Today is GIS Day! Part of National Geography Awareness Week, GIS Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. To celebrate, we’re catching up with two of our GIS specialists, Meghan Gallagher and Craig Graham. Fresh from data collection out in the field, Meghan and Craig shared their thoughts on GIS, geography and GIS vs. GPS.
How did you get interested in GIS?
Meghan: I was a geography major and took a couple of GIS classes. I’d always been interested in the different parts of the world.
Craig: Most people usually have geography as a secondary major in addition to teaching or engineering. I went into school for geography right away. Not to brag but I was a geography bee champion in school. [Laughs]
What’s your favorite thing about GIS?
Meghan: You can use GIS for anything. My first GIS class I used data to plot the Twilight book tour!
Craig: Yeah, it can be used for anything. Data that seems innocuous you can put it into something tangible that you can see. It can be used for sales, for government, hydrology. So many things.
Meghan: I have a friend whose company is using GIS to see where they can put more stores.
How would you describe the relationship between GIS and GPS?
Meghan: We use GIS to update our GPS solutions. Essentially, GPS is one of the tools we use for GIS.
Craig: GPS is a network of satellites. GIS takes that data from those satellites and manages it for our database.
What are some upcoming projects that you’re working on?
Meghan: Our company just released a new product called ALK Maps which is a great new tool for mapping. We use our own GIS data, like what we collect in the field, to create customized commercial vehicle routing.
We’ll be celebrating Geography Awareness all week long. To learn more about geo-literacy and other Geography Awareness week programs, visit National Geographic.