Friday, December 3, 2010

Crime! Works So Well it’s Practically Criminal

Maryland Crime Mapping and Analysis Program

With the renewed Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) grant, the GIS lab continues its work to provide crime mapping in the state of Maryland. The Washington College GIS Lab also conducts an outreach program, which invites law enforcement agencies to sign up for crime mapping training. Caryn Thomas ’05 M’09 and Andrew Wright guide student interns in the lab. Here are some recent projects that the WC crime fighting students are working on.

Stephanie Olsen ‘11

Stephanie is currently working on the violence prevention initiative, researching and locating violent criminals and sex offenders for the Maryland Off ender Management System. She provides corrections to Division of Parole and Probation agents to improve the mapability of violent criminals. This map, along with the data, is then used by the police agents and parole officers to keep track of offenders that have been released into the community in order to keep the people around them safe.

Matt Stiles ‘11

Matt has been working in the GIS lab all summer and is back to work during his senior year at Washington College. He works on crime mapping creating maps and tables for different law enforcement agencies. Most of the maps Matt makes are “Welcome Wagon” maps. These maps show all of the people released from jail in a given area for a given period of time. After Matt makes the map he makes a table listing all the people on the map and what they did to be put in jail. Matt can make many different types of maps and tables, and they can all be customized to what any of the number of law enforcement agencies would like to have.

Kim Zepeda ‘12

Kim, like Stephanie, is also on working on improving the mapping rate of the most violent criminals currently on Maryland’s Parole and Probation. With the help and research of student interns the GIS program has assisted in increasing the mapping percentage of the violence prevention initiative offenders from 87% in August 2009 to 96.4% in August 2010 and the mapping percentage of sex offenders from 86.6% in March 2010 to 94% in August 2010.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Digital Education

By: Nick Tremper ‘13

On top of doing its own projects, the Washington College GIS program has continued its commitment to educate others on how to use GIS software to make today’s students more competitive in the geospatial workforce of tomorrow by using the Geospatial Education Technology Initiative (GetIT). Moodle, a virtual learning environment, is used by the GIS lab to teach the material ( ). Our Moodle program debuted last February and has been extremely successful. Students at Washington College, various K-12 schools, and even individuals at home, are able to log onto the website to listen to lectures, perform lab exercises, and interact with other students. This medium allows students to always have access to their coursework, as well as easy access to their instructors. Last January Washington College GIS received a renewal of its BRAC grant which is funded through the Maryland Higher Education Commission. This grant allowed GIS education to be even more accessible to adults throughout Maryland. As part of that grant, Washington College GIS promised to enroll and educate 300 people on GIS and GIS software and is currently on target to reach that number by December 31, 2010. GIS has recently applied for a renewal of the BRAC grant, which will be used to update the curriculum to the new version of GIS software – ArcView 10.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

GIS Close to Home

By: Brittany Skinner ‘13

Last spring I had the pleasure of teaching children from the Alley Teen Center how to operate Google SketchUp, a tool used by the GIS Lab to create 3D buildings. Since a good portion of them had done work with SketchUp before it was easy for them to get back into the swing of things. After a test trial to see what everyone’s skills were, we gave each of them a simple two story house to build and offered prizes to the person with the best house. Hopefully this semester we can pick up right where we left off!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pot Luck Projects

By: Anna Burress ‘13

The GIS lab will be going global this semester! GIS intern Anna Burress will be attending the International Political Science Association’s annual convention in 2012, and as part of her research, she is collecting and interpreting GIS data on the Middle East. She is researching the failure to institute democracy in Pakistan, and in preparation, she is utilizing the capabilities of the GIS to aid in studying current and historical democracy data of the country. Anna is finding that GIS and international studies go hand in hand in these cases. Issues such as the rise of regional ideological groups in place of party affiliation are directly affected by the geographic makeup of the country. Furthermore, clashes between historical ethnic groups that have thrived in Pakistan for centuries can be identified much more effectively with the aid of mapping visuals. Anna is finding that with the help of GIS research, the product that she will take with her to the conference will be much stronger.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Current Projects: Geoweb 3D WC Campus

By: Tyler Brice ‘13

Over the summer the GIS lab embarked on a new and exciting project. This project brings the entire Washington College campus into the virtual world. Using a variety of programs such as Google SketchUp, Google Earth, Digital Photos, ArcMap 10 and Geoweb 3D, the lab is creating an accurate 3D visualization of the campus. The picture to the right is a detailed in-progress snapshot of the campus with accurately modeled buildings, call boxes, light post positions, and trees displaying the correct tree species found throughout WC.

