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More students interested in Geographic Information System

GIS is used to collect data about every aspect of our life and people use it everyday without knowing.

A globe on display at Langara's first Geographical Information System event on Nov. 15. Photo by Danica Walker
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Reported by Danica Walker

Geographic Information System (GIS) is a burgeoning industry that is growing among young students, and chances are people use it every day without knowing it.

GIS is a method used by researchers to collect years of data about every aspect of modern life and turn it into a visual rendering in an open database to ease everything from real estate development, city planning, the maps in smartphones and the weather maps. Langara College held its first GIS day on Nov. 15, in The Science and Technology Building. Currently GIS courses are offered in the departments of Geography and Geology, Applied Planning and Continuing Studies.

Langara to offer more GIS courses

Andrew Egan, instructor of Geography and Geology at Langara, wants to offer more GIS courses across disciplines because the new technology is applicable to many fields in the future.

“People think it’s only applicable to geography or environmental science,” Egan said. “It’s all kinds of different fields, whether it be business and commerce or whether it’s something as simple as real estate, it’s been revolutionized by the world of GIS.”

Through various applications, GIS technicians can create a daily database that maps anything. Connor Forsdick is a recent graduate of the University of Saskatchewan now works for the City of Surrey. He uses GIS to create databases of the water distribution system depicting residential, commercial and service connections so crews can work with precision when digging and know when they need to be replaced.

“GIS is a growing industry and the more applications evolve the more manpower is needed to compile these databases,” Forsdick said.

Real estate developers will consult with GIS technicians to create 3D models of potential developments. With the use of existing mapping systems, they receive quotes to project what their buildings will look like before starting development.

A student who attended the event told The Voice why she thinks it’s important to their future.

“It’s a very employable field, it’s very relevant to pretty much everything that you’re doing nowadays,” said Virginia Lawrence, a First Nations and geography student at Langara.

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