Tuesday, November 15, 2016

GIS Day 2016

GIS Day 2016 is on November 16th. Since 1999, there has been annual international effort by those involved in GIS to host and participate in events designed to teach people about all things “geo.” It is an opportunity to open our doors to those wanting to learn about GIS and to show prospective geospatial thinkers what they can do with GIS, and the paths that can lead them to a geocareer.

Many of the scheduled GIS Day events are geared towards students. For example, a GIS Day Celebration Fun Map event will be hosted at an elementary school and will include a GIS education lecture to 5th graders. Another event, hosted by HealthLandscape’s partner, BlueRaster, brings high school students into their offices to share how BlueRaster team members got into GIS and discuss what the students should study in school if they’re interested in GIS.

In the Washington, D.C. metro area, there are nine events taking place this year. These include the ‘Virginia Department of Transportation’s Northern Virginia District GIS Day,’ where they will show participants how GIS is used in Northern Virginia. New Light Technologies, Inc. is hosting an event called ‘What is GIS and how do I use it in my Business or Organization.'  I’m looking forward to an event at the famed Library of Congress where colleagues from the Geography and Maps division will show how students, teachers, and the government utilize GIS. To find information about these events or others near you, visit http://www.gisday.com/

HealthLandscape also provide opportunities for users, prospective or current, to gain a better understanding of what geospatial technologies can do for you. Here is a brief snapshot of upcoming learning opportunities:

UDS Mapper Advanced Topics
11:00 AM
Introduction to the UDS Mapper
11:00 AM
Introduction to HealthLandscape
1:00 PM
HealthLandscape Data Visualization Tools
2:00 PM
Exploring Medicare Data with HealthLandscape
1:00 PM
UDS Mapper Advanced Topics
2:00 PM
Introduction to the World Health Mapper
2:00 PM
Population Health Mapper
1:00 PM
NOTE: All times are in Eastern Time Zone.

In last week’s blog, my colleague wrote about her journey to geography and her concern about whether her son was getting the same opportunities she did to become a geospatial thinker.  Go back and visit that blog to find additional resources for children, including our new Map Missions, or better yet, find a GIS Day event near you!

Dave Grolling
GIS Strategist

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Map Mission

I’ve written here before about my serendipitous journey to geography.  I neglected to add the dedicated training my map-loving mother gave me.  Trying to occupy her two children on long road trips, she would open a road map, fold it into a square, find a town, hand us the map and tell us the town name to find thereby gaining for herself many minutes of silence.  I gained an intimate knowledge of the small towns in Texas, an understanding of the connections between them and her love of maps.  

Now, I rely on the GPS on my phone or in my car to help me navigate the strange road layouts and terrible traffic in Northern Virginia.  Still learning those connections between the places here myself, I wonder if my son is building the same spatial thinking skills my mother gave to me especially given my new reliance on GPS and the accessibility of other types of entertainment for him on our long (and short) road trips?  But on the other hand, given the availability of GPS does he even really need to learn how to read maps if a voice will tell him when and in what direction he will need to turn?

Desert Map(with treasure and quicksand) by B, age 6

It turns out that yes, children still need to learn how to read maps.  Spatial thinking is a critical component of their development and growth and can help put them a step ahead in our increasingly global and technological society.  PBS published a nice article about this in January:
http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2016/01/children-still-need-read-draw-maps/.  Additionally the National Geographic Society has many resources to help teach about geography, data and maps: http://nationalgeographic.org/education/mapping/.  And based on what he likes to draw, I think he is clearly on his way to at least appreciating maps.

The team at HealthLandscape also wants to help you find and show the connections that exist in your communities between social determinants of health, health workforce distribution or use of federally funded health centers.  In addition to the many free webinars we host, the user support team is here to answer your questions.  We have added a new chat feature to our sites so that you can reach us faster, as you are using the maps.  For the first few months (or more depending on your response) we will happily provide you with fun, weekly tasks called Map Missions to find certain things on our, and some external, mapping tools.  Quite the opposite of my mother, I hope handing you these fun tasks will generate conversation,  lead you to search for similar connections in your communities, and help you to discover different data sets and mapping tools that you did not know we had.

To request a weekly Map Mission simply visit a HealthLandscape mapping tool and in the upper right-hand corner click where it says, “Can I Help You?” to start chatting with us to make your request.

Jennifer Rankin
Senior Manager for Research and Product Services

Thursday, November 3, 2016

4 Tips to Becoming a HealthLandscape Expert User

1. Attend our webinars and in-person trainings
Attending a webinar or in-person training is one of the best ways to learn how to properly and effectively use the HealthLandscape tools. All of our trainings offer question and answer segments that allow you to ask any questions you might have about the HeathLandscape tools. Here are schedules of our upcoming webinars for HealthLandscape and the UDS Mapper.

If these dates and times do not fit your schedule, contact us and we would be delighted to schedule a personalized training.

2. Discover our tutorials, user guides and other resources
HealthLandscape works hard to provide a variety of training materials to help you navigate the HealthLandscape tools, including user guides and step-by-step ‘How-To’ tutorials. These are provided as resources for you to teach yourself how to use the tools at your own pace.  Training materials for HealthLandscape tools can be accessed when entering a specific tool, on the tool’s welcome screen.* UDS Mapper training materials and resources can be found in the “Tutorials and Resources” tab on the UDS Mapper website.

*User guides are being updated to represent the most current data and features available. Not all HealthLandscape tools have user guides.

3. Contact us
We are here to help! Reach out to us anytime and we will happily answer your questions. We are passionate about Healthlandscape and want to do everything we can to provide the best possible user experience. We currently have three methods available for contact. The first, and newest addition to HealthLandscape, is our live chat feature. Chat with us during business hours by simply selecting the ‘Can we help you?’ button on the top right corner of the website. This feature is available on the home screen and in the mapping tools, so start a chat with us from the beginning of your experience or when you’re in the midst of creating a magnificent map. Another method of contact is to visit the HealthLandscape Support page. Here, you can find contacts based on your specific needs including data mining support, subscription options, and custom application development. Our last method of contact is UDS Mapper specific. Use the ‘Contact Us’ form for any questions you might have pertaining to the UDS Mapper or to set up a webinar training.

4. Become part of the HealthLandscape community
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to see weekly blog updates and HealthLandscape news and whereabouts. HealthLandscape is dedicated to providing resources to make your HealthLandscape user experience a great one. Join our community to keep track of upcoming webinars, conferences that we will be attending, newly added data, and feature updates to our tools.

Visit HealthLandscape today at: www.HealthLandscape.org

Claire Meehan
User Engagement Specialist