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300 Posts authored by: jkerski-esristaff Employee

I recently highlighted some incredible GIS Day stories from 2019, but more stories continue to be submitted.  I feel that these additional stories are so inspiring that they too really need to be shared, which I have done, below.  Want to see even more stories?  See those submitted by event hosts via this story map.

 

India:  A GIS Day event was organized by and held at the Training Centre, Department of Geoinformatics, Karnataka State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj University (KSRDPRU), Gadag, Karnataka, India, with the objective to create an awareness and applications of GIS technology in various fields, especially in rural development. Coordinators, Head of Departments, Faculty, and Students from all Departments of the university were invited. The event included Formal Talks and Presentations, GIS Resource Mapping, a GIS field hunt, and a GIS Quiz. The chief guest was Prof. Dr. Suresh V. Nadagoudar, Registrar and Vice Chancellor (Acting),KSRDPRU, Gadag.  First, the Honorable Prof. Dr. Nadagoudar addressed the gathering, explaining the need and importance of GIS in our daily life. He urged to make use of GIS technology for all the students in their studies and their research. In his talk he quoted the transparency brought in MGNREGA by implementing a GIS system. The Course Coordinator Shri. Suresh Lamani communicated the importance, use of GIS technology and its applications in various fields. The hands-on workshop focused on how to prepare and produce the map of natural as well as man-made resources using ArcGIS 10.5 software. The GIS hunt was a fun field game on collection of GPS coordinates using handled GPS devices and and smartphones. The GIS Quiz was a multiple choice quiz competition. At the event, students of other departments came to know about the importance of GIS applications in daily life and for better decision making. This event brought-out awareness about how GIS plays a key role in various fields of spatial planning and management of rural lives.  

Karnataka State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj University GIS Day event 1

Karnataka State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj University GIS Day event, India, outside activities. 

 

Karnataka State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj University GIS Day event, India, inside activities.

Karnataka State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj University GIS Day event, India, inside activities. 

 

Belarus:  Olga Serebryannaya, Esri Internationalization Product Engineer, shared this inspiring GIS Day story from Belarus.   Held at the Mogilev State A. Kuleshov University, Professor Natalia Tupitsyna and her students created and shared this story map (https://arcg.is/uSiy9) in which multiple student projects are featured.  These include a set of Survey123 quizzes to check the knowledge of geography for middle school students, a Country of Fairy Tales showing precise geographical locations of the best books for kids, including Garry Potter, Pinocchio, the Mermaiden, and many others, Ramsar Convention Wetlands of Belarus, National Parks of Belarus, National parks and Natural reserves of Turkmenistan, The most famous Football Clubs, Noise pollution in a city of Mogilev (Belarus), Twilights and real world (geographical locations of the Twilights movies).   In another event in Belarus at the Brest State A.S.Pushkin University, students presented an amazing array of projects (https://arcg.is/0auaaq), including georeferenced historical photos of the City of Grodno – a city of ancient temples of different religions, the most famous world attractions and points of interest, the most amazing world zoos, the most popular YouTube channels, pollution of world cities, the most dramatic earthquakes, and UNESCO features of Italy.

 

One of the Belarus story maps.

One of the story maps created and featured during the GIS Day events in Belarus--of selected football (soccer) teams.

 

Another GIS Day web map created in Belarus.

Another web map, on historical points of interest, created and shown at the GIS Day events in Belarus.

 

Argentina:   At Argentina's National Technical University, Tucumán Region, GIS is an elective subject of the fourth year for students in Information Systems Engineering. Ten students presented their projects in the university's 12th GIS Day event and showed how GIS can contribute to society and the place where people live.  Mr. Alejandro Báscolo, Professor of the GIS Chair Geographic Information System explained: "This event exposes the intentions of the Faculty to advance with disruptive knowledge that can improve the quality of life of the environment as a university extension and contribution by students.   More information, including the press release about the event, is available here:  

http://www.frt.utn.edu.ar/index.php?s=noticia&id=2427.  

One of Argentina's GIS Day events.

GIS Day event at Argentina's National Technical University, Tucumán Region.

 

Guatemala:  Silvia Forno reported on a very successful day in Guatemala, held by the Municipality of Guatemala, Dirección de Información Geográfica Municipal.  A total of 8 presentations were given and they raffled off GIS t-shirts and ArcGIS personal use licenses that were donated to the event hosts.  You can discover more here:   https://sig.muniguate.com/gisday/.   

 

Guatemala GIS Day.

Guatemala GIS Day celebration.

 

Malaysia:   The TNB GIS DN (GIS Project for Distribution Network, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Malaysia) hosted its first GIS Day celebration with 50 attendees.  They reported that they celebrated with cake, pizza, and happiness!  Very spatial! 

GIS Day celebration in Malaysia.

GIS Day celebration at the GIS Project for Distribution Network, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Malaysia.

When I visited Mark Guizlo, Professor in the Department of Geography and Geospatial Technology at Lakeland Community College Ohio and his colleagues not long ago, I was very impressed at what the faculty and students are doing with geospatial technologies. Recently, Mark was asked by the college president to write the weekly Lakeland “Musings” newsletter.  Mark did so, focusing on a student project and Story Map that was featured on GIS Day to a packed auditorium for a presentation by Kurt Lieber of the Ocean Defenders Alliance. Several things stand out to me about the story map and article below:  (1) This was the professor and the students’ first work with story maps, and yet the map is rigorous and communicates their research well; (2) the students in this course haven’t been using GIS all that long, and yet it shows why GIS is an appropriate research tool; (3) this is the perfect illustration of the important work that community colleges are doing with GIS, research, and communications; (4) the fact that the work incorporates fieldwork (in this case, wet field work; that is, in the water!) is something near and dear to my heart as a geographer. 

 

Ocean defenders map.

Ocean Defenders story map.

 

Mark writes, "Kurt Lieber got sick and tired of letting ghost gear ruin his dives off the coast of Southern California. Ghost gear consists of abandoned fishing gear and traps that accumulate in some of the most diverse, fragile, and beautiful marine ecosystems. He wanted to help clean up ocean waste, so he joined the Sea Sheppard Foundation in the 1990s, then went on to found Ocean Defender’s Alliance (ODA) in 2002. ODA depends on donors and grants to run expensive boats and pay for the equipment needed to remove abandoned fishing gear from coastal waters in California and Hawaii. They also clean up beaches. In Hawaii, mounds of trash routinely wash up on beaches from the giant central Pacific garbage gyre.

 

Kurt spoke at Lakeland’s GIS Day on Wednesday, November 13. A native of Northeast Ohio, he told stories of swimming through dead fish, garbage, chemicals, and debris as a Timberlake teenager in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Kurt threw himself into the marine conservation effort when he moved to California to pursue his work as an engineer and his passion for diving.

 

ODA has collected data for every dive and cleanup event from 2002 to the present, and Kurt sent the spreadsheet just a few weeks ago. It was messy. The spreadsheet contained coordinates for their activities for hundreds of dives and some beach cleanups, but it needed a lot of work to prep it for mapping. In other words, it was data from the real world, and not the perfectly tuned data we often use with GIS tutorial manuals. The ODA data was rough, poorly behaved, with a vague whiff of abandoned lobster traps. It needed a cup of coffee and a good shave. This was far from the normal experience of our introductory GIS students in GEOG 1700, where the data they encounter just got dressed up to take grandma to church and sits quietly waiting for instructions.

 

The students looked concerned reviewing the data in class. I proposed that we throw out the original plan (you know, the project in the syllabus) and map the ODA data before GIS Day. Their reactions ranged from keen interest to outright fear.

 

They had a lot of questions. I didn’t have a lot of answers. I proposed that we would make a Story Map for their project, and with confidence said “this ODA project is perfect for a story map.” I didn’t tell them I had never made a story map myself. Sometimes, what doesn’t get us fired makes us stronger. We would figure it out later.

