GIS, Training, Spatial Problem Solving 

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Anouncing an Open Forestry Template

My longest running client has been a forestry company. Now – if you were to hand me an aerial photograph and I had it in stereo and go “Trees – start” – I would at least get the boundaries of the different types outlined. If you stuck me on the ground I essentially go “That’s pine and that’s not”.

The forestry client has been an interesting project. As of late (over the last month) I’ve been slowly migrating them into postgis and qgis. They have arcview and we’re going to use that for map production (unless I keep getting better with cartography in QGIS and then that is questionable). Moving to postgis has made the data a bit more cryptic to them but infinitely easier to manage for me.  So much so that this mornings call of “how many acres are currently on tract 31″ and one small script later I had a frequency table describing types of trees and acres (which you can’t do at the arcview level of licensing (and I know it’s not called arcview)).

This database has grown from 2 shapefiles to over 22 shapefiles before the merge into postgis. Like I said it’s a bit more cryptic but easier to manage and as I keep changing it and getting it “stable” and “documented” life will be better. The whole idea of this database has evolved also out of a couple of conversations with other forestry minded individuals:

  • I’ve been using QGIS because it’s free – just not supported.
  • I’m still using arcview 3.x because I know how to use it.
  • I’m not buying any more software to manage my GIS (in reference to needed arceditor)

So I’ve decided to do something weird and hopefully wonderful. If you have a commercial GIS setup – you can download a pre-built database for your industry. It’s a pretty great way to do things actually. What if you don’t have that? You start piece mealing things together that makes sense for you.

I don’t have access to industry leaders or at least the people that show up at a conference. I do have a git hub account, an idea, and you. Lets build an Open Forestry Template (pre-built database). A common operating base for the rest of us. Now I’m going to take a narrow approach at first and work my way up. First thing that will be supported will be postgres/postgis/qgis.  The next thing will be qgis/spatialite. Next will be whatever I decide to do for ESRI’s Desktop product. Since this is free and open I can’t devote a millions hours – but I think this can work. If some of you want to help – help. Want to help fund development? I’m not opposed to that. Want me to help your forestry company out and implement it? Yippee. Know what you are doing and don’t need help? Download away.

This actually blends pretty well with the Spatial Connect. Process over Software. This will be hopefully the making of a very good supported database for forestry people to use regardless of software.

So right now I’m recording notes in markdown files Here: , I have thoughts for assets (which would be gates, bridges, and culverts) to stands to property boundaries. It’s not a lot – but it will start filling out as the weeks progress.

Once I feel like I have enough info I’ll start making databases and setting things up for download. DON’T WORRY – Once this gets to a stable version I’ll make it easier for everyone to get to – Github can be too cryptic for us all to use and deal with – some of you guys are foresters and not full time GIS people. I completely understand. If you want to email me your ideas go for it. If you want to leave a comment on the blog with something that needs to go in feel free.


Two Day QGIS training – August 21-22 2014 – Athens Georgia

This is the first time this one has been attempted.

The QGIS training has somewhat taken off. I’m not sleeping on a mattress of money but people are interested and I get more than a few inquiries as to when and where it will be held. Right now I plan on teaching a two day back to back training session: Intro to QGIS and QGIS: Data and Editing. Intro will be on August 21 2014 and Part II will be on August 22nd.

Intro to QGIS covers the basics from exploring the interface to display of the data. We end that day building a map. This class really eases you into using the software.

QGIS Data and Editing: goes more in depth. We cover the basics of editing as well as building data, georeferencing, symbology, and the geoprocessing toolbox. Right now I’m a little concerned this one is more than a day. It’s never been taught. So you won’t be an expert walking out but you should be able to figure out most of the questions you are going to have on QGIS.

PLEASE NOTE: If you want to take the Part II class you need to have taken the Part I or BE VERY FAMILIAR WITH QGIS. I’m not explaining how Plugins work. I’m just going to say “Plugins”. I’m not going to explain how to add data – Just “Add Data”. There is a large amount of things I’m taking for granted in Part II. I have to to get through this one.

Which leads me to… If I can sell out this class the first one breaks even. The second one is one track to break even a lot quicker than the first one. Regardless I should be able to do a few things to support the QGIS community if this training event is successful.

Which leads me to pricing…..

Either class by itself is $325. So come take the intro class for $325. Come take the Editing class for $325. TAKE BOTH FOR $500. Yes – I’m chopping the price if you sign up for both.

