Ten years ago, in 2003, GISCorps was officially adopted as a URISA program to coordinate short-term, volunteer-based GIS expertise and support to underprivileged communities worldwide. Volunteers provide their GIS expertise remotely or on-site and have been involved in a variety of missions, supporting humanitarian relief, emergency response, health and education, local capacity building, and community development. Since its debut, 414 volunteers have been deployed to 117 missions around the world.
Supported in part by URISA staff, GISCorps is run by a core committee of volunteers (including cofounder and GIS Hero Shoreh Elhami, GISP—see “URISA’s GISCorps Is a Place for Service.”) who keep the program running. Core committee members work with partner agencies to determine project needs, query the extensive volunteer database for individuals with required skills, and coordinate the interaction between project sponsors and volunteers.
Some high-profile GISCorps missions have provided GIS expertise in response to disasters (Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the Asian tsunami, and the Haiti and Japanese earthquakes), while other missions have had more of a humanitarian focus (mapping health and educational facilities in Sierra Leone; trend analysis and data collection to combat wildlife poaching in Zambia; development of a web mapping portal in Armenia; and GIS education and training in Afghanistan, Thailand, and Albania).
Note that URISA’s GISCorps will have a comprehensive display within the Map Gallery at the Esri International User Conference in San Diego, California. Stop by the display or the URISA booth (#519) to learn more.