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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, February 23, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesHigh-Tech Conference Could Help V.I. Utilities "Get Their Bearings"

High-Tech Conference Could Help V.I. Utilities "Get Their Bearings"

For the fifth year running, the Virgin Islands will play host to a major Geographic Information Systems (GIS) conference to be held this Wednesday through Friday at St. Croix’s Divi Carina Bay Resort.
GIS software allows digital mapping information to be selected and layered, anchoring the data to known map points established by satellite data. In this way, cadastral maps showing property and utility lines, 911 addresses and directions, and topographical, environmental or archeological data can all be tied together, to varying degrees, in a single, highly accurate relational database.
The system can be used to map out all manner of information, adding or subtracting layers to highlight what the viewer is interested in. Because it ties the data to known, highly accurate location points through GPS (Global Positioning System), it can vastly improve the accuracy of all kinds of mapping and help make many services—from emergency response to utility repair—faster, easier and more efficient.
A slate of speakers from several federal government agencies will speak on topics ranging from island resource management, GPS satellite mapping, and applying GIS to local public utilities—all focused around the conference’s theme: "Efficient and Effective Spatially Enable Services: Adapting to the Changing Landscape."
The conference’s keynote speaker is Joan Harrigan-Farrelly, Antimicrobials Division director at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. No stranger to the territory, Harrigan-Farrelly is the widow of former V.I. Gov. Alexander Farrelly.
The V.I. Water and Power Authority began mapping its lines with GIS this year, and both Vitelco and the two Innovative Cable TV companies will be sharing the system, too. Bringing in WAPA’s data is expected to reduce electric line loss, speed up and improve asset inventories after hurricanes, allow faster response to problems and better manage customer information.
The V.I. Geospatial Information Council (VIGIC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are putting the conference together. VIGIC is a group of private- and public-sector representatives, first assembled in 2005 to promote the study and implementation of GIS.
The GIS project was launched under the supervision of former Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, who also sought to use the network to connect the many smaller entities included under the umbrella of the lieutenant governor’s office. Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis has continued to push to broaden the system. 

Thursday there will be three workshops open to the public for a fee of $99. These are:
— a FIRMette workshop giving an overview of the FEMA online Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM);
— a NOAA Land Use Planning Tools workshop discussing NOAA’s impervious-surface and land-cover data for the U.S. Virgin Islands and how these tools can assist in classifying habitats and predicting the impacts of land management decisions; and
— an introduction to GPS focusing on data collection and analysis with GPS and integrating it with GIS. This workshop will help resource managers and others to increase accuracy of GIS and learn how GIS tools can help increase productivity.
Registration for the conference is ongoing. For all workshops, participants are asked to bring their own wireless internet-ready laptop computer.
Harrigan-Farrelly will speak during lunch on Wednesday, which the public can attend for $35. WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. is the speaker for Wednesday evening’s welcome reception.
For more information and to register, contact Dr. Therese Anduze-Parris at 773-6459 ext. 3131 or find updated information online at www.ltg.gov.vi/2009-gis-conference.html.

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