Class will be held at ITOS in Athens Georgia

address: 1180 E Broad St, Athens, GA 30602

Why take the classes? If you’re struggling with Arceditor and Shapefiles. If you’ve ever wondered how you can stretch your budget using open source tools. If you’ve ever said “Man that free stuff isn’t all that great – it’s free”.

Email me for details!




QGIS Meetup – July 31 2014 in Atlanta Georgia

Published on July 25, 2014, by in Atlanta, Beer, QGIS.

So I’m piggy backing this meeting off of two others – Georgia URISA and MAGS. If you wouldn’t mind registering with both MAGS and the QGIS Meetup group I would appreciate it.

This first meeting is just to gauge interest in the group. I think there is enough t have one – and there doesn’t need to be any duplication with an existing GIS organization. My hope is that this leads to more meetings and more cross pollination where we start discussing more geospatial software. This isn’t just limited to Free and Open Source Software enthusiasts.  Come down and have a drink and meet the Georgia URISA folk and the MAGS people.

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Maptime in Chattanooga – July 22 2014

I’m so old…with the kids and their githubbing and .io web addresses and their code for america……

I just figured out this is a thing:

From that I discovered there is a chapter in Chattanooga. I’ve added their events to the calendar and I’m going to try to make it to one at some point. Tomorrow nights event (july 22 2014) is editing the Enterprise South Nature Park in OpenStreetMap.  They will be at the Chattanooga Downtown Public Library on the 4th floor at 5:30pm.



QGIS Part II: Editing and Data

It’s truly an odd thing announcing this because I’ve probably said it like 3 or 4 times up here…well – hinted it was coming. Now it’s here. I announce QGIS Part II: Editing and Data.

Now for some explanation. This class picks up where part I leaves off….or explores the software even further.

  • Editing
  • Topology
  • Widgets
  • Symbology
  • Data Conversion
  • Databases (spatialite).

I spent way more time than planned on Spatialite. I also spent more time comparing and contrasting with ArcGIS. It’s important that these classes take the stance of best tool for the job. Which is the back bone of the spatial connect process. Process over software. Make your software less of a center point. Worry about your data.

Price – $325 and it runs one day. I say that and if I can get Intro I and II backed up against each other I’m probably going to do two days for a combined price of $575. It’s not much of a discount but it’s still pretty affordable and I give you a lot of information for the price. Plus you have the option of calling me up whenever.

Next thing – Online classes. I’ve been asked. I’ve had offers made. I’m still going to go no (for now). It’s important (to me) you get the best use of your time and I still argue an online class isn’t going to do that. Yes it opens up the training to more people and I might change my mind at some point. For now I’m still going with “in person” for training. I guess that’s still the old ESRI Authorized trainer coming out in me. Yes I was one of those also.

Scheduling – the last two classes have taken a more organic approach. My best class was in Kingsport TN and was brought about by the SE Tennessee Development District and the local NETGIS users group. As the rest of the year moves on I’m probably going to try to take that approach – As I continue folding this more into the spatial connect process I will push to do training for groups (clients) with a vested interest in expanding their GIS setup…and the occasional conferences. So contact me if you are interested in bringing the class to your organization – the only thing that might change the price is if I have to drive longer than 3 or 4 hours (or fly).



Georgia URISA Coastal meeting – July 2014

Date: July 22, 2014

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Location:  Coastal Electric Cooperative

1265 S Coastal Hwy

Midway, GA 31320


Putting your Stormwater GIS to Work

“Putting your Stormwater GIS to Work” discusses the different needs placed on GIS stormwater and introduces how to meet those needs. Whether developing a capital program; managing grants or user fees, system failures, general maintenance, NPDES, EDP or Cleanouts, GIS data is often utilized for multi-purpose business processes once developed. While focusing on stormwater, the process of putting your GIS to work can help you apply these steps to additional community projects.


Ed DiTommaso

Ed DiTommaso is a principal at Ecological Planning Group, a Georgia based consulting firm that provides planning and GIS solutions to local governments. Ed received his Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Buffalo in 2002, and a Bachelor’s of Science from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University.

As a consultant, Ed has experience working with cities and counties all over the state of Georgia. This experience ranges from land use planning to stormwater inventories to GIS database development. Ed has worked closely with both Phase I and Phase II communities on all tasks related to their NDPES Stormwater Management Programs. This experience ranges from the initial field collection and mapping of the stormwater conveyance system, development of maintenance programs for routine and capital project, and the identification of potential funding sources.