 

Kurt Lieber joined us in class by video link and we planned the project together. I helped the students divide tasks, and they prepped the data. With about 48 hours remaining before GIS Day, the students mapped and created their story map. It was good enough to show on GIS Day.

 

After Kurt spoke at GIS Day, the students did a great job of presenting their story map with no preparation or even prior warning that they would be on stage. They are Melissa Dopriak, Mason Kirchner, and Josh Lupas, and Ben Sulecki.

Most people think GIS Day is about technology. Sure, there is a lot of technology present, but that isn’t really why we do this annual event. GIS Day is just like the field it represents - it is about people and their ideas, demonstrated through mapping technologies. We seek to build communities of practice that translate creativity, experience, and knowledge into solutions for humanity. In academic terms, we don’t think of the geospatial technology program as a “tech program.” It is in a department that is unique for Lakeland – the Geography and Geospatial Technology Department has a split personality, and it was designed that way on purpose. The traditional liberal arts and sciences meet up with the mapping sciences and technologies. We engage in the study of places, society, and the earth’s environment, and do it through a highly sophisticated set of technological tools. Those tools change constantly, and the key survival skill is thinking and adaptation, rather than just technological mastery. Students are expected to develop a sense of lifelong learning as part of their bridge from being “student” to being employed. I am convinced that we cannot do that without both the general education and the technological sides of our department.

 

GIS Day is a worldwide celebration of mapping technologies, made possible at Lakeland because of support from the college and the participation of a large number of GIS Professionals. Our Geospatial Program Assistant and Part Time Faculty, Lisa Stanich, organizes GIS Day. Associate Professor Bobby Oliver manages the student volunteers who run hands-on mapping activities with real-world live data. One the best things about GIS Day is that our graduates come back as GIS Professionals to represent their employers and engage in conversations with the students who are just starting out. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate GIS Day than that."

 

Thank you Mark!  Kudos to you and your students for the inspiring work you and they are doing! --Joseph Kerski

Ocean defenders map.

One of the sections of the ocean themed story map showing the number of and types of species freed from traps and nets.

Thank you to everyone who celebrated GIS Day 2019.  I invite you to share your experiences and continue the celebration by sending in your GIS Day memories to this survey and view the many events displayed on this map.  As of this writing, a total of 1,583 events have been registered.  The 5 free ArcGIS personal use licenses offered to each event host to distribute and the resources on the www.gisday.com website all appear to have been of high interest.  This essay reports on just a few of the many inspiring stories coming in from government agencies, universities, schools, nonprofit organizations, and private companies that clearly demonstrate how GIS is making a positive difference all around the world.

 

Agrobiotechnical Sciences, University of Osijek, Croatia: Over 100 attendees attended a field day of UAV imaging and a workshop on the processing and interpretation of collected data. The workshop titled “Mapping of agricultural land using an unmanned aerial vehicle” was organized by the members of the Chair of Geoinformation Technologies and GIS and the AgroGIT research team. Visitors were presented with a method of point cloud, digital elevation model, and digital orthophoto generation using the collected images. The role of UAVs in the current scientific work of the research team is presented, as well as all the benefits of using precision agriculture in practice.

GIS Day event

University of Osijek, Croatia.

 

Bangladesh Conservation GIS (BCGIS) and Wildlife Conservation Society:  Mohammad Shamsuddoha, SCGIS Scholar 2017 and Program Officer, Wildlife Conservation Society, organized a GIS Day event in Dhaka, that included a series of events and activities for conservation professionals.  These professionals came from a background in marine biology, Chiropteran biology, ornithology, fisheries, biology, and other fields. This was the first event under BCGIS which was formed by the SCGIS scholars in Bangladesh with a dream to spread the mission and vision of SCGIS.  The event included information sessions, a geospatial quiz, and a hands-on mapping session, where a portion of the participants made their first maps. 

 

GIS Day in Bangladesh

Conservation focused GIS Day event in Bangladesh.

 

University Jaume I, Spain:  The Geotec group at the university, which is near the Mediterranean Sea on the east side of the country, sponsored another successful GIS Day event.  Geotec is a research group specialized in geospatial technologies and GIS development.   The event was organized around a series of "Missions", which helped participants to understand how GIS is used in different fields and contexts, and they served us as an introduction to the technologies we are using everyday. Missions were perfect examples to explain projects such as A-Wear, SyMptOMS or Copernicus Academy initiative to name a few. Looking for a book in the library using indoor technologies, playing a mobile game inside a building which connects the gameplay with the current place, sharing the location of a horse sculpture at the university campus or write a post about the possible uses of GIS, were some of the missions available to complete. The last mission was to meet the staff and attend to the talk in which our colleague Carlos Granell explained how geospatial technologies supported the missions (see the sketch he prepared below). After the talk, there was opportunity for social networking, and last but not least… some prizes were also raffled.

 

During the event, more than 100 missions were completed by 26 participants; see the full list of missions and associated apps and tools they used at https://gisday19uji.web.app/ . A press note and some pictures about UJI GISday are also available here https://www.uji.es/com/noticies/2019/11/1q/gis-day/#.  For more information on their event, see this link.

 

GIS Day at UJI University.

The Government of Upper Austria:   Thomas Ebert from the Land Division of the Government of Upper Austria has been promoting GIS and GIS Day for many years, in conjunction with the Private University of Education.  This year's celebration was one of the finest, with more than 400 students from the region converging on Linz to participate in over 30 workshops filled with hands-on activities focused on geospatial technology.   See this video and these photos to experience it for yourself. 

GIS Day at Linz, Austria.

Part of the GIS Day events in Linz, Austria. 

 

Clark College and US Forest Service:   Chris Highfield, GIS Services Area Manager from the US Forest Service, reported that "Our GIS Day event was jointly held with the R6 Forest Service Data Resource Management group Customer Service Area 1 and Clark College in Vancouver Washington, who hosted the event on 15 November 2019.  The enthusiasm for the event ran high before, during, and after the event.  In all, 9 lightning talks were held, along with Smokey Bear picture opportunities, food and raffle items, and included people from Clark College, Clark County Planning department, Portland Community College, and Diana Perez from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  Our Project Manager (Whitney Vonada) did an outstanding job in pulling together a really awesome event. Those that came were treated to a great experience in learning more about GIS and the Science of Where.  What we learned from this year’s event will be applied to GIS Day 2020!

Clark College and US Forest Service GIS Day event.

Clark College and US Forest Service GIS Day event, Vancouver Washington USA. 

 

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas:  This event was billed as the largest GIS Day event in the world, with over 40 speakers, 30 sessions, and more than 500 attendees.  All of the events were streamed and recorded for later viewing.  This year's events brought geospatial computing sessions on GeoAI, the geospatial internet of things (IoT), frontiers of geospatial data science and data science applications with campus data, and geospatial social media data mining to the schedule.  Event highlights included over $1,000 in prizes and awards, over 20 sponsoring organizations, over 10 organizations looking to hire, a career fair, and a crowdsourcing competition (gisday.tamu.edu).

 

Guatemala City, Guatemala.  Silvia Paola Forno Lima organized a GIS Day held by the Municipality of Guatemala, Dirección de Información Geográfica Municipal.  See attached flyer for more details on their event. 

 

Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria:    Professors Vanya Stamenova and Stefan Stamenov, students, and others participated in the GIS Day organized by Esri Bulgaria that included an exhibition "Capitals" devoted to the 140th anniversary of the establishment of Sofia as a capital of Bulgaria.

Bulgaria GIS Day event.

GIS Day event at the Hotel Balkan in Sofia.

