Do you get driving directions from your mobile phone app, check in on Facebook, or use Zillow to research housing prices? You probably didn’t realize how often or how adroitly you use Geographic Information Systems, better known by the initialism ‘GIS.’
GIS software makes use of map information to organize data and enhance its usefulness. Think of it as computerized mapping. You may have heard of the USF Tampa Library’s expertise in connecting researchers’ cave and ocean data to corresponding locations on a world map, but Karst Regions of the World and C-IMAGE are just the beginning.
USF Libraries’ work with GIS has come a long way since it’s inception in 2000. Noting the US Geological Survey and other government information agencies’ growing adoption of GIS technologies, USF Libraries Director of Academic Resources Todd Chavez worked with the Council of Deans and then-Provost David Stamps to conduct a comprehensive needs analysis of academic departments in the USF system, which the USF Tampa Library then developed the infrastructure to serve. Since then, the Library’s GIS team –Pete Reehling, Richard McKenzie, and Todd Chavez — has maintained the license for USF student and faculty projects that have a GIS component, and have even tracked down datasets that were essential to research projects. Recent projects that the team has been involved with include an undergraduate student plant survey of USF’s Tampa Campus, a faculty book on gerrymandering that made use of block-level census data, post-Deepwater Horizon C-IMAGE research by College of Marine Science faculty that maps petroleum markers in seafood (including the commercial harvest), and an incredible range of projects in public health, aging studies, business, economics, history, and, of course, geosciences.
Much of the GIS work taken on is national or global in scope. However, in 2014, the USF Tampa Library’s GIS expertise was applied to two decidedly local projects focused on Tampa’s history. In one, an overlay of an 1853 survey map of Downtown Tampa was overlaid to facilitate interactive comparison with present-day satellite photography of downtown. Users can drag the edge between the two maps to compare how the contours of the Hillsborough river’s bank and land uses downtown have changed in the 162 intervening years.
In another project, placement of popular local photographs from 1917 to the early 1960s by the Burgert Brothers connect settings of the historic images with locations where they were taken on a current map of Ybor City. This project, a local favorite, is expected to grow in the next few years to include more of these cherished images.
Many of the GIS projects involving the USF Libraries are viewable at bit.ly/usflib-gis.
Your support of the USF Libraries allows this kind of cutting edge support for contemporary, relevant scholarship throughout the university. Consider making a cash gift today. Contact the USF Libraries office of Development at (813) 974-4433 to donate or request more information.