Questions? Contact Hunter Key, –


Georgia Geospatial Conference 2014 – Student Day

Yes – if you are a student – show up.


October 8, 2014, 8:30am-3:00pm
Classic Center-Athena Room J
200 North Thomas St, Athens, GA 30601

If you are currently an enrolled college student in Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Kentucky and have applied geospatial solutions to your coursework, you may be eligible to win $$$ by presenting your hard work in front of our select judges of Past Presidents and GIS and Remote Sensing Professionals!!! Submit abstracts to compete for prize money in separate undergraduate and graduate competitions. We are also hosting a map gallery at the conference, please submit your maps to enter to win under the student category!


  • 8:30-10:00       Undergraduate Student Presentations
  • 10:30 -12:00   Graduate Student Presentations
  • 12:00-1:00       Lunch/networking
  • 1:00-3:30         Mapping Your Way Into a GIS Career (see description below)
  • 4:00-4:30        Closing Remarks and Awards

Awards and Benefits

  • Graduate and Undergraduate divisions with cash rewards for each division $500 for 1st, $250 for 2nd, and $125 for 3rd.
  • Award Certificate and recognition on the Georgia URISA and Midsouth ASPRS Website
  • All awards come with a free year membership to GAURISA and Midsouth ASPRS
  • Presentations will be featured in the URISA Journal “The GIS Profesional” and the GAURISA newsletter
  • Earn Points towards your GISP certification
  • Presenters will be showing research projects in front of potential employers


  • Submission Requirements:
  • Must be the original work of the Student
  • Only one submission per Student
  • Presentations must relate to Geography, Remote Sensing, Photogrammetry, GIS or a related field as applied to a professional field
  • Presenter must be registered as an attendee at conference


Conference Registration Instructions

To register for this event click here and complete the registration form. Please complete your Registration by September 15th. You will be notified of your selection status by September 24th. If you have questions on the registration process, please contact: Wendy Peloquin, Georgia URISA Events Chair, or contact John Hudler, Georgia URISA Education Chair.

Map Gallery Submit

Showcase a map, poster, or plat at the Map Gallery for another opportunity to demonstrate your cartographic abilities in front of potential employers, earn points towards professional certification and possibly win Best Map/Poster Cartographic Design in the Student Category.

Mapping Your Way Into a GIS Career – A Panel for Students/Young Professionals

This session will introduce students to the Geospatial Industry. Several career paths will be highlighted, including the skills required for entry- and mid-level positions. It will also give advice on creating effective resumes and portfolios, as well as proper etiquette and tips for a successful interview.

Topics include:

  • Introduction to the Geospatial Industry
  • Skills Required for Entry and Mid-Level Positions within these Industries
  • Building a Resume and Portfolio
  • Etiquette and Tips for a Successful Interview

Potential Highlighted Geospatial Industries:

  • GIS Consulting Firm / Private Industry
  • State/Local/Federal Government
  • Aerial Photography/Remote Sensing
  • Software Sales and Marketing
  • Non-Profit

Social Media Connections: Look for us on Facebook and LinkedIn at ‘Georgia URISA’ …We’ll be posting updates and presentation tips to help you out!


GIS Certification Survey

Published on July 12, 2014, by in GIS, GISCI, GISP, URISA.

First off – I have 0 personal interest in this survey whether anyone fills this out or not…but I think it does serve some good.

I’ve had this back and forth with being a GISP. I was a huge proponent at one point…now I’ve gotten to the point where I think it’s past it’s prime. When GIS was a niche thing and you had to spell out to everyone why, who, and what…..I could understand having one. Now that GIS is mainstream….mostly everyone has one or knows about it, I question the relevance of this certification. Even with the upcoming test…I still that is a bit too little too late to pull this back into a useful state. Everyone is in a rush to beat the test……and I think that speaks volumes to the state of the certification. For my part – make it retroactive (HA).

Anyway – enough of my grouchiness.

Take the Survey:

Results will probably be posted online and will be shown at GISPro.

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August 9th 2014 – OSM Mapping Event with UGA ASPRS Chapter

So the 10th anniversary of OSM is coming up. Contact me if you want to show up for the one in Athens Georgia.  It will run from 9:30ish to 3:30ish.


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