 

Paris Training Center, Sudan:  750 people attended an event sponsored by the Paris Training Center in Sudan.  The event began with seminars about GIS applications and the importance of GIS in our daily lives, as well as using GIS to achieve sustainable development goals. Workshops were conducted about GIS application with students, followed by a tour of the GIS posters, finishing up with a photo session and musical party.

 

GIS Day in Sudan

GIS Day celebration in Sudan.

 

On the Pakistan-China border:  Survey123 and GIS were celebrated by creating awareness and work the study areas of Himalay, Karakoram, and Pamir.  Students and specialists from different organizations and educators traveled from Islamabad to Khujerab to a point on the China border at 16,000 feet (4,877 m) in elevation. During the journey, tourism points, wildlife species, disaster prone areas, landslide hot spots, check points, and other important points were captured using Survey123. On the border between Pakistan and China, a one-day workshop was conducted.   (Joseph's note:  A beautiful and fascinating place to hold a GIS workshop!).

 

GIS Day on the Pakistan-China border.

Way up high--GIS Day on the Pakistan-China border.

 

Weld County Colorado:  Weld County, the Cities of Greeley and Evans, and the University of Northern Colorado teamed up to organize and invite local middle and high school students for a complete GIS experience. The organizing led by Geography, GIS, and Sustainability Professor Jieun Lee  team created a Zombie Apocalypse Emergency scenario using Survey123, ArcGIS Online (for locating and neutralizing zombies), and an operations dashboard so students can excitingly submerge themselves in GIS experience. Their event was featured in the newspaper The Greeley Tribune.

Weld County GIS Day

Weld County GIS Day 2

Images of Weld County Colorado's GIS Day event.

 

Fayetteville State University, North Carolina:  Organized by Professor of Geospatial Science Dr Trung Vinh Tran, the third Annual GeoWeek and GIS 2019 Fayetteville State University included multiple activities. See the attachment for the program or visit this website. This year's multiple day program included speakers from the City of Fayetteville, Esri, the NGA Support Team – Army, 18th Airborne Corps, FT Bragg, the university History Program, and the Drone company Nine Ten Drones LLC, among others.

 

Clemson University Center for Geospatial Technologies:  Clemson University's GIS events spanned two days, attracted over 100 people, and featured a series of lightning talks, a 3D printed model of campus coloring contest, a VR topographic sandbox, exhibitors, and much more. I participated in the Clemson University event by giving a lightning talk on 5 forces in GIS, 5 trends in GIS, and 5 skills for GIS, meetings with faculty from across the campus to support their work in GIS, and conducting two hands-on workshops for students in spatial analysis in ArcGIS Online and in Business Analyst web.  I was joined by two colleagues, Geoff Taylor and Zemin Dhanani, two proud Clemson alums now working for Esri, and was inspired by everyone I met and learned from.  See attached for flyer for this event.

GIS Day at Clemson University

GIS Day event at Clemson University. 

GIS Day at Clemson University

Painting contest at Clemson University where participants painted 3D models of campus that were printed on a 3D printer and made from UAV imagery. 

GIS Day at Clemson University

The Where in the World map contest at Clemson University was particularly challenging because many of the images were of fictitious places created for movies or books.

 

Central Idaho:   Kara Utter and the Central Idaho GIS User's Group organized this year's GIS Day with raffle prizes sponsored by Esri and other items sponsored by the Northern Rockies Chapter of URISA. The diversity in
backgrounds of attendees provided for great discussion and awesome networking opportunities. Lines of communication were opened between GIS entities throughout the Central Idaho Region from local city and county governments to the US Forest Service, Surveyors and the DOD's Environmental Management Office.  A committee was formed and tasked with determining how multiple jurisdictions can come together and create authoritative datasets.  Enterprise Portal sharing through Sites or ArcGIS Online Sharing through Hub was introduced as a way that they can all collaborate more efficiently.  Ideas for bringing GIS to the classrooms and for the planning of GIS
community projects were discussed, and finally, thank you cards were written and sent to mentors, which was an idea given in the 101 things to do on GIS Day blog essay. 

Central Idaho GIS Day

 

The University of Illinois at Chicago:  Dr Moira Zellner, professor in the department of urban planning and policy and director of the Urban Data Visualization Lab, organized an event at the University of Illinois at Chicago that was held at the Richard J. Daley Library, open to the public, and featured a range of techniques exploring different aspects of Community and Global Disparities. It included a keynote speaker, presentations, a panel, a poster session and competition, and a hands on-workshop. GIS Day brings an opportunity to learn about innovative techniques and impactful applications, and network with others interested in or working on a range of visualization approaches to classwork, research or professional activities.

 

The University of Southern California's Spatial Sciences Institute:  An event organized by Dr Laura Loyola of the Spatial Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California brought Tom Vo to speak at USC's 2019 GIS Day celebration.  The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is charged with creating a dynamic growth vision for Southern California. At SCAG’s Research and Analysis Department, Tom Vo is utilizing GIS to solve local and regional issues and promote more housing, transportation accessibility and sustainability of cities in Southern California.  Andrej (Andy) Rutkowski, of the USC Libraries, in conjunction with the UCLA Institute for Digital Research, organized a USC vs UCLA Battle of the Maps event, where students from both universities mapped areas changed by natural disasters. The focus was on how climate change is impacting the environment and ways a person can make a difference through mapping on Humanitarian OpenStreetMap projects in Tegal Indonesia and in Central Asia.  Collectively, 77 mappers from USC and 68 from UCLA mapped nearly 20,000 buildings!

 

 

USC Map Event for GIS Day.

USC vs UCLA Battle of the Maps! 

 

USC GIS Day event

GIS Day event at the University of Southern California.

Finally, shared by Esri Canada is this GIS Day cake from the land where GIS began--Canada (eh!).

 

GIS Day Cake

Which would you prefer?  Newfoundland or Baffin Island? 

The idea behind Mapillary is a simple but powerful one:  Take photos of a place of interest as you walk, bike, drive, or however else you move across the landscape using the Mapillary mobile app.  The app takes photographs automatically, which you then upload to the Mapillary database.  Once there, they are wonderfully combined into a ground photo view that is a bit like Google’s StreetView, showing you a digital virtual path of how you traversed the landscape.  Mapillary is part of the rapidly growing crowdsourcing citizen science movement, which seeks to generate “volunteered geographic information” content from ordinary citizens.  In fact, Mapillary is helping to generate critical infrastructure and natural resource inventory in places around the world that have no national mapping agency or local GIS data.  Mapillary is therefore helping to create a data-informed citizenry that can more effectively plan resilient, safe, and thriving communities.  As part of the growing set of artificial intelligence tools, Mapillary can also automatically extract map features from images—light poles, trees, benches, curbs, and so on.  While I have written about Mapillary in the past, and regularly include Mapillary in my field workshops, in this essay I wish to provide an update for people already familiar with this tool, and introduce new people to these exciting capabilities.  

 

Mapillary is much more than a set of tools–it is a community, with its own MeetUps and ambassadors, and it is an Esri partner.  At the time of this writing, over 710 million images have been contributed, covering over 8.6 million kilometers.  Currently, the site’s leaderboard shows that the top 50 users have submitted over 1 million images each, with the leader at 18 million images and nearly 300,000 km.  I currently have submitted 2,400 images covering 24 km.  I have a long way to go: Ah!  More fieldwork!

 

There are many uses for Mapillary in education, and I have explored all of the following with students at the secondary, university, and informal education (libraries, museums, after-school clubs) level over the past few years in a wide variety of settings and institutions.  First, I use Mapillary to help students explore places of interest from thousands of users around the world.  The Mapillary map page linked to images allows instructors and students to play sequences of images in a flowing video style that provides a powerful immersive experience of thousands of landscapes and places around the world.  What clues do the vegetation, land use, building type, weather, and place names give about the climate, ecoregions, biomes, history, and culture of the area?  These images and maps can be powerful sources of inquiry, prompting investigations using other sources and drawing on content knowledge in history, environmental studies, geography, earth science, and even language arts, as I explain in this video.

