March 17 marked the 26th annual conference

28th annual conference

Last week, multiple MDP staff attended and participated in the Towson University Geospatial Information Sciences (TUgis) conference.  Some of us have been going to this conference for over 20 years while others went for the first time.  This is the third year for their new one-day format and, with over 600 attendees and 100 different sessions, was an excellent conference.  It provided a great opportunity to obtain detailed technical information, enhance our understanding of where the industry is heading, learn about activities underway in Maryland, and connect with colleagues and friends.

MDP GIS staffers James Wilkerson and Amy Nicholls

MDP GIS staffers James Wilkerson and Amy Nichols

MDP’s staff presentations covered a new mobile application, open data, emergency planning, and commutation data analysis.  Copies of our presentations are available on the conference website or by contacting the presenters directly.  MDP’s presentations included:

  • Finding Maryland Properties While on the Go: Melissa Oguamanam
  • Your Daily Commute with LEHD Data: Melissa Appler 
  • Using 2010 Census and American Community Survey Data to Identify and Locate At Risk Population Areas: Jesse Ash
  • Finder Quantum and the Open Data Initiative: Enhancing Public Information through Accessibility: James Wilkerson and  Amy Nichols
Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford provided opening remarks

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford provided opening remarks

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford opened the conference by talking about how GIS technology can be used for business improvement, data analysis, and outreach.  His message about challenging existing paradigms in how we do our work clearly resonated with the audience.  The Lt. Governor was followed by Christopher Tucker from The MapStory Foundation, who discussed creating maps that measure change over time and the importance of those two variables in understanding spatial information.  I found his talk particularly relevant to our work at MDP, where we look at land use and land cover, demographic, and land records changes over time.

After the conference I asked other MDP’ers to share some of their insights.  Comments (slightly edited)  are below and hopefully will provide some insight as our organizations thoughts.

  • Appreciated learning how other local and state agencies were using GIS products, especially those that may apply to work done here at MDP and MHT.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed the lightening talk format; – especially liked the twitter API mapping presentation, and the shore bounty program.
  • Dr. Christopher Tucker from The MapStory Foundation provided the keynote address

    Dr. Christopher Tucker from The MapStory Foundation provided the keynote address

    More people use MDP products than I thought. Cool to see people checking out the MDP’s FINDER Mobile application during the presentation on it.

  • A fascinating new trend in the geospatial community is the application of technology and analyses to increasingly more “micro” levels of scale. As geographers, planners, and GIS professionals we often utilize various scales of focus, ranging from neighborhoods to multi-state regions. I found it interesting to see the utilization of the same forms of technology and analysis to map and assess individual buildings, with detailed visualizations and function being applied to the individual floors and rooms within
  • The TUgis conference has grown so much since 2012. It was nice to see a varied group of skill sets, tools, and organizations represented. I view the TUgis as a conference to catch up and be informed about the latest and greatest when it comes to Maryland GIS.
  • Geospatial data is becoming increasingly more dispersed throughout the amateur community. Many presentations at TUgis focused on the “how” of bringing geospatial data and technology to the public, and in some sense demystifying the field of GIS (it isn’t simply for use by highly educated savants but also can be used in more casual and simplified environments).
  • The sessions were very interesting.  I learned more about ArcGIS Pro and open data topics.
  • Enjoyed a presentation in the afternoon about GIS-ing CAD data.  It was interesting to see how Anne Arundel County is handling transitioning its CAD parcel data into GIS.
  • Attended a presentation by the University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension on its new “SMART Tool” This tool tracks 20 different practices that property owners can implement on their properties for storm water management and restoration.
  • ​Attended a presentation on how Salisbury University’s new Hazard Vulnerability Indicator can be used to prioritize areas subject to sea-level change and coastal flooding in the Bay. This tool will be helpful in evaluating future planning efforts, investments, and emergency management strategies.
More than 600 geospatial professionals attended this, Maryland's premiere GIS conference

More than 600 geospatial professionals attended this, Maryland’s premiere GIS conference

  • Was introduced to a helpful tool called TRIP hosted by the Central Maryland Regional Transit during one of the talks. It seems like a very comprehensive tool that can be used to find all of the transportation options available to them to get where they need to go.
  • This year there was a noticeable emphasis on enhancing the accessibility and user friendliness of geospatial data and technology, but an additional theme was conveying to the general public why such data and technology should be consumed.
  • There are so many software options and applications available that allow anyone, including the public, to think and view spatially with the click of a button.
  • GIS is being used to streamline and automate processes that would take much more time manually (in fields or applications that were previously not thought of using GIS).
  • The GIS field seems to be growing exponentially.  There are so many professionals in the field with new and innovative ideas.  A surge of creative ideas and limitless boundaries.
  • Every time I participate in an event like this, it always confirms the notion of the importance of connection between organizations.
  • The Maryland State Geographic Information Committee is a long key sponsor of TUgis

    The Maryland State Geographic Information Committee is a long key sponsor of TUgis

    The conference was well represented by local government offices and businesses.  The presentations are a good mix between the two groups.

  • The Towson students and the supporting staff were extremely helpful.  If I needed information, I just looked for someone in a yellow T-shirt.
  • Overall I thought it was a very good conference. There were many students and the energy level was very high.
  • Overall, it was a good experience.  TUgis 2015 was one of the best.

Thanks to Towson University, the TUgis Conference Executive Committee, and the MSGIC Leadership for putting on a great conference.