Based on photos of the campus the GIS interns use SketchUp and create the buildings from the ground up to create a detailed, accurate model. Then, using ArcMap and data collected by previous interns, the students bring in detailed point fi les of tree and light post positions. The components were then brought together in Geoweb 3D to create a virtual campus. The GIS lab will use this project to give virtual tours of the campus, shows its appearance at different times of the day with different lighting levels, and even to model its development over the years. All of this brings the campus into the future.

WC Campus in Geoweb 3D as it looks today with accurately modeled buildings, updated call box and light post positions and the correct species of trees found throughout WC.

Example of an unfinished building in Google SketchUp.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alumni in the Spotlight

By: Nichole Bryant ‘09

A graduate of the WC Business Management program, Nichole took an interest in GIS while interning in the lab her senior year. Upon graduation she worked full time in the lab developing the online learning environment. Now, she is enrolled full time in the accelerated Masters of GIS Management Program at Salisbury University. She started in June of this year and already has 1/3 of the program complete! The program provides a practical, hands-on educational experience that prepares students for a career in the administration of GIS.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eye on the Environment: GIS on the Chester

BY; Smaa Koraym ‘13

The goal of GIS on the Chester is to make the Chester River the best mapped river in the United States, while providing an accurate set of data that will help a variety of different groups, show people self-responsibility when using the river, and teach them protection measures needed to preserve the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay for future generations. The project is divided into four parts: Sub-Watershed Analysis, Towns, Natural Resource Areas, and General Themes. With approximately 19 students in the class, Professor Bruce has assigned each of them a different topic to cover diverse aspects of the project. To start off their assignment, each student is responsible for collecting data such as a boundary layer, roads layer, hydrography, and imagery in order to assemble a GIS of their sub-watershed. From there the students will use their skills to analyze any aspect of their choice in regards to the given area. Although each student is working independently, they will all be bringing different information to the table and collaborate, putting their ideas together to help make the Chester River cleaner.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where is GIS Taking You?

By: Tyler Brice ’13 and Corey Stokes ‘13

The GEOINT Conference is the preeminent event of the year for the defense, intelligence and homeland security communities ( Each year the conference has provided attendees a unique opportunity to learn from leading experts, share best practices, and uncover the latest developments from government, military and private-sector leaders. Stewart Bruce, Samantha Bulkilvish ’09, Tyler Brice ’13, and Corey Stokes ’13 will attend this year’s conference in New Orleans from Nov 1-4. The group will participate in the K-14 Academic Track as well as man a table in the exhibit hall.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Depth Finding on the River

The GIS Program has launched our new research boat, the Cee Angel. This will allow us to continue our “GIS on the Chester” mission. In August we installed our ARGUS unit. Check out the ARGUS home page to learn more about this research project (

Points Collected by WC.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


GIS on the Chester attended the Upper Chester River Pilot Watershed meeting a few weeks ago. Representatives from a range of organizations were in attendance, including the University of Maryland, Washington College, DNR, USGS, NRCS, and more. The ultimate goals are to improve outreach to land owners, create a soil and water quality conservation plan, and implement best management practices, as well as to establish a baseline assessment for the watershed's health. If this collaborative project is successful in creating a viable management plan, then the Upper Chester watershed could serve as a model for other watersheds in the future. Hopefully you'll be hearing more from us soon on this exciting project. In the meantime, here are some of the maps we made:

This first one shows the locations of current monitoring sites run by several organizations.

This one shows the current status of historic aerial imagery. The images in the empty portion may exist somewhere, but they haven't been georeferenced yet. In order for aerial imagery to be useful, it has to be georeferenced first - that is to say, someone has to go in and match up the landmarks on the aerial image to their locations on the map, so that the image lines up correctly.