 

To examine the map and images, from the main page, under the Imagery tile, select “Explore coverage.”  A global map will open with the Mapillary data collected shown in green.  For example, if you zoom to Melbourne Australia, you will see a large circular feature that I collected in Royal Park, shown below.  You can see the photographs I took on a fine late winter day as I was walking to the University of Melbourne to teach a GIS workshop.  Look at those fantastic Australian trees!  You can also tick the “Play” button in the image to “travel” around the circle as I did, in your case, virtually, using the images.  Note how each image indicates where on the map it was captured and what direction from straight ahead I took it.  You can also play the sequence in full screen mode with the map in the corner, turn on object detection, or filter the view.  

 

Mapillary image

Try walking along my route through Royal Park in Melbourne by clicking on the forward and backward arrows in the above immersive view collected with Mapillary!

 

Mapillary image

Example set of Mapillary points and images I collected in Royal Park in Melbourne Australia. 

 

Second, I use Mapillary with students in the field to create data, and encourage faculty reading this to do the same with your own students.  You will need to register for a free Mapillary account to do this.  After obtaining your free account, download the Mapillary app for your phone.  You can use this Mapillary app to create photos and maps to document a field trip to your local wetland, rainforest, prairie, or urban neighborhood, and if you cannot get off campus, use the tools to walk every pathway on campus.  The Mapillary app is free and fun to use, and can spark discussions such as “how does the app determine my location?” and “how does the app know what direction I am pointing my phone?”  As you collect tracks, they will be visible on the web map along with the global community’s tracks, and also, your own tracks will be visible as “uploads” on your phone app (shown below).

 

Mapillary image

My set of Mapillary images currently online.

 

For students who become familiar with creating Esri ArcGIS Online maps and Esri Storymaps, Mapillary images can be embedded in these types of multimedia maps.  Start simply by downloading one image from Mapillary, such as mine, here, in Melbourne, using the Download Image while logged into Mapillary:  https://images.mapillary.com/VdjXFuVzWX9Y1se9qN89rA/thumb-2048.jpg Add this into a Map in ArcGIS Online.  Make a story map and experiment with this image.  Or, link to the image online.  See below for example.

 

Mapillary image

Example Mapillary image embedded in a map note in ArcGIS Online.  Try it yourself with my image:  https://images.mapillary.com/VdjXFuVzWX9Y1se9qN89rA/thumb-2048.jpg

 

Mapillary provides map data as a subscription and downloads are requested through Mapillary for Organizations.  Mapillary for Organizations is a workspace that anyone with a Mapillary account can create. Within an organization, there can be multiple individual accounts. Thus, it provides a way to organize capture projects and request data for your area of interest, rather like putting together a team for mapping purposes.  To use data for educational purposes, you should focus on data that you or your students have collected. 

 

You can download your Mapillary map data and bring it into ArcGIS Online.  The data gets extracted as a GeoJSON file, which you can add to your ArcGIS Online map as I will explain below.  Go to your sequence in the web mapping app >  click the three dots in the bottom right corner, as shown below:

 

Mapillary image

The 3 dots on your collected track that allow you to download your data for use in ArcGIS. 

After clicking on the 3 dots, select: > Advanced options" > "Download lines" to get the trace of your track:

 

Mapillary image


Downloading your Mapillary track.

 

After selecting Download Lines, a GeoJSON file will open up in a web browser tab.  Right click somewhere on in the white space where there is no text, and > "save as." Change the filetype to "all files" and then add the ".geojson" extension to the file name. Alternatively, in a web browser where you are displaying the GeoJSON file, copy all of its contents, paste it into Notepad, and name the file appropriately, such as Melbourne_track.geojson.  Your system will likely add “.txt” to the end of the file name.  If so, rename the file and take off the “.txt” extension. 

 

Once you have your GeoJSON file, go to ArcGIS Online > Add Data > Add from file, and point to your geojson file.  Symbolize the tracks in the area on user name so you can determine which track is your own, as I did, below:

 

Mapillary image

Alternatively, you could add your GeoJSON file as a file to your ArcGIS Online content, thereby creating a feature service from it.  Then, you can add it to your map, and filter on the user name to only see your own track, as shown in this web map of mine, here.  Now that it is a feature service, it is an even more powerful layer than simply a map element, that you can now use as input to your spatial analysis tools, such as buffer, overlay, and more. 

 

Next, for enhanced geo-visualization, try bringing your Mapillary track into the 3D scene viewer in ArcGIS Online, as I did here; see below.

Mapillary image

Mapillary track in a Esri ArcGIS 3D scene.

 

Mapillary image

Close up of Mapillary track in 3D scene viewer using a hiker as the symbol.

 

Want to dig deeper?  You can even extract features from the images; see more information here on map features, and the help page about how to bring data to ArcGIS Online.  When you do so, you are using Artificial Intelligence in action!  See an example of features in the benches example below, along with my track.  The benches have been extracted with the Mapillary algorithms from the images on my track.

 

Mapillary image

Example set of Mapillary features in ArcGIS Online.   Mapillary uses computer vision, a form of artificial intelligence, to automatically identify and extract map objects like these benches.

 

Next, use these guidelines to start building story maps with Mapillary sequences.  Essentially you will get the embed code for the Mapillary image, its thumbnail, and the geographic coordinates.  As they are working through the procedures, show them this example set of stories and this story map of a refugee camp for inspiration.

 

Mapillary image

For students who become familiar with using Esri’s Web App Builder, you might also encourage them to try the Mapillary Widget, which allows for the viewing of Mapillary street-level images.

 

I encourage you to use these Mapillary tools to enhance your fieldwork, teach about apps, Web GIS, and crowdsourcing, and to improve the spatial thinking of your students.

 

For more information, see my related essay on the Mapillary blog.  

ArcGIS is a platform, which means that (1) applications can be built upon it, which offer powerful capabilities for educators and students, and (2) the tools within the platform are connected.  When these ArcGIS connected tools are used in tandem, complete experiences are easily realized.  One example is fieldwork:  Planning > Collection > Mapping > Analysis > Communicating > Monitoring.   GIS enhances each step in this process.  The attached activity I created guides you and your students through the following 10 steps: 

  1.  Considering why and how to conduct fieldwork.
  2.  Understanding the scope and purpose of Esri field and office apps.
  3.  Understanding some of the most popular ways to map field-collected data in ArcGIS Online.
  4.  Creating a field survey using one of these apps, Survey123.
  5.  Collecting data into the survey.
  6.  Creating an ArcGIS Online map from the survey data.
  7.  Symbolizing, classifying, and examining the data in the ArcGIS Online map.
  8.  Conducting spatial analysis using the ArcGIS Online map.
  9.  Creating an operations dashboard from the survey data.
  10.  Creating a story map from the ArcGIS Online map, operations dashboard, and survey.

 

This workflow touches several key tools and methods for collecting, mapping, analyzing, and communicating the results of fieldwork.  It is my hope that through this lesson, you will consider what data you would like to collect, and be empowered and confident that you can use these tools in your own work in education and beyond.

 

--Joseph Kerski

 

One of the messages of the activity--don't just map it--analyze it and understand it!

One of the messages of the activity--don't just map your field-collected data--analyze it and understand it!

 

Workshop workflow

Part of the attached lesson showing the workflow that touches on several key tools and methods for collecting, mapping, analyzing, and communicating the results of fieldwork.  

Getting out into the field.

Collecting data in the field is important--plants, animals, weather, soil moisture, water quality, condition of trails, and much more, and can be done through these connected tools in the ArcGIS platform.   Photo by Joseph Kerski.

