In Poole—a coastal town, port, and tourist destination in the county of Dorset in southern England—GIS Day will have one underlying message: the importance of place.
“We try to put this concept across to everyone we talk to,” says event host Steve Campbell, GIS manager for the Borough of Poole, the local government authority. “We try to get people we work with to understand and appreciate how valuable place is in the decisions that they make. By looking at the area surrounding where they are working, they will be able to make a better, more informed decision.”
Each year for GIS Day, Campbell and his three volunteers set up display boards that cover the basics of GIS, work projects that have employed GIS, projects that are in the planning stages, and developments/improvements delivered by the GIS team.
“The agenda varies based on the projects we are running at the time,” he says. “Mostly we use it as an opportunity to grab people for five minutes to understand more about their own [work] processes.”
Campbell and the GIS team also look for ways to use GIS to help colleagues make their workflows more efficient and effective as well as make their data more transparent and open by linking it with data from other parts of the authority.
“This year, we will also be looking at redeveloping the public mapping that we provide on our council Internet pages, so we’ll be sourcing views from council staff as to what they would like to see,” he says.
There is a quiz or competition each year as well. “We’ve previously run a quiz asking people to identify parts of the borough from small snippets of mapping or aerial photography, and earlier this year, we ran an Easter egg hunt by hiding eggs on an interactive map,” he says.
According to Campbell, GIS Day organizers also try to demonstrate how sharing data can benefit the entire authority by making data open and allowing processes to be completed more quickly and effectively, saving the council time and money.
This will be Poole’s fourth celebration of GIS Day. “Last year was very successful,” he says,” as we were promoting our new internal, web-based mapping application to the authority, and we even had visits from our chief executive and the leader of the council.”
Organizers expect about 100 attendees this year, primarily adults over 18 years of age and exclusively from within the authority. Their knowledge of GIS ranges from complete beginners who have never heard of GIS or Campbell’s team to those who use the software on a daily basis.