This cool map shows elevation and bathymetry for the watershed area.

This image is from the Quickbird satellite. In simple terms, the Quickbird divides light into a number of spectral "bands" based on wavelength, including wavelengths outside the visible light spectrum such as infrared. The particular band highlighted on this map, Near Infrared, is especially good at showing vegetation. All of the bright green represents biomass.

Finally, this image shows all the parcels that fall partly or entirely inside the watershed area, and their land use classifications. Urban and suburban areas have a different kind of impact on the watershed than agriculture or forested areas, so it's important for watershed analysts to know the primary land use types in an area.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


It's been a while since our last post. Just thought I'd stop in to say that our website is up and running, at

Check it out - all the student project presentations are up. Watch us online and see video demonstrations of what we did in GIS. It's pretty nifty.

Check back regularly for more updates!
-Reported by Emily Aiken '10

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Eye on the Environment: Bathymetric Analysis of the Chester

By: Capt. Zach Hall ‘13

As a bathymetric analyst in Washington College’s GIS Lab, I have the exciting job of heading up the premier bathymetric analysis of the Chester River and surrounding Chesapeake Bay area. Bathymetry deals with the depth of a body of water. Its application is mostly seen in the form of a nautical chart used for navigation on the water. Maritime navigation is tricky and needs to be monitored very closely. Unlike navigating a vehicle on the land, seafaring vessels face constraints by their draft or how low they sit in the water. With these constraints it is vital for mariners to have an accurate and up to date understanding of the changes in the depth of water. My projects deal with the depth of the Chester River and the surrounding bay area. What was once a laborious process using a line with a weight on the end to measure how deep the water is, this data can now be acquired by a depth-finder and logged into an onboard chart plotter every second using an Autonomous Remote Global Underwater Surveillance (Argus). Washington College has partnered with Service Engineering, who developed Argus, to help field test the new device. Using this technology we can get accurate and up-to-date soundings of the river. The data is then compared to the soundings that have been taken of the Chester River by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) many years ago. We are working to re-measure and update the current set of bathymetric data on the Chester and use it to analyze the changes in the riverbed and to map potentially new navigational hazards. The fuel behind our work here on the Chester River is the relatively low boat traffic, which in turn leads to a diminished need for an updated sounding of the area by the government. We hope that as our data accumulates we can ultimately work with government organizations such as NOAA and make the Chester River the most up-to-date and best mapped river in the US.

Monday, April 12, 2010

GIS Close to Home

Staff member Samantha Bulkilvish ‘09 is instructing students at Kent County and Easton High Schools as well as Chestertown Middle School the basics of GIS. She started by putting together a three week intensive course for the STEM students at KCHS which opened the door to the other two schools. Samantha hopes to open new doors for the students by teaching them skills like using Google SketchUp and Google Earth to create a 3-D model of their towns.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Aerial Adventure

This Sunday I spent the day with Hunter Harris of Aloft Aerial Photography. A few days before setting flight I contacted Hunter to see what I needed to do. After listening to his advice I chose to concentrate on getting images of 11 historic sites along the river. He also suggested that I bring extra clothes, as it is much colder in the sky.

We met at the Easton Airport Terminal a little after 10:30 and then I followed him to his hangar. While Hunter was getting ready for flight he had me condense my maps and put them into clear plastic envelopes so they would be easier to handle in the air.

As we taxied down the runway I got a good lesson on how airport traffic is handled. Hunter and I communicated in the plane through headsets which also broadcasted the control tower and of course Chestertown’s radio station, WCTR. I got some of the best shots I’ve ever taken or seen of the Chesapeake Bay area. The window to the left side of the pilot has a cut out so that the image won’t get distorted through glass. Hunter focused on getting shots of the historic houses, while I took shots of everything I could out my window. We spent about an hour in the air, and then it was time to land. Hunter dropped me off at the hanger with plans of taking a short break and then heading south in the plane to get some work done.

