Science of where: Foster to host GIS Day on Nov. 15

Science of where: Foster to host GIS Day on Nov. 15

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa
For those interested in learning more about the growing science field of Geographic Information System, Camp Foster will host GIS Day on Nov. 15.
Held at Camp Foster’s Exchange and its base theater, this free event will feature fun-packed programs such as drone and app demonstrations, games, geocaching (treasure hunting with GPS), seminars, raffles and more.
Science of Where
“Science of Where” was a phrase Tyrone Oglesby, an organizer of the event, mentioned as he explained what GIS is. Oglesby currently works under the Marine Corps Installations Pacific (MCIPAC) as Senior GIS Analyst.
“We are mapmakers and analysts combined,” said Oglesby, describing his job. “We gather data, we build maps and we do analysis.” 
Oglesby and his fellow analysts collect information tied to each location on Okinawa and create databases for analysis. The information is not limited to geographical data. Information they gather can be anything from roads, buildings, landmarks, population, demographics and income levels of certain areas.
“Everything has a place. Those individual things also have information tied to them,” said Zach Berry, a GIS analyst who works with Oglesby. “So the software can database that information, and tie it to single specific object, or multiple objects. And you can run analytics on all that information and produce reports, maps and so on.”
The results of such analysis that Oglesby, Berry and others provide are meant to offer solutions to leadership who needs to make right decisions to address issues.
Some of the projects that Oglesby and Zach are involved in include emergency responses, such as supporting a dispatch center to find the quickest routes to get to an accident scene and tsunami simulations for disaster management.
Oglesby explained that GIS is useful in understanding why specific issues occur at certain locations. For example, buildings on military bases on Okinawa don’t have solar panels, which sound beneficial if installed. But GIS can explain that the cost of making solar panels durable enough to survive typhoons outnumbers the merit of electricity they provide.
Oglesby, Berry and other GIS analysts are excited about GIS Day, where they will introduce people to their expertise, which holds keys to solve many problems. 
Promising Area
“Teachers and education people love our program,” said Oglesby, explaining that GIS Day would be a good learning experience for all attendees, including more than 400 middle schoolers. Oglesby said all are welcome, explaining that young service members looking for a career field should attend.
“We are trying to encourage people and let them know that this is a field that you can go in,” he said. “This is something that you can do well in. You don’t have to be engineer type … It is kind of a hybrid field.
“Businesses are now seeing the power of GIS,” Berry said. “So now a lot of industries and large corporations are embedding GIS teams in their marketing services, in their IT services and departments. They understand that information is power.” 
Things to know
Event: GIS Day 2017
Date: Nov. 15 
Time: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Camp Foster’s Exchange and base theater
Note: Fee admission. Participants can sign up for raffles at the event to win geography-related items.

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