The National Geographic Society has sponsored Geography Awareness Week since 1987 to "promote geographic literacy in schools, communities and organizations, with a focus on the education of children," the GIS Day website states.
GIS Day is held on the Wednesday during Geography Awareness Week. According to the website, the purpose of the day is to "provide an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society."
DePauw University has been celebrating the day every year since 2004 in the Julian Science and Math Building atrium, said Beth Wilkerson, event organizer and GIS specialist for the university.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is essentially anything that uses the locational component of data, she said.
What makes the day so interesting, she said, is most people may not realize Putnam County is involved with the statewide initiative to get data online to track 911 dispatches and farm services, she said.
Scott Wilkerson, structural geologist and professor of geosciences, is teaching a first-year discussion-based seminar that is utilizing Google Earth as a tool and focusing on geology and environmental science.
Students have been working on semester-long projects for GIS Day that incorporate a Google Earth interactive display as well as project posters ranging from such subject matter as wind farms to groundwater to depletion, among others.
Beth Wilkerson said the main interest in GIS Day is for people to learn about GIS and its uses from basic visualization like Google Earth to complex analysis to determine how far out a signal reaches.
"People use GIS every day and they don't realize it, like with MapQuest or weather maps," she said.