What is GIS Day?

GIS Day is an international event that will be held this Wednesday, November 18th, and on other days this week in other areas. In Baton Rouge, it is a joint project of The Department of Information Services, Office of the Planning Commission, and the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. These offices will set up a map gallery in the lobby of Baton Rouge City Hall, and eBRGIS staff members will be on site to conduct demonstrations and answer questions about various GIS services.

Okay, but what’s GIS?

GIS stands for “Geographic Information Services,” which basically means maps and different kinds of geographically-based data sets. For example, information about minimum wage arranged by parish is a kind of GIS data set, and so are comparisons between things like scholastic performance and the school district’s average income. You can also use geographic information to do fun things like go geocaching!

What does this have to do with Baton Rouge?

The city government has been developing a Geographic Information System for Baton Rouge since 1992. It has led to comprehensive electronic access to accurate information about every lot and piece of property in Baton Rouge, and to the creation of maps that show things like where all the bike-friendly streets and bike paths are, where to find major Baton Rouge landmarks (including pictures and text to make a “story map”), and where traffic is particularly bad.

So many choices.
So many choices.

So, what will we see at City Hall on Wednesday?

Topographic variation beyond your wildest dreams (a bunch of maps)!

Nah, just kidding. There will definitely be maps there, chosen for their interest or the data they also display, but the event will also feature representatives from groups like City Key Baton Rouge (managed in part by your local library!) to show you how to use their sites and what you’ll get out of it, and informational talks on how GIS is being used to protect the environment, improve emergency services, and study traffic patterns so that maybe any of us can get anywhere in less than twenty minutes one day.

Check out the flyer for more information, and keep an eye on your local school websites – some of them have had scavenger hunts and all kinds of stuff to celebrate GIS Day!

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