Do you have “Open University” days where you are? Here in Southampton, in the United Kingdom, every March each university opens its doors to the public. Students, staff and spouses have stands around the university where they do demonstrations or share their science subjects. Most of this is hands-on and each is a great day out for the children who get to crush skulls under pressure and play with hydrographic survey vessels at the National Oceanographic Centre, or build robots, check out the wind tunnel or see musical fire at Southampton University.
What is the relevance? This is what GIS Day is all about. In 1999, Esri set aside one day to celebrate GIS. For more than two decades the day has been celebrated, and today is this year’s day! It is celebrated by almost all GIS professionals, with many companies opening their doors or opening internal departments to allow visitors in to see or talk to their GIS teams. This year will be a little different due to COVID-19 lockdowns here in the UK, but there will still be many virtual events being hosted globally. You can find some that interest you through the GIS Day mobile app from Esri: Download Android here or Apple Here
GIS professionals shout and scream about how geospatial is pivitol to enabling the world around us by providing a geospatial context to information. No matter how much they shout, the message still seems to fall on deaf ears. GIS Day gives the geospatial men and women of the world an opportunity to share and inspire co-workers and external visitors with how the geospatial element can improve or assist in their current workflows.
A great example of this was during a GIS Day event I held over a decade ago. We had some visitors who worked in banking and insurance and wanted to know a little more about this “GIS thing” that they had heard about. Initially, one of the directors was reluctant to let them in, as they didn’t see the point. After the team showed how they were using information overlaid to extract information, conversation soon led to how that could be used to identify risk. This conversation then went on to find that they could easily analyze and add weighted risk based on the cumulative effect in certain areas. Until that point, the company had been using spreadsheets and dated information, which was based on a standard in the industry.
This is a great example of where the team got a chance to make a difference and even get involved in some interesting and different work but also help a company improve and reduce cost, while being able to provide a better product to its clients. If you want to read more GIS Day stories, there are many available here.
So, please join in and get involved. If you don’t do GIS or geospatial but are looking to find out what it is, then GIS Day is for you. We won’t bite, we won’t judge you, we just want to share with you some ideas on how we can help you.
…and then the day after is PostGIS day, but that is another story…