The New GeographersStories of Real People using GISto Make a DifferenceNovember 2012
2The New Geographers  November 2012Table of Contents4	Introduction6	 A GIS Volunteer for the US Coast Guard9	 Protecting M...
3IntroductionThe New Geographers  November 2012Introduction"So many of the worlds current issues—at a globalscale and loca...
4IntroductionThe New Geographers  November 2012The third type of map, which helps us understand spatial patternsand relati...
5A GIS Volunteer for the US Coast GuardThe New Geographers  November 2012GIS professionals understandworkflows, developmen...
6A GIS Volunteer for the US Coast GuardThe New Geographers  November 2012Other key projects Timmons has created are a geoe...
7A GIS Volunteer for the US Coast GuardThe New Geographers  November 2012A self-proclaimed volunteer freak, Timmons contri...
8Protecting Millions from FloodsThe New Geographers  November 2012As Applications Sectionadministrator for the Information...
9Protecting Millions from FloodsThe New Geographers  November 2012jurisdictional boundaries, and hypsography. Along with t...
10Protecting Millions from FloodsThe New Geographers  November 2012to the development of the US Geological Survey (USGS)to...
11Protecting Millions from FloodsThe New Geographers  November 2012component along with the districts SCADA system and abu...
12A Tireless Advocate for WildernessThe New Geographers  November 2012A Tireless Advocate for WildernessAn avid hiker who ...
13A Tireless Advocate for WildernessThe New Geographers  November 2012"We provide the best science possible and advocate s...
14A Tireless Advocate for WildernessThe New Geographers  November 2012By integrating biological literature with spatial da...
15A Tireless Advocate for WildernessThe New Geographers  November 2012Thomson works courageously to promote engagement wit...
16A Legacy of CooperationThe New Geographers  November 2012Driven by a hunger for challengeand a desire to bring a freshpe...
17A Legacy of CooperationThe New Geographers  November 2012predated digitizing tablets and prevalent commercial GIS use,re...
18A Legacy of CooperationThe New Geographers  November 2012While working for DNR, Tessar returned to school for a secondma...
19A Legacy of CooperationThe New Geographers  November 2012Leaving a Legacy of CooperationTessars passion for using GIS to...
20Rethinking the Utility IndustryThe New Geographers  November 2012As director of land and field servicesfor Houston, Texa...
21Rethinking the Utility IndustryThe New Geographers  November 2012When she started at CenterPoint, Salas says, GIS was pr...
22Rethinking the Utility IndustryThe New Geographers  November 2012Under this new process, CenterPoints service areaneighb...
23Rethinking the Utility IndustryThe New Geographers  November 2012Since GIS already houses the utilitys critical asset an...
24Saving the World, One Parcel at a TimeThe New Geographers  November 2012Since 1967, Dr. David J. Cowen—the current chair...
25Saving the World, One Parcel at a TimeThe New Geographers  November 2012movement of manufacturing firms, he wrote his ow...
26Saving the World, One Parcel at a TimeThe New Geographers  November 2012Doug Calvert, chairman of the South Carolina GIS...
27Saving the World, One Parcel at a TimeThe New Geographers  November 2012amendments to the 1975 Home Mortgage Disclosure ...
28Improving Government Improves Peoples LivesThe New Geographers  November 2012Using GIS to enhance the waygovernment work...
29Improving Government Improves Peoples LivesThe New Geographers  November 2012early 80s, and I wasnt quite sure what that...
30Improving Government Improves Peoples LivesThe New Geographers  November 2012about whether the ball landed in the right ...
31Helping Preserve Natural ResourcesThe New Geographers  November 2012Every once in a while, you meet individuals who impr...
32Helping Preserve Natural ResourcesThe New Geographers  November 2012of Interdependence," which influenced Greenpeaces fa...
33Helping Preserve Natural ResourcesThe New Geographers  November 2012translated CFF data for the entire Sierra Nevada int...
34Helping Preserve Natural ResourcesThe New Geographers  November 2012Shortly thereafter, he met a representative from the...
35Helping Others Help OthersThe New Geographers  November 2012"The best way to find yourself is to loseyourself in the ser...
36Helping Others Help OthersThe New Geographers  November 2012program of URISA. As of April 2010, GISCorps has launched60 ...
37Helping Others Help OthersThe New Geographers  November 2012situation, volunteers may need to find a free spot for a sle...
38Helping Others Help OthersThe New Geographers  November 2012would not have previously been able to work can now voluntee...
39Urban Planning in the Slums of VenezuelaThe New Geographers  November 2012The United Nations Center for Human Settlement...
40Urban Planning in the Slums of VenezuelaThe New Geographers  November 2012the barrios underlying order, which is fully p...
41Urban Planning in the Slums of VenezuelaThe New Geographers  November 2012affect, and how it would help. These images go...
42Urban Planning in the Slums of VenezuelaThe New Geographers  November 2012"Sometimes we can do a little and sometimes mo...
43Building a Foundation for UnderstandingThe New Geographers  November 2012A geologist by education,Dr. Mukund Rao underst...
44Building a Foundation for UnderstandingThe New Geographers  November 2012Later, in 1987, Rao was exposed to an excellent...
45Building a Foundation for UnderstandingThe New Geographers  November 2012Rao is quick to point out that his associations...
46People and Nature Working TogetherThe New Geographers  November 2012An advocate of using technologyto integrate human an...
47People and Nature Working TogetherThe New Geographers  November 2012dollar amounts, "environmentalists" suddenly are inv...
The New Geographers
The New Geographers
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The New Geographers

  1. 1. The New GeographersStories of Real People using GISto Make a DifferenceNovember 2012
  2. 2. 2The New Geographers  November 2012Table of Contents4 Introduction6 A GIS Volunteer for the US Coast Guard9 Protecting Millions from Floods13 A Tireless Advocate for Wilderness17 A Legacy of Cooperation21 Rethinking the Utility Industry25 Saving the World, One Parcel at a Time29 Improving Government Improves Peoples Lives32 Helping Preserve Natural Resources36 Helping Others Help Others40 Urban Planning in the Slums of Venezuela44 Building a Foundation for Understanding47 People and Nature Working Together51 Governor of Maryland Leads with GIS
  3. 3. 3IntroductionThe New Geographers  November 2012Introduction"So many of the worlds current issues—at a globalscale and locally—boil down to geography, andneed the geographers of the future to help usunderstand them."—Michael Palin"What is the capital of Madagascar?"Thats what most people think of when they hear the termgeography."Its boring," they say. "Its the study of useless information. It hasno practical relevance to my life."In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Geography isone of the most interesting, vibrant, and dynamic fields of studytoday. Its also one of the most vital.We think fondly of the great explorers who led challengingexpeditions to the farthest reaches of the globe—to newcontinents, the poles, the tops of mountains, and the bottoms ofthe oceans. Through their explorations, they developed a newunderstanding of the world, and they came back to share thatunderstanding with us. Be they traders, hunters, adventurers, orscientists, all these explorers had one thing in common: they weregeographers who learned about unknown places, people, andthings and brought back information to share with the rest of theworld.About 50 years ago, a new kind of geography was born, and ithas opened up our world to advanced forms of exploration—not just treks to remote jungles or uncharted oceans but alsoresearch and analysis of the relationships, patterns, and processesof geography. Today, the new geographers use a combinationof computers, satellites, and science to produce a much deeperunderstanding of how our world works.The primary tool of the geographer is a map. What exactly is amap? A map is an answer to a question.There are three basic kinds of maps that answer fundamentalquestions:• Location maps answer the question Where am I?• Navigation maps answer the question How do I get there?• Spatial relationship maps answer the question How are thesethings related?
  4. 4. 4IntroductionThe New Geographers  November 2012The third type of map, which helps us understand spatial patternsand relationships, is the primary tool of the new geographers.While we know much more about the world today than everbefore, parts of our world remain unexplored, and there aremany important geographic problems left to solve: populationgrowth, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, climatechange, globalization, lack of sustainability, urbanization, healthcare access, poverty, hunger, and more. Although we have madetremendous progress in the last century, we still have a long wayto go to develop a comprehensive understanding of our world.To solve these important geographic problems, we need theparticipation of everyone—not just administrators, scientists, andpoliticians. Everyone deserves a voice in these important issues.Today, thanks to tools such as geographic information system(GIS) technology, virtually everyone can be a geographer. Thetools to explore and examine geography in different ways arewidely available, and anyone who uses them has the potential todiscoveries and easily share them with the rest of the world. Thisdemocratization of geography is leading to a better and morecomplete and more equitable understanding of our world, andits creating additional dimensions in our relationships with eachother and our planet. We are all new geographers.With this e-book, we invite you to read about how some ofthe new geographers are making a difference by applying GIStechnology to the needs within their communities and throughoutthe world. These are people like you and me who are using newtechnology to make a difference and create a better world.Their stories are inspiring. Yours could be, as well. We hope theirstories will inspire you to join the ranks of the new geographers inmaking a difference in the world.It all starts with a question—and the answer is a map.
