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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The day was observed under the theme: ‘Geospatial Solutions Addressing Global Challenges’.
  • The students viewing displays from government and private sector companies on how the technology is being used in their operations.
  • GIS is an information system, designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data.

Scores of students from schools across the island converged at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies on Wednesday, November 20, to participate in activities marking Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day 2013.

The day was observed under the theme: ‘Geospatial Solutions Addressing Global Challenges’, and saw the students viewing displays from government and private sector companies on how the technology is being used in their operations. The event was also being streamed live to Guyana, which was celebrating its first GIS Day.

GIS is an information system, designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data.

Addressing the students, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, informed them that Jamaica has been utilising the technology for over 10 years and approximately 60 government agencies use it in their operations.

The Minister said he was particularly excited that the GIS technology is now being utilised in schools. “Our educators are increasingly becoming aware that GIS is an excellent learning tool, particularly for the teaching of geography in schools. This was the motivation behind the launch of the Geographic Information Systems in Schools Education Programme (GISSEP),” he said.

The GISSEP was introduced in schools by the Land Information Council of Jamaica (LICJ) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education some 12 years ago.

The Minister informed that to date, several teachers have been trained in GIS and over 100 secondary schools have benefitted from training and software. He also noted that several tertiary level institutions, including teacher training colleges, are now delivering GIS courses.

“As future decision makers, the knowledge that you, our students stand to gain from utilising GIS and related technologies, will enable you to assume leadership positions in increasingly complex cultural and environmental situations, and subsequently make a positive mark on the world,” he said.

In the meantime, Principal Director of the National Spatial Data Management Division of the Ministry, Rohan Richards, noted that the primary goal of the day’s activities is to promote awareness about the importance of GIS and its related technologies, its relevance to society, and how it affects the lives of the general public.

“GIS Day allows GIS users and vendors in government and the private sector, the opportunity to open their doors to schools, businesses and the general public, and to showcase the services that are offered and the career opportunities that exist for students to pursue,” he stated.

Among the participating institutions was Westwood High School in Trelawny. Teacher Tianna Richards, told JIS News that the day is beneficial in introducing to students, the importance/benefits of GIS technology and how life is made easier through its use.

“It also provides students with information on how this is already being used in Jamaica and the various career fields that employ the GIS system,” she said.

“Our students are here today to garner all the information they can about the use of this system. They are in third form so hopefully, this venture will encourage them to enter career fields that use this system and just to appreciate the use of IT (information technology) in geography,” she added.