As I frequently give short courses and presentations focused on GIS in education, and as I receive requests for this content on a regular basis from the education community, I thought it would be helpful to post a collection of my most recent content here.  

 

Why GIS in Education Matters:  My presentation with a research focus.

Why GIS in Education Matters:  Article in Geospatial World.

History of GIS in K12 Education:  Article in xyHT magazine

 

Short course on useful apps in teaching and learning and 10 things you can do with ArcGIS Online.

Short course on ways you can teach with modern web-based GIS tools and data. 

Short course on 10 key skills to grow in ArcGIS Online.  

Short course on fieldwork > map > analysis > storymap > operations dashboard. 

 

Presentation on what geography is and why geography matters.

Presentation on why data quality matters more now than ever.

Presentation on the modern web GIS paradigm.

 

Presentation and short course on exploring your world through geography and beyond.

The Lakota Language Story Map and the reasons it was created.

The storymaps and the digital humanities collection.

 

Short course on GIS for beginners and intermediates.

Short course on predicting the weather.

Short course on fieldwork > map > analysis > storymap > operations dashboard. 

 

Short course on story maps - slides and short activities - the #2 link here. 

Short course on story maps - detailed activity.

 

Keynote address on 5 forces, 5 trends, and 5 skills critical in GIS as we look to the 2020s. 

Keynote address on geography--key for resilient communities and a healthy planet.

 

Lifelong learning

I hope and trust that these items will be useful in your own work.  Feel free to use and modify them and I look forward to hearing how you have used these resources. 

 

--Joseph Kerski

 

 

One of the educators I have been working with over the years, Mark Bushman, at Denver Public Schools, works tirelessly to develop ecoliteracy in young students with the use of GIS technology.  An example of their work can be seen in the following richly detailed story map, one of the most powerful stories I have ever seen highlighting the work of young students:

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=c314079720964f2c8685e97c81531016

 

The projects -- most from Grade 2 (8 year-old) students, are fascinating on many levels – (1) They incorporate fieldwork and map trees, birds, and much more; (2) They wonderfully combine art, science, geography, and other subjects.  (3) Rather than having to be "busy" the entire duration of the project, they spend time thinking and reflecting. (4) They engage young students in conducting research.  (5)  They embrace intercultural teaching.  (6)  They use a combination of tools and develop a variety of skills--GIS, writing, sketching, observing, and much more.  (7)  The project includes a citizen science component (eBird) and a community service component (building and deploying bird houses).  (8)  The teacher incorporates the work into a research project with some fascinating findings about the effectiveness of this ecoliteracy project and the utility of using GIS within it. 

 

Upon Mark's invitation, I had the pleasure of visiting this school to teach a workshop on mapping technologies.  The students and their teachers whom I met were just as inspiring in person as their story map shows.  I salute them and encourage you to consider and incorporate some of what they have done, combining it with your own interests and setting to make these tools and methods work for you. 

 

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Ecoliteracy project.

Additional screen shots from the ecoliteracy story map.

Esri and the GLOBE program (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment - www.globe.gov) have been working together on initiatives and educator training for decades.  Globe was one of the first major education-focused citizen science programs, and it offers a wealth of data on soil chemistry, water quality, weather, and much more, as well as rigorously tested methods to have your students collect and contribute data, and a network of educators with which to collaborate.  Recently, two GLOBE educators asked me to conduct a webinar for their educators and students, and I documented the highlights in this video.  I have written about this topic before, documented on the GLOBE site here, and as an essay in GeoNet here, but in this recent webinar, I expanded and updated these explanations to include what I consider to include key elements of a project-based workflow:  (1) Obtaining the data > (2) mapping the data > (3)  Analyzing the data, and > (4) creating communications tools from the data.

 

To gather citizen science data, you can use the Globe Observer app, iNaturalist, Survey123 from Esri, or another app.  You can use probes such as those from Pasco, Hanna Instruments, Vernier, or another company; or you can even go "old school" and use clipboards and pencils.  I believe all of these tools have value in education, and in this essay, I describe 6 ways to gather and map your field data.  The most important thing is that you end up with a spreadsheet of data, generated from your app or probe, or one you generate yourself from your clipboard notes.   This spreadsheet becomes the "I", or "Information", part of your GIS. The spreadsheet needs to contain some sort of location, such as street address, or ideally, latitude-longitude values.  In the video and webinar I obtained the data from the Advanced Data Access Tool (GLOBE Advanced Data Access Tools ) and selected the region, time frame, and theme--in my case, mosquito larvae data.  Download the data; in the case of GLOBE data, it is offered as a CSV (Comma Separated Value) table. Oftentimes, data tables need to be edited slightly for ease of use in your mapping software.  In my case, I brought the data into Excel, I removed the second header line, as only one is required, removed extraneous records at the end of the table, and formatted the numeric data for be "integer" or "floating point" numbers as needed.  Once done, I saved the spreadsheet as a CSV file, shown below, linked here, and attached if you would like to use it. 

 

Globe data table

 

Now for the fun and fascinating part!  In ArcGIS Online (www.arcgis.com), I signed in to my organizational subscription, went to my content, and added the CSV, creating a feature service from the data.  After giving it some tags and other metadata so that I could more easily find it later, and if I share it, so others could be more informed about my data, I then opened up the feature service in the map viewer. Once in the map viewer, I can now symbolize the points by elevation, date collected, number of eggs found, whether larvae were found or not, and on other fields in my data table.  I could make a heat map showing density of the collected points. I can also change the base map and zoom into and study specific locations on a satellite image, or at a regional or national scale, add data such as precipitation, ecoregions, population density, river systems, or other layers from ArcGIS Online and the Living Atlas of the World.  I can add fields, sort fields, and select specific data points to study further.  While doing all this, I am thinking about patterns, relationships, and trends of my data.  I can also use the spatial analysis tools, such as proximity, map overlay, routing, creating maps of statistical significant difference, and summarizing.  In my case, for example, I added a point as a map note on Minneapolis St Paul, and then summarized the number of data points within 250 km of that location.   Once done, I saved and shared my map and layers so others can examine them.  See screen shot below and also this link for the map

 

Map in ArcGIS Online of Globe Mosquito Data

Map in ArcGIS Online of Globe Mosquito Data.

 

Next, I created communications tools from this data.  Many such tools exist, and I chose to focus on story maps and operations dashboards.  The ones I created are shown below and linked here (story map) (Operations Dashboard).  ArcGIS story maps are multimedia web mapping applications, and Esri Operations Dashboards allow you to create graphs, maps, widgets, and other tools for you to monitor your data in real-time.  These were straightforward to make--once I shared the data in ArcGIS Online, I selected these two tools, choosing a map series story map, with different tabs showing different attributes of the data.  In my operations dashboard, I created a gauge that pointed to the number of points currently in my data set, along with the ArcGIS Online map, and graphs indicating where the mosquitos were found and if eggs were discovered.  If I add to my map in the future, the data in my dashboard automatically updates. 

 

Story map of Globe mosquito data

Series story map of Globe Data showing spatial analysis results.

 

Operations Dashboard of Globe data.

Operations Dashboard of Globe Data.

 

I encourage you to do even more wonderful things with spatial data, such as that from citizen science portals including Globe.gov, and elsewhere, to better understand the patterns, relationships, and trends, and to consider how you can contribute to the scientific community through your efforts!