Being up in the air was like being on an hour long roller coaster ride. Hunter explained that as the earth heats up through the day warm air rises in columns. Sunday was no exception; there were plenty of bumps in the ride caused by these lifts. We traveled at amazing speeds. In no time at all we went from Easton, to Rock Hall, then back to Kent Island. We were even able to fly over my Uncle’s house in Huntingfield to say hello to my mother and father who were working in his yard! This was a very special experience, one that I will not soon forget. Thanks Hunter and Stew for giving me this opportunity.

-Reported by John Anderson '11

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Day on the Water

First day of hands-on field testing! My project for this year has been focused on water testing; in addition to collecting existing data from sources like USGS and the Maryland DNR, I'm hoping to set up a water testing network for GIS and Washington College students to use in the future. You could consider this my "beta testing stage," in a way - by going out and actually doing the water testing, when I write up my instructions for students to come, I can include details on what worked and didn't work.

We got an early start... VERY early, by college student schedules! I was up and in the chemistry lab at 8:15 AM to pick up the testing kits & other supplies, and by 8:45 we were headed down to the boathouse. We didn't get back until late afternoon, 5 PM or so. I was surprised that we covered so much ground, because I wasn't expecting to get too far beyond Cliffs City, but we got a lot done in one day. It was a beautiful day on the water: we were moving fast enough most of the time to have a pleasant breeze, but when we stopped it would warm up fast.

This was only my second time out on the boat, but this time we were well-equipped with lunch, drinks, sunscreen... All the essentials. Not to mention the water testing supplies, and my safety goggles and gloves, since I actually did all my testing and analysis while on the boat. When you're handling acids on a moving vessel, you want to make sure that you have all the appropriate gear on hand. Safety first! One of the nice things I discovered about the pontoon boat is that you can collect water samples by just laying on the end of the boat and sticking your arm in the water, which is very convenient, if a little funny-looking.

An interesting note about water sampling - one of the most important tests we performed, dissolved oxygen, is very finicky. It must be performed as soon as possible after the water sample is taken. Fish and other aquatic organisms need oxygen just like we do, and they rely on the oxygen dissolved in the water in order to breathe; too little oxygen in the water can result in a "dead zone" where nothing can live. But exposing a water sample to air for too long can change the amount of dissolved oxygen in it, and that's bad for your data. So that's why it was so important to do the testing on the boat, rather than waiting to do it on solid ground. Overall it worked pretty well.

Caryn and John met us at Cliffs City, and we spent the afternoon photographing historic houses, docks, and buoys. If you look at the map up above, you'll see a few places where our path doubles back on itself, or goes around in circles. That was us trying to get good photographs of all the buoys! A lot of them had writing on them, labeling special harvest areas and such. Stew thought it would be a good idea to get close-up photos of that writing. That way, we'd have the GPS points, and we would know what the buoys meant just by looking at the pictures. But sometimes it would take a few tries to get the angle just right... and sometimes we would just run into the buoy. Oops.

After plenty of exploration - you can see from the map that we almost made it to Rock Hall - we dropped Caryn and John off at Cliffs City again, and headed for home. I took one last water sample along the way home, and then we were done for the day. I'm hoping to get the chance to do this again soon!

-Reported by Emily Aiken '10

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eye on the Environment: GIS on the Chester

By: Elise Keller ‘10

The goal of GIS on the Chester is to make the Chester River the best mapped river in the United States, while providing accurate data that will help a variety of different groups, show people self-responsibility when using the river, and teach them protection measures needed to preserve the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay for future generations. Professor Stew Bruce’s students work on a different aspect of the project. Marta Laskowski ‘12 examines historic and recent oyster bars that are along the Chester River. She wants to map out oyster areas that are currently protected and others that will be protected under new legislation. Marta will identify watermen who fish for oysters and collect data on oyster fishing licenses. Matt Stiles ‘12 is mapping the locations of public boat landings and where they are on the river. He will also collect data about public fishing. Ellen Liebenow ’12 is working with Stew Bruce to locate point and nonpoint source pollution along the Chester River; they will then put the high polluters into a color coding map. Student Emily Aiken ’10 will collect water test data and then create a point file hyper linking the data to spatial locations. While each student works on something different, they collaborate in order to make the Chester River cleaner.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heading South

Today we went south on the boat since last week we went north. Sounded like a good reason to me.

