GIS Day and PostGIS Day Are Coming Up

Caitlin Dempsey


Every year, GIS Day is celebrated on the Wednesday of Geography Awareness Week.  GIS Day was first celebrated in 1999.

This year GIS Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 and will mark the 21st anniversary of this celebration.  GIS Day was initiated by Esri, a commercial GIS software company, who has a list of suggestions for celebrating this day.

The day after GIS Day is PostGIS Day (Thursday, November 18, 2021 this year), which is more geared towards celebrating open source GIS apps and tools and is a clever take on the open source PostGIS.  You can follow along virtually and also find in-person events by tracking #PostGISday hashtags on social media platforms such as Twitter.

What are your geospatial plans for this week?   Here are some suggestions for celebrating both days this year.  

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Participate in #GISChat on Twitter

If you’re active on Twitter, each Wednesday at noon  (PT) you can participate in the global #GISChat where geospatial professionals discuss various GIS related topics.  Since GIS Day falls on a Wednesday each year, this makes the #GISChat event even more special.

Attend a Virtual GIS Day Event

Many educational institutions, government agencies, and geospatial firms hold GIS day events.  With the pandemic still ongoing, these events will be held virtually this year. To find a GIS day event near you by visiting the map of registered GIS Day events. Over 900 events such as webinars, demonstrations, and podcasts have been logged so far.

Map of GIS Day events in 2020
Map of GIS Day events in 2020

Esri has a page on the digital celebration of GIS Day along with a message from Jack Dangermond. If you want to celebrate GIS day at home, there are some links to activities at the bottom of the resources page organized by age range.

View Esri’s full GIS Day release here.

For this year’s GIS day, the Library of Congress is offering a virtual event featuring GIS professionals and analysts who are documenting the outbreak of COVID-19. Featured speakers are:

  • Ensheng Dong, Center for System Science and Engineering, John Hopkins University, presenting on building the Johns Hopkins COVID dashboard, “Historic First: Mapping the Pandemic in Real Time”
  • Mike Schoelen, Esri Health and Human Services, discussing the distribution of vaccines and personal protective equipment, “Driven by GIS: A Resilient Supply Chain for COVID-19”
  • John Hessler, Library of Congress and Johns Hopkins University, discussing how mutations of the virus are being tracked globally, “More Than Just Cases: Mapping the Genome and Mutations of SARS-CoV-2”

Presentations will premiere on Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. ET with closed captions on both the Library’s YouTube page and website. Presentations will also be available for viewing at a later day.

View the Library of Congress’ full release here

Download the GIS Day App

Esri has released a GIS Day mobile app. Available for both IOS and Android devices, the app provides access to introductory information about what GIS is, as well as games, quizzes, and hands-on GIS experiences. Download the mobile GIS app from Google and Apple app stores.

Screenshots from Esri's GIS Day mobile app.
Screenshots from Esri’s GIS Day mobile app.

Finding Online GIS Day and PostGIS Day Activities Through Social Media

If you aren’t able to make a local online GIS day event, participate via social media by tracking events and photos happening on GIS Day by following the hashtag #gisday on Twitter on Wednesday and #PostGISDay on Thursday.

If you are a participant on the 3D virtual reality game, Second Life, you can also experience the remnants of a virtual 2009 GIS Day held by the New Mexico State University’s GIS students and Geography professor, Michael DeMers.  NMSU’s College of Extended Learning and Information and Communications Technologies maintains a virtual environment on Second Life called Aggie Island.  The virtual GIS Day map gallery has been kept up as an example of how to use a medium such as Second Life to facilitate learning and collaboration.   The virtual GIS Day can be accessed from within Second Life via the landmark: AggieLand Public, NMSU Aggie Island (133, 76, 26).

One of the virtual GIS Day map posters found in Second Life.
One of the virtual GIS Day map posters found in Second Life.

Get Inspired by the 30-Day Map Challenge

Launched by cartographer Topi Tjukanov, the 30-day map challenge is a month of celebrating map-making in November. Each day, a different theme is used around which cartographers of all skillsets can share their maps. See what different maps are being made by following the #30DayMapChallenge hashtag on Twitter.

More: November 2020 Map Challenge

Participating in the annual 30 Day Map challenge in November hosted by Topi Tjukanov on Twitter is one way for users to improve their cartography skills.
Participating in the annual 30 Day Map challenge in November hosted by Topi Tjukanov on Twitter is one way for users to improve their cartography skills.

Bake a Geospatial Themed Cake

One of the things I truly enjoy about GIS is that it can integrate with just about any subject matter.  I particularly love seeing artistic expression using geospatial technology and no GIS Day or PostGIS Day meeting is complete without some baked offerings, even if you’re celebrating by yourself this year.  The Collegiate Baker has instructions on how to bake a globe cake which uses a Bundt cake mold, printed out continents, and lots of blue and green frosting.

Earth cake
Earth cake by the Collegiate Baker

Send a geoGreeting

GeoGreeting works by spelling out words based on buildings and other features within Google Maps that look like letters (more fun with GIS and Geography).  Type in your message (up to 40 characters) and email the link to your recipient.  The web page spells out the words to your greeting letter by letter.

Here’s my GIS Day greeting:

Happy GIS Day
Happy GIS Day!

See Also

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.