Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Belize Joins the Geospatial Revolution Celebrating World GIS Day 2011
Belize City, Belize— GIS Day TM 2011 marked a very special day in Belize, as Total Business Solutions Ltd (TBSL),
the local Esri Distributor, hosted its first ever GIS DAY EXPO on Wednesday November 16, 2011 at the Best
Western Belize Biltmore Plaza. Consistent with the theme “Discovering the World through GIS,” TBSL in
collaboration with Esri Inc, Belize Telemedia Ltd. and Belize Tourism Board, celebrated GIS Day TM by focusing on
educating students as well as adults on the important role GIS plays in our daily lives.
The GIS Day Expo began with an official Opening Ceremony, featuring numerous guests varying from distinguished
members of the business sector to eager and bright-eyed primary and secondary school students listening to
speakers educate them on how to interpret and analyze information in a new and dynamic way. Mrs. Loretta
Palacio – Managing Director TBSL, welcomed the students and invited guests, and gave a brief overview of TBSL’s
initiatives aimed at promoting the use of GIS in Belize.”It is important to introduce our students to this type of
technology at a very young age. GIS is a new way of spatial literacy for Belize. The world is going through a
geospatial revolution – everybody is now pointing to a map. And we don’t want our students to be left behind,”
says Loretta Palacio, Managing Director, TBSL. Former GIS Kids Camp students shared their knowledge that they
gained in the Kids GIS Summer Camp. Ms. Mary Vasquez – Program Director RESTORE Belize delivered a very
educational and inspiring and kids friendly keynote address.
After the Official Ceremony, Mrs. Palacio and Ms. Vasquez cut the ribbon to officially declare the EXPO open.
Everyone was invited to enter the exhibit hall and begin to discover the world through GIS. The objectives of the
EXPO were three-fold: to show the important role GIS plays in our daily lives, to promote what is being done
with GIS in Belize, and to provide an opportunity for organizations using GIS to mount an exhibition of their
work. Accordingly, the GIS Day Expo featured organizations from private, public and non-governmental
organizations demonstrating GIS applications and geospatial technologies. Visitors and students moved through
different stations where they learned what GIS is, how to use GIS technology and equipment, how GIS can help
in our daily lives, and what kind of careers use GIS. Given the different audiences, the Expo managed to maintain
a balance of student-friendly and professional knowledge.
The students, being the main focus, were well entertained and occupied with the Games & Activities booths,
whereby they could participate in electronic games using GIS, test their aim and geography knowledge on a GEO
Dart board, assemble a map puzzle of the world, or color a GIS Day-themed picture. Each game would not have
been complete without the inclusion of ESRI-provided GIS Day prizes which were the excitement of many. In
addition to the Games & Activities booths for primary and secondary school students, there was the launch of
the 1st Annual “Build Your Own Town/City” Competition, an initiative geared toward engaging students’
problem-solving skills. Here, students were able to sign up for the competition and receive information
packages. Each student left the EXPO with a beautiful GIS Day gift bag containing GIS-Day themed school
supplies and treats.
The Expo was not simply fun and games however, booths such as ‘What is GIS?’, ‘GIS in our Daily Lives’ and
‘Careers in GIS’ informed both adults and students of the high prevalence and important role GIS now has in our
regular day to day activities. Due to Belize’s relatively new exposure to GIS education, these booths aimed at not
only educating the students but also members of the community at large. Many businesses and organizations in
Belize who use Esri software such as Ministry of Natural Resource Land Information Center, Environmental
Research Institute at the University of Belize, Citrus Growers Association, Belize Telemedia Limited, Healthy
Reefs Initiative, and Forest Department also participated by showcasing their work. They aided in educating the
public on how their organization utilizes GIS technology to achieve their strategic objectives.
It was important to celebrate GIS Day in Belize on a grand scale as Belize is at a stage in its development where it
is ready for GIS to be infused into the business and technology landscape. It is TBSL’s aim to develop a long term
GIS in Education program to create GIS awareness and to teach our students to better understand our world
through geospatial technology.
The GIS Day EXPO was a tremendous success and well received by all who attended and participated.