A few years ago I returned to my alma mater, Shippensburg University, to make a presentation at the Geography and Earth Science Department’s Career Day.  It was a wonderful experience that allowed me to share my professional experiences with a new generation of Geography and Earth Science majors and catch up with professors that I had not seen in several years. During the event’s question and answer session, one question I remember well involved identifying what projects the presenters enjoyed the most.  After taking some time to think, I responded that any project involving fieldwork piques my interest; because fieldwork exposes you to places you may never visit otherwise.


A project that epitomizes my position on fieldwork is the ongoing web application development project CGIS has been working on with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).  Several years ago, CGIS assisted MTA in developing an internal web application that allows MTA employees to monitor various facility assets important to environmental compliance and safety matters at MTA’s Washington Boulevard bus maintenance facility.  Work performed at this site includes routine as well as all major repairs performed on MTA’s fleet of over 700 buses.  The web application involves a mapping component that consumes ArcGIS Server map services that display imagery and various facility assets, which allows users to assess MTA’s environmental compliance efforts.


Where Does Fieldwork Come In?

CGIS employees Christina Bell and Missy Valentino doing field work for the MTA project

As part of the data collection team, I visited  MTA’s Washington Boulevard bus maintenance facility in Baltimore City in 2008 and collected and verified locational and attribute data for assets like fire extinguishers, part washers, flammables storage cabinets, eye wash stations, and battery storage sites.  The data collected and verified at the site was ultimately incorporated into MTA’s environmental compliance application.  In 2012, CGIS’ data collection team collected and verified asset data for two additional MTA bus maintenance facilities and is working on incorporating the data into MTA’s mapping application.  CGIS will visit several additional MTA bus facilities this year.


When I started my career, I never expected to travel around Baltimore City collecting data at MTA bus maintenance facilities.  However, the fieldwork experience has provided me with a perspective of MTA’s bus system operation that not many get to see.  The size of these facilities and range of work that is performed is truly impressive. Now anytime I see a MTA bus on the streets of Baltimore I cannot help but wonder which MTA bus facility it has visited.

For more information on MTA, visit MTA’s Facebook page.

About Jeremy Monn

Jeremy Monn first arrived on Towson University's campus in 2003 as a graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Geography. Today, Jeremy continues his commitment to Towson University as a GIS Specialist for the Center for GIS within the Division of Innovation and Applied Research, and as an adjunct instructor for the Department of Geography and Environmental Planning. Both roles allow Jeremy to pursue and share his interest in map interpretation, spatial data modeling and visualization, scripting, and web mapping technologies.

One Comment

  1. Posted March 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    This subject tends to drive the cikchen or the egg sort of conversation. In my 25+ years of GIS, 10 was spent in pure IT whereas 15 were spent in Operations. I tend to support a structured GIS organization that leverages best practices across multiple disciplines, but I myself had a strong enterprise GIS group over in Operations. We definitely had a strong synergy with our IT department and could not be successful without them, but I believe we inherently supported our internal customer base more effectively by being organizationally in the very business process that we supported.Could it have been a trust issue due to the complexities of IT today? Is it an education issue?Regradless of organizational structure I believe the bottom line comes down to leadership and the vision of using GIS as a true communication vehicle across multiple disciplines.

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