SharedGeo Helps Local Girl Scouts Get the Most Out of Maps

August 2, 2013 by central No Comments

Cookie on the Go MapOne of the greatest challenges facing public, private, and nonprofit organizations alike is effectively and efficiently identifying potential clients, markets, and/or patrons directly related to the organization’s mission or business.  However, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping technologies can greatly simplify this process by organizing data into easy to understand, customizable diagrams and maps.

The Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys have already put GIS mapping technologies to work for them with Cookies on the Go maps, which identify the best neighborhoods for selling cookies, based on which areas are without or have very few Girl Scouts.  Cookies on the Go maps, originally created by Alison Slaats with Envision Minnesota, break down census blocks and household density data into easy to understand selling-area maps tailored for use by individual Girl Scouts.  Slaats, who currently works at GIS nonprofit, SharedGeo, made over 1600 Cookies on the Go maps for the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys in 2013.

With the success of the Cookies on the Go maps, the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys have begun using GIS mapping technologies to identify potential new scouts and better serve the girls in their communities. “We have been using the spreadsheets and maps to identify girls within our jurisdiction, and the [spreadsheets and maps] have helped us identify where to focus our resources to better serve Girl Scouts in the community,” said Sara Ernst, Membership and Volunteer Services Director at the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys.

The Enrollment Potential project, created by Slaats with SharedGeo, uses demographic information from the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa Departments of Education to identify which communities are being underserved by the Girl Scout organization. The resulting spreadsheets and maps are arranged by service unit area, showing the number of girls in each school in 49 counties, then organizing this data by age and Girl Scout level.  According to Ms. Ernst, the GIS maps are useful for staff and volunteers to be able to know where girls are, so that they can better target resources to schools and communities without troops, know where troop leaders are needed, and where potential new troops can be formed.

As is demonstrated by the Cookies on the Go and Enrollment Potential maps, GIS mapping technologies can be used to fit a variety of needs. And, because most GIS projects are custom-built, the ability to apply mapping technologies to inform projects or processes is nearly boundless. Whether you need to find potential new clients or communities to serve, or just need to identify the best neighborhoods to sell cookies, using GIS mapping technologies is the smart, cost-effective, and user-friendly way to unlocking your organization’s data potential.

SharedGeo Goes to FOSS4G-NA

June 17, 2013 by central No Comments

FOSS4G-NASharedGeo was a sponsor and exhibitor at the 2013 Free and Open Source Software 
for Geospatial
 North America Conference (FOSS4G-NA), which took place May 22 through May 24 at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center and was attended by nearly 400 people. SharedGeo Executive Director, Steve Swazee, and Technical Director, Bob Basques, shared and discussed SharedGeo’s wide range of capabilities, products, services and projects with FOSS4G-NA attendees.

FOSS4G_Booth_Small copy

Mr. Swazee introduced enthusiastic FOSS4G-NA conference-goers to SharedGeo’s many ongoing projects, like the U.S. National Grid Emergency Marker project (USNG), and distributed fliers about SharedGeo and the Director’s Blog.  Mr. Basques engaged attendees with technical and coding information about SharedGeo’s variety of open-source software products, while showing demonstrations of 3D Maps in browsers and videos of drone flights. Mr. Basques and Cory Karsten also delivered a well-attended presentation about their Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) implementation efforts in the City of St. Paul.

SharedGeo Administrative Director, Nancy Read, also played a key role at FOSS4G-NA by leading SharedGeo’s role of fiscal agent for the conference.   In addition, Dr. Read presented with Brian Fischer of Houston Engineering on the open source suite of software being used at the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.  Dr. Read and Mr. Basques—along with representatives from the DNR, Portland TriMet, and AppGeo—also served as panelists for a discussion on the use of open-source software for state and local governments.

One-Dollar Bitner-Small copySharedGeo was also represented by Chief Programmer and Technology Developer, Jim Klassen, who served on a panel of experts that discussed the merits of various geo-portals.  Mr. Klassen also met with GeoMOOSE coders for a code sprint on the final day of the conference.

The success of the FOSS4G-NA 2013 was due in large part to the leadership of David Bitner, owner of dbSpatial LLC, along with a team of dedicated volunteers.

