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GISCorps Newsletter


GIS Professionals Volunteering for a Better World

February 2013
A Message from the Core Committee


Greetings Volunteers and Friends,  


This being the first newsletter in 2013, we would like to extend to you and yours our best wishes in the New Year.


We have had yet another very busy quarter as our volunteers have completed six new projects since November. Two were in response to super storm Sandy, a training project in Mozambique, two GSDI projects in Russia and Tanzania, and a pilot Search and Rescue project (MAPSAR) in California (see the stories below). Several new and/or upcoming projects are either already launched or are about to start around the world including projects in Indonesia and Colorado. To date, we have deployed 410 volunteers to 113 missions around the world.

The upcoming recruitments will require volunteers with expertise in database design, programming, data mining, and developing interactive map applications.

In late January, three Core Committee members participated in an ArcGIS Online for Organizations (AGOL) training in Redlands, CA. Esri recently donated a copy of AGOL to GISCorps and the donated AGOL will be utilized in various short term projects and particularly in post disaster missions. The Corps has already used the application to map the locations of its volunteers and missions.

We hope you enjoy the stories of our volunteers' selfless efforts and invaluable work. We couldn't be more proud and grateful.

With most sincere wishes,

GISCorps Core Committee,
Mark Salling, Heather Milton, Allen Ibaugh, Dianne Haley, Dave Litke, Carol Kraemer, Shoreh Elhami

P.S. Please email if you wish to be removed from this list.

Deployment and Partnership News

Missions in Progress

A total of 12 missions are in progress and three new projects are about to begin. Detailed accounts of these projects are posted on our  Ongoing Projects Page . 

Featured Projects

Satellite Radar and GIS Volunteers Detect Hurricane Sandy Damage

In response to Hurricane Sandy's devastation on the East Coast of the United States, a group of volunteers and professionals produced a damage proxy map of New York City, the place with the most damage, using X-band radar data from COSMO-SkyMed satellites and implemented visual inspection on each pixel of the damage proxy map for accuracy. Read more here.

GISCorps Volunteers Assist in Search and Rescue Pilot Project in California

In late 2012, GISCorps received a request for volunteers from a consortium of GIS and Search and Rescue (SAR) professionals from Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team, Esri, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Mountaineer Rescue Group who have developed a Search and Rescue application called MapSAR. Following a state wide recruitment, eight volunteers responded to the call and five of them headed to an onsite training shortly after. Read more here.     



GSDI Project in Russia

In November 2011, South Ural State University in Chelyabinsk (SUSU), Russia, applied to the GSDI, seeking the assistance of a seasoned GIS expert to lead a discussion of GIS practices in the United States. The goal was to have the volunteer participate in a two-to-three day international seminar, presenting an overview of how GIS is practiced in the U.S. in regard to major application areas, particularly in land management, cadastral data, surveying, and geodesy. William Huxhold, GISP, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Urban Planning and URISA Past President, responded affirmatively and headed to Russia in November 2012. Read more here.    



GSDI Project in Tanzania

This project was initiated as a small grant request from the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) by the University of Kwazulu-Natal and the Wami Ruvu Basin Water Office in Tanzania. The application requested a Remote Sensing Specialist who works for the United Nations to provide technical assistance in assessing land use change. As a partner of GSDI in its small grant program, GISCorps recruited and deployed Mr. Imroz Raihan, a Remote Sensing Specialist, to conduct image processing and analysis. Read more here.


Conducting GIS Databank Design, Needs Assessment, and Training in Mozambique


The Niassa National Reserve, a non-profit organization located in northern Mozambique requested the assistance from GISCorps in two capacities: 1) conducting a GIS Needs Assessment of their existing GIS (remotely), and 2) training their local staff on the use of ArcGIS software. The recruitment resulted in selecting Marci Meixler, a visiting professor at Rutgers University and two of her students: Carly Aulicky and Mike Tanis. The second phase brought in Dave Smith, a former Rutgers graduate student who recently completed a training manual for the Reserve staff. Read more here.


