Introducing GIS and Locational Data to Towson University Marketing Students

Did you know that where you live gives marketing professionals a good idea of your lifestyle, demographics, and other consumer preferences to assist in targeted marketing strategies? Where you live can reveal what you like to buy, who you are, and even help marketing professionals create a profile that define those that live around you based on similar tastes and behavior. I was recently invited to present to Professor Trevor Iles’ Principles of Marketing course in TU’s College of Business and Economics on the use of GIS technology and spatial data to support targeted marketing analysis. Visualizing customer data...

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Division Staff Present Work at Esri User Conference

Each year Esri, the global leader in GIS technology and spatial analytics software, hosts the Esri User Conference. For the past several years Center for GIS staff members have attended. It is always a great experience. Not only does it take place in sunny San Diego, we are able to learn new best practices, hear fantastic presentations from inspirational speakers, and connect with other GIS pros from around the globe. This year, two of my colleagues attended and presented on two projects, gaining so much exposure for the work we do at Towson University. I recently sat down with...

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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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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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Esri’s 34th Annual User Conference

Esri holds many national and local user conferences throughout the year. Their leading conference happens right about this time each year in San Diego California, with this year’s 34th User Conference landing on July 14-18. Formally known as the International User’s Conference (now just User Conference or UC), it is the premier world GIS event, with participants from 130 countries among the 16 thousand people in attendance. To put that in perspective, by most accounts there are 196 countries in the world. This year the Esri UC drew participants from about two thirds of countries in the world. With...

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Esri Pledges $1 Billion to Support President Obama’s ConnectED STEM Initiative

Esri has a long history of donating software and support to non-profit organizations and educational institutions. This support has come in many forms, from reduced software costs, hosting a dedicated national GIS education conference, mentoring programs and online resources for educators. This tradition of philanthropy ties in with a vision for how GIS can build community and solve problems that the president and owner of Esri, Jack Dangermond, has made a mainstay in the ethos of the company. It is not surprising then that President Obama invited Jack Dangermond to the White House as part of his administration’s ConnectED initiative, to discuss the ways in which Esri has been getting GIS technology into the classroom and lesson plans. About the ConnectED Initiative According to the Office of Educational Technology’s ConnectED website, “The ConnectED Initiative announced by the President on June 6, 2013 sets four clear goals to transition to digital learning across the country in 5 years: Upgraded Connectivity: Ensure next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless is available to virtually all of America’s students in their classrooms and libraries. Access to Learning Devices: Ensure students and teachers have access to affordable mobile devices to access digital learning resources at any time inside and outside of the classroom. Supported Teachers: ConnectED invests in improving the skills of teachers, ensuring that every educator in America receives support and training to use technology...

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Visualizing the Unknown: Simplifying the Update Process for the Broadband CAI Database

For the past several years, Towson University’s Center for GIS (CGIS) has worked with several partners to create a Community Anchor Institution (CAI) database. The CAI database contains broadband-related data about schools, libraries, public safety facilities, government facilities, higher-education institutions, and some non-governmental facilities. CGIS relies on local jurisdictions to provide the broadband-related data for the CAI database. Currently, CGIS provided a representative of each local jurisdiction with an Excel spreadsheet that contains a list of all the jurisdiction’s CAIs. The representative is responsible for verifying or updating the broadband data associated with each CAI. Once the data is updated, the representative provides CGIS with the updated Excel spreadsheet and CGIS incorporates the update into the authoritative CAI database. Recognizing that this workflow can be improved, CGIS has published thematic map services using ArcGIS Online to display the data spatially. These maps are displayed in an interactive ESRI story map that is customized for each jurisdiction. Instead of providing each local jurisdiction representative with an Excel spreadsheet, CGIS will provide a unique URL for the jurisdiction’s story map. The story map displays the known and unknown high-speed Internet status of the jurisdiction’s CAI data. The maps displayed in the application will help the representative quickly identify the CAIs for which broadband access is unknown. The data can be edited by accessing a verification tool directly from the web mapping...

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Returning from San Diego: A CGIS Employee Reflects on ESRI UC 2013

Last week two CGIS employees, Tom Earp (Project Manager) and Melanie Bruce (GIS Specialist), attended ESRI’s 2013 International User Conference in San Diego, California.  I recently sat down with Melanie Bruce to discuss her experience at the annual GIS event. Q: How many ESRI UC conferences have you attended? A:  This was my second ESRI conference, the first time CGIS sent me.   This year there were over 12,000 people from 130 countries gathered to talk and learn about GIS.  The enormity of it is still a bit confounding. Q: Many ESRI UC attendees I’ve talked to have mentioned that there are so many exhibits, presentations, and workshops they want to see but they have too little time.  Did you find that to be a challenge as well? A: Yes, I can relate.  The event is enormous and it is impossible for a single person to see it all or even get close to seeing it all.  I received some good advice from Tom Earp who suggested focusing on one concentration or track.   We both focused mainly on Technical Workshops.  We made sure we did not overlap so that we could cover the most ground, take good notes, and disseminate the information back at the office.  I think it was a good strategy. Q: Out of the presentations you attended, which did you enjoy the most? A: From the Plenary,...

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On the Map: 8 Questions with Jim Cannistra

As I have been working in the GIS field for 10 years in Maryland, I have met some interesting, talented, intelligent, and motivating GIS colleagues along the way. Hopefully this blog series will share with you some exciting tidbits of information from each person who has touched my career in some way. I was first introduced to Jim last year at a MSGIC meeting and then subsequent MD iMap technical committee meetings. I was immediately drawn to listening to Jim as he speaks because of his experience with both GIS and imagery and the way he communicates. Jim is able to look at the big picture and disseminate information in a clear, concise manner. Maryland is very lucky to have someone like Jim as a GIS leader! Quick facts about Jim Cannistra Director of Data Planning Services for the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) Born in upstate New York Attended the State University of New York at Plattsburg, and the University of Tennessee Tell me something fun about your job. I like working for MDP for many reasons. Our agency is a very GIS-centric organization. The leadership within the agency recognizes and appreciates the value of GIS technology in support of smart growth and planning analysis work. I am also fortunate to be able to work with a very committed, technically knowledgeable, and diverse team of professionals. MDP has...

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On the Map: 6 Questions with Kenny Miller

As I have been working in the GIS field for 10 years in Maryland, I have met some interesting, talented, intelligent, and motivating GIS colleagues along the way. Hopefully this blog series will share with you some exciting tidbits of information from each person who has touched my career in some way. I first met Kenny Miller through early replication centerline efforts between the State, SHA, Esri and CGIS. I have to admit I was intimidated and somewhat frightened of Kenny’s experience and knowledge in the field, and of course his ability to charm. Then, as MD iMap began to grow to more than just a vision, I began to work with Kenny more directly and have learned quite a bit from him. He seemed to place a lot of confidence in my GIS ability, and without people like Kenny, I would not have grown as much as I did both technically and professionally over the past 5 years. Quick Facts About Kenny Miller Maryland’s Deputy State Geographic Information Officer at the Maryland Department of Information Technology Born in Chincoteague, Virginia Attended Old Dominion University Tell me something fun about your job. Achieving “Ah Ha” moments with customers, especially people in positions of influence policy-wise across state government. Seeing someone get excited about how GIS technology can solve problems, improve workflow and decision making. Watching their faces light up...

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