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GISCorps Newsletter


GIS Professionals Volunteering for a Better World

February 2014
A Message from the Core Committee


Greetings Volunteers and Friends,
We hope that you've had a great start to 2014. We have been busy as ever and our volunteers have been lending their expertise to many projects some of which are showcased in this newsletter. We invite you to read their stories and share your comments and ideas with us.

Since the last newsletter, four missions have been completed: two remote sensing projects in Tanzania and Chile, one project for a Seattle based nonprofit organization, and one for the USGS' Map Corps initiative (listed under featured stories).

Early this year, in collaboration with Humanitarian Open Street Map (HOT), 18 of our volunteers started digitizing various features on OSM in South Sudan and the second phase of the project just began with 15 volunteers continuing the work. We have also concluded the recruitment for a project in Afghanistan and will be sending two instructors to Kabul in August. With our latest mission, the total number of projects is at 140 with 491 deployed volunteers.

Internally, we have been discussing the redesign of our website for some time. Core Committee member, Carol Kraemer, has taken the lead on exploring various options and we hope to share more details with you in our next newsletter.

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

With sincere wishes,

GISCorps Core Committee: Dianne Haley, Carol Kraemer, Heather Milton, Mark Salling, Allen Ibaugh, Dave Litke, 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 14 missions are currently in progress. Detailed accounts of these projects are posted on our  Ongoing Projects Page. 

Modeling Change Patterns in Nguru Forest - 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 first volunteer conducted the analysis using the TM imagery and now the consortium has acquired new and higher resolution imagery (Rapid Eye) and the second volunteer Linda DeLay, GISP, a GIS Specialist from New Mexico, conducted similar analysis on the Rapid Eye imagery. The intention of the project was to assess the effects of fragmentation on the landscape using high resolution imagery. Read more here.

Remote Sensing Specialist Assisted a Project in Chile

Atacama Desert Project (ADP) of Forensic Architecture and Goldsmiths University requested the assistance of a remote sensing specialist. ADP asked the advice of the volunteer in the selection of appropriate satellite data-sets/imagery to analyze vegetation health and vegetation decrease in several areas along the Loa River in Chile. Jim Norton, a remote sensing specialist from Canada was recruited for this project and recently finalized the analysis and has submitted a report. Read more here.


The National Map Corps Project - Volunteer Website    

In April 2013, GISCorps began a National Map Corps Project Phase 2 in response to a request from the U.S. Geological Survey to create a website where National Map Corps volunteers can get involved, ask questions, organize, and interact with each other. Lauren Heller, a GISCorps volunteer and Google employee was recruited to head the project; GISCorps volunteers David Litke, Carol Kraemer, Karen Chadwick, and David Lok assisted Lauren, and the website was opened to the public in January 2014. Read more here.  

GlobalWA Interactive Web Mapping with ArcGIS Online

Global Washington a not-for-profit organization based in Seattle, WA requested the assistance of a volunteer with expertise in developing a web based interactive map. Len Olyott of Brisbane, Australia was recruited and created several web maps for GlobalWA. Read more here.

GISCorps Volunteers Digitizing in Open Street Map (OSM) - South Sudan

18 GISCorps volunteers from 8 countries have begun digitizing various features and landmarks in Open Street Map (OSM) environment in areas of South Sudan that are largely unmapped or poorly mapped. This effort is in collaboration with the Humanitarian OSM Team (HOT). The second phase of the project has begun. Read more here

GISCorps Volunteer from California Continues Educating Students About GIS

Javier Aguilar, a GISCorps volunteer who has been educating elementary school students about maps and GIS (see related story), is continuing his efforts in collaboration with the LA County Assessor's office during a GIS Day celebration and beyond. Following is a photo of Javier and a group of students.

Search and Rescue GISCorps Team Members were Sworn In

Thanks to the hard work of GISCorps and the California Office of Emergency Services, members of the California GISCorps SARGIS pilot program have been sworn in as Disaster Service Workers (pending background and paperwork processing).This means that the GISCorps members trained in MapSAR and other SARGIS tools can be called up as mutual aid resources by the State to help with missing person searches, recoveries, and any type of disaster where a GIS resource is needed. Read and learn more about MapSAR and GISCorps' involvement in this blog and also from GISCorps MarSAR webpage.

Read more about other completed GISCorps projects here.  


Read more about projects in progress here.  

Volunteer Profile 



Name: Lorri Peltz-Lewis  

Organization: Fire and Aviation Management at USFS


GISCorps mission/Year served:GISCorps volunteers assist in Search and Rescue pilot project in California, 2012-2014  


Share your experience about the mission: I volunteered for this mission since we continue to see the need for integrating GIS into emergency services. Search and Rescue (SAR) for wilderness is a key opportunity to work with many local responders who don't have the skills to support mapping. After attending training, I wrote up a project plan to help guide the pilot project, conducted numerous meetings, training sessions for the GISCorps volunteers and interested attendees, presented to the CA SAR Coordinators what GISCorps is and what GIS can do for them, etc. We ran into a couple of snags getting called out to incidents that appear to be soon corrected. The GISCorps team will be sworn in at a ceremony this January 2014 and that should open the door for us to participate in SAR events as well as provide support on state incidents.


Anything else to share:While it has been difficult to get recognized by the state, for numerous appropriate reasons, this has been highly rewarding to work with so many dedicated volunteers and colleagues. I look forward to more events and broadening my geospatial network!  

To read more stories visit the Volunteer Profiles Page.


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

To see DPRK projects latest progress map, visit DPRK's webpage

Conference Announcements 


URISA's next annual conference will take place in New Orleans, September 8-11, 2014. We're working on a volunteer opportunity to conduct field collection of data to support a nonprofit in New Orleans. Stay tuned!

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: 




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 in Curacao!

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.