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GIS Day 2013

Geography Awareness Week

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GIS Day 2013

Celebrating the Digital Link Between Maps and Information

GIS examples

This year we celebrate GIS Day on November 20, as part of Geography Awareness Week. You may be surprised to learn how much geography matters in our everyday lives. The ability to link maps digitally to information enables us to visualize and understand patterns and relationships around us. Geographic information systems, or GIS, provides this link.

GIS is a computer system that captures, stores, checks, and displays information related to positions on Earth’s surface. It helps analysts and scientists study climate change, land use planning, business, and even our nation’s defense. You might use it to find the closest restaurant or book store using your phone’s GPS.  Here at NOAA, GIS is used to map oil spill trajectories, historic hurricane tracks, view and analyze nautical charts, and understand trends in areas such as sea level change and coastal socioeconomics.

GIS Day started in 1999 as an educational event for GIS users to showcase their projects that have real-world applications. Opening their doors to schools, businesses, and the public, GIS users and vendors demonstrate the benefits of GIS and how it makes a difference in our society. Today, GIS Day is a recognized globally with events occurring in dozens of countries.

In celebration of GIS Day, explore some of the GIS-related products and services NOAA provides to:

seal level rise viewer

Build strong, more resilient coastal communities:

  • Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer
    Using the best-available science and data, federal agencies developed a sea level rise planning tool to help state and local officials, community planners, and infrastructure managers understand possible future flood risks from sea level rise for use in planning decisions. This, and many other coastal GIS tools are available from NOAA's Digital Coast.
The U.S. Coast Guard uses ERMA during the response to Hurricane Isaac in September 2012

Prepare for and recover from environmental and natural disasters:

    Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®)
    ERMA is an online mapping tool that integrates both static and real-time data, such as ship locations, weather, and ocean currents, in a centralized, interactive map for environmental disaster response. Having the latest information in an easy-to-use format provides managers with the data they need to make informed decisions. 
NOAA's Habitat Blueprint

Protect habitat for fisheries and marine life:

  • NOAA's Habitat Blueprint
    In support of NOAA's Habitat Blueprint Project, a web-based GIS tool for online collaboration was developed. The tool provides stakeholders Web map access to areas in California that could be used to demonstrate the "habitat blueprint"—a framework to improve habitat for fisheries, marine life, and coastal communities.
raster navigational chart

Make navigational charts available as a planning tool to GIS users and coastal planners:

  • Seamless Raster Navigational Charts & Web Mapping Services
    NOAA's Raster Navigational Charts are designed for marine navigation, but can also be used as a marine base map by GIS users, coastal and ocean planning staff, and the general public. This service contains 2,100+ charts displayed as a seamless mosiac with updates provide monthly.

Improve data and location precision:

  • Continuously Operating Reference System (CORS)
    Surveyors, GIS users, engineers, scientists, and the public that collect GPS data can use CORS data to improve the precision of their positions. The network of 1,800 CORS stations improves coordinates relative to the National Spatial Reference System, both horizontally and vertically.