CORVALLIS - Oregon State University has developed a range of activities to recognize the first annual "GIS Day" celebrating important scientific work being done with geographic information systems.

The events will be Friday, Nov. 19, and are free and open to the public.

"A geographic information system is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing objects and events," said Dawn Wright, an associate professor of geosciences and one of the university's leaders in work with these sophisticated systems.

"It combines the power of a database with the visualization capabilities offered by maps," she said. "Businesses, schools, governments, and organizations use GIS for a wide variety of applications, as GIS provides the power to solve complicated problems, experiment with scenarios, and present ideas."

Although geographic analysis and mapping are not new, Wright said, a GIS performs these same tasks better and faster than manual methods.

The OSU Department of Geosciences and College of Forestry are sponsoring several events on GIS Day. They include:


  • Map gallery, open house and demonstrations, Wilkinson Hall, noon to 4 p.m.
  • Map gallery, tours and demonstrations in the new forestry research lab, Richardson Hall; from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., map gallery and poster session in Room 115; from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., tours and demonstrations throughout the new building.
  • Presentations at Corvallis and Albany secondary schools throughout the week by graduate students.

GIS Day will be held on the last day of National Geography Awareness Week, Nov. 15-19, and is sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the American Association of Geographers and the Environmental Systems Research Institute.

"There are currently about one half million GIS users in the world, but most of the public is unaware of this growing technology," Wright said. "It's used to solve problems in such areas as environmental protection, pollution, health care, land use, natural resources, conservation, business efficiency, education, and social inequities. GIS provides a unifying framework for analyzing and understanding the world around us."

Hundreds of colleges, universities, K-12 schools, cities, and private industries around the world are expected to participate in GIS Day, Wright said.

For more information about GIS Day, Wright may be contacted in the OSU Department of Geosciences, at (541) 737-1229, or; or visit the GIS Day web site.

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Dawn Wright, 541-737-1229