  5. 5. 5A GIS Volunteer for the US Coast GuardThe New Geographers  November 2012GIS professionals understandworkflows, development, andtechnology. They are proficientproblem solvers who understandhow to analyze and approach aproject, plan it, complete it, andeducate others. Many of theseon-the-job skills can be appliedto helping a local organizationor community better address itsconcerns and meet its goals. GISvolunteers apply their talents inways that make huge differences. Esri acknowledges the work ofmany volunteers by highlighting one of them, Beth Timmons, as aGIS Hero.Timmons is a full-time GIS professional employed by GeoLogicsas a contractor for Natural Resource GIS in Corvallis, Oregon. Shealso serves in the volunteer branch of the US Coast Guard, whereshe donates her GIS expertise an average of 50 hours per month.Along with having expertise in soil and GIS, which is highly valuedby GeoLogics, Timmons has experience and is very interested inusing GIS for emergency response. She looked for opportunitieswith the Coast Guard to see if it needed her GIS skills. Theanswer was a resounding "Yes!"District 13 of the Coast Guard includes Idaho, Montana, Oregon,and Washington. The Coast Guard has an enterprise licenseagreement with Esri for ArcGIS but doesnt have the trainedstaff it needs to take full advantage of it. Rolling up her sleeves,Timmons began by leveraging the existing datasets to creategeospatial products that staff could use on their desktops. Forexample, she worked with the Citizens Action Network, a groupof local volunteers who have a view of waterways and can confirmproblems that have been called in to the Coast Guard. Shedigitized information from the pages of the Command Centersthree-ring binder and turned these into a geospatial layer for mapdisplay. If the Coast Guard receives a distress call, the user seesthe location on a map along with contact information about thenearest volunteer to call and get visual verification.A GIS Volunteer for the US Coast GuardBeth Timmons
  6. 6. 6A GIS Volunteer for the US Coast GuardThe New Geographers  November 2012Other key projects Timmons has created are a geoenabled PDFof tribal fishing zones and a Coast Guard Auxiliary personnellocator; the latter is used should members be in a disaster areaand need assistance. She also mapped accidents and fatalitiesin inland lakes and waterways to show Coast Guard personnelthe most dangerous locations. Her crab trap project convincedpeople not to lower traps into the shipping lane. Traps getcaught in propellers and rudders and jam steering mechanisms.Overlaying a nautical chart with Oregon Department of Fishand Wildlife data, she created a map that shows that the bestcrabbing spots are actually outside the channel.The benefits to the Coast Guard staff extend far beyond themaps Timmons has produced. She has saved it money byexplaining how to use its existing system to solve a problemrather than buy new technology. One of her roles has beento train staff members to use ArcGIS on their desktops. Herteaching process is first to create a geoenabled PDF so that staffcan get accustomed to a GIS map using familiar Adobe Readerskills. Once they are comfortable, she moves them to ArcGISExplorer or ArcReader. The next step is working with them touse GIS. Coast Guard personnel move every few years. Timmonsnot only trains new people who rotate into a position; she alsoprovides stability to the organization. Moreover, the people shehas trained take these skills to their next assignment. They mayeven become GIS evangelists at their next assignment, sayingsomething like, "In District 13 we could just turn on this layer anddo such and such."GeoLogics, where Timmons works, also benefits from hervolunteerism. "On my volunteer projects, I get to do GIS the wayI want to do GIS," says Timmons. "Working on these projectshas increased my GIS skills because I have had the freedom toexplore other options and come up with a better way of doingsomething. I have learned what works and what doesnt. Thismakes me a better employee. I can say, I can do that because Ihave already done it for a volunteer project. The proof of concepthas already been completed."Beth Timmons is a GIS volunteer for the US Coast Guard. District 13needed to identify its personnel in the event of an emergency, soTimmons digitized information from the Command Centers three-ringbinders.
  7. 7. 7A GIS Volunteer for the US Coast GuardThe New Geographers  November 2012A self-proclaimed volunteer freak, Timmons contributes tothe Oregon Framework Implementation Team for EmergencyPreparedness, the Region 10 Regional Response Team for OilSpill Response, and the West Coast Regional Ocean and CoastalData Framework for Ocean and Coastal Health. She also starteda local GIS user group. A few years ago, she got together withsome other GIS users at the local pizza restaurant to talk aboutGIS. This GIS social continues to be a regular event that giveslocal users an opportunity to learn from their peers, share tipsand tricks, and get advice.Timmons enjoys her natural resource GIS day job but says thatit is hard to ask a job to be 100 percent fulfilling. She finds hervolunteer work to be highly gratifying and encourages otherprofessionals to get involved locally.Timmons offered suggestions for getting started as a GISvolunteer in a local community:• Join the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and become part of its GISteam.• Attend a city council meeting and listen for opportunities touse GIS skills.• Reach out to small cities that dont have a GIS and offerassistance.• Do a simple project, such as mapping culvert locations usingexisting data. Create the PDF and send it to the departmentsmanager.• Talk with the fire department. Perhaps you can help improveits response system.• Check in with city or county park departments. Put adepartments data layers over a basemap from ArcGIS Onlineand give park staff a planning map to post on a wall."I believe everyone should volunteer at some level," Timmonssays. "We can use our GIS skills to do even a tiny project, suchas overlaying flood zone data on the towns topography andcreating a PDF. It could make a big difference."(This article originally appeared as "Beth Timmons: Volunteering Is Heroic" inthe Summer 2012 issue of ArcNews.)
  8. 8. 8Protecting Millions from FloodsThe New Geographers  November 2012As Applications Sectionadministrator for the InformationTechnology Bureau of the SouthFlorida Water ManagementDistrict, James Cameron worksto provide flood protectionfor millions of area residents.His efforts help monitor waterquality, treat storm water, andrestore the Everglades. ForCameron, a native Floridian, hiscareer is a way to express hisdeep love for the state and astrong appreciation for the environment.Cameron grew up in south Florida. He fished Biscayne Bay withhis family and camped with his Boy Scout troop at Virginia Key,Mineral Springs, and Fortymile Bend in the Everglades. He latergraduated from the University of Florida with a bachelors degreein geography and a certificate in Florida studies."After college, I was acutely aware of how important water isin shaping the development of Florida," Cameron says. "I feltI could contribute in a capacity of public service in protectingFloridas precious environment."Cameron was hired as a water resource planner, and laterappointed GIS manager, at the Suwannee River WaterManagement District (WMD). He began to see the potentialfor GIS to bring clarity to complex water management issues, away to transform large volumes of hard-to-interpret informationinto data and maps that could be easily understood by thoseresponsible for making water management policy decisions."Once I realized my work could provide management with theability to make better-informed decisions, I was hooked; GIS wasmy career," Cameron says. "What I love about GIS is that we canput maps in front of decision makers, show them where the issuesare so they can understand complicated data and environmentalissues, and see relationships between various factors."One of the major accomplishments during Camerons six yearsat the Suwannee River WMD was the initial implementation ofGIS. Data had to be put into the system, which, in most casesduring the early 1980s, meant using a digitizing table to captureinformation from paper maps. The team constructed basemapsby digitizing hydrography, roads, the Public Land Survey System,Protecting Millions from Floods
  9. 9. 9Protecting Millions from FloodsThe New Geographers  November 2012jurisdictional boundaries, and hypsography. Along with thebasemaps, team members also digitized data layers, such assurface water drainage basins, soil surveys, and locations ofgroundwater monitoring wells. With the foundation of GIScomplete, the Suwannee River WMD was ready to apply GIS insupport of its projects and programs.GIS played an important role in the implementation of theSuwannee River Basin Floodplain Development Ordinance thatkeeps people from building houses below the 100-year floodelevation in floodplain areas. Another accomplishment wasthe use of GIS to derive storm water retention and detentionstandards from delineated watersheds to support the SurfaceWater Management Program.Steve Dicks studied with Cameron at the University of Florida,and the two worked together through college as roadies forrock n roll shows. Dicks, who is now the information resourcesdirector at Southwest Florida Water Management District, recallsthe important, early contributions Cameron made to statewidemapping."Jim has been a leader in feeding the statewide database withsoil surveys for modeling and surface water permitting, statewideaerial photography, and digitized USGS maps," Dicks notes."He is a big thinker. The role he played in coordinating that—hewas able to get five government agencies moving in the samedirection."Building a GIS CareerOver the years, Cameron has had many job titles in severalorganizations, from GIS manager and director of GIS applicationsto chief GIS officer and GIS Division director. However, his rolehas always been to guide and direct the implementation of GIS tosupport the mission of the organization.In the 1990s, Cameron worked as the GIS manager at theSt. Johns River Water Management District, where he contributedFor the past 12 years, Cameron has worked with the South Florida WaterManagement District directing GIS development. The focus of this GIShas been the integration of both data and applications, including thedevelopment of a common hydrographic data model.
  10. 10. 10Protecting Millions from FloodsThe New Geographers  November 2012to the development of the US Geological Survey (USGS)topographic quad updates, digital line graphs, digital rastergraphics, orthophotos, and National Aerial Photography Program.One of the most significant accomplishments, according toCameron, was the creation of a detailed land-cover/land-usedataset needed for a variety of applications, including wetlandchange-over-time analysis and estimates of non-point sourcepollution loading to surface water bodies.In 1997, Cameron was appointed by Florida governor LawtonChiles as the water management district member of theFlorida Geographic Information Board. That same year, heand his team were able to assist fire crews with detailed maps,saving homes and property. The following year, working with acontractor, Cameron and his team developed and implementeda methodology to produce gauge-adjusted Doppler rainfallestimates. A modification of this methodology is currently beingused by water management districts throughout Florida.David Maidment, director at the University of Texas Center forResearch in Water Resources, recalls seeing Camerons workmany years ago at the Esri International User Conference. "Themap of groundwater recharge constructed for the St. Johns RiverWater Management District remains still a great example of theuse of core GIS functions to support geospatial analysis of waterresources."More recently, Maidment says he has admired Camerons workas a leading advocate of the use of GIS for water resources atthe South Florida Water Management District. Instead of havinga set of unconnected streamlines, drainage areas, water controlstructures, and water measurement points, Camerons effortshave made all the information geographically consistent such thatthe drainage area outlets fall right on the water control structuresand the corresponding streamlines, and all are connected withrelationships."It was like seeing a fuzzy image suddenly come into a precisefocus," Maidment says. "Jim is a great GIS leader with a lifetimeof contributions to the field of applying GIS in water resources inFlorida."Leadership on Many LevelsFor the past 12 years, Cameron has worked with the South FloridaWater Management District and continued the role of directingGIS development. Here, Cameron says, the focus of GIS has beentoward integration of both data and applications, including thedevelopment of a common hydrographic data model.Now, one unified database houses hydrography; drainage basins;hydrologic monitoring sites; and hydrologic elements, such aspumps, culverts, and weirs. The unified database provides theability to define relationships among the hydrographic elementsthat can then be used for hydrologic modeling. This commonhydrographic data model is being incorporated as a foundation
  11. 11. 11Protecting Millions from FloodsThe New Geographers  November 2012component along with the districts SCADA system and abusiness rules management system to create an operationsdecision support system that will provide a key resource to watermanagers. This means the data and GIS tools will support thedistricts work to provide flood protection for millions of residentsof South Florida."I have been blessed to lead a team of dedicated GISprofessionals who have implemented a GIS that is used by theentire agency," Cameron observes. "As the district staff learnand use existing applications, they begin to understand thepower of GIS and how GIS can be applied to meet other businessobjectives."Tim Minter, a GIS enterprise architect with the South FloridaWater Management District, remarks on not only Camerons skillsin the application of GIS but also his effective management style."Jim has a consistently keen eye for spotting significantopportunities to advance the application of geographicinformation science and technology in water resourcemanagement communities," Minter says. "He delivers meaningfuland successful GIS services because he builds and supportsstrong teams by supporting team members professional interestsand growth, highlighting individual and team achievements, andcaring about his staff on a personal level."(This article originally appeared as "James Cameron: A Unifier Many TimesOver" in the Spring 2012 issue of ArcNews.)
