WKU GIS program playing key role in COVID-19 response
- Author: WKU News
- Author: Tuesday, April 28th, 2020
WKU’s GIS program is playing a key role in connecting volunteers with people in need as part of an online COVID-19 Community Action Center for Bowling Green and Warren County.
“The project utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to connect people dealing with the coronavirus crisis to individuals and businesses who can provide help,” said Dr. Fred Siewers, chair of WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology. “The project is an excellent example of what GIS can do to make geographic connections that allow people and decision makers an ability to solve problems and help others.”
The website is a collaboration between WKU’s Geographic Information Science program, the city of Bowling Green, Warren County government and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
As of April 24, the program had 107 total participants -- 90 volunteers, 14 matches and three businesses, according to WKU GIS instructor Scott Dobler.
“This project has been a team effort between WKU, Bowling Green and Warren County,” Dobler said. “Karen Foley (neighborhood services coordinator for the city of Bowling Green) has been instrumental in the operation of this project. It is similar to projects that have been launched in Louisville and Elizabethtown, but it is the only one that I am aware of using GIS to aid matching people in need with volunteers.”
Dobler said GIS aids in the development and implementation of a survey that links the applicant to their location on the earth's surface. Once the survey has been filled out, the location of each applicant is integrated into a map. A relationship based on proximity is then built between the people in need and the volunteers.
“The government, business and industry have used this type of application for years,” he said. “I am just applying the basic concepts of GIS that we teach at WKU to help people in southcentral Kentucky.
“The best part of this experience is working with the professionals in the local government to help activate volunteers. I am also very proud of our current and former WKU students who have stepped up to help out others in their communities.”
Brandon Keith, a geography and environmental studies major, is assisting with the program in Elizabethtown, while 2007 graduate Erin Raley Hinson is assisting in Louisville.
For more about WKU’s GIS program, visit https://www.wku.edu/gis/