Recognizing that young Americans have a gap in their understanding of geography and their roles as global citizens, National Geographic “created Geography Awareness Week to raise awareness to this dangerous deficiency in American education and excite people about geography as both a discipline and as a part of everyday life… Each third week of November, students, families, and community members focus on the importance of geography by hosting events; using lessons, games, and challenges in the classroom; and often meet with policymakers and business leaders.”
To celebrate Geography Awareness Week, Falvey Memorial Library and the Department of Geography and the Environment (GEV) invite you to attend this week’s geography-focused events, to check out our list of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) projects below, and to follow along with Falvey’s blogs sharing projects and discussions from GEV’s students.
- Esri Story Map projects from GEV’s 4320/8320: GIS for Conservation Management class.
- Georeferenced historic photography of Villanova University’s campus from 1950-1990.
- A 3D model of Villanova University’s campus created with drone footage (DJI Mavic 2 Pro), 3D photogrammetry software (Pix4Dmapper), ArcGIS Pro, and imported into 3D scene in ArcGIS Online.
Today we talk about geospatial technology for the military and using GIS and geography to solve environmental problems.
Geospatial Technology for the Military
My name is Kylee Giblin, and I am currently using Global Interdisciplinary Studies (GIS) for a job I got after graduation with Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC). Because of my GIS experience during undergrad I was able to get hired as a beginning GIS Technician. Currently I have been converting computer-aided design (CAD) documents into ArcGIS Pro for telecom data for various infrastructure areas on the island. This might sound confusing (it was to me too)! The maps we make show manholes and telecom or electrical lines that connect to the manholes. GIS work is important for this because we need to know where the communication lines lie in cases of emergency. The maps are also important for having the exact location of cables etc. in order to fix them or to check them. The job isn’t just computer restricted, we need to go into the field and physically GPS where the manholes and other data are so that when referring to the maps, they are correct.
Though this work is not environmentally focused, I am able to learn a lot about GIS tools that I could apply to future work. I am also learning about the land where I am from and the military areas that I did not know before.
Kylee Giblin is a Villanova GEV undergraduate alum from 2021. She majored in Environmental Studies.
Geography and GIS Help Solve Environmental Problems
My name is Caroline Dimich, and I am a recent graduate of Villanova’s department of Geography and the Environment (GEV). I double majored in Environmental Studies and Geography. I believe that studying geography was extremely beneficial to my education because it led me to understand how everything can be connected, even if it is far apart. I explored many different courses where geography was an undertone topic and I truly got to see how the world works with the meshing of cultures, people, and physical landscapes. I am grateful to the GEV department for inspiring me to learn more about my passion in geography in thought provoking classes with incredible concepts that made coming to class everyday exciting.
For my senior project I was lucky enough to work with Professor Jen Santoro and use Geographic Information Systems to look at a spatial problem that I find important. I completed a Multi Criteria Decision Analysis looking at the state of Montana and understanding its wind energy potential to see where future wind farms could be located. The issue of renewable energy is extremely important as the world faces the impending climate crisis. I grew up in Montana where I have been inspired by the differing landscapes and seeing how dependent the states is on Fossil Fuels while there is such a large potential for renewable energy to be captured. In this study I gained GIS and research experience while being able to locate large amounts land to capture enough wind energy to power the entire United States. This was an incredible opportunity to work with Professor Santoro and learn more about my home state as well as seeing a positive future for renewable energy.
After graduating from Villanova, I had the opportunity to intern with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) as a Data and Geospatial Analyst. During the three month internship I worked with people all over the globe who had one common goal which was to help people who were less fortunate and to make the world a better place. I had two main projects that I worked on throughout my time with CRS. The first project was to look at watersheds in Sierra Leone, Africa and determine areas that were at high risk for flooding in future rain events. This process would eventually be used to determine flooding risk in other areas of the world. The second project I worked on was understanding a GIS model that a Villanova research team had created to find areas in countries after natural disaster events. This model was very intricate and took many hazards and compared them to find areas of high risk. The model then looked at necessities that humans need such as healthcare, transportation, and land cover to determine where shelters must be located after natural disasters. This model will also be used in other areas of the world to help response teams act quickly in the event of a disaster to save as many people as possible.
In both my senior project as well as my internship I have learned why geography and tools such as GIS are important to the future of this world. Not only can the study of geography help bring people together around the world, but it can also help students understand how they can create a better place to live. I cannot express my gratitude to the GEV department for helping students such as myself expand their knowledge and want to help others.
Caroline Dimich is a Villanova GEV undergraduate alum from 2021. She majored in Environmental Studies and Geography.
Geography and GIS in Urban Environments
How do you use geography/GIS in your work or research?
My name is Kate Homet, and I use GIS everyday in my own thesis work, but also for my classes! I’m in my second year here at GEV in the MS program and my thesis research utilizes GIS and spatial data to create a spatial model to help make the planning of green stormwater infrastructure across Philadelphia more equitable in terms of mapping social, infrastructural, environmental, and maintenance vulnerabilities. To do this, I use social demographic data and display it spatially by census block group, map the location of 10-year, 24-hour design storm flood inundation, utilize city parcel data to map which buildings are susceptible to flooding, and model where stormwater infrastructure maintenance impacts such as litter, leaf litter, and sediment tend to build up across the city.
Not only am I using GIS and geography for my research, but I also use it in most of my classes as well! It is such an awesome tool to have in my toolbelt because it can be used for a variety of different purposes and in so many disciplines.
I use it in Remote Sensing with Professor Kelley to interpret satellite imagery, I used it in my Drones course with our GIS whiz Michele Gandy and Professor Strader, to download and analyze drone footage, and I used it in my Wetlands course with Dr. Weston to map marsh sites and sediment accretion. And that is only what I did this semester!
Why is geography/GIS important to the work you do?
The ability to understand the spatial relationships in the world around you is crucial. Whether you’re planning to move to a new city, and you need to know where you can get groceries, or you’re looking for a new hiking path to try, you will always be utilizing some sort of geographic information to navigate through life. The work I’m doing now is adding to my toolbox of GIS skills and spatial modeling, something I hope to bring into my future career modeling flooding and planning for climate change adaptation. If you haven’t already taken a class in GIS, I highly suggest it. Our program may seem difficult at first, or it may come as second nature to you, but having those baseline skills in GIS will come in handy one day, no matter what discipline you’re in.
Kate Homet is a Villanova GEV Masters of Science in Environmental Science (MSES) graduate student. She is working with Dr. Peleg Kremer.