SharedGeo Featured in St. Paul Pioneer Press

May 14, 2013 by central No Comments

SharedGeo and the US National Grid (USNG) Emergency Markers Project were featured in the May 12th issue of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  The article, written by Pioneer Press tech writer Julio Ojeda-Zapata, discussed SharedGeo’s role in the inception of the Marker Project and how the marker designs have evolved over years of trial-and-error.

The article also detailed how the markers help emergency responders locate emergencies, using real-life stories of people whose lives were saved because of the USNG markers.  Mr. Ojeda-Zapata discussed the future of the Marker Project, and the distinct possibility of the markers being implemented on a national scale.  So far, the markers are being tested in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region.

SharedGeo Executive Director, Steve Swazee, and Technical Director, Bob Basques, were interviewed for the Pioneer Press’s piece entitled, “Minnesota Marker Signs Might Look Funny—Until You’re Lost and Need One.”  Check out Julio Ojeda-Zapata’s blog for more on the Marker Project.

GeoMOOSE Becomes OSGeo Sanctioned Software

May 1, 2013 by central No Comments

geomooseSharedGeo is pleased to announce that after a six-year application process, our shared funding project GeoMOOSE has become officially sanctioned by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, or OSGeo. GeoMOOSE went through the OSGeo Incubation process, which included a review of software licensing, the creation of a community-run Project Steering Committee, and the addition of promotional support from OSGeo. The project was facilitated with support from OSGeo volunteer, Jody Garnett, the GeoMOOSE project mentor. As officially sanctioned software, GeoMOOSE will be a featured project on the OSGeo website and joins MapServer as only the second program with Minnesota origins to be blessed by OSGeo. GeoMOOSE software is downloadable for free, and is useable under an OSI-certified open source license.

GeoMOOSE is an Open Source Web Client JavaScript Framework for displaying distributed cartographic data.  GeoMOOSE excels at creating a useful web-based GIS environment for those who need something that works from the first download. The GeoMOOSE demo (available on the GeoMOOSE website) contains a fully operating web-based parcel application. It can render, investigate, and even edit layers without the need to write a single line of code.

Want to learn more? Visit the OSGeo or GeoMOOSE websites for additional information and to download GeoMOOSE 2.6.1! You can also learn more about GeoMOOSE and SharedGeo’s other projects in the SharedGeo Project Portfolio.

SharedGeo Presents on the US National Grid at Cook County Emergency Management Conference

April 30, 2013 by central No Comments

Cook CountySharedGeo Executive Director Steve Swazee and Technical Director Bob Basques presented at the Cook County Emergency Management Conference, which took place April 26-27, 2013.

On Friday evening, April 26th, Basques and Swazee’s met with a community focus group to discuss the ongoing Minnesota Marker pilot project underway in adjoining Lake County.  During this presentation, Basques and Swazee discussed SharedGeo’s efforts to develop standardize U.S. National Grid (USNG) emergency location markers that can be used throughout the United States. Swazee and Basques also received valuable feedback and ideas about how the signs could be used to help authorities respond to emergencies, continuing the collaborative spirit of the USNG project underway in Lake County.

On Saturday morning, April 27th, Swazee and Basques provided two hours of USNG instruction covering the rational for U.S. National Grid use, basic concepts, GPS interface, map reading, and anticipated future developments.  Among the attendees were several local trail managers who indicated they were excited about the potential use of USNG in their Search and Rescue efforts.

For more information, see Bob Basques and Steve Swazee’s USNG presentation (see presentation called: “U.S. National Grid Trail Markers – Bringing Geolocation to a Trail Near You” and the SharedGeo’s USNG Marker project page.

SharedGeo presents at the 2013 Nonprofit Tech & Communications Conference

April 15, 2013 by central No Comments

MCN_Logo (1)On April 10, SharedGeo Development Director, Sally Wakefield, and Technical Director, Bob Basques, spoke at the 2013 Nonprofit Technology & Communications Conference, an annual conference hosted by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.  SharedGeo was one of more than 50 exhibitors in attendance who showcased technology-based products and services, along with educational seminars.

Mr. Basques and Ms. Wakefield’s presentation discussed how nonprofit and government organizations can benefit from the use of Open-Source Geospatial mapping technology.  Ms. Wakefield examined how free, open-source technologies can assist organizations with program and service development, member development and fundraising, and communications.  Mr. Basques delved into the technical details of how SharedGeo and other nonprofit and government organizations use GIS.  He also showed examples of how the recently OSGeo sanctioned software, GeoMOOSE, could be used in a range of projects.

