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Summer 2008
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GIS Day Celebrates 10 Years of Success

GIS Day logoWednesday, November 19, 2008, marks the tenth anniversary of GIS Day. What started in 1999 as a forum for spreading awareness about GIS and the role of the emerging technology has grown to a worldwide celebration of GIS users, educators, and students who have committed to sharing their geospatial knowledge with others. More than 10,000 organizations in more than 80 countries have joined the GIS Day following and can be credited with the success of the event. The creativity, determination, and energy of GIS Day participants can be seen throughout the years. Here, in text and pictures, are some memorable GIS Day events.

GIS Day 1999—The Beginning of a Global Celebration

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Soldiers and civilians from the 320th Engineer Company (Topographic), 130th Engineer Brigade, Multi-National Corps-Iraq celebrated GIS Day 2005 at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq (photo courtesy Captain Michael Wood).

While preparing for the inaugural GIS Day celebration at the National Geographic Society in 1999, Jack Dangermond shared his vision for GIS Day. "The idea behind GIS Day is to create a single, worldwide event that effectively communicates the benefits and significance of GIS to the rest of society. There are about half a million GIS users in the world, but most of the public is unaware of this growing technology."

More than 2,100 organizations hosted GIS Day celebrations in 1999. In India, the Center for Spatial Database Management and Solutions (CSDMS) sponsored two events for adults, a workshop for the mining industry and a conference on GIS for industrial applications. It also organized a GIS-themed film festival and poetry and poster competitions for local youth.

The State of Illinois hosted a two-day event at the State Capitol Rotunda, which included demos of GIS applications for state police crime analysis and emergency management. Attendees included the governor, the general public, and many local schools.

GIS Day 2004—GIS Users Around the World Unite

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Hong Kong students spent November 20, 2004, at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden focusing on conservation and environmental methods.

GIS users around the world worked diligently to organize events within their communities to help celebrate the sixth annual global GIS Day. More than 700 registered events were held on five continents and in 76 countries.

In Hong Kong, the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG), along with coorganizer Esri China (Hong Kong) Limited, celebrated GIS Day 2004 by focusing on the ideas of conservation and environmental protection. More than 160 high school students and teachers explored and experienced firsthand how GIS and other technologies could be used for analyzing, monitoring, and protecting our precious environment.

The Women in GIS of Greater Boise, Idaho, held a weeklong map gallery to promote healthy lifestyles. The collection of maps created by Idaho Fish and Game and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management displayed wildlife-viewing maps of 12 areas requiring hiking, bicycling, climbing, canoeing, snowshoeing, or skiing to access the sites. Some of the posters were mounted in front of the YMCA's treadmills and cycling equipment so members could view them while they exercised.

GIS Day 2006—Creative Events Held Worldwide

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GIS Day 2004 at Goma, East Democratic Republic of Congo, focused on the role of GIS in protected areas. Sponsored by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and the Union of Associations for Gorilla Conservation and Community Development in the East Democratic Republic of Congo.

Esri Romania S.R.L. celebrated GIS Day by leading a group of high school students, equipped with GPS units and cameras, on a five-day expedition between Luminis Mansion and the Bucegi Mountains. Prior to their journey, the students used ArcGIS to analyze the most accessible travel routes for their hike. The students documented their actual travel pattern by taking GPS coordinates along the way. Following the excursion, the students returned and used ArcView with the ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension to transform all the points and pictures they collected into an engaging sightseeing brochure to promote the spectacular Bucegi Mountains and Bucegi Natural Park areas.

GIS Day 2008—Start Your Planning Now

It is never too early to begin planning for GIS Day 2008, Wednesday, November 19. Start brainstorming ideas with colleagues, classmates, or teachers; visit the GIS Day Web site ( to register your event and download free materials; and begin contacting your community to get the word out. Let's make GIS Day 2008 a record-breaking year!

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