GIS: From Kerbal to conservation

Department of Conservation —  04/11/2013
Duane Wilkins, DOC’s Geospatial Services Manager.

Duane Wilkins

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies are used every day and everywhere and help us manage our world.

GIS creates maps, layer upon layer (pizza style!), showing relationships between people, places, and the environment. It can also help make some very cool games.

My children and their friends are mad on Terraria, WorldCraft and Kerbal Space Program—and they all use the GIS technology called GeoDesign.

Main photo: Boy playing computer game. Photo: Rob Allen | flickr. Three smaller photos underneath:  Screen shots of Terraria, DOC Maps and Kerbal Space Program.

Terraria, DOC Maps, and Kerbal Space Program
all use GIS technology

I had been trying to think about how I could tap into that youthful enthusiasm for computer games and turn it into something meaningful for DOC. International GIS Day gave me the excuse I needed.

Celebrate International GIS Day

Together with the rest of the New Zealand Natural Resource GIS Group I set about creating an event for Wellington’s Year 5–10 students and their teachers.

It’s going to be held on Thursday 21 November 2013 (International GIS Day) and will give kids a chance to learn about GIS through an interactive, hands on GIS experience. We’ll have video, computers, GPS devices and other activities.

This year we’re looking at how imagery from satellites is used to discover change over many years. My son and I are even building a huge model satellite for the event—we’ve studied the various designs and even talked with a scientist from NASA!

Duane's son Gideon making the satellite.

My son Gideon putting the finishing touches on our replica Landsat 8 satellite

Artist’s rendition of Landsat 8 in orbit. (NASA).

Artist’s rendition of Landsat 8 in orbit (NASA)

There will be giveaways, a sausage sizzle and the chance to take a look at one of New Zealand’s most environmentally friendly buildings.

Learn more about the GIS Day event

We’re on the lookout for a satellite designer!

As part of the celebrations, we’re running a satellite design competition for kids.

Bob, Bill and Jeb from SQUAD.

Kerbal Space Program is one of many games that use GIS technology

The team from SQUAD (developers of Kerbal Space Program) will help us judge the most creative satellite design.

Learn more about the satellite design competition for kids

GIS Day is all about helping us understand the role geography plays in our lives and the technologies we use to keep the country running.

Duane’s job is to make sure people have access to maps, and other tools to help them do more conservation work both inside and outside of DOC.

One response to GIS: From Kerbal to conservation


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