UW-Madison: UW exposition examines high-tech mapping

CONTACT: Karen Tuerk, 608-265-9975 (office), 608-225-2553 (mobile), kstuerk@wisc.edu

MADISON – The UW-Madison campus will bring together experts from around Wisconsin on Wednesday, Nov. 16 to show off the latest in technologies and projects that utilize high-tech mapping tools called geographic information systems (GIS).

Not that long ago, you would be hard-pressed to find a navigation system in most cars on the road. Now, there’s one on many dashboards and even our cell phones can tell us where we are these days.

“Most people don’t realize where the maps, or more accurately, the map data, come from when they look at Google Maps or a vehicle navigation system” says Karen Tuerk, organizer of the UW-Madison Geographic Information Systems Day. “The reality is, Web sites like Google Maps and Bing Maps are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the power of geographic information.”

“The mapping industry has come a long way over the last 20 years” says Tuerk. “In the past, cartographers were widely known for their graphic design skills and attention to detail. That’s still true. But today you are just as likely to find cartographers with backgrounds in computer science, databases, and programming.”

In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor identifies the field of “geospatial” information technologies as a high-growth job industry with a better-than-average outlook for the future. This distinction is shared with biotechnology, another hot field on the UW campus.

During the GIS Day exposition, more than 50 organizations will share how they use GIS for management, decision-making, planning, geographic analysis, mapping, and education. The event will also feature a map gallery, and a series of presentations by GIS experts.

The theme of the GIS Day event is “Mapping the Wisconsin Idea.” Participants will draw attention to UW partnerships with outside agencies and organizations that use geospatial technologies to benefit our state and its people. This is the Year of the Wisconsin Idea at UW-Madison.

GIS Day, part of National Geography Awareness Week, is an international day of education. Thousands of organizations around the world hold local events such as open houses, hands-on workshops, community expos, school assemblies, and more. The UW event is sponsored by the UW-Madison Geospatial Alliance.

Public parking is available in the city of Madison ramp at 415 N. Lake St. Exhibits will be in Great Hall of the UW Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The event is free, and open to the public.

For more information, visit http://www.geoalliance.wisc.edu.