Ken Juengling

In my role as Project Manager for the Center for GIS, I am involved in many interesting efforts that leverage GIS technology to solve critical issues in today’s ever changing world.  Having just gotten back from the premier GIS conference, the Esri International User Conference, I feel a little overwhelmed – as I do every time I get back – and energized by Jack Dangermond’s plenary session that opened the conference.

Here are a few of my thoughts from the conference, which attracted over 15,000 attendees (about 5,000 were there for the first-time!).

Hopefully, you’ll have the opportunity to attend next year’s User Conference, which happens July 23-27, 2012.



Jeremy

Jeremy Monn

A couple weeks ago I found myself trying to remember how to create a KML-enabled ArcGIS map service through ArcGIS Server Manager.  Luckily for me I wrote a blog on this topic about a year and a half ago.  Reading the blog helped me with the task at hand, but I felt an update would be valuable. Therefore, this month’s blog post focuses on returning attribute data from KML-enabled ArcGIS map services as well as things to watch out for when WFS-enabling ArcGIS map services.

Why doesn’t my KML-enabled map service display tabular data???
In my previous post, I described the steps involved in creating the map service’s KMZ file on an ArcGIS server.  However, I didn’t relay how one goes about ensuring that the tabular data tied to the features in that service will be returned when a user clicks on the feature in Google Earth.  In order to do this, one must enable the feature layer’s HTML Popup tool within the map service’s MXD.  For detailed instructions on how to complete this task, refer to the “How to set HTML properties for feature layers” section.

I can’t WFS-enable my ArcGIS Server map service, why???
If one is interested in providing users of their dynamic ArcGIS Server map service with the ability to use the data within the service in geospatial analysis scenarios, then one solution is to WFS enable the service.  Just like KML enabling, the process of actually WFS enabling the ArcGIS map service is quite simple.  However, there are two very important things to keep in mind when WFS enabling an ArcGIS map service.

1) If one’s ArcGIS map service is published using a MSD, as opposed to a MXD, then the map      service cannot be WFS enabled.  The solution is publishing the service from the service’s MXD.

2) If one’s ArcGIS map service consists of at least two layers that reference the same feature class then the map service cannot be WFS enabled.  A solution is to create a copy of the feature class and reference one of the layers to the copy.  NOTE: This solution can be painful from a  data management perspective, especially if one is working with large datasets that are   frequently updated.

Hopefully now that I have written these tasks in a blog I will not forget them.  However, it is nice to know that if I do I can always refer back to my blog for guidance.  I guess blogging can sometimes be viewed as a unique type of documentation.


Ashley Buzzeo & Erin Lesh

If you are interested in getting involved with GIS in Maryland, there are several avenues you can pursue, including statewide committees and initiatives as well as local user groups and conferences.

MSGIC
You can start by becoming a member of the Maryland State Geographic Information Committee (MSGIC).  This volunteer organization is made up of members from all levels of government, academia, regional organizations, and private industry.  There is an Executive Committee that meets the second Wednesday of every month in Columbia at 9am.  While this meeting is open to all, there is a larger quarterly meeting that is held on the second Wednesday of January, April, July and October.  This venue is perfect for networking with fellow GISers and keeping up with statewide coordinated activities. The next quarterly meeting is April 27th at the Caroline County Health and Public Services Building in Denton MD.  MSGIC has a group on LinkedIn: MSGIC

MD iMap
Another great resource is Maryland’s Internet Map (MD iMap), which provides a wide variety of products and services to the citizens and government employees in Maryland at no charge. It represents a centralized collection of the most commonly used, best available GIS data and applications in the State.  Take a look at the MD iMap Portal.  This website details the current MD iMap initiatives in Maryland.  You can also get involved with the MD iMap initiative by joining the MD iMap Technical Committee, which meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month at MDE from 1 – 3 pm.  Follow MDiMap on Twitter: @MDiMap

MD iMap Portal

Local User Groups & Conferences
There are also several regional users groups in Maryland – central, western, and eastern.

