Author: Christina Nemphos

Maryland GIS Training Program a Success

As we approach the two year anniversary of delivering training for DoIT’s Statewide GIS Training Program, the Center for GIS at Towson University is proud to have trained over 600 Maryland State employees from 32 different agencies! In collaboration with WBCM and Salisbury University, the Center for GIS developed curriculum and are currently delivering three GIS courses. These courses feature lectures, demos, and guided exercises using data and resources from MD iMAP and Maryland’s Open Data Portal. For more information about the specifics of the training program, check here, or my previous blog post. Courses include: Thinking Spatially, Half Day (Also available online!) Intermediate ArcGIS...

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2016 Esri User Conference Recap

Last week, my coworker Ashley Buzzeo and I were fortunate enough to join over 16,000 GIS practitioners and enthusiasts from 138 countries at the Esri User Conference in San Diego. The conference runs for a full week and is packed with speakers, sessions, workshops, social events, an expo center, and a huge map gallery. The Esri User Conference kicked off with a plenary session hosted by Esri President and Founder, Jack Dangermond. With big announcements, guests, and a keynote speaker the plenary was an inspiring start to the week. This year’s theme of “GIS – Enabling a Smarter World”...

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MD iMAP and Maryland GIS Training Program

Over the past decade, the State of Maryland has continued to expand available GIS data and spatial resources through the MD iMAP program. More recently, a statewide licensing agreement with GIS software leader Esri has allowed state employees to access traditional ArcGIS Desktop software as well as browser-based ArcGIS Online software. Along with the continued growth of cloud computing technology, these factors put Maryland in a great position to offer effective GIS training to its employees. As GIS professionals, we recognize the strategic value of tapping into the spatial dimension of data, and are excited to collaborate with the...

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Esri Maps for Office: Empowering Libraries With GIS Technology

Last year, through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries program, and a partnership with the Eastern Shore Regional Library and the TU Library, TU’s Center for GIS started to explore possibilities for mapping library data and putting GIS decision-making tools into the hands of library planners. To check out the results from our library administrators’ focus group, see my previous post. Using Esri Maps for Office The outcomes of the focus group were used to develop a GIS pilot for staff from two Eastern Shore library systems to map their own data and explore available data pertaining to their local communities. Ultimately we decided to use the Esri Maps for Office plug-in for Excel for several key reasons. As a plug-in for Excel, Maps for Office offers a focused set of tools that are accessed from within Excel. Users can geocode address information from spreadsheets, create interactive color-coded maps and heat maps, and perform other geospatial operations using the Maps for Office toolbar. These maps can be overlaid with additional information (e.g., median household income, locations of Maryland schools) by adding hosted web map services from Esri or MD iMAP. In addition to mapping, Esri Maps for Office also allows users the ability to generate customized reports using a specified distance or drive-time from a library branch location. There are approximately 40...

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CGIS Student Employees Solve Real-World Problems Using GIS

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system used to capture and display different types of data on one map. With GIS technology, anyone can compare the locations of different things to show how they relate to one another. GIS can enhance the productivity, efficiency, and sustainability of any organization. Towson University’s Center for GIS (CGIS) is a highly qualified professional organization that has been helping governmental agencies, businesses, and non-profits gain cost-effective access to the power of GIS since the early 1990s. Alex Mikulski (seated in photo) and Luis Resh (standing in photo) have been working as...

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Using Tableau for Strategic Planning

This winter, staff from the Center for GIS and RESI took on a data visualization project for the Johns Hopkins University and the associated anchor institution strategy entitled Homewood Community Partners Initiative (HCPI). The partnership is built around stakeholder engagement with the vision of a “vibrant urban center,” a “livable community,” and ongoing community projects in ten neighborhoods and one commercial district surrounding the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus. The TU team selected Tableau business intelligence software for the project. Tableau is focused on “making databases and spreadsheets understandable” and allows for the creation of charts, tables, and maps that are dynamic and interactive. For this effort, HCPI wanted to create themed dashboards that reflect the conditions, trends, and progress toward goals in several focus areas: public education, commercial development, the housing market, quality of life, and JHU community influence. HCPI plans to use these dashboards to share information with their partners and as an aid in planning and decision-making. To build these dashboards, our team collected and processed data from a variety of sources such as the American Community Survey (Census), Baltimore City Department of Planning, Open Baltimore, the Maryland State Department of Education, and several HCPI partner organizations. Although the dashboards feature far more charts than maps, GIS played an integral role in the project. In many cases, we obtained tabular data for Baltimore City or Maryland and...

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TUgis 2015 Conference Recap

With a record number 600 total attendees from private enterprise, education, the non-profit sector, and all levels of government, the TUgis 2015 conference began with several exciting plenary speakers. Towson University’s interim president, Dr. Timothy Chandler and Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford delivered opening remarks. Rutherford shared the Hogan administration’s plans to integrate StateStat into business improvement processes, and implement geospatial technology as a part of the newly established Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force. Keynote speaker, Dr. Christopher Tucker of the MapStory Foundation, gave a highly engaging presentation on how humanity’s perspective on change over time (and space)...

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Placing Geospatial Technology in the Hands of Library Administrators

Through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries program, and a partnership with the Eastern Shore Regional Library and the TU Library, TU’s Center for GIS has begun to explore possibilities for mapping library data and putting GIS decision-making tools into the hands of library planners. If you’re new to GIS, here’s a brief explanation. In October, staff from TU’s Center for GIS (CGIS), along with Deborah Nolan, TU’s Dean of University Libraries, met with representatives from nearly every Eastern Shore county library system to discuss challenges, data, and ideas for using spatial data to assist in library planning, development and outreach. One of the most compelling outcomes from this focus group session was the commitment of these library professionals to providing educational opportunities and outreach to underserved communities in their areas. Access to spatial data was of particular interest here, not only for the potential to discover populations not currently using library services, but also to learn more about local segments of the community and the types of resources and classes that would be relevant. The group felt that potential exists to employ GIS data and tools to: Get a more comprehensive picture of the needs and wants of the community See where customers are coming from and see where to target outreach Plan for future research database investments, collections, and branch...

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