SLA Environmental Corps Partners with the City of Austin

The City of Austin gave the SLA Environmental Corps the opportunity to do GIS/GPS training for a 6 week long project. Six members were selected to go out in the field throughout the neighborhoods collecting data for damaged sidewalks, curbs, and gutters, water collecting by curbs, and plotting trees. Geographic Information Systems work on the simple premises that almost every form of data can be related to a map or other forms of easily understandable graphics.

The main purpose of Geographic Information Systems involves assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying data in a database that is identifiable according to locations, with a view that every object on the Earth’s surface can be easily geo-referenced. Data collection, like GIS, allows you to integrate data that has been collected at different times, at different scales, and using different methods of data collection. Sources of data include maps on paper or transparency, written data, digital files, and information stored in human memory. The reason we are doing this is so we can make our city a better place and safer for people by following the regulations of the ADA; such as information on damages so the City of Austin can understand what needs to be done for safety hazards. Uneven sidewalks can be tripping hazards; dead trees can cause accidents by falling and causing serious damage to people or property.

I’ve learned so much since I have been in training such as how to use the GPS device. It actually wasn’t that hard, it’s just like using a phone. I learned a lot more about identifying trees and realizing how bad some neighborhoods can be with their repairs. Trees damage sidewalks by outgrowing the cement and can crack curbs which can be torn off into big chips. This is my experience so far with the City of Austin GIS/GPS training. I am looking forward to getting further opportunities with the City.

Jessica Rodriguez, SLA Crew Member

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