Geography, simply put, is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Having a clear picture of your environment, and how you and others fit into it, gives unique insight into the choices we make and things we do. According to National Geographic’s Geography Awareness Week Program Mission and History, “Too many young Americans are unable to make effective decisions, understand geo-spatial issues, or even recognize their impacts as global citizens. National Geographic created Geography Awareness Week to raise awareness to this dangerous deficiency in American education and excite people about geography as both a discipline and as a part of everyday life.”
Quick Facts about Geography Awareness Week
- Founded by President Ronald Reagan in a presidential proclamation in 1987
- Celebrated the third week of November
- Includes GIS day on Wednesday (initiated in 1999 by Esri)
- More than 100,000 Americans participate, annually
The Wednesday of every Geography Awareness Week is GIS Day. Zekiah wrote about “How We Use GIS in Our Daily Lives” last year on GID Day. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are important tools for analyzing vast quantities of data and visualizing that data against map imagery. Most people learn more from an image than from a list of numbers and text alone. For instance, consider the following: What is easier to understand?
With just a quick glance it is easy to tell where the highest and lowest populations of Charles County are in the map picture. GIS applications then allow for further analyses by providing additional data from turning on and off different map layers, clicking on individual vectors, providing links to outside databases, and so forth.
One example of GIS relevant to recent events is Maryland’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard. Here you can see all state cases of COVID-19, click on individual counties or even zip codes for more information, and see the current testing numbers.
Understanding geography data is important for the government, businesses, and individuals. The government uses geography to maintain adequate infrastructure for its citizens and plan for expected growth such as the need for more hospitals or new roadways. Businesses use geography data to determine where to build new stores, or housing developments, or determine which facilities are no longer effective to maintain. Individuals should consider things such as population, access to schools, and availability of local job opportunities when deciding where to put down roots. These are just a few uses of geography but many more exist, and some have yet to be thought of. As our knowledge of geography and acquisition of data grows, so does our ability to use it as a tool to inform our daily life.
To learn more about Geography Awareness Week, please see the following resources:
- National Geographic Geography Awareness Week November 16-20, 2020
- American Association of Geographers Geography Awareness Week
- United States Census Bureau Geography Awareness Week
- University Consortium for Geographic Information Science GIS Day 2020 Webinar
- Esri GIS Day
- U.S. Geological Survey
Zekiah Technologies is a small business headquartered in La Plata, MD committed to exceeding the expectations of our clients through innovation and the ingenuity of our technical solutions in the fields of software development, systems engineering, geospatial technologies, and training.