Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Prince George's County Police Ride Along

Mia, Tony and Sam had the opportunity to go on a ride along with the Prince George’s County Police DUI Team that they have been doing analysis for during the summer. 

The streets of Prince George's County are not known for being the safest place.  Throughout the night they made several stops ranging from tail lights being out to driving under the influence.  One of the DUI’s involved a drunk man pulled over to the side of the road because his car was out of gas.  Next to him was his sober significant other and an 8 month old child.  Another interesting sight was an individual stopped at a green light due to being high on PCP.  The officers later said that this was just a very “mild” Thursday night.

The most exciting moment of the night for Sam was probably the several minute long (speed limit abiding) car chase with Officer Jesus Yambot, which ended with the culprit being tackled and slammed onto the hood of the police car while he sat in the passenger seat.

For them, it was nice to finally be able to grasp how the ETIX process works.  ETIX are basically electronic tickets instead of paper tickets.  It was interesting to see how they are able to scan a person’s drivers license (providing the barcode on the back is not mutilated which they saw on the ride along) and instantly bring up all their personal information rather than having to physically write it down which can take a long time.

ETIX data is a primary source of data for the MHSO team and sometimes the data is not very accurate or is incomplete.  This causes problems for when they need to map the points or do analysis, and can even add a lot of extra work having to manually place XY coordinates in. Sam mentioned: " I used to not be able to fathom why an officer would leave these fields blank, but after seeing how much technical trouble they have with the outdated computers in their car, I became a lot more understanding."

Lastly it helped the team gain an understanding of the dangerous situations that these officers have to deal with on a daily basis, and the small amount of time they have to react when things go south". He also said: "In the future when I see a news article about a cop who did something controversial in the heat of the moment I would think twice before blaming them for doing the wrong thing".

This experience was a very positive one for Sam, he mentioned lastly: "Becoming more involved in the work that you do is always a good thing.  I could view all the data as just rows of numbers that I need to turn into hotspots, but by involving myself at the root of the process I am able to see first-hand what needs improvement and what I can do in the future to provide them with the best analysis possible.  Also even something as little as building a relationship with the officers you are studying and asking them simple questions such as “what could we do to make you more effective” can go a long way and provide you with information you may not get at a staff meeting".  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Local Crime Map of Campus Useful to Many

Alicia DeBonis is a Junior at Washington College and is currently majoring in Sociology. She is from Middletown, DE and is interested in traveling.

     Crime always plays a role in society. It limits where people will choose to live, where one may send their children to school, and the local flow of traffic. These things are also reflected when one thinks about colleges and the amount of crime that can take place on campus. Many incoming students and their parents wouldn’t want to attend a school where there is a high crime rate. Mapping crime reports help show that there is a small density of crime on the Washington College Campus.

Summer at GIS

As students leave for summer, GIS is not as busy as it is during the school year with half of its student workers around. This summer, Melody joined our team and experienced the positive environment in sunny Chestertown.

Melody said: "I was looking for a summer job because I decided to stay in the United Sates for the duration of summer and I was too excited to get a reply from Stew Bruce for a tour and an interview. I have never heard of GIS before, I only knew it because my other boss Kate McCleary recommended it to me and a couple of my friends worked there. I did not have a clue what GIS was except that it was related to maps".

After a tour, Stew offered Melody a position on the social media and marketing team because of her previous experience in that field. Currently Melody is managing marketing and advertising for GIS and its clients, the MapStory Foundation and the Upper Shore Harvest Directory.

She mentioned: "Now that summer is about to end, I realized that I learned a huge deal from my experience here at GIS, I learned how to work directly with businesses, how to manage working on many projects and getting them professionally done, and I also learned many tricks and skills that I applied to social media for GIS and our other customers". Melody went on a DC work conference and met with MapStory, she also met with the Upper Shore Regional Council in Chestertown. She said: "This taught me how to be a better person at what I do and improved my long term objectives, especially with social media as this is one of my many experiences in this field. I am truly thankful to have had this opportunity to spend my summer here".

Helping the UN with Ground Water Improvement in Darfur

Ground Water Improvement in Darfur, Sudan

As the Sudanese region, Darfur, continues to recover from genocidal tragedies, its people must cope with the land’s limited ground water resources. Mohamed Ali, a Darfuri worker for United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) had been tasked with assessing the ground water situation of an area of interest within the region.  This assessment was to be done using Geographic Information System (GIS) methods, but with little experience and technological access, Mohamed turned to the Washington College GIS program for help.

After taking Stewart Bruce’s free online classes via , Mohamed contacted Mr. Bruce for direct assistance on the project.  As this project would open up the GIS program to a new international level, it was accepted with excitement.  Students including Melody Qanadilo, Kelley Holocker, and upcoming freshman Daniel Ortiz all contributed to the early stages in the project’s development. Their progress can be seen on the beta interactive webpage, made by Thomas Fish.  The team, led by Brad Janocha, will ultimately use remote sensing and contemporary imagery to develop GIS solutions to ground water scarcity in the region.

The Darfur project has created a link between the Washington College GIS lab and the international community; by reaching out to people in need, the significance of this program will continue to grow.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

History in the Making

     When Jackelyn Gitlin, first came to Washington College she did not know anything about GIS. However, she had a few friends who worked at the Lab, and their positive experiences prompted her to respond to an e-mail calling for interns with experience working with Photoshop. Since then, this history major and co-President of the Washington College Historical Society has had the opportunity to work with local organizations pursuing her passion for history.

      Jackelyn has worked with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum of St. Michaels, where she used Photoshop to clean up a cracked and stained map from the 1880’s. She says that the image editing software allowed her to “bring the map back to life.” She has also used Photoshop to colorize old photographs of Chestertown from 1927, and photographs of the Washington College campus from the 1960’s. Right now she is colorizing an old sketch of Baltimore.