My colleagues and I have had numerous inquiries over the years from educators asking, "How do I teach a specific topic with the expanding variety of web GIS tools and data sets?" and these inquiries also exist on GeoNet, in the National Geographic educators network, and elsewhere.  Let's take one specific example, a set of resources I sent to an educator who is putting together units on the history, colonialization, and geography of Africa for her social studies course.  My list of 10 tools included the following:

  1. Examine the interactive David Rumsey 1787 map of Africa:   Discuss:  How much detail was included? What was left off?  What lands did local people know about? https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=d00c929a180b43fa9cc3ea32892edbbc     Then examine the 1790 Cassini map cast on an Esri 3D globe:  https://ralucanicola.github.io/JSAPI_demos/cassini-globe/  Discuss the differences between the 1787 and the 1790 maps.  What modern countries occupy where “Nubia” and “Abissinia” were in the past?
  2. Study the ecological tapestry map. In Africa, compare the bioclimates, landforms, rock type, land cover:  https://livingatlas.arcgis.com/ecoexplorer/   For more on ecological units, see story map: https://story.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=dc91db9f6409462b887ebb1695b9c201&webmap=dd6f7f93d54341a69a47002696cf5744 
  3. Examine the Esri international migration map in the "cool maps" gallery:   https://coolmaps.esri.com/#10    Examine the metadata:  Where did the data come from?  What time periods does it cover?  How accurate is the data?  Stop the animation.  Select South Africa and examine incoming and outgoing migration over the 5 time periods.  Compare to another country in Africa, noting the differences in numbers and spatial patterns.  How many emigrate to the USA from each country?  Change to Somalia and discuss reasons the total numbers are so much lower and why outgoing is much more than incoming.  Discuss challenges there (food security, political instability) and what causes people to decide to stay vs what causes them to emigrate, and - what hinders them from emigrating.
  4. Access the Esri Water Balance app:  https://livingatlas.arcgis.com/waterbalance/  Go to > “precipitation” >  compare regions in Africa, especially Sahara versus the topical regions.   Change to “soil moisture” and discuss relationship.  Change to “snowpack” – make sure graph is on Monthly Normal.  Does it snow anywhere in Africa?  Go to Atlas Mountains in Morocco and then examine Mt Kilimanjaro on the Kenya Tanzania border where some snow exists (for now, anyway, but perhaps not in the future).  Supplement this activity with the seasonal change in snow cover map and animation, that I describe in detail, here:  Seasonal Changes in Snow Cover Map.  
  5. Go to ArcGIS Online (www.arcgis.com) and search for Baltimore Maryland.  Pan north and south along the east coast of the USA, noting the abundance of harbors.  Then search for Mombassa Kenya.  Pan in both directions along the coast and note the absence of good harbors, with Mombassa being one exception, and discuss the implications of the lack of harbors and the table-land geography of Africa, and the implications on the patterns and amount of exploration and development and colonialism.
  6. Use MapMaker Interactive from National Geographic:  https://mapmaker.nationalgeographic.org/#/    Add data > add climate, language diversity, religion.  Discuss language and religion influence from colonialism and other forces.  Show legend and discuss the patterns, relationships, and trends. 
  7. Go to Google Maps, and zoom to Kenyatta Ave & Uhuru Hwy, in Nairobi > Street View (drag street view person to map) > discuss influence of the British colonialism on:  architecture, the roundabout, the side of the street people are driving on, the manicuring of the parks, and more.  Examine French and other colonial influences elsewhere in Africa.  Where StreetView does not exist, you can use the Mapillary citizen-science generated images on www.mapillary.com.  
  8. Study the pattern and amount of urban growth in Cairo using the Esri Wayback imagery app:  https://livingatlas.arcgis.com/wayback/ > go to Great Pyramids >  Check “only updates with local changes > pan to the area to the west of the pyramids, observing  the 2014 to 2018 changes. Discuss the implications of urban growth on society, schools, and natural resources.  Using the same app, examine the impact of urban growth in Tunis, Lagos, Johannesburg, and selected small villages of your choice.  Using the same app, determine if you can detect other changes on the landscape, whether from political instability, expansion of agriculture or energy exploration, encroachment of the Sahara on the Sahel, tourism infrastructure growth, the impact of national parks and preserves on the return of forested land, and other changes.  
  9.  Use a selection of the GeoInquiries collections to investigate physical and cultural themes in Africa:   GeoInquiries | Standards-Based Inquiry Activities for Teaching Map-Based Content .  For example, examine population growth as part of the "Growing Pains" unit under the World History collections.  These lessons were built for primary and secondary school instructors, but if you are instructing at the university level, you can still use the interactive maps tied to these lessons and insert your own questions. 
  10. Investigate the world's largest cities, including those in Africa, via the 3D ArcGIS Globes here:  Get creative with globe visualizations . Next, examine global population density and compare to world cities.  Why are zones sparsely populated in Africa a short distance away from heavily populated zones, such as in Nigeria and in Egypt?  Next, examine the population density filter tool on the same site and slide the filter tool so that you are only examining high density population areas across the continent.  What are the physical, cultural, and historical reasons for the population settlement patterns in Africa? 

These maps, data layers, tools, and questions can be applied to other areas of the world, as well.  By using these tools in a problem-solving, inquiry-driven educational environment, students become investigators, thinking spatially and critically, and asking even deeper questions than the ones posed here.  

 

How are you using these tools in your courses and classrooms? 

 

Ecological Land Units of AfricaEcological Land Units map focused on central Africa.

I invite you to explore the Community Walkability map I created, here:

https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/1e4847f78ec94fd89e960adfabb5ac5c

 

This is a new ArcGIS storymap, and it also includes a button linked to a survey (created with Survey123), plus an Operations Dashboard that provides real-time information on what has been thus far collected. The message I wish to convey through the creation of this resource is that the combination of these connected tools, all part of the ArcGIS platform, offers amazing capabilities. I have created a video on these procedures, here.

 

Feel free to contribute to this map, ideally, along with a photo, in your own community or another place you have visited.   As you do so, think about the kinds of things YOU and your students, colleagues, stakeholders, friends and family in your communities could be collecting, mapping, and analyzing with these same tools—water quality, graffiti or blight, weather, noise, albedo, types and amount of trash, cell phone signal, historical points of interest, tree height/species/condition, pedestrian or traffic counts, and much more.  Start with these procedures, presented as a story map, that will guide you through the process. 

 

Walkability images submitted to the storymap.

A selection of walkability images submitted to the storymap.

Walkability storymap.

Static screenshot of the walkability map as it appeared in late August 2019; look for more points on the above storymap link, and I encourage you to submit your own point. 

Operations Dashboard of walkability data.

Static screenshot of the walkability operations dashboard as it appeared in September 2019. 

Are you new to GIS, or spatial technology?  

Do you want to improve your spatial technology skills?

A new online course created by an educator FOR educators - and students - is now available online (click here for more)!

 

What is spatial technology?

Spatial technology is about measuring and representing the world using innovative and high-tech tools. Using spatial technology such as GPS, GIS and Remote Sensing, spatial information can be collected and analysed from the ground, the air, and from space. This information can be used in hundreds of different applications ranging from natural hazard mitigation to modelling the effects of climate change.  

 

What does this course offer?

This extensive course (Module 4: Spatial Technology) provides:

  • Professional learning on the use and application of spatial thinking and spatial technologies in Geography teaching and learning, including:  an in-depth study of key themes and issues of the 21st Century:
    • change over space and time, scale, coordinate systems, systems, spatial thinking.
    • ocean currents, ocean health, and ocean structure.
    • land use, land cover, ecoregions, and biomes.
    • human health, demographics, and population change.
    • energy sources and river systems
    • weather and climate.
    • natural hazards (wildfires, hurricanes, and tsunamis).
    • urban greenways, mapping your campus, field data collection.
  • Hands-on investigations, readings, 25 videos, quizzes.
  • Instructional material focused on the use and application of spatial technology tools, including:
  • Survey123 for field data collection,
  • Story Maps and other web mapping applications,
  • ArcGIS Online,
  • Google maps, NASA Earth Observatory, Gapminder, and other tools. 
  • with options for extensions and deeper learning.Collage of course quizzes, hands-on work, readings, and videos.Selection of course quizzes, hands-on work, readings, and videos.