John Anderson, Emily Aiken, Samantha Bulkilvish, and I went out. John was looking to get more historic houses and this time he prepared a field map that exactly identified which homes along the river were considered historic house by the Maryland Historic Trust ( Emily was scouting sites for her project on establishing an environmental water testing grid on the river.

Before we left we had a nice talk with John Wagner, Waterfront Director, and told him of our idea to test water coming out of the town sewer plant. He informed us something we did not know which is the town now dumps the outflow from the sewer plant from a pipe that is submerged into the river. We need to find the exact location of this pipe so we can submerge a test collector and sample right where the outflow comes into the river. I thought we would find a simple pipe draining right into Radcliffe Creek and we could just sample the outflow as it poured out of the pipe.

In addition to John Anderson getting a lot of house images we also helped Matt out and got a lot of dock images for his project. We videotaped a couple of marinas too for Matt. Note to self, we need a better video camera with a gyro stabilizer.

The highlight of the trip I think was when we saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree next to the river.

Photo courtesy of John Anderson

When it flew away we got to see an aerial bird fight as the osprey seemed to chase it away. And we saw more deer which I got on video tape along with osprey sitting around. With all of this and the literally hundreds of different other kinds of seagulls, ducks, cormorants, and other birds it was like the wild kingdom on the Chester today. Another great day on the river!

-Reported by Stewart Bruce

Monday, March 29, 2010

Late Night Bath

Andrew Newell is doing his class project on a bathymetric analysis of the Chester River and was having trouble finding the data from the NOAA site. There is this thing called ENC Direct and you can download vector files but it seems kind of clunky way to go about it. I did some more searching and stumbled across a cool site ( where you can search for actual bathymetric surveys. I did a word search on Chester and instantly found digital versions of the 1846 survey of the Chester. Pretty cool. Later on that night I leaned there is also a web map search version which is oh so much easier then the text search I started with. I also found 1898 maps and 1940 maps that had actual digital xyz data. I thought this is exactly what Andrew needs.

Then I wondered if I remembered how to turn that into a 3d scene of the bathymetric data so I could quickly show Andrew how to do it in our weekly meeting the next day. This was about 9 pm. I went ahead and converted the xyz text into an excel spreadsheet and brought this into ArcView. I used the Add XY event tool and created a point file. Then I used the point to IDW raster and made a raster image of the points. I brought this into ArcScene and then used the option to layer the raster surface against the z values for depth. This should make a cool 3D surface.

It did not work. I used a vertical exaggeration rate of 5 as this is what I had been using when I did the same 3D surface when I used elevation data on the area around campus. I tried several things, redid the entire process and even used the online help to see if I was doing something stupid. Well finally after a few hours I figured out that I need to make the vertical exaggeration 200, not 5. Victory!

The other interesting thing to realize is that the latest bathymetric survey of the river dates from 1940. We can also digitize the older surveys and look at change in depth over time. This will be a lot of work so I suggested to Andrew the next day that he do one small area as a pilot project and future students can pick up where he leaves off. While I don’t think Andrew will get a chance to do this when we get the prototype Argus unit ( on the Reinell we can then track the same survey line that they did in 1846 and compare depth change from 1846 to 2010. That is change over a 164 year period. Should turn out to be very interesting indeed.

-Reported by Stewart Bruce

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On the River Again

Spring has sprung and the weather finally got nice enough to take the old pontoon boat out on the water so we could start collecting data for our GIS on the Chester project. Our new donated boat, a 22 foot Reinell, is trapped at Handy Point Marina by sailboats until they put these boats back in the water. We boated right past the new CES research vessel with envy in our eyes and decided to head up river since it really was kind of windy. John Anderson, Matt Stiles and I were on board with Andrew Wright acting as Captain. It felt really good to be back on the water after a long and blizzard like winter.