  12. 12. 12A Tireless Advocate for WildernessThe New Geographers  November 2012A Tireless Advocate for WildernessAn avid hiker who adores themountains of the Northwest,Janice Thomson was drawn toThe Wilderness Society out of adesire to defend the wildlandsshe loves. In her current positionas the societys director for theCenter for Landscape Analysis,Thomson integrates a widevariety of data items into spatialanalyses and tenable maps.These maps are then used topromote the goals and valuesof The Wilderness Society toagencies working directly with the land. As a lifelong wildernessadvocate, Thomson has put her passion to work protectingAmericas public lands.Cofounded in 1935 by renowned wildlife ecologist Aldo Leopoldand several other prominent conservationists of the time, TheWilderness Society has a mission to "protect wilderness andinspire Americans to care for our wild places." The WildernessSociety works to protect the United States 635 million acresof national public lands. Among other conservation actions,the organization has led the effort to permanently protect asdesignated wilderness nearly 110 million acres in 44 states todate. Thomsons ability to infuse these efforts with geospatialintelligence makes her integral to achieving these objectives.Thomson received her masters and PhD degrees in geologyfrom Dartmouth College. After graduating, she went to workfor Lockheed Engineering and Sciences, mapping land coverin the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. After a year and a half withLockheed, Thomson started her journey with The WildernessSociety in 1992.Much of Thomsons work centers on habitat degradationsometimes associated with the extraction of fossil fuels, especiallyoil and gas. By applying spatial analysis to the relationshipbetween oil and gas infrastructure and various natural resources,Thomson is able to create maps that are, in turn, used to craftdevelopment recommendations. These recommendations,made through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM),promote optimized solutions that integrate oil and gas industrydevelopment plans with strategies for protecting the landsecological and wilderness values.Janice Thomson
  13. 13. 13A Tireless Advocate for WildernessThe New Geographers  November 2012"We provide the best science possible and advocate stronglyfor lands that should be protected from development, and weprovide recommendations for how other lands can be developedin ways that minimize ecological impacts," says Thomson.The vast interdisciplinary cooperation required for developmentin the oil and gas industry makes the merging of informationinto a viable recommendation no small feat. Couple acomplex industry with conservation goals and the delicateinterdependence of wild ecosystems, and the task of providingsound counsel to all the stakeholders becomes even moredaunting. This is where Thomson comes in. She takes naturalresource datasets and industry development plans that areimpracticable alone and combines them to create functionalmaps that expand organizational awareness. This increasedunderstanding is crucial to facilitating sustainable development inthe oil and gas industry."The Wilderness Society is an organization that integratesscience, policy, and advocacy," says Thomson. "Our integratedapproach allows us to bring unique GIS analyses to the tableto answer questions that maybe other government agencies orentities arent asking. Were then able to share that informationwith all the players involved in a given project—people likecounty commissioners, conservation partners, and oil and gasprofessionals."The staggering diversity of wildlife poses a critical challengefor future development. "The effect of habitat fragmentationvaries tremendously by species; thats why this work is alldone on a species-by-species basis," says Thomson. "We usestudies completed by field biologists who have measured theresponses of different wildlife species in proximity to oil andgas development, and fortunately, some of these biologists arepublishing information about spatial metrics that we can measureusing GIS."Build-out scenarios, like this one of the Vermillion Basin, illustratedevelopment plans and help predict habitat impacts.
  14. 14. 14A Tireless Advocate for WildernessThe New Geographers  November 2012By integrating biological literature with spatial data, Thomsonwas able to illustrate and compare development with mule deermigration routes in the Upper Green River valley. Her effortsresulted in accessible analytic data that demonstrated the impactof infrastructure development on mule deer. This data was put touse to create specific setup recommendations BLM could use forfuture development plans.Another way that Thomson encourages environmentalconsideration is by creating build-out scenarios of roads and wellpads and providing informed projections of the impact on localspecies. "We give people a qualitative picture and quantitativestory," says Thomson. "These projections are really powerful tobring to the table at a meeting with county commissioners, theBLM, and any other local stakeholders. Projections allow us toillustrate what the scenario theyre supporting would look like onthe ground and what its likely impacts would be on the importantspecies in the region."The employment of a similar build-out scenario contributed to arecent win for The Wilderness Society. After years of discussionsurrounding potential land management plans for the Little Snakeresource area in northwest Colorado, The Wilderness Societypresented a build-out scenario demonstrating how proposedoil and gas development would affect the Little Snake area.A particular area of concern was Vermillion Basin, an area ofnorthwest Colorado with profound wilderness character andvalue to locals. When the final management plan came to fruition,the Vermillion Basin was granted administrative withdrawal of oiland gas development.Thomson knows that a well-crafted map has the capacity toadvocate certain development methodologies simply by beingavailable for consideration. With this function in mind, she putsrelevant maps in front of decision makers."Creating a map about a particular resource and getting it intothe hands of stakeholders often gets the map into closed-doormeetings," notes Thomson. "The map can then be a voice whensomeone from our staff is not able to be a voice."The scenic Vermillion Basin (photo: Sam Cox).
  15. 15. 15A Tireless Advocate for WildernessThe New Geographers  November 2012Thomson works courageously to promote engagement withwildlands and understanding of the tremendous value that theselands hold. "GIS helps connect people with the land," Thomsonsays. "These lands provide vital services to communities, whetherits clean water and air, income from recreational visitors, culturalvalues, or spiritual significance. Its really exciting to representthese values on maps to allow people to share their own accountsand why they believe land needs to be protected." Her tirelesswork advocating for wilderness has made Janice Thomson a trueGIS hero.(This article originally appeared as "Janice Thomson: Tireless WildernessAdvocate" in the Winter 2011/2012 issue of ArcNews.)
  16. 16. 16A Legacy of CooperationThe New Geographers  November 2012Driven by a hunger for challengeand a desire to bring a freshperspective to new organizations,Paul Tessar traveled through theheartland of the United States likethe legendary Johnny Appleseed,seeding state and local agencies,not with apple trees but with theability to harness GIS capabilitiesfor planning and cooperation.Tessar has cultivated successful GISprograms in Arizona, Colorado,Minnesota, South Dakota, andWisconsin, but it was the state of Illinois where it all started.After graduating with a bachelors degree in history from theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Tessar continued tostudy urban and regional planning. "Ive always been fascinatedwith cities and the built environment," Tessar notes, professing hisdrive to contribute to thoughtful urban arrangements.Enabling Foresight in Government AgenciesIn 1974, with his masters degree in urban and regional planningin hand, Tessar went to work for the South Dakota State PlanningBureau.In South Dakota, Tessar used self-developed image processingsoftware to generate statewide map layers for use in a landresource information system. He created and proffered soilclassification and elevation map layers for use in land suitabilityanalysis by South Dakota regional planning agencies. Using thisdataset in conjunction with satellite-derived land-cover layers,Tessar and his team developed a "grid GIS approach to spatiallysolving the Universal Soil Loss Equation [USLE]." Tessar providedthe resultant data to regional and local planners, empoweringthem to envision intuitive and farsighted urban development."I use GIS to facilitate superior outcomes," Tessar says. "Aspowerful as it is, GIS is the means, and better decision making isthe end."Just as impressive as Tessars proactive effort to enable well-informed decision making is the context in which he worked.Completed more than 35 years ago, his work on the USLEA Legacy of CooperationPaul Tessar
  17. 17. 17A Legacy of CooperationThe New Geographers  November 2012predated digitizing tablets and prevalent commercial GIS use,requiring that Tessars team members hand code soil surveyinformation into 10-acre grid cells and shepherd governmentaluse of GIS. South Dakota rewarded his accomplishments bynaming him State Employee of the Month.Using GIS to Reinforce Interdisciplinary ProsperityIn the early 80s, Tessar went to work for the Arizona StateLand Department (SLD), where previous attempts to build acomprehensive GIS program had fallen short of fruition. Injust three years, Tessar was able to establish a thorough andeffective GIS program that is still in place to this day. His effortsat the Arizona SLD were recognized with a Citation of Merit fromGovernor Bruce Babbitt.In addition to outfitting the Arizona SLD with valuable GIScapabilities, Tessar analyzed developable lands and ongoingrevenue generation for state trust lands. Profits garnered from thestate land trust went to supporting public education in Arizona.Working in conjunction with Arizona State Land Departmentcommissioner Robert Lane, Tessar used GIS to manage publiclands for long-term sustainability while simultaneously increasingrevenues."GIS is not just manipulating data for planning and decisionmaking," Tessar says. "It is actually a platform for collaboration,where the cooperative efforts it facilitates are just as significant,if not more so, than the base knowledge that supports theirfunctioning."The next few years saw Tessar move to Minnesota for a stintwith the Minnesota State Planning Agency, Land ManagementInformation Center, and then to Wisconsin, where he workedwith the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In acollaborative effort with DNR agency management, Tessarcultivated a statewide GIS co-op called WISCLAND, theWisconsin Initiative for Statewide Cooperation for LandscapeAnalysis and Data. Along with the rest of the co-op, Tessarhelped establish a natural resource information system,abounding with original statewide data. This data was put to amyriad of uses by DNR staff: Wildlife management employeesmodeled habitat carrying capacity and animal population todetermine the appropriate number of deer licenses to grant,water resources management staff determined soil erosionhazards threatening surface water quality and ways to mitigatethem, and air quality managers modeled non-point ozone sourcesto address air quality issues."Our mission was to provide GIS support to planning,management, analysis, modeling, and decision-making functionsfor a broad array of programs in the traditional areas ofconservation agencies—parks, wildlife, fisheries, water resources,wetlands—as well as newer environmental areas, such as waterquality, air quality, solid waste, and hazardous materials," Tessarsays.
