ArcWatch: GIS News, Views, and Insights

January 2018


Esri Donates ArcGIS Software Licenses to GISCorps Volunteers

GISCorps volunteers come from every corner of the world.

GISCorps members who pitch in to help during natural disasters or donate time at a nonprofit organization such as a food bank will get the opportunity to use Esri ArcGIS software to work on their GIS-related volunteer projects at no cost to them.

Esri recently announced it will donate personal use licenses of its ArcGIS software for each GISCorps volunteer who takes a GIS Service Pledge to volunteer for a worthy cause. GISCorps is a program of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) and has been providing a range of mapping and disaster response services worldwide for more than 14 years by harnessing the power of GIS technology.

"One of the things about Esri that I am most proud of is the fact that our community of users is so dedicated to doing good in the world," said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president. "GISCorps is one example of how the power of location intelligence can be harnessed for the public good."

Each personal use license being donated has a commercial value of approximately $6,000 per year and will enable volunteers to address crucial location-based issues. GISCorps volunteers can leverage this software donation to support any cause or organization they are passionate about, whether local or abroad, that meets the criteria described on the GISCorps website. Examples could include supporting a land trust or an animal shelter.

This initiative also extends to response projects that arise after disasters such as the recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the earthquakes in Mexico. During and after disasters, volunteers provide assistance in a variety of ways including identifying and mapping where homes are at risk of being flooded, the locations of beds and shelters for the displaced, and the quickest and safest routes to evacuate affected populations in the shortest amount of time.

GISCorps uses GIS technology to support humanitarian relief, health and education efforts, and economic development.

"URISA's GISCorps volunteers have been involved in the response to almost every disaster since 2003," said Shoreh Elhami, GISCorps founder. "We have worked on Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami, the cyclone in Burma, the Ebola epidemic, and many more. Many of our volunteers have said they learn more quickly from GISCorps experiences than from their day jobs. They get exposed to different projects that require different skills and tools, and that provides a valuable learning experience."

The Esri Disaster Response Program supports the work of GISCorps volunteers, helping them process and use imagery and digitize points of interest in a way that's much easier than in the past. This is made possible with ArcGIS Online, which volunteers use to spread the work among themselves and create a communication platform to share updates on unfolding events.

If you are interested in joining the GIS Service Pledge program, visit the GISCorps home page at www.giscorps.org. Volunteers with community projects in need of Esri software must fill out the request form on URISA's GIS Service Pledge page. Their requests will be reviewed by the GISCorps Core Committee. Upon approval, the requests are forwarded to the Esri nonprofit team, which will then make the licenses available to the volunteers.