Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hunter H. Harris appointed as new Research Associate at Washington College GIS Program

I am very excited to announce that Hunter Harris, President of Aloft Aerial Photography, has joined our GIS team at Washington College as a research associate to educate our students on how to work with aerial photography and aerial video. I encourage you to check out his website at http://www.flyaloft.com. Hunter is truly an amazing guy with decades of experience flying airplanes, seaplanes, gliders, jets, helicopters, and blimps. He flew the Pink Floyd Blimp “Division Belle” promoting their 1994 world tour, for example. He is also an excellent photographer and his skills will be a valuable asset to our program while his knowledge and experience will greatly help our students broaden their experiences while at the college.

Hunter has long standing ties to the college. His grandfather and father were both Washington College graduates and his family are 6th generation residents of Kent County, Maryland - newcomers, so to speak, for long term Eastern Shore residents. We have been involved with Hunter for years now and strongly support his concerns over the environmental degradation of the Chesapeake Bay. His exhibit “The Bay From Above” was recently featured at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum showing early aerial images and present day aerial images of various locations around the Chesapeake Bay.

In his new role as a research associate, he will act as a mentor to several students including Michael Baker, Gavin Townsend, and Caitlyn Riehl in the GIS lab. In exchange, our students will help his company enter a new age of digital products, social media, and web marketing. Stay tuned because there is going to be some really revolutionary products coming out of our association with Hunter and the dedicated hard work of our students.

Find out more about Hunter's work in this video:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Open Educational Resources Movement and Geospatial Technology

I recently read an article by David DiBiase in the Fall 2009 online digital copy of Cartographic Perspectives: Journal of the North American Cartographic Information Society, called “Freeing CP: GIS&T and NACIS in the Open Educational Resources Movement.” Check out this website and scroll down the page to read the article yourself: http://www.nacis.org/index.cfm?x=5.

This really got me wondering what we are doing with our online geospatial curriculum on our http://geoworkshops.org site. For many years now I have offered this curriculum free to any K-12 school that wants it since we developed these materials with local, state, and federal grant money - but I want to take it a little bit further now.

As we update our materials to ArcGIS 10, I have started posting my new lectures to YouTube under our GIS3wcGetIt account and will also be posting them to Teacher Tube and Itunes University as some schools block access to YouTube. You can view our growing YouTube collection for our GT-101 course by going to this LINK. We will allow immediate guest access to our older six courses on ArcGIS 9.3 and as we update and improve our materials for ArcGIS 10, we will also permit guest access to these courses as well. All of our materials are posted using the Creative Commons Attribution license and use is restricted to non-commercial use.

Over the next few months we will be creating a share site where you will be able to download all of the materials we used to make these courses. We encourage people to use these, and if you think you can improve our materials, we welcome the help and hope you send the improvements back to us. We will put credits on the materials whenever someone helps us in this way. By giving the original source materials out this will be easy to do.

Now you may wonder how we will sustain this or make any money if we give all of our materials away. Well we do have existing training contracts to supply training to a number of groups at costs that are way below market value for professional development GIS courses. These students will be able to upload assignments for comment and helpful suggestions from our qualified staff who use GIS every day in their work. Our paying students will also be able to consult us for help with the lessons and any other GIS question they have via email, phone, and interactive web meetings using software such as Adobe Connect. And when they finish the course, they will receive formal documentation of their accomplishments that they can use to further their careers and for certification purposes where continuing education must be documented. I think we will make out just fine and feel good about it too.

If you agree, liking us on our Facebook account would be helpful.


Written by Stewart Bruce, GIS Program Coordinator at Washington College

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mapping the Past: The Surveys of George Washington - A Lecture Presented by Washington College

On February 22nd, 2012 Washington College will be playing host to an exciting event for the celebration of its namesake’s birthday. At 5:00 PM in the Gibson Center for the Arts’ Decker Theatre, Mr. Edward Redmond, Senior Reference Specialist and Curator in the Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division, will be giving his lecture on the maps of George Washington. Mr. Redmond is not only an internationally recognized authority on George Washington’s maps but prior to his work with the Library of Congress he taught Early American History at West Chester University and is now working on an atlas of George Washington’s maps. With such a noteworthy authority, this lecture is sure to be nothing but eye opening and informative. Mapping the Past: The Surveys of George Washington is hosted by the Center of Environment and Society of Washington College, the Geographic Information Systems Laboratory, and the GRW Program. A number of paintings of George Washington as a surveyor can be found here.

In conjunction with Mr. Redmond’s lecture, an exhibit of approximately ten of George Washington’s maps will be on display in the William Frank Visual Arts Hallway of the Gibson Center for the Arts. This exhibit will available for viewing from February 18th- 26th, 2012. The maps that will be displayed range in years from 1748 to 1793 and are all maps that Washington himself drew, from one of his first maps, or Lawrence Washington’s turnip garden at Mount Vernon, to land surveys and a few maps depicting his estate at Mount Vernon. Accompanying each of the maps will be a short description of the map as well as a locator map to give the viewer a better understanding of the location of the area.

Can’t make the lecture? Don’t fret! In making the effort to make this wonderful lecture available to a broad audience, the entire lecture will be streamed live online through a webcast at http://live.washcoll.edu, which is provided by the Office of Information Technologies at Washington College. The program will begin at approximately 4:50 PM on February 22nd, 2012. By making this lecture available to the public and online, we hope that Mr. Redmond’s lecture will be an enjoyable experience for all.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

The Washington College GIS Program Provides Mapping and Data Services to Maryland Health Resource Centers

In partnership with the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission, the GIS program has been working for the past year and a half to provide in-depth mapping services and data analysis to federally qualified health centers and other health care providers in the state of Maryland. Many of these health care providers focus on low-income, uninsured, and other high-risk populations. By combining demographic analysis, patient data, and spatial analysis, GIS can help community health resources target the people most in need of their services more effectively.

The maps are custom-produced to best fit the needs of each respective organization. Some products are used for reference purposes and are as simple as a map of the current and proposed health center locations. Others are much more complex; for instance, overlaying regional poverty and infant mortality data to pinpoint areas of highest concern. With organizations that have signed an a formal agreement with us, we also perform detailed patient distribution mapping which helps health centers determine exactly where their patients are coming from and what health indicators they exhibit. However, in this situation, we must take data security very seriously because of HIPAA requirements; thus, maps utilizing patient data are not available for public view.

Most recently, the GIS lab is working with the Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC) on a major overhaul of their website. In addition to updating the layout that will enable the CHRC to coordinate with other Maryland government sites, the latest site will also boast new content and features. Visitors will be able to pull up information on the CHRC’s special projects and targeted goals, browse an interactive map of the 78 health grantees, and search for nearby health centers by address using a custom Microsoft Silverlight application. This project is nearing completion, so look for the new and improved site to debut soon!

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