Kids map hazards in space for GIS Day

06 November 2003

Swapping their school books for palmtop computers and GPS units, students from Caroline Chisholm High School today assessed the potential impact of geohazards at their school to celebrate International GIS Day.

The students worked with urban-risk researchers from Geoscience Australia and spatial information staff and students from the Canberra Institute of Technology. They recorded a range of information including the construction type of buildings, construction materials used and vegetation types.

The information was spatially located using satellite GPS (global positioning system). It was then stored in an ESRI geographic information system (GIS), allowing information to be retrieved at the click of a mouse.

"GIS allows you to store many types of information for a single point in space. So for a school building you could record whether it was single or multi-story, what it's made from, together with a photo of the building. Then you can access all of the information with a single click", Geoscience Australia scientist, Greg Scott said.

GIS can be used in a wide range of areas, from the mitigation of geohazards and emergency management, to property location in real estate.

"GIS Day is about raising awareness of the use of spatial data. GIS allows us to capture important information about our natural and built-up environment, and then look at their many relationships and interactions. For example, in assessing risk from geohazards, the information we record about building structures helps us understand how they might be affected by hazards like earthquakes, floods or landslides", Mr Scott said.

GIS is taught in schools and universities throughout the world, and its popularity is steadily increasing in Australian schools.

Karen Tuhen, Geography Teacher at Caroline Chisholm High School, said about the event, "It's been a great opportunity for the kids to work with GIS experts from government and the tertiary sector. The event has really introduced these kids to GIS in action."

This GIS Day event was a collaboration between Caroline Chisholm High School, Geoscience Australia, Canberra Institute of Technology and ESRI, with assistance from ACT Planning and Land Authority.

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