GIS Day honors the power to ‘map’ our world

HACC participates in global celebration to help others learn about geography, GIS applications


Jess Staley, Staff Writer

The GeoTech Center held its annual virtual GIS Day via Zoom on Nov. 17.

Since the first GIS Day in 1999, the event has celebrated the movers and shakers of GIS professionals and organizations by bringing their works to light.

GIS day is an all-day event broken up into categories in which professionals in the field speak about their experiences with the science. One of the speakers was Bern Szukalski, of Esri, a tech evangelist, writer, and blogger. His segment was called “Exploring the Where, Why, and How of Geography with ArcGIS Living Atlas.” He talked about the passion people in the field have for maps and geospatial thinking. GIS systems date back to the 1980s, when data were not as readily available as today, professionals in the field started digitizing from the ground up. Since then, advancements have made web mapping, remote sensing, location intelligence, and spatial analysis what it is today. 

Other sessions included topics on climate and sustainability, featuring speakers from the Cleveland, Ohio Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the California University of Pennsylvania’s GeoTech Center. Additionally, Josh Sisskind from Maxar Technologies led a session on “Earth Intelligence in Your Daily Life.”

Of course, GIS Day featured some fun and games application: the day ended with  GIS and Video Games: A New Paradigm for Geographic Visualization and Interaction, led by Brian Tomaszewski from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Globally, GIS Day was celebrated across social media platforms with panels on LinkedInLive and  webinars on YouTube featuring Google Earth Engine live.

GIS is a geographic information system that pursues the science of mapping data by analyzing and sharing information to solve problems in the world. The science can identify geographic patterns through mapping; one example of this is through a map of opioid prescription claims. The map is used to analyze the way opioids are prescribed in order to learn how to safely prescribe and dose the drugs. The map uses 2 colors to represent areas in the country where the percentage of opioid claims are higher than the national average, compared to areas lower than average percentages.

Other uses of GIS are seen in our everyday lives: Bike path safety, current weather, and traffic are part of the continually evolving advancements. Knowing this, GIS is often viewed as the backbone of every advancement technology has made.

Due to the growing advancements of location intelligence, organizations everywhere are calling for a demand in GIS careers. A GIS professional could qualify in fields like climate science, conservation, and forestry. For more information on GIS careers, visit