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UMFK to be host for statewide meeting of GIS users

September 12, 2003


The University of Maine at Fort Kent will serve as the host site for an upcoming meeting of professionals from around the state who rely on the technology known as GIS or Geographic Information Systems on Friday, September 26 beginning at 8:00 a.m. in the Nadeau Hall teleconference room.

The day-long informational conference being called "Applied GIS Technology in Maine", will serve as the fall meeting for the Maine GIS Users Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and education of GIS in the state.

A number of interesting presentations will be led by numerous speakers representing both private and governmental organizations statewide.

Coordinating details for the host site, UMFK, is Dave Hobbins, associate professor of forestry and member of the Maine GIS Users Group. He is looking forward to hosting his fellow GIS users at what will be only the third meeting held north of Bangor.

"This is a great opportunity for our students to interact with GIS professionals in many disciplines and for UMFK to showcase its facilities. I greatly appreciate that the Maine GIS Users Group is reaching out to County residents who are working in GIS or who have an interest in GIS," said Hobbins. "These meetings are usually rewarding because the people are so willing to share their skills and ideas."

In addition to coordinating hosting details, Hobbins is slated to be a workshop presenter. The UMFK faculty member will lead a session entitled "What Makes a Good Map", which will feature an interactive discussion of cartographic design principles as they relate to digital cartography.

Fellow UMFK forestry professor Jeff Dubis will lead the morning session directly following Hobbins entitled "The Use of GPS/GIS Technologies in Local Communities". This presentation will include a discussion of various mapping projects and their benefit to the local community.

Both Hobbins and Dubis have worked hard to ensure UMFK students have access to the latest in GIS and GPS technology, and have used both widely in their classes.

GPS is a worldwide radio-navigation system formed from a group of 24 satellites and their ground stations.

GPS uses these "man-made stars" as reference points to calculate positions accurate to within less than a meter.

Hobbins has been an active member of the Maine GIS Curriculum Consortium, which was created through a National Science Foundation Grant by five of the University of Maine System schools. The group has conducted research, which has developed into cutting-edge GIS curriculum.

In addition to Hobbins, his faculty colleagues include Matthew Bampton from the University of Southern Maine, Cathleen McAnneny from the University of Maine at Farmington, Joe Szakas from the University of Maine at Augusta, and Bill Weigle from the University of Maine at Machias. Bampton will present in the afternoon, reporting on the group's activities and progress to date.

Aside from presentations by University of Maine System faculty members, several other guest presenters will take part in the day of activity, which will begin following registration at 8:00 a.m. with a welcoming address by UMFK President Richard W. Cost.

Included on the list of speakers are Mike Eisensmith, Project Impact coordinator for the Town of Fort Fairfield and Andrew McNeally, GIS consultant for the central Aroostook community. The two will speak about the use of GIS technology to mitigate flooding by the Aroostook River in the community.

Richard Dressler of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will lead a session entitled "Beginning with Habitat: An approach to conserving Maine's natural landscape for plants, animals and people. His session will be followed by a discussion on use of GIS by the Maine Forest Service led by Joseph Mints, a forest ranger with the Maine Forest Service.

A representative of the Maine Office of GIS, Dan Walters, will lead the first afternoon workshop, which will provide an overview of the new Maine Library of Geographic Information.

Nicole Bistrais and Anji Brockman, also with the Maine Office of GIS, will co-present a session on maintaining E911 roads data for multiple uses.

A session on some approaches to GIS for emergency response and homeland security and how it is being used in Maine by the Mid Coast Law Enforcement Emergency Management Task Force, will be led by Marc Leveque.

The two final presentations will look at how two companies, the James W. Sewall Company and Central Maine Power Company, integrate GIS technology into their daily operations.

In addition to being open to all members of the Maine GIS Users Group, the fall conference is open to students and members of the public.

Registration, which includes refreshments and a luncheon, is $10 for students, $20 for MEGUG members, and $30 for non-members. The latter cost for non-members includes the cost for a membership to the group.

For more information on the upcoming Maine GIS Users Group conference at UMFK access the group's website at

Pre-registration may be completed on-line or by contacting Hobbins at (207) 834-7614 for additional information.