  • The Central Maryland User’s Group (CMUG) is the largest local user’s group, focusing on GIS activities in Central Maryland.  A meeting was just held on April 15th, and the next meeting will be in the mid-August timeframe.  Be sure to check out the blog for more details.
  • The Western Maryland GIS User’s Group (WMUG) meets 3 times a year – the third Friday of May, August, and November. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 20 at Frederick City Hall.  Contact Elizabeth Stahlman at Allegany County for more details.
  • The Midshore Regional GIS committee (MSRGC) meeting is April 20 from 9 to 11:30 at the Public Safety Building in Easton, and the next meeting is October 26 in the morning, location TBD. Contact Lauren McDermott at Salisbury University for more details.

The ESRI Mid-Atlantic User Group (ESRI-MUG) is an organization of GIS users in PA, DE, NJ, MD, DC, VA and WV.  This group helps to identify and educate users regarding GIS trends, ESRI product development, local/regional applications, and events of interest.  They also have an annual conference for all users, which is a great place to see what how GIS is being applied in the mid-Atlantic region.  Follow ESRI-MUG on Twitter: @Esri_MUG.

The TUgis conference is held by the Department of Geography and Environmental Planning at Towson University.  This conference has some excellent presentations and is a great place to network with GIS users from all over Maryland.  The 25th annual conference will be held in March, 2012.

GIS Day Events
Another option to be more active or to learn more about GIS in Maryland is to attend a GIS Day event on November 16, 2011.  GIS Day is intended to promote GIS and Geography awareness.  You can find a GIS Day event near you by searching on ESRI’s GIS Day website.

Ashley Buzzeo works at Towson University Center for GIS (CGIS) as a project manager.
Erin Lesh works at Maryland Environmental Service (MES) as a GIS specialist IV.


Jeremy

Jeremy

Earlier this month, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley proclaimed February 2011 as GIS Inventory Month in Maryland.  The proclamation describes the importance of GIS in government-related matters, such as resource conservation, emergency preparedness and mitigation, and decision-making transparency.  By doing so, the proclamation lays the foundation for a 3-week challenge focused on listing the state’s GIS inventory in Ramona, a nationwide GIS inventory tool created by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) through funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The goal of the 3-week challenge is to list and document the state’s framework GIS layers in Ramona by March 1, 2011.  The layers are categorized and listed below.

Boundaries
Cities/Towns/Municipalities
Counties
State
Location
Address Points
Geographic Place Names
Geodetic Control Points/Networks
Elevation
Contours
DEM
Planning/Cadastral
Centroids
Vector Parcels
Imagery/Base Maps/Earth Cover
Orthoimagery/Digital Orthophotography
Land Cover
Transportation
Roads/Street Centerlines
Mass Transit – Bus/Rail
Railroads
Airports & Airfields
Inland Waters
Hydrography
Watershed Boundaries

The basic premise of Ramona is to connect data producers and consumers by providing a single location where public and private GIS data can be documented by the producers and searched by the consumers.  In order to inventory data, one must visit the Ramona website and create a profile.  If one only wants to search the inventory, one does not need to create a profile.  So if you are interested in participating in the GIS Inventory Challenge, visit the Ramona website and create a profile to either search and/or document your GIS data.


Sharyn

I’ve worked for the Center for GIS for a LONG time. But, I’m happy to say there are a few other folks who have been here pretty long, too, but more interestingly, they started their careers at CGIS as student employees. I thought it would be interesting to look back and find out more about their days as undergrads (or grad students in some cases).

Ardys Russakis

Ardys Russakis (pronounced R-DIS) started working at CGIS in 1995 and is now the Operations Officer. Her mentor was Dr. Kent Barnes, a professor in the Towson University Department of Geography & Environmental Planning. Ardys believes that his insistence on hard work really paid off. She commented that there were a “number of times I had to redo GIS projects in the lab….by the time I finished my BA I realized how important it was to review, review,  and review your work along the way. If something seems too easy you have probably missed a step, and if something seems impossible you are probably over thinking it.”

Ashley Lesh Buzzeo

Ashley Buzzeo is a rising star around here. She told me that Dr. Jay Morgan, Director Emeritus of CGIS, took the time to mentor her and didn’t just teach her about professional skills, but also life skills that focus on being passionate about work while putting family first. She was recently promoted to project manager and when she shared with me the most valuable skill she gained as a student employee, I can see why these early skills she learned in the workforce have made it easy for her to emerge as a leader. “I learned from day one that at CGIS, our work requires multiple skills, collaboration, and good communication from many coworkers to accomplish specific tasks.” Besides being a leader here, she is one of the most active CGIS staff members in the Maryland State Geographic Information Committee (MSGIC).

