|INTERVIEW with Brian George, Geographic Information Management Specialist, Office of Coastal Management
What do you do to protect and improve Ohio’s coastal region?
I create maps of Lake Erie’s coastal region, working primarily on the Ohio Coastal Atlas, a printed publication featuring more than 100 maps. These maps enable people to visualize different natural and cultural phenomena within Ohio’s coastal region, view how these features interrelate with each other and examine how they influence the Lake Erie ecosystem.
What type of maps are in the Ohio Coastal Atlas?
The atlas includes a wide variety of thematic maps. There are ecological maps that illustrate different habitats, such as lake, wetland and forest environments and significant habitat locations for birds and fish. There are maps that show physical, hydrologic and geologic features including bathymetric maps, soil maps, ground water maps, bedrock and glacial geology maps and watershed maps. There are also maps in the atlas that illustrate human and cultural activities and trends including, land cover maps, recreation maps, transportation maps and population maps.
How did you create maps for the Ohio Coastal Atlas?
The process of map making is called “cartography.” As a cartographer, I use geographic information systems, or GIS as we call it, to make maps. GIS is a collection of computer software and data that allows me to spatially analyze and model geographic data using a multitude of tools, functions and data attributes. GIS offers the ability to formulate spatial relationships of different geographic features through data querying, comparing, and overlaying.
Each atlas map I produced exhibits standard cartographic elements including a north arrow, scale bar, title and legend. Without these it would be difficult to understand the maps. When creating multiple maps for one publication, it is important to maintain a consistent appearance by integrating common mapping elements, features, symbols and colors. While producing the atlas, I developed a template with standard cartographic elements and symbology. This allowed me to keep a consistent “look” to all of the maps while incorporating different thematic data layers.
Is the Ohio Coastal Atlas available to the public?
Yes, public and academic libraries in Ohio’s coastal counties will receive a copy. It is also available at the State Library of Ohio and at depository libraries in the state’s system. For internet users, a digital version of the book is on our website. The Office of Coastal Management is also producing a digital version on DVD that contains more information and more maps than found in the book.
What is most challenging about your job?
GIS is a fast-progressing technology. It is a challenge to keep up with new and improved versions of the software. Additionally, GIS is such a complex tool with many facets and functions. I am always learning new and different things about the technology to help increase usability, productivity and efficiency.