GIS Center Provides Interactive Maps to Campus Community

Bella Biafore, Writer

Getting lost at one point or another happens to everybody. Thankfully, living in the twentieth century provides us the luxury of having apps like Google Maps, which can often help get us to the right destination.

Not many people are familiar with what GIS is or how it’s important to campus life–or that we even have a GIS center on campus. Since its opening in 2013, the center has been working with students from the Undergraduate Opportunity Program to bring more awareness to the topic.

But have you ever thought about how it all works? What you may not realize is you’re using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which is a mapping technology that makes it easier for users to interact with maps virtually.

“GIS can be used in almost any discipline. Any student or person within their field of study or career GIS can be used in some manner,” said Troy Rosencrants, manager of the center. “Everybody uses GIS they just don’t realize what it’s called.”

On the University of Michigan-Flint campus, GIS focuses mainly on the Flint and Genesee county area. The center has completed an assorted amount of projects including ones made by research grants, student research projects and what they’re known for best: mapping projects.

GIS is specifically helpful on campus because it conducts analysis on crime mapping, transportation routing, hazard mitigation and much more.

An example used in the ‘Understading GIS’ video on Youtube is choosing a location to build a store. Using GIS, you can collect data from social media and people’s tagged locations to decide where the best location is.

Essentially, a map of anything can be created using this system. Whether it be the location of all the lead pipes in Flint or demographic trends, GIS takes care of it all.

Rosencrants has worked with the GIS Center since its opening on the fifth floor of the Murchie Science Building in 2013. Besides having a web developer that helps with coding, Rosencrants is the only person on the job.

The main project Rosencrants is working on right now is Map Flint. It is an online interactive map where public data and census information are collected and displayed, showing only the surrounding Flint and Genesee County area.

In the future, the GIS Center is hoping to hold more events and offer more training to teach students and community members how to use Map Flint more efficiently.

If you’re interested in learning more about GIS, you can go to their website or visit their office in the Northbank Center, suite 207. Or, if you’d like to sign up for Map Flint training, check out the Map Flint website.