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Volunteer Helping to Map and Preserve Oak Woodlands for California Non-profit

The River Ridge Institute is a 4-year-old nonprofit located in the Southern Sierra foothills of California that was founded to help educate public and private audiences about the importance of preserving oak woodlands through sustainable land management and natural resource conservation.

The Institute requested services from GISCorps to help with data integration, mapping, and the production of attractive materials to use in their presentations. Volunteer Olivia Hughes of California has been recruited to assist with this effort, beginning with a GIS needs assessment. Other anticipated outcomes of Olivia’s efforts include a StoryMap for the Institute’s website, an ArcGIS Online organization, and possibly an in-house GIS system.

Recruitment complete: project in process

River Ridge Institute Logo

Volunteer Providing Guidance for a Post-Hurricane Michael Housing Needs Assessment in Florida

The Apalachee Regional Planning Council (ARPC) is a multi-purpose agency that was created in 1977, one of ten Regional Planning Councils in the state of Florida. The ARPC provides technical assistance in the areas of economic development, emergency planning, transportation, environmental planning, and quality of life to meet the needs of member local governments within the nine-county Apalachee Region in northwest Florida, shown below.

Apalachee Region of northwest Florida

A large portion of the region that ARPC serves was devastated in 2018 by Hurricane Michael. As such, they have been working closely with FEMA, counties, and local municipalities in the area to determine the extent and scope of damage to housing in the vicinity. While they have some available data, much of the Region is under-represented due to lack of staff and funding. They currently host a mapping and data portal, which utilizes ArcGIS Online (

ARPC requested help from GISCorps in finding a volunteer who has experience with a post-disaster housing needs assessment. Volunteer Bill Bishop of New Jersey has stepped up to fill this role, drawing from his experiences with Hurricane Sandy in his home state.

Recruitment complete; project in progress.

Volunteer Helping One Shared Story Build ArcGIS Hub

One Shared Story is a volunteer-based non-profit organization found in 2018. Their mission is to expand what we know about the past so we can better understand the present and work together to create compassionate, inclusive communities for the future. They recently purchased ArcGIS Hub, with the goal to increase public engagement by allowing more volunteers to participate in data creation.

GISCorps volunteer Bhanu Vedula is assisting One Shared Story with implementing, designing, and administering their ArcGIS Hub.

One Shared Story logo

Volunteer mapping green space in an Oregon neighborhood

Happy Valley Heights Homeowners Association (HOA) is a ~300-home neighborhood in Northwestern Oregon. In September, they requested services from GISCorps to map green spaces containing older second-growth forests and wetlands in their neighborhood. Volunteer Curtis Day is assisting the effort to create a cartographic product for both the website and for use in Avenza for on-site maintenance. Once a map standard has been designed, there is the potential for the volunteer to create similar maps in neighboring HOAs.

Recruitment complete; project in process.

GISCorps Admin Team Selected for 2019 Hurricane Season

Building on a series of successful collaborations in the last year following Huricanes Florence, Michael, and Barry, NAPSG Foundation, CEDR Digital Corps, and GISCorps have been hard at work preparing for the remainder of the 2019 hurricane season. Together, we’re ready to continue providing on-the-ground situational awareness to emergency managers and first responders with the 2019 Hurricanes Crowdsourced Photos Story Map.

In addition to updating applications and reworking workflow documentation, GISCorps project manager German Whitley has assembled a team of seasoned hurricane project contributors to serve as the Admin Team for future projects. The GISCorps 2019 Hurricane Season Admin Team includes Erin Arkison from Texas, Christina Brunsvold from California, John Haddad from Colorado, Eadie Kaltenbacher from Oregon, Melvin Nforba from Maryland, Holly Torpey from California, and Dacey Zelman-Fahm from New Zealand.

Working alongside Paul Doherty of NAPSG and Rob Neppell of CEDR Digital Corps, these experienced and dedicated volunteers will validate photo submissions for accuracy and formatting and assign FEMA Community Lifeline categories. They’ll mine social media for imagery that can be geolocated, and they’ll help keep our applications up and running and our documentation current. Perhaps most importantly, they’ll be on hand in our shared Slack channels to support other GISCorps volunteers as they geolocate photos and video and add them to the map.

Recruitment complete, mission in progress.

