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WSC class presents GIS project to City Commission

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WSC class presents GIS project to City Commission

Posted: May 07 2010
Have you ever wondered what would happen to Williston and the surrounding area if the Fort Peck Dam, filled to capacity, was breached by terrorists? Where would all that water go? How would Williston be affected? The Geographic Information System (GIS) Technology class at WSC, taught by Jackie Stenehjem, asked that question - and answered it using GIS technology. GIS is a system by which digitized maps and information are used to track information on any given subject
GIS students, and others who helped with the project, including students and faculty from the English, Speech, Physics, Biology, Graphic Design departments, will present their findings to the Williston City Commission at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, at city hall.

"With GIS we are able to determine what emergency services will be operable, which will be working and which will be under water," Stenehjem said. Students looked at all aspects including placement of evacuation shelters, what grocery stores and gas stations will be able to remain open, what areas of the city have high-risk populations requiring additional help with evacuation, what percentage of commercial, industrial, residential will be flooded, etc. What are the market values in dollars that will be flooded "These are important things our officials need to know."

Students who take the GIS classes are required to do a community service project and their work is quite impressive. In 2007, the class worked on a project at Riverview Cemetery. "They digitized the lots and grave locations within the Green Acres addition," she said. The multi-step project mapped out the lots and gravesites, giving each grave a number. The amount of useful information that can be added to the project is almost endless. "You could put pictures, names, dates, and when you click on a number, you could see information about the person buried there, the dates they were born and died, their marriage information, family history, etc.," Stenehjem said. "How useful would this be for genealogy work?"

Another project undertaken by her class in the spring of 2008 was mapping the current location of all WSC and University of North Dakota-Williston alumni. They worked with the WSC Foundation, and eventually found out that of the more than 10,000 alumni who have attended the school since it opened in 1967, Maine and Vermont are the only states with no WSC alumni and 72% of the alumni continue to live in North Dakota.

"We can see where most of students are probably coming from. Wouldn't that be a great tool for future recruitment and fund-raising campaigns for the college?" she said.

The class service projects have also included a project with Vector Control, mapping the location of standing water in the area, which Vector Control was able to turn over to the pilot doing aerial larviciding for the mosquitoes "so he knows exactly where to drop the larvicide chemical based on standing water photos and GIS," she said. "It's so important to use the chemical properly and not waste it."

The Agriculture class at WSC also did a project using the GIS mapping program which could help farmers create zone maps and using automatic steering tractors plant their seeds and apply chemicals within centimeters of where they need to be to avoid overlap and waste."
For more information on GIS technology or the GIS class offered at WSC, contact Stenehjem at 774-4503.
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