montage of colorful images decorated Pasadena City Hall as their GIS Day celebration came into full swing on May 23. Detailed maps joined vendors' displays and activities to create an informative and entertaining event. The city used the day as an opportunity to introduce geographic information system (GIS) technology and its new software application to city staff.

GIS Day is a global event that is part of a National Geographic Society initiative called Geography Action!, which focuses on educational achievements. The official date of GIS Day 2002, is November 20, but communities and organizations are encouraged to sponsor events throughout the year. National and international GIS Day events provide GIS users and vendors with an arena to showcase the applications of the technology for the public. The Association of American Geographers, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, the United States Geological Survey, the Library of Congress, Sun Microsystems, and ESRI are principal sponsors of the event.

Pasadena correlated their GIS Day celebration with the launch of their new GIS software application, iMAP. The software was created with ESRI's ArcIMS application and provides links to the city's Tidemark database, which is a repository of property information on all parcels within the city. Other links on the software connect users to the city's Questys database that contains current and historical scanned permit images for the city's parcels. Tools on iMAP let city employees create mailing lists whenever they need to notify their constituents about city activities and access a variety of customizable maps for their specific needs. An iMAP overview training for city staff was one of the highlights of the day's activities. Six training sessions taught approximately 250 employees how to use the software to its full potential. Other activities included various map displays and a game show that put participants' GIS knowledge to the test. Vendors involved in the celebration, including Psomas, Sanborn Colorado, Accela Tidemark, Oracle, Decision Management Company, and ESRI, provided displays for the activities and prizes for the game show.

The overall success of the day was apparent by the reaction of city employees. Liz Wojdak, the city's GIS coordinator, was enthusiastic about the outcome of the day. "The premise of the day was to launch our brand new ArcIMS application, iMAP," says Wojdak. "We also wanted to open the staff's minds to the potential of GIS beyond the application we just built. Although our application is great, GIS, in general, can do much more. Overall, I feel the day was successful. We received much positive feedback from our employees."

As the implementation of GIS technology stretches its influence, it is important that organizations use it to increase their efficiency and effectiveness in their communities. GIS Day is an ideal setting to educate employees and others who wish to expand their abilities. The success of Pasadena's celebration will stay with the city long after the day ended.

Any community or organization can host a GIS Day event to educate the people in its surroundings in a fun, interactive, and informative fashion. To learn more about past GIS Day events or to find out how to get involved, visit the GIS Day Web site at http://http://www.gisday.com/. Resources and support are located at the site, as well as contact information.