Jeremy Monn

Back in 2003 when Jeremy Monn started out as a Graduate Assistant, we sat next to one another in our old offices that use to be located in the basement of Linthicum Hall. Recently, he told me that the most valuable skill he gained while working as a student was preparing and delivering conference presentations.  With encouragement from faculty members in Towson University’s Geography Department and from CGIS supervisors, he prepared and delivered several conference presentations as a graduate assistant. I’m sure that is part of the reason he enjoys teaching as an adjunct in the Geography Department so much. Jeremy also considered Jaime Alvarez, a former CGIS co-worker, to be a good mentor. On Friday afternoons, they’d share a Dr. Pepper and discuss projects. Jaime “was always very approachable and always stressed that I not hesitate to ask him questions.  That’s something I have tried to stress as a CGIS employee and an adjunct instructor.”

Susan Wooden

Just a few months after I started working for CGIS, Susan Wooden was hired as a part time student employee while working on her Master’s degree in Professional Writing. As we discussed our time here, Susan said that not only the coursework sharpened her skills, but also the work she was charged with such as managing proposals and project documents for CGIS made her put everything she was learning about grammar, rhetoric, and style to work right away, under the pressure of deadlines and administrative scrutiny. Besides professors from the Professional Writing program mentoring her, she said that “Dr. Jay Morgan’s encouragement and advice, and his telling me often “Your work is important to CGIS” was key to my longevity and success at CGIS.”


Mark Helmken

Last November Jimmy Bayne blogged about various educational paths people can take to enter the IT workplace. I want to talk about another facet of professional development—certification. Many professions strongly suggest or require that practitioners acquire certain levels of certification. Having those certifications, usually awarded by the professional’s peers, is one way to say “Hey, I didn’t stop learning… growing… (fill in the blank…) after I finished my formal education.” Specifically, I want to focus this blog post on the value of certification as a GISP—a geographic information systems (GIS) Professional.

What’s so special about GISP?

Soon, the number of GISPs at CGIS is likely to double. Since GISP status is recognition of a certain level of achievement in the GIS professions, as well as commitment to a high ethical standard, that’s special—for Maryland’s GIS resource base, and for Towson University, DECO, and our clients. Even though we already regard all of these particular CGIS staff to be GIS professionals, the right to put GISP after their names must be earned from the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) through a rigorous qualifying process.

Qualifying for GISP status

Through a portfolio that includes a 32-page points-based application plus submission of supporting documents, successful GISP applicants prove that they meet GISCI standards for ethical conduct and professional practice, educational achievement, professional experience, and the manner in which they contribute back to the profession. Certification is based on a range of benchmarks.

GISP Code of Ethics

The GISP Code of Ethics includes the same ethical standards that many other professional societies regard as essential, as well as some that are unique to the GIS profession.

The Value of GISP Certification

The rewards and value of GISP certification are both personal and universal. In their own words,

CGIS professionals share their thoughts about the meaning of their own GISP certification.

I like being a part of a professional group that is focused on the specific challenges in the GIS field. The requirements for GISP include not only education and experience, but community outreach, contributions to the field, and willingness to learn new things. Melanie Ruff, GISP, GIS Specialist III

I believe that certification as a Professional in my chosen field will add value to any organization I am a part of. It’s also gratifying to know that my accomplishments in the classroom, experience in the field, and contributions to GIS in Maryland are recognized and valued by other members of the GIS industry. Tom Earp, Jr., GISP, Project Manager

The GIS Certification Institute’s mission, “to maintain the high standards and integrity of the GIS profession and promote ethical conduct within it”, is one that I believe in, and obtaining GISP Certification reinforces that belief. Ken Juengling, GISP, Project Manager

Obtaining the GISP certification as a GIS professional acknowledges to the industry and public that I value, support, and will abide by all standards and guidelines established, and that I am proficient in Geographic Information Systems and Science. The certification is one more step forward in professional development, which can lead to career advancement. As a GIS professional this certification informs me of what to expect from other GIS professionals.

Lionell Sewell, GIS Specialist II and GISP applicant

I’d like to repeat part of Lionell’s statement: “The certification is one more step forward in professional development…” I believe it’s important for any individual, regardless of his or her professional or trade, to seek opportunities for professional certification and to continually reach for the highest standard.