Read more about other completed GISCorps projects here.  


Read more about projects in progress here.  

Volunteer Profile 

Name: Naiara Fernández

GISCorps mission(s)/Year served: DPRK project, since May 2012 and the Sandy MapMill Project in December 2012

Share your experience about the mission: I had been willing to be involved in a GISCorps mission since I knew about its existence. Last year, I was given the opportunity to work on two different projects: the veteran DPRK project and the Sandy MapMill project. While the DPRK is a well-established and long term project, the Sandy MapMill was a short duration one and I have greatly enjoyed both experiences. Read more here


Anything else to share: I love GIS and spatial related technologies, fields in which I have several years of experience. GISCorps, thanks to their amazing work, gives us, volunteers from different fields, the chance to contribute our time and expertise to the community. And so far, I can say that I am learning an awful lot on the way...Hopefully these assignments won't be my last!


To read more stories visit the Volunteer Profiles Page. 


News from Friends of GISCorps 


NASA's DEVELOP National Program:

DEVELOP Mission: Uniting NASA Earth observations with society to foster future innovation and cultivate the professionals of tomorrow by addressing diverse environmental issues today.

The DEVELOP National Program is a dual capacity building internship sponsored by NASA's Applied Sciences Program. The program promotes an interdisciplinary, collaborative environment for the next generation of scientists and leaders to conduct rapid prototype application projects that furthers advanced skills in NASA Earth Science applications and decision support tool needs. Through the lens of NASA's Earth Science satellites and airborne missions, DEVELOP interns tackle topics of national and global concern, bridging the gap between NASA Earth Science and society by utilizing and integrating satellite remote sensing data into the decision making process. DEVELOP currently has 15 locations (13 domestic, 2 international), where interns work on rapid 10-week long projects under the guidance of science advisors from NASA and partner organizations, highlighting the wide ranging capabilities of NASA's Earth observing platforms. Interns frequently employ GIS to analyze earth observations in order to provide tangible results and tools to their project partners. This research is then presented at various science and policy forums, partner organizations, academic institutions, and through virtual global forums.

Challenged to think outside the box, take initiative, and employ innovative ideas using NASA data, students who participate in the DEVELOP National Program are better prepared to handle the challenges that face our society and future generations.

For more information about the DEVELOP National Program:

YouTube Channel:


Thank you for your continued support of URISA's GISCorps!

In This Issue
Message from the Core Committee
Missions in Progress
Featured Projects
Volunteer Profiles




URISA Chapters


URISA Sponsors 


More About Us 

Get Social with GISCorps! 

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View our profile on LinkedIn 


Follow us on Twitter 


Shop for GISCorps Stuff

Do you find yourself in need of a new T-shirt, coffee mug, ball cap or tote bag? Do you want to advertise GISCorps and your association with the organization? Well, you are in luck! You can now find various GISCorps items at our online shop.   

Partner Organizations








Disaster Charter   


...and many more

GISCorps Core Committee

Shoreh Elhami, Co-founder

Dianne Haley, Vice Chair 

Allen Ibaugh

Carol Kraemer

Dave Litke   

Heather Milton

Mark Salling, Chair   

Contact us: 




Twitter: @giscorps  


Start your 2013 tax planning -   

Donate to support the continued good work and future of GISCorps (tax-deductible) 

Volunteer Database

It is critical to our operations that our volunteer database is as up-to-date as possible, since it is this database that we query to find volunteers suitable for deployment on a mission.

If you have not updated your record recently, please do so by logging in here.

URISA 2013 Conference Calendar

GIS/CAMA Technologies Conference 
March 4-7
Albuquerque, NM

URISA Leadership Academy
May 13-17
San Antonio, TX

GIS in Public Health Conference
June 17-20
Miami, FL

GIS-Pro 2013: URISA's 51st Annual Conference
September 16-19
Providence, RI

GIS in Transit
October 16-18
Washington, DC

Locating the Future
November 3-6
St Louis, MO

For more information, visit