  18. 18. 18A Legacy of CooperationThe New Geographers  November 2012While working for DNR, Tessar returned to school for a secondmasters degree in environmental monitoring—an ecology-oriented GIS and remote-sensing program housed at theUniversity of Wisconsin Institute for Environmental Studies.Maintaining a Thriving Civic Ecology by EncouragingDialogIn his current position as the GIS data administrator forDenverGIS, a technology service agency of the City and Countyof Denver, Tessar applies his GIS savvy to maintain a vibranturban structure."We use GIS as a tool to build a better model of the reality ofour city," Tessar says. "GIS is about crafting a representation ofour shared reality. Whether you work at the local, regional, state,national, or global scale, this is often the task that precedesplanning and engineering a better future. Not only does GISprovide the tools to capture that model of reality, it provides thecapabilities to manipulate it for a purpose."In his recent efforts, Tessar has focused on enhancing regionalGIS data interoperability. The Colorado Homeland SecurityNorth Central Region (NCR) has developed a regional GIS datarepository for the 10-county Greater Denver metro area. Themember counties provide more than 20 shared GIS layers on theNCR ArcGIS software-based site. A current endeavor coordinatedby the NCR GIS steering committee, which Tessar chairs, involvesthe 10 NCR counties, 3 neighboring counties, and 16 cities.This group, representing all local jurisdictions that maintain GIScenterline layers on regional county boundaries, is collaboratingto establish "agreement points" along 750 miles of commonborders. All the participants in this regional partnership plan tosnap their centerlines to the 2,100-plus points to form a seamlessregional streets layer to be hosted at the NCR repository.DenverGIS enhances communication by integrating centerlines betweenjurisdictions.
  19. 19. 19A Legacy of CooperationThe New Geographers  November 2012Leaving a Legacy of CooperationTessars passion for using GIS to create a platform formultijurisdictional communication and collaboration is highlyevident from the fruitful GIS programs he has left in his wake."Pauls hard work has created a solid framework for futurecooperation," notes Ryan Huffman of the Public Works andDevelopment Department of Arapahoe County. Tessar creditshis ability to infuse diverse agencies with GIS capabilities to hisskill in perceiving receptive individuals and identifying commoninterests."GIS allows each group to express its understanding of reality,structure, process, and function in specific areas," says Tessar."As the disciplines work together, they begin to develop moreof a common world view and a better understanding of theother disciplines. All of the -ologists, -ographers, -ticians,and -tists can get together and satisfy their hunger for creatingpositive change. They can come to a common understandingand optimize for the best solution within the resource constraintstheyre working with." These are the fruits of the "orchards"Tessar has planted in the heartland.(This article originally appeared as "Paul Tessar Is the Johnny Appleseed ofGIS" in the Fall 2011 issue of ArcNews.)
  20. 20. 20Rethinking the Utility IndustryThe New Geographers  November 2012As director of land and field servicesfor Houston, Texas-based CenterPointEnergy, Cindi Salas has a knack forsimplifying and improving processes.She is known in the utility industry forher ability to make workflows moreefficient and is adventurous in her useof technology—pushing perceivedlimits of integration and expansion.Given Salas aptitude, it makes sensethat, for her, "GIS is the right fit."In 2009 at the Esri International UserConference, Esri president Jack Dangermond presented Salaswith the Enterprise Application Award, recognizing tremendousresponse efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ike. CenterPoint wasable to restore service to 75 percent of its customers within 10days of the storms devastating landfall in Galveston, Texas. A keytool for CenterPoint Energy: an outage management applicationbuilt on ArcGIS technology. The utility also created a multitudeof GIS maps to analyze the situation before, during, and after thestorm. This information was shared with customers and media,government, and support agencies.In her current role, Salas oversees CenterPoints enterpriseGIS department, surveying and right-of-way management,underground line locating, and joint-use facilities.With more than 5 million metered customers, CenterPointEnergy is composed of an electric transmission and distributionutility serving the Houston metropolitan area, local natural gasdistribution businesses in six states, a competitive natural gassales and service business serving customers in the eastern halfof the United States, interstate pipeline operations with twonatural gas pipelines in the midcontinent region, and a fieldservices business with natural gas gathering operations also inthe midcontinent region.Twenty-seven years ago, Salas joined CenterPoint, followingnearly 13 years with Allegheny Energy (now First Energy), whereshe worked as a technician with responsibility for budgeting andestimating all aspects of electric operation and maintenance,from distribution to power plants, as well as transmission lineroute certification.Rethinking the Utility IndustryCindi Salas
  21. 21. 21Rethinking the Utility IndustryThe New Geographers  November 2012When she started at CenterPoint, Salas says, GIS was protectedand not well understood throughout the company. GIS wasrestricted to a back-room mapping operation."GIS was this big monster that no one could get their armsaround," Salas says. "I knew what GIS was, and I wanted to haveaccess to it. At first I was not allowed. I think I was told I wouldhave to fund a new server, that it would be too costly, and thatthey just couldnt open up access." But that didnt discourageSalas.Streetlights Create a Lightbulb MomentAbout 20 years ago, while Salas was responsible for CenterPointsstreetlight design, a weighty task was set before her. She anda few additional forward-thinking individuals were asked todevise a new process to move information from the field into thecompanys GIS within five days of completing the work in thefield. Typically, it would take months from the time of fieldworkcompletion to an update in the GIS. The team responded tothe challenge, outlining the process changes that could beimplemented to effect the dramatic transformation."After that, I was seen as an advocate for GIS, trying to openaccess to other users and leverage the system for all that it coulddo," Salas says.Envisioning further opportunities to exploit GIS technology,Salas outlined a new process to manage the huge volume ofstreetlight additions and improvements at CenterPoint. GIS wasincorporated into a new workflow management system thatquickly moved new street lighting requests (from homeownersassociations or municipalities) through engineering, design,survey, construction, and billing. The workflow was so integratedwith GIS that the city could request streetlight upgrades via anonline system, the system would look for the specific lights in theGIS to determine which type of upgrade was needed, a sketchwould be automatically generated for the crews to perform thework, and the corresponding updates would automatically bemade in GIS.In 2002, Salas was already promoting the power of GIS in analyzingpredicted storm surge relative to the utilitys assets and potential areas ofdamage.
  22. 22. 22Rethinking the Utility IndustryThe New Geographers  November 2012Under this new process, CenterPoints service areaneighborhoods were brought up to a higher safety standard asthe streets were upgraded with brighter lights."We truly embraced the tremendous potential of GIS technology,so we then started to think about using GIS to design morecomplex streetlight layouts," Salas says. "It was our plan to bethe poster child for using GIS for design, whetting the appetitesof others. It took a while, but we got there. And GIS did reachvisibility elsewhere in the company as a result of these efforts—they saw GIS for what it could do."Building the Enterprise Organization and SystemMany years later, with the acquisition and merging of gascompanies by and with what was previously an electric company,CenterPoint Energy was committed to developing an enterpriseGIS organization and system. That decision was made in 1999,and Salas was selected to be one of the leaders in that endeavor."Once we decided on the common platform, we had toconvert essentially 10 different systems to the latest Esritechnology," Salas says. "We worked closely with our friends atEsri on developing the object-oriented data models, replacingfunctionality, and developing new applications that replicatedwhat was being done with other tools."CenterPoint completed its GIS conversion efforts under Salascontinued nurturing, and usage of the technology flourishedthroughout the organization.Today, CenterPoint Energys enterprise GIS supports morethan 80 applications for engineering, design, construction,maintenance, a variety of fieldwork, regulatory reporting,managing assets, and more. Eight geodatabases houseinformation about the companys electric and gas distributionand transmission assets. This data is available throughout thecompany to all 8,000 employees.From Smart Design to Smart GridAlong with many utilities worldwide, CenterPoint is focusingon smart meter and smart grid projects. As the recipient of USDepartment of Energy funding, CenterPoint is committed to itsdeliverables, including completion of the first phase of a self-healing smart grid in 2013. The grid will use smart meters, powerline sensors, remote switches, and other automated equipment toimprove power reliability and restoration in the Greater Houstonarea."To that end, as we implement our advanced distributionmanagement system [ADMS], GIS is front and center and anintegral part of building the smart grid," Salas says.
  23. 23. 23Rethinking the Utility IndustryThe New Geographers  November 2012Since GIS already houses the utilitys critical asset and circuitinformation, it will feed that data to the ADMS, along with regularupdates, as changes are made to the physical network.GIS assists in the design of equipment—smart meters, cellrelays, take-out points, intelligent grid switching devices—as itis installed in the field. Server-based GIS applications providea multitude of diagnostic capabilities relative to smart meterintegration and equipment performance.The Futures So Bright"I see increased usage of GIS via web services," Salas says. "I seeit becoming easier to integrate GIS with other systems becauseof the Software-as-a-Service environment. Where we used tohard code interfaces, we are now writing services that can beconsumed and reconsumed. I see that continuing to manifest aswe leverage the cloud. I see GIS evolving for use in ways that wehave yet to imagine."Currently, Salas is focusing her efforts on the nontraditionalaspects of GIS knowledge and data sharing between the publicand private sectors—a move she believes impacts the greatergood of the community. To that end, Salas participates in variousindustry-related associations.Salas says her passion for GIS was ignited 20 years ago when shecould envision the possibilities of the technology. That passionhasnt waned."In fact, the passion is stronger," she says. "The opportunities forGIS are limitless in a world where everything is somewhere."(This article originally appeared as "Cindi Salas Passion for GIS Is Undeniable"in the Summer 2011 issue of ArcNews.)CenterPoints current ArcGIS API for Flex application allows customers toselect and report streetlights that are out. The application is interactiveand provides customers with repair status updates.