Matt needed to collect images of docks for his class project and John was looking to get some images of historic homes from the river for his river tour guide map project. I brought along our really cool Ricoh camera with built-in GPS so we could collect images and GPS points. The Ricoh camera is nice but the GPS Photo Link software that goes with it allows you to simply take a picture and after you process it the software creates a shapefile with a hyperlink to the image already for you saving hours back in the lab. This means more time for us to do fieldwork of course. John brought his own camera but had no way to record what he was taking so he used the Ricoh too. I think his camera may be better but it doesn’t have GPS.

It was a little chilly but we all had jackets. Next time we need to take hats as we all got red faces from sunburn. Just because its cold doesn’t mean you don’t get sunburn. Andrew used the boat hook pole to check depth so we did not mess up the new propeller on the new engine. We had to cycle the new engine to break it in so we took a rather lazy track up river. We saw lots of Osprey nests and one Bald Eagle nest where we could see the white head of the eagle. And we saw a small herd of deer swimming across one of the small creeks too but too fast for us to get a picture. The map shows our route and we plan to make one of these maps every time we go out on the river so check back on our progress.

When we finally got back to the boathouse the rowers were out and so was the Sultana so we did a little diversion to check these out. (These are the little circles on our route map) We ended up down at the yacht club and used our video camera to record the marina there. A single picture won’t do justice to any of the marinas so we decided to video tape all marinas. It is interesting now that most of them are empty with all the boats on shoppers. We will redo the videos at the peak of summer so we can see the contrast.

-Reported by Stewart Bruce

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pot Luck Projects

Food, People, & Planet Mapping

By: Heather Black ‘13

The diets of human beings have changed dramatically throughout history. When comparing the diets of tribal groups to those of the modern western world, one can see that there is also a large contrast. We all know how modern diets impact our health, but just what types of food were involved in the diets of tribal groups? Are they healthier than ours? And where are they located? Professor Schindler’s GRW class: Food, People, and the Planet, set out to answer these questions and with the help of Andrew Wright used GIS software to map the location of each group. The project involved studying the research of Weston Price, a dentist who traveled the world and documented the diets of 14 different groups isolated from the industrialized world. The class discovered that the diets were vastly different from ours and consisted of variety raw foods including raw milk and dairy products, unprocessed grains, organ meats, and quality animal fats. Dr. Price also documented the almost complete absence of tooth decay, obesity, and the other “western” diseases such as diabetes we currently suffer from in the modern western world. The class placed this data into excel sheets and with the help of Andrew Wright used ArcGIS 9.3 to map the information, showing the locations of the different groups.

Professor Bill Schindler:
"People making important changes the modern food system and our diets are still utilizing the data the Weston Price collected in the 1930's. Many of these people believe that infor¬mation such as this can provide better guidance for how humans should be eating than modern food science can."

Cartographer: Ann Hoang ‘13

Alumni in the Spotlight

Samuel Evans‘09

Sam frequently uses ArcGIS for normal things like digitizing or geocoding, but he also gets the chance to do fun things like building custom geoprocessing tools. He is actually in the process of using the ArcGIS software development kit to build completely customized application from the ground up. He regularly programs in C, C++, C#, Python, Java, and VBScript, just to name a few. He works for a development, research and commercialization firm.

Current Projects: Bay Watch Chesapeake

By: Caroline Grier ‘10

The Washington College GIS Department in partnership with Aloft Aerial Photography has designed a new pilot project that will allow concerned local citizens to report environmental problems in the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay suffers from numerous environmental problems. While some are reported many remain unreported and unresolved. To help solve this dilemma the GIS lab created a central reporting and tracking program that is tied with a web mapping interface. This allows anyone to view all the locations of the problems and the status of each reported problem. Once a problem is reported and mapped, different Federal, state, and local non-profit organizations can take action. The Bay Watch Chesapeake pilot will determine if it is feasible to have all of these recorded problems in a single accessible source available to everyone. By completing a beta version of the program we have taken a huge step forward bringing environmental protection and awareness to the age of Facebook & Twitter.

Above is a pilot of our program that allows individuals to report environmental violations through the use of Google Maps.

