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JIS News

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day will be observed tomorrow (November 17) under the theme: ‘Geographic Information Systems and Disaster Management’.
The day is a global event for users and vendors of GIS technology, to educate and showcase real-world applications of this important technology to schools, businesses and the general public. The day is also a part of Geography Awareness Week, which is being observed this week.
Cecille Blake, National GIS Co-ordinator in the Ministry of Land and Environment told JIS News that several activities have been organised to observe the day.
“We have to celebrate GIS technology because of the countless benefits that it provides, not only to us here in Jamaica, but also to the world,” she said. To observe the Day, a ceremony will be held at the Assembly Hall, University of the West Indies, beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Dr. Barbara Carby, Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) will deliver the opening address.
In addition, representatives from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Water Resources Authority, Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo) and the National Water Commission (NWC), among other agencies, will make a series of presentations.
“They will look at the challenges they experienced in managing their resources during Hurricane Ivan, including if they used GIS technology, and if it make the process easier,” Miss Blake explained.
During lunch (12:00 to 2:00 p.m.), there will be a special technology roll-out session, conducted by the private firm, Spatial Innovision, which will involve the unveiling of the new version of the software ArcGIS Version 9.
Following lunch, a panel discussion entitled ‘GIS and Disaster Management: The Way Forward’ will be held, with facilitator, Miss Diane Gordon from the Jamaica Bauxite Institute. Representatives from the National Works Agency, ODPEM, and JPSCo, among others, will sit on the panel.
Throughout the day, live demonstrations of GIS and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) will be conducted, and a number of agencies, including the National Land Agency and the Mines and Geology Division, will demonstrate how GIS is being utilised in day-to-day operations.
A GIS represents computer software, data and solutions used by a plethora of agencies, businesses and governments. It takes any information that is related to land and allows the user to put it in a data base form. Locations such as streets, buildings and water features are turned into visual layers, and users have the ability to see the geographic features on a map.
“It gives users a better understanding of a particular location and it enables users, such as planners and analysts to make more informed decisions. It really provides the ability to combine different data,” Miss Blake said.
“For instance, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture carried out such an exercise to identify, which were the most suitable sites in the western part of the island to build their new schools. With a combination of socio-economic information and geography, in terms of terrain and water supply, and so on, the GIS provided a multi-sectoral analysis to allow for efficient decision making,” she informed.
Last year marked the fifth global GIS Day. Over 1,000 organisations hosted GIS Day events in more than 80 countries.