Who should enroll?

The options provided in this course make it suitable for:

  • Geography teachers who require basic grounding in geography themes and foundations or who wish to improve their spatial technology skills.
  • Educators in earth and life sciences, environmental sciences, history, and computer technologies who seek to infuse spatial technology and spatial thinking into their courses. 

When is the course available?

This course can be completed at any time over any time period. There are a number of required tasks for satisfactory completion.  

Who created the course?

The course was created by Joseph Kerski, PhD GISP, a geographer with 30 years of experience in geography and GIS education, working in close collaboration with the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria.  While some of the places studied focus on Australia, many other areas of the world are examined, and you can use all of the ideas presented in the course to study your OWN community, region, and country.

Time and Price

Estimated 20–25 hours to complete the required tasks.   Price: Australian $250. 

Certificate

A certificate is provided on completion of the formal assessment for this course.  This is module 4 in the Certificate of Geography Competency.  You can take Spatial Technology as a stand-alone course OR you can take this course along with the 4 others in the Geography Competency certificate.  But note that there is no requirement to complete the other modules.

 

Course Structure

1. An introduction to Geospatial technologies.

2. Using spatial technology in Geography.

3. Analysing change over space and time.

4. Exploring regions.

5. Mapping your own data.

6. Analysis and synthesis.

7. Formal assessment.

One of the videos in the course video playlist, describing what Spatial Technologies are and why they are relevant and exciting for educational use. 

 

Why the GTAV?

This course is offered through the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria, Australia (GTAV), one of the world's preeminent geography education professional societies.  Esri, Esri Australia, and GTAV have been partnering to further geographic content and skills for educators for a number of years.  By taking this course through GTAV, you have the advantage of networking with some truly inspiring educators, and you have the support of all of these organizations to provide you with advice and/or any technical support you might need along the way. 

For Further Information

See the information on www.gtav-ecourses.asn.au, contact the author of this blog Joseph Kerski (jkerski@esri.com),  peruse the set of videos here, comment below, or contact the GTAV office

GTAV course sequence


During 2017, I met with Michelle Ellington after hearing about her from my Esri colleague George “Geo” Dailey. Geo told me that Michelle was one of the most stellar campus facilities administrators he had ever met, but even this high praise did not prepare me for the amazing work that Michelle showed me when I visited her office at the University of Kentucky. Imagine having the job of managing the best way to create, maintain, and network all of the infrastructure on a major university campus — every light pole, water main, fiber optic cable, sidewalk, tree, exterior door, and much more. That’s what Michelle and her team do, day by day. Meeting her staff, it was immediately apparent that Michelle is one of those rare leaders who inspires everyone to be their absolute best, and no matter what their role, they feel that they are a critical part of the team. The innovative tools and methods they are using are helping make the university more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable. Therefore, it is my great pleasure to introduce Michelle to you, and, through her story, inspire you to make a positive difference on your campus or wherever you happen to be. 

Michelle’s position is, in my view, one of those “unsung hero” types of positions on a campus.  How did she gain the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill all of her responsibilities? Michelle said, “I’m currently the GIS coordinator for the University of Kentucky Facilities Information Services as well as the president for the Campus FM Technology Association. I worked in the private sector for seven years before coming to UK and am a past president of the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals. Folks in the campus GIS world or Kentucky mapping community are my people and we are a tight group. I enjoy serving in leadership positions for professional non-profit organizations because it connects me closer with people who are passionate about the work they do. I love the CFTA community specifically because everyone so freely exchanges information. There’s a like-minded viewpoint shared across CFTA where everyone wins if we all work together and collectively share our successful strategies and implementations.”

Image
Michelle Ellington, Facilities Manager, University of Kentucky. 

What convinced Michelle to enter this field? “I was living in Alaska in my early 20’s (late 1990’s) in between college years, alpine trekking near Valdez,” she said. “We were using a GPS in whiteout conditions for wayfinding, and I just thought it was a powerful technology. When I went back to school at the University of Georgia, I asked my anthropology professor, Dr. Garrison, if he knew about GPS technology and had any recommendation on what I could do with it upon graduation. He steered me to the university’s Information Technology Outreach Services, and there I landed my first GIS job digitizing lakes to the Georgia base map for the Department of Transportation. Since then, I have worked for engineering and photogrammetry firms using GIS in a variety of applications until I found my home at the University of Kentucky in 2006.”

“A little over a year ago we hired a young woman and fellow alumni from UGA. She is an anthropology graduate, like me, and Dr. Garrison was an inspirational teacher to her as well. She is doing great work in our department and doesn’t have a GIS degree either. GIS is an over-arching technology with unlimited potential and I believe it could be taught across multiple college curriculums. As a hiring official, I’m typically not swayed to hire someone with a GIS degree over someone without. I seek individuals who are technical, methodical, see relationships and patterns, spot anomalies, as well as those who are flexible to adapt to the ever-changing advancements in geospatial technologies.”

I asked Michelle, “What one person, class, or topic most inspired you during your career?” She said, “Without question, my supervisor, Andrew Blues, FIS associate director, is my biggest professional inspiration. I feel fortunate that Andrew has been my mentor for over 10 years. He inspires me to believe that I am the “best in the world” as the GIS coordinator for the University of Kentucky ([see the] Hedgehog Concept from the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins). He brought lean management principles into my life, which is the foundation of how our department works and why I believe FIS has received several local and international awards. He is a gifted mentor and continues to support me immensely with all I do. A great mentor does not tell you what you want to hear; they see your potential, sharpen you, and encourage you to find your best and work to achieve it. I’m very thankful for Andrew in my life and hope he will continue to mentor me for many more years to come.”

What project is Michelle the proudest of being a part? “There was one significant project that put us on the map as a leader in GIS floor plan mapping. In 2008, we partnered with a contractor to develop the UK GIS Facilities Management System for a new UK hospital, Pavilion A. We went from a vision to successful deployment of an enterprise GIS interior space mapping application used to facilitate the occupancy of a 16-floor 1.2 million square foot Level 1 Trauma Center. The GISFMS had an interactive map interface and dynamically generated Room Data Sheets used to track move-in. The RDS showed where the space was in the building and listed all technologies, furniture, and equipment present in each room. Each RDS was posted to the door of its associated room and assets were checked off in the system until occupancy was complete. This application was well received within the GIS community and in 2011 we received an Esri Vision Award at the Esri Health Conference followed by the Esri Special Achievement in GIS Award in 2012.”

“GIS floor plan mapping wasn’t as pervasive in 2008 as it is now, so we were definitely a leader in this new space. Our application was built off the Flex API so, unfortunately, the GISFMS application died off once Apple’s iOS took hold of the mobile market, but that’s just the price of being on the bleeding edge of technology. Back then, we could take these kinds of risks because it was pretty much just Andrew and me supporting a few projects while building a GIS service area, whereas today we have about 30 employees and three distinct teams in our department. FIS is now a recharge unit that services many customers across multiple UK areas so we have to be more selective when choosing large, high-risk project opportunities that come our way. The experience gained from the GISFMS project, along with Andrew’s leadership, has inspired a belief that we are successful innovators. This mindset has now become part of our department’s DNA.”

“The second project I’m extremely proud of is the Miller Fork rock climbing guidebook that my husband, Ray, and I self-published. We’ve both been rock climbing for over 20 years and Ray has authored many editions of the Red River Gorge Climbing guidebooks since 2005. In 2014, his publisher unexpectedly passed, so we decided to create an innovative guidebook for a new climbing area with a couple of friends. The book is filled with GPS surveyed 3D maps, analytical charts and graphs, eye candy illustrations, professional photography, and Ray’s reputable route descriptions. I developed much of the content and coordinated the entire project from beginning to end in under six months while working a full-time job. It was an extremely challenging and fulfilling project and I definitely think there will be more self-publishing in my future. My husband and I are outdoor enthusiasts with a passion for technology so documenting our recreational activity information in databases is a fun hobby.”