Chris Farley ‘11
“Working on the Google API code and Bay Watch has enhanced my knowledge of the environmen¬tal problems on the bay and has furthered my knowledge in GIS and computer coding.”

Otto Borden ‘13
“Working on the Bay Watch project has taught me a lot about Google API and Java Script. “

Example of a problem being reported.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Crime! Works So Good it’s Practically Criminal

Maryland Crime Mapping and Analysis Program

With a renewed grant, the GIS lab continues its work to provide crime mapping in the state of Maryland. The Washington College GIS Lab also conducts an outreach program, which invites law enforcement agencies to sign up for crime mapping training. Caryn Thomas ’05 M’09 and Andrew Wright guide student interns in the lab. Here are some recent projects that these students are doing.

Mary Kelley ‘11
I am working on a project to evaluate differences in crime rates between communities designed with the principles of new urbanism verses traditional cul-de-sac style communities. This is a fairly controversial subject and should generate a lot of interest when I publish the final report.

Tracey Bienemann ‘11
I am working with the 2000 United States Census data to define disadvantaged census
blocks based on previous research. The challenging census data first had to be decoded to determine what exactly each column of data contained, followed by selecting the criteria found to be important in the classification of disadvantage level in census blocks. Once the data is decoded, the necessary criteria will be brought to a map, and then it will be organized to show the chosen data in ranks to display census blocks containing some of the following features: low income, high numbers of vacant housing and house/apartment renters, high percentages of school drop-outs, high percentages of mother-only households and high percentages of unemployment. Determining disadvantaged neighborhoods may allow authorities to further aid those who are impoverished and in danger of crime. One area that maps may focus on is census blocks around the city of Baltimore.

Jeffrey Nutting ‘13
Once I graduate from Washington College my career goal is working with the FBI. When I learned there were openings within the crime analysis and mapping division of the GIS program I saw it as a great opportunity. The crime maps, among other work I’ve been doing this year, has helped reinforce my goal. This year has been a great experience and is extremely beneficial for me. I appreciate the opportunity that has been given to me to work with in the lab.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Geospatial Technology Summer Camp

By: Smaa Koryam ‘13

During the time period June 20th - 26th, the GIS lab at Washington College will be hosting a Computer Mapping Technology Summer Camp. Computer mapping technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) offer great professional opportunities for the future. For this reason, Washington College has designed the summer camp to expose students to the field, allowing them to apply skills and address real community issues. During this exciting and stimulating week, students will engage in A Day in the Field, where they will collect data and from it derive a project, which they will later present to their family and fellow campers. Along with this, campers will also have the opportunity to enjoy activities such as kayaking, swimming, and the grand GIS scavenger hunts. If interested please go to and download the appropriate forms or contact GIS Educator Samantha Bulkilvish for questions or concerns.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Digital Education

By Nich Tremper ‘13

The Washington College Geographic Information Systems lab has continued its commitment to provide education to students today to make them competitive in the geospatial workforce of tomorrow through the Geospatial Education Technology Initiative (GetIT). The curriculum is taught through an online classroom called Moodle. Our Moodle program currently moved to a new more user friendly, website (, that is used by WC students in GIS classes, adult professionals utilizing distance learning and K-12 schools throughout the country. Our new website allows these students easier access to our staff and other means of assistance as they go through the curriculum.

Through a renewal of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) grant we are able to offer quality education in GIS to Maryland adults who want to begin learning (or continue learning) about GIS.

Our program also developed a way to help K-12 schools across America. The GetIT program allows teachers to use our curriculum to teach GIS to their students; however the program is designed to be easier for teachers to introduce data from their own areas to make GIS more applicable to their students.

The site has a guest accessible section featuring our special topics courses.

This is an incredible feat and none of it would be possible without the hard work of our student interns; Heather Black ‘13, Otto Borden 13’, Anna Burress ‘13, Glenn Chew 13’, Joe DeStefano ‘13, Caroline Grier ‘10, Andrew Hale ‘10, Elise Keller ‘10, Smaa Koraym 13’, Nich Tremper ‘13 and Megan Wise ‘10.

Our New Training Site

Screen Capture from Digitizing Lesson