Volunteer Helping Seeds of Hope Build Spatial Datasets and Web Mapping Applications

Seeds of Hope, the food justice ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, is working with GISCorps to establish a spatial asset management dataset and build associated web applications.  Seeds of Hope was established to repurpose church property and facilities for the production and distribution of food in underserved communities across the six-county diocese. The program currently grows food at nearly 90 locations for distribution through more than 100 food pantries and meal programs in addition to providing nutrition and fitness education. The goal is to form all 210 institutions of the diocese into a fully vertically integrated food production and distribution system, producing food wherever it can be grown for distribution where and when it is needed.

GISCorps volunteer Mary Andrews is helping Seeds of Hope to build datasets and web mapping applications that will identify the infrastructure and personnel assets at each institution of the diocese that can be deployed for food production or distribution. Further, the map will serve to identify community needs surrounding each location and will include analytical tools that will facilitate more efficient production and distribution of food within the program.

Recruitment complete, project in progress.

Volunteers Validating Building Sites in Papua New Guinea

The World Health Organization (WHO) has embarked on a new pilot project that integrates crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence (AI) to support polio outbreak response activities in Papua New Guinea. For this two-phase project, WHO requested the assistance of GISCorps volunteers. Five volunteers were selected and connected to WHO representatives; they are Linder Ringo (California, USA), Bhanu Vedula (Alberta, Canada), Melissa Daniels (Colorado, USA), Amy Murphy (Maryland, USA), and Lance Owen (Georgia, USA).

During the first phase volunteers will validate existing building points in two provinces. Once the validation is complete, the representative sample set will be fed into the AI engine. Once the pre-AI task is completed and the AI engine has extracted the points for the area of interest, the same group of volunteers will be asked to quality check the output from the AI results.

Recruitment complete, project in progress.

Helping a Community Use GIS to Promote Sustainable Landscaping and Urban Agriculture

The West East Community Access Network (WE CAN) Foundation is a nonprofit based in Los Angeles, California. WE CAN was founded over 20 years ago with the objective of bridging the digital divide in underrepresented communities in South Central Los Angeles. Recently, WE CAN began tackling issues of sustainability in that community by educating residents about the benefits of urban agriculture and drought-tolerant landscaping.

WE CAN approached GISCorps to learn more about the potential for using GIS to track and promote their sustainability initiatives. Alice Kim and John Schweisinger were selected to perform an on-site needs assessment to evaluate WE CAN’s requirements and suggest an affordable and useful solution. Alice and John will be meeting with WE CAN volunteers shortly to begin their assessment.

Recruitment complete, project in process.

Volunteer Helping Youth Bridge the Digital Divide in Detroit

Charity Co-Op is a cooperative of anti-poverty and safety net programs working together to overcome poverty in Detroit, Michigan, USA. The Cooperative also serves as an IT training and work experience incubator for Serve Squad, a virtual internship program for young people between the ages of 16 and 19.  Serve Squad interns develop technical skills and gain project management experience while also helping to battle poverty in their community. Interns receive stipends, services, community service credits and, in some cases, college credits. They also have the opportunity to earn an international badge validating their project management skills.

Charity Co-Op requested support from GISCorps in integrating a mapping component into their Smartsheet project management application. Map integration with Smartsheet is a fairly new capability, so the GISCorps Core Committee set out to identify a volunteer with a knack for figuring out new technologies and developing novel solutions. Maggie Peng of British Columbia, Canada, was selected for that role. Maggie will also document the workflow she develops and create tutorials for the Serve Squad interns.

Recruitment complete, project in process.

Charity Co-Op logo

Volunteer Analyzing Mountain Rescue Association’s Search and Rescue Data

The Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through rescue and education. MRA maintains a Mission Data Portal where Search and Rescue teams across the United States and Canada have entered data about their missions since 2014.

The resulting database serves an important repository of historical information and statistics about MRA member teams’ search and rescue activities. Perhaps more importantly, it also has the potential to improve mountain safety experts’ understanding of lost person behavior, mountain hazards, and the effectiveness of search and rescue tactics and strategies in mountain and wilderness environments. That crucial understanding can then inform development of MRA’s training and education programs aimed at improving mountain safety for both search and rescue teams and the general public.

To that end, MRA requested one GISCorps volunteer to perform spatial and statistical analysis of the data collected by the MRA Mission Data Portal. Jim Kyle, a GISCorps volunteer from British Columbia with a background in both GIS and mountain search and rescue, was selected for the role. Jim is in contact with MRA and work will begin soon.

Recruitment complete, project in process.

Mountain Rescue Association logo
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