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GISCorps Newsletter


GIS Professionals Volunteering for a Better World

November 2013
A Message from the Core Committee


Greetings Volunteers and Friends,  


We celebrated the 10 Year Anniversary of URISA's GISCorps at the GIS-Pro conference in Providence, RI in September. The conference was filled with invaluable workshops and sessions and an informative and exciting IGNITE session which added great networking opportunities for the attendees (see the article later in this newsletter).  Our annual presentation occurred at the breakfast award ceremony where the work of our volunteers was celebrated with a touching tribute to the program and its accomplishments. (Please take a few minutes to watch the video with messages from a number of GIS leaders.)

Since the last newsletter, we have launched several new missions and concluded six projects (all listed under featured stories). Those projects are in Afghanistan, Zambia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Central Mediterranean, and California.

We have also been assisting in the post Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan missions in the Philippines. The request for volunteers came from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to the Digital Humanitarian Network of which  GISCorps is a member. Examples of some of the web maps created by the volunteers are found under the featured stories. This latest mission has brought the total number of our projects to 134 with 451 deployed volunteers.

We hope that you enjoy reading about the work of our volunteers and please know that we are very grateful for your continued support of GISCorps and dedicated service!

With sincere wishes,

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

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

Deployment and Partnership News

Missions in Progress

A total of 16 missions are currently in progress. Detailed accounts of these projects are posted on our  Ongoing Projects Page. 

Featured Projects

GISCorps Assists in the Aftermath of the Philippines Typhoon

A request for volunteers came from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHNetwork). Several members of the DHNetwork, including GISCorps, StandByTaskForce, Humanity Road, and Esri responded to the call. GISCorps volunteers, led by Dave Litke, developed several web maps that were powered by MicroMappers. Examples of some of the web maps are posted  here.


Volunteer Returns from Kabul, Afganistan


The Afghanistan Environmental Data Centre (AEDC), a co-operative venture between UNEP and the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the government of Estonia, requested the assistance of a seasoned GIS volunteer to advise and support national and international teams in Kabul and Bamyan to set up the AEDC and start work on the key priorities list identified in year one. Following the recruitment, Sara Hodges, a GIS professional from Brooklyn, New York was selected. Sara arrived in Kabul on September 6 and stayed there for a month. Read about the accounts of her visit in here.



Assisting Amnesty International with a Project in Cambodia


Amnesty International (AI) USA's Science for Human Rights Program requested the assistance of a remote sensing/GIS specialist. The volunteer was asked to provide guidance on selecting the most appropriate type of imagery for conducting change detection analysis and, performing the analysis itself. Zack Bortolot, an Associate Professor of Remote Sensing at James Madison University in Virginia was selected and has been working with the AI team for the past several months. Read his recent report here.




K-12 Project in California


Javier Aguilar, a GISCorps volunteer from southern California has been teaching GIS to a group of second through fifth grade students at Hodge Elementary School in the Azusa Unified School District (AUSD). The City of Azusa is located in the County of Los Angeles, approximately 27 miles northeast of the City of Los Angeles, and adjacent to the San Gabriel Mountain foothills. Read more here.




Indonesia Capital Cities Project


A dataset of Indonesia's capital cities was constructed by GISCorps volunteers in partnership with the University of Georgia, Information Technology Outreach Services (ITOS). The motivation for this project came from users of the GIST data repository at ITOS, who contacted the repository administrator and asked if they were aware of a dataset showing the capital cities of Indonesia. Volunteers were: Paula Dillon (Idaho), Daisy Harsa (Texas) and Gary Hunter (Australia). Read more here.




Third mission with Forensic Oceanography (FO) in Central Mediterranean


The Forensic Oceanography (FO) research project requested the assistance of GISCorps volunteers. FO's research contributes to the advocacy of a wide network of NGOs whose goal is to bring attention and accountability for the death of migrants at sea. This was the third GISCorps project with FO. Following the recruitment, four volunteers were put in contact with FO's team: Donald Ferguson (WV), Jasmine Du (NY), David Metzler (CO), and Said Abou Kharroub (Lebanon). Read more here.



GISCorps Volunteer teaching GIS in Zambia


In the last newsletter, we published Michelle Kinzel's notes from the field. She has now submitted a report about her mission and the support that she provided to South Luangwa Conservation Society (SLCS), a nonprofit organization based in Zambia. Read more here.



Read more about other completed GISCorps projects here.  


Read more about projects in progress here.  

Volunteer Profile 



Name: Michelle Kinzel   


Organization: San Diego Mesa College


GISCorps mission/Year served: GIS Workshop Taught to SLCS members 2013


Share your experience about the mission: This mission was a combination of a tremendously fulfilling professional and personal experience.  I was able to work alongside conservation workers doing amazing work in the fight against poaching and snaring in the South Luangwa Valley in Zambia, Africa. I shared my knowledge and skill sets for GIS and map making, and the SLCS staff shared their daily work in the fight for conservation.  I was immersed in field work in the African Bush, and experienced wildlife viewing encounters that I had dreamed of my whole life.  It was tremendously satisfying to spend hours each week in the wild beauty of the African Savannahs, and share the journey of learning and using GIS with Rachel McRobb, Benson Kanyembo and Jerome Yugonot; from launching ArcGIS to creating polished conservation maps of elephant distributions and mortalities.


Anything else to share: The nature of volunteering is to give of yourself, your time, talents and resources. I was rewarded in ways that I hadn't dare wish for, through to my soul.  Seeing wildlife without fences, with no cages or human restraints, infuses me with a passion for what I do and a satisfaction that will stay with me for a lifetime. I had the trip of a lifetime, and left knowing that I really did make a contribution to the conservation of a wild space that needs to be conserved and saved for future generations.

To read more stories visit the Volunteer Profiles Page.


To read about DPRK volunteers, visit the DPRK Profile Page.

Conference Announcements 

The 51st Annual URISA Conference (GIS-Pro) was held in Providence, RI from September 16-19. This was GISCorps' Ten Year Anniversary and in addition to usual activities (the annual meeting and presentation), a special video tribute was given to GISCorps during Wednesday morning's award ceremony.Click here to see the photos taken at those activities.

News from Friends of GISCorps 


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! 

Like us on Facebook 

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, Chair 

Allen Ibaugh

Carol Kraemer, Vice Chair 

Dave Litke   

Heather Milton

Mark Salling


Contact us: 


Email: [email protected] 


Twitter: @giscorps   

Include URISA's GISCorps in your charitable giving!  


Donate to support the 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 2014 Conference Calendar

2014 GIS/CAMA Technologies Conference - February 24-27: Jacksonville,FL
May 5-9: Calgary, Alberta, and
October 13-17: Louisville, KY

GIS-Pro 2014: URISA's 52nd Annual Conference
Sept 8-11: New Orleans

...and a URISA Caribbean GIS Conference late Fall 2014!

For more information, visit

New URISA Membership Options 
URISA recently introduced new membership categories for Young Professionals (those under 35), Government Agencies and Educational Institutions.

Now is a great time to join URISA!

For more information, click here.