GIS Center Hosts Regional Conference

The GIS Center for Interdisciplinary Research hosted a regional Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Conference on Friday, January 9. This is the fourth year that this intersession conference has been offered.  Twenty-one people, from both academia and industry, attended the conference. The attending instructional technologists, faculty, and local GIS practitioners discussed how they are using GIS, new tools and statistical methods, and their experiences in general. Overall, the attendees to the conference enjoyed the mix of participants, the breadth of presenter expertise and content, and the chance to meet and converse with others.

There were three presenters visiting from academic institutions. Carol Cady, from St. Lawrence University, presented on “Mapping Existing and Potential Forest and Grassland Biomass Resources in St. Lawrence County, NY, Using GIS.” Carol’s presentation highlighted a vector-based approach to identifying croplands and pastures that may have potential for growing switchgrass for biomass. Jenni Lund, from Wheaton College, delivered her presentation (co-authored with Andy Anderson from Amherst College) titled, “Morans I: Are those clusters random or meaningful?” Her presentation looked at crime data from New Orleans and used the Morans I statistic to determine if the crime distribution was random or if there was statistically significant geographic clustering occurring. Sharron Macklin, from Williams College, presented “Developing, Managing and Supporting GIS: Spatial Technologies in the Liberal Arts.” In her presentation she discussed the implications of managing GIS on a college campus, including licensing options, training/education philosophy, and other practical suggestions for GIS support staff.

Two conference presenters were from Skidmore College. K. Maeve Powlick, Department of Economics, offered a hands-on session titled, “Using Modelbuilder and Python Coding to Automate Demographic Analysis.” Her workshop gave users the opportunity to work with a GIS model, to view how Modelbuilder integrates with GIS tools, and to understand how looping can be used to automate tasks. Sharon P. McLelland, a student in the MALS program, offered her presentation, “Meteorological Influences on Mercury Air Pollution in the Adirondacks.” In her project, GIS was used for organizing a large amount of data from different sources, for determining sample sites, and for her environmental analysis.

There were two presentations from local professionals in the GIS industry. James A. Zack, from Saratoga Associates, presented, “Use of GIS, Landscape Visualization Software, and Applications Programming to Validate Visual Impacts and to Guide Regulatory Policy.” He overviewed his process for visualizing potential development along a lakeshore, guiding potential policy decisions with regards to tree thinning, optimizing distances and angles for siting homes, and maintaining the natural visual character of the mountainside. His presentation sparked a conversation about GIS software and 3D visualization alternatives in the marketplace. Linda Rockwood, from Mohawk Valley GIS, presented, “Manifold IMS: An affordable, true GIS, internet map service.” Her talk highlighted a GIS website that she completed for the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission. She went on to show how desktop Manifold GIS can create an interactive GIS website. For many participants this was a first look at Manifold GIS, and attendees seemed interested to learn more.

- Alex Chaucer, GIS Instructional Technologist, Academic Technologies

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