GIS Day open house slated tomorrow

To mark Geographic Information Systems Day in Fort Frances on Wednesday, community partners will hold an open house to explain what GIS is—and to showcase how it is used by local businesses and other organizations.
The open house, scheduled from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Fort Frances High School, will feature lots for people to do and see, said Fiona Ryle of Abitibi-Consolidated, who sits on the planning committee along with 11 others representing GIS Day sponsors.
Besides Abitibi, these include the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Rainy River First Nations, the Town of Fort Frances, the Rainy River Future Development Corp., and the Rainy River District School Board.
Ryle noted there will be a displays from the Town of Fort Frances, Fort High students, RRFN, MNR, and Abitibi with maps and demonstrations as to how each group uses GIS, as well as a demo by Internet site Google.
There also will be a hands-on lab with three demos for students to run through.
These will be GIS simulations of the ice storm of January, 1998, another regarding the Mount St. Helens eruption of May, 1980, and a third dealing specifically with Town of Fort Frances data.
And there will be door prizes, giveaways, and refreshments, added Ryle.
“Basically, the open house is to show how local organizations in the Rainy River District are using GIS to do real world work,” she remarked. ‘We want people to come out and learn, and see what the possibilities of GIS are.
“And we want to provide an opportunity for students to see another career path they can go into, as well. It’s applicable to tons of disciplines,” she stressed.
“The open house is to showcase what we do, and let people learn a little bit more about something they might not have seen before, but funnily enough, a lot of people use, like ‘Map Quest’ [a website through which people can determine routes for travel],” she added.
“People use it and don’t realize they’re using it.”
Ryle noted GIS is not new, and has been used by some local groups for the past 10 years.
“It’s been around for a long time,” she said. “But it’s seems to be more in the public eye in the last few years as people have started using things like the various websites and GPS.”
The open house will take place in the small gym at Fort High, as well as one of the classrooms there. Just follow the signs once you come through the main entrance.
GIS Day falls within Geography Awareness Week (Nov. 13-19), which is aimed to promote geography awareness in schools.