Click here to learn more about GISP certification.


Jeremy

Jeremy

A couple weeks ago I was asked to troubleshoot the odd behavior of a cached map service in a FLEX web mapping application.  The application provides users with the ability to view the map at 11 different scales ranging from approximately 1:2300000 to approximately 1:2250.  The FLEX web mapping application uses several cached map services, but one disappeared when a user zoomed into the largest scale possible (1:2250).  This behavior was very odd because the cached tiles existed for the map service at the largest scale (1:2550).  So what was causing the odd behavior?

After comparing the cached services used in the application, I noticed that the cache level scales were all EXACTLY the same except for the largest scale.  (Up to this point I have referred to the largest scale as “approximately 1:2500”.  The true value for the largest scale is actually 1:2254.4677625.)  The cached map service that did not display correctly at the largest scale had its largest scale set to 1:2254.467763 not 1:2254.4677625.  In order for the service to display correctly in the application at the largest scale, I had to replace the cache tiles tied to the incorrect scale (1:2254.467763) with cache tiles created at the correct scale (1:2254.4677625).  So how did I do this?

Most GIS Specialists familiar with creating AGS map service caches would automatically think the solution is to simply delete the old cache level using ArcCatalog and add the new one.  Unfortunately this doesn’t always work.  When I tried this method, I noticed that even though I entered the correct scale (1:2254.4677625), the scale was rounded off to the wrong scale (1:2254.467763) once I applied the changes.  The workaround I used to solve the problem involved editing the service’s configuration file using Notepad ++.  The steps I used are provided below:

1) Open Windows Explorer

2) Navigate to the location of the map service’s cache folder

3) Locate the map service’s cache XML configuration file

4) Open the configuration file with a text editor (e.g. Notepad ++)

5) Manually correct the appropriate scale and save the configuration file

6) Open ArcCatalog, refresh the map service, and re-create the cache tiles for the corrected scale

Hopefully you found this helpful, I also published a blog post a while back on Lessons Learned: Creating a KML-Enabled ArcGIS Server Map Service that might be of use!


Steven

Steve

Unhappy with your current Internet provider, but not sure what your options are? Recently moved, or house hunting, and want to know if broadband Internet access is available at the new location? In the past, finding answers to these questions would involve a significant amount of Internet research and you still might miss potential service options. The new interactive Maryland Broadband Map makes answering these questions much easier.

The development team at Towson University’s Center for GIS (CGIS) spent an arduous summer working with our partners internally and at the Maryland Broadband Cooperative and Salisbury University to bring the map application to fruition. We’ve blogged about the data collection effort, and the initial grant award in previous posts.

Getting started is easy.
Visit the Web site, type a Maryland address into the address textbox along the top of the map, and hit “GO.” The map will zoom to the address, and a green highlight will outline the census block for the location. The Results tab in the left panel will then display information about the types of broadband service available in the area. You’ll see an abbreviation in parentheses for each service type, which you can then match to the providers who deliver those services. Hyperlinks to provider Web sites help you quickly find more provider-specific details.

What else can you do with the map?
Besides the address search and service report, the map offers a number of additional features.

  • Get information on any location in Maryland
    By single clicking anywhere in the state, you can initiate the service report for the location of interest. If an address can be linked to the location, you’ll see the full street address. If no address can be linked to the location, you’ll see standard latitude and longitude coordinates in the results.
  • Revisit previous locations
    The Results tab includes a drop down list of locations you previously visited during your viewing session so you can easily return to a location.
  • Report unserved areas
    Two buttons on the Results tab let you communicate potential errors on the map. You can use the error reporting buttons to let us know of errors on the map, such as service types or a specific unserved location (such as your home). We strive hard for accuracy, but sometimes our data isn’t perfect. Your input helps make the map better.
  • Use social media links
    Currently, we provide links to share the Maryland Broadband Map URL through Twitter and Facebook. You can also share the map through email, with an option to include the address or location information and map view just as you see it on your screen.
  • Print out reports
    By clicking the yellow Print icon in the Results tab, you can print the map, service, and provider information to a one- or two- page PDF, allowing you to take the results with you. The PDF report also includes phone numbers to contact the providers about their service options.
  • Explore data
    The Data tab in the left panel lets you view the statewide coverage of various service types on the map. You can see how close a given service type may be to a location, as well as view the availability of a service type over a region (such as your county).
  • Use the Help section to answer questions
    Along with additional information regarding working with the map, the Help documents include a glossary of terms and simple definitions of service types.

