By: Rich McClellan
Special Projects Manager

How many of you knew that November 16, 2016 was Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day?  Okay, now be honest – how many of you knew that GIS Day even existed?  Now I’ll be honest, I didn’t either until Anthony Dowell, MACEM’s GIS Curriculum Developer, brought it to my attention last week.  Now that you do know, you should also have a little history to go with this nugget of useful information for those informal gatherings where GIS becomes the central topic.According to, the first formal GIS Day took place in 1999.  Esri’s President, Jack Dangermond, openly credits Ralph Nader as the inspiration for the creation of GIS Day.  He thought it would be a good way for people to learn about geography and the application of GIS.

To prompt this notion, Anthony and I visited Brad Stotelmyer’s Homeland Security class at the Washington County Technical High School in Hagerstown, MD for a presentation on GIS and how it applies to Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.  The class consisted of 13 seniors working on their studies in Homeland Security.  GIS Day provided an opportunity to show them how important GIS is and how it applies to all 5 mission areas of the National Preparedness Goal.

So put GIS Day on your calendar so you won’t miss it next year; GIS Day 2017 = November 15, 2017.  I know I’ll be planning a way to promote GIS on GIS Day next year – you should start thinking about it too!

Special Projects Manager, Rich McClellan explains the benefits of GIS in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
GIS Curriculum Developer, Anthony Dowell shows a dataset in ArcGIS.

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