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USC institute connects geographic information to public health

National foundation announces its accreditation of the Spatial Sciences Institute’s Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence

Spatial Sciences Institute’, John Wilson,
John Wilson, standing at the summit with Keith Masback, CEO of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, left, and Steffanie Kolbus and Shuk Wai So, two Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence students (Photo/Geoff Kass)

In 1854, British physician John Snow drew a map of London, tracing a severe outbreak of cholera back to the city’s Broad Street water pump. The link led to Snow’s breakthrough discovery that cholera is spread by contaminated water.

This early intersection between geographic information science and epidemiology was cited at the fifth annual Los Angeles Geospatial Summit as leaders in public health discussed how the capacities of today’s GIS technology have accelerated innovations in disease prevention and the promotion of community health.

Featuring many innovators in the world of geographic information science and technology (GIST), the event hosted by the Spatial Sciences Institute was held on Feb. 27 at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles and drew more than 150 professionals, students, faculty and alumni.

 The SSI is based at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Among the innovators were location-based software developers, sensor system developers and developers of the technology behind the processing and dissemination of collected information from unmanned aerial systems, or drones, who shared insights into how the data is used in commercial and government applications.

Worthy honoree

One of the highlights of the summit was the announcement by Keith Masback, CEO of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), that SSI’s Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) program had received accreditation from his organization.

John Wilson, director of SSI, said the institute was honored by the accreditation.

“With this accreditation, students who graduate with our GEOINT certificate will also receive the USGIF Geospatial Intelligence Certificate as further evidence of their career readiness to work in areas such as disaster management, human security and international relief applications,” said Wilson, professor of sociology, civil and environmental engineering, computer science and architecture.

Wilson noted that SSI collaborates with an array of researchers, businesses, nonprofits, non-governmental organizations and other entities from a wide range of disciplines and industries to analyze, model and visualize location-based data.

Emerging trends and presentations

The annual summit provides students with the opportunity to learn more about emerging trends in geospatial science, technology and applications; to present papers and posters about their own research; to network with industry professionals; and to introduce themselves to geospatial company representatives at the closing Industry and Job Fair.

These industry professionals also benefit from the chance to create greater awareness for their companies by sharing materials at the fair, to meet other geospatial professionals and to provide insights on how academic programs can best prepare the next generation of GIS professionals.

Presentations from eight students representing six different academic institutions throughout Southern California were also featured while 13 presented posters.

Professionals attending the summit are learning as much from students as they are from the excellent keynote and industry panel speakers.

John Wilson

“The high quality of the student paper and poster presentations is such that professionals attending the summit are learning as much from students as they are from the excellent keynote and industry panel speakers,” Wilson said.

“Summit attendees had a rare opportunity to hear from and talk with industry leaders and representatives of companies such as The Aerospace Corp., BAE Systems, PIXIA and PricewaterhouseCoopers, all of which are utilizing geospatial sciences and technologies in leveraging location-based data into applications from agriculture to health care delivery,” said Susan Kamei, associate director of SSI.

A number of SSI’s online Master of Science in GIST students, who are located throughout the country, traveled to Los Angeles to attend the event.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to be with our faculty, meet fellow students and GIST Graduate Program alumni, and to visit the campus,” Kamei said.

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USC institute connects geographic information to public health

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