Special Interest Groups

The meetings will be held concurrently on Day 1 from 2:00–4:00 p.m.

Day 1 of the conference brings together hundreds of GIS pros for training sessions, exhibitor interactions, Map App presentations, lunch, a networking happy hour and—a new agenda addition—special interest groups. These meetings are for novice and experienced GIS professionals alike and are a great way to connect with new ideas, technologies, and colleagues.

Click the + below to expand the section and learn more about presenters and the topics.

Led by Keith Swavely, Esri

Smart cities and smart communities make the lives of their citizens better. Esri is the leader in spatial thinking and pioneers the technology that helps governments of all sizes build smart communities. With GIS technology, they can meet current challenges; rethink “business as usual” mindsets; and reimagine a community based on technological advances that support infrastructure needs, humans in crisis, climate change, and whatever else the future may bring.

Join Esri to learn about its smart community information system, which establishes four technology tenets governments need to deliver smart communities and smart cities.

  • Planning and Engineering
  • Operational Efficiency
  • Data Driven Performance
  • Civic Inclusion

The following is the tentative agenda for this Special Interest Group.

  • 2:00–2:45 ArcGIS Smart Communities Overview, Keith Swavely and Lauri Dafner, Esri
  • 2:45–3:15 Transforming Field Crews, Elliot Plack, KCI
  • 3:15–3:45 Amazing Maps Help Tell the Story, Andrew Bernish, MDOT, KFH
  • 3:45–4:00 Open Discussion

Marty Roberge, Towson University

This is a support group for anyone who writes code. From simple scripting to software development, there are a lot of tools, techniques, and strategies that we have in common. Come share your experiences and learn how your colleagues have tackled the same issues that we all face. Java, Python, JavaScript—all are welcome.

  • Introductions: Who we are, what we do.
  • Discussion: Tell us about your current project. For work or something you do on your own time, we all have something we’re working on. Tell us about something you’ve posted to GitHub and want to advertise, or tell us about an obscure problem that you facing this week. Either way, it is great to get feedback from strangers with a common interest, and it’s fascinating to hear about how other people approach the same issues. Round robin format.
  • Demonstration: Contributing to Open-Source Projects What goes into making a useful contribution? How do you find a good project to make that first step? This presentation will mostly revolve around projects hosted on GitHub, but is language agnostic. The Contributor’s Guide is essential to figuring out how you can help a project, but there are unwritten things going on too—psychology, culture, personalities. Learn how to read through the commit history to learn about a project. Also, how does making a contribution help you?
  • Discussion: Testing How do you balance the need to ‘get stuff done’ in the short-term against the long-term need to keep a project maintainable? How do you find the balance between ‘cowboy’ coding and code-review processes that are so complex that it takes weeks to learn how to submit a pull-request? Is testing just a hassle that gets in the way? Or do you find yourself constantly having to be a unit-testing evangelist?
  • Future planning

Roger Barlow, United States Geological Survey; Erin Silva, Salisbury University; and Kevin Coyne, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The elevation special interest group will educate, inform, and support the advancement of Maryland elevation data. Our discussion will focus on active topics in the Maryland elevation community. These are expected to include the following:

  • Elevation Portal: Updates and discussion
  • Lidar Acquisition: Status updates on lidar acquisition for Ellicott City, Howard County and Lower Eastern Shore
  • Shoreline: Discussion of elevation topics pertaining to Maryland’s shorelines, including standards: Derivation, scale, source data, and tide coordination
  • Unifying Maryland data for and making it available via NOAA CUSP

Michael Herzberger, GISP, CFM, Maryland Environmental Service; Anthony Dowell, AECOM; Patrick McLoughlin, Maryland Department of Information Technology; Christina Gladmon, Anne Arundel County; Mary Buffington, Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative; and Michael Manen, Maryland Environmental Service

This session is designed to help attendees prepare for a career as a GIS professional, whether entering the GIS profession or looking for a refresher when shifting careers. Whether you are about to graduate college, making a change in your career, or looking to apply for a new job, this session will serve as a primer for attendees attempting to market themselves to prospective employers during the conference, and beyond. The session will include:

  • A panel discussion covering perspectives from numerous sectors of the GIS industry
  • Recommendations on how to prepare for submitting an application and interviewing for a job
  • Suggested areas to ensure you are well rounded
  • Questions and answers with industry and subject matter experts
  • Hands-on breakout sessions

Jeff Tirschman, PMP; Brad Spittel, PMP; and Feyi Ladejobi, PMP, CSM; KCI Technologies

The growing and evolving field of GIS technologies has placed a demand on project management professionals. This special interest group will explore project management and leadership best practices, opportunities, and challenges faced by the geospatial community. Our mission is to foster collaborative solutions with regards to project management within the geospatial community and identify opportunities for career growth and alignment of the skillsets of advanced geospatial professionals to the demand of project managers. This session will include:

  • Facilitated panel discussion
  • Client perspective on project management needs and desired outcomes
  • Emerging project managers and leadership roles
  • Discuss opportunities for skill set development to become a project manager and positioning yourself as a leader
  • Case study—How to manage a geospatial project?
  • Open questions and answers with the panel

Julia Fischer, Department of Information Technology

This meet-up is intended for public sector employees only. Members of the public sector (state, county, municipal, higher education and other associated government entities) will meet, in private, to discuss important statewide initiatives related to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The participants will be briefed on and discuss current statewide initiatives to incorporate their thoughts on plans for future activities. The participants will also receive briefings and discuss current “hot topics” that are of general interest. Near the end of the SIG, sponsors will be given an opportunity to join the group, introduce themselves and offer a few words about their goals for the conference.


Anne Canoune, Century Engineering

This session is intended for novice and experienced QGIS users alike. Four speakers will showcase how they use QGIS in their professional and side projects. Presentations will be 20 minutes long with five minutes for questions. We will wrap up the session with time for attendees to ask additional questions and some closing remarks regarding the QGIS Maryland User Group.


  • Migrating Data Development from ArcGIS to an Open Source Stack
    Shawn Pickett, Century Engineering
    Setting up an efficient editing environment is a crucial part of any data development task. We will explore two editing environments, ArcGIS/QGIS and PostgreSQL, used for a multi-year data development project involving multiple consultants. In addition to technical considerations, this talk will address changes to the overall workflow of the project, project team communication, and lessons learned.
  • Updating a Campus Lighting Plan Using QGIS
    Dave Hinton, Howard Community College
    Dave will share how Howard Community College used QGIS to map the locations of its parking lot lamps.
  • Spatial Analysis Tools in QGIS
    Jonathan Gross, City of Baltimore
    Jonathan will discuss the processing toolbox and spatial statistics available in QGIS and compare those with the ones in ArcMap.
  • Working with QGIS 3D Canvas
    Hannah Davis, Century Engineering
    Using QGIS 3.4, Hannah will demonstrate how to transform, visualize and work with data in 3D. This discussion will cover a range of topics that include: data sources, 3D canvas navigation, configuration, working with various data types and multiple layers, styling and creating animations.

Jonathan Austin, Greenman-Pedersen, Inc.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are shifting the data collection paradigm for mapping and surveying. These devices carry a wide variety of sensors that empower safer, less interruptive, faster, cheaper, and more effective ways to complete data collection. Whether you’re a Part 107 licensed pilot, or just starting to consider how to use drones in your mapping or survey workflows, please join the UAS special interest group to discuss these topics and network with likeminded professionals.

  • Introductions: Who are the folks in the room and why are they interested
  • Information regarding UAS activities in MD
  • Information regarding any legislation concerning UAS activities in MD Next steps: where do we go from here