posted on Nov. 15: Event brings GIS to students, general public


Over 200 people are on campus today to participate in a day-long Geographical Informational Systems event being held in Convocation Hall today(Wednesday, Nov. 15). Many are Grade 9 high school students who are learning about GIS in school.

As part of Geography Awareness Week across North America, McMaster's GIS Lab is offering students, faculty, staff and members of the public an introduction to GIS, an important tool that has everyday applications.

Deane Maynard notes that while many schools now have the software, called ArcView, “there is still not the expertise in using it.” She has planned five sessions in the GIS labs where students will be taken through a tutorial and then given time to work with the software. Volunteers from the GIS certificate program and from ESRI (the software development company) are helping to run these sessions.

GIS captures, stores, updates, manipulates, analyses and displays geographically referenced information, and produces maps and charts. Typical applications include data for marketing and retailing, information about real-estate projections, plotting crime patterns, planning for future fire station locations and land use/development, and tracking wildlife patterns.

McMaster's GIS Day, sponsored by the School of Geography & Geology, the University and the GIS Lab, includes a session on GIS careers and on GIS and public health. Other events include a poster competition and scavenger hunt.

In addition to GIS Day, Maynard also provides an information day specifically geared to high schools students who, for a nominal fee, are invited into the labs to become more adept at using the software. These sessions are scheduled for times when McMaster's GIS students are writing exams or during spring break. Maynard is currently looking for sponsors to help offset the costs associated with offering this educational program.