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News: Cumberland Chapter of URISA

10.7.2015: GISP Exam Offered in November for 1st Time

The Inaugural GISCI Geospatial Core Technical Knowledge Exam for the GISP Certification will be offered November 12-17, 2015 at PSI testing centers across the US. The exam is a groundbreaking development in the geospatial profession, based upon a complete job analysis from a four-year experience level, informed by the GIS&T Body of Knowledge and guided by the Geospatial Technology Competency Model (GTCM).

The Exam and Portfolio Review are offered independently of one another, but both must be completed in order to receive GISP Certification. When you have started with either the Exam or the Portfolio Review, you have up to six (6) years to complete the other before you have to start over.

The exam questions will come from the areas of:

1. Conceptual Foundations
2. Cartography & Visualization
3. GIS Design Aspects & Data Modeling
4. GIS Analytical Methods
5. Data Manipulation
6. Geospatial Data

Although any non-GISP can sign up to take the Inaugural Exam, GISCI is looking for qualified individuals to take the first Exam (those who are able to meet the Portfolio Review requirements at the time of the exam. The application and resume will help us to determine those who are qualified). Existing GISPs are specifically excluded from taking the Exam.

For those qualified individuals who complete their Portfolio Review within one year of passing the Exam, GISCI will reimburse the $100 Application Fee and the $100 Portfolio Review Fee as a part of the GISP Certification process.

4.13.2015: 2015 Undergraduate Geospatial Technology Skills Competition

Win a trip to the GIS-Pro & NWGIS 2015 Conference*!

The GeoTech Center and URISA are pleased to announce the 2015 Undergraduate Geospatial Technology Skills Competition, created to showcase the geospatial technology skills of U.S. undergraduate students. The competition website has been updated to include all competition rules, judging criteria, and the official entry form. Projects will be judged on categories including project design, organization, analysis, and overall presentation quality. An official rubric has been made available. All materials must be submitted no later than midnight Eastern Time on Friday, June 12, 2015.

The initial round of the competition will be judged by a panel of experienced geospatial specialists, and the combined scores from all judges will determine the top five (5) student finalists. These finalists will receive an all-expense-paid* trip to the GIS-Pro & NWGIS 2015 international conference in Spokane, WA on October 18-22, 2015, where they will be required to present their project during the final round of the competition (judges will determine their final place ranking at this time).

To enter the competition, students must submit the following along with their entry form:
  • a 150-250 word abstract that describes their project, demonstrating their knowledge and proficiency of geospatial technology and
  • a no-longer-than 10 minute video (check out the competition website for video tips and requirements).
Students who are at least 18 years old and currently enrolled during Spring 2015 in a geospatial technology course (e.g., geographic information systems, remote sensing, GPS/GNSS, etc.) or geospatial technology program at an accredited 2-year or 4-year U.S. institution are eligible to enter. Applicant must reside in the U.S. Only one entry allowed per student and only individual student submissions allowed (no group projects). Questions regarding eligibility can be directed to either Tom Mueller at or Scott Jeffrey at

*Paid expenses include airfare, vehicle mileage, hotel, meals (set per-diem rate), travel to/from hotel and airport, and other travel-related items approved in advance by the GeoTech Center Director. Students must follow the Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC) travel regulations and use JCTC's official travel agent. Advanced approval of travel, along with all required travel forms, must be received 30 days prior to the event. Complimentary conference registration will be provided by URISA.

7.9.2014: URISA Workshop to be Offered at 2014 KY GIS Conference

A URISA-certified workshop, "An Overview of Open Source GIS Software" is being offered at the 2014 Kentucky GIS Conference. The workshop was licensed through the Cumberland Chapter of URISA and will take place in Louisville, KY at the Galt House on September 15, 2014. Sara Yurman, Director of Information Services at Spatial Focus, Inc., will be the instructor for the workshop, which is introductory in nature and does not require any prerequisites. URISA and Cumberland Chapter of URISA members get a discount!

URISA-certified workshops are taught by approved instructors, with peer-reviewed content that is updated annually.

6.2.2014: Owen Electric Modernizes with Selection of geoOrganizer

Facing increasing regulatory pressures and the continuing inefficiency of paper maps and pens and the wasted hours they caused at all levels of the organization, Owen Electric Cooperative decided to find a better solution. Their goal was to find a tool which would connect everyone with the same, up-to-date information. They also wanted that tool to streamline their workflow and enable better response to issues at every level.

5.16.2014: URISA's Student Competition Revolutionized for GIS-Pro 2014

Help revitalize traditional poster contests by joining the Vanguard Cabinet for a showcase of recent 'maptastic' GIS student innovations. Instead of traditional printed and thumb-tacked maps, they are going completely digital. There will be a series of brief presentations (no longer than five minutes each) during the competition session on September 9th at 2:00 PM where students will compete for the "Best Presentation" cash award. Additionally, digital submissions will be accepted for students unable to attend the conference, where they can compete for additional cash prizes* in various categories. All approved submissions will be uploaded online and displayed in the common area during the conference, to allow conference attendees to vote on a "People's Choice" award. All awards will be presented to select competitors during the Wednesday morning awards ceremony at GIS-Pro 2014.

More information can be found on the student competition website.

1.30.2014: GeoTech Center Geospatial Technology Skills Competition

The GeoTech Center has opened it Geospatial Technology Skills Competition for 2014. This national mapping competition is open exclusively to students who are enrolled in a two-year community or technical college geospatial technology program in the U.S. This competition allows two-year college learners to demonstrate their expertise in the skills identified in the new Department of Labor "Geospatial Technology Competency Model" or "GTCM".