  24. 24. 24Saving the World, One Parcel at a TimeThe New Geographers  November 2012Since 1967, Dr. David J. Cowen—the current chair of the NationalGeospatial Advisory Committee(NGAC)—has focused hisresearch and teaching interestson the development andimplementation of GIS in a widerange of settings. A distinguishedprofessor emeritus and formerchair of the Department ofGeography, University of SouthCarolina (USC), he establishedone of the first academicprograms in GIS. Before chairingthe Department of Geography, Cowen directed the CollegeComputing Center and served as interim vice president forcomputing. The university became Esri customer numberseven, one of the first to use Esri software. His managementof the College of Liberal Arts computer center and teachingplaced USC in a leadership position as computers and computerprogramming became ubiquitous in everyday business andacademic life. When he was asked to be the permanent vicepresident for computing, his wife Sandy reminded him where hisheart lies: "Youd have to give up your GIS stuff," Cowen laughsas he remembers her words of advice that kept him on a pathpaved with accomplishments.Throughout his career, Cowen has been involved in many projectsranging from decision support systems, economic development,and school performance to land-use changes and real estate.Even in retirement, Cowen continues in his advocacy of GIS,serving as the chair of the Department of the Interiors NGACand as a member of the National Research Council (NRC) Boardon Earth Sciences and Resources and as a national associate ofthe National Academy of Sciences, consulting with the US CensusBureau on its modernization program, as well as serving as anadviser to Pennsylvania States Geospatial Revolution Project.Seeing Areas Through the LinesCowen began his long and storied career receiving both bachelorand master of arts degrees in economic geography from theState University of New York at Buffalo. He went on to earn a PhDin geography from Ohio State University in 1971. His dissertationresearch in 1969 provided the impetus for his career in GIS.Motivated by the need for tools to map and analyze theSaving the World, One Parcel at a TimeDavid J. Cowen
  25. 25. 25Saving the World, One Parcel at a TimeThe New Geographers  November 2012movement of manufacturing firms, he wrote his own FORTRANroutines to calculate measurements and generate maps on penplotters.Afterward, Cowen moved to South Carolina, where he devotedtime and energy to teaching students and evangelizing the useof GIS in the state. His vision helped promote the adoption of thetechnology throughout South Carolina. "Computer programmerswould look at coastal maps and see just a bunch of boundaries,"says Cowen. "I saw these not as lines but as areas that could becalculated, shaded, and analyzed." As a result, the State of SouthCarolina implemented one of the first Coastal Zone ManagementPlans with a complete inventory of existing land uses.Cowen has influenced many people, as Tim De Troye, GISP,state GIS coordinator for South Carolina and president elect ofthe National States Geographic Information Council, explains: "Ihave known Dave Cowen for 16 years. My first exposure to himwas as a masters student at USC, where I took an independentstudy course with him on GIS. When I decided to return to schoolto pursue my PhD, my one condition was to have Dave as mydissertation adviser. Our paths still cross, and I appreciate thevaluable insight he provides. Im continually amazed by the greatnumber of people in the profession I run across who have beenpositively impacted either by working with him directly or byreading his work."Motivated by the need for tools to map and analyze themovement of manufacturing firms back in the early 1970s, Cowenwrote his own FORTRAN routines to calculate measurements andgenerate maps on pen plotters.
  26. 26. 26Saving the World, One Parcel at a TimeThe New Geographers  November 2012Doug Calvert, chairman of the South Carolina GIS CoordinatingCouncil, agrees: "Dr. Cowen has been referred to by many asthe father of GIS in South Carolina. His influence will persistthrough the multitude of students he taught now working in GIS,as well as his tireless efforts promoting GIS solutions for stateand national issues. He has been a longtime champion for GIScoordination here in South Carolina."Land Parcels Represent the Critical GeographicDimensionCowens impact and desire to apply GIS analysis earned him EsrisLifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Afterward, Cowen devotedtime chairing NRCs study National Land Parcel Data: A Visionfor the Future. For the study, Cowen examined the status of landparcel data in the United States. He believes that land parcelsrepresent the critical geographic dimension to analyze the use,value, and ownership of property. Cowens interest in this subjectis particularly important, as the public sector questions whetherit is technically or economically feasible to integrate parcel data.Several private-sector firms, including insurance and real estatefirm CoreLogic, have raced to complete just such a system.Today, businesses are finding that parcel data is critical to theirbusiness applications.Under Cowens direction, the committee of 12 experts from alllevels of government and the private sector developed a visionand series of findings and recommendations. The committeeenvisioned a system employing modern, distributed databaseconcepts and practices similar to those employed in many localgovernments or businesses. Conclusions from the study were thata nationally integrated land parcel database is necessary, feasible,and affordable.Opportunities Arise out of CrisisSince the recent mortgage crisis in the United States, the needfor federally mandated parcel data was again investigated,and Cowen served on the Cadastral Subcommittee MortgageStudy Team Steering Committee. The Federal GeographicData Committee (FGDC) Cadastral Subcommittee met withthe International Association of Assessing Officers in 2009 toexplore the potential uses of land parcel data for more effectivemanagement of mortgage and financial oversight programs andactivities.The recommendations from the steering committee pointedagain to a national parcel database and included the need to addlocal parcel ID numbers to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act datathat would serve as a link to a wide range of attribute information.This information could be used in a parcel early warning system,much like that used at the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention to track early warning indicators for public health.This national system would detect early indicators of a financiallydistressed housing and mortgage market. As a result, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act includes
  27. 27. 27Saving the World, One Parcel at a TimeThe New Geographers  November 2012amendments to the 1975 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. FGDCalso made a national perspective on land parcels the focus of its2009 Annual Report.Think Globally, Act LocallyDuring his tenure at USC, Cowen directed 45 masters studentsand 11 PhD students, many of whom are now leaders in theacademic and public- and private-sector GIS industry. "It isalways great to have a teacher, mentor, and friend all wrappedinto one person," says Anne Hale Miglarese, a principal withBooz Allen Hamilton and past chair of the National GeospatialAdvisory Committee. "Through the years, Dave has always stayedon the edge of the technology, curious and energized by drivinginnovation. This intellectual curiosity has served us all well, and I,for one, continue to learn from him."Even in retirement, Cowen continues to educate those aroundhim in the capabilities of GIS. These days, he can be found atthe USC Columbia campus evangelizing the use of GIS not formapping parcels across the United States but focusing on theuniversity itself. Through his guidance, facilities managers arelooking at how GIS can create a comprehensive geospatialdatabase that includes everything aboveground, on the ground,and underground."We saw the need to have emergency medical services, police,and our maintenance team know where everything is on campus,so campus safety and protection have driven our desire tomap out all the utilities," says Don Gibson, assistant director ofmaintenance services. "We have all this talent in the university,and we have a world-class program in GIS studies. Fortunately forus, Dave Cowen is available to assist us on this project."(This article originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of ArcNews.)
  28. 28. 28Improving Government Improves Peoples LivesThe New Geographers  November 2012Using GIS to enhance the waygovernment works is what drivesthe City and County of Honolulus(Hawaii) GIS administratorKen Schmidt. "Improvingthe efficiency of governmentoperations makes peoples livesbetter in many different ways andhelps us protect the citizens inour communities," he says.Beyond the direct impact onthe lives of Honolulus residents,he believes GIS also plays animportant role in protecting the island environment. "Wereprotecting what makes Hawaii unique—the aesthetics ofHonolulu—by having better information to make better decisionsabout issues such as development patterns, water resources, orhow the sewer system operates. Were using GIS to create livableand sustainable communities."After more than 20 years in Honolulu, this GIS hero hasestablished a strong enterprise-wide GIS program, includingcentralized GIS data management, GIS-based work managementsystems, and public-facing online maps at gis.hicentral.com."Theres no doubt that the success of the City and County ofHonolulus GIS program is due to Kens vision, strong leadership,and single-minded determination," says Arthur Buto, GIScoordinator for the State of Hawaii Department of Land andNatural Resources and president of the Hawaii GeographicInformation Coordinating Council (HIGICC). "Through at least fivemayors and acting mayors, he guided the growth of the programfrom its infancy to the nationally recognized program it is today.He and his team demonstrated the value of geospatial data notonly to their bosses but to state leaders and to the general publicwith the introduction of online mapping and permitting systems,building on early successes with parcel and infrastructure data."Charting His CourseSchmidt began his career with a company in Florida, mappingwetlands in the northern United States and Canadian provincesfor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in association with DucksUnlimited. Soon, a position opened up at the Suwannee River(Florida) Water Management District for a GIS analyst. "It was theImproving GovernmentImproves Peoples LivesKen Schmidt
  29. 29. 29Improving Government Improves Peoples LivesThe New Geographers  November 2012early 80s, and I wasnt quite sure what that job was at the time,"jokes Schmidt.Graduating from Southwest Texas State University (now TexasState University) with a geography degree a few years earlier,Schmidt didnt know what he was going to do with his degree,but the emerging field of geographic information systemtechnology would end up playing a key role. "GIS was becominga profession, and I happened to get in at the right time," he says.At the Suwannee River Water Management District, Schmidtbegan using ArcInfo to map drainage basins, land use, andwatershed protection. "It was inspiring, but the potential of thetechnology we were using was still an unknown," he says. "YetI knew GIS was going to provide a very useful tool to policymakers, especially at that point for those involved in managingthe water resources in the area."Soon, the Southwest Florida Water Management District askedhim to migrate its legacy mapping operations into ArcInfo. Fiveyears later, with that task complete, he accepted a job as the GIScoordinator for the City and County of Honolulu.Building CommunityBeyond the work that he does for Honolulu, Schmidt is dedicatedto educating people about geography and GIS. In addition tothe GIS Day events his department hosted for many years, whichspawned GIS education programs in local schools, he has beeninvolved in the National Geographic Bee for some time. Thecontest tests the geographic knowledge of fourth through eighthgraders. "Its been an honor to participate in that, either as amoderator or judge," he says. "Its really rewarding to see thesekids learning about geography."Schmidt also helped start a GIS user group on the island in theearly 1990s. "He lives and breathes GIS," says Henry Wolter, U.S.Geological Survey geospatial liaison, Hawaii and Pacific BasinIslands. "Even during our biweekly tennis matches, hes talkingThe recently updated Storm Water Drainage System viewer, which meetsNational Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements.
  30. 30. 30Improving Government Improves Peoples LivesThe New Geographers  November 2012about whether the ball landed in the right polygon, or a projecthes working on for the county."The user groups he helped create have evolved into various otheruser groups and GIS conferences in the region. He was also afounding member of HIGICC, which promotes communication,data sharing, interagency coordination among GIS professionals,and education of the public and policy makers about the benefitsof GIS. HIGICC has also assumed the primary role in hosting GISDay on Oahu."During his two terms as president, Ken helped lead HIGICCthrough a number of trying times," says Wolter. "He was fiscallyconservative, looked at our needs, and determined what wouldwork. He always reminded us that we needed to share our dataand get it out to our partners and clients in the GIS communitywho need it.""Hawaiian values have a very strong sense of community andits connection with the land and water that sustains them,"he says. "We embraced those values in our program with themotto Palapala aina o ka mokupuni o Oahu, which translates todescribing the land of the Island of Oahu, or simply mappingour island."(This article originally appeared as "GIS Administrator Inspired to Make aDifference" in the Winter 2010/2011 issue of ArcNews.)The online permitting system was created to modernize the permittingprocess.