To learn more, see Bob Basques’s presentation and Sally Wakefield’s presentation.

USNG “Minnesota Marker” Project Displayed at HSEM Governor’s Conference

February 20, 2013 by central No Comments

HSEM Booth-smallThe U.S. National Grid (USNG) “Minnesota Marker” project was displayed at Minnesota’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) Conference that was held February 14-16, 2013.  This conference provides “a wide variety of classes and sessions addressing current and critical topics for emergency managers and emergency response personnel at all government levels, partners in business and industry and voluntary organizations that respond in time of disaster.”

With a focus on getting and keeping Minnesota prepared for any type of emergency situation, the conference was the ideal place to formally present the SharedGeo developed USNG Minnesota Marker for the first time. In an emergency situation where road signs and other “normal” means to convey location are unavailable, the USNG information on the Minnesota Markers provides a standardized method for communicating location in a uniform and understandable manner between law enforcement, emergency responders, and others so that a response can be as fast as possible.

Learn more at SharedGeo’s USNG Marker Project web page.

SharedGeo Signs Support Contract With GITA

February 7, 2013 by central No Comments

GITAGeospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) to provide them with essential IT, data management and related support.   This contract is a key part in supporting the new “ambitious plan for the future” as described by GITA President, Talbot Brooks.

GITA’s plan for the future will focus on the professional educational needs of GITA’s individual and corporate members, including new educational content on the GITA website, webinars, opportunities to interact with GITA representation to bodies such as the GIS Certification Institute and National Geospatial Advisory Committee.  In addition, GITA anticipates providing exciting new research and best practice projects and also professional networking and discovery opportunities.

SharedGeo looks forward to supporting GITA in realizing its new plan to support geospatial technology and practitioners.


SharedGeo Booth at MN Government IT Symposium

December 8, 2012 by central No Comments

SharedGeo had a booth at the 31st Annual MN Government IT Symposium that was held on December 4-6, 2012.    The symposium, which had over 1,000 attendees, is a key event where MN Government IT staff can network with colleagues and peers, attend workshops and sessions and visit with sponsors and exhibitors.   SharedGeo was one of over 100 exhibitors and vendors that attended the symposium.   SharedGeo’s Technical Director Bob Basques talked with many of the symposium attendees about SharedGeo’s technical expertise and experience.

State of Minnesota agencies can easily contract with SharedGeo as an approved vendor in the State of Minnesota IT Professional Technical Services Master Contract  Program (MCP) – 902TS.  As an approved vendor, local and state units of government throughout Minnesota can purchase products from SharedGeo with minimal paperwork.  The areas where SharedGeo qualified to deliver services are as follows:

  • Data Administration
  • Data Warehouse
  • Database Design / Architect
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Server – Application (Design & Development)

SharedGeo Technical Director, Bob Basques, explained to attendees that, “With minimal paperwork, Minnesota governments will now have access to some truly unique and inexpensive geospatial solutions created by programmers who have been on the cutting edge of technology for many years.”   Learn more about contacting with SharedGeo. or view SharedGeo’s MCP-902TS Vendor Page.

SharedGeo Directors Swazee and Basques Present USNG Project at MN GIS/LIS Conference

October 15, 2012 by central No Comments

2011_0906_Final_Sign_sdsSharedGeo Executive Director Steve Swazee and Technical Director Bob Basques presented at the Minnesota GIS/LIS 2012 Conference on October 4, 2012.  Basques and Swazee’s presentation discussed SharedGeo’s efforts to help standardize and increase the effectiveness of U.S. National Grid (USNG) Markers throughout the United States.

After years of testing and multiple sign prototypes, SharedGeo’s efforts, along with the efforts of other local and national advisors, led to creation of unique emergency location sign based on the USNG. Known as “Minnesota Markers”, these signs use the USNG coordinate system to denote geographic location in a way that can be accurately and efficiently reported in an emergency, thereby increasing the success of emergency response efforts. The signs are available as preprinted or blanks to allow local/field production, use a license-free font that mimics the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) font, meet the FHWA color standard and the National Trail reflective standard, and use an eight-place USNG coordinate that is accurate to within 33′ when determining the location of an emergency.

For more information see Bob Basques and Steve Swazee’s USNG presentation (see presentation called: “U.S. National Grid Trail Markers – Bringing Geolocation to a Trail Near You” and the USNG Marker project page.