GIS Day – It’s Kind of a Big Deal!

This year’s GIS Day is Wednesday, November 18, 2015.  In addition to the activities taking place at GMU on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (, there are 21 additional events scheduled in the DC-Northern Virginia-Suburban Maryland region according to  On the main page, an interactive map allows you to pan around the world to see all the events that have been registered.  It’s interesting to read the event descriptions taking place!  Within the US, the most GIS Day events are located in the mid-Atlantic area and southern California (home of ESRI) is third.


There is an event registered at the ESRI headquarters in Redlands, California, but it may be a mistake, as it is listed as “adkdj” (see below). I sent a note to the email link listed in the dialog alerting them to the issue.


There is only one GIS Day event registered in China, hosted by the Hong Kong Geographic Information System Association.. The Mongolian Geospatial Association is also hosting an event and has done so for the last six years!  Both Alaska and Hawaii each have three events registered.

NOVA has hosted GIS Day activities starting when the Geospatial Studies Department was organized by Dr. Krimmer with speakers from NGA, ESRI, Spot Image, and many other companies. Pictures hang in the Reston Center of local politicians who visited during previous GIS Days.  Attended by both college and high school students, it has been a great opportunity to interact with GIS subject matter experts and eat some “interesting” cake!  I believe the following picture is from the 2012 GIS Day.


Over the years, I brought my two sons when they were young to NOVA GIS Day events. My older son now does mapping for an environmental engineering company and my younger son is a senior geography major at University of Mary Washington.  I believe GIS Day events at NOVA played a small role by allowing them to “hang out” with GIS people and learn about the field. I encourage everyone to bring a guest to this year’s GIS Day, especially a young person, who is considering career choices and might consider the geospatial sciences!


Hiking Upward! [.com]

One of my very favorite web sites is, where one can locate and learn about great local day hike venues or more distant, multi-day backpacking trips in the mid-Atlantic region. This free web site contains both Google-based static and interactive trail maps showing the terrain, distance, camping locations, and snapshots along the trails. Even more valuable, each hike includes a link to a PDF file containing a map and trail description in a convenient two-page format. As a result, USGS Topo maps are not necessary, especially for day hikes. Key indicators summarize each hike listing, in a 1-to-5 scale for difficulty, streams, views, solitude, and camping.  User reviews also provide feedback about each hike in a 1-to-5 scale, which may influence your decision to take a hike.  The following screenshot shows the main page highlighting a specific hike in North Carolina:


If you click on the left side map on the main page, the following interactive map appears showing the location of all hikes available. Based on your location, you can quickly find a map that suits your ability and schedule:


Another way to view the hikes is by name, distance, difficulty, streams, views, solitude, and user feedback. These qualities can filter the list using slider controls.


One of my favorite local day hikes is Sugarloaf Mountain. The following page lists many details about the area, with both static and interactive map components. Like many parks, there is more than one trail than the one highlighted in the map and trail description and you can easily length or shorten the hike.


A detailed, interactive Google-based topo map plus user review are displayed at the bottom of the page:


Every hike includes links to printable a PDF trail guide, local weather, and summary of the key hike metadata for length, difficulty, streams, views, solitude, and camping:


Some trail maps are created by and some by other land management organizations. Sugarloaf Mountain is owned and managed by Stronghold Inc., and their complete trail map is available fro download from the hike description page:


Nine New Enhancements to ArcGIS Online

The Fall 2015 issue of ArcNews has an interesting roundup of the new features added to ArcGIS Online (AGO) this past summer. The article is available online at: A complete list of changes made is available at ESRI’s web site: Its important track changes made to take advantage of new features as they become available as AGO is rapidly evolving. To summarize, the enhancements include:

Smart Mapping Transparency

Automatically adjust the size range so symbols, border widths, and transparencies look better across zoom levels.

Workflows and Design

User enabled editing and viewing of standards-based metadata associated with map elements.

Map Viewer, More Adaptable

The user can now sign into AGO directly from the map viewer so no work will be lost from within the viewer.

3D Scene Viewer Improved

Scenes generated in 3D Viewer can now be embedded in a website or shared via email or social media.

Enhanced Analysis

A new Analysis button located prominently at the top of the map viewer allows the user to interactively perform operations such as create viewsheds, watersheds, and trace downstream.

Feature Layer Updates

A new set of data collection templates are available for created hosted feature layers used with Collector for ArcGIS.

Growing Content

Base maps, The Living Atlas, and imagery services have been updated and expanded.

Amplified Apps

Five new AppBuilder themes and several widgets are now available. New widgets, map tools, and feature actions can be created with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript.

Better Administration

Improved account management tools are available to set user and group permissions, accesses, and sharing rights.