 

Why do we show the census block?
In most cases the Internet providers supplied their broadband coverage data to the Maryland broadband mapping team by census blocks. A census block can be bounded by streets, roads, or creeks, and can include no or many households. This means that while your census block may be reported as being served by a particular service type or provider, your individual address or site might not be served. This problem of precision exists most typically in rural areas and along the outer edges of provider service areas. If this problem exists at your address, please let us know by using the “Report an unserved area” button on the Results tab.

I hope this overview helps in your personal search for broadband. If it does, please let us know by emailing us or leaving a comment.

Visit http://www.mdbroadbandmap.org/ for more information regarding the Maryland Broadband Mapping Initiative.



Jeremy

Jeremy

When I moved to Maryland several years ago to attend Towson University, I found that an easy way to break the ice with a group of people I didn’t know was to ask them “What was your high school mascot?”  Usually the question produced quizzical looks, probably because they were wondering why I cared, but most would provide expected answers like a bulldog, eagle, wildcat, lion, etc. Once they provided their answers, I provided them with a great laugh by informing them that my high school mascot was a bubble.  More specifically, we (my classmates and I) were not referred to as “Bubbles” but as “Bubblers”.

Readers of this blog may be asking themselves, why in the world would a high school select a bubble as a mascot?  This is a good question, and it is one that can be answered by understanding the physical and human geography of my hometown.  The town, and thus eventually the high school I attended, owes its existence to its site and situation.  Located along a stream fed by dozens of underground springs and close to abundant timber, limestone, and iron ore sources the area became a prime location for the development of a charcoal iron works in the 1750’s.  Not only did the stream provide power to the iron works (a dam was constructed for this reason, thus creating Children’s Lake located at the center of town), but is also provides the town its name.  Just north of Children’s Lake, at a place known locally as “The Bubble” the underground springs rush to the surface creating a boiling appearance, hence the town’s name: Boiling Springs.

Citizens of Boiling Springs and the surrounding areas ascribe many different meanings to The Bubble, making it a key factor in many people’s “sense of place” of the town.  Scuba divers view The Bubble as an entry way into an underground (and underwater) world that many never see, local high school students view The Bubble as a place to settle differences off campus or to just hang out, significant others view it is a starting place for a romantic walk along the stream and lake, and former residents like myself view it as a place to remember when they are homesick.  Knowing this, is it any wonder why students attending Boiling Springs High School are referred to as Bubblers?

Children’s Lake…Photo Credit: Flickr User cthoyes


Steven

Steve

The Center for GIS has been awash in new map application launches over the past month, with three new launches–all with strong ties to the sea.

In a previous blog, I introduced a new web map application for the Khaled Bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (LOF), highlighting coral reef habitat in the Seychelles Islands group. Our first launch this past month is a companion application to that first viewer. The new application highlights coral habitats in St. John and St. Thomas, two of the US Virgin Islands. It was built on the same framework as the Seychelles viewer and contains many of the same tools and functions. One addition is a series of underwater video examples for the coral reef habitat types.

The two newest web map applications focus much closer to home. Both represent integral parts of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ new Coastal Atlas. The first, the Ocean viewer, launched on June 8th, to celebrate World Oceans Day. The application gives citizens access to ocean data off of Maryland’s coast, including information on shipping routes, recreational areas, fishing locations, and offshore renewable energy potential.

Our second Coastal Atlas launch this month is the Estuarine viewer, launched  June 30th. This viewer allows users to explore critical tidal and near-shore habitats for targeted conservation, protection, and restoration activities. Both the Ocean and Estuarine viewers are built on a new web map application template CGIS has been developing in-house to speed our delivery of web map applications built on Maryland’s MD iMap map service infrastructure.

A third viewer, built by Maryland Environmental Service (MES), rounds out the current DNR Coastal Atlas web map application offerings. The MES Shorelines viewer also leverages the MD iMap infrastructure.

These applications provide new ways to experience and learn about the relationships and ties each of us have to the sea. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to explore them.