What does Michelle feel is the most important thing we, the geographic community, need to work on? “I think the most important thing every community needs to work on is learning how to be more efficient so we can use our time more wisely to accomplish great things and enjoy life to its fullest (work-life balance). Everyone is so busy! I don’t feel busy; I definitely have a lot of things in motion but I rely on the Lean strategies I’ve learned to create successful plans and accomplish goals. Being a student of Lean for many years has taught me to “be good to my future self” by documenting all my work and developing systems that are self-servicing so I don’t have to always be accountable for their upkeep. Nearly everything I do is standardized, documented, and taught to others with the hopes of growing them into future leaders. I welcome anyone to contact me to learn more about Lean and how it makes life easier, more rewarding, and promotes success.”

What is Michelle’s advice to a new geographer, surveyor, or GIS professional? “My advice would be to focus on the term “geospatial” instead of “GIS.” Our community and industry is not just one technology, tool, or software application. To be successful as a geospatial professional today you must be aware of all the many components and how they integrate. You also must be disciplined and flexible enough to learn new systems and quickly dive into new technologies instead of staying anchored into something just because you’re good at it. Also, join professional non-profit organizations and volunteer to help them meet their mission and goals. Through helping the industry in this way, you will exponentially grow as a professional and make meaningful relationships along the way.”

Michelle also shared this quote, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

To read about more of these "geoinspirations", see my column in Directions Magazine.  This column is published every two months; some are in text format and others are in podcast format.  Enjoy and be inspired! 

I am pleased to announce that a new book that I am co-author and co-editor on has been published by CRC Press, entitled Spatial Thinking in Environmental Contexts--Maps, Archives, and Timelines.  My co-authors and I refer to it as "GeoMAT".  For a brief video about the book, see this link.  Spatial Thinking in Environmental Contexts: Maps, Archives, and Timelines cultivates the spatial thinking "habit of mind" as a critical geographical view of how the world works, including how environmental systems function, and how we can approach and solve environmental problems using maps, archives, and timelines. The work explains why spatial thinking matters as it helps readers to integrate a variety of methods to describe and analyze spatial/temporal events and phenomena in disparate environmental contexts. It weaves together maps, GIS, timelines, and storytelling as important strategies in examining concepts and procedures in analyzing real-world data and relationships. The work thus adds significant value to qualitative and quantitative research in environmental (and related) sciences.   

GeoMAT book cover.

Cover of book Spatial Thinking in Environmental Contexts: Maps, Archives, and Timelines.   

 

The book features:

 

    • Written by internationally renowned experts known for taking complex ideas and finding accessible ways to more broadly understand and communicate them.
    • Includes real-world studies explaining the merging of disparate data in a sensible manner, understandable across several disciplines.
    • Unique approach to spatial thinking involving animated maps, 3D maps, GEOMATs, and story maps to integrate maps, archives, and timelines—first across a single environmental example and then through varied examples.
    • Merges spatial and temporal views on a broad range of environmental issues from traditional environmental topics to more unusual ones involving urban studies, medicine, municipal/governmental application, and citizen-scientist topics.
    • Provides easy to follow step-by-step instructions to complete tasks; no prior experience in data processing is needed.

 

Here are more details:    Reference - 224 Pages - 271 B/W Illustrations | ISBN 9781138631854 - CAT# K32082

 

Who could benefit from this book?  Researchers in a wide variety of fields, but all of whom want to understand what spatio-temporal thinking is and how it can be incorporated, instructors who want to teach with the exciting tools and data sets available through the WebGIS paradigm (such as ArcGIS Online, story maps, Operations Dashboards, Survey123, and more), the "curious general public" who are intrigued by mapping tools and want to explore them, and finally, all who are keenly aware of the challenges we face as a 21st Century society and want to take positive steps to raise awareness of them and solve them.

 

I look forward to hearing your reactions to the book!  

 

--Joseph Kerski

Collage of GeoMAT book images.

A selection of images from the book.

I highly recommend investigating the amazing and beautiful new National Geographic map in teaching, learning, and beyond.  This is one of the rapidly expanding set of vector tile maps available to you, and this one presents different wonders and delights at different scales.  At smaller scales, a new cached base layer has been created, the National Geographic Style Base. It blends our multi-directional hillshade with a specially prepared version of the Esri/USGS Ecophysiographic Land Units Map. For more information on the science behind ELUs, see this link. At mid-scales, the ELUs give way to a single tone land color. The hillshade continues into large scale, matching the coverage seen on other basemaps such as Topographic.  To find out more about this map, see this essay from my colleague at Esri:   https://www.esri.com/arcgis-blog/products/arcgis-living-atlas/mapping/meet-the-national-geographic-style-basemap/  

 

To access the map, you have two options:

 

  1.  Later this year, the National Geographic basemap will be added to the basemaps default gallery.  At the moment, in ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Pro, you need to add both the National Geographic STYLE and the National Geographic Style BASE from the Living Atlas (see graphic below).  Note that this map is different from the one that has existed for years in ArcGIS Online (which is the National Geographic World Map).   

 Using the National Geographic new basemap.

2.  Another option to use it is to open the following map in ArcGIS Online:

https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=f33a34de3a294590ab48f246e99958c9

This map contains both of the above 2 map items in a combined format, and is shown below.

Using the National Geographic new basemap, 2.

  

--Joseph Kerski

3 new lessons are now available, designed to foster inquiry, spatial thinking, and work with real data to understand our world that you are welcome to use and modify.  I wrote these lessons specifically aimed at the secondary/university level students, as well as for faculty, but you can modify them for more advanced students and also for those at younger ages.   Note:  I modified the GIS for Beginners lessons improved during September 2019.

 

In the first lesson, Change over Space and Time, you will explore themes that are near and dear to the heart of just about everyone who loves geography, history, earth and environmental science, and other disciplines, and examining change spatially and temporally is key to why GIS is such a powerful framework and toolkit.  In this lesson, you will explore Landsat imagery, Sentinel-2 satellite imagery, and historical imagery; you will study migration at different scales, the Human Development Index, create a swipe map, and create a time-enabled animation map.  All the while, you will build your GIS skills in querying, sorting tables, writing Arcade expressions, creating web mapping applications, and more.  

 

In the second lesson, GIS for Beginners, as the name implies, you will quickly, gently but powerfully, be immersed in about 10 key tasks.  If you become familiar with these tasks, such as creating, saving, and sharing maps, opening tables, symbolizing, classifying, and adding data, you can do most anything in GIS.   This lesson provides you and your students with an opportunity to conduct spatial analysis, including summarizing data, buffering, creating walk times, and creating routes. 

 

In the third lesson, Teaching and Learning with the Esri Living Atlas of the World, you will dig deep into this rapidly expanding library of content, including its data layers, maps, and apps.  You will not only use political, population, environmental, and historical data, but you will also discover how to join your own content to the Living Atlas, which opens up innumerable new possibilities for spatial thinking, access to data, and analysis.  This lesson is a prelude to a more extensive course that I am creating with my Esri colleague, which we will publish later this year via the Esri Training site.

 

I have provided these lessons as attachments to this essay in PDF format, but also as Word Documents so that you can modify these lessons to suit your own needs. I have also provided the introductory slides for your use as PDF files.  I will be teaching these lessons in hands-on mode (the best way to teach them!) at the 2019 Esri Education Summit, but you are welcome to use them anytime.  Have fun with them!  I look forward to your reactions. 

 

 

Just a few of the maps and data sets you can explore in these lessons.

Just a few of the maps and data sets you can explore through these lessons. 

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