A few years ago I returned to my alma mater, Shippensburg University, to make a presentation at the Geography and Earth Science Department’s Career Day.  It was a wonderful experience that allowed me to share my professional experiences with a new generation of Geography and Earth Science majors and catch up with professors that I had not seen in several years. During the event’s question and answer session, one question I remember well involved identifying what projects the presenters enjoyed the most.  After taking some time to think, I responded that any project involving fieldwork piques my interest; because fieldwork exposes you to places you may never visit otherwise.

A project that epitomizes my position on fieldwork is the ongoing web application development project CGIS has been working on with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).  Several years ago, CGIS assisted MTA in developing an internal web application that allows MTA employees to monitor various facility assets important to environmental compliance and safety matters at MTA’s Washington Boulevard bus maintenance facility.  Work performed at this site includes routine as well as all major repairs performed on MTA’s fleet of over 700 buses.  The web application involves a mapping component that consumes ArcGIS Server map services that display imagery and various facility assets, which allows users to assess MTA’s environmental compliance efforts.

Where Does Fieldwork Come In?

CGIS employees Christina Bell and Missy Valentino doing field work for the MTA project

As part of the data collection team, I visited  MTA’s Washington Boulevard bus maintenance facility in Baltimore City in 2008 and collected and verified locational and attribute data for assets like fire extinguishers, part washers, flammables storage cabinets, eye wash stations, and battery storage sites.  The data collected and verified at the site was ultimately incorporated into MTA’s environmental compliance application.  In 2012, CGIS’ data collection team collected and verified asset data for two additional MTA bus maintenance facilities and is working on incorporating the data into MTA’s mapping application.  CGIS will visit several additional MTA bus facilities this year.

When I started my career, I never expected to travel around Baltimore City collecting data at MTA bus maintenance facilities.  However, the fieldwork experience has provided me with a perspective of MTA’s bus system operation that not many get to see.  The size of these facilities and range of work that is performed is truly impressive. Now anytime I see a MTA bus on the streets of Baltimore I cannot help but wonder which MTA bus facility it has visited.

For more information on MTA, visit MTA’s Facebook page.