GIS Day at HACC in Harrisburg

Yesterday I attended the GIS Day at Harrisburg Area Community College’s Downtown Center with the Aerial Photo Interpretation (FORT 230) class. This is a new event that has only been running for a few years. It already has some interesting displays and presentations and could grow bigger in the future. Here are impressions of some of the exhibits.

DCNR’s Explore PA trails shows recreational trails around the state. Its interface uses an embedded Google Maps window. Trails can be searched through the interactive map or a parameter search. Users can register to add comments, photos, and possibly upload trail information. This is a great website that should attract many viewers.

The PA Historical and Museum Commission and PennDOT have created a very interesting Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. The web site shows historical sites and zones throughout Pennsylvania. Each historical site links to other resources, including historical photos. There is a general public user level and more detailed user levels for archaeologists and those with demonstrated need.

I was eager to try this tool at home. But when I tried to log on I found out that it only works with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Then I found out it requires the installation of Adobe SVG Viewer. This tool was discontinued in 2009. It is still available, but is no longer supported. The installation instructions didn’t mention Windows Vista or 7! I am disappointed the tool hasn’t been modernized. I imagine that it would be quite expensive and time consuming to switch to another map database and online system.

Another interesting display was the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Pennsylvania Highlands Recreational Guide. They have mapped a network of trails either connected to the Appalachian Trail or in its corridor. They have an ongoing effort to update the network.

The PA Department of Health had a display on the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. This effort, in partnership with many agencies including CDC, maps various diseases and health conditions around the state. The site provides links to data and maps. There is a public level and more detailed levels for health officials.

It will be interesting to attend this event next year.

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