As 1,313 sixth-graders navigated the maze of booths and electronic mapping activities in the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, GIS project manager of the city of Killeen Colen Wilson made a proud announcement.
“This is the largest GIS Day in the world,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of our claim to fame.”
This is Geography Week and Wednesday was Geographic Information Systems Day, celebrated by more than 100 countries, Wilson said.
Esri, a California-based technology company, registers GIS Day activities from all over the world and apparently the city of Killeen has claimed the title of largest GIS Day for some time.
“We were even written up in their magazine,” Wilson said.
GIS technology is used in every department of the city of Killeen to help organize layers of information, such as decades of labor reports on city sewer lines, stormwater drainage and manhole locations throughout the city, Wilson said.
Ninety percent of Wilson’s GIS work supports the Public Works Department.
Dozens of local entities and more than 180 volunteers attended the event to show off their digital mapping programs, including Texas Parks and Wildlife, Killeen’s police and fire departments and Army weather squadrons.
“We are trying to show the kids how GIS can be used and educate them with interactive experiences,” Wilson said.
At the Army III Corps weather support table, Staff Sgt. Israel Miranda demonstrated the use of a tactical weather station, a large Army green-colored tripod with a bouquet of electronics hanging off it, to a group of students from Nolan Middle School.
“We’re showing them all of the tools and how they come together,” Miranda said. “This information is relayed to the world.”
The weather station is designed to be set up downrange and provide life-saving weather information through its system of light sensors, rain gauges, anemomenters and other tools, Miranda said.
“They see the weather every day, but they don’t understand it the same as if they break it down by themselves,” Miranda said.