International GIS Day event aimed at educating public on uses for location-based analytics

Ever wonder what Baton Rouge’s underground sewage system looks like?

Maybe not, but if you ever have, a map of the system will be among a number of maps usually not publicly available that will be on display Wednesday as part of the city-parish’s International GIS Day presentation.

“You’d be amazed at just how many pipes there are running under the city. It’s a maze,” says Warren Kron, the city-parish’s geographic information system, or GIS, manager.

The displays and demonstrations stationed on City Hall’s first floor from noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesday will showcase the new tools the GIS Department uses in location-based analytics to perform various studies, from mapping locations where pedestrians have been struck by vehicles to mapping out oil spills in Louisiana.

“GIS is a technology that is wonderful for bringing all types of data together in a map interface,” Kron says.

GIS Department employees will be available during the day to explain the system to first-time users and demonstrate how to use the system for specific inquiries. One demonstration will focus on how to take information from Open Data BR, the online clearinghouse for city-parish public information, and put it into the GIS system.

In the past, GIS Day has been celebrated only by a proclamation by the Metro Council. Kron says he hopes to grow the event each year, and possibly partner with a local school or the city-parish library system next year to introduce children to GIS mapping capabilities.

There will be 12 maps and eight demonstrations available to the public on GIS Day. Kron says there is no set time for any of the demonstrations.

The city-parish Information Services Department rebranded and updated its GIS website in July to provide increased public access to the mapping data. The rebranding came just a week after the city-parish launched Open Budget BR to help citizens better track how their tax dollars are being spent. In late January, the city-parish launched the Open Data BR website, offering a treasure trove of city-parish data ranging from crime statistics to recently filed building permits.

Founded in 1999, GIS Day is held annually to showcase real-world applications for GIS. There are more than 1,300 GIS Day events planned for Wednesday, according to the International GIS Day website.

At the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators at 5500 Florida Blvd., students from Dutchtown High and Central Middle schools will take part in “Mighty Maps for Louisiana,” a day-long activity that is also a part of GIS Day.

Fran Harvey, CEO of Global Geospatial Solutions and a liaison between GIS educators and Louisiana schools, says students will input data on their smartphones using the ARC Collector app and learn about remote imaging. She says the inaugural event is being held to get the students familiar with the technology to get them thinking about GIS as a career path.

See the list of events and demonstrations planned as part of the city-parish’s GIS Day event at City Hall.

—Ryan Broussard

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