  31. 31. 31Helping Preserve Natural ResourcesThe New Geographers  November 2012Every once in a while, you meet individuals who impress you withtheir ability to build a rewarding life and innovative career basedon uncompromised ideals. Steve Beckwitt is one of them andis a GIS hero. His passion for conservation led him to becomea pioneer in the use of GIS to assess and protect our naturalresources.He carries out his work from his home on an organic farm inthe Sierra Nevada foothills, which—as youll soon find out—iswhere his familys remarkable conservation story began in the1980s. What started as a heartfelt effort initiated by his two sonsto protect old-growth forests turned into a career supportingscientists, organizations, and governments around the globe inusing GIS to better manage our land and water.Building an Environmental ConsciousnessBeckwitt developed an awareness of the importance ofconservation at a young age. Particularly compelling was the timehe spent exploring the natural environment in the Desert HotSprings area of California with an older cousin, Dorothy Green,who went on to become a water conservation advocate andfounded Heal the Bay in Santa Monica, California."We kind of coevolved a conservation ethic and understandingtogether just by discussing and reading about environmentalissues," says Beckwitt.Beckwitts time as a student at the University of California,Berkeley, in the 1960s was another important catalyst in shapinghis conservation career. Among other "green" endeavors, hecontributed to the creation of an environmentalist take on theDeclaration of Independence called the "Unanimous DeclarationHelping Preserve Natural ResourcesSteve Beckwitt, above center, in old Lhasa, Tibet, near the JokhangTemple. Beckwitt was in the country to work on a GIS project to establishcitizen-managed protected areas. Also pictured is a Tibetan prince fromChamdo in eastern Tibet (left) and a Tibetan Buddhist monk (right).
  32. 32. 32Helping Preserve Natural ResourcesThe New Geographers  November 2012of Interdependence," which influenced Greenpeaces famous1976 "Declaration of Interdependence."Just short of completing a Ph.D. in biophysics, he left Berkeleyfor the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada. In the 1980s, his twoyoung sons expressed an interest in botany, inspiring the launchof a family nursery business. They propagated several hundredspecies of unusual and difficult-to-grow native plants, as well asover a thousand other Mediterranean plant species, which theysold to many of Californias botanical gardens.Conservation Activism: A Family AffairIn the process of gathering seeds and cuttings for their nursery,the Beckwitts noticed alterations in the landscape. At the time,significant areas of the Sierra Nevada Mountains were beingclear-cut, resulting in the degradation of the ecosystem.Beckwitt and his sons, who were teenagers at the time, foundedthe nonprofit Sierra Biodiversity Institute to submit scientificallybased appeals to protect old-growth forests in the Sierra NevadaMountains under the provisions of the National EnvironmentalPolicy Act (NEPA)."We did our own fieldwork," says Beckwitt. "We evaluated thelandscape and tried to discover what potential ecological impactswere not addressed in the original NEPA documents and calledthem out with photographs."This work was done before the U.S. Forest Service or theBeckwitts were using GIS technology, but the appeals did includeForest Service maps overlaid with data on environmental aspectsthat had not yet been considered in policy making."My sons really were the lead," he adds. "I helped them whenthey needed help, but most of the work they did themselves."They won 23 of the 24 appeals they submitted, and most ofthem were reviewed by the Forest Service at the national level.The Beckwitts technical appeals, along with the work of manyother concerned citizens, prompted the Forest Service to reverseforestry policy decisions and readdress environmental issuesraised in the appeals.What GIS Means for ConservationIn 1989, Beckwitt was asked to write an article on ecologicalrestoration for the Whole Earth Review, an alternative culturemagazine of that time. He had read about GIS technology andwas interested in its potential uses in restoration planning. Heresearched and wrote about this emerging technology andquickly began to use GIS in his conservation work.The Sierra Biodiversity Institute incorporated the data it gatheredin the field with quad maps from the U.S. Geological Survey,which the Forest Service had just captured as cartographicfeature files (CFFs). Using ARC Macro Language, the group
  33. 33. 33Helping Preserve Natural ResourcesThe New Geographers  November 2012translated CFF data for the entire Sierra Nevada into ArcInfoformat."We used GIS to prepare a full-fledged dataset for the SierraNevada, then captured a lot of timber cutting history and madewhat were among the first presentations using GIS to Senate andcongressional staff," says Beckwitt. "It was all about educatingthe public and our legislators about the landscape impacts of theforest practices of the time."In the 1990s, Beckwitt began focusing on professional GISconsulting work, primarily in support of academic scientificresearch projects. He contributed his expertise to an assessmentof the Pacific Northwests Inland Empire, published by the WildlifeSociety, which eventually led to a major Forest Service study. Hetrained graduate students at the University of California, Davis,to use GIS for the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project, a regionallandscape assessment requested by Congress in 1992. Later,among many other consulting projects, he provided fire impactmodeling for Grand Canyon National Parks Environmental ImpactStatement."Once GIS became available, it was impossible to do a thoroughassessment without it because of the power of the tools and theability to explore relationships between different themes," saysBeckwitt. "GIS is fundamental for inventorying the various facetsof our environment and for developing indicators to monitor andassess environmental change over time. It helps guide publicpolicy—and personal policy, too."By this point, Beckwitt was also consulting internationally. Under aU.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) grant, he andone of his sons traveled through Russia to evaluate how GIS couldbe applied toward conservation efforts in protected areas thatwere struggling after the collapse of the Soviet Union.This image, depicting grizzly bear killings in British Columbia,was produced for the media as part of a series of GIS analyses onendangered species, which Beckwitt performed for the SuzukiFoundation of Canada.
  34. 34. 34Helping Preserve Natural ResourcesThe New Geographers  November 2012Shortly thereafter, he met a representative from the WildlifeInstitute of India who was preparing a presentation on theNarmada Dam for the World Bank. Beckwitt assisted with theGIS analysis portion of the presentation, which communicatedthe potential impact of the dam and had a powerful effect onpolicy. The Wildlife Institute of India then asked him to become aUnited Nations consultant. In that capacity, he trained scientiststo integrate GIS into their wildlife research and helped establisha database of protected areas, including tiger and elephanthabitats.In 2006 and 2007, Beckwitt worked with a team of scientists toestablish citizen-managed protected areas in the Four GreatRivers region of eastern Tibet. In 2008, Tibetan political turmoillimited access to the area and halted the project. "Wed love togo back and continue," he says.Sharing Technology to Help Preserve NaturalResourcesFor the past 20 years, Beckwitt has helped others pursuetheir conservation efforts by advising Esri on its grants of GIStechnology to deserving organizations. He helps ascertain eachorganizations goals, accomplishments, resilience, and technicalcapacity and determines which products best meet their needs.He continues to support grantees by evaluating maintenancegrant requests to keep their GIS technology up-to-date. Inaddition, since 1996, he has consulted for the U.S. Forest Serviceand other government agencies on their conservation-relatedcontracts with Esri. He also currently serves as the senior GISconsultant to the State of Californias Sierra Nevada Conservancy.Beckwitt cites several exceptional examples of large organizationsleveraging GIS technology to advance conservation efforts, suchas the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Society. Thosethat stand out the most to him, however, are small, grassrootsorganizations, such as the Pacific Biodiversity Institute, that useGIS to create maps and models to analyze vegetation and habitatsuitability."Im most proud of having been involved in helping thousandsof organizations get GIS projects up and running and providingtechnical support when needed," notes Beckwitt. "If I were tolook back at my life in terms of having an impact on the world,thats probably it. It was a small impact, but it was wide ranging,and Im glad I did it."(This article originally appeared as "Environmental Advocate Creates Path toMore Informed and Effective Conservation Efforts" in the Fall 2010 issue ofArcNews.)
  35. 35. 35Helping Others Help OthersThe New Geographers  November 2012"The best way to find yourself is to loseyourself in the service of others."—GhandiSome people are skillful, somepeople are givers, and somepeople are both. People who aretrained GIS professionals have manyopportunities to serve the earthand help its environments and itsinhabitants. Shoreh Elhami hasmade a way for GIS professionalsto offer their skills to people inneed, whether it be to supporthumanitarian relief, enhanceenvironmental analysis, or providesupport for disaster response. Cofounder of the volunteer GISassistance program GISCorps (www.giscorps.org), Elhami is a GIShero who helps GIS workers become heroes too.URISAs GISCorps coordinates the deployment of GISvoluWnteers to communities in need around the world. Thesevolunteers provide their GIS expertise remotely or on-site andhave been involved in a variety of missions. The business ofGISCorps is run by a core committee of six individuals whovolunteer their time in the evenings and on weekends to keep theprogram running.Elhami is the GIS director for Delaware County in Ohio and hasbeen working for that county for 21 years. In her spare time, shecan be found administering various aspects of GISCorps, suchas finding recruits for a project in Southeast Asia. Why? "Helpingothers makes me happy," says Elhami. "If a person can helpothers, and do it in a timely manner in a way that meets otherpeoples needs, it is the best success that can happen in a life."In October 2001, while attending URISAs annual conferencein Long Beach, California, Elhami shared an idea with severalof her colleagues. The idea was born out of a simple questionthat she put to those colleagues: "Would GIS professionals bewilling to volunteer their time and expertise—for a short time—tocommunities in need?" The reaction to the question was veryencouraging. In October 2003, after two years of brainstormingand presenting the idea to various groups, the URISA Boardof Directors adopted GISCorps as an initiative and later as aHelping Others Help OthersShoreh Elhami
  36. 36. 36Helping Others Help OthersThe New Geographers  November 2012program of URISA. As of April 2010, GISCorps has launched60 missions in 30 countries around the world. Its volunteers havecontributed more than 7,400 hours to those missions."GISCorps assists nonprofit organizations, which, without ourhelp, would not be able to serve their target groups," explainsElhami. "The initial concept was to build the organizations GIScapacity so they, in turn, could better serve their communities.We teach their people how to use the technology, and weprovide support until they become self-sufficient."For example, a 2010 project is to build digital maps for NorthKorea. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), via theInformation Management and Mining Program (iMMAP), needsmaps so it can deliver services, food, and other necessities. Italso needs to know the obstacles to getting to those locations.WFP sent a request to GISCorps for expert volunteers to conductheads-up digitizing. Mapmakers, during the Union of SovietSocialist Republics era, had created 400 hard-copy maps. Elhamiand her coworkers looked at the specifications from WFPsrequest and estimated how many volunteers and volunteer hourswould be needed to finish the project in six months. They foundthat it would take 20 volunteers contributing 180 hours each tocomplete the project. Since WFP wants to use ArcGIS for theproject, volunteers are required to be adept in ArcGIS 9.3. Elhamiscanned the database of volunteers and sent an announcementto people whose skill sets met the criteria of the request. Withinthe first hour after sending the announcement, 14 people hadresponded. These volunteers will never set foot in North Koreato work on this mission because everything on the project willbe done remotely from the volunteers locations, probably fromhome. Each volunteer just needs to donate time and expertise.GISCorps provided response support for the 2004 tsunami thathit the coasts of the Indian Ocean; 2005s Hurricane Katrina thatdevastated Louisiana and Mississippi; and, most recently, theearthquake that crumbled so many Haitian cities and villages.Some GIS volunteers do work on-site. In these cases, therequesting organizations are responsible to pay the volunteerstravel and accommodation expenses. However, in a disasterThe status of Mississippi road conditions on September 5, 2005, a fewdays following Hurricane Katrinas landfall.
