By Lee Ann Fullington and Himanshu Mistry
May 20, 2013
Geographic information systems (GIS) allow us to take spatial data from various sources, overlay map layers, analyze and model the data, and visualize the results in maps, reports, and charts. As a research institution, NYU has a growing community that is using GIS to gain new insights in a wide range of fields. To celebrate the exciting applications of GIS and the resources available at NYU, Data Services and the Coles Science Center at Bobst Library joined together to host an event last year to highlight GIS projects and services across the University: GIS Day@NYU.
The event was inspired by GIS Day, a worldwide celebration created by ESRI, the industry leader in GIS technology. It is held on the Wednesday of the third week of November each year. ESRI president and co-founder Jack Dangermond credits Ralph Nader with being the person who inspired the creation of GIS Day, which took place for the first time in 1999. This past year, over 950 GIS Day events were held around the world.
NYU's inaugural GIS Day event was held on November 14 last year in the Research Commons, located on the fifth floor of Bobst Library. The information booths and "faculty corner" provided a lively space for interaction and networking, with over 100 people stopping by to partake in the festivities. Students, staff, and faculty submitted some of their most interesting maps, which were displayed across the ceiling and along the walls around the Research Commons. More maps were projected on the ceiling, adding to the festive and educational atmosphere.
By showcasing research and projects in numerous disciplines being conducted at NYU, the event introduced many NYU members to GIS technology while also fostering a sense of community. One such exhibition was the NYU Institute of Fine Arts' Abydos Excavations. The project geolocates artifacts and architectural elements of Abydos, an important site in southern Egypt, to compare with geolocated environmental data.
The Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, which conducts active geospatial and empirical research in housing, land use, real estate, and urban affairs--primarily focused on New York City--also featured a booth. The Furman Center produces the State of New York City's Housing and Neighborhoods, a yearly report that uses GIS tools for data analysis and visualization. The center also collects a wide range of numeric and spatial data concerning the real-estate market of the New York City, such as the Subsidized Housing Information Project, and makes it public via their Data Search Tool.
Other exhibitors included Data Services, GIS Services and the Spatial Data Repository, Global Technology Services, Gotham Innovation Greenhouse, and NYU Libraries, showcasing Social Explorer and SimplyMap.
While GIS has wide-reaching applications for research at NYU, it also has been used by administrators for internal projects. For example, NYU Public Safety uses GIS to provide real time shuttle bus locations on their mobile transit app. The Office of Strategic Assessment, Planning & Design (SAPD) also uses GIS, along with computer-aided design tools, for space management and planning.
Lee Ann Fullington is a Reference Associate with the Coles Science Center at Bobst Library. She is also an MPH candidate at NYU.
Himanshu Mistry is the Senior Academic technology Specialist and manages GIS services at Data Services. He has worked with NYC Department of City Planning as an urban planner-designer. Lee Ann and Himanshu conceived and organized GIS Day@NYU.