When the USGIF Tech Showcase West takes place in St. Louis, Missouri during October 16-17, the focus will be on the innovative geospatial work happening in the St. Louis area. The event will also offer the opportunity to meet up with members of GeoSTL, a group co-organized by myself and my Boundless colleague Wes Richardet.
The goal of GeoSTL is to bring together developers, geographers, students, hobbyists, data scientists, and other people of all skill levels to learn about and create maps. To date, GeoSTL’s biggest project is a crowdsourced historic preservation survey that used technology to speed data collection on a large number of properties in North St. Louis. The Landmarks Association of St. Louis wanted to survey about 150 properties, all of which were acquired by a single landowner with the understanding the properties would be restored in exchange for tax benefits. Over time, it became apparent that not only were the properties not being restored, but some had deteriorated almost completely.
Prior to GeoSTL’s involvement, the Landmarks Association used manual methods – three people using paper forms and spreadsheet entry – to survey five to 15 properties at a time. With this workflow, the survey would have taken much too long. GeoSTL created a form for iOS and Android devices and mobilized a group of 30 volunteers, who completed the survey in just two hours. The raw data collected by the volunteers were processed and checked for accuracy in Boundless Desktop, then published to an interactive web map created with Boundless SDK. Based on the results of the survey, the state of Missouri was able to pursue legal action against the owner of the properties.
GeoSTL also contributes to projects outside St. Louis – and even outside of the United States. Currently, we are in the early phases of an anti-poaching project in Africa. Many groups involved in anti-poaching efforts collect data, but don’t have a way to process and analyze it – thereby limiting the effects of the data collection efforts. GeoSTL volunteers can analyze imagery and vector data collected on the ground in Africa and send reports back to assist in furthering anti-poaching efforts. The analysis is conducted with QGIS for Boundless Desktop, and data sharing and collaboration with various anti-poaching groups will happen within Boundless Exchange. A presentation portal to share publicly accessible data will be built using Boundless SDK.
GeoSTL also hosts Mapathons throughout the year at various districts in St. Louis, which are aimed at improving OpenStreetMap data for the city. As a result, tourist attractions and retail districts now have more accurate and detailed data, and community improvement organizations have the ability to edit and contribute more details on data in their district.
During the USGIF Tech Showcase West event, we’ll be holding a networking event with USGIF’s Young Professionals Group featuring USGIF board member Patty Mims and T-REX’s Patty Hagen, who will discuss how both organizations are contributing to the overall geospatial mission in the St. Louis region. Join us on Monday, October 15 from 5-7 p.m. at T-REX suite 500, for refreshments and networking.