  37. 37. 37Helping Others Help OthersThe New Geographers  November 2012situation, volunteers may need to find a free spot for a sleepingbag in the corner of a crowded community building."People in the GIS community are very special," notes Elhami."It has been an honor to be a facilitator at GISCorps that hasbecome a conduit of help to so many. We have sent people allover the world to provide assistance that makes other peopleslives better."Raised in Tehran, Iran, Elhami and her husband becamearchitects. They moved to the United States 25 years ago,and Elhami went to graduate school at Ohio State University.While working there as a research assistant, she discoveredGIS technology. She fell in love with GIS and its concepts. Shewas then hired by Delaware County for her GIS expertise. Shealso taught GIS at the university for 10 years but finally stoppedteaching because of her commitment to GISCorps.The first on-site mission that Elhami worked on was in Kabul,Afghanistan. She wanted to learn what it was like to work at alocation and know firsthand how hard it would be. The projectwas in partnership with the United Nations DevelopmentProgramme (UNDP) and Afghanistan Information ManagementServices (AIMS). AIMS had set up shop in Pakistan because theTaliban forces were ruling Afghanistan. Once the Taliban forceswere removed from power, AIMS relocated to Afghanistan andrequested support. Specifically, AIMS wanted to grow its GIScapacity by moving from ArcView to ArcGIS. At that time, Elhamiwas an authorized ArcGIS instructor, so she taught Afghans howto use ArcGIS. GISCorps has since sent three more volunteers toprovide advanced ArcGIS and ArcGIS Server training."Kabul was interesting," says Elhami. "I learned a lot. I thoughtthat if a country as turbulent as Afghanistan can welcome avolunteer, any country can. I have since kept in touch with thosepeople, and two of my AIMS Afghan students actually came tolast years Esri User Conference."Of GISCorps 60 missions, 38 have been handled remotely. WhenElhami initially conceived the program, she had not imaginedthat people could provide support from home. The Internettechnology at that time was unable to support the work thatneeded to be done. But now, this is possible, and, whats more,affordable. People—such as mothers with young families—whoShoreh Elhami speaking to Afghanistan Information Management Servicespersonnel.
  38. 38. 38Helping Others Help OthersThe New Geographers  November 2012would not have previously been able to work can now volunteertheir help.Mission assignments vary. Some may be extensive, while otherscan be as short as two hours. Short projects may include judginga map contest or teaching a class. Some projects are complex,requiring very specialized skills. For instance, two volunteerswho are ArcGIS Server specialists are working with the UnitedNations Platform for Space-based Information for DisasterManagement and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER). The goalof this UN initiative is to ensure that countries and internationalorganizations have access to and develop the capacity to useall types of space-based information for disaster management.These GIS volunteers are doing high-level work, such asdetermining the GIS needs of UN-SPIDER by performing a needsassessment. They are developing a plan of action for the GISconfiguration of software and hardware so that the organizationwill be able to react more rapidly when disasters occur.As of March 2010, GISCorps has attracted 1,925 volunteers.These volunteers come from 76 countries around the world.People interested in volunteering can register via the GISCorpsWeb site. Organizations can also use the Web site to requestGISCorps assistance. These requests are reviewed and screenedby GISCorps core committee. "We have no paperwork and nobureaucracy, and work gets done quickly," says Elhami. "E-mailsfly, and we give fast answers and get quick responses. Thismethod has proved very successful. Everybody cares, everybodyknows why we are here, and we try to do our best to make thingshappen."More InformationTo see how you can become involved, visit the GISCorps Website at www.giscorps.org.(This article originally appeared as "URISAs GISCorps Is a Place for Service" inthe Summer 2010 issue of ArcNews.)
  39. 39. 39Urban Planning in the Slums of VenezuelaThe New Geographers  November 2012The United Nations Center for Human Settlements reportsthat more than one billion people in the world live in slumsand squatter settlements without adequate shelter and basicservices. Worldwide, slums are considered to be residentialareas in urban geographic areas that are inhabited by the poor.Because of these characteristics, urban planners can use GIS tomanage geographic data about slum areas to show relationships,elevations, landmarks, slope, water sources, and other attributesthat affect these urban populations.Rosario C. Giusti dePérez, architect and urbandesigner, exemplifies theimportance of combiningthe human elementof concern with thecapabilities of technologyto turn the tide of despairto one of hope andbenefit for the community.Because of her manyyears of commitmentto helping improve thequality of life in the slums (barrios) of Venezuela, Esri recognizesRosario C. Giusti de Pérez as a GIS hero.Despite the fact that Venezuela is an oil rich nation, approximately50 percent of its people live in poverty. Those in urban areashave constructed shantytowns with homes made of plywood,corrugated metal, and sheets of plastic. Giusti de Pérez does notsee these neighborhoods as targets for the bulldozer but ratheras communities whose residents need to be involved in planningand redevelopment.Many cities do not consider these squatter lands as communitiesand consider demolition to be a solution to urban blight. But thisruthless approach of displacement creates disorder, increasescrime, and adds to the misery of poverty. A slum is more thancorrugated tin and plastic; it is human faces, neighborhoodsof people with social structures that protect and support theircommunities. Giusti de Pérez has spent the last 10 years workingwith people and using GIS as a means to understand how urbansquatter developments are organized, which in turn offers thefoundation for devising improvement efforts."When visualizing squatter developments as cities withincities, GIS helps us see the internal connections that constituteUrban Planning in the Slums of VenezuelaRosario C. Giusti de Pérez.
  40. 40. 40Urban Planning in the Slums of VenezuelaThe New Geographers  November 2012the barrios underlying order, which is fully perceived by theresidents of the area," notes Giusti de Pérez. "To fully understandsocial networks within a community, planners need to obtaininformation directly from the community. Inhabitants haveknowledge about who belongs to each social group and howsocial groups connect. This is valuable data with a geographicelement."Giusti de Pérez advocates an approach that recognizes theslum inhabitants as being deeply rooted in their communities.As people who have a sense of belonging, they are territorialand fear relocation plans. People want to remain where theyhave their social relations. Giusti de Pérez, who holds a mastersdegree in urban design, initiated an approach to developingurban planning models that includes input from residents so thatsquatter settlements can become an asset to the city. "We needto collect information that is significant to residents," says Giustide Pérez.With this thought in mind, Giusti de Pérez developed aframework for sustainable improvement planning with theultimate goal of advancing the residents quality of life. Theobjective of this planning approach is to introduce what shecalls "friendly interventions" into the as-built environment. Inthis model, residents agree on behavioral and building rules,such as sharing waste disposal to maintain clean open spaceand limiting building height so as not to impede natural light.These are simple resolutions. Of course, squatter communitieshave much more complex issues, such as unstable slopes,inadequate utilities, and insufficient schools. GIS allows plannersand residents to visualize the answers to the questions they areasking: What would happen if we put a concrete fascia on theslope? How can we run sewers into this area? Where is the bestlocation for an elementary school?Giusti de Pérez uses GIS to create what-if scenarios and generatemaps that show what a concept would look like, whom it wouldBarrio Los Claveles, Maiquetia, Venezuela, seen in ArcGIS 3D Analyst.
  41. 41. 41Urban Planning in the Slums of VenezuelaThe New Geographers  November 2012affect, and how it would help. These images go a long way inproviding information that engenders community participation inplanning.The maps that Giusti de Pérez and Ramón A. Pérez, a GISprofessional, were creating in the 1980s using EsrisARC/INFO began to be noticed. These GIS maps wereinstrumental in winning several national competitions againstother urban planners who used CAD. Soon, several Venezuelangovernment institutions recognized that GIS is a clever tool."Barrio analysis is very complex," explains Giusti de Pérez."GIS can take this mess of barrio data and organize it intosomething that makes sense. We would select a barrio, meetwith its community leader, and explain that we wanted to help.The community leader would then invite other people from thecommunity to a meeting, sometimes at a school or sometimesjust on a slab made of some odd building materials. Together, wewould identify what they needed and prioritize their concerns."GIS was key to a three-year project in the barrio of Petare inCaracas to visualize and assess the areas urban built conditionsand social networks. It proved essential to creating a sustainableplanning strategy and for designing a development that fit bothbuilding and social needs within the conditions dictated by thegeography of the site. With an ultimate goal of improving thequality of life, the urban planners worked with residents andidentified 93 sectors within 82 hectares. Data included vehicularand pedestrian pathways, sector boundaries, social spaces, andbuilt places. The group determined areas that were at risk forlandslides and focused on building control policies for theseareas.Community concerns varied. In the Petare barrio, thecommunitys main concern was accessibility to urban facilitiesand infrastructure. Residents wanted better drainage and solid-waste disposal. Priorities that were included on another barriocommunitys list were drainage, open space for children, andlighting. Each project was unique.Proposed infrastructure systems for barrio Petare.
