For 31 years, TUgis: Maryland’s Geospatial Conference has been drawing GIS professionals from across the region to Towson University’s campus. TUgis 2018 was no different. It was a fun, educational experience for staff for the TU Center for GIS (CGIS) and TU Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI). We appreciate the chance to gather and reconnect with colleagues, and meet new people that are applying GIS in different ways. The day ends up being so full of presentations it’s often hard to choose. Here are a few highlights from CGIS and RESI staff.

Pre-Conference Training. Ashley Buzzeo, Alex Mikulski, Nate Tabeling, and I delivered training on moving to ArcGIS Pro, as well an introductory ArcGIS Online course for conference attendees. It’s great to connect with other GIS professionals in Maryland, meet those just getting started with spatial thinking, and hopefully share things they can apply to their work.

Open Source GIS. Several CGIS staff were excited to attend Art Lembo’s (ESRGC) jam-packed pre-conference training session featuring open source GIS and database technology! Overall, there’s been an uptick in in open source presentations and solutions at TUgis over the past few years. At this year’s conference, we learned how open source tools are being used in Maryland’s GIS community to map and manipulate spatial data, develop custom mapping applications, store and process data, and model complex phenomena.

Lightning Sessions. We enjoyed the lightning talks for sharing focused experiences, and getting a taste of a variety of ongoing GIS projects and research. Phil Reese gave a lightning talk on an app developed to assist the TU Police Department with Clery Act compliance.

Name Badge Stickers. We thought the stickers were a fun way to identify yourself and personalize your name badge for the day.

Conversations Around Using GIS for the Greater Good. A highlight for both CGIS and RESI staff were the presentations and conversations about how GIS is contributing to social and environmental issues. Some of the ones we caught were:

  • A USAID presentation on the role the Youth Mappers Program and community involvement for international development and mapping local communities. Shared maps like OpenStreetMap are often used by first responders in emergency situations.
  • The Safe Stations bed-finder application presentation (Annapolis Office of Emergency Management and the City of Annapolis). This app is a great example of GIS technology being used to increase the effectiveness of a local substance abuse assistance program by efficiently identifying available treatment services in what can be a small window of seeking care.
  • A joint presentation on sea level rise, calculating flood estimates, and identifying risk areas in Talbot County, by ESRGC and Vision Planning & Consulting, was a great window into significant near-term impacts of climate change. The presentation also spurred an interesting discussion about the risk of sea level rise and how lower shore communities are planning and responding.
  • A presentation on the data democratization efforts of the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance as they continue to expand their data offerings, develop Vital Signs reports for Baltimore and share GIS data back to the local community.
  • Presentations by epidemiologists from Baltimore City on using R with ArcGIS to analyze health data, as well as GIS tools to map and analyze life expectancy among neighborhoods in their mission to protect health and eliminate disparities for the people of Baltimore.

Coming Attractions. TUgis is always a great opportunity to check in on new advancements in Esri’s GIS platform, as well as what MD iMAP is working on to support and improve GIS resources in Maryland.

Mark your calendars for next year’s conference. TUgis 2019 will take place August 8, 2019 at Towson University.