1.29.2014: URISA Mentoring Program

URISA's Vanguard Cabinet, a team of young professional members of URISA, has launched a new mentoring program for GIS professionals. Anyone in the GIS industry who feels they would benefit from a mentor, or would like to volunteer their time to a mentee, is asked to fill out a brief survey to facilitate the matching process.

This new program is the first step in a mentoring platform for GIS professionals which will provide mentors and mentees with additional resources and tools to support these relationships. URISA is dedicated to building strong professional networks and the Vanguard Cabinet bridges the transition for those new to the industry into a professional career.

If you have any questions, please contact the mentoring committee at

1.21.2014: 2014 Election Results (Board of Directors)

Congratulations to our newly elected board members:

Ryan Elizabeth Bowe, GISP: President-Elect
Amanda O'Shea, GISP: Director At-Large
Demetrio Zourarakis, Ph.D., GISP, CMS-RS, CMS-GIS/LIS: Director At-Large

12.20.2013: Candidates Announced for 2014 Election

The following chapter members will be running for the open officer positions. Each dues-paying member will receive a confidential, unique survey ballot link via email (sent on Friday, January 3, 2014). Deadline for all ballot responses is Friday, January 17, 2014.

[Click here for Archived Candidate Bios]

11.07.2013: Call for Officer Nominations!

Prior to our Annual Meeting, we need to elect new officers to our Board of Directors. Positions needing to be filled include (2) at-large board member positions and a president-elect. Each position holds a 3-year term of office and the president-elect will assume the office of president at the 2015 annual meeting. We are now compiling a slate of candidates for the election and would like to know if you would be willing and able to run for one of these offices. (Note, the chapter president must be a member of URISA International.)

[NOTE: Deadline for candidate nominations was Friday, December 20th.]

08.09.2013: Input on the NSDI Strategic Plan Needed by August 15th

The Advocacy Division of URISA's GIS Management Institute would like your input to develop a united response to the FGDC NSDI Strategic Plan. Please complete the following survey by Thursday, August 15, 2013.

[NOTE: The survey is now closed, but the Response Summary has been posted.]

07.16.2013: Our Position on K-12 Geography Standards in Tennessee

The Tennessee State Department of Education has released the final draft of the state Social Studies standards. These will be voted on by the State Board of Education on Friday, July 26. If passed, they will be implemented during the 2014/15 academic year. The proposed standards roll geography instruction into hybrid history/geography courses with names like "World History and Geography: The Industrial Revolution to the Contemporary World" and move geography content that is currently in the stand alone 7th grade Social Studies course to the 3rd grade.

It is the opinion of the Cumberland Chapter of URISA that the global economy and society that we live in today actually demands even more rigorous standards for geographic knowledge than what was used in the past. Incorporating geography into history studies falls far short of what is needed by a functioning member of society where location is a key component of governance, marketing and public safety. In addition, a 2012 study by the Boston Consulting Group, commissioned by several members of the Geospatial Industry including National Geographic, Google and ESRI, stated that: the "U.S. geospatial industry generated $73B in revenue last year, with half a million high-wage jobs" as well as "the industry is growing at between 25-30% per year". For Tennessee to benefit from such a high growth, high wage profession, we need to produce high school graduates who are well versed in geography and the geosciences. These new standards will not achieve that.

View our official position, as submitted to the TN Board of Education.

Letter From the First President

It has been so enjoyable to work with some really smart, dedicated professionals to bring about this newest chapter of URISA. Repeatedly, key members of the inaugural board have ask the question "Why should anyone join this Chapter?". This question was not asked in a cynical manner, but instead, it was asked to make sure we knew why we were coming into existence. So, I think I had better explain this "why".

From the beginning, we wanted to broaden the conversation about GIS and GeoSpatial Technology to include areas outside of just our two states. There are a lot of issues that are happening across the country that on the surface, may not seem to be relevant to our region. But, the probability is that those issues will be relevant to us eventually. One example is the decision of the California Supreme Court that clarified the definition of GIS. Orange County had claimed that GIS was the data and the software and that you could not separate the two for purpose of meeting the state's public records act. The California State Supreme Court said "NO". It made it clear that spatial data could not be considered the same and part of the software. This case has been in the courts for years and URISA has not only been following it, they have been involved in the debate. Another issue of national discussion is the relationship of Surveyors and GIS professionals. This will come to our states eventually if it hasn't already. Are you familiar with the NCEES Model Law? URISA was instrumental in getting that model law passed. Do Kentucky and Tennessee follow the model law in their own state laws? Those are questions we need to be asking ourselves. If you deal with addresses and GIS then you may be familiar with the FGDC addressing standard. Well, URISA was instrumental in developing that standard. Finally, URISA created the first, dedicated professional certification for GIS, the GISP. And then, to insure it would be more than just a URISA creation, they formed GISCI and released the GISP to be managed by a collaborative of institutions so that it would truly be a universal professional standard.

My point here is to show the variety and depth of the knowledge and resources that a local chapter of URISA can tap into. By joining this chapter you join a national conversation about GIS. We intend to offer educational and networking opportunities that will help us all broaden our horizons and discover better ways of using and managing GIS more effectively while advancing our professional careers.

Our goal is not to compete with either the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals or the Tennessee Geographic Information Council. Instead, our goal is to offer services and activities that supplement and complement those existing programs. The Cumberland Chapter of URISA is here to bring a global perspective to local issues.

So, how about joining Cumberland URISA and joining the conversation?

Kim McDonough, GISP
First President, Cumberland Chapter of URISA