Service at Sea – taking GIS around the world

While we were at the ESRI UC, we had a chance to talk with Drew Stephens, who is the founder of a great program called Service at Sea. The idea is to sail around the world with a group of GIS technology professionals, teachers and students, making various stops along the way to provide GIS support and training to local community organizations involved in conservation and other initiatives. The staff on board the Service at Sea sailboat will be volunteers and a small paid crew. I think there may still be opportunities for people to volunteer as well.

Service at Sea’s boat is called the Copper Sky, and the program had a symbolic launch last Friday morning in San Diego at the end of the ESRI UC. The actual program begins in July and focuses on helping organizations along the Pacific Coast up to Valdez in Alaska. After a short break for the holidays, the second segment is planned to focus on Mexico and Central America.

It’s really a great idea, a great way for members of the GIS community to help get their expertise out to local communities who really need it, and Drew has a lot of passion and energy for the project, so I think it will be an amazing experience. They have already lined up some sponsors as well, including ESRI, National Geographic Society, AAG, and Soul Fabric Films and others. The project has also been getting some good press, including a short article at SailWorld’s website.

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