  42. 42. 42Urban Planning in the Slums of VenezuelaThe New Geographers  November 2012"Sometimes we can do a little and sometimes more," explainsGiusti de Pérez. "We make our presentations using GIS, andpeople are glad to see what their community looks like. Weuse the ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension to create visualizationsthat show residents what their community could look like if theyimplemented changes. Based on community input and plannersassessments, we created site analyses that helped communitiessuccessfully request government program funding."In 2008, Giusti de Pérez coauthored the book AnalyzingUrban Poverty: GIS for the Developing World, published byEsri Press. In it, she and Ramón A. Pérez offer a step-by-stepapproach to working with squatter communities and improvingtheir neighborhoods. The authors provide several rules forusing GIS to support sustainable communities. One rule isto create procedures for involving communities in collectingthe information required for identifying their problems andopportunities. This will help planners with the problem of lackof data. Another rule is to identify the social relations andinteractions of the populations with the open spaces in thecommunity. This is more important than merely describing landuse. Finally, the authors advise using ArcGIS Spatial AnalystModelBuilder in hilly squatter developments to understand therules of urban and social functioning and identify steep slopes,drainage patterns, and accessibility from the neighborhood tothe city.Giusti de Pérez is hoping to expand the use of GIS models forurban redevelopment and promoting its capabilities to identifyreal, sustainable solutions for improving the quality of life formillions. She is truly a GIS hero.(This article originally appeared as "Rosario C. Giusti de Pérez Brings UrbanPlanning to the Slums of Venezuela" in the Spring 2010 issue of ArcNews.)
  43. 43. 43Building a Foundation for UnderstandingThe New Geographers  November 2012A geologist by education,Dr. Mukund Rao understandshow studying the earth canuncover solutions to problemsthat affect people all overthe world. His passion forunderstanding the earthand its activities led Rao to arich career furthering earthobservation, GIS, and spatialdata infrastructure (SDI)applications at both the nationaland international levels.To honor this exemplary workrecord for the past three decades, Rao has been bestowed twohonors, the 2008 National Geospatial Award for Excellencefrom the Indian Society of Remote Sensing and the ExemplaryService Medal from the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI)Association. The Indian Society of Remote Sensing recognizedRaos outstanding contributions in promoting geospatial scienceand technology and applications in India through longtimeassociation and involvement in GIS technology, including hiscurrent position as president and chief operating officer of NIITGIS Limited (Esri India). The GSDI Association recognized Raofor his role in building and developing GSDI in its formativeyears and steering its activities as its first president from 2004to 2006. Rao served as president at the GSDI-7/8 conferences inBangalore, India/Cairo, Egypt, and has been involved in directingand furthering the technology and application of SDI throughoutthe world."To me, these awards are a humble reminder of the opportunityIve had to work with GIS right from the beginning," says Rao. Hewas introduced to GIS in 1984 while working at the Indian SpaceResearch Organization (ISRO) to create the first prototype ofthe Natural Resources Information System (NRIS), a solution forhandling images, making thematic maps, and supporting decisionmaking in natural resources management. Rao conceptualizedand performed an initial study for the Mineral ExplorationInformation System (MEIS), which was an integration of imageswith geophysical and geochemical data that allowed analyststo find mineral indicators. Rao discovered GIS through a courseintroducing the fundamental concepts of GIS in Mumbai, India,led by one of the early originators of GIS, Dr. Duane Marble,professor emeritus of geography at the Ohio State University.Building a Foundation for UnderstandingMukund Rao is a GIS Hero.
  44. 44. 44Building a Foundation for UnderstandingThe New Geographers  November 2012Later, in 1987, Rao was exposed to an excellent training suite inGIS at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).In 1985, Rao was involved in the process of selecting the best-suited GIS package for the support of Indias remote-sensingapplications and the NRIS program (finally, ISRO selected PCARC/INFO, then the later versions of ArcInfo). "The innovativemethods of handling maps, building spatial models, and creatingdifferent spatial perspectives captivated me right away—Icould easily perceive their importance and relevance due to mybackground in geology, where maps and visualization are thekey," adds Rao. He went on to apply GIS to urban and regionalplanning and wasteland management in many cities in India.Ultimately, he became the lead in the NRIS program of ISROand was instrumental in developing the comprehensive NRISStandards for GIS in India and, more recently, the NationalNatural Resources Management System (NNRMS) Standards, thenational standards for EO and GIS.During the late 1990s, Rao realized that SDI was the path for boththe NRIS and ISRO imaging programs, conceptualizing IndiasNSDI program and transforming it into an intergovernmentalmechanism. Rao was the key person in authoring the NSDIStrategy and Action Plan and prepared the NSDI MetadataStandards. To demonstrate the first GIS portal for NNRMS, Raodeveloped a prototype that was officially launched and hosted onISROs Web site in early 2000. Soon after, he steered the conceptof agency SDI portals through the National Urban Information,NNRMS, and a number of state-level portals of SDI, bringingabout an integrated system for Indias NSDI. This system is nowbecoming the foundation of NSDI in India. He is currently workingon concepts for SDI Applications Portal services and enabling across-linking network of application visualization for SDI.This activity launched Rao into the GSDI movement, and he waselected as the first president of the GSDI Association. Duringthis time, GSDI was incorporated and its activities defined,including a coordinated approach furthering SDI throughout theworld through cookbooks, Esri grant projects, conferences, andcommittee activities.In 2005, Rao took over as CEO of Navayuga Spatial Technologies,an Indian startup company located in Bangalore, and headedup many successful projects, including the establishment ofan ArcGIS software-based enterprise solution for the Ras-AlKhaimah emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and thelargest enterprise solution project in India, the creation of an SDIin Delhi.Since joining Esri India in 2008, Rao has been involved infurthering GIS throughout India by promoting efficient andsuccessful business models. With a deep understanding of earthobservation and GIS, Esri India now operates and helps manysuccessful GIS projects in India and other parts of the world,focusing on urban, power, utilities, disaster, and imagery sectors.
  45. 45. 45Building a Foundation for UnderstandingThe New Geographers  November 2012Rao is quick to point out that his associations with other leaders inthe field have helped him achieve his successes in spearheadingthe movement of GIS and remote sensing to assist in solving thechallenges faced in the world. Jack Dangermond, president ofEsri, and Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, the former chairman ofISRO and chairman of the Planning Commission of India, are twosuch leaders. Rao also credits a large number of professionalsthat he has worked with in India and abroad for his GISaccomplishments, learning from their capabilities and expertise inundertaking GIS activities in a better and meaningful way.Rao is a strong believer that GIS representation will be a keyfactor in most human activities and a benefit to society andhumanity, providing the key technology necessary for informationprocessing and visualization. "While, on one hand," says Rao,"GIS will become easier and simpler to use—thus making itusable by the common man—it will also become integrativeand overarching to bring together various technologies ofsurveying, imaging, and mapping for GIS content; databasesand warehousing for GIS storage; and seamless data fusion andmerging for GIS applications. Finally, it will provide a tremendousway of visualizing information in a spatial domain. No longer aremaps the only output from a GIS."(This article originally appeared as "Mukund Rao Steers Data and GIS for GlobalSpatial Data Infrastructure" in the Winter 2009/2010 issue of ArcNews.)
  46. 46. 46People and Nature Working TogetherThe New Geographers  November 2012An advocate of using technologyto integrate human and naturalsystems, Gary Moll has been aforce in bringing the value ofurban ecology to the attentionof federal and local leadersand uses GIS to apply solidscientific and engineering datato decision making.Along his life path asa conservationist, Moll hassuccessfully worked with theCongress of the United Statesto increase funding for urbanforestry and with the U.S. ForestService (USFS) to expand urban forestry programs to 50 states.His work on the development of the GIS software programCITYgreen helps local governments measure urban forests andharness their benefits."The human network needs to be built with the natural system inmind," says Moll. "Urban forests and green infrastructure are partof the city ecosystem. GIS shows the relationships between socialsystems and ecosystems and offers a means for us to weave thecity structure into the natural system." Moll is the senior vicepresident of the Urban Ecosystem Center at American Forestsand is one of the nations foremost authorities on urban forestryand urban ecosystems.Community leaders traditionally make their decisions aboutcommunity structures based on dollar values. Sadly, they almostalways overlook the value of the natural system upon whichthese community structures are built. People need to be madeaware that if the natural system remains intact, it can do muchof the work a structure does. Moll and his team use GIS to showthat the original natural system provides similar ecosystemservices to those offered by expensive structures. This hashuge financial value. For example, using Landsat imagery andGIS technology, Moll was able to show that the 10 counties ofthe Atlanta, Georgia, metro area lost $2 billion worth of stormwater runoff benefits. The analysis measured the tree loss in theregion between the years 1972 and 1986. The team then ranthe CITYgreen analysis on both scenarios. The good news wasthat the area still had about $1 billion of that natural storm waterbenefit left. When community leaders become aware of thesePeople and Nature Working TogetherGary Moll
  47. 47. 47People and Nature Working TogetherThe New Geographers  November 2012dollar amounts, "environmentalists" suddenly are invited to jointhe urban development discussion.In the early 1990s, Moll was introduced to GIS technologywhile working with USFS on an urban forest research project.The agency was planning to issue two urban forest researchproposals, one for tree inventory and one for cost-benefitcalculations. Moll suggested these two projects should be oneand successfully convinced the agency leaders to combine thembefore issuing the final proposal. The project introduced urbanforestry specialists to GIS and proposed a new way to look aturban forests, not as street trees, but as comprehensive urbanforest ecosystems.The proposal recognizes that urban forests are a mix of streettrees, yard trees, park trees, and all the other land coverthat makes up a community. The national hydrologist, DonWoodward, who worked for the Natural Resources ConservationService (NRCS) (formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service),showed Molls team how to calculate the movement of stormwater based on land cover. NRCS developed a runoff "curvenumber" system after monitoring streamflow for 50 years. Thisbecame the basis for the most widely used storm water planningmodel in the country.Woodward helped Molls team add the impact trees had onthat curve number. As a result, for the first time, people couldcalculate the ecosystem services provided by tree cover.This high-resolution leaf-on image of Bellevue, Washington,WWprovides city officials with a detailed analysis of their greeninfrastructure. Trees (vegetation) and soils provide the basicfoundation for the movement of air and water through thislandscape.

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